Becoming a yogi

This is how I became a yogi.  My entire journey started in 1985 in Skopje, Macedonia, when I joined the newly established Hatha Yoga class in the group of the acclaimed yoga master Pavlos K. Hassanagas assisted by Irena Edrovska.  My journey later continued in the U.S. where I practiced different styles of yoga at several yoga studios over the years.

After 30 years of practice, in 2015, my yoga journey took me to the Lotus Pond studio in Tampa, Florida, where I signed up for the 200hrs Yoga Teacher Training, a certified program through the Yoga Alliance, which fulfills the requirements in the areas of: Techniques, Teaching Methodology, Anatomy & Physiology, Practicum, Yoga Philosophy/Lifestyle & Ethics.

A special mention goes to my most influential teachers that marked my journey.

The Lotus Pond teachers:

Master Teacher Karin Stephan was one of the major pioneers in introducing Iyengar Yoga to the East Cost – New York, Washington D.C. and Boston – in the late 1970′s and 1980′s. Along with Patricia Walden, she opened the first Iyengar Yoga Center in the Northeast in the mid-1980′s. Over 30 years ago, Karin began her studies with K. Pattabhi Jois teaching Ashtanga yoga and then gravitated to the teachings of B.K.S Iyengar. She specializes in alignment and the study of the asymmetric body, bringing the concepts of Chinese medicine and her amazing intuitive skills into her teachings. It is an honor to host Karin as a Lotus Pond Teacher and director of the Teacher Training program.

Val Spies, E-RYT 500 and owner/director of the Lotus Pond Center and the Lotus Pond Teacher Training Program, is a certified Kripalu yoga teacher who specializes in the psychological quest for joy through the practice of yoga and breathwork. She has been leading workshops, travel tours, and training sessions for yoga groups and corporate enterprises for over 20 years and offers expertise in tailoring programs to fit the needs of individual groups. Val is best known for her ability to deliver the complex studies of yoga in a comprehensive and intriguing style that appeals to students of all levels. Her teachings encompass the philosophical studies of the yoga tradition and the mind/body connection of the practice.

Nancy MacDonald, E-RYT 500 is a lead teacher in Programs I and II and the 300 hour program.  She holds certifications is Restorative Yoga, Prenatal/Postnatal, Yoga Nidra, Chair Yoga Lakshmi Voelker LVCYT, Thai Yoga Massage level 1, Yoga for Cancer Patients YCaT level 1. She adds concentrated studies in the areas of Seniors, Osteoporosis, Pranayama, and Yoga Therapy training focusing on back, neck, shoulder, hip and knee pain. Nancy continues to study with Doug Keller, Judith Lasater, and Tias Little, teachers that blend alignment with therapy to allow all students to find the asana postures that serve their bodies.  Nancy studies over 150 hours each year one-on-one with Karin Stephan, who is a master of alignment and the asymmetric body.  Nancy’s focus is to empower each student to walk the path of yoga discovering their inner peace, joy, and strength.  She enjoys witnessing the transformation of those in the program from unsure to confident with their acquired skills to teach yoga with their own unique voice.

Larissa Hall Carlson, E-RYT 500, teaches in both the 200 hour and 300 hour programs. She is a Kripalu Yoga teacher, Dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, Ayurveda Lifestyle Consultant, and Yee Yoga teacher. A program leader and Ayurveda Yoga Specialist for Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living, Larissa has taught yoga, meditation, pranayama, and yogic philosophy for the Tanglewood Music Center, Berkshire Opera Company, Juilliard School, and Boston Conservatory. Creator of the CDs Meditative Yoga Flow: A Kripalu Sadhana and Ayurvedic Pranayama and Meditation for the Doshas, she teaches workshops, directs yoga trainings, and provides Ayurvedic consultations.

Also,  special mention and appreciation goes to the the teachers that started me on this journey:

Pavlos K. Hassanagas is a President of the International Association of Yoga Science Centers, Yoga Teacher and Yoga Therapist. He has been teaching yoga since 1969. He is founder of IAYSC, of Yoga Centres in different countries, of “YOGA -Health and Harmony” Magazine, and of the Centre for Training Yoga Teaching Staff. He is one of the pioneers of Yoga Science Research in Europe. He conducts lectures and international seminars, writes articles for the YOGA H&H Magazine, and is author of various scientific studies. He also conducts teacher training seminars. His disciples teach yoga in several European countries. He is the Secretary General of Word Federation of Holistic Health Sciences (WFHHS). He is also honorary member of the Indian Association of Clinical Ayurveda from Bilai, India.

Irena Edrovska is professor of yoga since 1982, first in Skopje, Macedonia and from 1989 till 2005 she’s been in charge of the Yoga Science Centre in Athens, Greece and member of International Association of Yoga Science Centers.  She is yoga professor at “AION” in Athens since 2000.  Irena Edrovska has attended several seminars with well known personalities as: Dr. M.L. Gharote, Dr. Bhole, Swami Satyananda, Swami Yogamudrananda, Dr. C. Dostalek, Swami Maheswarananda.


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