Tuesday, July 8, 2014

See Sondra at Sadhana in Hudson for a True yoga experience

Behind every great thing in Columbia County is an amazing person. This blog is about yoga. It's been about 4 years since I received my yoga teacher training certificate in Hudson, but that's not what this is about. Well, not exactly. I want to shine a light on the amazing Sadhana yoga studio and its owner/creator, Sondra Loring. 

Let me roll back time just to set the scene. I had practiced yoga for many years in the Berkshires at Kripalu (didn't live there when it was an Ashram, but did work there directing the communications for a bit). My first really amazing teacher here in Columbia County was Keli Lelita (aka Kate Reddy) who was teaching a bunch of us first in a friend's basement (yep, pre-the yoga boom) and then in her lovely converted barn. Our little core group practiced under Kate's unbelievable direction for four full years. As life would have it, the yoga group dissolved and Kate now teaches at her place and in Hudson.

this blogger stretching

At the point we stopped, I turned 50 and decided as a present to myself, I would enter the intensive yoga teacher training offered at Sadhana. When Kate was my teacher, she introduced me to a super yogi from New York who was visiting (he eventually moved here and that's for another blog entirely). His name was Ray Cappo and goes by Rahgunath or Rhagu. He's a muscled up hunk of a guy, with a wicked smile and sense of humor and an amazing ability to completely dominate any room he walks in. He can make you go to places in your practice you couldn't imagine and he trained my body and mind masterfully for about a year. With this deep practice under my belt, I felt confident going to his teacher training which he was conducting in Hudson, though his following was still mostly in New York and L.A. (where the stars still fly him out for weekends).
Rahgu  was sharing the training Sondra Loring who owns Sadhana. It turns out, they are totally matched. For every bit of braun and brazen-ness he brings, she brings grace, patience and elegance to the training. I learned quickly that I was going to experience one of the best and most comprehensive teacher trainings anywhere! 
The first day I gratefully meet a man at the door who happened to be driving the exact same car as me. We greeted each other at the door at 5am. He and I bond instantly like two kids entering kindergarten. I am equally grateful that he was around my age (though a four years younger) and but I was still the oldest trainee in the session.

Raghu of course sweeps into the room singing at the top of his lungs, and we start our four month intensive chanting like crazy people as the sun rises. He's so lovable that you unquestionably do whatever he says and smile while doing it.

Later in the morning I experience Sondra. Mind you, Sondra is no wimp. She just shows up differently than Raghu. She's pointed, demanding and very purposeful in making sure that all of us learn yoga from top to bottom. It was immediately evident to me that anyone not signing up for this serious training need not stick around. I appreciated her no nonsense demeanor and admired her tremendously when she started to demonstrate asanas. Her body was so limber and strong, I felt humbled. She's an ex-dancer and it shows, but more than that, she's a studied professional.

I may be going out on a limb here, but I feel there comes a time in one's life when you can simply pull the plug on bullshit. As a matter of fact, that time came for me on this birthday.When you hit the midway mark (if you consider living until you're 100) you realize that the time clock is ticking much louder than it ever has, and if you're going to get to do the things you've longed for, dreamed about, collected on a long list, this is the time. You start weeding your friend garden, you change jobs, you tell people you love them and you no longer tolerate crap. Or at least in my case, this is how it went down.

I could see that Sondra also had no time for crap, and I think this comes from the fact that she very much wanted us all to learn. In my case, I did, because of her encouragement, her dedication and because she showed up, every day, present, energized and giving it her all.

I realized that Sondra's wealth of information was possibly endless. I can't say that I know her resume very well, but it's pretty clear that Sondra is dedicated. She plunged into yoga opening a studio in Hudson far before it was even remotely hip to do so. Her individual classes, which she offers on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays (check her website) are always creative, well planned, thoughtful, thorough and honestly, quite amazing. 

She weaves just the right amount of traditional teachings, music, theory, alignment and humor (I need that humor). It's never gym class, never mechanical, never easy. Oh, that's one thing you should know about Sondra. She's a master teacher, an upper level practitioner, a total female, strong yogini. Don't take this lightly. If you go to her class, prepare to give it your all. What makes Sondra stand out further among her peers is her need for, how shall I say, "correctness." If your butt is up in the air in plank pose, she'll march over and help you lower it. If you've never done a headstand, she'll ask you to simply take the first phase and do it against the wall. If you're experiencing a physical limitation, she'll want to know about it up front. I love that she offers hands on with adjustments (don't worry if you don't like to be touched, you can say so). It's a strong and growing community of yoga in Hudson and without a moment's hesitation, I put Sondra as not just the pioneer of yoga in Hudson, but the best of the best.

I want to highlight plethora of great yoga in the vicinity. TJ at Bodhi Spa in Hudson, Parmananda at Govinda in Chatham along with Keli, Raghu who just started a retreat center in East Chatham. They're all what I would consider amazing teachers, deeply knowledgable and walking the talk, living the yogic lifestyle for real. They eat, breath, and think, feel, teach yoga because it's who they are not what they do.  Everyone should put these people at the top of their list of yoga teachers if you plan to do yoga in Columbia County. We are a strong yoga community. Don't think twice about that. I'm honored to be a part of this spiritually moving group. Namaste.