Teacher Trainees 2017: Who Are They?

 Introducing the TT2017 Trainees!!!

Yeah yeah, after 6 VERY INTENSIVE weeks, our mind and body just drained,

but full of so much knowledge and love…we emerge!

 

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CALISA CRUICKSHANK

 

Say hi to Calisa!!

KB:  WHO ARE YOU?
I describe myself as a creative person and a free-thinker who enjoys trying new experiences. I am also a Medical doctor and l believe these qualities will be of great benefit to my medical career as it well help to be innovative and diversify my medical practice. And it was my willingness to try new things that brought me to the practice of yoga and eventually the Teacher Training.
KB: LIKE WE ONLY TRIED TO GET YOU INTO THIS TRAINING FOR OVER 3 YEARSSSSS!  YOU SEE THE VISION AND YES IT WILL MOS DEF DIVERSIFY YOUR MEDICAL PRACTICE!  BUT UHHH…ARE YOU FORGETTING SOMETHING?  HOW ABOUT YOU ARE A NATURAL HAIR EXPERT AND PUBLISHED AUTHOR!  YEAH MAN!  LOOK FOR HER BOOK FOLKS – BE CREATIVE!  A STYLING GUIDE FOR NATURAL HAIR, BRAIDS AND DREAD LOCS AND CLICK HERE TO VISIT HER WEBSITE! THIS WOMAN HAS TALENT!  AND DON’T EVEN SUGGEST THAT SHE ASK SOME WHITE GYAL WITH DREADS FOR ADVICE ON HOW TO TIE UP HER LOCS…RUN AND HIDE FOR PROTECTION IF THOSE WORDS COME OUT OF YOUR MOUTH, EH?! *HAHAHAHAHA*! RUN…AND…HIDE!  LOVE YOU, CALISA!  OH AND SHE IS A THAI YOGA MASSAGE PRACTITIONER IN THE MAKING TOO…GEEZ!  HOW DO YOU FIND THE TIME?!!!

KB:  WHEN AND WHY DID YOU START YOGA?  
I started yoga in my second year of medical school as a means to cope with the stresses of college life.
KB: I TOTALLY REMEMBER!  YOU DIDN’T HAVE NO “I’M GONNA BE A DOCTOR” ATTITUDE, TOTALLY QUIET AND UNASSUMING…YA JUST CAME AND DID YOUR YOGA AND DID YOUR THING…SUPER COOL!

KB:  NOW THAT YOU ARE INTO YOUR YOGA PRACTICE, WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN?
Since starting my practice I have seen the physical benefits of yoga but more importantly its also easier for me to concentrate and stay focused. This is extremely useful in high stress situation which is something i deal with a daily basis.
KB:  AWESOME!


KB:  WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST SURPRISE ABOUT YOGA?
One of my biggest surprises was the realization that yoga is a individual journey and not a competition.
KB: WHICH IS WHY IT’S USELESS LOOKING AROUND THE ROOM, RIGHT?  

KB:  WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE YOGA POSE(S)?
One of my favourite poses is dancer’s pose and well as warrior 2, both of these pose are a perfect combination of strength and balance.
KB: OKAY OKAY…COOL!

KB:  WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE YOGA POSE(S)?
Sigh………… Hamunasana takes the cake but with practice I will get better.
KB: DAT IS A SIGH…HAHAHAHA!  IT WILL…I PROMISE!

KB:  HOW ABOUT SOME DEEPER PERSONAL STUFF….YA GOT ANY STORIES?  
I don’t have any juicy stories or anything but my mom told me that when I was younger I said that when I grow up I wanted to be a doctor to stop my relatives from dying. I thought that was so cute.
KB:  AWWWWW…THAT IS TOOOOOO CUTE!!  AND I COULD TOTALLY HEAR YOU SAYING THAT!  WELL TALK ABOUT DETERMINATION…YOU HAVE DONE IT GRRRL!

KB:  WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST FEAR – IN GENERAL, IN LIFE?
Hmmmm will I try not to live in fear knowing that to be fearful is a waste of time but my biggest regret will be living a life where I haven’t lived up to my true potential.
KB:  YOU??!!!  NEVER!  YOU ARE ALREADY LIVING THE FULL POTENTIAL PATH LADY!

KB:  WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT?
I have been blessed with good health, academic and career success but my biggest accomplishment is the ability to deflect the image that any other person may try to project unto me, by creating my own sense of identity instead of seeking the approval of others.
KB:  YOU KNOW THE SAYING “I MARCH TO THE BEAT OF MY OWN DRUM”?  DAZ YOU!  EXCEPT THERE ARE MANY DRUMS AND THEY ARE ALL YOUR OWN!  *WINK*


KB:  WHAT ARE YOU MOST HAPPY WITH OR ABOUT?
My spiritual growth as well academic and career choices.

KB:  ANY OTHER THOUGHTS OR WORDS OF WISDOM YOU’D LIKE TO PASS ON OR SHARE?
“Remember that everything takes time and nothing happens before its time, so be patient.”
KB:  BOOM BANG!

If it’s one thing when it comes to Calisa…just as much as she marches to her own beat, she also thoroughly researches any decision she makes…none made lightly.  And once she commits…she commits!   This sister is making waves in the BVI – Doctor, Published Author, Hair Stylist, Thai Yoga Massage Practitioner, Loving, Caring, One of my biggest Cheerleaders and Supporters and one amazing Future Yoga Teacher!  You MUST try a class with her if you go to the BVI!   Apparently, everyone knows everyone so just ask for Dr. Calisa Cruickshank and you bong to find her!  *LOL*

 

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JOSIE CRAWFORD

Say hi to Josie!!

KB:  WHO ARE YOU?
I am a daughter
I am a sister
I am a friend
I am lover of fun
I am a traveller
I am an Aberdonian yogi
I am Josie – come join me in my bubble
KB:  ABERDONIAN?  QU’EST-CE QUE C’EST?  “Aberdonian. (ˌæbəˈdəʊnɪən ) a native or inhabitant of Aberdeen, Scotland. Of or relating to Aberdeen or its inhabitants.”  OHHHH…INTERESTING AND HOW KEWL IS THAT?!!  BUT LET’S ADD ONE MORE…YOU ARE AN HONOURARY TRINIDADIAN…TRINI TO DE BONE!!!  WHEN YA COMIN’ BACK?!!!

KB:  WHEN AND WHY DID YOU START YOGA?
Yoga started out for me as another way to burn, sweat and lose all that was unwanted from my body.  I was instantly hooked, I found an addiction in this beautiful chaos.  A new journey begun, one of love, discovery and appreciation. Yoga has been my map on this journey and the best part is, it never has to end.
KB:  YUP THAT WAS ME!  WEIRD HOW IT STARTED ONE WAY AND NOW HAS A WHOLE NEW MEANING, RIGHT?

KB:  NOW THAT YOU ARE INTO YOUR YOGA PRACTICE, WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN?
I understand the importance of using blocks and props and embrace these in my practice when they are required!  “Listening to my body whisper so it never has to scream”.  This is the physical side, but I have also noticed that the way in which I deal with situations has changed since the yoga teacher training.  Calmer, looking at the bigger picture, understanding that really none of it is about me – in my practice and out of it.
KB:  BESSSS LINE EVER!  WHO WANTS TO HEAR SCREAMS…NOT ME!  SO GLAD YOU WERE ABLE TO GET THIS OUT OF YOUR TRAINING…THEY ALWAYS SAY ONCE YOU START PRACTISING YOU ARE THEN ABLE TO MAKE BETTER DECISIONS IN LIFE AND RESPOND BETTER…CALMER IS ALWAYS BETTER AND YOU’RE RIGHT…IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!

KB:  WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST SURPRISE ABOUT YOGA?
The emotion but also the control I gained back into my life without having to hide the emotion away.  Once you are open to what it can do for you, you will be running through every door presented to you.
KB:  YOU SOUND LIKE A SOMEONE WHO HAS EMBARKED ON A WHOLE NEW LIFE PATH!

KB:  WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE YOGA POSE(S)?
Headstand or downdog….hands down.
I also really enjoy dancers pose and hanumanasana
KB:  I CAN DIG THIS!

KB:  WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE YOGA POSE(S)?
…I’m not sure I have one?
KB:  I REALLLLLY GET THIS!  YEAH IN THE BEGINNING I COULD TELL YOU ALL THE POSES I HATED, BUT NOW THEY ARE ALL THE SAME TO ME…NO HATE, JUST POSITIONS I PUT MY BODY IN THAT MAKE ME FEEL GOOD AFTER!  SO I GET THIS!

KB:  HOW ABOUT SOME DEEPER PERSONAL STUFF….YA GOT ANY STORIES?
Hmmmmmm…

KB:  WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST FEAR – IN GENERAL, IN LIFE?
I used to have so many fears, rejection, loneliness, judgment. My only fear now would be if my fears controlled me. I no longer let these fears cage me.
KB:  BUST OUT, BABY!!

KB:  WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT?
My biggest accomplishment to date besides being an auntie to my beautiful nieces and wicked nephew is completing my teacher training, building beautiful friendships and regaining my trust in life.
KB:  AWWW…WE LOVE YOU TOO, JOSIE!!

KB:  WHAT ARE YOU MOST HAPPY WITH OR ABOUT?
Having contentedness in my life.  Something I lacked since I can remember.
KB:  AHHH…ALMOST LIKE YOU’VE FOUND SANTOSHA…REMEMBER THOSE NIYAMAS? 

KB:  ANY OTHER THOUGHTS OR WORDS OF WISDOM YOU’D LIKE TO PASS ON OR SHARE?
Take the time to listen to your body, your mind and be yourself. Everyone else is taken.
KB:  *WINK*

Well Josie rolled into my life and right back out…just like that!  She unfortunately couldn’t stay this rounds, but we are all crossing fingers and toes that we meet again.  Your energy and spirit left a major impact on us all, Josie…Aberdeen has received a really great gift in you and they better treat it well *smile*!  Auntie, Fun Lover, Listener, Giver, Caring Soul, The Meaning of Cool and a Future Amazing Yoga Teacher… if you are ever in Aberdeen, Scotland, go check her out, nah?  Click here to get in touch with her on her facebook page!

 

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MARINA LOUIS

 

 

Say hi to Marina!!


KB:  WHO ARE YOU?
I’m Marina which literally means “Lady of the Sea” and Marina was a cute, young and beautiful mermaid who lived in the ocean around NeverLand. As you get to know me you’ll soon come to realize that mermaids are more than just affiliated with my name, I literally love everything about them! If you practice with me you’ll hear me say Namasté AND Mermasté at the end of your practice with me. This is my fun signature way of ending the practice.
KB:  THIS IS KEWL!  BUTTT THE IRONY IS YOU’RE NOT A LOVER OF THE OCEAN…I DOH SEE YOU SWIMMING WITH ALL DEM BIG FISH IN THE SEA…LOL!  TO BE HONEST, NEITHER ME!  I’M ALL ABOUT SWIMMING WHERE THERE IS VERY LITTLE CHANCE OF ME MEETING A MERMAID *WINK*

KB:  WHEN AND WHY DID YOU START YOGA?  AND NOW THAT YOU ARE INTO YOUR YOGA PRACTICE, WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN?
I started practising yoga in 2016. What drew me to yoga is a need to help myself and in doing so I have found a way to help others. I have noticed that I am calmer, a little more tolerant, understanding and I’m definitely stronger. Oh did I mention that I also perform and teach belly dance? My hope is that my training as a dance teacher will help to make me a good yoga teacher…keeping my classes interesting and different. Maybe I should call myself The Belly Dancing Mermaid. What do you think? LOL  But, my biggest surprise about yoga I have to say are that there were so many different styles of yoga. Before yoga became part of my life I literally thought that yoga was yoga, but that quickly changed when I stepped onto the mat & hopped into a sling. Aerial yoga is by far my favorite type of yoga. I feel like I’m flying.
KB:  HMMM…THAT SOUNDS LIKE IT COULD WORK…LOL!  YUP, I REMEMBER YOUR FIRST CLASS…NOT ONLY DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WERE FLYING BUT YOU WERE DETERMINED TO BE ABLE TO DO EVERY POSITION I SHOWED YOU.  YOU NEVER FELT DEFEATED…JUST FIRED UP TO GET IT THE NEXT TIME…A TRUE WARRIOR!

KB:  WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE YOGA POSE(S)?  AND WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE YOGA POSE(S)?
My favourite asanas are Eagle, Warrior poses (especially when combined into Dancing Warrior), Hanumanasa & Superwoman in Aerial. My least favourite poses are definitely three legged Downdog and Vashistasana. Also SUP yoga is not my favorite, but I’m willing to try it again.
KB:  SUPERWOMAN…A MOS DEF FAVE OF MINE AND REALLY DIGGING AERIAL MYSELF!  BUT IT IS TRULY AWESOME THAT YOU ARE WILLING TRY SUP YOGA AGAIN, I MEAN AFTERALL…YOU ARE A MERMAID!

KB:  HOW ABOUT SOME DEEPER PERSONAL STUFF….YA GOT ANY STORIES?  ANYTHING THAT YOU ARE MOST HAPPY WITH OR ABOUT?
One of my greatest influences in my life is my adorable nephew. I love that child so much. We may not live close to each other, but he and I Facetime at least once every week. Every morning he wakes up with a big bright smile and I love when I have one-on-one time with him.  He’s a huge aspect of my life.  He is always happy and smiling and his happiness brings me so much joy. I am most Happy when I’m with my nephew, he is so much happiness in a little package.  I love children in general. I especially love working with them. My love for children has helped shape the person that I am for sure. I earned my Certificate in Dance and Dance Education from UWI to enable me to combine my passion for dance and my love of children.
KB:  WELL THIS IS AWESOME!  WE GOTTA MAKE SURE WE FIND A WAY TO CHANNELING THAT LOVE AND ENERGY INTO SOME CHILDREN’S CLASSES, EH? *SMILE*

Funny and cute aside, I would really love to create an amazing experience for you where I can get you to leave my class in a better mood or frame of mind than when you entered and that we can both grow together.  I hope to be seeing many of you in my upcoming classes.  ‘Til then, see you soon!
Namasté or as I like to say Mermasté.
KB:  NAMASTE/MERMASTE TO YOU, MY FRIEND!

YOUR LOVE FOR CHILDREN REALLY SHINES THOUGH, MARINA AS WELL AS HOW MUCH LOVE IS IN YOUR HEART!!
During the Training, if anyone had a cry, Marina was right there with the napkins…she’s a softy that one *smile*.  Always loving, always caring…a great big heart! 
Mas Player, Model, Aunty, Belly Dancer, Dance Teacher, Aerial Yoga Lover and Future Amazing Yoga Teacher… if you haven’t taken a class with her yet, get on it!  CLICK HERE to check her schedule out! 


 

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MELANIE RAGBIR

 

 

Say hi to Melanie!!

KB:  WHO ARE YOU?
‘I keep wondering, how many people do you need to be, before you can become yourself.” —Iain S. Thomas
I look at the first question on this sheet and I am stumped! Who am I? Haven’t I spent my entire life thus far trying to figure out who I was? And I still don’t have a clear answer?  My name is Melanie Alisa (still a) Ragbir – I haven’t yet changed my name to my husband’s (I plan to -before I have children for the sake of simplicity).
I’m a dreamer
I’m a soul searching believer
I’m a creator
I’m a lover of all that is beautiful, pure and true
I cannot be contained in a paragraph, or a page for that matter
I will not be defined by my history, where I come from or even what I think of me
I am nothing and at the same time, I am infinity

“I am a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
I have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to me
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should”
~ Max Ehrmann – Desideratta
KB:  I’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN THIS INTERVIEW AND I CAN TELL THIS IS GONNA BE INTENSE!!  LET THE RIDE BEGIN! *SMILE*

KB:  WHEN AND WHY DID YOU START YOGA?
I had done the odd yoga class at a previous workplace during lunch time and had even tried some crazy yoga app that my brother recommended but I was never the yoga-type of person. I sought adventure and yoga, I thought, was too calm and contained to be a proper adventure. My idea of fun was along the lines of gymnastics, trail running, mountain biking, dragon boat racing, kayaking, hiking. I even attempted to learn to surf very briefly! I was fearless and unstoppable –until mid- late 2014 when I began having back pain that simply would not go away.

My back pain got so bad and lasted for so long, that my doctor recommended that I get an MRI – which revealed that I had a slightly herniated disc in my lumbar spine. (I had spent roughly 4 months in perpetual pain – even lying down at night was painful – and had also continued to train through the pain.)  Now with MRI evidence, I had to face the facts which totally changed my entire lifestyle. I couldn’t keep doing the things I was used to doing and had to do the unheard of – rest and take it easy, along with physio-therapy. I lost my strength and stamina from lack of training and had also began to develop sciatica from the injury. It was quite a depressing period of not being able to do any of the things I sought solace in.

I was thankful when I eventually got the OK to do yoga by January 2015 – happy just to be able to be active again and to do something that I had heard would be good for my body. It would be a new challenge for me.
KB:  YAY!

KB:  NOW THAT YOU ARE INTO YOUR YOGA PRACTICE, WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN?
When I walked into The Sangha Trinidad on the first day I thought to myself – this would be a piece of cake for me. I always considered myself to be a person who was into fitness and in touch with my body. As a child I did gymnastics competitively and was confident about my flexibility and my ability to get into tricky poses like headstands and handstands from my background in gym. I was excited about learning more fancy tricks with my body, and improving flexibility I had lost with aging and being out of practice.

Yoga has been quite a humbling experience for me as I realized that:

  • I was no longer as in touch with my body as I thought I had been. I had to dig deep to find muscles in places that I didn’t even know existed. I remember distinctly in one of Karen’s Yin classes when I finally found my inner thighs! You know that S&M exercise where you lie with your feet in butterfly position and you have to use only your inner thighs to lift your legs up? I had probably been to two classes before and was convinced that this was an impossible feat. How on earth are you supposed to isolate one muscle from the next?? Aren’t they all connected? That moment when I felt the tremble and my thighs started shaking uncontrollably was for me a total game-changer! I’m yet to find out how to quiet my hip flexors and find my quads but all in good time.
    KB:  IT TOOK ME 6 TO 7 MONTHS TO FIND THIS…BUT I’M TELLING…TOTAL GAME-CHANGER!!!

  • Which brings me to my next lesson. Patience and self-love! The things I did in life would generally come easy for me. I practiced and I got it (even if it meant taking a cheat path). But the end result was gratifying and was what mattered. I couldn’t deal with not getting stuff – with failure. If I didn’t get it, I’d very likely beat myself up about it and berate myself – You’re too slow, too weak. How could you be so stupid? etc etc. I didn’t even need anyone to criticize me. My own self-talk dragged me down the deepest pits. With yoga, I slowly came to understand the meaning of being kind and gentle with myself and my body (and also with my husband). I’ve learned to be kind to myself even when I fall out of poses, can’t do a proper chaturanga or on those days when I’m just a total mess in practice.
    KB:  YUP!  THAT WAS ME AND MY ANOREXIA JOURNEY…THIS MIND OF OURS…WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?  I HAD THOSE SAME CONVERSATIONS IN MY HEAD.  THE MIRROR WAS MY TURNING POINT…FACING IT EVERY DAY…TRYING NOT TO SEE THE WHALE THAT I SAW IN MY HEAD.  I’M HERE WITH YOU SISTA!

  • I also kept having to unlearn things the way I knew them, the way they worked for me to achieve the posture. It was downright ANNOYING. At first I did not understand why I needed to slow down and take it step by step the right way when I knew in my mind I could get into the pose MY way. I had to learn to be patient with my body and the learning process. I’ve learned to honour my body by trying to achieve pure movement in my practice.
    KB:  SO ABOUT FUNCTIONAL ANATOMY!!!!  WHAT WAS THAT, RIGHT??!!!  HAHAHAHA!  THE UNLEARNING IS THE HARD PART, BUT IT IS ALSO WHAT MAKES THIS JOURNEY THAT MUCH MORE, RIGHT?

  • Breath – I’ve learned to breathe! Finding my breath felt like being born again! You generally take it for granted from the moment you exit the womb right? Nobody teaches you how to breathe as a kid. It’s just something you do. Before yoga, my breathing was shallow uncontrolled and I often suffered from ‘short breath’. With practice, I’ve learned not just to deepen my breath by paying attention to the way I breathe, but also to link movement to breath – it might sound cliché but it makes all the difference in my asana practice.But perhaps the most useful thing I’ve learned is how to return to breath in the most difficult of times – like when anxious, angry, overwhelmed. In May 2014 I had one seizure (up to this day inexplicable) that left me shaken up, fearful for my life and paranoid about having another one. I did a series of medical tests including an EEG and MRI, none of which could say clearly why it happened. For me, it was terrifying enough losing my consciousness and having involuntary body movements, but even more torturous not knowing what caused it. I was constantly fearful of having another one. At the time I had been working, studying part time for my MBA and training with my Dragon Boat Team for a competition in Canada. I had definitely taken a bigger bite than I could manage but somehow in my mind it was all working out. In retrospect, the seizure, as one of my doctors suggested, could have just been my body’s way of telling me that I was doing too much. In 2015 when I started yoga I was still having bouts of anxiety caused by seizure related fears. I generally became anxious whenever I pushed myself while running or swimming and found myself out of breath and experiencing some of the symptoms/ auras I felt right before my seizure. This frustrated me. How would I ever be able to progress if every time I pushed passed my limits I got a mini anxiety attack from the fear of having another seizure? Well, all this to say that now, when the panic and anxiety hits me, I feel well equipped to deal with it using my breath. It’s still a work in progress but its way less daunting than it used to be. And again I’ve learnt to be okay with my limitations and to listen to my body and to rest when I need to.
    KB:  I WOULD SAY 8 OUT OF 10 PEOPLE COMING TO CLASS TELL ME THAT THEY HAVE PANIC AND/OR ANXIETY ATTACKS…IT’S CRAZY!  IS IT OVER STIMULATION IN OUR EVERY DAY LIVES?  IS IT JUST STRESS?  ONE THING’S FOR SURE…BREATH WORKS!  WHAT A STORY, GRRRL!

  • So…other than my toned, sexay booty? I kid. I kid. I find myself having less of a desire to achieve the advanced poses, and more motivation to be present in my practice and to take that presence of mind with me through my daily activities. When I am consistent with my practice I feel more at peace. I know this might sound like all unicorns and rainbows, and I assure you that at times I still have thoughts about doing bad things to those people that drive up on the left lane and cut in front of me on the highway *hides face*. For me, it takes work and constant practice to find my inner peace – that place where I don’t feel the need to engage those negative thoughts and emotions. But I’ve noticed tiny changes and they inspire me to keep striving!
    KB:  THIS IS WHEN YOU SAY…I AM ONLY HUMAN!

KB:  WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST SURPRISE ABOUT YOGA?
Ha I honestly had no idea that yoga would take me on such a deep personal and spiritual journey of self-discovery!
KB:  GRRRRRL!

KB:  WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE YOGA POSE(S)?
It’s really hard to choose a favorite! So I’ll give you a yang and a yin –
I love my warrior 2/ reverse warrior on a good day! Like, hello world – look at me – watch out – I’m about to conquer!
Child’s pose is my retreat, my reset, my place when I need to take a breath or a few, to tell myself that it’s okay, that all is well with the world.
KB:  I LOVE THIS…LOVE THE WAY YOU THOUGHT OF IT LIKE THIS…YANG AND YIN…RAJAS AND TAMAS…KEWL!


KB:  WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE YOGA POSE(S)?
Also a tough one! I have nothing against the pose – but that crescent lunge in its particular placement in the Sangha series – something about it troubles me and sometimes I wish it would disappear.
KB:  *CHUCKLE* AND I CAN TOTALLY SEE AND HEAR YOU SAYING THIS, EXACTLY LIKE THAT!

KB:  HOW ABOUT SOME DEEPER PERSONAL STUFF….YA GOT ANY STORIES?
Gosh…where to begin??
I hail from “deep south” from a tiny village located in the Oroupouche Lagoon in the vicinity of Fyzabad, where I grew up with my both parents and my 3 siblings. I was raised in a very liberal household – we were never indoctrinated into any type of religion, we were encouraged to read literature and question the way the world was presented to us. My parents, like most other parents, did the best they knew how to do. Our home was humble – my both parents were civil servants and struggled to put food on the table for 4 kids. I now live in Petit Valley with my husband. We’ve been blissfully married just over 6 months – still honeymooning – as the older folks would say.

I’ve always been successful academically and drifted along life never actually knowing what I would do with my life and the knowledge I acquired. I started off thinking I wanted to be a Psychologist in high-school and had been accepted to UWI to study psychology but my parents could not afford to send me to university at that time. The next year when, luckily, tertiary education was made free, after I had spent a year working as a library assistant, tutoring Spanish, reading literature and writing poetry to pass the time, I decided instead that my love was literature and languages and I enrolled to study Spanish and English Literature at UWI. During that time I spent a year on a language exchange program teaching English in Bogota, Colombia – which was probably the most fun year of my life – I was 21 – young and wild and free!

When I returned home from Colombia in 2009, my world at home had fallen apart and I had no idea how it happened. I had what I thought was a pretty ‘normal’ life, until I was old enough to realize that not everyone had these types of experiences.  My father had been having manic attacks (at the time we basically thought he had just gone stark raving mad). He would get so verbally, emotionally and psychologically abusive that my mother, fearing for her and my younger brother’s safety, moved out of the house for a period of time. I, however, had to move back to my family home for the July/August vacation before I started my final year in UWI in September. My father’s episodes continued for approximately 2 year before he was actually diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. By this time I was finished with university and again living in my family home. During this time my family became alienated from the rest of our extended family and the rest of the community. My father would get into arguments and fights with anyone who came in contact with him. No one could get through to him, and as the saying goes you can’t help someone who doesn’t acknowledge that they need help. This experience has made me very sensitive to the problem of mental illness and trauma in our tiny twin island state. As a family, it’s still not something we speak openly about. Even though I recognize the need for people to be more open and aware about mental illness, it’s not something that is easy for me to speak about. I’m still putting the pieces back together for myself.

I happened to graduate with First Class Honors (I never really intended to) and like many other students at the time had no idea what I would do with life. I ended up in an office as an administrative assistant and then landed an internship in Human Resources. I then decided that I would do my MBA with a specialization in Human Resources and International Business – thinking this would make for a “decent” career. I was determined to prove that as a Humanities student your career could be more than a teacher ( how ironic) – but having been considered a “bright girl” all my life I knew that people expected more of me. The Corporate world bored me and I decided to try my hand at diplomacy and worked at the Association of Caribbean States for a while. I realized that Diplomacy was also very much like the rat race of the Corporate world with meeting upon meeting where nothing actually got done (no offense to the diplomats or corporate junkies out there).

I needed to find a way to sustain myself – I had never been driven by money but I was becoming an adult and a girl’s gotta eat. However, I desperately also sought fulfillment. I needed to know what my purpose was and how I was going to achieve that purpose. The last straw happened when I began working for a privately owned company and one Friday evening at work we all started smelling this strange scent only to realize they started painting the walls in a section of the office with the AC on and office still closed up and ALL of the workers inside! I could not believe that was happening. I decided to speak up about it to the CEO/ owner but who told a meek little girl like me to open my mouth? After it was made very clear to me what my place was after this incident, I knew I had to leave before I got myself into more trouble.

At this point my husband-to-be was doing a balancing act of trying to manage an existing business and build a new one. Since I was now unemployed, I began helping him to manage and coordinate activities for his After-School Sports business– which ran an extra-curricular football and cricket program in several primary schools across Trinidad. From the day I met him, I had been impressed and interested in this business as our lives got intertwined we would spend many nights talking about the ideas and visions we had for the business. I loved that it gave children an opportunity to participate in physical activity and learn a sport, something that I believe is seriously lacking in our education system, which forces children from a full day of classes straight into after-school lessons from as early as 8 years old! Naturally, I took over the day-to day running of this business. Eventually our business expanded to pre-schools and since we didn’t have suitable coaches for preschoolers, I began coaching preschoolers myself. I realized that I had a knack for reaching kids that other coaches didn’t always have. This has been one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had – seeing the sheer joy on a 4 year old’s face as they manage to hit the ball with a cricket bat or the giggles as we play tag to warm up. I’m what some people consider to be kid-sized and definitely a child at heart. I still enjoy a good game of hide and seek and fight with my nieces and nephews for a page to color in their coloring books. My story by no means ends here but this is where I’ll stop for now –
KB:  YUP!  SAY NO MORE!  JUST WOW!


KB:  WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST FEAR – IN GENERAL, IN LIFE?
*SIGH*
– failure. I’m classic I won’t even bother to try if I don’t think I can do it successfully.
KB:  CLEARLY THE JOURNEY CONTINUES *WINK*

KB:  WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Nothing. I’ve won many small battles, but I won’t say that I’ve had any BIG accomplishment.

Lately it’s –
Daring to listen to my own inner wisdom and do the things that make my soul sing.
Learning to disregard what everyone else (especially my mother) thinks I ought to be.
Not settling for a life not driven by purpose and service.
Figuring it out in the face of financial uncertainty.
KB:  UHH…THOSE SEEM PRETTY BIG TO ME! BUH DAZ JUS ME *LOL*


KB:  WHAT ARE YOU MOST HAPPY WITH OR ABOUT?
Love, Sunshine, Unity, Life, Opportunity, Learning, Growth, Laughter, Family, Friends, Community
KB:  LOVE EEEET!

KB:  ANY OTHER THOUGHTS OR WORDS OF WISDOM YOU’D LIKE TO PASS ON OR SHARE?
Have yourself a piece of cake for breakfast every once in a while! *SMILE*
KB:  NOW THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ‘BOUT…DOUBLE CHOCOLATE BROWNIE…WITH ICING!  *IF YA GONNA GO DOWN BAD…DO IT IN STYLE, RIGHT?!! HAHAHAHA!

I AM SITTING HERE AND MY JAW IS ON THE FLOOR!  THIS JOURNEY OF YOURS GRRRL…THIS JOURNEY!  AND IT FEELS LIKE THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING…SO MUCH MORE TO UNFOLD!  AMAZINGNESS…THAT IS ALL!!
Ya know that saying…”never judge a book by its cover”? OR “Sometimes the biggest things come in the smallest packages”? Well that’s our girl Melanie! Petite and strong… short but with the  tallest heart and full of great love for the practice of yoga and excited by the idea of sharing her experiences with you.  Wife, Traveller,  Adventurer, Self-Competitor, Driven and New Found Internal Peace Lover, and another Future Amazing Yoga Teacher… if you haven’t taken a class with her yet, uhhhhh…what’s up with you Willis?!!  CLICK HERE to check her schedule out!

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NATASHA RAMROOP

Say hellooo to Natasha!!

KB:  WHO ARE YOU?
Old soul but young at heart is a quick way to describe myself. I live for travel, love, laughter, yoga and good times with good people. However, accomplishing it is no easy feat. It takes hard work, hard life lessons and more. I think that we should all set out to find that one thing that we do the best, that which we love the most, and then try to base our lives around that. I truly believe that we are all given some special gift or talent which we are meant to share with the world in order to enhance it in some way. My greatest fear is not finding out what that is and thereby not realizing my true potential.
KB:  DON’T WORRY MY SWEETS…YOU ARE REALIZING YOUR TRUE POTENTIAL…I BELIEVE YOU HAVE DECIDED WHAT CAN OF TEACHER YOU WANT TO BE!

KB:  WHEN AND WHY DID YOU START YOGA?  
I’m in the process of finding out exactly what that is right now. Wish me luck! Healing energy has always fascinated me and I strongly suspect it is my calling. I did a Reiki certification in my early 20s and it benefited me greatly.  Yoga is a great tool for healing and for uniting the body, mind and spirit. I started yoga many moons ago doing Wai Lana Yoga on TV (I still have my mat, strap, block and ball) and I absolutely fell in love with the way it made me feel…taller, stronger and calmer.  I proceeded to take various yoga classes over the past few years and still have that feeling after every practice but it is even better. Videos etc. can only take you so far…having teachers has greatly improved my practice.

In the later stages of 2016 I set two intentions: 1) to find a job that involves doing something beautiful which has a positive effect on myself and those around me, and 2) to find a way to always maintain a spiritual connection that leads to greater Consciousness. In April 2017, the Universe conspired to make that happen via yoga teacher training with the visionary Karen Blackman at The Sangha Trinidad. All aspects of my life seemed to fall in place to make it happen. Location, part-time classes, support, financial generosity in terms of an affordable payment plan etc.
KB:  SOOOO GLAD I WAS ABLE TO HELP FACILITATE THAT JOURNEY AND TO BE A PART OF IT!  THANK YOU FOR TRUSTING ME!

KB:  WHAT ARE YOU MOST HAPPY WITH OR ABOUT?
Teacher Training was a truly amazing experience. I met some of the most beautiful souls on this journey. To my other teacher trainees Josie, Melanie, Shanna, Marina and Calisa and our momma bear teacher (Karen), we have shared a unique and beautiful experience together that no-one else may ever truly understand and I am sure we all took something different from it as well. I wish you all love and success on your respective journeys and I hope that we always stay in touch. Namaste ma honeys! Philosophy, Kundalini Yoga, Reiki, Thai Massage, Watsu, Anatomy, Communication, Meditation, Ethics, Neurology, Stand-Up Paddle Board Yoga….oh ma good-ness!! Talk about stimulation! Boredom wasn’t even a word in my vocabulary during those 6 weeks of yoga teacher training. This was my most interesting undertaking in life to date and one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I am truly happy. I can’t wait to see what workshops are in store for next year! WOO-HOO!!!
KB:  GRRRRL!  THEY ARE GONNA BE AWESOME!  I’M ALL ABOUT HEALING AND ALL ABOUT TRYING TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN.  STAY TUNED FO SHIZZLE!!

KB:  HOW ABOUT SOME DEEPER PERSONAL STUFF….YA GOT ANY STORIES?
Teacher training wasn’t all love, rainbows and bubbles though. There were many trying times with injuries, re-mapping my brain to accommodate all the new information and incorrect postures, long days and nights, aching bod,  lack of quality time with loved ones etc. To achieve your goals there must be hard work and sacrifice. The most difficult part for me was learning to slow down my practice. Truth be told, it came to a grinding halt at one point due to old injuries re-surfacing. I am now a lot more patient with my body and my mind (I still have to constantly remind myself to slow it down and to remember my new practice). It’s not about the pose but rather it’s the journey in getting there. And what a journey it was! Now it’s onto the next chapter…actually teaching. I’m a shy gal generally speaking so I know it’s going to be a challenge but I’m sure as time goes by I’ll gain more confidence. I wish to help my students to find that body-mind-spirit connection that can be so fulfilling.
KB:  IF ANYONE CAN TEACH FROM A PLACE OF EXPERIENCE…THE EXPERIENCE OF UNDERSTANDING THE IMPORTANCE OF SLOWING DOWN?  IT’S YOU MY FRIEND!  YOUR DOOR OF KNOWLEDGE HAS ONLY JUST OPENED!

KB:  WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE YOGA POSE(S)?  AND WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE YOGA POSE(S)?
What’s my least favourite pose you might ask? Ugh…frog pose. Tight hips from a sedentary office job and sitting in traffic for too long. What’s my favourite pose? At this point, the surprising answer is Savasana. Had you asked me before teacher training, I would have said Warrior 2 because it made me feel powerful and that Savasana is the “boring” part. I now say Savasana because it allowed me to really connect with my inner self. There’s no focus on getting into a pose or out of it. There is no sweat dripping down my brow. It is a time for contemplation and connection to a higher energy source. Some of my most profound experiences have been in Savasana. The body seems to fall away. Time no longer exists. A certain weightlessness, peace and bliss have found me in Savasana. Moments that I hope can last longer and get even better as my practice deepens.
KB:  AHHHH…THE GOOD ‘OL SAVASANA! 

KB:  ANY OTHER THOUGHTS OR WORDS OF WISDOM YOU’D LIKE TO PASS ON OR SHARE?
Find what you love and just do it! If it serves the greater good and you listen to the still small voice, you will find a way.  Also remember that even out of failure, comes valuable lessons. Success rarely follows an easy and straight path. Let your light shine today and everyday!
Namaste!
KB:  NOTHING ELSE CAN BE SAID HERE…NOTHING ELSE!

WOW!  WHAT AN AMAZING SOUNDING PERSONAL JOURNEY!  DID I EVER TELL YOU HOW MUCH YOU ARE ROCKING MY WORLD, NATASHA?!!
Natasha hails from the “East Siiiiiide” (LOL…her words not ours), loves anything that deals with Energy Healing and the Chakras.  She has a kind heart and spirit and a real desire to help make the world a better place. Mas Player, Animal Whisperer, Traveller, Explorer, Adventurer, Future Amazing Yoga Teacher… if you haven’t taken a class with her yet, what the heck are you waiting on?  CLICK HERE to check her schedule out! 

 

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SHANNA PREVOST

Say hi to Shanna!!

KB:  WHO ARE YOU?
A Dominican
A University Graduate
A Nature Lover
An Athlete
A Daughter
A Girlfriend
A Yogi

KB:  WHEN AND WHY DID YOU START YOGA?  
I started around 2014. I had trained for and completed my first marathon. Coupled with an increasingly stressful work environment, it really took a toll on my body.  I started doing exercises that were less impactful on the body such as walking and gradually yoga, mainly online videos, dotted with classes in Port of Spain since there were few classes in the East. My yoga practice became more consistent in 2016 with the introduction of more classes at convenient times in the St. Augustine area.

KB:  NOW THAT YOU ARE INTO YOUR YOGA PRACTICE, WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN?
I’m happier – For one, my community has expanded i.e. meeting Karen, my fellow trainees, the teaching faculty and other yoga teachers to name a few. Also yoga is doing something with my endorphins (the feel good hormones) because nowadays I don’t focus too much on my worries, I just do an asana class or meditate.
KB:  AWWW AND KEWL ALL AT THE SAME TIME!

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST SURPRISE ABOUT YOGA?
The link between brain plasticity and meditation. In the course “Neurology of Yoga” we learned that the brain is capable of changing structurally and functionally. This is referred to as brain/neuro plasticity. We can increase neuroplasticity regardless of our age by doing something different/learning a new skill. Something as simple as brushing your teeth with your opposite hand (i.e. if you brush your teeth with your right hand, try doing it with your left), can help the brain reorganize itself and make new connections between the brain cells.

There is research now which shows that a consistent meditation practice can lead to significant changes to brain structure. So we can improve our brain structure by just sitting still and meditating for five minutes a day. I found that absolutely fascinating and definitely want to read up more on the science of ‘Mindfulness’.
KB:  WHOA SOMEONE REALLY TOOK NOTE IN THIS WORKSHOP!  *SMILE*  YUP, WE HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE HABITS JUST BY BEING MORE MINDFUL!  I DID A 100 DAY CHALLENGE 2 YEARS AGO…TAKING THE F-WORD OUT OF MY VOCABULARY AND YA KNOW WHAT?  I ACTUALLY FEEL REPULSED BY THE WORD.  SO I CAN ATTEST THIS STUDY…IT REALLY WORKS!

KB:  WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE YOGA POSE(S)?
Probably Hanumanasana (Shining Monkey pose). I have tight hips from running and really have to work on that. So I like any and all hip openers.
KB:  INTERESTING!  INTERESTING THAT YOU LIKE IT.  MOST, EVEN THOUGH IT REALLY HELPS WITH TIGHTNESS, HATE THE POSE.  I LOVE THE WAY YOU HAVE EMBRACED IT!

KB:  WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE YOGA POSE(S)?
Any backbend. ugh ugh ugh.
KB:  ALAS, MANY FOLKS DO.  BUT IT’S ALL GOOD, THE MORE YOU DO THEM I AM CERTAIN YOU WILL EVENTUALLY DEVELOP A LOVE FOR THEM *WINK*

KB:  HOW ABOUT SOME DEEPER PERSONAL STUFF….YA GOT ANY STORIES?
Nope no stories. Don’t like to put too much personal/mushy/revealing stuff online.
KB:  HAHAHAHAHA!

KB:  WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST FEAR – IN GENERAL, IN LIFE?
Looking back at my life and having regrets about the things I didn’t attempt or do.
KB:  HEAR HEAR!

KB:  WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Probably running the Chicago marathon in 2014. That’s 26.2 miles. I made up my mind to do it, developed a training plan based on research done online.  Started training seriously six months before and made the effort 5 times a week to train i.e. getting up early in the morning or running in the afternoon after work. trying to eat sufficiently for training. There was no local running club for support, just me and my iTunes. I would have convos with my younger sister who is based in NY and loves to run.

My training ground was UWI, St. Augustine, sometimes the eastern main road and sometimes the Priority Bus Route. My longest training run was 20 miles. To put that in perspective, from St. Augustine to Mausica is about 6 miles one way, so approximately 4 times that distance.

On race day, around mile 20, a few times I had to stop and walk. I remember meeting this woman on the race route from Poland. She had seen me walking ahead of her and said “Come on let’s finish this together”. We ran the last six miles together…and this was a complete stranger to me. However this is the type of camaraderie you encounter at these events. The crowd was really supportive as well. It was truly amazing to cross that finish line. Mind you after that ah wanted to dead. My sister had to roll me onto my hotel bed, I was stiff as a board 
KB:  WOW THAT WAS DETERMINATION AND WILL POWER!  AND WHAT AN AMAZING STORY OF SUPPORT…A COMPLETE STRANGER…HUH!

KB:  WHAT ARE YOU MOST HAPPY WITH OR ABOUT?
That my parents are still alive and I have a better relationship with my siblings than 20 years ago.
KB:  THAT IS AWESOME!!

KB:  ANY OTHER THOUGHTS OR WORDS OF WISDOM YOU’D LIKE TO PASS ON OR SHARE?
Forget about what people think about you, forget about your age and attempt something different or do something that you love. Learn a new skill, travel etc. At the end of the day, you’ll actually be increasing your neuroplasticity in the process 
KB:  “AGE AIN’T NOTHIN’ BUT A NUMBER”!! ~ALLIYAH

MUCH LOVE TO YOU, SHANNA AND MANY THANX FOR BEING A PART OF MY LIFE…OUR SANGHA!  IT WAS AN HONOUR SHARING THOSE 6 WEEKS WITH YOU AND LOOK FORWARD TO MANY MORE YOGA DAYS TOGETHER!
Adding a little Dominican flavour to our roster.  Shanna is caring, funny and full knowledge that she can’t wait to share with you!  Nature Lover, Marathoner, Risk Taker, Not Really Mushy, But Is *wink*, and Most Awesome Future Yoga Teacher-in-the-making…come check her out and for her full class schedule  CLICK HERE

 

KB
My name is Karen Blackman. I'm the author of most of the material found on this website. When I write, you will find that my words are as if I am speaking to you directly. I try to be funny, straight to the point and simple. Here's hoping you enjoy! Oodles of Toodles and plenty Hugz of goodness! KB
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