Apr 17, 2016

Yoga Nidra...Yogic "Sleep"

YOGA NIDRA… Yogic “Sleep”

As I set off on my journey of yoga in 1996 with the obvious physical predicament of severe scoliosis, having worn a back brace throughout my teens, my yoga practice gave me the first realization that I do not have to be a victim to my circumstances and my emotions if I so choose.

In high school I had an epic and progressive nurse that led me once per week through guided visualizations to heal my scoliosis. Right away I was enchanted by this concept. Right away I also realized my lack of patience, focus or belief that I could be healed at all, let alone do it myself. I saw that I was quite provoked by the drama of my unusual physical limitations then and whirling of teenage emotions.  

As a yogini, having been solid in the practices of yoga directly for exactly 20 years now (it’s my 20 year yoga anniversary this July!), I find I am not so likely to give permission to the suppression of feelings or to overlook my inner dramas or discomforts. I honestly don’t want anything to "have” me at all.

My journey in yoga began at the Sivananda Ashram in the Catskills of NY. We use to practice something called “Yoga Nidra” once per week with a lovely Indian women that would come to visit the ashram. Her guided visualizations brought me back to my “nurse” in high school. We went through very similar withdrawal of the senses inwardly as to strengthen my inner body and redirect the flow of Prana. 

I didn’t know it then but through getting reacquainted with the power of my own mind and in a better inner personal relationship with my mental and emotional habituations, I have been able to release a great deal of the cause of what my scoliosis or the suffering that was formed in the mental roots. I went from avoiding it to enjoying stillness, self examination and the chance to strengthen my mind because I was feeling the happiest I had ever felt in my life.

In the practice of YOGA NIDRA, we first make a conscious decision to withdraw all of our organs of action and commit to comfortably take our “seat” of stillness, overcoming the stresses and strains that actions often bring and safely lie down as to “wake up”. In Nidra, similar to the practice of “pratyahara”, which means to withdraw the senses, we solidly vow to stop working, moving, exercising, talking, texting, socializing, attending to others, worrying, planning, stressing or “doing” any one thing in particular.

In this way, Yoga Nidra becomes a “de-focusing” practice of outer stimuli as to go on a retreat, drawing back. Translated as “union to sleep”, Yoga Nidra is not really about sleeping, but activating the waking state. Deep sleep insinuates repression, separation from our true nature and forgetfulness of our innate joy.  Yoga Nidra is quite the opposite. It means that you are solidly established in the self, that you know yourself and that you can control your dreams.

Yoga Nidra is also not really about “relaxation” quite literally. It could take on the shape of "lying down", but it is much more than that. In Nidra you are not napping or checking out but instead checking in, enjoying inner stilliness. Any drama that we have attached ourselves to creates an inner instability as it draws us further away from our nature. Separation is unsettling. Our Divine Self senses this and it is disturbing. 

In Nidra, the intention, or “sankalpa” is “direct” perception. We focus on true self confidence, a strong present mind, healing ourselves and knowing ourselves. This puts us at ease. This of course can in turn assist the health and homeostasis of our body, relieve stress and maybe even help us to sleep better at night but it is not for just those 8 hours alone. It really unifies us to everything that we do in creation.

In Yoga Nidra you realize you can control the dream to the extent that nature will provide for you in this lifetime with all that you have access to now. It releases victimization and mental toxicity, which affects the overall health of your being. This level of suffering comes from separation where Nidra clears the subtle body, drawing us closer to holding more love and light in our field. 

I have appreciated Nidra on my healing journey as it is very self empowering. If I feel like a victim, I am disempowered and then I become inwardly afraid. This triggers my flight or fright mechanism and shuts down my chakra system. Fear and anything that seems out of our range of ability is debilitating and lowers our frequencies, creating discord, where we are weak. This will disturb and distort all of our organs, tissues and cells, not to mention obscure our lens and affect every experience and relationship in our lives.

In Yoga Nidra, we hold a safe conscious space to remove deep, unattended to blocks that we have taken on as being real even if they are distortions to our health or wellbeing. In this practice, available to anyone that can lie down and apply focus, a stable and nourishing space is held to invite blockages to resurface and allow for anything unresolved to come up. Again, anything unresolved blocks the flow of prana. When unstable memories resurface we are given a self empowering chance to digest and eliminate them, clearing the experiences of resent or fear. This leaves emptiness and the room for the creative potential of new patterns. This places creativity back into your hands. What a dream!

All of us can relate to not wanting to be disturbed or allow certain agitations to trigger us.  All of us can relate to when the body does not feel healthy, injured, under stress, fatigue or the immune system feeling compromised. In these states we will always feel vulnerable as it blocks the flow of prana (life force) and our channel to inner wisdom, beyond these whirlings.  In Nidra, we lie down in our seat of trusted union.  Union creates a state of calm where the mind is lucid and clear. Everything else is a blockage of love and light. 

As yogis and simply as human beings, we can create a state that is extra-ordinary in the “ordinary,” where we transcend time and space, where you are very much awake and aware.  Resting in awareness is the most authentic state.  Resting in awareness does not have veils, discomforts and confusion. Your senses become heightened and liberated no matter what your external circumstance may be. In Nidra, you may choose to “rest” from worry instead of create further suffering.

 This practice activates the power of the inner teacher, called “Guru” in the yoga tradition quite affectively, as no one is "doing" anything for you.  Rest well in your inner teacher.  A “guru” is unprovoked by dramas. One calm within their nature carries a bliss in and beyond their body that is unshakable and not reliant on things on the outside. Even if the body goes through it’s natural process, of which it will, these teachings leave the union to You untouched. Rest in it. It is within you.

Yoga Nidra is a mystical practice that is very much grounded in a healthy, practical lifestyle that is accessible to most humans, even if they are not interested in “yoga”. It is not a forced practice and is practices in many traditions and cultures.  I hope you choose to participate in your self healing process as to witness everything that lies in creation and within you. 

Yoga Nidra will be offered once per month on Tuesday evenings from 7:30-8:45pm with Michelle Baker at Swan River Yoga beginning in May. 

Check listings for this practice that invites living in a body that is conscious & unsuppressed.

This will include a small lecture on the philosophies, history and origin of Yoga Nidra, 45 minutes of Yoga Nidra Practice and space held after for any questions, council, comments, spaciousness or silence.

Although we have all of the props and tools that you might need, feel free to bring your favorite items that help you to feel cozy, such as personal blankets, pillows or prayer shawls.

An Introduction to Yoga Nidra is April 17th at 4pm-6pm.

Mar 25, 2016

Ayurveda Yoga Therapy in New Orleans

Ayurveda Yoga Therapy/Natural Life Medicine Consultation

 Balance and Heal Your Life with the oldest self-healing medicine in the world.

New and fresh to Swan River Yoga is the natural life daily practice and medicine of Ayurveda. Michelle has permission and certification as an Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist from the Ayurveda College of California as directed by Dr. Marc Halpern at the Sivananda Ashram. Marc wrote the epic book on Ayurveda called “Healing Your Life” and has a bestselling Yoga Nidra. He is the President of the Ayurveda Association in The United States. 
She became exposed to the healing arts of Ayurveda most extensively in South India in Kerala and Bali, Indonesia where she went on a full retreat of learning the various arts of Ayurveda in the form of diet, purification techniques, cooking, marma/massage points and oiling the body, called "Abhyanga" and oiling the third eye, called "Shirodhara". Noting that in India, Ayurveda is offered along side Yoga and often Reiki in all yoga studios or wellness facilities, she found very little support or education in this natural healing art and means of healing our life beyond the mat in our own country, as popular as yoga is. 
For this reason she went on a quest to unify the 2 together, making the practice of Ayurveda/ Yoga a 24 hour practice in everything that we do. Ayurveda reveals this in a very practical way and is accessible to everyone. It brings your inner medicine guide back to you and calls upon you to heal your life. It is also the original means and creative way to live, invoking deep, self guided and empowering life transformations that are in reach in every moment.

Background: What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda, the science and medicine of life, is thought to be the oldest form of medicine in the world. Originating from India, it is the Mother of yoga (our lives), and a constant facilitator and reminder of the nourishment and harmony in everything that we do and experience. Called “Ojas,” Ayurveda brings out the maximum life force that we contain within us as protection of our immune system so that we can access spirit.
Ayurveda is a science that we have very practical, palpable access to, so that we can heal at any moment.  It reminds us to be mindful of every action, from physical maintenance, life duties, work, recreation, and exercise to our spiritual practice, as THE medicinal remedies.  Ayurveda examines our lifestyle habits and routines to bring us back into harmony with our original state. It utilizes all of the elements that reside within nature and our own bodies by examining our strongest imprints and tendencies that have imposed as a part of our nature.
The alchemy of natural medicine can be found within us and in our daily lives.  Lifestyle practices and daily routines as an antidote can bring our well-being back into balance emotionally, mentally and physically instead of throwing us off with further imbalance and into disconnect or even disease. This naturally brings us back to the original joyful spirit that we are and into a state of homeostasis that resides within us all. 
It is empowering to embody every aspect of our lives as means of joy and upliftment instead of further draining our life force and creating more stress and blockages. Ayurveda is a recalling back of our life and health.

Applying Ayurveda:
After learning and applying the Ayurvedic principles, we can sense and move energy to its optimal capacity, remove blockages that separates us from our natural state, holding, like a container, greater health, clarity, increased capacity, nourishment, adaptability, creativity, intelligence and enthusiasm. With this life medicine, we reawaken our fortitude and awareness to heal our life within everything that we do, be it work, family, traveling, eating, sleeping, changing, exercising, loving, interacting, taking care of business, or of course, even our yoga asana practices. 
From the moment we wake up, we can use Ayurveda to address what habits are best suited for us within all of our five senses: taste (specific diet, the means of digestion and tongue reading); touch (specified yogic practices, marma and ayurvedic massage, Thai massage, the quality of the skin); smell (aromatherapy, oil therapy, cleansing the energy currents); sight (eye health, color therapy, meditation, visualization & beauty hygiene); and sound (ear health, music therapy, speech quality, listening and silence). 
Other habits include the pace and clarity of our mind and physical body, the time of day we operate best at, the way we sleep, our relationships, our daily environments and the reason why we do everything that we do. It also helps us to understand the things that will throw us more easily off balance, which is personal to each individual.

Detoxify Extreme Imbalance:
Ayurveda addresses very specific and extreme imbalances or changes in our lives, such as aging, toxicity from food or the environment, stress, digestive issues, menstrual imbalance, sexual incontinence, infertility, trauma, accident recovery, insomnia, weight gain or loss, disease recovery and dying. Also extreme emotions, including grief, loss, lack of self-acceptance, depression, anger, impatience, jealousy, fear, anxiety, worry, lack of focus or lacking in feeling or motivation. Most importantly, proper expression and embodiment of Ayurveda assists in  releasing “Ama,” which are toxins, or the inability to digest things, release attachments that block the life force, access inner motion, inflammation or stagnation. All of these are addressed for means of purification.

A Consultation will include:

A personal survey with very extensive questions will take place to create a diagnosis of your possible constitution. This will allow us to learn about the ways you operate so as to better understand how you get out of balance and into possible distress. Called “dosha,” our personal constitution is a very specific recipe to us of percentages of the elements that reside within us.
Each person is a very unique mixture of constitutional elements. For this reason, a personal, hands-on assessment of your bones, skin, face, hair, tongue and digestion is observed from the moment of your birth as is your current and personal state. After a physical assessment, a psychological assessment is done to assess your mental abilities and emotional tendencies.
We will discuss the relationship you have to your senses, your physical patterns of eating, daily activities, exercise and sleeping/dreaming patterns.
From this a very specific recipe of the three doshas (your unique constitution) that you embody will be offered with further wisdom offerings in relation to the five senses (touch, taste, smell, sight, sound), offering basic insight on what can assist to balance your specific dosha or dosha combination, be it Kapha, Pita or Vatta or a combination with exact measurements.
For the initial consultation, two hours is required to determine your long-term natural state, called Prakriti. From there, you may check in from time to time to determine your current imbalance that you are going through at the moment, called your Vikruti.
Please note: One does not have to be a yoga practitioner at all to receive a consultation. There will be no yoga at all in the consultation. One does not need to know a thing about Ayurveda or Yoga. If you are interested in accessing and getting inspired by this means of self-healing within your life and learning more about yourself through a deep examination, this is for you, all ages, all stages of any cycle that you are currently in. If there is an intense case that requires further and more in-depth consultation, you will be referred to a qualified Ayurvedic counselor or doctor so you have a reference of further guidance.

Initial 2 hour Consultation: $140 (required)
1 hour Consultations: (after the initial) $108
Special Beginners Package: Consultation & Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy
3-hour Combination Ayurvedic Consultation with Ayurveda Yoga Therapy Private Session: (2-hour initial consultation with a 1-hour yoga session specific to balancing out your specific dosha imbalance): $210
Book your consultation and register now: Nancy@swanriveryoga.com

Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy Private Session:

This choice, unlike the Ayurvedic consultation, is very specific to yoga practitioners. It is an in-depth examination of the way in which the doshas are affected in specific asanas so that you can take your prescription home with you and practice further on your own, safely and with the most personalized efficiency possible.  
If you are feeling current energetic or physical imbalances in any way, this will help us to come up with the appropriate yoga asana and pranayama (breathing exercises) diagnosis for you to bring you back to harmony, based on the diagnosis of the constitutional make up (dosha) that you are or are currently experiencing at the moment. 
With yoga becoming increasingly popular and accessible, it is important to be aware of the Ayurvedic side of this ancient healing art. Certain types of yoga classes, styles or specific poses may increase an imbalance within you and some may be the exact prescription you unknowingly need if you are in pain. Often we have access to deep self-healing in yoga, moving the energy out of us on our own to the place that nature allows, yet it may be hard to fully access this depth in the more popular or general classes that are attending to a generalized population. 
This is yet another understanding of the way in which you can heal yourself so as to examine the ways the energy, called vayus, move in each yoga asana pose and how this affects your chakras, emotions, physical body and mental state of clarity or lack of it.
Some poses build more heat, some less; some build or lift more energy, some less—all related to the digestive fires of the body, the way energy moves and your chakra system. A specific prescription of a yoga class sequence from this perspective is quite complex and personal yet renders very specific healing effects on you.
The asanas in this session will be presented free of any yogic style or level of experience but more so based on exactly what it is that you currently need according to where your constitution, dosha,  is imbalanced. An initial consultation must take place first to determine what Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy session is needed for you.
A Yoga Therapy class tends to be for very specific ailments, purpose, or intention.  This type of class will pacify the exact dosha or current imbalance in the constitution that you are experiencing. A yoga therapy class may include restorative yoga, slow flow, quick flow, basic beginners, fast paced vinyasa, reiki, mantra or meditation, depending on exactly what it is that you need.

Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy Private Session:
1 hour: $108
1.5 hour: $130
Package of 3 one hour sessions: $300

Book your consultation and register now: Nancy@swanriveryoga.com

*Note, Michelle may offer suggestions on specific books, body oils essential oils or life style and hygiene that is specific to you. Many of these things can be found in our Swan Boutique.

*Michelle has permission and certification as an Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist from the Ayurveda College of California as directed by Dr. Marc Halpern at the Sivananda Ashram.

Om Danvantra Murtaye Namaha. Om Danvantra Murtaye Namaha. Om Danvantra Murtaye Namaha. 

Jan 4, 2016

Swan School 2016. 400 Hour Yoga Teacher Training.

Swan School 2016.
400 Hour Yoga Teacher Training 
Swans Take Flight

Union, Community, Flow, Form, Integrity & Creativity

Swans Take Flight!
Our 9th year and running and offering yoga full time in the city of New Orleans since 1998, we are honored to be a part of numerous adults taking flight into their lives and serving their community. With 109 beings that have graduated thus far, in support of our growth and the growth of yoga overall, we now have 8 staff and faculty to serve you and 2 mentors that will assist in this life changing and deeply moving adult immersion.

This training is an offering of community, called “satsang” as it’s first tenet. It has brought numerously powerfully charged relationships together into the community, all of them proficient, creative, intelligent, diverse and forward thinking. Each of them has grown into levels of being the most optimal version of themselves imaginable and have worked very hard to do so. Each of them  continue to offer their best afterward as free, independent, compassionate and liberated examples of service in their homes, neighborhood, schools, hospitals, work environments, yoga studios and communities.

If your desire is to deepen the impact of your offerings within your life (even if it is not just a yoga class),  find an outlet to do so that is trustworthy and reliable, have a chance to delve into a university type educational setting where deep philosophical discussions will take place, this swan set up is for you.

Perhaps you have wished to gain inspiration to delve into your diverse skills and talents, such a learning another language, playing music and mantra or a new instrument, getting more into the stillness of the workings of your mind in meditation, writing, learning energy clearing techniques such as Reiki, ancient indigenous medicine such as Ayurveda, conscious diet and care of the earth, or healing touch techniques in the art of assists with Thai Yoga. This too is for you! In India, these are the all inclusive parts to yoga.

And there is the obvious, a large portion of this training in on the Hatha Yoga path, that of Asana, or the postures, where will will get into it’s history, anatomy, alignment, articulation of form, skillful and creative sequencing, verbal and physical adjustments, eagle eye and demonstrations and taking your seat as the teacher in a classroom setting in an Open level class. Your practice will improve and regulate due to the required repetition. You will also learn the mechanics of what goes into every class at Swan River Yoga, such as Beginners, Slow Flow, Quick Flow, Ageless, Restorative and Advanced levels so that you are well rounded. 

This training is meant in it’s length and duration to be sure that you are directly ready to teach yoga upon graduation as you will gain a lot of experience leading what you learn with constructive feedback. This trainings also requires nothing further upon completion and opens you up to the entire community in your offferings, free of being asked to conform to one brand or studio but instead offering you serious experience, quality and intelligence in and of itself.

Truly sophisticated in it’s 2,000 year old system and authentic to the origin of yoga are the “Margas”, or “paths of yoga”, which is a very large portion of the first half of the training. Sound, philosophy, meditation, practices of devotion, serving others and in depth physical experiences of breathing exercises and physical postures will all be there for you to learn and learn to teach as a true renaissance and diversified yogi. To us, these radiant paths of yoga simply can not be left out if we are to be true about offering what yoga is. 

This training is also provide as a means to show us that to offer yoga is to serve. And in serving, it is assisting us all to remain deeply connected to our roots, origin and interconnectedness of all of the beings and things within our lives as to do all that we can to uplift the lives of others. Since the original meaning of yoga is “union to the Higher Self”, this concept will be addressed again and again as a means of activating your Self realization, innate wisdom, and unconditional ability to Love in a Real way in the the depth of skill, technique and intelligence that already resides within you.

A history of Swan School
Swan School was born from the ashes of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It began 2 years later in 2007. Each year, numerous beings from around the Gulf Region have attended  and graduated in hopes to better serve their personal purpose, enrich their lives and serve their communities. Swan School was the very first Yoga Teacher Training in New Orleans and one of the first in the region.

Co-directed by Michelle Baker & the blessings of Grace, the primary purpose of Swan School is to create and activate the importance of Satsang, to build and develop like-hearted and creatively expressed family and relationships in our lives, and then to walk each other hOMe.

Michelle Baker, the River guide of this upcoming 9 year and running Life Immersion and University, assisted in making Yoga Teacher Trainings legal in the state of Louisiana. She is committed to activating the dharma (purpose) of all beings magnetized to live their Truth.

Of primary importance in Swan School is that the teachings remain honest and respected, so that we may offer others all of the foundational components of what yoga really is in our modern lives. We assume that other beings are highly intelligent. For this reason we wish to never dumb down the teachings, but strive to remain clear and transparent in offering real yoga with high aim.

We have also noted that not everyone wishes to be a yoga teacher. What they crave is the permission and means to grow and to continue the adult “Life Immersion”. Come one, come all. This will instigate growth and deep self reflection in the curriculum, where evolution is inevitable. If you want the real and deep deal, this life college is for you as we will do our best through many years of experience and transmission to encapsulate the essence of yoga.

Yogis were historically considered radical beings. The word radical means “forming the roots.” We find it important to respect the roots of the teachings. The Bhagavad Gita also states that the very first attribute that is to be embodied as a “yogi” is courage, having valor and boldly dropping all that one has been taught  to get the unveiling of the Truth.

For this reason, some key components to the teachings of this training are all of the primary “margas,” or roads, namely Bhakti, Raja, Jnana, Nada, Hatha and Karma/Seva, or practices in devotion, meditation, the study of scriptures, sound, asana, and selfless service without the expectation of result. Each of these paths will be studied and practiced.

Unique to some western teacher trainings, knowledge and articulation of each will be required to graduate from Swan School as Swan School will continue to share yoga’s tradition free of sterilization. The key lectures, inspirations and books in this training come from direct and hands on influence, inner and outer travel, lineage and teachers in our family tree. It is an honor to be connected to numerous deeply steeped forces still present in our lives.

Integration is another translation of yoga, stemming from the root integrity. The Swan School will be a purification process and is meant to integrate yoga into our every day lives, diminishing separateness or self-serving motives, self interpretations or lack of Self acceptance within us. If you desire to be creative and honored for your unique expression of the Whole, you are in the right place. Waking up is the goal of Swan School.

The word Apocalypse can be translated as “the uncovering”. It is stated that if you are even at all interested in the yogic teachings, then you have been a yogi for many lifetimes and may just now be re-membering. Congratulations  on your recognition! You have been through so much to get here and now here you are. Your luminosity is ready to be revealed after so much concealment.

Just as a star in the constellation of the sky, may these teachings contribute to lighting up the Whole in all of its many parts (which are YOU)  as YOU too tell the story of the Divine.

Welcome to the starry teachings. 

What you will be teaching:
The main focus of this Teacher Training is to give you a basic background as to then teach an Open Level Asana class, called A Swan River Yoga Class. This is an integration of numerous backgrounds and direct teachings for the purpose on being non-dogmatic. It is not meant to be a training asking you to conform but to activate the Highest and most reliable quality within you through various direct association with lineages that are trustworthy, respected and will known in the yoga community at large. This training gives you a shelter of solid foundation, background and experience.

Some of the lineages that are very first and hands on over a long period of personal time that influence this training are Sivananda, Jivamukti Yoga and personal association with Sharon Gannon since 1998, Initiation in Ram Dass’ lineage with Neem Karoli Baba, personal association with Radhanath Swami including Bhakti Yoga, numerous trips to India and the teachings of the Motherland, Tibetan Buddhist lineages, direct Anusara trainings, Reiki Trainings, Thai Yoga Massage in Thailand and the US, Ayurvedic Trainings and Council, Restorative Yoga Trainings, Ashtanga at the source in Mysore, India with Shri K. Pattahbhi Jois and his entire family, Sanskrit with Jaya Shree and numerous other humble beings.

Please note, that after completing this course, no graduate is expected to continue with studio- centric implications or licensing renewal. You are encouraged to spread the teachings for and wide free of conformity or dogma.The definitions of a Swan River Yoga class are implicit to Swan River as being an abode, committed to uphold or set standards of quality. This is based in many years of hands on experience. What you will learn will assist you in  maintaining consistency in the boundaries of proficiency and professionalism. 

If you call your class a Swan River Yoga Class, it is asked that you respect the following the definition and ethics below. If you do not, you are also respected in gathering all of the information cultivated in this training and long line of lineage wherever it is that you may teach. You are also encouraged to teach and serve in as many places as you can, getting good at your trade and reaching as many beings as possible.

A Swan River Yoga Class defined:
Here is a basic translation for the public from our website www.swanriveryoga.com.

“A Swan River Yoga Class is a unique creative fusion inspired by many backgrounds and teachers. This class is open to all levels and will offer numerous choices for both the beginner and seasoned practitioner. Along with an artful flow-based sequence, specific detailed alignment attention will also be included to bring you a well-rounded, authentic experience of yoga.
Be ready to listen to traditional yogic teachings and personal story-telling, observe the mind in movement and meditation, bring awareness to the breath, sing mantras in Sanskrit and/or English, and optimize the body’s health in challenging physical poses using disciplined strength and flowing movement.
A Swan River Yoga class will always have the following:
Theme: a reference to the ancient and modern philosophy of yoga to inspire higher purpose (Jnana Yoga)Song: mind-clearing mantra to set an elevated mood (Bhakti Yoga)
Physical asana: a flow-based (vinyasa) practice with emphasis on physical alignment and breath (Hatha Yoga)
Meditation and/or breathing exercises known as pranayama. (Raja Yoga)
Level: OPEN”

5 Elements of a Swan River Class:
1. Dharma Talk. Inspire their mind. Air/Vayu
2. Chant/Devotion. Stoke their heart. Fire/Agni
3. Breath and/or meditation. Give them grounded tools of independence. Earth/Prathivi
4. Equal balance of alignment instruction and flowing asana. Neither one nor the other is to be left out. This creates a balance of Shiva/Shakti. Water/Jala
5. Theme infused 3 times throughout the class. Tell them why they are doing all of this.

*You will also be given very clear transcriptions and instruction in this book comprised by the director and many senior swan teachers on teaching numerous classes that we offer at Swan River Yoga.
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This list includes very carefully laid out transcriptions that have come through years of experience, skill and technique for effectively teaching Beginners Yoga, Slow Flow Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Open Level, Prenatal Yoga, Advanced Level Classes and Private or Specialized Yoga Classes of which all will be important in a growing yoga community. Our goal at Swan River Yoga is that in the clear and steep incline of growth in the world of yoga, that we do not water down the teachings or lessen our quality. Each of these types of yoga also lends itself to encouraging a greater yoga teacher population and many fields from which to specialize in and grow.

Swan School Faculty: * To find out more about these teachers go to www.swanriveryoga.com

Michelle Baker; Director and River Guide. Introduction to all of the Margas (Paths) with in depth lectures on the yoga of Sound (Nada), Mantra Meditation & Receive a personal Mantra (Raja), Philosophy (Jnana), Devotional Practices from India (Bhakti), The Bhagavad Gita, Mythology, Basic Sanskrit Pronunciation, Mantras, Harmonium, Ayurvedic Medicine & The Doshas, Ayurvedic Counseling, Serving Others Selflessly (Seva), The Laws of Karma, Asana and Yoga History (Hatha), Our lineage, The Systems of Yoga, The Art of Sequencing, How to Teach A Swan River Yoga Class and Restorative Yoga, Yoga Nidra, Shavasana & Thai Therapeutics, The Art of Hands on and Verbal Assists, Energetic Cleanliness & Reiki, Business Ethics, Leadership Ethics and Taking Your Seat as a Teacher, Conducting a balanced class, in-class practicum, life counseling and homework feedback. Infinite hours

Brigitte Martin; Teacher Training Staff, Esoteric Anatomy of the Chakras. Infinite Hours. 

Robert Dill; Teacher Training Mentor. Infinite Hours.

Kelly Haas; Asana Alignment, Injury Prevention and Yoga Therapeutics, including specific ailments, common injuries and degenerative diseases. How to Teach Beginners Yoga and Prenatal Yoga. 26 hours

John DeMahy; Yoga Anatomy, Safety, Functions & The Systems of the body, along with interesting ways to memorize these systems. 10 Hours. 

Valerie Viosca; Integrative Anatomy, Safety, Contraindications. 4 Hours.

Keith Porteous; Introduction to Buddhism, Dharma, An Introduction to The Yoga Sutras and the 8 Limbs of Patanjali. How to teach & experience Slow Flow Yoga. 6 hours

JackSun Slaughter; Introduction to Seva, Liberty and CommUNITY. How to teach and experience an Advanced Level Yoga. 4 hours.

Thomas Q Sims; Introduction to Veganism, a compassionate life style and the Niyamas. How to teach and experience a Quick Flow Yoga Class. NEW 2016 Teacher Training Mentor!

Tim VanDerKamp: Introduction to Ageless Yoga. 2 hours.

Code of Ethics & Dharma:
Also quite unique to Swan River Yoga is our Code of Ethics. It is a very thorough and concise list comprised through years of observation of where yoga communities can, in all humanness, lower or dilute the teachings or diminish the experience into disappointing, self serving, self interpreted choices and behavior. Taking the seat of a teacher is a very High responsibility. It is stated in the laws of karma too that taking advantage of ones seat or “power” plays on other reaps a very low karma. Quality, intentionality and integrity are vitality provoking, like lamps getting plugged into a wall.
This code of ethics is available to you at any time for review and you will be asked to sign in before we get into our public integration where you are a part of the director, Michelle Baker’s public classes.
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In Class Observations:
This is a very unique part of the Swan School Yoga Trainings. After the summer break, you take up offering a class with Michelle, where you observe and offer parts of the class, be it a meditation, breathing exercise, standing sequence, etc. This is rarely done in beginner Teacher Trainings but shows you our level of trust and readiness in YOU due to the level of proficiency we will offer you with our stellar faculty.
The standards that we wish to uphold at Swan River and the level of practice and observation you will receive in a public setting will indeed make you very ready to teach a class right away after these 7 months and 400 hours, where many trainings will ask that you later do apprenticeships or do not have enough time for this type of feedback with so much curriculum to cover.

Level of Homework/Tapasya: Like being at a University, 100 hours of this training is considered in the high level of homework you will have. This will steep the teachings into you and give you very personal and hands on feedback from the Director and mentors from all of their numerous years of care and experience. You will be expected to write papers of the books that are required to read, to memorize the asanas in Sanskrit and learn Sanskrit mantras, to create a complete transcribed class sequence that will be graded and refined, to offer an accepted video of an Open Level Swan River Yoga Class, take a Take Home Test that is similar in collegial standards and you are required to pass a final exam. Think of this as a Life PhD! It is  your personal class that gives you permission to truly dive in, contemplate the teachings, access them and invite change.

Weekly Personal Practice & Austerities:

Meditate 10-20 minutes each day
Chant 20 minutes each day
Practice asana 4-5 times per week, 3 of which must be at Swan River Yoga so that you understand what you will be learning to teach.
Commune with nature
Be kind to others (humans, other wild animals or all sentient beings) and write about this 3 times per day so that it is clear that yoga is the natural state. It is our very lives.

Before we begin our life immersion and transformational journey, I would like to offer you these 4 pillars, called “The Four Agreements”. They will assist you as you develop and unfold so that you remain upright as a pillar for your surroundings and community. Growth for all things in nature can be uncomfortable, yet yogis are not looking to be comfortable. They are on a quest and personal walk about to remember their True Luminous Self and to be available to share this with others.

These four personal and simple commitments I make to myself on a daily basis and I find them very pertinent to being a yoga teacher and community leader, especially in more challenging situations. One quote I like from an old teacher is “keep your eyes on your own paper” and really just be willing to get your hands dirty, doing the deep and true work, free of your personal preferences or ego needs of exclusion alone. That is all that we can do, is to Be Love.

The 4 Agreements by Miguel Angel Ruiz
1.Be impeccable with your word. 2. Don’t take anything personally 3. Don’t make assumptions
4. Always do your best

“Love not anyone, for your picking and choosing bring nothing but misery. Instead, Love God. Instead, be Love itself.” Swami Nirmalananda
Welcome aboard your Swan flight. Be sure to place your own oxygen mask on before assisting others... Namaste! Michelle Baker
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Investment. What you are paying for:
Another unique part of our training is that you may pay monthly over an extended period of time so that it is accessible to all beings. Our hope is that no being is turned down for this reason. We are also honored to pay our staff and faculty for their hard work.
We offer a suggestion of an 8 month payment plan of $400 per month so that you may continue to live your life during the training. 

What you will be paying for is an incredible amount of feedback and graded homework, 1 four hour lecture per week in general, some weekend workshops, 1 visit/stay to Florida for a Teacher Training Gathering, 1 newly edited Swan School Flight Manual that is not offered to the public, 1 DVD, 1 Chant Book of Swan Songs, kirtan concerts, life therapy and more.

Dates and Meeting Times:
*Meeting May 12- December 8, 2016
*400 Total Hours (twice as long as most beginning Trainings, this is still meant to be very accessible to living your regular life and is spread out steadily and evenly in a week)
*Over a 7 month period with a 4 week summer break (where no attendance at all is asked of you)
*1 Thursday per week from 5:30-9:30pm.
*1 month break is July 22- August 25, 2016
*3 other full weekends. These dates are: July 15-17 Yoga Anatomy with John DeMahy, August 26-28 Yoga Alignment with Kelly Haas and Sept 16-18 Yoga Therapeutics with Kelly Haas.


Go to www.swanriveryoga.com Trainings Page.
To interview for a space, email michelle@swanriveryoga.com, Swan School’s creator and Director to see if this is a good fit for you.
To hold a space, a non-refundable deposit of $650 is required.
8 Monthly installments of $400 will then apply beginning May 12 and due at the middle of each month.

Required of You to Graduate:
*Attend 3 classes per week that are signed  at Swan River Yoga, 1 with Michelle, the Director.  1 with another Faculty member or Mentor.

*Meditate, chant, commune with nature and be kind to others daily

*Read all required books at write 3 page, single space, 10 font papers on them

*Hand in all homework assignments on time, such as the Anatomy coloring book, Asana/Sanskrit flashcards, Dosha diagnosis and more

*Write a paper for missing lectures and missing no more the 4 to graduate

*Approved Open Level Swan River Yoga video accepted

*In class observation attendance after the break where public offerings of dharma, bhakti pranayama ext are offered

*1 Seva/Selfless project complete and written about in a 3 page essay

*350 question take home test completed

* Final Exam Passed

*Payment in full to receive certification upon payment plan completion

Michelle’s personal Timeline; A Swan School Background:
1996: Exposure to yoga
1998: Certification in Sivananda Yoga
2002: Certification in Jivamukti Yoga and Reiki Master Level III
2006: Initiation into Neem Karoli Baba’s lineage through Ram Dass
2007: Swan River Yoga Opens. The First Swan School Teacher Training emerges.
2008: Inspired status certification in Anusara Yoga
2010: First Journey to India, the Motherland.
2011: Introduction to Bhakti Yoga, ISKON and Radhanath Swami
2012: Certification in Vedic Thai Yoga Massage
2013: Acceptance at Shri K. Pattabhi Jois’ Shala in Ashtanga.
2014: Introduction to Jaya Shree, world-renowned Sanskrit teacher in India. 
2016: Certification in Ayurvedic Medicine

Our Family Tree
Our personal family tree at Swan River Yoga includes personal initiations, certifications, and gatherings with chosen company at the feet of a Master. You are now a part of this lineage:
  • Swami Sivananda and his current lineage of Swami Swaroopananda
  • Ram Dass (initiation in the Neem Karoli Baba lineage)
  •  Shri K. Pattabhi Jois ( the direct disciple of Krishnamacharya) and his grandson, Sarath Jois)
  •  Sharon Gannon and David Life of Jivamukti Yoga
  •  Anusara Yoga teachings
  • Radhanath Swami of the ISKON movement ( International Society for Krishna Consciousness) 
  • Amma, the hugging Saint
  • Jaya Shree, the Sanskrit scholar
  • Tibetan Buddhist lineages and teachers
  • Ayurvedic Studies & Reiki Energy Healing Studies
  • The numerous silent Sages encountered in all travels and on a daily basis.

Required Reading for essays:
One 3 page, 10 font, single space paper is required for each book below.
1. Jivamukti Yoga by Sharon Gannon and David Life
2. The Journey Home by Radhanath Swami
3. Paths To God by Ram Dass
4. Yoga Sutras translated by Barbara Stoler Miller
The Anatomy Coloring Book * coloring this is required.

Required Reading for Topics of Discussion
Swan Songs; The Bhakti Book by Michelle Baker
The Bhagavad Gita Translated by Eknath Easwaran or Juan Mascaro
 The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz
Yoga Therapy by Kelly Haas
Restorative Yoga Teacher Training Manual by Michelle Baker and Kelly Haas

Suggested Reading to Enhance Your Life Immersion Experience
Hatha Yoga Pradipika translated by BKS Iyengar
Yoga Mala by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois
The Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith
*Any book by our above family tree teachers will highly benefit you.

Suggested Listening to enhance your experience in this course:
Suggested listening tools  to hear mantra, Sanskrit and kirtan recordings (a part of your requirement in a Swan River Yoga Class), Jaya Shree Sanskrit scholar, Krishna Das, Jai Uttal, Bhagavan Das, Gaura Vani & As Kindred Spirits, The Mayapuris, Bhakti Caravan.
Go to the Swan River Yoga Bhakti Club Channel with Michelle Baker and Keith Porteous on YouTube to view simple harmonium instructions with mantras.
Suggested listening for good Dharma Talks, a part of your requirement in a Swan River Yoga Class (found on Sound Cloud or YouTube), Ram Dass, The Dalai Lama, Radhanath Swami, Sharon Gannon.

In steeping into the teachings, it will establish a more present, steady and resilient mind, of which affects everything that we do. An aspiring yoga teacher or community leader or epic being must do all that they can to preserve the innate sweetness of the mind with thoughtfulness and authenticity of heart by working hard, walking our talk so that others are moved and might hear the inspiration that depth and Self acceptance brings. 

Group gatherings and trainings also elevate your frequency through entrainment. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Offer your best version of yourself. You are exemplifying what yoga is in your very practices, experiences, words, thoughts, actions, training and being.

Especially as a yoga teacher,  since your art medium is your voice, what you say matters. May you naturally liberate whomever you meet!

There is no time like Now in serving your community. Every experience you have had before ha lead you to this point here and now. Now, you are ready to begin and to share, taking your seat as the teacher.

Atha Yoga Nushashanam. Now this is Yoga as I have perceived it in the natural world.

 Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 1:1

About Michelle Baker; Director and Founder.
Michelle came into yoga in 1996 with severe scoliosis and a back brace and got so lit up she became a Certified Sivananda Yoga Teacher in 1998, a Restorative Yoga Teacher in 2000, a Reiki Master in 2001 and a Jivamukti Yoga Teacher in 2002 in NY.

She has trained exclusively under Ram Dass, the author of "Be Here Now",  initiated in his lineage with Neem Karoli Baba. She has  studied very closely at the feet of Sharon Gannon & David Life since the year 1998. She honored Radhanath Swami in the year 2012 as a teacher in Bhakti Yoga and Jaya Shree in Sanskrit. She has extensively studied numerous forms of yoga, including Anusara Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga. She has studied with Shri K. Pattabhi Jois himself as well as both his daughter Saraswati Jois and his grandson Sarath Jois in both the United States and India. She bows to each of these teachers and founders of all of the styles of yoga in which she has had the extensive chance to be very close to all of her teachers and observe deep learning from them.

She is the Founder of Swan River Yoga in New Orleans, co-creator or the Swan Seva Center in Arabi, and of the Swan Sanctuary Annex in Gulf Breeze Fl.  She is the Founder and director of the Swan School Yoga Teacher Training, The Swan Reiki Attunements Modules, Advanced Swan School, The Swan Mentor Program, Bhagavad Gita Course & The Restorative Teacher Training.  Michelle created the concept of the unique "Sound Bath" offered at Swan River Yoga and around the world.  She has traveled the world since the year 2000 offering healing modules and Teacher Training Modules to many communities. 

She has a background in studying  Sanskrit, Mantra, kirtan and Indian music,  Ayurveda, Restorative Yoga and Bhakti yoga in India for Sound Therapy purposes. She has studied Bhakti Yoga with The Mayapuris, numerous Krishna devotees and with Radhanath Swami in India in such places as Rishikesh, Mayapur and Vrindavan. She is the founder and lead vocalist & harmonium player in the group Bhakti Caravan. Bhakti Caravan is in the midst of recording a C.D!

She is the founder of Good Karma Cafe, plant based cuisine and sanctified food. She assisted for numerous years in it's resurrection and  in raising funds with the Berg family for one of the first vegan restaurants in New Orleans, LA.

She has completed all 3 Levels of the traditional Usui Reiki Training for clearing energy, The Kabbalah Tree of Life Energy program, various Shamanic practices and has her own solid and consistent practices of asana, meditation, mantra recitation, singing, praying, daily energy clearings for both herself, others and atmospheres.

She has completed over 400 hours of Thai Yoga Massage Therapeutic course trainings both with the Vedic Conservatory and in Thailand at the Sunshine School as well as learning different energetic healing techniques & psychic awareness from Shamans in Bali Indonesia. She has taken Yoga Therapeutics trainings over 1o times, completing over 300 hours in the style of Anusara with Kelly Haas.

She has also studied Ayurveda and will become an Ayurvedic counselor and therapist in March, 2016 at the Sivananda Ashram and Ayurvedic Institute of California with Marc Halpern, offering Dosha specific council in psychology, philosophy, exercise and diet.

Michelle has produced DVD's, written numerous books and Training Manuals and a mantra book, called "the Bhakti Book".  She has creatively delved deep into healing her own body from a degenerative disease, thus inspiring her to be a healer and advocate of Self rule and an expansive imagination.

She travels the world doing this in such places as Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Indonesia, Nepal and India. She also provides services of healing ceremonies and pujas for those leaving the body, being born into the body and in the union of marriage. She has also studied "Vastu", learning to properly clear out spaces and environments so that they are sacred.

Michelle's greatest joy is to experience life, to travel, to serve, to be kind to others, to understand the challenges of the human condition and to sing and dance in the joy of the abundance of life. Being born on Valentines Day, her greatest desire is to offer and to be Love itself.