Meet Sally ~ Sally Weber, ERYT-500, IYT-1000, PYT
by Larissa Rzemienski ~
Sally Weber owns Sun Moon Yoga of Tucson alongside Thomas Beall. She is a Certified Yoga Teacher and a Professional Yoga Therapist with over 30 years of experience practicing yoga. Sally came to Arizona after evacuating the Mississippi area after Hurrican Katrina. She is also on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Yoga Association. Sally answered some questions about her background for us at www.arizonayogacommunity.com
1. Sally, what first attracted you to yoga and what lead you to become a yoga instructor?
The very first yoga class I took was in 1976 after graduating from college in Lafayette, LA. I saw a poster and was curious; it sounded like fun. Yoga was not popular then; tennis, bowling, and running were popular activities. It was in a park setting overlooking a pond. The teacher led a light hearted class, not too serious. I mostly just remember some weird poses, like happy baby, and feeling like giggling. I also remembered a sense of a different perspective, seeing things light heartedly, a sense of calm.
After graduating in Louisiana, my late husband, my son (then two years old) and I moved to Seattle and spent the next 25 years making a living. I found myself looking for yoga classes wherever I was. I wanted the lightheartedness, but also benefitted from the strengthening, flexibility, balance, and a sense of stillness and calm, even for only a few minutes a day. The more I practiced, the more I was interested in the history and philosophy. I developed a home practice using “Richard Hittleman’s Yoga 28 day exercise plan”, a gift from my mother in 1979. Over the years I began to see the benefits of yoga supporting my stress resiliency. I was in a high stress career (technology) and saw stress take its toll on many of my colleagues (high blood pressure, back problems, and other stress related issues).
In 2000, we moved to Mississippi to be near my mom. At the time, the closest yoga studio was 60 miles away in New Orleans. I then decided that I could get certified and start teaching.
2. What are some of your favorite yoga classes to teach and why?
My favorite classes to teach include dealing with the mind; meditation, mindfulness, and yoga nidra. It’s so interesting that historically, Patanjali’s yoga was all about meditation, yet very few classes today include even a 5 minute meditation. Much of our suffering is from our mind, so I enjoy helping students get a taste of the power of the mind in supporting our health and happiness. I also enjoy partner yoga. When you do yoga with a partner, it can be very lighthearted, supportive, and nurturing to relationships.
3. What are your biggest areas of expertise?
My specialty is yoga therapy using the five kosha model. Yoga therapy is an art and a science. It involves selecting the tools of yoga to support the students to awaken to their own innate healing potential. There are many tools that are available; postures, breathing techniques, mudras, meditation, yoga nidra to name a few, but also deep listening.
In addition to working individually, I have learned through Integrative Yoga Therapy the art of developing specialty classes for specific issues using the tools of yoga; like yoga for the brain, yoga for Fibromyalgia, yoga for a Healthy Heart. Each class/series includes awareness and tools specific to the issue in each of the koshas. It is highly effective is supporting the student. Clinical studies in Brazil using the Healthy Heart program developed by Joseph LePage have shown decreases in blood pressure and heart rate in just 8 weeks.
4. You wrote an article about “Evacuating from Katrina: An Extreme Practice in Yoga from the Lens of the Five Koshas.” Can you tell me a little more about that?
This was an example of using the five kosha model as a lens. When we are in a very challenging situation, it helps if we can step back and see life from a broader perspective. Instead of getting lost in the fight or flight response, I used this model to see what was happening at all these levels. Kosha means sheath or layer.
Without going into an elaborate explanation, the five koshas are the various levels of our being; physical, energetic, psycho-emotional, wisdom, and bliss body or natural state of ease. Becoming aware of these levels helps us to stay present and see more clearly. For more information on these levels, please visit www.iytyogatherapy.com, and click on “Yoga Therapy Journal.” See the article on “What is Yoga Therapy”.
5. Yoga therapy can target a number of problem areas, such as chronic anxiety, asthma, allergies, MS, etc. How do you tailor the sessions depending on the needs of the client?
When meeting with a client, the first step is to just listen. When we listen deeply, we are guided to where the separation or lack of awareness is. This could be in any or all of the five koshas. The problem that manifests in the body often originates in the mind, beliefs, and imbalances that are not obvious at first. As I mentioned earlier, yoga therapy is an art and a science. To quote my teacher, Joseph LePage, “the art is to meet the client where they are, give them a little of what they want, and a lot of what they need.” The science is in all of the tools and clinically proven benefits of using them. There is a skill in guiding the client to see their separation in the levels and match the tools of yoga to the client. Instead of fixing the clients problems, the benefit of yoga therapy blooms when the client gets insights into their own healing capacity.
To learn more about Sally Weber, ERYT-500, IYT-1000, PYT, visit www.sunmoonyoga-tucson.com