Posts Tagged ‘Yoga’

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.


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 Secret is in The Tree (Pose)

Posted on: December 22nd, 2016
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Finding Balance:

Sometimes my tree pose isn’t as still or graceful as I’d imagined it would be. I often look like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. And, that’s ok.

Linus reviving a tree, in A Charlie Brown Christmas

Ah, holiday season. It’s that time of year filled with excitement and celebration, the extreme sports of dodging shopping mobs and family conflict, widely considered as the most stressful time of the year. However you celebrate, or perceive this time of year, how do you find your balance? I’m going to let you in on a few little secrets. *BONUS: These secrets can be used any time of year.

secret#1: Make time for YOURSELF

You may be laughing at this, but it is possible! If you can’t take care of yourself you can’t take care of anyone else. Even a short amount of time dedicated to yourself can help alleviate stress. It may feel like there is no time to squeeze in another activity, but small changes can make a big difference. A small act of self love like a walk outside, or a quiet cup of tea or coffee before your day can help you focus (as opposed to non-stop rushing, ordering on the go, haphazardly spilling your drink, and enjoying maybe some of it).

The way for me to find balance has been quite literal, by taking time out for myself through yoga practice. Sometimes this means practicing a few yoga moves at home. Even during stressful times, somehow it isn’t always easy for me to show up to the mat.

secret#2: SLOW DOWN

Funny how to gain momentum, we have to slow down. When I have taken a break from my practice for too long, I can take extra care to re-establish my form in fundamental asanas (poses). One pose I will talk about specifically in this post is, surprise, tree pose! This fundamental asana is extra special to me for a few reasons.

secret#3: Trick yourself

Ok, trick, motivate, center, call it what you want, but the key here is to identify subtle cues to set your self up for success. What instantly makes you feel better? What do you avoid? Viewing what we avoid  with a sense of pleasure or reward can help to rewire our thinking,  to help build positive patterns in our life.

Sometimes when I come to a yoga session I don’t want to be inside or on a mat at all. I don’t always want to be guided. I just want to see the tree. Not the giant glowing tree in Zilker Park (which has its own charm and sea of admiring heads for that matter).  Not just any tree. The tree. If you have been to Sanctuary Yoga before, then you know the one.

Deck View of the giant oak tree at Sanctuary Yoga

Deck view of the The Tree. 

Tucked away between city blocks with glowing neon signs, billboards, and ever shifting construction sites, you will find the tree. The tree is infamous to locals, but curiously remains a best kept secret.

There is no mistaking the towering oak, propped up with a pole to prevent crushing the bright blue house as you approach the Sanctuary. Finding a place that makes me happy simply to visit is my trick. Ok, so maybe I’m going out on a limb to call this place a best kept secret. It just feels magical to retreat into such a tranquil atmosphere in a hustling bustling urban environment.

secret#4: LISTEN

Beloved yoga teachers I adore you. My practice would not be the same without you. Another way for me to balance my practice is to allow myself to learn from multiple sources.

I listen to my body first. I listen to nature for cues, sometimes simply just to listen. Sometimes it isn’t natural, but we must remember to listen to those who have taken a similar path ahead of us. While we all have our own private path, we share the journey.

Lastly, if all else fails to get you in the flow, a good playlist never hurts. You can reset your mood, unwind,  do most activities, (such as yoga) to any music that you love. It doesn’t have to sound like you’re at a spa! Here is one of my favorite songs to jam out to, to do Vinyasa Yoga to, anywhere, anytime. The energy of this song always puts me in a good mood. Sometimes to get away from it all I just go for a walk or run with some headphones.

“Dead leaves and the dirty ground, when I know you’re not around…”  -The White Stripes

beautiful fall leaves on the ground

Change is our one constant. While listening to music on a walk, I arranged these leaves hoping to brighten someone else’s. Are these leaves any less beautiful when carried away by the breeze?

These lyrics remind me that standing on your own can be empowering yet lonely. As our seasons shift our impermanence is hard not to notice. This is another reason I love that tree so much. And yes, I have hugged a tree before. It was glorious. So for me, to see a giant twisted oak tree that has survived in one of the nation’s fastest growing cities gives an extraordinary sense of comfort. Seasons will pass, but with balance we can stay grounded.

Secret#5: PRACTICE

We learn by repetition. Drop by the Sanctuary Yoga studio to get your flow on, or practice at home with the tutorial below!


tree pose selfie at dawn

Tree Pose shadow selfie at dawn, because, why not?

Tree pose, also known as Vrksasana, is a fundamental Hatha Yoga Asana that will help you find your balance by standing on one foot, establish strength and balance throughout the body, helps you find your center, and will leave you feeling grounded.

Step 1:

Begin standing on both feet, with your arms at your sides. Bring your ankles and toes in to touch.


Imagine a straight line running through your body, from the inner arches of your feet, through the crown of your head. This is your stream of energy, to help you find alignment.


Bring the palms of your hands together at the center of your chest, your heart center. Your fingers should be pointing to the sky, and not interlocked.


Shift your weight onto your left foot. Bend your right knee and guide it upward into your chest. Keep the spine long.Reach down to clasp your right ankle with your hands.


Place the sole of the right foot to the inner left thigh or calf. Be careful not to place your foot on your knee to prevent injury.


Tilt your hips toward the floor to stand taller,  forward, or back, or to the side to help your alignment. This will vary by your personal needs.


Set your gaze on something in front of you in the space that is not moving. This will help you maintain your balance.


Press your right foot even deeper into your left thigh, and your left thigh tighter toward your right foot. Imagine you are squeezing something between them , or that you are standing on a rock, holding an important piece of paper between your foot and thigh, over a stream of water.


Square both hips forward, to the front of the space. Keep your right knee from moving further outward to the right. Here, you may play want to challenge yourself by releasing your arms while holding the pose. Release your arms however you feel comfortable. Release one arm for “cactus arms”, both for a full tree.

Step 10:

Repeat on the other side. Remember to breathe.

If you begin to fall, it’s ok! Take a deep breath, re-establish your roots, and firmly plant your feet. Find your alignment, your center. Go through the steps again. Each side may have significantly different qualities or sensations. Hey, maybe some of you are more the Christmas Cactus type.

Cactus in bloom, with a bright yellow flower. A very unique Austin version of tree pose.

Cactus in bloom. A very unique Austin variation of Tree Pose.




Why I Practice Yoga

Posted on: April 6th, 2015
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I’ve been hesitant to write about my yoga journey or anything about yoga, really. The reason being that despite the fact that I practice yoga on a physical, spiritual, and mental level, and that I’m technically certified to teach yoga, I am still so very new to this lifestyle. I don’t want to come into this practice thinking I will ever be a master in this lifetime. I don’t want to regurgitate information I’ve read in yoga books and call it my own. But I have decided that I want to share what I’m experiencing on a personal level with those who are interested in listening.


He who binds to himself a joy

Doth the winged life destroy;

But he who kisses the joy as it flies

Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.

~ William Blake


I talk about it A LOT. The memory of the lull of the waves tugs on my heartstrings. I hold onto to every letter, photograph, and grain of sand I still find clinging to my hair and my clothing. This place is beautiful. Giant banyan trees create a world within itself from their tangled web of roots that weave through the branches above and back down to the earth below. It’s an endless cycle much like an infinity sign where no start or end is present. Cars come to a standstill on one-lane highways because of the wildlife. Turtle traffic is a real thing here.

My attachment to this place has caused unnecessary pain once I am no longer in this paradise. But my resistance to let go has also brought me to a practice that helps undue all the attachment that has been done.

For me, this practice is yoga, and in yoga we learn to let go. “It will pass,” whether it’s “good” or “bad.” My attachment and resistance to let go of this sacred place is what brought me to my yoga practice and practicing Aparigraha. This practice is one of Patanjali’s five Yamas, or the moral and ethical guidelines for yogis. I was immediately drawn to this specific yama because I often struggle with attachment. Aparigraha is “letting go of everything that we do not need, possessing only as much as necessary. The yogis tell us that worldly objects cannot be possessed at all, as they are all subject to change and will be ultimately destroyed. When we become greedy and covetous we lose the ability to see our one eternal possession, the Atman, our true Self. And when we cling to what we have, we lose the ability to be open to receive what we need.”* Which is exactly why I must practice yoga. Because I am human and often lose the ability to be open to what I really need.

My attachments can be an impediment to my personal growth. My practice keeps me present so that when I acquiesce to memories past, I can remember that nothing is permanent and I can at least feel blessed and grateful for the experiences that do come and go.

I also practice for my health. Part of being open to receiving what I need is being mindful of my body. When I practice yoga consistently, I am forced to eat better and become conscious of what I’m doing to my body. I more quickly notice the unhealthy choices I’m making when I constantly show up on my mat because my body becomes inoperative when I do not treat it well.

I practice for my stress and anxiety. It’s part of the letting go practice and also helps keep me present. Sometimes I don’t want to be present. Sometimes it hurts too much, but I know at some point I have to be, to be sane and to heal my past traumas.

I practice to be still. This also sometimes comes with a struggle. I’m always go go go and distracted by this and that, but sometimes all my mind wants is to just be, just as I am, in the present moment, and to just stop thinking even if only for a few seconds.

I practice for my fear. We often can’t win against ourselves. I’m afraid to be happy because what if it doesn’t last? So then I’m sad. But now I’m afraid to be sad because what if it means something is wrong with me or that it’ll last forever? My yoga practice reminds me that I will feel every emotion and they will come and go over and over again, and again, that nothing is permanent so why get caught up in every detail of our lives?

And lastly, I practice because I’m better able to handle life off of my mat. Sri Aurobindo states, “All life is yoga.” I find this to be so true in my daily interactions. Without yoga I might have snapped at the person that irritated me or impulsively bought shoes I didn’t need. I feel like I’m better fit for this world because of my practice. I become enough, just as I am.

Sometimes I end the day lying on my back on my surfboard in the sacred place I mentioned above. The sway of the waves rocks me into a sedated state. Except that I’m not on my surfboard, I’m on my yoga mat, and the waves are really my breath in my meditative Savasana. On a good day, these two experiences are indistinguishable. On a not so great day, I’m very aware of the fact that I’m on my mat. I’m wresting with my brain to stay present and clear but my thoughts keep pulling me back to all the things I “have” to get done and the frustration sets in that I’m not in paradise, physically or mentally. But these days provide good learning opportunities. It’s not about the outside but the inside and I can create my own paradise no matter where I am. Getting there is what takes heart and soulful work and this is why I can tell this journey will truly take a lifetime.




Eat, Breathe, Thrive!

Posted on: May 5th, 2014
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Eat, Breathe, Thrive is coming to The Sanctuary! What’s that, you ask? Read on:

Eat, Breathe, Thrive (EBT) is a 6-week program designed for ANYONE that sees themselves as having food or body image issues, or the want to explore these areas in connection to yoga. The program consists of yoga, meditation, community building exercises, as well as exercises that help the students explore their relationship with food and body image. The goal of the program is two-fold: First, to create a more compassionate relationship with the body along with a deeper mind-body connection; Second, to create a community (Thrive Tribe Austin!) where support will continue long after the completion of our program.

Might we stress that this program is for ANYONE. Men, women, boys, girls, moms, dads, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, etc. Whether you feel drawn or not, consider sharing this information with somebody you feel could benefit from a program like this.

Eat Breathe Thrive was created by Chelsea Roff, who is one heck of an amazing woman. If you want to learn more about her, please visit her site and read her story.

If you’re interested in the program, or would like to give more information to someone else who might be interested, please visit Austin’s EBT site,!

Click here to register! Go to the enrollment tab, find the EBT Austin section, and select “Sign Up Now!”

For more information, please feel free to contact Rebecca ( or Sami (

We are so excited to get this going next Monday evening. Thank you!


Rebecca and Sami

EBT flyer jpg

What is Yoga?

Posted on: May 9th, 2013
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“Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.” ~ Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Have you ever asked yourself, ‘What is Yoga?’ The word yoga (sanskrit for union) first appeared in writing over 5000 years ago to describe an experience of enlightenment through spiritual practice. How exactly this is done has been codified and evolved over the years into what we now know of as yoga. Interestingly, the oldest texts included no mention of the asanas (postures) so commonly associated with modern yoga. There has always been something more, beyond the physical forms, that yoga is a path towards. So what were these original seekers and yogis doing, how did it evolve, and why are their practices still relevant today?

These are timeless questions that will come up again and again throughout this blog as we explore the question, ‘What is Yoga?’ The purpose of the Amala Foundation, the Sanctuary, and the many spiritual traditions represented in our community. For now, I invite you to take a few deep breaths and explore these questions in self-inquiry:

What is your spiritual practice?
How has it evolved?
Why is it relevant to your life?

Jeremy Devens current teaches at Sanctuary Yoga Thursdays at 6:30am and Fridays at 4pm