Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Support Local Refugees!

Posted on: March 8th, 2019
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Eat local and support local refugees! We are thrilled to be a pickup location for the Multicultural Refugee Coalition’s New Leaf Farm CSA!!  The farm director, Wandaka, has been involved in Amala Foundation (our nonprofit organizaiton) for many years, and we want to get the delicious veggies he and other local refugees have grown in your kitchen!  Learn more here!

Sanctuary Yoga Becomes Donation-Based Yoga Studio!

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019
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We are thrilled to share that to better serve the Austin area and make yoga and mindfulness accessible to everyone, we will be transitioning to a donation-based yoga studio on March 1st!

Why this change? At Sanctuary, we know that we thrive as individuals when we have opportunities to develop self-awareness, a sense of belonging, and connection to others. Our goal is to make these opportunities possible for everyone in our community. 

At the Amala Foundation, we hope to work for a more equitable, inclusive, compassionate future for us all. To reach that end, we are building a community of emotionally intelligent and socially conscious leaders by inspiring people of all ages and backgrounds to connect with themselves and others, grow as individuals, and serve conscious leaders in their communities. As a donation-based, nonprofit yoga studio, Sanctuary will be able to better support our community through yoga classes, workshops, and potluck events. 

Yoga students are encouraged to donate what they are able to offer. Your donations are split to support our talented teachers and the social-emotional learning programs of the Amala Foundation. 

For current members and class passes:
No additional donations are required but they are welcome!
We invite all our community to become a member of Sanctuary Yoga, for more information click here.

Thank you for sharing your practice and your love with this beautiful community. Check out our new animation video here to learn more about Amala and Sanctuary’s mission.

Thank you again for being a part of our community! I hope Amala and Sanctuary offer you a place to connect, grow, and serve. 


200 HR Community Yoga Teacher Training

Posted on: March 28th, 2018
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200 HR Teacher Training


The 200-hour Community Yoga teacher training is the first of it’s kind in Austin. Offering a diverse and intimate setting for students who are inspired to become a facilitator of yoga and mindfulness in community settings such as schools, prisons, rehabilitation centers, recreation centers and more. This training is for those students who are passionate about service and want to make the healing benefits of yoga accessible to all members of our community.

  • Applied yoga philosophy and psychology
  • Accessible Asana, pranayama, and meditation
  • Holding space, mindful facilitation, and therapeutic presence
  • Mindfulness-based teaching
  • Trauma-Informed teaching
  • Yoga for special populations (including guest teachers from the community)

Sanctuary Yoga is a 200 RYS with the Yoga Alliance and students will be fully accredited to not only teach in community settings but professional studios as well. Training will begin the last weekend of August 2018. We will be meeting one weekend a month Friday- Sunday for eight months. Along with the weekend training, students will also be participating in one community class a week observe other teachers and to practice teaching in community settings.

Where and When

The training will be held at Mary Lee Foundation once a month for eight months.

Friday 6 PM- 10 PM, Saturday & Sunday 10 AM-6 PM

08/24/18 – 08/26/18

09/28/18 – 09/30/18

10/26/18 – 10/28/18

11/30/18 – 12/02/18

12/14/18 – 12/16/18

01/25/19 – 01/27/19

02/22/19 – 02/24/19

03/29/19 – 03/31/19

How to Apply

To reserve a place in the training you must complete the
Online Application

Community Yoga is reaching out to the broader Austin community to create an intentionally racially and socioeconomically diverse cohort. Public spaces are limited to 10 students to ensure diversity, intimacy, and depth of the experience. For those accepted, a $300 deposit will be required to reserve your spot.

In selecting students, community work experience, social service experience, and experience with specialized populations are an important plus. Because we will be training to work in non-traditional settings with specialized populations, our enrollment process will consist of both the enrollment form and a personal history. This training will demand a high level of self-reflection, diversity, social competence, and cultural competence. In order to be considered, please fill out your application fully.

Soften the Edges and Use Your Breath! Yoga with Emily Farr

Posted on: November 10th, 2017
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Emily Farr trained as a classical ballet dancer, a singer, and actress.  As a yogi, she teaches yoga and meditation at Sanctuary Yoga.  Every yoga teacher brings their own unique gifts and all of her training is apparent in the yoga classes that she teaches.  Emily feels extremely grateful and honored to be part of the Amala Foundation as she shares her love of yoga and meditation with people from all walks of life.

A fan of Brené Brown, the author of The Gifts of Imperfection, Emily’s intention is to help yogis let go of the need to perfect, perform and please.  During class you will hear “Soften the edges!” and “Use your breath!”  Enjoy a few of Emily’s gifts.


sOFTEN, Find Your Breath and Take up Space

In her classes, she seeks to offer a sense of lightness and love through the physical, mental, and spiritual practices of yoga and meditation.This fun yoga sequence was created for anyone who is feeling a little tight and constricted.

With this gentle flow, Emily helps anyone dealing with upper body tension to focus on the breath.  Softening upper body tension makes breathing easier.  Where ever you are, there is always a softer place.  Emily invites you to gently play, stretch, twist, ground as you notice where you hold the tension.  Using the breath to release stress and anxiety.  At the end you will feel more centered and at ease as you ready for the day.




Soften Your Edges with Meditation

One of the classes that Emily teaches is the morning Yoga and Meditation class.  A sample of what to expect in class can be found in this recorded 10 minute guided meditation.  It is a gift for those who take her class or those unable to attend.  Those seeking to create a space of stillness, peace and to encourage freedom from stress, fear, anxiety.

In the meditation, Emily guides readers to:

fully embrace our feelings and discomforts without judgement

to reconnect with our breath

spend time noticing the quality and rhythm of breath

Use of the breath to gently invite a bit of ease

Using imagination to direct the breath

Embrace the freedom that comes with the practice



One of Emily Farr‘s many roles is as a film writer and director.   Her short film, Who Am I? softens our edges by promoting freedom and self-acceptance.   The film review the labels we use to define ourselves and lets the viewer  know that we are more than our body, more than what we do for a living, more than our failures.

Ask yourself this question. Who am I? The answer may not be so easy to find. It may take a little uncovering to find the answer.   It may take a lifetime to find out who we are and who we are not. This is the journey we are all on.


Thanksgiving Day Donation Classes

Posted on: November 7th, 2017
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Thanksgiving Day Donation Yoga


Please join us, Thanksgiving day, for positive and liberating Vinyasa Flow (All Levels) classes that will inspire you to celebrate gratitude for all that we receive from the people we love.

Thanksgiving Day Donation Yoga
Thursday, November 23

9:15AM-10:15AM with Leticia Alvarez
10:30AM-11:45AM with Amanda Leigh Oakley
12:00PM-1:00PM with Olivia Jimenez
1:30PM-2:45PM with Olivia Jimenez

All donations will support the youth programs of Amala Foundation!

$15 suggested donations ~ monthly members join free!

Fall Fest!

Posted on: October 10th, 2017
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Fall Fest


Please join us for a fun, family-friendly day of wellness, community connection and live music on the beautiful grounds of the Amala foundation.

All are welcome.

1:30 – Free Yoga Class
3:00 – Youth Led Sharing Circles
4:00 – One Village Music Project
5:00 – Kiko Villamizar (Traditional Music from Colombia)

Learn more at the Facebook Event Page.

We’ll See You There!



Yoga and Finances with Megan Rutherford

Posted on: September 27th, 2017
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What about those recent hurricanes and floods in Austin?  Authorities gave us ample warnings.  There were graphs, charts, maps, lists and answers to frequently asked questions to help Austinites prepare.

The hurricane came at the end of the month.   For many, it was at the end of their paycheck. Some felt the stress on their physical body, emotional body, mental body and finances.

Would you have been prepared financially if your property were affected?  Thanks to yoga teacher, Megan Rutherford, students will have an  opportunity to improve their  financial life.


Create a better relationship with your finances

These are some of the scenarios to discuss with a financial counselor.  Megan Rutherford is a yoga teacher and a financial counselor with Northwestern Mutual, a brokerage company in Austin.

She is happy for the opportunity to help you create a better relationship with your finances.  Megan offers Financial Flow Workshop at Sanctuary Yoga.  The workshops offer an interactive group experience.  With mindfulness techniques, participants learn how to live a healthier lifestyle and improve their financial health.    During the workshops, the topics unfold to include  the needs of the attendees.  Topics may include:

The conversations you have with money.

Your relationship with money.

Mindful budgeting.



Your questions and feedback about the financial industry.

A Marriage of Techniques

Megan teaches different types of yoga at Sanctuary Yoga.  The different techniques help students in their journey.  The goal is a place where they are in the present moment.  These include Hatha Flow Yoga.  Also, mindfulness techniques paired with meditation.  The meditation could be seated and/or walking meditation, silent and guided meditation.

To get students started for the day, Megan teaches the faster-paced  Morning Flow Yoga.  The upbeat music and faster movements will get your blood flowing.  You will feel increased energy.

Creating New Habits

In this section, Megan explains why she teaches to create new habits.

“One of my favorite teachers here in Austin, Texas is Shawn Kent.  He has shared this idea with me and I love to share it in my classes.  And that is that we are a conditioned bundle of energy. 

A conditioned bundle of habit energy.   And, we have the right to choose. 

So we are a conditioned bundle of habit energy with a choice.  And, the choice is our responsibility. 

Responsibility is actually the ability to respond to our circumstances.  To our situations.  And so even though we are a conditioned bundle of habit energy, we are able to change that by mindfulness techniques, by meditation and just choosing to interrupt the story that we normally live.”



“During yoga, there is no reason to have your mind all over the place.

When your mind is floating out in space, focus on your hands to pull you into the present moment.  This helps by centering you back into the body.”

  1.  Bring your hand into prayer
  2.  Set your gaze just right out in front of the tip of your nose
  3.  Reach your hands up high and follow your hands with your gaze
  4.  Draw your hands back down the center line following the hands with your gaze



yoga students discover Austin’s Yoga Scene

Sentha is  from New York.  She chose to attend Megan’s midday Yoga and Meditation class.  Sentha wanted to check out the yoga scene.  She also wanted to help her friend Blanca discover yoga.  She felt that yoga is one thing to do to survive in a big city like  Austin.  This was Blanca’s first yoga class.

Why do people choose to visit Sanctuary Yoga?  Austin offers a variety of yoga studios. But here, Sentha shares her  three key reasons for choosing Sanctuary Yoga:
“The name itself.”
“The beautiful space.”
“The fact that it was a nonprofit.”




The Yoga of listening with compassion

Posted on: August 29th, 2017
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There are benefits to listening with compassion.  What happens as the news about the clashes between groups with different ideologies reach us? Those clashes lead to the death of protesters and first responders.  Many suffered multiple injuries.

I felt emotionally, spiritually and mentally affected by these events.  These injuries lead to intricate, delicate feelings and sometimes judgments begging for compassion. They wanted out, to be allowed, accepted.  They begged for my compassion.

Most people do not listen

with the intent to understand.  

Most people listen

with the intent to reply.

–Stephen R. Covey


Listening to understand

A group of people, hosted by IACT, met recently to discuss compassion. These meetings are an exercise in listening.  Listening, while learning not to be in a hurry to respond.  Many would agree that listening with a group that is willing to follow basic rules of courtesy offers a less challenging experience.

Like minded people easily show courtesy. Even so challenges may pop up.  You may hear comments that evoke a twinge, a pang, a sweetness, a strong opinion, an agreement, a disagreement.  We learn to deal with our own reactions.

One problem I experience is when a speaker tries to insist that you agree with what they are saying before continuing.  What’s your pet peeve?

The hope is that the practice will help you notice your reactions to the speaker with compassion. There are no guarantees.  It is a practice.





Yoga, compassioNATE listening

Yoga is another practice in listening.  That is, if you show compassion for yourself and want to prevent injuries.. During almost every yoga class, the teacher may ask

“What moves does your body want you to make?

“How are you feeling today?

“Is you energy high or low?”

“Are there any requests?

These are all ways of listening and addressing the needs of the body with the body. It’s a practice.


Compassion for self

What’s most important to remember about compassion is that it starts with our own selves.  During a discussion you may experience ease or unease.  Depending on how you feel and think about what you’ve heard coming our of your mouth or from the other person’s mouth.

Can you feel compassion for yourself when you feel uneasy?  Do you feel that you are loosing something because of the uneasiness?



No act of kindness is ever wasted. – aesop

It’s feels good to accept that there is a range to compassionate acts.  You may not be willing to participate in a compassionate act that makes you feel as if you are suffering.  You may only be willing to perform a small act of compassion.  Why not make it ok to start with something small.

A nod, a smile, acknowledgment of another through eye contact, give a dime or a quarter, a hug, a pat. Perhaps a friendly gaze.

If you’re up to it, compassion may involve a significant act.  One person spoke about allowing a homeless person to live in the yard in a tent

Keeping a focus on compassion during these difficult times will not only benefit you but may benefit those with whom you interact.  It’s o.k. to take small steps.  If the practice doesn’t benefit you in the way that you would hope or if you feel that you are not making progress fast enough, have even more compassion for yourself.

I find myself listening with compassion as I hear words that bring a feeling of unease in the media.  I hope that you will too.  It’s a practice. There are no guarantees.

Beginners Series

Posted on: April 27th, 2017
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special offering :: beginners series

Beginner Series with Emily Brennan begins Monday, May 1st!

New to yoga? Let us introduce you to what might be the beginning of an incredible journey.

beginners series

This 4 week beginner series is designed to make your introduction to yoga an enjoyable experience and take away the worries about your first class.

This series is for the absolute beginner or the somewhat new student who wants a deeper introduction to yoga.


Sign Up

email :: for more details


Posted on: March 6th, 2017
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I have often been discouraged by the word “hustle.” While growing up, it was touted to me when I was “lolly-gagging” and even recently, I have pondered how and why everyone is in such a rush.
I recall a “Shawshank Redemption” scene where the character, Brooks, writes, “The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.”
Through my adulthood, I have realized that words and perception of words, shape our reality. The word, “hustle,” alone can mean many different things to different people. Lately, it has been thrown around as a “buzzword” of a quick way to become successful.

Today, I am going to expand on how-to hustle in a graceful and authentic way and how the word can be used as a motivating tool to expand personal possibility with work, joy and everything in your life.

H: Honesty
Be honest with yourself. Why this is important: when you are spending your life doing anything, it is best to know you are allocating all your energy to that one thing, without distractions. “How you do anything is how you do everything.”
How honesty works with working: being honest with your intention and clearing mental space is the trick to being present. Putting away the to-do list, the “vacation” list and most importantly, the comparison list. Being honest with yourself about why you are doing something is important: is it for money, for joy, for maybe both, does it serve you?

U: Understanding
Honesty with oneself leads to understanding. Once you become clear of the “why” you can dive into the “how’s” and begin unraveling and understanding yourself and your values. Understanding yourself can lead to setting and carving specific time to do things you enjoy. (I highly recommend). Once you set aside things of enjoyment, it allows space and attention to be dedicated to other tasks that would have derailed your ability to “present” (especially if you felt the lack of opportunity of the “joyful” moments in your life that could distract you from work. I think I mentioned all those “lists” in the excerpt above. Let me express the importance of putting away your comparison list again. Do it for you!)

S: Sustainability
Sustainability ties hand-in-hand with honesty. When you are honest, have integrity, with oneself, your decisions to devote energy to an activity, will be purposeful. Sustainability stems from the ability to continue to do something throughout time. The thing about honesty, integrity and honing the ability to be present, the only moment you focus on, is the present. When that is the case, sustainability comes naturally as the future is not yet written. When the future is not yet written, anxiety about the future dissipates and the fear of commitment falls away. Most things fail due to fear of failure, or the future, rather than aptitude or ability. Therefore, activities and work becomes sustainable when you take bite-size pieces of your time by being honest, understanding your values and tendencies, and remembering to stay present by not getting too far in the future where overwhelm lives.

T: Trust
Trust yourself and others. How many times have you been burned by someone? How many times have you burnt someone? The thing about trust is many people do it the only way they know how. They trust people to do unto them what they would do. Ah, the golden rule. Here’s why that approach could use some “pivoting.” (Pivoting is when you’ve hit a wall doing something a continual way. Pivoting is about approaching something in a new way that gets a slightly different result.)
Here’s the new approach: instead of assuming that by bestowing trust upon someone, that they will conduct themselves the way you would: trust that person that they will conduct themselves the way they have before unless they communicate otherwise. When people tell you something, trust them; don’t be quick to project your own interpretation of what you “think” they mean. Allow them to communicate what they really mean.

L: Listen
Communication is the biggest tool to getting what you want. And I don’t mean that in a naive, spoiled way. I mean that in anything and everything you do. Listening is key as it allows others to be heard and for you to process how your wants and needs align with others. An example may stem from the fact that you and your friend ultimately want more time together. By allowing your friend to communicate his or her’s to-do list, it allows them and you to prioritize accordingly, minimizing conflicts both in scheduling and miscommunication.

E: Excitement and Enthusiasm
Follow your excitement and enthusiasm. If you are anything like me, where those emotions stem fairly easily, begin to shift those feelings toward the activities that have lost it. It sounds counter-intuitive; however, I promise, it will not lead you astray. It’s like any relationship. It begins as a honey-moon phase, it becomes “known” and “tried and true” and if not careful, it can loose its luster. And at the “known” and “tried and true” phase, try sprinkling that excitement and enthusiasm upon the routine. Because, you are responsible for half of the emotions of any relationship, so why not provide genuine excitement and enthusiasm toward each one? If you feel a blockage, identify where it’s stemming from, listen and be honest with the other entity in the relationship, and remember not to project your own way of doing things as the only way.

Life can be challenging and it can also be highly fulfilling. I expanded on how to Hustle in a way that feels good to me by using the letters H-U-S-T-L-E as gentle reminders of how to interact with the world and shift a negative connotation formed in my past. I highly recommend to anyone who is having an issue with a word and what it means – to break it down and create your own Excitement and Enthusiasm around it.

Love and light,