Sarah Powers’ journey into the world of Yoga was unplanned. Her initial goal was to learn how her mind worked. She was working on a master’s degree in psychology when the detour that was to consume her occurred: she chose to study a topic based upon a book that had been lying around her home for many years. It was a book on yoga; Sarah fell in love.
Fortunately, Sarah was already married at the time this new direction appeared in her life. Supported by her husband Ty, she was able to delve deeply into the practice of yoga. She took teacher training courses and began teaching in Malibu. Her practice gravitated to the yang styles, but at that time she had no awareness that yoga could be yin or yang.
One day, after a lovely and sweaty Ashtanga class, Sarah tried a class Paul Grilley was teaching. That was her first taste of yin; it was delicious. Sarah loved sinking deeply into the poses. However, at that time Paul’s classes were mostly conducted in silence; he didn’t explain the various and deep benefits that Yin Yoga has for the body. Eventually life’s changes took both Sarah and Paul along separate paths. Sarah did not see Paul again for many years.
After several years of building her physical yoga practice, Sarah decided it was time to face her mind. Ty had been studying the mind and consciousness for many years already, and Sarah felt like she was still just catching up to him. She decided to do a ten-day vipassana retreat in Asia. Despite the very flexible muscles and wide range of motion that her yang practice gave her, Sarah found sitting for an hour several times in a day to be excruciating. She was amazed how poorly prepared she was physically for the practice of meditation. It is hard to face your mind when all you can hear is your body screaming.
Fortunately Sarah’s path again crossed Paul’s. She returned to the yin practice she had dropped a few years before. This time, Paul explained the benefits of the practice. This understanding convinced Sarah she needed to stick with both the yin-style and the yang-style of asana practice. Her next vipassana retreat was a completely different experience: she was able to sit calmly and go deeper into mindfulness without the distractions she suffered earlier.
Ty and Sarah had been investigating Buddhist mindfulness: Sarah began combining this aspect of the practice with the physical and energetic work of yoga. Their Tibetan teacher, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, influenced them greatly as did their Zen teacher, Toni Packer.
Today Sarah interweaves the insights and practices of yoga and Buddhism into an integral practice to enliven the body, heart, and mind. Her yoga style blends both a yin sequence of long-held poses to enhance the meridian and organ systems, combined with a flow or yang practice, influenced by Viniyoga, Ashtanga, and Iyengar teachers.
Sarah feels that enlivening the physical and pranic bodies, as well as learning to open up to our emotional blockages, is paramount for preparing us to deepen and nourish insights into our essential nature – a natural state of awareness. She draws from her studies in transpersonal psychology, as well as her in-depth training in the vipassana, Tantric and Dzogchen practices of Buddhism. She now teaches trainings and silent retreats internationally with Ty. They live with their teenage daughter Imani Jade in Marin, California.
- For more information, please visit Sarah’s Web site at www.SarahPowers.com. Here you can find her DVDs Yin and Vinyasa Yoga and Insight Yoga.