Chilling at Kripalu


Kripalu sunshine

Warm glow and pranayama

Found my Mother Ship


I am taking ten days for learning, chilling and Middle Ground nourishment.

May you too find space to expand and quiet to drop into this week.


Kripalu Training Awaits

Kripalu in springToday, I head north to Kripalu Yoga Center in the Berkshires. There’s still snow on the ground and cold winter temps to greet me. The perfect time to be nourished and restored.

I will stay in touch this time around.



Kripalu Training Awaits

Kripalu in spring
By the time you read this I will be at Kripalu Yoga Center in the Berkshires.

I am excited to be here for a five day program offered by Dr Timothy McCall (Physician and author of Yoga as Medicine) and Ginny Jurkin ( Physical Therapist and fellow Kripalu Yoga Teacher)

Ginny and I met at a module in our 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training, and we had a lot of fun together. I hope we get to play again in this wonderful learning environment😎

The intention of the program is to refine our ability to observe subtleties of anatomical alignment, breath, and even the elusive flow of prana, or life-force energy, in a wide variety of poses.
We will learn to view the body holistically, looking at the ways bones and muscles work together and how to assess tensegrity, which includes alignment, the smooth flowing of breath, and the balance of effort and ease in a posture.
We will also explore ways to work with imbalances and abnormalities, allowing us, our students, and our clients to go more deeply into poses for improved health, balance, and well-being.

Having a therapeutic approach to teaching yoga is so valuable, especially when working with older populations.
I’m looking forward to bringing back new insights into my classes and to share with my private clients, and fellow yoga teachers.

I will not be active on Find Your Middle Ground this week, but have scheduled some posts that I thought you might enjoy while I am away.

In the meantime, breathe easy my friends 💛

Finding the Right Yoga Teacher Training Program for you

kripalu yoga teacher trainingThe first level of Yoga Teacher Training recognized by Yoga Alliance, is 200 hours. Not all schools are the same, so its important to find the one that it is right for you.

There are three key aspects to take time to consider, before making this substantial investment of your time and money in becoming a yoga teacher.

1. Standards and Background
  • Take time to consider the standards and background of the training program on offer. Many studios offer teacher training programs in order to increase their revenue. The best programs exceed the minimum requirements; are in good standing with the Yoga Alliance; are clear in their payment structure; and have years of teacher training under their belt. Look for a Registered Yoga School that is in demand!
  • Traditionally, there is a lineage in yoga studios. The foundation of this is to honor the teachings of those who have gone before and ensure that the wisdom is carried forward. For example, my first 200 hour training was at East Eagle Yoga in Havertown. Joe and Nicole were experienced Hatha Yoga teachers who did their training at Yoga Life Institute, which is affiliated with the Yoga Institute of Mombai, India. Yoga philosophy, self inquiry, and meditating were emphasized, as well as asanas and some pranayama.
  • Different traditions have different approaches to Yoga, and what we would call nowadays “styles”. Here’s a link to a very helpful summary of the styles of yoga.
  • Choosing a style of yoga that resonates with you is important. Some schools are now “branded”, so you have to teach in a certain way or in certain locations. There is little opportunity for creativity or exploring different approaches.
  • Some schools are also strict on what is correct and what is wrong. This can lead to a rigid practice and a somewhat arrogant approach to teaching. In my experience, there is no right or wrong in yoga, as long as students honor themselves and are safe.
  • An other consideration in choosing a quality school,  is how many students are in the program, and even more important, the teacher student ratio. One-on-one time with an experienced teacher is incredibly valuable as you grow and expand your knowledge, skills and abilities as a yogi and a teacher.
  • Having a variety of teachers, in age, background, and style, can also make for a very interesting and stimulating experience.
2. Be Practical
  • Choosing the right program is more than finding the best deal. Studios wanting more cash flow may offer deep discounts, but may not have the standards or the personal approach that you are looking for. Be practical, and find the balance that is right for you.
  • Consider the length of the program and the amount of time required to become certified. Some programs may take several weekends out of your year, while others offer an intense few weeks in residence.
  • The experience of the teacher/s and how long the school has been teaching, is key. You will get so much more from the experience, and a lot more value for your money with teachers who have taught more than 1000 hours (which gives them the designation of E-RYT200 or E-RYT500). Teachers who have invested in furthering their own education also bring a depth of knowledge along with broader experience.
  • Look out for testimonials from recently certified teachers. Testimonials should be on their website, or their Yoga Alliance page. Even better, speak to yoga teachers and find out more about their personal experience.
  • Consider the format of the syllabus and classes. Is it practical for you and your life right now? If you are looking for less interaction and a quick certification, then an online training program or an intensive retreat in an exotic destination may be appeal. But seriously, consider how prepared and confident will you be when you get your certificate and teach in the real world with real people.  You may know the Sanskrit and be able to do a perfect Trikonasa, but do you know how to teach a class with different levels of abilities and experience, or what to say to someone who tells you they are pregnant?…
  • Research shows that we can only absorb so much new information at a time,  and it has to be reinforced or we lose what we learn. Time out for relaxation and reflection, as well as opportunities to journal are important ways to allow the information to be absorbed.
  • During and after the program there should be time for actual teaching. You may be surprised, but some schools don’t spend much time on how to teach at all! If you want to be a teacher, find good teachers and work with them on how to teach.
3. Be Inspired
  • The studio that you have been going to, and is close to home, may seem the obvious choice, but consider how many teachers there are now in your area who have been trained in the same way. Wouldn’t it be better for you, and future opportunities  to find a school where you could offer something different and inspire others? For example, right now there are hundreds of Vinyasa Flow Programs in studios all around the US,  but very few entry level programs that can support teaching to the growing population of older people.
  • We have discussed the importance of standards for programs and the teachers, but what about the minimal standards that applicants should meet? If you have been practicing yoga for some time and want to join a group of fellow experienced yogis, then this is an important aspect for your personal experience in the program. It may be charitable to offer training to inexperienced yogis, but inexperienced yoga students can take up class time and practicum hours.
  • Reach out and get answers to your questions! Many studios offer get togethers for interested students. This article from someone who was considering a Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training is helpful.
  • To make your choice the right one for you, take time to explore your own personal thoughts and feelings about yoga. Ask yourself these questions:

What am I passionate about?

What aspects of yoga am I really interested in?

What gifts do I want to share with my students later on?

What is the population I want to teach?

What support will I get to teach this population?

And then…

Does this align with a particular Yoga Teacher Program?

If you have read this far, I wish you all the best on your journey. It is an incredible one to embark on, that will undoubtedly change your life..

Namaste 🙏

Haiku – Kripalu Awaits



Take time for a break

Serenity is a choice

Kripalu awaits 


I will be away from February 24 through March 5 at Kripalu center for yoga and health

We all need to take time for ourselves and nurture our inner being and creative spirit. This trip is for a Yin Yoga Teacher Training program. I look forward to being in community with some wonderful, kind and talented yogis.

While I am away I will be taking a break from social media and blogging. Thank you for your understanding 🙏

See you on the other side 💛

*Kripalu Inspiration Haiku

This is a haiku that I wrote and shared at the graduation ceremony of my 500 hour Yoga Teacher Training at Kripalu.

kripalu graduation


In life’s pendulum

The highs and lows of being

Seek Self in the waves


Find your Middle Ground

The mother ship is calling

Kripalu Center


Yoga skills and tools

Challenged body and stretched mind

Space. Peaceful being


Prana life force freed

Breathe. Relax. Feel. Watch. Allow

Yoga’s real essence


Say yes to the breath

Letting go. Letting it flow

Drop down. Re-align


Overflowing love

Connections and friendships

Embracing true Self


Heartfelt gratitude

So much learned in just one year

More than most lifetimes


Thank you my teachers

Sudhir, Larissa, Coby

Rudy, Sudha .. twice


This is how it is

Unexpected freedom fries 😉

Here, Right here … And now



p.s. Affirmation for today onwards: I am an advanced Level Kripalu Yoga Teacher!

Wow. What a journey.


* Insights from my Kripalu YTT 500 Teacher Training – Mod 4

When I was at Kripalu last week I met amazing teachers from the world of physical therapy, structural therapy and nursing, as well as wonderful yogis who teach and inspire a diverse range of people.

You don’t have to be fit, flexible and under 40 to do yoga or enjoy all its benefits! But it is important to find a teacher with experience and skill to avoid injury or making your condition worse… That is why I attended this module.

I have acquired more knowledge and skills for safely teaching people of all sizes; those recovering from illness; moms-to-be; kids; seniors and people with disabilities; people impacted by trauma, depression or anxiety and a large population of shoulder and back pain sufferers. For the yogis out there I also learned about how to support people in rebalancing their doshas and bringing mind body and spirit into harmony.

Val's yoga class

This module was called Teaching Special Population Groups, but it seems to me that most people I come across fall into the one or more of the above categories.  The norm is in fact special. I like that 🙂

The main theme was to support whoever comes into a yoga class with compassion and skill.

The supporting theme that became evident early on is that sitting is bad for your health and well being. We are a chair culture and it isn’t doing our bodies any good.

Lee Albert said that sitting is the new smoking! Its bad for everyone’s health. If you want to find out more about his perspective as an Integrated Positional Therapist, then there are lots of tips on his website.

Our bodies were built for walking, squatting and lying down. Sitting on a chair or in the drivers seat for extended periods of time creates misalignments that lead to chronic back pain and shoulder issues, as well as other health problems.  Specific yoga poses can counteract this … and lead to better alignment and healthy backs and shoulders.

Yoga has its roots in spirituality and the journey to oneness, but it has evolved into an amazing tool box full of tools that can support every body in bringing peace of mind and physical well being.

I feel grounded in this knowing, yet am excited to share these new perspectives with my yoga peeps.

* Deciding to Do the Right Thing

at the edge

Have you ever thought about doing something  that you know would be a challenging experience, yet you feel it will also be one that gives an opportunity to learn about yourself and grow?

In coming to the decision about doing this, you know you will have to face certain aspects of yourself and habitual patterns that aren’t serving you … You will have to let go …

A deeper part of you knows that its the right thing to do, and the human part of you (ego) comes up with all sorts of excuses and reasons for weazling out and avoiding  this scary and threatening place.

I’m feeling it right now … and it reminds me of when I came to the decision to give up smoking. It was much easier to keep smoking than to face the reality of the harm I was doing to myself and its hold over me. By stopping I would also be letting go of the comfort, reassurance, security and yes, companionship of my ciggie.

Within all of us is a core of honesty and integrity that is part of our higher self. Our lower ego self wants things to be the same, and in my experience tries to negotiate with the higher voice by coming up with all sorts of arguments and counterpoints to deflect and avert. It gets a kick out of outwitting the better part of me 😉

So which voice do we choose?…

When we are aware of the inner workings of our mind, the chatter and strategies of our very human ego … then we really can see that there is a choice.

The choice I am considering is whether to go on a social media retreat while I am away on the next module of my YTT 500 Yoga teacher training at Kripalu.

Even when we embrace our higher self and choose to do the right thing, its important to recognize how our ego shows up. Denying the lesser part of ourself, only brings resistance and more struggle.

My ego really wants to share with you what a brave and challenging thing it is going to agree to. Its afraid it will feel disconnected and will miss the stimulation and community.

My higher self knows that this will give me an opportunity to be with the discomfort of disconnection from the external world and allow me to find more inner connection while I am away.

girl walking on her path

Your support is much appreciated as I switch off  from Friday Sept 19th until Sunday Sept 28th. 🙂

” Life at its best is a series of challenges. A big enough challenge will bring out strengths and abilities you never knew you has. Take on challenges and bring yourself to life.” anon




* Finding My Middle Ground after Kripalu

I have just returned from 10 wonderful days of teacher training at Kripalu. I came home with a cold (like most others in the group!) and a heart full of appreciation and warmth for the gifted people there. I also learned about advanced assisting in yoga.

peacock featherIt’s now very clear that “advanced” assisting is not about manipulating a person’s body into a pretzel position!  The Kripalu approach is to take into account the whole person with compassion and understanding. It goes further than the physical and into the inner layers of our being – called koshas in Yoga.

From the kosha perspective, yoga helps us bring body, breath, mind, wisdom, and spirit (bliss) into harmony. The koshas are interwoven layers within us. You have no doubt experienced this in your own body: When you are tense or strained, your breath becomes shallow, your mind becomes easily agitated, and wisdom and joy seem far away. When you are filled with joy and communion with life, these feelings permeate your entire being.

It reminded me that there is so much more that our physical bodies when it comes to yoga. Its an exploration of what is within us, as well as how connected we are to others and the world around us.

As I take care of my cold and snuggle in on this snow filled day, I’ll simply let the wisdom and insights from last week be absorbed, knowing that they will be expressed with joy in their own time.

Accepting what is, will bring us to our middle ground…. Nyquil also helps 😉


* Joy is Big!

This is a wonderful inspiration for connecting with our joy – and to relish when we are on one of the highs of life. I am leaving for Kripalu tomorrow for my next module of my RYT500 yoga teacher training.

joyful girl

Yep – feeling joyful !! 🙂 

My thanks go to  Judith Lasater:


Your joy is too small, caged by the jailor of your thoughts.

It lives in the land beyond Infinity and is big beyond measure.

It teaches each tree to dance her own private blissful dance with the wind.

It is what the moon sings every night, holding us as we sleep with her streaming light-song.

Joy lives in your own drunken electrons, billions of them, spinning and dancing without end in their own intimate Universe, longing for You.

Do not look for joy anywhere else.

It is living in you, and gives meaning to all Existence.

Turn your heart’s eyes inward right now, and let them gaze in awe at the immensity of your Joy.

Open to this and all creation will celebrate.

Open to this and all mysteries will be revealed.

 Open to this and you will fear nothing.

Open to this and you will begin to live fully in the space between each breath, each heartbeat, each note.

Joy is the language of the Goddess. Listen!

Your joy is big beyond measure.

Connecting and Learning with Compassion at Kripalu!

I’m so excited to be going to the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in the Berkshires – Western Massachussets!


I’ll be beginning my Level 500 hours of yoga teacher training tomorrow evening.

I wanted to let you know that I’ve scheduled posts but will not be actively engaged in the blog for a week or so.

I’m so looking forward to bringing back new wisdom and insights to share!!