Monthly Archives: February 2012

Ten Yoga Teacher Trainings and Counting: The Eleventh Starts in October!

Our First Teacher Training Graduation in 2004

When I opened Whole Life Yoga, I never intended to offer a yoga teacher training.  In fact, it was the farthest thing from my mind. I was already beyond busy teaching classes and private sessions, managing the studio, and working my non-yoga consulting job to pay the bills.  I blame Rene.  Those of you who don’t know Rene are missing out.  He’s a kind spirit, wonderful man, awesome yoga teacher, and now Whole Life Yoga employee.  (See him in Yoga for Men and his drop-in yoga class on Tuesdays!)

Anyway, Rene and I met for coffee one day about nine years ago.  He told me that he wanted to learn how to teach yoga.  I assured him that I thought it was a fantastic idea.  Then came the kicker.  He said he wanted to study with me!  I can’t remember what I said anymore, but it was likely something eloquent like “huh?” Dumbfounded, I left the meeting, the seed planted.  Shortly after, I went on vacation.  A “yoga cruise” of all things.  I remember relaxing in a deck chair on last day of the cruise.  For whatever reason, I had the epiphany.  “I can do this!”  I pulled out a sheet of paper and started designing the training.

It took longer than that day on the deck.  Over the next few months, I added a new task to my to-do list.  I began developing the nine-month curriculum and applied for certification from Yoga Alliance.  Ever the multi-tasker, I developed my advertising plan while leading a career mentoring seminar in Ireland.  I fervently hoped I’d get some students.  I had Rene, of course, but would anyone else sign up?  I hoped to get six students who would meet at my house.  In the end, Yoga Alliance certified my program, twenty students registered, and I moved the training to the Phinney Neighborhood Association, where it’s been ever since.

The first year wasn’t without bumps, but we had a great time and learned a ton. Since then, I’ve offered nine 200-hour trainings and added a 500-hour one.  We’ve certified over 160 people, with 23 more in the program now.

I can honestly say that teaching this program is the most rewarding thing I have ever done.  Leading a group of people through this process of transformation is simultaneously enriching, challenging, frustrating and sometimes heartbreaking.  It’s telling that the training now takes place over 10 months—the same amount of time it takes to gestate a child.  We see each other through births, deaths, marriages and divorces.  And growth—lots and lots of growth.  We learn about yoga postures, of course, but that’s the least of it.  By studying yoga and yoga philosophy, we learn about ourselves and grow in ways so much more profound than the physical.

As I now plan for my 11th training, I hope that some of you will join us.  Our students are varied.  I’ve had students in their teens and in their mid 70’s.  Students who are physically fit and healthy, and students with injury and debilitating illness.  Students who are pregnant.  Students who are brand new to yoga and, students who have been yoga teachers for over a decade.  Students who never intend to teach, and students who plan to open yoga studios.  All are welcome.  All add to the diversity and richness of our experience.

I hope some of you will join us in October.  And be sure to thank Rene for starting me and so many others on this journey!



More information about Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program can be found at our web site:  Yoga Teacher Training at Whole Life Yoga.

New Viniyoga Videos for Anxiety and Depression

Like many viniyoga teachers, I’m not a huge fan of yoga videos, as the video format doesn’t allow for the customization and adaptation to the individual that is such a hallmark of this rich lineage.  Still, as much as I’d like everyone to experience yoga first hand at Whole Life Yoga or work with me privately, I know that for many students, videos provide a much more convenient and accessible connection to a consistent yoga practice.  Who knows…maybe someday I’ll even create a video of my own!  😉

Until then, two new viniyoga videos have recently been released by my teacher, Gary Kraftsow, on topics that are personally important to me:  Yoga for Anxiety and Yoga for Depression. I’ve suffered from both conditions off and on throughout my life, and yoga has been an incredible powerful tool in helping me manage my symptoms. I may have come to yoga to overcome back pain, but by far the first and most important thing to heal was my heart.

Gary’s new products introduce the viniyoga therapy approach to anxiety and depression.  They are a bit different than typical videos, in that he provides cognitive learning in addition to yoga practice.  Each video contains approximately an hour of lecture on yoga therapy and its applications for anxiety and depression, along with two practices: one that is a bit over thirty minutes and one that is closer to an hour.  Even more unusual, the practices aren’t just asana, or movement.  They contain multiple facets of the rich and dynamic viniyoga lineage:  Asana (movement), Pranayama (breath work), Meditation, and Chanting.

I sell both of these at the studio, along with a few other viniyoga videos.  But they can also be purchased at and via other on line sellers.  Of course, I’d much rather see your bright shining faces at the studio, but these videos may provide a nice addition to your collection and to your practice.  Let me know what you think!


Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle!

A New Perspective, a New Yoga

This week’s blog entry was written by guest author Jacqui Trent. Jackqui is a current student  of Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program.  She  can be contacted at

Like so many people in America, I was drawn to yoga as the next big workout craze.  Boasting arms like Jennifer Aniston and abs like Madonna, yoga promised a “hot bod” – something very appealing to a twenty one year old with a poor body image. So for the next couple of years I took classes on and off at my gym.

I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t getting enough out of it.  Going only when I felt like it, i.e. when I was feeling really “fat”, I didn’t have a strong practice.  The teachers at the gym were good teachers, but they were restricted.  They couldn’t teach pranayama, bandhas, or anything related to yoga that wasn’t a pose.

And then my husband lost his job.  The next two years were really tough.  Things were tight and the stress really ate away at me.  Going against what everyone I knew told me, I took on the stress of two jobs.  Working twelve hour days baking and cleaning houses. It was draining and the extra income wasn’t easing my stress level like I had expected.  Finally the stress was eating away at me and I knew I had to do something. A we search led me to a local yoga studio that offered two months of unlimited yoga for the price of one.

Almost immediately after my first week I was hooked.  My body took to the practice right away and I loved how much better I felt. Leaving my stress at the door and just focusing on me for that hour was amazing!  I was taking most of my classes from the studio owner; she became my favorite. I loved her classes.

I had been with the studio for a few months, when my instructor announced that she would be conducting her first teacher training program starting in January.  Recently I had been considering teaching yoga and was thrilled to get the chance to learn from her.

However, shortly after the program started I wasn’t as excited.  Let’s just say that the training was supposed to last fifteen months and we didn’t even make it half way.  For many reasons it became a toxic environment and we finally had to dissolve the program. We kept telling each other it was going to get better, but in reality it was only getting worse.

I found out about the viniyoga training through one of the amazing woman with whom I bonded with during this experience. She had found out about Tracy and Whole Life Yoga and had joined her upcoming training program. It started in two weeks and encouraged us to contact her.

At first I didn’t know if I was ready. I was so shaken from my last experience that my practice had suffered. I’ll admit I knew nothing of viniyoga, and didn’t know if I should join a program that was foreign to me. After I heard about its therapeutic qualities, I wondered if this wasn’t exactly what I needed.

I still have a lot to learn about viniyoga. This lineage is so different from any style I’d ever tried. My prior knowledge was more focused on form and adjustments. Sometimes the benefits would become compromised when you’re trying to achieve the perfect form, not paying attention to what’s going on in the body.  I really appreciate the fact that there is much more of an emphasis on the benefits of a pose, not making it perfect.

The pace is different from what I’m used to as well. People, including myself, seem to be caught up in the newest yoga fad of a fast paced flow.  But I like that this style seems to be more mindful and intentional. I can’t see myself completely abandoning flow practice, but I do see how others, myself included, can benefit from a viniyoga practice.

The opportunity to study viniyoga came to me at a time when my own practice was broken.  Just like it is used to rehabilitate someone with problems with their back, sacrum or hip, it’s become my tapas and reignited my practice.


More information about Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program can be found at our web site:  Yoga Teacher Training at Whole Life Yoga.

Yoga Teachings on Anxiety–A Teacher’s Personal Application

“I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” Mark Twain

At the risk of annoying some of my readers, today’s blog is personal. As many of you know, I adore my dog. Not the normal, socially acceptable kind of affection most people feel for their pets. Not even the deep love I’ve felt for the dozens of animals I’ve shared my life with in the past. My love for Tasha is inherently, insanely deeper than that. I have found in her a relationship of loyalty and unconditional love that astounds me every day. I’ve never been happier in my life than I have been since the day my husband and I adopted her.

One of the more controversial teachings of yoga is that we should beware of great joy, for buried in the midst of great joy is great suffering. Instead, the teachings say, we should seek peace. In other words, beware of great attachments, because inevitably they come at a price. Although none of us know the future, I have a pretty good idea what the price of loving Tasha will be. After all, her expected lifespan is significantly shorter than mine. Yet still I delude myself, live in the moment, and ignore the future.

When I found a swelling in her breast last Friday, I was concerned but not panicked. When the vet said we should do a biopsy, I was concerned, but not panicked. When the biopsy came back as “inconclusive,” well, that was the final straw. I panicked.

You see, I have a history of anxiety. Yoga helps me keep it under control, but evidently I still have work to do. And we anxiety sufferers know that the nothing feeds our inner demon  more effectively than the unknown.

According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the purpose of yoga is to decrease the exact sort of suffering I feel now by gaining control over the minds five random activities, or vrttis. Sutras 1.5 – 1.11 outline the mind’s five activities.

  • Correct perception
  • Misperception
  • Memory
  • Imagination
  • Deep dreamless sleep

People who suffer from anxiety are often overwhelmed by three of the above.

  • Misperception. Seeing things not as they are, but “colored” in some way. For me in this moment, I see the word “inconclusive” as evil. In reality, it means we don’t know. It is by definition, neither good nor bad.
  • Memory. Particularly as it relates to similar, unpleasant things that have happened in the past. In this case, I remember my favorite cat. He died on the table during a routine teeth cleaning. No surgical procedure really feels low risk when I remember that.
  • Imagination. Those of us with anxiety are masters at imagining the worst, or as Albert Ellis called it “awfulizing.” The future my crazed mind has come up with would be laughable if it weren’t so real to me.

So how do the teachings help me and others like me? Well first, the sutras are very clear. One activity of the mind predominates most of our psyches: Error. And the teachings of psychology show us that in the absence of information, the mind creates a story that is worse than reality about 90% of the time. So no matter what horror story I create in my mind, I can rest assured that I’m probably wrong, and that whatever I’m imagining is worse than reality. I find comfort in that.

Second, yoga gives us specific practices to combat the hold the mind has over us. I’ve written about two specific practices in prior blogs that are useful in cases of anxiety:

So, I will continue to spend time in my practice, and I hope each of you will as well. Yoga’s biggest gift to us has so little to do with our bodies. Its biggest gift is increased inner peace.

Time for me to practice what I preach.



PS–And truly coincidentally, I’m teaching a yoga class for anxiety soon. Check it out at

A follow up several days later.

The yoga teachings were right again.  My mind was in error.  “Inconclusive” may have meant we didn’t know, but now we do.  The follow-up appointment with the vet this morning showed no cancer.  😉 Guess I get to keep my attachment to this lovely beast awhile longer.