A Personal Journey from the Outside In

Help wanted. Inquire within… We’ve all seen the sign posted in store window or even on a spiritual enthusiast’s bumpersticker accompanied by a cute little buddha serenely seated.  I’ll be honest, when I first began to see my personal yoga practice as an avenue to deepening my understanding of myself I truly believed that externally yoga-fying myself was going to improve my life.  Go ahead, shake your head…either because you already know that is a ridiculous notion or nod in affirmation as you fully know what I’m talking about.  And if you don’t know what external yoga-fication is, please indulge me as I elaborate. Yes, I bought into needing the “right” clothes, the right accessories (Himalayan salt lamp anyone? Yup, got one!), props (I have 11 blocks BTW), the best mat (and by best I mean several because I really like more than one).  Oh and I was also convinced at one point that this great handmade meditation cushion would somehow make me a better meditator.  I also have more journals than I think I could fill in 2 lifetimes.  Keep in mind many of them bought because I loved the way they looked and felt although they have 0 written in them…yes, that is 0, nil, nothing. And then one day life sweetly, or not so sweetly, called bull shit on me…not once or twice, but….geez somewhere in there I lost count.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking the use of external resources or advocating for a renunciate’s path…I myself am anything but a renunciate.  I love my life and yes, I am attached to it and I know in my heart that I can have my life and deeply know myself too. What I learned from falling down the “yoga supply” rabbit hole countless times is that while much of the outside stuff that comprised my practice was/is helpful in many regards.  But somewhere, someplace, sometime, I became reliant on it.  And there’s the trap folks!  To put it another way, I was looking to the “stuff” to do the work for me.  Perhaps this came in the form of putting off my meditation practice until “THE” cushion of my dreams arrived.  And boy did I meditate when it did…for like a day. Picture this: I’m away on vacation, and somehow my travel mat didn’t get packed.  (Maybe on purpose?)  Mind: “Well, I have to have a mat to practice.  I’ll just do it when I get home because improvising will only feel like half a practice.”  To be honest I don’t even know what half a practice is or what it would look like, but apparently it is when you don’t have a mat? Mind: “Wow, I’ve really been feeling disconnected from myself, oh here’s an online site that has daily classes…where do I enter my payment information?”  Two weeks later I am struggling to complete lesson 2. Okay, if you’re not putting the pieces together by reading though these examples above let me make it clearer: Seeking and collecting a bunch of stuff animate or inanimate doesn’t get you any closer to yourself.  Again, I am not a renunciate and I admit, I do love my array of meditation cushions and yoga mats and the truth is that they make me feel happy when I look at them and better yet, when I USE them.  My journals are impressive but what’s even more impressive is the content they hold when I actually take the time to DO some reflection (I do love to write by the way).  I also appreciate the guidance of a teacher(s), and being able to “practice” and explore with someone online or in person.  However, my hard lesson was learning that nothing outside of me was getting me any closer to myself when I was fixating my attention externally and allowing my head to hop from one thing to the next with little to no action of my own involved.  My mind’s pattern of thinking: “Try this, no try that, ummm, this looks like it will be more effective…okay, this sucks, what’s next?”  Well, what was my next? It is me.  I am my next thing!  I have no issue saying that I have many of my external sources to credit for this personal realization, and for me, the external journey was part of my path to get back to myself.  I have been walking this “know thyself” path for many years now and I have come to recognize that what I thought initially as the wrong direction (my relying on anything and everything external to improve my internal world) was not really the wrong direction after all.  Instead, it was exactly what I needed to experience to find my way home; back to me.  We all find ourselves in the way we are meant to, and it is unique to all of us.  This just happens to be a bit of my road. It’s funny, meeting someone for the first time isn’t it?  Imagine, this time though, there is no awkward conversation about the weather or idle chit chat to pass the time.  It was more of a love filled “Welcome home, I’ve been waiting for you.  We have a lot to do together, and some of it ain’t gonna be easy, but I’m glad you’re here.”  And sure, I still have plenty of days where I run off the reservation and play in my well accessorized world…who doesn’t love a great pair of yoga pants every now and then?  But I know where home is now and I have made a commitment to pause before inquiring outside and I ask myself: “Will this assist me in inquiring within?”  If not, I choose to skip it.  Now, I see that my external world: the people I am blessed to know (even the not so fun ones) and the assets I have been fortunate to acquire, have begun to support the inward work as I am no longer of the understanding that […]

Taking Flight

A Yogini Takes Flight Enjoying life from above… Meet Alicia…that’s (Ah-lee-sea-ah). Alicia recently graduated from ILYS in 2015.  During her journey we asked her to share a little bit about herself and her yoga.  Of course we couldn’t just keep this to ourselves so we want to shine a spotlight on this beautiful and intriguing soul.  She embodies strength, creativity, and passion.  Her heart is golden and we hope that you enjoy meeting this incredible woman as much as we did!  Alicia, thank you for sharing with us, we are forever grateful!   ILYS:  Tell us a little about yourself… Alicia:  I’m 22 years old and currently putting myself through college. I am at Wake Technical Community College and transferring to UNCG as a business major. I hope to acquire all the proper business skills to be able to maintain my own yoga and aerial arts studio one day. I love to go on adventures and explore new things. Growing up in a small town I didn’t have a lot to do or the resources to do so. Now I take as many opportunities as I can to see this beautiful world and experience life changing things. I also love to record my yoga and aerial arts journey daily. It is like a visual diary. Recording my progress over the last year has really helped me strive to find myself and to reach my full potential. It has been great to receive feedback from friends, family, and complete strangers. I have watched myself grow in to a yogini, aerialist, and the true Alicia Jurado. ILYS:  What first peaked your interested in Yoga? Alicia: I made a new years resolution in 2014 to start a yoga practice and stay with it. My goal for that year was to become physically and mentally healthy. I practiced daily and fell madly in love with yoga. ILYS:  Do you have a favorite style of Yoga that you practice most often?  What draws you to this style? Alicia:  I really like the Vinyasa style of yoga. I love to flow and create new sequences on the ground but I also love aerial yoga! I am an aerialist so I like to take my yoga to the next level in the aerial fabric. ILYS:  What is the most surprising/profound thing you’ve encountered on your Yoga journey?  Alicia:  During my yoga journey I have discovered that I AM capable to do absolutely anything I aspire to do. I never in a million years thought I would be able to bend or move in the ways that I can. My yoga journey has really molded me into a completely different person. I greet each day with a positive attitude and finally found my purpose. Before yoga I felt so lost and like my life didn’t have a meaning. Yoga has shown me that my life does have a purpose, I do matter, I can do anything I want to do, and that I can be anything I want to be.   ILYS:  What inspired you to begin Yoga Teacher Training? Alicia:  When I was I growing up I always thought I wanted to be a teacher. I realized after taking some courses to teach in a classroom that I didn’t exactly want to be in that particular setting. I’ve always loved movement, always dreamed of being a gymnast or dancer but was never given the opportunity to. At the end of 2014 I started to feel like I needed to start to head in the direction of my dreams. I always really enjoy teaching my friends and family yoga. They all encouraged me to look into starting a Yoga Teacher Training program. I looked all over the Triangle to find the one that best suited me and InnerLight really stuck out to me. ILYS:  What words do you live by?  Alicia:  We are capable of so much. Don’t be afraid to try new things. If you never try something then you never will know the outcome. Get out there and find your full potential! You will amaze yourself and blow everyone else away.   ILYS:  How do you live your Yoga off the mat? Alicia:  I love this question. Yoga isn’t all about the asana. There is so much more to it and that’s why I love discovering more about yoga and myself each day. I try to take what I learn about myself on the mat into daily life and apply it in all aspects of my life. I have learned patience with myself and others is extremely important. We all are at different places in our lives and grow at different speeds but patience is essential to function in a healthy and positive way. Life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies so I try to remember that there are always darker days before brighter ones. Which means, keep going, your goals are achievable, it may take some battles to get through but it’s worth it in the end. Be patient, trust the journey, and never stop believing in yourself. ILYS:  What is one thing that most people do not know about you? Alicia:  My other passion is practicing aerial arts! I love practicing in my aerial silks and aerial hoop. I started my aerial journey a couple months after I began practicing yoga in 2014. I found an awesome circus studio in downtown Raleigh and couldn’t believe I had the opportunity to practice and perform something so beautiful. After one aerial silks class I was hooked! I invested in my own equipment and started practicing as much as I could whenever I couldn’t make it to a class. Being an aerialist and a yogini has been one awesome life experience! ILYS:  Where is your favorite place to spend time “unplugged?” Alicia:  I love to spend my time by the water or in nature. Some of my favorite places to flow are at local lakes around the Raleigh area. This is the time I take to be away from […]


PRACTICE – TEACH – SHINE: a Yoga Retreat in Tulum, Mexico

Practice ~ Teach ~ Shine in Tulum, Mexico A personal account of a special yoga retreat by: Sarah Krawiec, Aparna Ravichander, and Brittany Zick, ILYS Class of 2013 Three amazing graduates from ILYS class of 2013 decided to venture out and create their own yoga retreat in Tulum, Mexico. Sarah Krawiec, Aparna Ravichander, and Brittany Zick traveled to the Amansala Resort in January of 2014 for four days of yoga, meditation, and relaxation. They decided to make the retreat part of their continued Yoga journey in the spirit of ILYS’s motto – Practice – Teach – Shine. From their experience, they crafted a three-part blog post (stay tuned for parts two and three) to share their exciting and trasformative experiences! PRACTICE – teach – shine (from Brittany) PART ONE: I could NOT WAIT for this trip. Between my full time job, teaching several yoga classes every week, and my volunteer jobs that take up the rest of my time, I was really looking forward to taking a little mental breather where my phone wouldn’t work and I could not multitask. I began teaching right after my yoga teacher training was complete in October of 2013, and I was starting to have trouble making time for my own practice. As I’m sure is a struggle for lots of yoga teachers, maintaining a home practice, or at least a practice that they are not personally leading is vital to staying fresh and in touch with what is best for you and your students. On this trip, Sarah, Aparna, and I had planned to teach each other different styles of yoga that we had been wanting to try in front of a safe, nonjudgmental, audience. I (selfishly) was mostly looking forward to taking their classes! I just wanted some time to really dedicate to myself… since I had been neglecting my own practice since I started teaching. All of my time had been dedicated to making myself a better teacher, but in the process I forgot that being a good student reminds you what you need to do as the teacher! On this trip, in those four days, I practiced yoga. Not just asana, but mindful awareness of the present moment. When you’re on a warm sunny beach in Mexico, if you’re not present in the moment, you’re missing out. This has got to be one of the easiest places in the world to live mindfully. We meditated on the beach, under the sun. We even did a sweet walking meditation coordinating breathing pranayama with steps – although I’ll admit it was hard to concentrate on counting my breath while such beauty was all around me! Practicing with these ladies and having them teach me was both a pleasure and an honor. They have styles completely different from mine and it was just lovely. I came back refreshed and ready to be a better teacher for my students. It was exactly what I needed! By: Brittany Zick Check back soon for part two and hear Aparna talk about how she thrived in the teaching role in Mexico!

InnerLight Yoga School

A Yoga of Your Own – Finding Your Own InnerLight

A Journey to the Heart of Yoga Teacher Training By: Susan C Jackson “Life is a journey, not a destination.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson What exactly is Yoga Teacher Training? Taken at face value, it is exactly that: a program designed to teach yoga students how to become yoga teachers. We practice poses (Asana) and their mechanics, study anatomy, learn methodology for effective teaching (of ourselves and others), and through it all, become more disciplined in our own personal practice on our mats. We breathe together, move together, and meditate together. In fact, it’s pretty amazing how much one’s personal practice evolves in the course of 9 months of intense study. So what makes InnerLight Yoga School, different from just any old training program?                                                                                                                                                                    “Not only did I learn about the asana part of yoga, the history of Yoga and different kinds of Yoga but I also learned so much about myself. InnerLight Teacher Training was an unbelievable journey and it has changed my life forever.” – A.E. – ILYS Class of 2013                                                                                                                                                                    Things are rarely what they seem at the surface [of the mat]. If we truly want to live deeply and happily we must begin at the depth of our being: we commit to digging deeper, we give ourselves permission to take risks, and we learn to live fearlessly not just on our mats but off of them. Thanks to Ralph Waldo Emerson, most of us have been inspired multiple times to ‘go with the flow in good times and in bad’ by his famed quote: “Life is a journey, not a destination.” These simple and inspiring words convey a great truth that this moment, here and now, is the only moment we truly have. So why stop at mere inspiration when we have the flame of transformation already within us? Below the surface of InnerLight Yoga Teacher Training lies exactly that, and invitation to look at our whole journey – what drives us, who are we at our very core, and what is our purpose (Darshana) and path (Sadana) is in life?                                                                                                                                                                    “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” -Steve Jobs                                                                                                                                                                    When I envisioned InnerLight Yoga School I was determined that it would be more than just a teacher training program, more than just a place where students could improve the physical part of their practice and learn about someone else’s Yoga. Either this school would live up to its name and its philosophy or cease to exist. So what is the philosophy? There is of course the long “official” version but simply put, YOU are the philosophy. ILYS is a safe haven for you to learn more about yourself through the study of yoga…but not my Yoga, or the sage’s Yoga,…but a Yoga that is truly your own.                                                                                                                                                                   “I came to ILYS looking for improvement in my asana practice and I was hoping for a bit of a mental makeover. My experience far exceeded my expectations; my individual practice makes me feel so empowered and confident (I can’t thank all of the instructors enough for inspiring me to try new and challenging poses!). The biggest thing I took away from my experience however, is self-acceptance: a willingness to accept my weaknesses along with my strengths. This has already changed my life and keeps me motivated to continue my […]


Gratitude Now and Always

May Each Day Be Filled with Gratitude InnerLight Yoga School would like to extend its deepest gratitude to all of its students and supporters, past, present, and future.  Thanks to each of you for making this world a better place simply by being present and living your Yoga. Check out out some of our favorite Gratitude Quotes below and learn how to start a gratitude journal! “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” -Melody Beattie  “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” -Albert Schweitzer “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” -John F. Kennedy “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” -Denis Waitley The Gratitude Journal Cultivating positivity in our daily life is one of the keys to lasting hapiness.  While thinking about all that we have to be grateful for is wonderful, do not underestimate the power of the written word.  Learn how to begin and keep a gratitude journal.  It is easy and will be a lasting gift that you give to yourself each and every day.  Learn how by following the link below: http://www.positivelypresent.com/2011/03/keeping-a-gratitude-journal-to-cultivate-positivity.html  OM SHANTI