Sandy is such a lovely person, you meet her once and can’t forget her. She is beautiful inside and out and by just being around her she makes you feel important and worthy of her time and energy which she gives freely. In a sometimes competitive industry Sandy is truly living her yoga, going about the work that needs to be done with no need fore fan fair Sandy is making a huge difference though the teachings of yoga. Teaching kids to seniors her ability to connect is strong and her heart so open you can feel her love. Meet Sandy:
1 What does yoga mean to you?
To me, Yoga is all about relationships, our relationship to our breath, to our selves, each other, our communities, to nature and to the source energy, higher power/god. We are all particles of love and when we connect we become one love.
It is my belief that when we practice open, honest and compassionate communication in all our relationships we are creating yoga/union/love.
Yoga is an eternal journey of exploration and transformation and as we join together, we can support, nurture and create one Love.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens can change the world: indeed it’s the only thing that ever has” Margaret Mead
2 When did you start yoga and how did that come to be?
I started practicing yoga in my early 20’s. Someone gave me a video of David Swenson’s Yoga class. I didn’t have a clue, who he was or what type of yoga I was practicing. I just noticed how good I felt after I practiced.
I used to be very hyper active and suffered from A.D.D.D.!!!!!….. I could not sit still and focus. I began to feel more focused, calm and empowered when I did the yoga. A few years later I bought a couple of Baron Baptiste yoga videos, and both these teachers became my mentors in my living room for many, years.
Twelve years ago my soul mate and husband Dan of 20 years and I decided to transform our 200 acre ranch in Northern B.C. Into a wilderness and wellness retreat. So I went and spent 6 weeks in Vancouver going to yoga classes 6 days a week trying to see what kind of training I wanted to take. We were just beginning our plans to bring this idea to life when my husband suddenly died in a work related accident.
I have never experienced such deep pain in my life. I felt like I died too that day. We were such a good team. My life had changed in an instant. No magic could bring him back. We had just had a discussion a few weeks before he died where I said to him “I feel so strong, mentally, physically and spiritually from doing all the yoga, that I felt like I could handle anything, even if something happened to you”. I said “I know I would be o.k.” And he smiled and said “I know you would be too”, and gave me a big hug!
Honestly, I believed at the time if it wasn’t for my children I didn’t know if I could or wanted to go on. My deepest pain and loss became my greatest teacher in acceptance, trust and in the power of unconditional universal love. I knew that through learning more about yoga and becoming a yoga teacher it would help me to heal and find my inner strength, courage and purpose and guide me to inspire others to do the same.
I decided to move to Kelowna and start another chapter in this sometimes very difficult but always full of love, adventure. I did not know one person when I moved here, only that it seemed like a beautiful environment to heal my broken heart.
I began practicing at Bikram Hot Yoga, Anjali, Trinity, Kelowna Yoga House, and as new studios opened I would take classes there too. I enjoy learning all types and styles of yoga and from different teacher’s too, as I believe they all have something new and exciting to teach me. Variety is the spice of life!
3 Where and with whom did you study with?
I studied at the Canadian Counsellors Institute of Canada and became a Certified Counsellor, mostly doing Grief Counselling.
Before I moved to Kelowna I worked for the School District as a Teachers Aid with Severe behavior students, grades 4 -12. I also worked as a fitness trainer and trained both the staff and students at the school gym. I have always had a passion to connect to all ages and stages of people through understanding, the physical body, the emotions and belief systems of the mind and the deeper subtler layers of the energy body and the spirit.
A friend loaned me a book by Deepak Chopra and everything I read resonated with me so shortly after I went to study at the Chopra University in San Diego and became a Chopra Certified Vedic Master.
Two years later I went on to study in Nicaragua at School Yoga Institute and completed a 500 hr RYT. I traveled Central and South America teaching to locals on the beaches and in small villages to anyone and everyone even the dogs!!!
A few years later I went to Vietnam and stayed 40 days on a lotus farm to complete a Sivananda Teacher training as well as a Yoga Psychology for Counsellors Course. I taught in various cities in Vietnam, then traveled to Australia and Bali and took a few more workshops. I have taken various yoga workshops over the years and last year completed Bernie Clarks Yin Yoga TT in Whistler.
I went to Kenya, Africa last June as an Ambassador for Africa Yoga Project with team Next Generation Yoga. This trip changed my life as I became even more aware of the magical healing and empowering affects of yoga and service. We taught to children in the schools, orphanages, prisons and rural villages. I am a Certified NGY teacher for both 3-5 yr olds and 6-13 yr olds.
Last fall I completed Ryan Leirs Yoga for Youth Teacher Training. Ryan’s programs teach yoga to at risk students in the schools in Saskatoon, Calgary and Vancouver. His intention is to see this program in schools all across Canada. Hopefully coming to Kelowna soon!
“If we are to create peace in our world, we must begin with our children” “Ghandi”
4 What kept you coming back to the mat and has that changed over time?
At first it was primarily the physical practice that kept me coming back to the mat as I had a very hard time staying focused and grounded and the Asana’s helped me to be present in my body.
Over time I began to experience profound change in my overall feeling of inner peace and connection to my spirit and a higher power. What keeps me coming back now is the desire to fully commit and connect to this magical force that permeates everything and everyone! Through this connection to something much bigger than myself, I can be a vessel for change and transformation. I just love the way that I feel when I practice yoga, so alive, creative, present, and passionately in love with life.
5 What does yoga bring to your life?
Yoga brings inner peace, truth and love into my life. It does this by challenging me to get out of my comfort zone and dive in to the center of my shit, and look at it with compassion and sometimes resistance and allow what’s there to be there and then gracefully or not let it go. As I become accountable and do the work I need to do, I not only transform myself, but will inspire transformation in others too. It also makes me realize the importance of not just talking the talk but consciously walking the walk by taking action through selfless service.
Bhakti/Karma Yoga = Love in action!
6 How has your practice evolved?
In my 20’s, 30’s and into my 40’s I was driven more by the physical practice and my ego. I was full of fire and had abundant energy and did not know how to contain and balance it. I am still working on this!
I had a hard time to sit and be in still meditation. I now see the benefits of balance in all areas of my yoga practice and in my life. When I sit in Meditation, regularly I see the benefits, which are being less reactive and more present and connected to myself and others. I commit to sit in meditation at least 15 -30 min each day, sometimes 30 min twice a day.
Now in my 50’s I am more in tune with what my body, mind and spirit needs and am taking more time to give all parts of myself what I need in order to be able to give back to others. I am so grateful to be on this yoga journey!
Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame. B.K.S. Iyengar
7 How might you and/or your life be different if you hadn’t found Yoga?
I would most likely be living more from my ego and be lost in my stuff/ the stories and not be accountable for taking action to remove the blocks that blind me from the truth of who I really am.
8 What is your “can’t do without” favorite pose?
I Love Wheel Pose/Urhva Danurasana. My body naturally likes the feeling of this beautiful heart opening pose. As a child I did backbends and back walk over’s all the time. It is fun and empowering at the same time! It awakens my inner child!
9 Tell us about an asana you struggle with!!
I struggle with Half Moon/Ardhachandrasana. I used to avoid it as much as possible. It hurt my hips aka the issues in my tissues…Now I know that what we don’t like about a certain pose, situation or person is an opportunity for self inquiry and adjustments. For me this pose is teaching me that allowing myself to be vulnerable and feel, not only in this posture but in life, allows me to tap into the deepest darkest corners of myself and connect to the truth of who I am and my higher purpose.
10 You inspire so many, who inspires you?
There are so many people who inspire me I could not possibly name them all here. I am inspired by everyone on this planet who has and is giving back by being of service. I am also inspired by all my students.
I love Mother Theresa and her quote as it is so profound and true “the main purpose of this life is simply to love and to be loved”
Pam Rader at Shift Power Yoga has been an enormous inspiration to me. Pam inspires me with her passion to create positive change in herself and others, by sharing her heart openly and honestly. Her courage to show up and take an active leadership role in her own life and in the community is admirable.
Michelle Trembly has had a huge impact in my life as well. She is a Martial Artist, Anti bullying Coach and Motivational Speaker. Michelle is passionate about teaching self empowerment, self confidence and compassionate communication in her anti-bullying programs. Both these amazing and hilarious woman have taught me the importance of taking action and being clear, honest and vulnerable in order to find true power, peace and positive transformation.
11 What tips can you offer beginning students for a safe practice?
If you go to a class make sure to tell the yoga instructor you are a new student and what your physical limitations are.
I would offer a new student to start slow and not force their body but to allow their body to open with compassion and patience. I would explain the difference between compression and tension. Always start where you are and accept where you are. This is true for all of us. And there is no such thing as a perfect pose. There is always a gift in every pose and every class, if you choose to see it. Have fun as you transform your body and your life.
“Making an observation without an evaluation is the highest form of human intelligence”Indian Philosopher J. Krishnamurti
Remember that no matter how long we have been teaching we are always learning and growing. Be willing to mess up and don’t take yourself so seriously. Take your practice and teaching seriously but not yourself!
I encourage you to find an experienced teacher who inspires you and is willing to mentor you. Then practice, practice and practice! Especially your own home practice.
Be authentic and be 100% present with yourself and your students. Be open, trust and allow the higher power to flow through you so you can be a conduit for transformation. Be creative and have fun!
“Auditions are being held to, be yourself! Apply within”
13 What few steps do you think a yogi can take today to tremendously improve their practice?
Observe and become aware of any judgments of yourself or others and gently release them with compassion and love. Become one with your breath and enjoy the simple pleasure of breathing and being. ALWAYS begin each practice with the curious eyes of your inner child and be open to a new way of experiencing each pose. Let the mystery and the magic transform your energy and enjoy and trust the process!
I believe that Ahimsa/Non Violence is the key to inner and world peace.
When most people hear the word violence they immediately think of physical violence. As I am realizing and hope to help others realize too, through living and teaching yoga, is that when we have any judgments, towards our selves or others it is indeed, violence. This passive violence is what feeds our fears, the seeds of anger and other negative thoughts and emotions, which contribute to dis..EASE!
I also believe that if we all live on purpose and from Truth/Satya which to me means to observe, without judgment, our thoughts, words and actions, we create space for new possibilities and an inner environment of non violence. This creates peace, love and acceptance within. When we let go of old limiting beliefs, we see the truth of who we really are. Now we can show up and be of service to ourselves, others and the world.
Be the change you want to see in the world! “Gandhi”
I am passionate about making yoga accessible and enjoyable for all stages and ages of people and to reach individuals who may not wander into a yoga studio. I teach yoga to all ages, 2 year olds all the way up to 98 year olds!
I am currently teaching different styles of yoga/meditation classes including Kids yoga, Chair Yoga, Family yoga and Water Yoga at H20 Aquatic Center as well as Personal Training and Fitness Classes.
I teach Kids Yoga at Shift Power Yoga Studio on the Westside.
I will be teaching Kid’s yoga and Family yoga at Moksha Yoga, coming soon.
I teach Chair Yoga at Sandalwood Retirement Resort.
I teach groups and one on one private session’s, either in my home or my client’s home.
I volunteer twice a week at the Gospel Mission and am in the process of creating relationships and co-creating a Street yoga program with the guests and staff at the Gospel Mission and A.G. Safe House for woman.
I am on Facebook and am working on my Website. Thank you for taking the time to connect! Take a slow, deep and enjoyable breath, smile and be!
“We are here to awaken from the illusion of separateness” Ram Dass
If I were to describe myself in two words they would be “free spirit”! Ever since I can remember I felt like life was an adventure. I believed and still do in the magic and the mysterious. I never had any religious influence as a child other than my parents told us to explore and find what felt good in our own hearts and believe in and love ourselves.
I always believed that no matter what happened I would always be o.k. I felt a deep connection to my spirit and knew that the best things in life are free. Breathing, laughing and loving!
My passion has always been to connect with others at a deep soul level and to learn and teach about self love and self realization. I also love to travel, sing, dance, swim, run, bike, play on the swings and of course practice yoga.
One of my most rewarding and challenging experiences has been being a mother to my 2 sons Cody and Monte who are now healthy, happy and hard working grown men. They have taught me so many valuable lessons including not taking things personally, letting go, and unconditional love. Thank you to all the teachers and experiences that have inspired me along my path!