Sarada and Shivaji, the visionary founders behind Om Ananda Yoga, invite you to embark on a journey that began with humble origins. Back in 2007, from the cozy confines of their first apartment in Fort Collins, they set out to share the wisdom of meditation and the art of mindful living. Picture this: rearranging furniture to make room for yoga mats, all while their neighbor’s heavy metal music echoed through the walls, creating an unexpectedly intimate and humorous atmosphere.
Fast forward to 2011, and destiny presented them with an opportunity they couldn’t resist. They moved into their current establishment, a space adorned with picturesque windows that frame the charming Old Town trees, and expansive hardwood floors that invited practitioners to stretch and grow.
Sarada and Shivaji are passionate about curating sacred environments that foster connection, introspection, nurturing relationships, and personal growth. They extend their heartfelt gratitude to you for being an integral part of the Om community.
Learn more about them in this MysticMag interview.
How do you approach designing a comprehensive curriculum for a yoga teacher training program, ensuring it covers both the physical and philosophical aspects of yoga?
I think it surprises people to see how much there is to learn when studying to become a yoga teacher and how much dedication it takes to be a great teacher. On the physical level, we strive to be inclusive teaching asana (yoga poses) by providing options that serve a variety of people well. This means learning several options for each pose that include props, modifications, teaching body awareness, and non-judgment. We work to use language that feeds people’s self-worth. In the process of learning all of this, students will face their own feelings of self-doubt, self-judgment, unworthiness, and confidence. On a more subtle level, we have a foundation in meditation and the breath. This provides many techniques to tap into one’s own Center and voice. We learn how to let go of our own tensions (at least for a while!), in order to be more fully present with our class. We learn how to use the breath to calm nervous energy or how to work with the mind if it is on a negative loop. Similar to a college curriculum, we have many subjects such as asana, anatomy, meditation, philosophy, pranayama, teaching methodology, and professionalism.
Can you describe a challenging situation you’ve encountered during a teacher training session and how you managed it to create a positive learning experience for your students?
Back in the 2016 Presidential election, we had a group of people in training together for many months. Though we do not talk politics in training, that particular year people had things to say in their downtime. We had only one person whose opinion differed and they were vocal in their opinions, as were some other people. Whew! Things can get heated fast. This was quite the opportunity to talk about allowing people to have their own opinions and feelings, as well as not having to be ‘right’ or change someone’s mind about something. This was an opening to talk about sharing kindness to all people. We were able to bring up other differences there can be between people besides politics. From talking to people it seems we commonly have family or colleagues with strong opinions different than our own. As we explored ways to be harmonious in training, it also applied in various life situations.
What assessment methods do you use to determine a client’s specific needs and develop personalized yoga therapy plans?
I love listening to people through conversation. I learn a lot about a person by how they talk about themselves, their relationships, work, habits, goals, dreams, etc. On the physical level of yoga therapy, I watch how a person moves and responds to different movements. Is there restriction or pain in a movement? Is the movement supported by strength? I guide a person to really listen to their own experience and take agency. We work together in fine-tuning what is most beneficial for body, mind, and spirit.
What strategies would you implement to build a strong and loyal client base for the yoga studio, both in terms of attracting new clients and retaining existing ones?
I feel every person matters. They are important to the world, community, each other, and themselves. I choose to see the best in people and I believe yoga can help anyone who is interested in it to live a more kind and joyful life. I feel good about being ethical in our business decisions rather than focussing solely on profit. We have several partial scholarships for people to enjoy our yoga classes who are not able to afford it. We also offer two scholarships a year for our teacher training. We create a welcoming environment, highly trained teachers, a beautiful space, and trust people will want to be a part of it.
How do you handle conflicts or challenges that may arise among staff members or clients in a yoga studio, and how do you foster a harmonious and supportive work environment?
I try to show my gratitude and appreciation to each person I work with. Om is only possible with great people teaching. I understand as things arise, people make mistakes, learn and grow. I also understand when people need to shift and change. I enjoy giving people an opportunity to teach as I personally experience the transformative power of teaching!