Becoming a Yoga Teacher
by Aimee Dots
The decision to enroll in a Yoga Teacher Training course was definitely a good one for me to make. However, I’ve realized in hindsight the decision to enroll in the Laughing Lotus Yoga Teacher Training program was probably one of the best decisions of my life.
Just like anything in life, we have options as to how we choose to interpret certain experiences we undergo. An in-depth, hands-on practice of exploring not only the physical practice of yoga but also the mental, emotional, and spiritual practice of yoga (which quite literally means “union”), Laughing Lotus Yoga School is the perfect venue for harnessing some of the skills of introspection I’d already gained through a few years of my personal yoga practice as well as the 27 years of simply experiencing life I have been so blessed to have had so far. But it takes it one step further. Through readings, practice teachings, mentor sessions, workshops, and hands-on practice, I was immersed in various techniques of diving deeper within myself and given the space to create my own approach to both teaching and practicing yoga. Well-guided through a physically and emotionally effective Lotus Flow Vinyasa style, I learned not only how to do actual yoga poses myself, how to teach actual yoga poses to others, but more importantly I was given a deeper understanding of why they are even practiced in the first place. And how to use all these poses as tools for healing. The Lotus Flow style is designed to nurture the student through a natural progression of poses, opening energy centers and stretching muscles along the way. It is effective in both physical practice and in line with ancient yogic tradition. The Yoga School program itself is akin to a warm womb, complete with patient and nurturing teachers like Jasmine Tarkeshi and Keith Borden. Founded on a precedent of assuming openness and vulnerability amongst the trainees, I felt totally comfortable exploring some methods of introspection I had not yet explored in both yoga and “real life” without any fear of being judged, critiqued, or robbed of my own self-expression.
I wholeheartedly feel Laughing Lotus Teacher Training has equipped me to not only be a precise, nurturing, and more than adept yoga teacher, but also a more aware human being. I see myself more honestly and I empathize with others a lot more effectively as a result of the combination of our curriculum plus our study of the chakra systems. I will be forever grateful for the teachings and the relationships forged in this program. I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone, be their motive to teach yoga after graduation or simply to delve deeper into their own personal practice. The structure allows for many initial motives, but I think there is one tangible common result: developing a deeper understanding of yourself and others that can be carried out and practiced in both yoga classes and real life for years to come. And that, my friends, is a priceless experience not all of us are so blessed to receive. I’m confident that Yoga School will forever be etched in my heart as one of the best gifts I ever gave myself. I totally encourage you to do the same.
by Dana Marie Nielsen
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
I find this quote very refreshing. These words are magical because they give me permission to be human and to know that there is pure divinity in the, at times, seemingly un-divine human experience. These words allow me to fully take on the daily practice of grounding myself in my human body, breath and movement. These words have inspired me to participate in conscious community with other spiritual beings doing the same. I feel incredibly blessed to be a new member of the Laughing Lotus community, as Community Coordinator, teacher, and student.
Journey Home: Sydney to San Francisco
On New Years Eve 2010, I took off with the wind to Sydney, Australia without a real plan for anything. I was seeking adventure. I wanted to escape the “real world” commitments that many of my recent UC Berkeley Alum’s were partaking in. Yet, I quickly found that without the familiar structures of my community, family, friends, job, and American culture, I felt quite vata-ish. Fluttery. Ungrounded. After a series of tornado-like emotional occurrences, I was lost. I eventually realized that I was feeling so flustered because I wasn’t grounded from within my own body, breath and human experience. I was spending so much time in my head, and not connected to the ground.
It was through returning to my yoga practice and becoming a yoga teacher at a gorgeous Laughing Lotus-inspired studio called Sukha Mukha, that I was able to truly land in myself and grow to love this divine human experience. Sukha Mukha, or Happy Face is a studio in Sydney that eats, sleeps, and breathes Lotus Love. We were taught the signature style of Lotus Flow, and engaged in a very similar loving community to the main studios of San Francisco and New York. Everything from the yoga to the colorful space to the spice tea is alike. In this loving Lotus space, I learned how to consciously play in my divinely human body and how to consciously connect with divinely human community. Having recently returned from Sydney to the San Francisco, I feel incredibly blessed to step into this gorgeous Laughing Lotus community, to play in my body in the magical classes, to commune with fellow yogis over tea, and to serve this community in my role doing Community Outreach for the center.
For me, understanding that I’m a spiritual being having a human experience was the Ah-ha! moment. It inspired me to be fully in my life, to participate in this human experience and to create loving, powerful and structures that support my spiritual self. Thank you, Laughing Lotus for being my new home and my new community. I look forward to meeting you all and sharing in our beautiful space together.
When you see me at the center, please say “hello” and introduce yourself. I’d love to hear your ideas for growing our gorgeous community. And be on the lookout for awesome upcoming community events at Laughing Lotus San Francisco!
by Rhiannon Fink
It’s a long time coming, but I finally got Sthiram Sukham Asanam tattooed on my inner forearm by yogini artist Nicole Miller. The wisdom of this sutra has proven useful in everything in my life. Often translated as a reminder that our posture should be steady and relaxed, I’ve been contemplating this sutra that honors the yang and yin in everything for some time. Years ago I heard my teacher Saul David Raye express that the deepest meaning of the sutra is that each of us is a conduit between earth and sky, and that has been my meditation ever since.
Thai Yoga Therapy (also called Thai Massage) is a versatile, holistic system of bodywork known to help nearly any condition from acne to schizophrenia. It synergizes yoga, Ayurveda, Buddhism, and Chinese Medicine into a beautiful dance between giver and receiver. In fact in Thai work, it can be difficult to distinguish the two. Upon receiving my first sessions in New York City seven years ago, I experienced such benefit and healing that I soon felt compelled to study and share the work with others.
The first thing I do when I sit at the feet of my client, a divine being who has given me the great gift of allowing me 2.5 hours to learn about what we’re made of, develop myself, and serve, is to connect to earth and sky. I tune into the resonance of my pelvic floor with all the energies that lie below, and the openness of my crown to all that is above. There is boundless energy available to me; it flows in from the two poles and meets in the middle at anahata chakra, the heart. It radiates from my heart out through my hands as I touch the feet of my client. This being who, just like me, is a skeleton with a light inside.
My upbringing in the rural Midwest was very grounded on the physical plane, so whenever I hear myself talking about energy like this, I roll my third eye a little. But at the same time, I have to admit that it is my dharma in this lifetime to be an energy worker and that that’s exactly what I’m doing. I was reflecting recently on whether energy belonged to the realm of earth or sky. And I concluded, both are true. It is the continuum that connects the two. Our bone temples are a vessel for universal life energy. When we give healing work, we are a channel for an energy that has the biointelligence to heal.
If you are feeling called to investigate your own dancing seat between earth and sky, I invite you to join us at Laughing Lotus San Francisco for a Thai Yoga Therapy Intensive August 17th &18th. For more info on this sacred exploration, visit my website. Sign up here.