Thursday, June 10, 2010


N., a sacred place. the most holy part of a sacred place. a place that provides refuge  

As we were preparing to launch our newly re-designed website, I was also getting ready to celebrate my daughter’s third birthday. She turned three right on schedule, which is not quite what happened with our website. But in any event, there is a birthing process for everything in creation, and now that I think of it, working on our new website has not been so far off in its’ gestation time as a human pregnancy. I am getting much better at waiting patiently for things to happen now that I’m a parent! I figure that the things that matter will and do happen, eventually. As my daughter approached her third birthday my thoughts turned back in time to my pregnancy, and the last three magical, challenging, love-filled years with her. That’s when I started all this thinking about the birth and beginning of things- my daughter, Yoga Sanctuary, and even the beginning of my own yoga path.
These two facets of my life- motherhood and studio ownership- are so distinct and different yet each is inextricably woven into my heart. Though they are two very different kinds of “children” they each were born from a clear intention and desire to bring love, healing and joy into the world.
How did the name for Yoga Sanctuary come about? In a deep half-sleep one early morning, back in the winter of 1999, I literally heard the word “sanctuary” in my mind and knew that was to be the name of the yoga studio I was then co-creating with my dear friend and fellow yoga teacher, Tara Starling. Thus was born … Yoga Sanctuary. It was a perfect name. A place of refuge; a sacred place. This name embodied the intention that Tara and I shared; we each experienced yoga as a sacred practice, and one that offered refuge to one’s innermost being. That’s what we wanted to create for our students.
My intention first and foremost as Director of Yoga Sanctuary these last 11 years has been to offer yoga as a practice that empowers every student to awaken to who they really are- to recognize their divine nature, their own radiant heart. Part of that awakening often requires peeling off the layers of protection that our consciousness skillfully, at some point, used to bandage the inevitable wounds of life. I wanted Yoga Sanctuary to be a place of healing.
Our vibrant community has grown from the seed of this intention, as one student at a time, in the support of community, we have helped spark one another into remembrance, acceptance, cultivation and celebration of our true selves.
Yoga means to yoke, join, unite- to collect and thread together all the layers and parts of ourselves into one cohesive experience and expression of ourselves. One of my favorite teachings of yoga, which I learned from Tantric scholar Dr. Douglas Brooks, is the teaching of Vasudeva. Vasu is a dwelling, deva - from the root word div, means to shine, light, divine. Vasudeva then means to dwell in the Light of our being. To make a home in our own consciousness. To dwell in the sanctuary of our own hearts.
This can sound lofty and beautiful in theory yet so difficult to experience in “real life”. The Tantric path invites us into nothing less than the extraordinary revelation of Light within our very real and ordinary human lives.
This contemplation on the roots of the studio brought me back to remember where my path of yoga began, why it began, how it all started. I was a freshman in college when I saw a fun sign for a yoga class, taught by one of the college’s dance teachers (who later became a dear friend and fellow teacher of mine!) I felt a playful curiosity in this new idea, yoga, and signed right up for the class.
For most people, the interest in yoga begins because of some kind of restriction or limitation, be it an aching back, sore shoulders, a broken heart and a longing to heal, and/or a desire to know there is more meaning and beauty to life than we are experiencing. At the same time the desire to experience joy is a great reason to start yoga. When I ask my daughter why we do yoga she says, “Because it’s fun!”
For me, it was first curiosity and a love of movement that drew me to yoga, although later my own emotional pain was the gateway into a desire to know the deeper essence of the practice. My longing to feel part of something bigger, to find a nourishing spiritual connection, became the driving force in my life. I was seeking sanctuary, and I left college to find it in a yoga ashram.
Almost two years later, I moved out of the ashram and began teaching yoga. I was twenty-one when I taught my first class. Fast-forward 8 more years of healing, growing, teaching and learning and it was 1999, and the birth of Yoga Sanctuary. I had already completed Teacher Trainings in Kripalu Yoga in 1992, then a 2 year Iyengar Teacher Training, before I found the yoga that truly made my heart sing. It was later that same year, 1999, that Tara and I birthed Yoga Sanctuary that I met John Friend, the founder of Anusara yoga. Finally, the way I believed yoga should be- a practice filled with loving-kindness, integrity, healing alignment and celebration of life- was embodied by John’s teaching style. Plus, he was hilarious and I loved how much we all laughed. So many of my previous spiritual teachers had been serious, heavy, and a little too important to be fun. Through Anusara I really learned to enjoy my yoga like never before.
Anusara yoga and the uplifting Tantric philosophy that is at its’ heart infused my own practice, life and teaching with a steadiness, a joy and a grace that was a profound blessing. My teaching skills skyrocketed to new levels under John Friend’s brilliant and elegant method, and I felt the power of this practice infuse Yoga Sanctuary with a Light that was brighter, more nourishing and more joyful than ever before. In 2004 I applied for and received Certification in Anusara yoga. Since then Yoga Sanctuary has continued to grow, change and flourish, and we moved to our current, most beautiful and expansive location in the fall of 2008.
I have been told countless times by so many sweet souls, that from the moment of crossing the threshold into Yoga Sanctuary, they feel a sense of peace wash over them. They feel an energy of love, beauty and Light that is truly palpable. This energy has been created, maintained and refined over the last 11 years, by all the gifted and loving teachers who contribute to Yoga Sanctuary and by all of our amazing, dedicated students who bring their hearts and beings so fully to the practice. From the moment of its’ inception, Yoga Sanctuary has been held by my intention and the intention of all its’ teachers. Yoga Sanctuary and our community of the heart (“kula”) has also been held by the divine itself, which is not only something bigger or more than ourselves, but an echo of our own deepest desires, the Light of Consciousness- Vasudeva- that inspires us to create in the first place.
To be able to offer a place of refuge and of artful learning, a place that offers truly transformational practices and the support to make that journey, is the greatest honor and joy for me. And of course raising my daughter in a home of love, joy and gentleness, embedded within a loving and playful community, within yet wider circles of loving creative souls… this too is the greatest joy and most meaningful work of my life.
If you have been part of Yoga Sanctuary, thank you. If you are new to our community, welcome. I offer you my deepest bow of honor. Namaste, and welcome to our sanctuary. We hope you will feel at home.

Written by Sara Rose

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful testimony to Yoga Sanctuary and the miracles that occur within this sacred spot. Thank you, Sara, for opening this space for all of us! Reading this makes me want to drop everything and come to a class tonight; or, alternatively, to wait till the kids have gone to bed, unroll my mat, and find that Vasudeva within.