A longtime yoga studio in Oak Harbor recently had an unusually large number of people graduate as yoga teachers.
A total of 17 teachers successfully took the course at Chrysalis Yoga Shala, which amounted to 200 hours of instruction over the course of three months. One student moved to San Diego and joined via Zoom for the entirety of the course.
Some of the graduates are already teaching at the studio. Carol Sele, owner of Chrysalis Yoga Shala, said that several of the graduates did not necessarily have an interest in teaching but just wanted to go deeper into their own personal yoga practice.
Sele leads the course. The studio has teachers coming and going all the time as many of them are in the military or spouses of those in the military.
The training is physically immersive and students learn about the philosophy of yoga, anatomy, physiology, as well as ethics and how to respect the ancient Indian tradition from which yoga comes. The very first class students take is Sanskrit, the language that the first yogis spoke.
Susan Cooley was one of the 17 graduates.
“More than being a teacher, I really just wanted to understand yoga better,” she said, immediately after teaching her very first class. Cooley has been coming to the studio since it’s been open – almost ten years.
She said the positions are only one-eighth of the practice. Cooley initially didn’t want to become a teacher until she did her practicum, where she led a class as part of her training. She discovered how fun it was. She’s now looking into teaching one-on-one classes.
Sele thinks the teacher training course was so popular this year because of the growing interest in yoga, as well as the chaotic times we all currently live in.
“People need spirituality right now,” she said.
The studio’s tenth anniversary is next March, something Sele is particularly proud of as she nearly shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sele had to dip into her savings to keep the business open.
“It’s more of a labor of love, for sure,” she said. “And I love this community. Whidbey Island is so magical.”
Many people donated to the studio when it could not have in-person classes.
“The teacher training really saved us,” she said.
The studio offers several varieties of yoga classes every week, including hot classes in which the studio is heated to 100 degrees. The heat can help with flexibility and provides students with a good sweat.
Sele is passionate about inclusivity and body positivity in yoga. As an instructor, she makes sure to offer variations of poses for different body types and levels of flexibility. This is a core part of the teacher training she leads.
“I don’t want a teacher up there that’s just showing off what they can do,” she said.
One reason she chose the building, despite the fact that it’s old, is that the studio has lots of walls and columns that people can use to assist with balance during classes. She makes an effort to create an inviting, non-intimidating environment.
“I want yoga to be transformative from the inside out,” she said.
Visit chrysalisyogashala.com for more information.