Free class celebrates yoga teaching scholarship students
Students and teachers join together for an Om Circle to bathe each other in good vibrations. (Jean David)
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To celebrate and complete their 200-hour teacher training, the scholarship students from Yoga Assets gathered together with other students and neighbors at Hidden Valley Park at the base of the mountainside in Sandy to enjoy salutations to the sun.
“It was quite an experience for us,” said Amy Sonnenberg, one of scholarship recipients. “Yoga really is for everybody, not just your typical gym or studio figure.” The scholarship was set up by advanced students working to complete their 500-hour teaching credit.
Denise Druce, with over 17 years of teaching yoga and 35 years teaching fitness, is the founder and owner of the Salt Lake company Yoga Assets, which specializes in yoga teacher training based on a curriculum Druce designed. She asks her advanced 500-hour students to create a community project in order to share the benefits of yoga practice in places it might not be available. When her class this year had some difficulty agreeing on a project to complete their training, one student suggested that instead of focusing on one community, they share with many by each choosing someone who would be trained by the advanced students under Druce’s supervision for free, with the understanding that they would then pass on their knowledge to their own sphere of influence.
“We had a deaf woman who is now teaching at the school for the deaf and blind, a woman with cancer who is now teaching at Huntsman, a woman who teaches at the state mental hospital,” said Druce. “We were able to create something and now they’re all out doing yoga.”
Jani Holder, who graduated from the program several years ago and has been practicing yoga for about five years, was glad to see the students and teachers participating with the Sandy neighborhood and came to the free class to support the new teachers.
“I think it’s a great program. It builds everybody up and makes them the best teacher they can be,” said Holder. “A great community builder. It’s super fun to get everybody out and practicing, no pressure.”
Sonnenberg, who has been practicing yoga on and off since she was 16 as a way to quiet her mind and ease her anxiety, was excited and honored to be given the opportunity to learn and pass on the teachings she had been given, especially considering the state of anger, fear and tumultuous happenings she believes are tearing people apart. Her hope is to spread the message that people of all walks of life can come together, drive out the fear and focus on being their best self.
“It doesn’t matter your socioeconomic status, it doesn’t matter your race, it doesn’t matter your religious or spiritual belief system, your physical ability — it can be adapted to anybody,” said Sonnenberg.
The teaching certification is a six-month process comprised of three 10-hour days, once a month. Yoga Assets provides all of the teaching materials and help for students and teachers along the way. Thanks to one instructor’s connections, the class was able to do their training at the Treehouse Athletic Club in Draper for free. During the graduation class in Sandy, which was free to the public, the new teachers took turns walking attendees through each of the forms while live music provided by Rocky Lavoie was played.
Sandy resident Dawn Uhler, who has been practicing yoga for 50 years, found out about the class and was eager to try it out given the peacefulness of the setting.
“It sounded really cool and I figured there’d be a lot of nice people here,” said Uhler. “It always makes you feel so good. I love it.”
The students at Yoga Assets are working to raise funds for at least one scholarship for the upcoming classes, and Druce has her eyes on some new projects. Some of these include working with the prison system to allow 20 inmates to participate and also working with the refugee population.
“Everybody’s doing yoga now except for the people who need it most,” said Druce, who sees yoga as a way to get to know yourself better. “It’s life-changing.”
Right now Sonnenberg is doing her part to pay it forward, starting with teaching her new moves to 4- and 5-year olds at Treehouse Athletic Club while their parents are in classes. She hopes to eventually be able to teach a kids’ yoga class at her own children’s school.
“When you come to yoga and you say, ‘I want to be more flexible,’ you’re not just talking about your hamstrings. When you come to yoga and say, ‘I want to find better balance,’ you’re not just talking about standing on one leg,” Druce said.
For more information about yoga classes and future teacher training, visit http://yogaassets.com/