Thursday, April 4, 2013

How a NY State Supreme Court Judge became a Yoga Teacher

This is a long overdue post about an incredible Yoga student of mine, Honorable Doris Gonzales and her journey to become a Yoga Teacher.  When I first met her, I had no idea what her profession was, she was a blank canvas for me.  I was only interested in facilitating an experience for her to grow in her yoga practice masterpiece.  She also has an awesome daughter who would take my Kids Yoga Class, (Milta).

Doris was receptive to the practice of yoga, and dedicated to come to class.  She would cheerfully enter the studio with beautifully straightened hair, fully aware that after class she would leave with a curly mess on her head.  This would happen 4 times a week, some days she would do 2 of my classes, one of which was often joyfully referred to as "the Torture class aka ZOGALATIES" because it combined high intensity abdominal work, some mild yelling on my part, and a whole lot of sweat.  At one point she was quick to say my Level 2 Yoga class was a Level 4, which it probably was, but it was lots of FUN, the collective consciousness we would all generate was amazing, and she like everyone else always came back.  For many people the studio in NYC was like a little family.

While I knew she loved to practice, I had no idea she wanted to enroll in Yoga Teacher Training.  While I am always open to suggest other options of Yoga TT, especially in NYC there is an array of excellent teachers who I respect, she had practiced with me, and was determined to study with me.

She contacted me while I was away teaching in India, telling me about wanting to do Yoga Teacher Training. Since there was interest from 6 other people, I thought perhaps to offer an intimate Yoga Teacher Training for some former students.

I come to NYC August 2012, and the 5 other students have conflicts.  Doris was so dedicated and determined, so I gave my first ever one to one Yoga Teacher Training. 

I asked her what her goal is in Teacher Training and she said she wants to heal & also get back into shape.  Primarily she wanted to help herself, so ultimately she could help others.  She was already sharing some lunch time Yoga with some folks at the courthouse, but she wanted to officially be able to say she was a Yoga Teacher, and share with others.

We held the course in her home which began with a beautiful Puja ceremony.   Each day was dedicated to the correlated deity, and each morning we would begin with warm water and lemon.  We progressed to 7am Asana, then had regular Ayurveda meals and fresh juice that I prepared and tea for her dosha.  She was eager to learn about the Yoga Sutras and Bhagavad Gita with questions and enthusiasm to hand in assignments.  The Philosophy of Yoga was something she was so eager to understand for her own self development, which is always wonderful!  The way I teach Yoga Sutras and Bhagavad Gita is more in a way to relate to our own healing so we can ultimately be more compassionate to otherwise challenging memories or situations, and thus make us better teachers.

The Teacher training like most brought mind-body-spirit challenges, which I expected.  No Mud, No lotus.  It was designed to detoxify, and it did.  Some tears, sweat, pounds were all shed.

I feel like we both learned through the entire experience.  We would sprinkle in some more Yoga Asana classes, Subtle Body, Class Sequencing, Guided Meditation, and occasionally her incredible Spinx Cat, Cameo would join us.

We had an amazing guest teacher (professional nurse and PT Miguel) for anatomy, field trips to Boston and Upstate NYC to explore meditation and the subtle body.  Along with being a respected judge, an amazing Single mom, Yoga Teacher, she is also a Reiki Master and Crystal Healer.  So we were surrounded by some amazing crystals (both hers and mine).

By the 3rd week Doris was almost about to quit.  I will admit our days were long, and sometimes challenging, and she had a house and beautiful daughter to tend to after our full days.  But she was destermined, and by the end of the Training, Doris lost 13Lbs, had a huge smile and pep in her step that was not their before, she was able to do some asana work that she did not do before, and she was so excited to share with others.  The best part was she realized how the changes in her, attracted more positive change in her life.  People had noticed the transformation and she was loving it!

I had meant to write this post for many months, and had hoped to have a photo of Doris in some awesome Yoga Pose on her Judges Bench, or in Warrior Pose with her gavel in Hand, because that would be incredibly awesome and to show that this Yoga practice is for anyone!  I am still waiting for the picture Doris!  But I had an email from someone who is taking class from Doris, telling me what a wonderful Yoga Teacher she has become (not surprised) and that I should be very proud (I am).  Congratulations Doris on your completion and certification as a Yoga Teacher, I am ever grateful to have been part of your journey. 

For those of you who are curious about Yoga Teacher Training, it will happen when the time is right.  While it is best to have at least practiced Yoga for 3-6 months before embarking on a Teacher Training,  it does not matter what your job, your gender, your size, your ability in asana, only that you are present, humble and receptive to the awesome practice.  Also, you do not have to quit your day job or dress like a hippie, Doris is still busting balls on her judges bench.  The practice itself has a magical way of transforming the individual. 

For more information on upcoming Yoga Teacher Trainings please visit my website:

Some Awesome Dates to Consider:
July 1-26th in Ireland
November 1-26th - Kerala, India