These are the stories from our SYI Family
Kelly Rose, Costa Rica Punta Mona, July 2018, SYI Alumni
My journey with yoga began about 2 years ago. Life flipped upside down and I was forced to face myself and my mental, physical and spiritual health. I decided to try out a little studio on the beach in Hollywood beach, Fl. The experience had me totally enthralled with the clarity and relief this practice could bring into my life. I started going to classes every single day. The more I dove into it, the more I got out of it. I realized that it was time to immerse myself completely.
Brittany Rumple, Peru, SYI Alumni
My Journey of yoga started about 2 and a half years ago in a bedroom of a quaint little college house. I was going through a lot of life transitions and obstacles during this time, and then yoga came along and reminded me to take a moment and just breathe.
Kristin Whale, Costa Rica, SYI Alumni
Grant Nixon, Peru Sacha Munay, SYI Alumni
This part of my yoga journey began the day I came back from a six-month deployment to the Middle East where I witnessed, first hand, the pain of human suffering in this world. I had served in the United States Marine Corps for six years as a combat engineer and after a deployment overseas I had come back with multiple forms of physical, mental, and emotional trauma and diagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Upon my arrival back to the states, I felt lost and searched to find anything that could help me ease my pain. The first place I looked was the local bars and I turned to alcohol and other forms of depressants to suppress my suffering. This went on for some time and eventually, after losing my girlfriend and many other friends; I finally hit a low point far down enough that inspired a great shift in my mindset. I prayed for help and I found the peace I was yearning for through my yoga and mediation practice.
After months of doing daily yoga practice, even as often as twice a day, I had seen such a shift in my happiness and mental clarity that I had made the decision that I will never again serve in any capacity that would lead to human suffering. Instead, I decided that I would dedicate my life to helping others and making the world a more peaceful place. I then booked a plane ticket to Nepal for a 10 day Vipassana meditation course and with one Native American flute, a didgeridoo, and a backpack; this is where this story begins. Five months later, after a life of sharing my music in the streets, mediation, and yoga in Nepal and India, I experienced life-changing results. It was then I decided that I wanted to dive deeper into my yoga and shamanic practices and head across the world to South America.
I chose to further my yoga practice and teaching ability through a 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training Course at the School Yoga Institute (SYI) in the Sacred Valley of Peru. SYI stood out amongst the many other options because the program offered a blend between indigenous ancestral knowledge of plant medicine and the yogic path. I had studied and researched how the sacred plant medicine of the Amazon rainforest was being used to treat many forms of trauma and found SYI to be a perfect vessel to both deepen my Yoga practice and learn the ways of South American Shamanism. It was my intention during the course to heal myself and come back to the states to then start healing others through teaching yoga, meditation, and sound medicine.
School Yoga Institute and their knowledgeable instructors awoke the power within me to fully live my truest self and shape a dream of mine to give back to the world in which I serve. I spent 25 days with the most inspiring and loving yogis who helped me embody the change I wish to see in the world and who gave me the confidence and sight to go out and make it a reality. It was during the course that I found what I believe to be my true calling while healing my traumatic past through the power of both plant medicine and yoga. One morning after a cacao ceremony, I sat down with my teacher and shaped an idea that I will use as my bedrock to give back to this world.
I aspire to bring yoga and meditation into the U.S. public school system by starting my own non-profit business that provides high school students yoga and mediation classes in an afterschool program environment. Eventually, it is my goal to then have yoga and mediation be written in and offered as an elective class in high school curriculum. I believe that by reaching teens in high school, Yoga can help them create a positive shift in their mental, emotional, and physical development during a critical time in their life. As most of us have experienced, the developmental ages of 13-18 while in high school are a time where the body, mind, and soul are shaped to ultimately create who you will become as an adult. It can be seen as the beginning stages of walking his or her path in life and for many students, it is a time of very high stress, pressure, trauma, and change. Among many other benefits, I believe that yoga and mediation can help all students achieve better focus in class, peace at home, clarity in life direction, and a better understanding as well as an acceptance of their changing bodies.
My mission is to provide students with a safe healing space and guide them through a self-exploration experience while using Yoga, Primal Sound Healing, Crystal Healing, Aromatherapy, and guided Meditation. After years in the professional world, I have decided to dedicate my life to the healing arts and have traveled across the world learning the ways of the ancient yogis, gurus, and shamans. It was through SYI that gave me the opportunity to work and study both sound healing and plant medicine in the Sacred Valley in Peru where I learned traditional methods of channeling spirit guides, ancestors, and star energy. I am dedicated in my service to soul healing by using sacred sound medicine, yoga, and meditation to help bridge the connection with the divine spirits and most of all, with your truest and highest self. I am looking forward to journeying with you soon. Please feel free to contact me and follow my story :
Thank you for reading my truth.
Sending love and light always,
Rhiannon Whitfield, Peru Sacha Munay, June 2018, SYI Alumni
I recently attended the 200ytt in the Sacred Valley, Peru in June 2018. I’m learning more and more that when you put out to the universe the things that you want and when you are open to receiving them its insane how quickly the doors begin to open. School Yoga Institute actually found ME and I’m so thankful!! I found myself searching for more out of life all while having a deep, cold ache in my soul that was begging to be exposed and healed. Here was my opportunity to fill both needs!!
I chose SYI because they offered the Mystical Yoga training which ties in the Shamanic principles and I chose Peru because I’ve always felt drawn to the are and was able to check it off of my bucket list. All I can say is that I received so much more than I came for. The honor to share in the vulnerablitly of a group of strangers and come to realize that essentially they were my tribe. So many lifelong and deep connections and friendships made!! I really enjoyed being away and submersed in the culture and learning the ways of the shamans. I experienced an insane amount of growth and knowledge through this journey and am forever grateful.
There was so much intense soul healing and shedding done, I definitely came home a different person and for the better!! I see how this trip changed the course of my life and completely transformed who I am as a person, my perception of life and people, and there has been a dynamic shift in my mindset. I am so excited to come home and dive into sharing everything I learned. Ideally I would like to transition from sick care in the NICU to resonating well care via self love. My vision is to become a huge conduit of love and wellbeing and create a ripple effect by sharing and showing others how health and happiness translate into love. I have a planted some seeds in the universe on catering to first responders and high stress health care workers and some ideas have been emerging so we shall see where it all goes.
I am currently looking into another breathing certification to accompany my yoga certification and get this party started. I want to empower others by showing them that they can create the life they desire by listening to the voice within and that health and happiness are our divine birth rights!! I am so humble and grateful for this experience and to come home a CONFIDENT yoga teacher was just an added bonus- the true prize is in coming home feeling CONFIDENT in MYSELF and in my own skin, feeling whole and healed, and being able to radiate that love of self to others. Thank you, thank you, thank you. YES. YES. YES!!!! Please feel free to follow my journey forward!! 🙂
Alivia Durocher, Guatemala June 2018, SYI Alumni
Hi there, my name is Alivia. I’m 22 years old and I grew up in the notoriously beautiful state of Colorado. My first experience with yoga was due to an online fitness program I joined with aspirations to remain fit and add a structure to my constantly changing life of exploration. I’ve been traveling off and on for a few years, when I graduated high school early in 2013 I decided that travel was the best education I could give myself at the moment, so I embarked on an adventure that has no foreseeable end!
Since starting to practice yoga, I feel like I’ve finally found something that I can take with me on all of my adventures. Something that keeps me physically and mentally healthy, that I can share with the communities I visit and that will be able to help support me finically in the lifestyle I am pursuing. I had been practicing yoga for about 6 months when I decided to look into a YTT. After only a short time I began to see how powerful the practice of yoga, the philosophy and the lifestyle can really be and I decided that it is something I’d like to commit to. I have this vision of living and teaching yoga in all of my favorite places around the world, and being able to share the transformative nature of the practice with as many people as possible!
Taking a YTT was the first step towards making that dream a reality. I picked School Yoga Institute and their Mystical Yoga Farm location because I felt like the instructors and the atmosphere were going to offer me a really comfortable and safe space to do some real personal exploration as well as build the skills I need in order to be a great teacher. The teachers seemed very sweet and experienced and they talked about the experience being a “journey” which was exciting for me. From what I read before going, I gathered that the course focused a lot on our connection to the philosophy of yoga, it’s history, and other practices like using the medicine wheel and Ayurvedic healing. Incorporating things like this into my own classes will be important to me so my interest was peaked. The thing I liked about the location is the fact that it is on a permaculture farm, something I’ve very recently become interested in. All of the points I was looking for were checked, and I made my investment. Fast forward to now, a few days after the completion of my training and all I can say is “Woah…”
The experience I had with School Yoga Institute at the Mystical Yoga Farm in Guatemala was transformational. So much information, connection, exploration and adventure during the insanely busy 21 days on The Mystical Yoga Farm in Guatemala! The vast ocean that is the study of yoga could never be encapsulated in the amount of time we had together, however I feel like I now have the basic knowledge to be able to set sail upon that ocean. The facilitators were lovely and truly gave us a safe and sacred space in order to go within and explore ourselves.
In the 200HR training we learned one Hatha flow and one Vinyasa flow that we can now customize and teach to anyone in the world! It feels good to have the certificate and the foundation to be able to create my own flows. Living right on the waters edge of Lake Atitlan for three weeks was a whole other level on it’s own. The location is beautiful, ancient, and the lake is always ready to be jumped into. The isolation is serene and being woken up by pure birdsong every morning is such a treat. The best part of the whole thing was being able to connect with the insanely beautiful, powerful, yoga queens who were able to come together and raise each other up throughout the entire training. I now have a tribe that spans all over the world that I know I will be connected with for the rest of my life.
Thank you SYI for your facilitation and for helping me open the door to my own reality!
Jordan Schnur, SYI Alumni
Coming into this experience, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I set the intention to be open minded and attentive, gaining as much knowledge as possible. When arriving in Peru and meeting up with the other members of the 200-hour training, I immediately felt at home. I am still trying to wrap my head around being in a room with 20 other people who were on equal vibrations and shared this same desire to further their love for yoga. During this experience I discovered that yoga is my passion, it is something I want to be doing day in and day out, and the School Yoga Institute allowed me to realize that it is possible to incorporate this passion into my every day life, all while making a livable lifestyle out of it.
This training taught me how to be strong and invited me into this space of dedicating myself to this idea of finding who I am. It encouraged me to think outside of the box and trust that the path I am on, is the one for me. SYI showed me how to listen to my mind, body, and soul. They showed me the path to my true inner self and for that I am eternally grateful. Since being home I have taught over 10 classes and I am reaching out to my community to start teaching at other studios/gyms across the Lehigh Valley. Being in front of a class and guiding students through stretches and poses sets my soul on fire. When I’m teaching a class, there is no place I would rather be, which is truly something special. Following my heart and finding a home with the SYI family has been an indescribable experience. I found SYI through a simple google search and once I reached out to the magnificent Keri and she further explained the program, my heart was set on solely getting myself to Peru. And of course, I was not disappointed.
Being a part of the Transformative Peru 200-hour training has been truly remarkable. It’s hard to say my exact favorite moment since everything was so magical, but I will say I loved any chance we had to be expressive through ecstatic dancing and our drumming circles. Having those moments of really feeling my heart open will be unforgettable, and being able to come home to my soul is something I will be able to live with forever. From here, I aspire to continue to live life to fullest, to cherish every moment, practice patience, and never forget my roots made in Peru. My short term goals are to follow my kriyas, practice and continue my education in yoga, as well as growing further as a yoga teacher, finding myself in different studios/gyms. My long term goals are to open my own yoga studio and find my niche in yoga to really differentiate myself amongst the crowd. I hope to inspire and empower others through my knowledge and love of yoga, I want to create the fire and passion that I have for yoga in others. Opening my knowledge and dedication to this practice towards my community will hopefully allow for a better understanding of the many benefits of yoga. I would love to create connections with people through holding Kirtans and other heart opening ceremonies to celebrate the life yoga has created for me. My gratitude goes out to the School Yoga Institute for allowing me to experience this opportunity and make my dreams into a reality. Thank you, thank you, thank you, yes, yes, yes! Namaste my yogis!
Sinclair Fleetwood, Guatemala, June 2018, SYI Alumni
Finding the practice of yoga and meditation saved my life. At the end of my 20s, I was a hot mess. I was 70 pounds overweight, out of shape, working in a career path that didn’t feed my soul, and abusing alcohol to escape the pain of living in a body and life I hated.
One night, I hit bottom. I felt like it would be easier to die than to keep living this way. I walked through how I would kill myself, who would find me, and how it would all go down. I knew that there was no way I could do that to my people, but I didn’t know how to go on. I saw a tiny light inside myself, and committed to walk into it, no matter what. I stopped drinking. I started meditating, exercising, and practicing yoga regularly. I decided to love myself exactly how I was, even if nothing was ever different. I practiced. And through challenges, that light got brighter, day by day. I embodied my goddess and now I am made of pure light. As a yoga teacher, I empower others to shine. We are gods and goddesses walking.
2018 – Age 40 at YTT Training with SYI, Sober, fit yoga teacher! <3
Gina Brindisi-Eso, Peru Sacha Munay, SYI Alumni
Where do I begin? Yoga saved my life some years back. I was scheduled for back surgery but my dedication to Gentle Yoga and Qi Gong changed my life forever. I avoided surgery and all medications since 2012!
Yoga became a passion for me and as the years went by I dreamed about becoming a certified instructor. I looked at several programs locally and abroad but nothing spoke to me. Last year I went through several life changes and when I discovered SYI in Peru it called to me. I didn’t know how to make it happen but the universe helped it all fall easily into place, quickly.
Words will never do justice in describing the SYI Peru experience. The energy in Peru just takes your breath away. The yoga journey was physically, mentally and spiritually challenging. Janani and Adrianna are incredible souls who taught in a manner that brought in every aspect of this earth and our being. Both are extremely knowledgeable and bring their own experiences to all the teachings. They both challenged me to listen to my instincts and trust myself, encouraging growth in all aspects of my life. I learned so much in those 21 days, living and learning in Peru was life changing, I left there forever changed by my experiences and eager to move forward in my practice by teaching and continuing to grow in my passion.
Someone once said to me “If you can breathe you can do yoga” and it is very true. I look forward to bringing this practice to those who are injured, have medical trials, chronic pain etc. Janani stated “The way we do anything is the way we do everything” which is also true and continues to motivate me daily in learning and continuing to be a better person on all levels.
My soul is forever changed by this SYI experience. I am so grateful for the opportunity to meet other like minded souls and learn and grow with one another, it was awesome watching the transformation of one another (my forever friends). Blessed and grateful for SYI (Instructors/Staff) and the experience they created for me to evolve. I am forever an SYI Alumni and look forward to making you all proud as I represent you in this world. I look forward to the next training!
Blessings to all of you! Thank you so much for all your guidance and support!
Sara King, Peru Sacha Munay, SYI Alumni
My journey to my SYI Peru training began after I’d embarked on a life-long dream to live in London. I enrolled in a master’s program that I’d hoped would enhance my career as a counselor, while also giving me an opportunity to experience life in Europe. I decided I should be “all in” on this dream and sold a home that I loved in Atlanta and said goodbye to a private practice I’d built up over the course of five years. Almost immediately, upon getting to London, nothing felt right. My flat had one problem after another, the academic program was nothing like I’d expected and despite having previously lived in many big cities, I was overwhelmed by the London sprawl. All signs indicated it was best to move on, but I had no idea what could be next. I’d imagined I would stay in Europe for several years; leaving after six months hadn’t even crossed my mind. So, on the brink of a bit of a meltdown across the pond, I started to ask myself what this time of uncertainty could open up for me. One thing I recognized was that this window in unstructured time was a rare and perfect opportunity to tackle things on my “one day” list and near the top was completing a Yoga teacher training. I had been off and on with my yoga practice in my earlier years, but it wasn’t until I was introduced to Vinyasa Flow several years ago that I really felt hooked. Growing up as a dancer, something about this yoga practice connected me back to those days, a part of myself that I missed. Friends and teachers had suggested at various points that I consider teacher training. Normally, I would respond that I just didn’t have the time or there was a voice in my head that said I wasn’t “good enough” yet. At this point, it was hard to argue that I didn’t have the time.
After some good old googling I found SYI and immediately felt excited. I was intrigued by all of the sacred training locations around the world and the mystical aspects felt like it would not only be a yoga training, but a healing experience for the soul. At the same time, that familiar voice that said, “you’re still not ready,” started to show up again. I bookmarked the page and put the idea on the backburner. A few weeks later I was talking with a friend about this time of uncertainty and she said, “Have you thought about doing a yoga teacher training? A friend of mine did this really amazing one in Guatemala through this school called SYI.” Well, I figured this was a sign that I shouldn’t ignore.
In some ways, this training was exactly what I’d hoped for while also being nothing like I’d imagined. For starters, the location was more beautiful than photos could do justice. The variety of plants and flowers at Sach’a Munay and the unique mountain tops right above the land create something simply spectacular. And while I knew there would be ceremonies, the nature of the song, traditions, rituals and stories held in such a sacred place blended to create a collective, experiential, power that is hard to describe. I danced and sang more than I had in years and allowed myself to try new things, as well as renew old things, to expand my soul. My growing points that were difficult were sometimes surprising and some of the aspects I was worried about (like getting up at 5am!) actually ended up coming with joy.
One of the biggest surprises I experienced during my training was the transformation I felt with my relationship to teaching. At the start of the training, I remember being one of the only people in my group that wasn’t sure that I wanted to teach yoga after the training. While I was open to the possibility, honestly, I was mostly there for my own internal growth and to learn how to integrate more aspects of yoga into therapeutic work with my clients. Plus, the idea of leading a whole class really made me more anxious than excited. While I still aspire to incorporate yoga into my work, and my individual gains were many, the unexpected happened and not only was teaching not really so scary, I found joy in it. Overall, it was a valuable lesson in honoring an intention while also creating space for the unexpected to emerge and teach.
It honestly feels quite challenging to encapsulate my feelings about my time in Peru and with SYI into words. People keep asking about my experience, and while I think I’m communicating some of it, my overwhelming sentiment is that it’s one of those opportunities in life that is best understood by feeling it versus speaking it. And, if anyone is considering going to Peru and taking a course with SYI—go, go, go!
Colie Wasmund, Peru February 2018, SYI Alum
0 minutes of yoga classes per day! Upon returning to my hometown in Wisconsin I had soon met my ex-partner and ended up leaving my business and home to start this new adventure together. Long and short, the relationship didn’t work out and I quickly found myself going broke, falling into another depressive state and in desperate need of getting out of a situation that did not serve me. After agreeing to break our lease and our relationship in December, I then found myself heading back to Wisconsin to attend my Grandpa’s funeral. It was there, when I was sitting in my Grandma’s house that I began asking what is next for my life. I consider the next part a gift from my Grandpa.
I had been looking up yoga teacher trainings, and School Yoga Institute happened to pop up first on my search. I don’t remember what I searched or honestly why it was even a YTT. All I know was that it all felt exactly right in my body so I asked my family to support me in getting to this YTT. After what was the hardest year of my life, I look at it now as a valuable lesson where I was kicked out of my comfort zone in knowing I was ready for this new next step and all that’s about to come into my life. This offering had encouraged me to continue my yoga and meditation practice and grow in my spiritual journey and I was led to SYI for several reasons. In my first communication to SYI, Keri had been so kind, helpful, and understanding; and she was willing to listen, support and assure that if this is what I really wanted, there would be a way to get me there. I was blown away that an organization was so generously open to helping a complete stranger. Also, I had a bit of a checklist: to be out of the country at a training that would teach me more than just the poses; that it was going to provide a space of personal and spiritual growth; and that it was in 2018. A little more than 2 weeks later, and I was set to head to Peru for my YTT with SYI in February of 2018.
The 200-hour YTT program with SYI in Peru met all of the requirements. I loved being in the Sacred Valley. The beauty of the land and the energy alone was like waking up in a paradise each morning. The magic was strong and hard not to fall in love with. On top of that, the option of plant medicine really appealed to me for deeper healing, clarity, and understanding. It all came together so beautifully. In going to the training, I wanted to heal after a long year. I wanted to feel free and energetic, alive in my body. I wanted to learn yoga and deepen my own practice, to find me so I can help others find themselves. After it is all said and done, I now have a YTT certificate! I have new friends, a healed heart and body, clarity, love and understanding for myself and what I just went through. I have my breath, and I got me back. Coming back to the USA, I will use this training in my online coaching business. I see how important movement and breath is. With my love for fitness and food, this is a great compliment to raise people’s vibration, energy and love for themselves. Yoga and breath is so healing. I want to inspire and empower people into living their most passionate life in an energy that allows them to make a difference in their life and in those around them. My heart will lead me to fall in love, to travel the world, to heal the world and make it a better place. I want to facilitate retreats as I continue to grow my mobile business and teach people Peace.
My training with SYI has given me more knowledge of the body, breath, food, energy and a new confidence to intuitively help my clients. Through experiences and conversations, I empower my clients. As a coach, I love working with people to give them the courage to do the uncommon thing to get a new result. I teach that the magic is just beyond the comfort zone. I want to connect with people through energy, eye connection, and hugs when the time is right. Every person, interaction and meeting is a gift. I am looking at how we will be mirrors and teachers for each other’s growth. This also keeps me present to the right now with that person.
Colie is currently living in Wisconsin and can be contacted through her website at www.coliewasmund.com.
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