Meet our YTT Grads: Tana Dalman

YTT graduate, Tana Dalman

YTT graduate, Tana Dalman

Tana graduated from the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga’s YTT program in August, 2013. As a new graduate – and a karma yogi at the Centre – she has begun to teach yoga classes to the other karma yogis at the Centre. Tana’s life is guided by spiritual teachings and practices, which she delights in sharing with others.

What motivated you to begin practicing yoga? How did yoga come to be a part of your life?
In the beginning I practiced asana to warm up for my martial arts training. When I came to the centre to live and serve in a healthy community, my passion for yoga was ignited.

What attracted you to the SSCY YTT program?
I was attracted to the YTT program at SSCY because the course was based on Baba Hari Dass’ teachings. The teachings of Babaji were handed down over several decades to founding members of SSCY. The instruction seemed to be a complete overview of the classical Astanga Yoga system, not just asana.

What aspect of yoga has had the most transformative effect on your life?
Pranayama and meditation has had the most impact on my life; there is a stillness and a steadiness that is with me throughout my day. Also, the principals of yama and niyama are a foundation for a virtuous life.

What surprised you the most about the practice of yoga? How has your understanding of yoga deepened?
Shat Karma was very suprising, fun and funny. Yoga is a life way;the deepening of devotion and faith continue to grow inside me since I began learning all these practices. I believe the eight limbs of Astanga Yoga have something to offer every type of person regardless of race, creed or background.

What can students expect from the yoga teacher training at the Centre?
To receive a complete comprehensive instruction of the eight limbs of Astanga Yoga or as much as you can possibly fit into a 200 hour course.

How has your practice evolved since completing the YTT program? Are you sharing yoga in your community? If so, what inspires you to share the practice?
My body posture is automatic and correct in my poses.
I am sharing my yoga with my community; as Babaji says, “Teach to learn”. I feel like I just got here five minutes ago, and I’m fully immersed.

Where do you live? What do you do in your life apart from yoga?
I am from Vancouver and staying at the Centre as a Karma Yogi. As a First Nations person I participate in native ceremonies. For many years I worked with high risk youth as an outdoor instructor, and in the winter I worked as a dog sled guide.

Meet our Karma Yogis: Sue Ann Leavy

Karma Yogi Sue Ann, Fall 2013

Karma Yogi Sue Ann, Fall 2013

Before I came to the Centre I was living in San Francisco, getting my Masters degree in Public Health, having previously gotten a teaching degree and spent time teaching kindergarten and fourth grade. I was working at a yoga studio, doing a bit of work exchange for classes. That was my first real experience of yoga. The studio’s focus included spiritual, physical and community experiences.

My first experience of community came earlier, from the age of 5 when I began spending 10 weeks every summer living on a ranch, which I did till the age of 20. On the ranch we all lived and worked together to keep the ranch running and keep the animals healthy. I ended up teaching horse riding and vaulting (like circus riding). Because of that experience, I came to know I wanted to live with other people in community – and it worked out perfectly that this opportunity became available just when I was ready to leave my city life.

The first part of my stay here was more challenging than I had anticipated; I wasn’t expecting the impact that changing everything in my life all at once would have – leaving the city, living in a tent, going from university to housekeeping. Also, I’ve spent so many years with my best friends, many of whom I’ve known since kindergarten, and this was the first time I’d gone somewhere where I had to find my place without them close by. I came here with Jeff, my partner, but I didn’t know anyone else. Having to listen to myself and find my comfort in myself has been the biggest growth. It took longer than I expected, but I’m learning to trust my own wisdom.

Life at the Centre has opened my eyes to what’s possible. Now I really want to do a Yoga Teacher Training, and I’ve been introduced to meditation, which I had never done before. I’m also learning I don’t have to be perfect at everything and can relax into myself. Jeff and I have been here since June, and I’m thankful we are able to stay till the end of the season in November.

Meet our Karma Yogis: Ben Poulton

Karma Yogi Ben, Fall 2013

Karma Yogi Ben, Fall 2013

Physical sports injuries drew me to yoga because I had heard it could help with past injuries. In the fall of 2009 I started practicing with a teacher in Whistler, BC, who played the harmonium and opened her classes with a prayer and shared a spiritual reading. Earlier, I had explored various spiritual paths, but not for years. Once I started to feel the depth of the classes I was now taking, devotion arose; it was touching something deep inside me.

In the winter of 2010 I started thinking I needed to learn how to grow my own food, so I went online and found the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga’s posting for a farm yogi. I wasn’t accepted because I lacked experience, but I was still really drawn to the Centre, so I looked through the website again to see if there was another way I could be here. There was a posting for a skilled carpenter, and I was accepted for a month long period. After a couple of weeks, one of the farm yogis cancelled and I was asked if I’d like to work on the farm. Unfortunately I had already committed to work for the summer. After my one month stay, I was asked if I could stay on as a carpenter, so I stayed for the next two weeks till it was time to go to work elsewhere. I kept coming back and in 2011 ended up staying till the end of October.

In the winter of 2013 I came to the Centre as a KYSS participant for the first time, working in the kitchen. As it happened, I’ve been able to stay, working in the kitchen and maintenance, and now I have the good fortune to be able to stay till the end of the season, November 15. During the first KYSS term I felt an opening in my heart that I hadn’t felt for a long time; that’s why I had kept coming back. During the time I was away, a yearning started to develop for depth of devotion, practice and service to others.

Last winter, having worked hard to earn money, I was able to commit to my life as a snowboarder; that was the focus of my devotion. As soon as I quit drinking and doing drugs when I was 28. I started devoting myself to a mountain lifestyle and to take my snowboarding more seriously. Seven years of that didn’t fulfill me. Last winter, I was in the best physical shape I’d ever been in and I had the financial resources to pursue snowboarding, but somehow that wasn’t enough. Continually pursuing desires just led to more desires.

I had a little personal check-in with myself and I realized that I wanted the openness of heart I had experienced here, and that’s when I applied to come back one more time. I wanted to serve in whatever capacity was needed; my focus was to be of service. Out of that arose devotion. Bhakti has blossomed in my heart. Having a daily practice is changing patterns I never thought could change – but something is changing. There are moments of relaxation and peace when everything flows easily.

Meet our Karma Yogis: Leah Hughes

Karma yogi Leah, Fall 2013

Karma yogi Leah, Fall 2013

In 2010 I lived and travelled in Mexico for 10 months, as a volunteer teaching basic literacy and math skills to kids. During that time I learned Spanish. In the spring of 2012 I graduated from UVic with a major in Anthropology and a minor in Hispanic Studies.

After graduation I walked the Camino – 820 km across northern Spain – with my mom, something she had wanted to do for a long time. We met people from all over the world. I love to travel, so when I got back from that trip I went to Peru for six months, where I volunteered with indigenous weaving communities to revitalize the textile tradition, using all natural dyes and hand woven alpaca wool. Although I’m fluent in Spanish, I travelled with a translator since the weavers are mainly women who speak only Quechua.

In the summer of 2012 I met someone who had spent time at the Centre, and this remained at the back of my mind. During the winter I applied to come here because I’d been wanting to deepen my yoga practice after having done a work exchange at a yoga studio in Victoria. I also wanted to be back on the coast, on an island and on a farm.

I am in the KYSS program, with the good fortune of being in the only summer farm position at the Centre. I will become an official farm yogi for the month of October. I didn’t have much farm experience when I arrived, so every day was a new learning opportunity. I find it very satisfying working on a farm in a community where the food we grow is prepared and served to the community every day, and to see the complete cycle of the food, knowing the labour that went into growing it. It gives us a sense of connectedness to the food we’re eating, and an appreciation for the abundance of the land; Harvest days are very exciting – and fun!

Part of what drew me here was to be able to explore yoga off the mat, from people with a lot of wisdom and a lot to teach, in classes and in daily interactions. I’ve gained so much from my time here.

Meet our Karma Yogis: Zoe Lee

Karma Yogi Zoe, Fall 2013

Karma Yogi Zoe, Fall 2013

Prior to coming to the centre I lived in Victoria where I received my Diploma in Indigenous Studies from Camosun College. This is the second time I’ve participated in the Karma Yoga Service & Study Program. One of the reasons I feel I’m so drawn to the Centre stems from my deep appreciation for yoga philosophy, which coincides with much of the knowledge I gained in my studies at Camosun, such as our inherent interconnectedness with others, the importance of respecting the land and its resources, practicing non-violence, and so much more.

It is difficult to pinpoint the most meaningful experience I’ve had at the Centre because so many moments are enriched with joy, creativity and contentment. There have been many pivotal realizations I’ve come to, thanks to inspiring discussions on spiritual philosophy; those moments when everything just seems to make sense leave my soul feeling deeply fulfilled and at ease. I have had the privilege of meeting and working with some of the most open-hearted people I’ve ever known, and with whom I’ve shared many beautiful moments.

I have learnt many lessons by living in community, especially about interacting harmoniously with people from all walks of life. By practicing yoga I’ve come to feel more in touch with my higher self; I’ve cultivated a stronger sense of self-worth, and each day that I practice I feel more in tune and at ease with the world around me. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to have given me a richly holistic understanding of yoga that I trust will positively influence my practice for many years to come.

Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy Apprenticeship