Why Is Your Yoga Practice Important to You?

Yoga is a lifelong journey – I’m on board for life and always refining.

Balance, peace, health, truth, and clarity.

It accelerates the pace of my personal evolution, in all ways.

Because it keeps me peaceful and healthy and in alignment with my soul and purpose.

Because it connects me deeper to humanity and to the practice off-the-mat

It helps to keep me somewhat sane.

life. peace. freedom. humility. compassion. awareness.

It is the pathway to my own growth and awareness.

Yoga is among my most important self-care and personal therapy practices.

It’s a blueprint to being comfortable in my own skin

It keeps me alive.

Yoga is everything

My Yoga practice is my inner sanctuary where I reconnect with poise and serenity in the middle of life’s demands.

Yoga is my pathway toward Divine guidance on a daily basis.

keeps mind & body flexible, steady & open

My yoga practice always brings me back to my center in the present moment.

The energetics of my practice is a part of my life; the art is inseparable from my way of being in the world.

It informs my path and purpose and helps me be congruent with what I’m teaching.

My yoga practice brings me both peace of mind and the fire to create an action (karma)

My yoga practice gives me the balance of mind, body, and spirit to be able to serve humanity from a grounded, whole place of love, and devotion for our collective healing and transformation.

Yoga brings peace and comfort, especially during difficult periods.

I practice yoga because it allows me to elevate my consciousness and character

Yoga is a practice for how I want to live my life.

Yoga provides me with tools that enhances my personal and professional development.

Because practicing yoga confers benefits on the body, nervous system, and mind all at the same time.

My being wants freedom and my heart needs stillness.

Practicing doesn’t mean I get it perfect every time; it actually means we need more practice.

Meet the Candidates! Your Governing Council Election Voter’s Guide

Jun 14, 2021Future of Yoga

governing council election vote

Yoga Unify is a participatory organization, and as such each year we will hold a Governing Council election to appoint community members to serve on open Council seats. All people in the Yoga Unify community — Qualified Professionals and students alike — are invited to serve if they feel called, regardless of specific backgrounds. To say: It is a crucial component of the Yoga Unify mission to be an equitable and service-driven organization for the entire yoga community. We don’t care what lineage you come from, whether you’ve completed a teacher training, or how many followers you have. All people who are interested in preserving the tradition and stewarding the forward evolution of yoga have an opportunity to share their voice and their ideas.

We’ll be holding our first community elections in June, 2021, for two open seats on each Council. Below are the candidates.

We’ll be voting to fill these seats during our virtual event series, Yoga Unify: The How and the Why, beginining Tuesday, June 15. The series is open and free to all folks in the Founding Circle, and all attendees will have an opportunity to vote for their new Governing Councilors. Not a Yoga Unify member yet? Join now, and then peek the new paradigm we’re creating for this event series.

Already in the Founding Circle? Please click through the below links to register:

To learn more about the series, including keynote speakers, click here!

Ethics Council Candidates  — Election June 15, 2021

David Schrodetzki Ph.D
As a practicing Ashtangi I began my journey with Eric Schiffmann and Maty Ezraty at the original Yoga Works in 1993 and since then remain passionate about showing others the pathway to self realization that yoga provides. I own a yoga studio (since 2015) and have trained 30+ yoga teachers on a platform using the Ashtanga Method and Patanjali Sutras; where yoga is taught as a Preparation for Meditation in a studio that exemplifies Mindful Ethics. I have attended countless Ashtanga and Ashtanga Confluence workshops and continue to see myself as a lifelong learner of this amazing practice. Having a Ph.D in Education who taught Ethics and Cultural Diversity (Professor at the Univ. of California) I can offer a wealth of community knowledge to Yoga Unify in this regard. Prior to my work in academia I rose to the level of Vice President for a Fortune 100 Company in the bank and investment sector of our economy, a work experience that might benefit the plan for Yoga Unify’s economic growth.

At the University of California, we designed our Ethics Council on 7 primary tiers designed to give direction into ethical oversight of participant’s service. They are: Beneficence, a concern for the well being and safety of all participants and stakeholders; Nonmaleficence: (Ahimsa) refrain from harming one’s Self and Others; Autonomy and Confidentiality: Maintaining a clear boundary and respect of participant’s words, opinions while advocating for their rights; Social Justice: Provide resources to participant’s in an equitable and impartial format; Procedural Justice: Provide assistance in a participant’s access to procedural methods of securing ethics integrity; Veracity: Maintaining a policy for truthful disclosures of expectations, accountability and the role council’s to assist in the marshall od the ethical code and values; Fidelity: To assure that the values inscribed in the set of agreed ethical standards were woven into the mission statement and endorsed activities of all participants The internal limbs, the 6th Dharana, the 7th Dhyana, and 8th Samadhi have to do with developing the ability to focus for the purpose of becoming aware of the connections realized as a consequence of Being Alive.

As yogis we understand that these (last) 3 limbs are practiced through the quieting of the body and mind, through a meditation that weaves in us the process of Self Realization. By personally ascribing to a life that abides by a code of ethics our ability to internalize, then actualize these internal limbs is made real. As a Member of the Ethics Committee I would seek to assist in laying the Foundation for Excellence in Samyama, Patanjali’s term that unified his notions of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi; a word that represents the fruitful of integration of body, breath, mind, intellect and Self; an activity that is made possible through the creation of character precepts (Ethics Standards) designed to enhance one’s yogic journey over the 8 limbs.

Allison Rissell
My passion and inspiration for helping other yoga teachers is contagious and I harness this to inspire other yoga teachers to overcome self-doubt and burnout. I am dedicated to assisting yoga teachers to connect with their authenticity, enabling them to become powerful leaders of transformation in their yoga communities. I became a yoga teacher in 2006. In addition to my master’s degree in exercise physiology, I have completed over 2,000 hours of formal yoga and yoga therapy trainings (C-IAYT). I am the founder of the Yoga Teacher Conf, provided affordable continuing education, community support and connection for teachers. I’m an extroverted optimist and I love hiking, skiing, and connecting in nature with my husband, Sean.

I’m looking forward to running for a Council because I want to see systemic change in the yoga industry. I’m passionate about creating higher standards and accountability so we are seen as professionals and can help others live healthier and more aware lives through the power of yoga. I’m most looking forward to working with other yoga professionals who are change-makers within our industry and being of service to the yoga teacher community at large.

Marylou Webb
I am an ERYT500, I have been studying yoga for over 30 years. I am Ambassador to numerous companies, including Jade Yoga Mats. I created and run the only donation based Yoga Teacher Training Program. I created and run building self esteem, self image and self worth with children and young adults… we are in the process of becoming a non profit. I work with domestic abuse victims in which I offer free yoga, meditation, workshops and classes. I am an author and an artist. I am a single mom of six. I sold my house and traveled across the US in an RV while homeschooling my kids for years as a single mom. I owned my own yoga studio.

Qualifications Council Candidates — Election June 22, 2021

Stephanie Spence
I have spent over 40 years practicing yoga and sharing my love of this ancient system of living through writing, teaching yoga, and public speaking. I’m known as a Yoga Scholar, Award-Winning and Best-Selling Author, Former CEO, Activist, and Creative Leader. My objective is to share the authentic teachings of Yoga to the modern era, as well as building bridges between different countries, religions/faiths, healing modalities and people to promote social and spiritual health. I am currently pursuing her Master’s Degree In Yoga Studies from Loyola Marymount University.

I’ve always believed the world is what we make of it. I also choose to believe that our history does not have to define our future. It is now more important than ever for each of us to examine who we are in order to be our best self. We are at a global crossroads. We (the US) have become the most violent nation in the history of mankind. I’ve traveled all over the world practicing yoga in over 60 countries in over 10 languages – and I came away with the understanding that we all want the same things; to be seen, heard, validated for who we are just as we are, perhaps have a family, perhaps experience love, and definately to have a purpose. My dharma is to educate and inspire. I believe yoga and education is the key to our future. I believe yoga is the tool to build bridges between all people. I also believe that access (for all) to yoga is now a human rights issue. I’m passionate about my ongoing activism and service to be a part of the solution. I imagine a world that defends all people from racism, helps promote equality between genders, protects people from ageism, religion-based and sexuality-based discrimination, and promotes peace and wellbeing for all. I know I could be an asset for you. It’s interesting that although we call ourselves humankind, we have not ALL figured out how to be kind humans. I’m most interested in serving in a way that helps other people end suffering. Ahimsa (non-violence) and Karuna (compassion) are examples of principles that all future generations need to understand – for the health of everyone, here and around the world – and Mother Earth.

Kala MacDonald
I have been practicing yoga for over 14 years and it was my practice that did and continues to help me cope and heal thru the traumas of losing both of my younger bothers, one to homicide and one to suicide. I began my path to teaching as I felt yoga was simply too profound to only practice, I wanted to share its myriad gifts with the world. Along the way, though various travels and trainings, I have come to believe that the industry lacks in too many places, including accountability, accessibility, and respectability, and I believe these issues and others stem from a diluted system that highlights stereotypes, fast-tracks, money, and popularity over quality, safety, and ongoing education. I would love to a part of bringing changes to any of the aforementioned areas, and beyond. I have so many ideas, and half already started conversations in my existing circles. I am currently halfway through an MA in Yoga Studies via Loyola Marymount university, and work as a private meditation and yoga coach and small-group retreat space holder. As well, I founded nonprofit org Yoga to Cope in 2018 to bring yoga-based resources to people coping through trauma, grief, depression, and the like, and am host of the organization’s weekly wellness podcast, which streams on all major platforms under the same name. Alone, I may go fast, but together we may go far! Looking forward to community building, networking, and changing this beautiful industry for the better, for the respectable, and for the brighter future I know we all wish to move toward. Thank you for your consideration.

I am interested in a council position and in YŪ in general for many reasons, which could all probably be condensed down by saying that I feel that while Yoga has so much to offer so many, I’m sad to say I believe our industry falls a bit flat when it comes to being as capable, intelligent, inclusive, and accessible as we should aim to be. There is an over saturation of yoga teachers and an underwhelming amount of accountability, continuing education, community support, and education within the field, and I genuinely hope groups like YŪ and people like myself can work to change that.

For example, I am setting out to pilot a YTT training that I hope will fill some of the gaps I see, and train truly competent, safe, effective, exciting, new yoga professionals – not just on sequencing and playlist building (just had a hilarious conversation with a friend earlier about how much time was spent in his YTT on how to build a good playlist, and how little was spent on functional anatomy) but on creating truly welcoming, accessible, and properly advertised classes, on anatomy and yogic anatomy, on mental health and the energetics of yogasana, the history of the Indic faiths that contributed to modern yoga, and so on. As well, I’ve developed and implemented an Equity Pay Scale (EPS) to welcome people of all socioeconomic status to my offerings, which are appropriately priced, so that anyone who wishes may attend. That is to say, a sliding scale with a top end, too. I set a rate, but accept below and above it, so all can attend and I am still well compensated for my time, energy, and efforts.

Rosa Santana
I would love to be a part of the council to share the Iyengar Yoga voice. I am. Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher and International Association of Yoga Therapist. I have been teaching for over 26 years, and could bring my experience to the mix.

I am interested in serving on this council to share my insights of over 26 years of practice and witnessing the evolution (and devolution) of the sacred practice of yoga. I believe it’s important to preserve the “seeds” of yoga so that the yoga doesn’t lose its meaning in the marketplace now that it has become something to be sold. As an Iyengar Yoga Certified Teacher and Yoga Therapist, I’d like to add alignment, equity, inclusivity, and diversity into our conversations about yoga. Preserving, honoring, and understanding the traditional roots of yoga from its birthplace can continue to add meaning to our spiritual growth. Creating programs to uplift our community to enhance our teachers‘ knowledge could be a step in continuous learning, joy, and interest. A teacher who continues to learn and be inspired by a mentor can never be burnt out. This is how Iyengar Yoga has always been transmitted, and continues to flourish. I am interested in raising the bar of what the public perceived as yoga. Through yoga teachers coming together in community, we can create a massive shift in consciousness in our communities. Let’s all work together, learn from each other, and take “yoga” to higher levels.

Karin Carlson
I’m interested in running for the qualifications council. But I’d like to point out from the get go that what I want to focus on is de-centering certification and career path and CEUS. I think we can all agree that that is what YA tried and failed to do. That is, in fact, what ‘trauma informed’ and ‘accessible’ and other ‘certifications’ are continuing to do. The whole thing is bound up in unanswerable questions and inevitable problems linked to cultural appropriation, capitalism, and white supremacy. What if – rather than try to clean up the face of the thing – we invested in reclaiming the soul of it and supporting/building community, accountability, and actual relationships? The exchange of tuition for a certificate so that people can then turn around and charge tuition is antithetical to our real need.

Perhaps I’d better serve on the community investment council (we need local, face to face representation. Not social media platforms and certifying boards).

I’m also confused and concerned about access to the actual governing board: these elections are for committees, not a board. The board appears to be self elected, closed circuit, and no clear pathway to election or turn over has been published. There is no on-boarding process for membership.

I’m a bit spit-fire, clearly. But I mean business. Either Yoga Unify takes accountability seriously or it’s just another social media platform.

Kaya Mindlin
I would very much like to run for the qualifications counsel. Much of the vision for this counsel is a reflection of the work that I currently do with yoga teachers, which is centered on helping teachers to understand and appreciate the greater purpose of yoga from yoga’s own perspective, to understand their own individual purpose as both a practitioner and teacher of yoga, and to deepen their capacity {skill} and commitment {dedication} in order to dig a well into yoga, into their own path, and into their ability to be in service to their students in an authentic and ethical way.

I have been teaching yoga for 21 years, and teaching and mentoring yoga teachers and yoga therapists for 10 years with the full spectrum of the vedic tradition {Yoga, Yoga Therapy, Sanskrit Texts, Mantra Recitation, Shaktism, Vedānta, Vedic Astrology, Āyurveda and so on}. My students tend to find me when they were on the brink of “leaving yoga” because they are so disappointed in the trends of yogaland – starting as seekers of depth and being fed distortion, new age “junk food” and physical workouts. They repeatedly tell me that they gained more in a 25-40 hour program with me than they did in their 500 hour YTT – and while this is lovely, it points to something disturbed in yogaland. More about me in my profile.

Below are a few ways I would hope to contribute:

I feel it is extremely important that standards of both what it is to be a student and a teacher of yoga must rest on a foundation of what yoga’s teachings and practices are from their own perspective. As a member of the Q-Counsel I would hope to be an active participant that allows Yū to be unique in our commitment to simultaneously hold true that 1} yoga’s purpose is changeless, timeless and rooted in scripture {shāstra} and the oral tradition and 2} yogic practices have always been intended to be dynamic, subject to change and adaptation depending on individual circumstance, stage of life, karma and sva-dharma.

I would hold it as an upmost responsibility to always assert yogic values as a fundamental and primary foundation – relative to trend, commodification, desire, opinion or politics. To always take a pause as diverse individuals and as an organization to say – what does the yoga tradition itself have to say about this is key. This will allow us to sustain a truly important role in modern “yogaland” that can prevent or clear up misappropriation and distortion of teachings, allowing the community and individuals to truly benefit from the gift yoga whilst upholding yoga in return.

My intention would be to sustain the importance of studentship for teachers. That not all studies must translate into a professional goal, and that teachers are students first. The modern urgency and inner and cultural pressure toward transaction can be cleared away, and we can once again emphasize transmission, transformation and spiritual growth above all else – if a profession naturally flows out of this then this too can be nurtured. All teachers need teachers. All mentors need mentors. This is how the parampara eternally flows like a timeless river.

Finally – I would like to be a part of a movement that takes new age, athleticism and aesthic fixation out of yoga and reasserts what most yoga teachers and students have been seeking all along – happiness, wellbeing and spiritual growth.

I would love to be considered. You can learn more about me with my profile here at Yū and on my website http://www.yogawithkaya.com where there are numerous podcast interviews linked to have a clear sense of who I am as a teacher, mentor and person.

Community Investment Council Candidates — Election June 29, 2021

Jayme Sweere
I am a yoga therapist and eRYT 500. I have ten years background in sales, marketing, and production in the yoga field including media, live and online events, and retreats. I’d love to play my part in where we are headed as a community!

I am running for council to be an active participant in the vision and stewardship of the future of yoga as an accessible pathway to healing and flourishing! I am excited to serve in this way because I am passionate about service and what is possible for yoga. I will serve the council position and community with my ten years of experience in: Media sales and content production with Yoga International & Movement Collective Studio (focus on podcasts & long-form eCourses) Full-time teaching (C-IAYT & eRYT 500, RYS 200/300) and yoga studio ownership in Springfield, MO LGBTQIA leadership, representation, and advocacy My entrepreneurial endeavors and advocacy are guided by and grounded in my three years of residential ashram life at the Himalayan Institute where I was steeped in the teachings of Sri Vidya Tantra.

Jennifer Fromm
I have been practicing for 23 years and have taught for 16 years. My first training was in 2000 at Yoga Works, Santa Monica, then off to the Bikram Teacher Training in 2004 in Los Angeles. My regular studio classes have been in LA, Miami Beach, New York Metro, and San Francisco. I co-founded a technology company focused on building technology for the distributed yoga community. Recent events that have affected us all has given my team the opportunity to pivot and re-invest in building for our community. For the Cardano Foundation Project Catalyst we have a Fund-5 proposal that we hope will be the beginning of much more. A Yoga and Startup perspective may help us grow our community.

I was fortunate enough to be wholly immersed in the San Francisco start-up community for 8 years. My takeaway is that anything is possible with passion and technology. I believe that I can make a difference, I have the time and energy to do so. Moreover, I look forward to re-imagining our industry together.

Raj Palsingh
I’m interested in joining the Governing Council on Community Investment. Going forward I feel its important to keep a focus on the growing community with a focus on the medium and long term. That means our investment is to be like a garden, taking our time and focus to let our flowers bloom and vegetables grow and not on shiny new objects. I’ve been on the board at the Bangkok Farmer’s Market and till day run Bangkok Farmer’s Market Community Yoga and classes. Unfortunately, due to COVID we haven’t had any of these since March 2020, prior to that we were quite active in bringing more awareness of organic living in the city and giving opportunities for yogis to develop their own being. Seeding and growing communities is a skill I’d like to share here if you’d let me.

There are many reasons why I feel called to Yoga Unify I’ll try to communicate it as best as I can. The catalyst began from an ad I suppose I saw on Facebook that had these words that rung with me, something along the lines of confronting cultural appropriation in Yoga. Now this is a very heavy topic as we never ever want to impose our thought processes or morality on others. Yet, you and I both know that there is a lot cultural appropriation in Yoga. It is a very difficult and very important conversation to have, and having experienced both the negative side, and inadvertently “benefited” from appropriation, I felt this is a group I wanted to dive into and learn more about.

If you’re wondering why I quote “benefited”, I’ll take you back to 2011, a year after I started teaching Kundalini Yoga. Someone who I won’t name did a retreat and elevated me to a sidekick, before I was even ready to be in that position, because I had a look that added legitimacy for her. Having a bearded brown turbaned sidekick in Kundalini raises you in the 3ho rung. I’d learn that a few years later.

So cultural appropriation being a goal definitely started/rooted my interest. I cannot remember if I came across Ravi Singh’s name as a founder on your web site or if he shared about Yoga Unify on Facebook, either way, I contacted him to learn more. I was taken in by changing accreditation of yoga. My favourite yoga teachers, Dr Ajit in Chandigarh, George Craig McMillian (Kirantana) and this elderly 60+ year old Hatha Yoga lady in Delhi.

I don’t think any of these 3 teachers are necessarily high on the rung of accrediting others to be teachers of yoga, yet if their abilities were to be reviewed by their peers, Yogis know they’re at a high level, and for the sake of the world, be involved in training teachers in yoga. When I learned from Ravi Singh that peer review is going to be a path for Yoga Unify to look at teachers and accreditation, it resonated with me and I took the next step to join as a founding member.

I’d like to join the conversation at the leadership level. I’m far from USA, I have a unique perspective and I think I also bring to Yoga Unify presence in Southeast Asia at the very start, hence my interest not just in the governing council, but in the one for community investment, alongside my experience with the Bangkok Farmer’s Market, it felt like hand in glove. 

Kourtney De La Luz
I am delighted to submit for Governing Council on Community Investment. While I understand that the work that lies ahead of stewarding systemic change can sound overwhelming, the goal is to heal, and we cannot heal what we do not face. That is my why—collective healing. Unification and consciousness can only come from a deep healing. Dismantling oppressive systems is an act of healing—more spirit than ego, thinking in terms of collaboration vs. competition and so on.

I was introduced to the practice by my mother in the early 1990s. We were a Colorado family of yogis and vegetarians (mostly vegan) well before it was in vogue. In those times Boulder was our yoga hot spot. It was always the philosophy that interested me most. I have always thought that yoga, like all practices of truth and dignity, has within it the capacity to reform the world.

I prefer to call myself a person who shares yoga rather than a yoga teacher, but for the sake of this writing, I will share that I began teaching yoga in 2014. I was hesitant to begin teaching because my practice is very sacred and personal. Much of my work in the yoga space has been around yoga philosophy and modern day applications, soul-full leadership for the yoga teacher/industry, holistic well-being, and DEI.

My professional roots are in broadcast journalism, and I have parlayed my background into corporate communications strategy and public relations. Having been a student of Eastern philosophy, metaphysics, ancient healing traditions, and spirituality for decades; I am most passionate about raising human consciousness. I have collaborated on humanitarian and community yoga projects with SAATH Nepal, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living, and organizations throughout Latin America.

I am a keynote speaker, consultant, philanthropist, and advocate of us all being well and winning. Skilled in the creation and enhancement of community, I am the founder of the East Meets West Yoga Event, and principal of Elevate Your Life Coaching and Consultancy Group.

To help Yoga Unify preserve the tradition and upleveling the profession of yoga, join us in the Founding Circle! Click here to learn more.

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