After completing my 200-hour yoga teacher training, I did what any new professional would do. I headed over to one of several organizations that sets standards for and certifies yoga teachers. For some perfectly legit — and some ridiculous reasons — this world is obsessed with little pieces of paper that often prove very little. As for me, I felt it added some credibility to my “new” profession. I put that in quotes because I have a Masters degree in teaching and have been practicing yoga since the 1990’s. Let’s face it. A doctor can have his degree from a fine institution and still be a completely close-minded bedside moron relying on stimulants to make it through his day. Likewise, someone with zero experience can obtain a piece of paper in weeks online and go out and kick ass in their chosen field (or worse, be completely incompetent…but hey, they have the paper!) Then there’s me…someone with tons of applicable experience that is ignored or discounted because it is too unique to fit an organization’s paradigm.

With my Yoga Alliance renewal pending, I had to stop and think about why I was continuing to give money to an organization that offered little in return where benchmarks failed to account for true experience and trainings seemed to be more about making money. Did they help me find employment? No. Did they help me find practice insurance for my studio? No. Did they have interactive ongoing training that I didn’t have to shell out additional money for? Not exactly. Did they have a list of certified trainers from whom I wanted to shell out additional money for to continue my education? No. Most of the additional training I wanted to take was with independent teachers r/evolutionizing yoga and not part of the Yoga Alliance.

So, I am now calling myself a Sovereign Certified Yoga Teacher. In regards to my yoga training, which excludes extensive experience in other areas including energy work and wisdom traditions. I received my 1st certification through Still Flowing Yoga, who is with the Yoga Alliance. I’ve since received other certifications for trainings that counted for little with Yoga Alliance;  I count them because they make me a more informed, wiser teacher. I keep track of all my trainings along with the number of hours I have been teaching and that information is freely available upon request to any of my prospective students.

I’d like to take a moment to define the word sovereign and how I am using it here. One who is sovereign is not under the authority of another. It is also a word that implies excellence, and I hold myself accountable to my own standard of ethics (not at all divergent from those upheld by the Yoga Alliance). Sovereign also implies self-rule, and this is a quality that I not only value for myself but that I consistently empower my students to embrace. We are, each of us, both guru (meaning teacher or wayshower) and student, all throughout our lives. We progress along our chosen path of wisdom best when we can move fluidly betwixt both without over-identification with one or the other.  Finally, the word sovereign implies responsibility. I alone am responsible for my experience of the world; yoga provides me with the practices to rule my body, mind and heart with wisdom, humility, and grace.

I do have my eye on a new movement called YogaUnify. I will have to see how things progress there to determine whether or not they can avoid all the traps that organizations lead to. My hope is that they can. It would be nice to be part of something greater that aligns with my values and vision of yoga. Time will tell…

A quick word about the logo…

The number you see represents the hours of yoga teacher training I have had to date. I exclude training from other subject areas. I haven’t included every hour but rather will update the logo to reflect 500, 800, and then 1000 hours of training. I’m currently working toward the 500 mark.

The bottom portion of the inner symbol is the Tibetan letter “A”.  A is said to be the original mother, giving birth to all.  In that respect, it is itself the uncreated. It is the symbol of Great Perfection in the nondual practices of Dzogchen in which all phenomena  arise dependent on conditions , fading away when those conditions end. Nothing that arises absolutely exists. What was before and alone remains is the unchanging and eternal.

The syllable is crowned by a lotus, a somewhat typical symbol in esoteric traditions for good reason, depicting rebirth, divinity and enlightenment. It is the very seat of the soul. A lotus rises up from the mud to bloom untouched, a thing of purity and beauty. The chakras, or energetic centers of the body, are often depicted with a lotus and statues of Buddha often set him upon a lotus cushion.

And finally, the lotus itself is crowned with a single pearl. I have always been drawn to the pearl as a symbol of purity, luminescence, and peace. In fact, my mala (prayer beads) is a string of mother-of-pearl chosen for these very qualities. There is also a reference to “pearls of wisdom”, and while an oyster hides the pearl within itself, many of our highest spiritual qualities are often hidden away beneath unprocessed trauma and the various “pressions”: depression, repression, oppression, suppression. One has to look deep within to discover our Divine Nature…and to be able to see it in others.

This logo is meant to remind me of Truth and the ultimate goal in all that is created and offered through me. I hope it communicates that energetically to others as well.