Yoga Illumined: More than a Teacher Training

Yoga Illumined, YogaflyWe are embarking upon the 2014 Yoga Illumined journey at Castle Hill Yoga in Austin, Texas. It seems important to note that yes, this is a Teacher Training and you will have the tools you need to begin a teaching practice when you finish the 200-Hour training. But Yoga Illumined first, and foremost, deconstructs any small picture you may have of what Yoga really is, and expands it as wide as the Universe.  And then we teach you how to teach Yoga, not simply Hatha Yoga (the movement and Asana/Yoga Posture) limb of the 8-limbs of Yoga, but we teach you how to teach your Self and others how to bring all eight limbs of Yoga into all aspects of Life.

I have learned through experience that no matter how much the world tries to secularize itself – Home Life versus Work Life, Corporate World versus Natural World, Male versus Female, Athletes versus Artists -none of these labels are 100% accurate.  Work Life is so much more balanced and wonderful when it takes into consideration the Home Life.  The Corporate World is so much more wonderful when it Honors Mother Nature.  Males are more fabulous when they Honor the Divine Female and Females are more amazing when we Honor the Divine Masculine.  And as both an Artist and an Athlete, I could never quite figure out why jocks and artists were supposed to be two different species.  I mean, yes, there are “dumb” jocks out there, but I’ve also met so many super smart athletes.

So what does all this have to do with Yoga Illumined?  When I first conceptualized the program, I wanted something that reflected back our modern world to me and how Yoga fits into it and helps it all become ONE.  From 2007 – 2009, I found myself straddling two worlds, partially living at Ananda Ashram, an hour outside of Manhattan and working at one of the biggest ad agencies in the entire Cosmos (but seriously) in New York City.  At first, leaving the Ashram on my bus and train rides back to the City felt like I was leaving this beautiful, meditative, serene Yoga atmosphere that could only be found there, at a place where people have been dedicating themselves to the practices of Yoga for fifty years and more with a Guru who blessed the space with a lot of Shakti (divine energy).  And I can’t really tell when it happened, perhaps it was after 4-5 months of grumbling my way through bus, train and subway traffic at the crack of dawn to get to the City, but all of a sudden, there was no difference.  I literally would find myself confusing the words “Ad Agency” and “Ananda Ashram” when speaking about my worlds.  And folks from the Ad Agency would suddenly appear at the Ashram (not even because I asked them to come, but on their own).  Chanting Vedic fire ceremony with Advertising folks is a trip, but I STILL to this day, do this very same thing.  Many of the folks who join me for Vedic Fire Ceremony regularly here in Austin are from the Ad Agency within a big Financial Services company where I work.  Ain’t that somethin?

And this is when I understood, that on some sweet level, I was supposed to get this understanding that there was no difference between people in Ad Agencies and Ashrams and to help bring this out to the world.  “Become a living Ashram,” our Guru would say.  And I’m one of those people who take teachings and etch them out in Gold stencil in the lining of every cell in my body so I Never forget them.  Oh Ashram has music, mantra, Scripture, Dance, Musicals, Plays, Sanskrit, Kirtan, Hatha Yoga in every style, Meditation!  Let’s bring these into everyday Life! But of course, my interpretation of Ashram is still my own unique interpretation of it.  Yoga Illumined was borne out of the knowing that everyone is working with multiple worlds, like I am, at once.  And that there is a practice, Yoga, that unites all of the worlds so that you can live life to the Fullest.  Somewhere in all my years of working in Corporate America, teaching and practicing Yoga, studying the Sciences, Music and Art, I realized that none of these worlds were better than the other.  That all of these worlds mutually exist within me and all around me.  And when I stop the false idea that one world is better than the other or more spiritual, or more divine, then Everything is Illuminated (thanks Jonathan Safran Foer).

And Yoga’s many techniques and practices from Meditation to Breathwork to Mantra to Music to Asana and MORE, help one Relax in any World.  This is the basis of Yoga Illumined.  And is why we have equal amounts of folks who do our training who go out and teach Yoga to others and folks who simply wish to deepen their practices of Yoga in the context of everyday life-work-spirituality balance.

Many folks who graduate from our program continue to Mentor year after year – to gain more access to the teachings of Yoga.  They understand that Yoga is not a 200-Hour journey – but one that happens with every choice we make as we drive or walk down the street.  They understand that Yoga is a psychic – spiritual – physical – mental journey that continues to unfold lifetime after lifetime.  They learn that Yoga works with any and all religions, that as Patanjali explains it, Yoga is more of a Science than a religion or a cult of people with legs akimbo in tight shorts and spandex.  Yoga is a beautiful Source of constant inspiration and Joy.

Mine and Zoe Mantarakis’ aim with Yoga Illumined is to help everyone understand that we are All illuminated beings with tremendous sources of beauty, truth, consciousness and light within us.  We are all Great teachers.  And we are all Gifts from the Source of All that is.

May all beings be happy and free.

Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu.

Om shantih Om,


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