Yoga Illumined – Graduate Mentorship Program

As Zoe Mantarakis and I embark on our our 4th year of Yoga Illumined Yoga Teacher and Life training programs, I would like to highlight the mentorship aspect of our program.  And thank all of our mentors over the previous two years for sharing their Hearts, souls, strength and knowledge.

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Graciela Valverde Lee and Heather Oswalt, of Yoga Illumined Castle Hill mentor Michelle and Sydney of Yoga Illumined Gallery Black Lagoon.

We offer up the opportunity to stay connected with the teachings of Yoga Illumined, the 8 limbs of Yoga by having previous year’s graduates mentor the next year’s students.  As Zoe stated in an email to our current Yoga Illumined 2013 group at Castle Hill Yoga,  “The feedback from many mentors is that the lessons ‘sink in’ in a more profound and digestible way, on the second time around. Mentoring is a way to deepen your own understanding and to gain valuable teaching experience and a chance to spread the love by giving back!”

I got the idea for mentorship in Yoga from a volunteer program I did in high school called Amigos de las Americas.  Amigos is like a mini-Peace Corps for high school and college students. Amigos empowers students to work with small villages throughout South and Latin America to promote basic health.  High school and college-age students go on their Summer breaks to countries like Brazil, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico and Dominican Republic.  We helped with community-building things such as sustainable farming, latrine-building, basic hygiene classes for kids and adults.  I went to Brazil and taught the fly cycle among many things to the children of a small town in the Northeast, called Pitombeira, and built toilets/bathrooms, to make sure that they kept flies away from their food.  Oh the lowly fly and uncovered latrines bring about horrid outbreaks of dysentery and cholera.

Anyway, it was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life.  And yet one of the m

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Singer Mayberry and Nanette Labastida – Yoga Illumined Satellite at Gallery Black Lagoon – are mentored by Ixchel Melinger and Avalon Rehn of Yoga Illumined Castle Hill.

ost gratifying.  Oh to work in a toilet factory in Brazil (well, it was more like a cement factory, where we got to help sculpt some of the toilets. I wasn’t exactly sculpting Kohler marble sinks, but what we crafted was far better than the overflowing outhouses prevalent everywhere).

The only way I would even dream of putting myself through the rigor of  3 months in a foreign country without the creature comforts of the modern world I grew up in at the ripe old age of 16 going on 17, teaching in a language I barely knew, was because the previous year’s mentors along with the Amigos staff spent an entire year mentoring us.  And guess what I did the year after I went?  I helped mentor the next year’s volunteers.

And then here we are with our  wee 200 hours and 500 hour Yoga Alliance certification programs.  Umm, Yoga is measured in lifetimes of practice.  So it’s amazing to continue teaching and mentoring.  There’s always so much to uncover and learn.  And each Asana, each Yoga posture unfolds something new every time you practice it.  And each Sutra, each Sanskrit phrase you utter, blossoms with even deeper meaning when you share it with someone else who wants to learn.

Folks who have done Amigos – we find each other in the world.  And we have a kinship, a camaraderie.  This is what I envision for everyone who joins one of our Yoga Illumined trainings.   That we remain connected in the spirit of Yoga even if we go on so many different paths throughout our lives.  May we always find one another and light up each other’s hearts with Yoga.  May we always work with our friends, students, yoga communities, world and corporate communities in great peace.

Om shantih om,


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