The story behind how I ended up signing up for Magnolia Rasak’s Yoga Teacher Training in Santa Cruz, California is kind of random. I was on my way to a shoot in Eureka, California and decided to stop for a yoga class. My back was aching from all my long hours of driving. And then I stayed the weekend, parking in my camper on the streets of Santa Cruz. I took two classes from Magnolia and fell in love with her gentle teaching style and her beautiful words. In her own words, “I am drawn to the practice yoga not only for the benefits of the asana practice, but for the greater way in which yoga influences our every action on and off the mat. Non-violence, compassion, awareness, mindfulness, acceptance, and connection to all Beings are at the heart of yoga, and the heart of my teachings.” When Magnolia Rasak announced a yoga teacher training, I quickly signed up and even changed my travel plans to make it happen. This was something I had been wanting to check off my bucket list for quite some time. Little did I know how life changing my decision to sign up for Magnolia’s training would be.

Now if you’re a yoga newb like I was, you might be wondering what it is you exactly learn in a yoga training. I was wondering the same thing myself. At the time, my knowledge of yoga was asanas only. And so I naively thought we’d be doing poses every waking minute of our training. I had been practicing yoga for a couple years and I noticed big changes in myself as a result. I wanted more. In Magnolia’s yoga training, we did practice plenty of poses and I was excited to gain insight into Magnolia’s amazing teaching. She helped me reach a new connectedness with my body and has fueled my personal practice as a result. I’m much more confident in my body too.

But in my training I learned that asanas are only one of the eight limbs of yoga. The yoga I was familiar with was only the tip of the iceberg. Magnolia started each day with a lovely yoga flow and spent the rest of our time teaching us about meditation, breathing exercises, anatomy, the chakras, assists, yoga philosophy and much much more. Magnolia taught us what it means to live yoga on and off the mat. We learned about self care and discipline, karmic energy and relationships, and harnessing our own inner energy. We talked about diet with an extremely knowledgeable Ayurvedic doctor. We went on a number of excursions including a mindfulness retreat to the Land of the Medicine Buddha, a meditative walk in the redwoods of Big Basin, and an inspiring talk with a tea guru at Hidden Peak in downtown Santa Cruz. We even practiced Thai massage from a massage master. We were introduced to new meditation practices and breathing exercises, learning the subtle art of managing our own thought patterns. We sang mantras to deepen our spiritual practice and learned how to connect with ourselves in a much more meaningful way.

After completing her yoga training a few weeks ago, I can now say that Magnolia is someone who truly lives what she teaches. Everyday I was inspired by her authenticity and dedication to the practice of yoga.  Magnolia’s teacher training was a complete immersion into all things yoga and it was transformative. I learned more about yoga and myself than I ever would have thought. A lot of new emotions stirred up that led me to question my own personal habits and lifestyle choices. I experienced quite a bit of growth and I made some big life changes as a result. I’m so grateful for this opportunity. Magnolia’s teacher training was a worthwhile experience that I would recommend to anyone.

Thank you so much Magnolia and to all my yogi friends who joined me on this journey. Click here to check out Magnolia Rasak’s yoga training.

Josh Hartman – Travel Photographer

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