March Teacher of the Month: monica jayne

by Angela Wurtzel

yoga santa barbaraOne of our newest teachers at SBYC, monica jayne, comes to us from Reno, Nevada, where she found yoga over a decade ago during her freshman year of college. The accredited, four-month curriculum involved more than just asanas; it included a deep understanding of the principles, history, theory and philosophy of yoga. A natural at understanding how the body works and applying yoga philosophy to life, monica jayne infiltrates her classes with specific knowledge that brings her students a depth to their practice in just one hour. Her soft approach and basic love for people is quickly felt as you enter the space she provides.

monicajayneheadshotOnlineColorFramedmonica jayne’s own desire to get to know herself better is the main tenet of what drew her to yoga in the first place. She had moved away from her family for college and was embarking on a novel journey. She says her introduction to yoga was not an “amazing, pivotal story like most teachers have, but what I had already been doing my whole life. Yoga theory put ancient terms and definitions to my life practice. I didn’t see it as the answer or what I had been waiting for. I simply felt at home.I asked monica jayne to offer some of the terms she learned as labels for what she was already practicing.  She offered her own definitions too:

self observation of actions, reactions, interactions, responses, beliefs, behaviors, etc.; a mindful awareness of how each layer of your being is relating with living this life

Ishvara Pranidhana:
offer all actions to the Source of life; when practicing this you it feels like you are moving from that place within you that is alive when you hug or caress someone you really care about

(monica jayne specifically creates her 11am T/Th class, “It’s Happening” Yoga, to facilitate this experience so you can apply it off the mat in all you do.)

allowing the mind freedom from the emotional waves caused by the senses

consciously uniting body, mind and spirit through breath awareness and movement

atcannonBeach(In both her 11am and 5:15pm T/Th classes, you can experience these and many other concepts of yoga philosophy.)

monica jayne never believed she could become a yoga teacher: “I had a false perception: I saw yoga teachers as perfectly packaged gods and goddesses with no human tendency or issue!  They seemed to always be so peaceful, so calm, so together.  It was inconceivable that I could ever be that way but I sure wanted what they had!”  In an effort to learn more about the yoga lifestyle and motivated to deepen her own practice she enrolled in yoga teacher training.  Her teacher, Kimberlee Orenstein, in Reno offers a curriculum that facilitates this exactly.

But, before long, the message during teacher training had been too loud to ignore. “You are right where you belong. You shine and can help others shine too.” monica jayne states that she didn’t seek teaching positions. She was called and offered classes by studio and gym owners that knew her and found out she was in training. Before she knew it, she was teaching up to 16 classes and at least 3 private clients a week. “That is where I found myself. It just sort of happened.”


headwrapwmommonica jayne had been working in corporate America and slowly began to realize the debilitating effects on her body, mind and spirit. At the same time, her mother was given a 0% chance to survive her cancer diagnosis and she became her caretaker. It was at this point, and perhaps no mistake, that monica jayne started her 8-month teacher training program.

“The lessons of yoga philosophy and training were probably 30 times more powerful than if I was not going through the 12-month-long experience of watching my mother’s transition out of this world as we know it. I watched the importance of material things dissipated for her. Mom used to love to have the shades drawn back a certain way and one day I asked her how she wanted the shades and she said it didn’t matter. She asked with a voice that sounded like a two-year-old, ‘Why am I losing my love of morning sun?’ She made her transition 3 days later.”


whalewatchingmodifiedcaptionLate last year, monica jayne took a leap of faith and moved to Santa Barbara to be with her partner John, who is working to attain his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at UCSB. When I asked her how it has been for her in Santa Barbara, she replied, “Hard. Losing my mom and leaving everything I have known and having to seek things out rather than be offered opportunities because I’m surrounded by people who know me has been very different.”

HennaSamplemonica jayne has been steadfast in making a life for herself in Santa Barbara and feels the need to help people. Not only does she offer services as a yoga teacher and spiritual counselor, she is also a pet/housesitter, a raw vegan nutrition bar inventor, and an artist offering henna body art, jewelry, clothing, accessories and seiza benches – most of which you can see displayed at Santa Barbara Yoga Center.  She deeply believes that she has loving energy to offer people and is using her memories of community from Reno to navigate creating one here in Santa Barbara. By incorporating self observation (svadyaya) as part of her toolbox, she has dialogue with her own openness, availability and willingness to let things unfold in a way she did not preconceive.

monica jayne’s Classes

When I asked monica jayne what people could expect from her class she responded, “Hopefully nothing.  I mean as far as the outcome goes because when we have veils on they can fog and roadblock the flow of what could happen for us.” I pushed a little bit because some people might really want to know what she lovingly offers.

“My classes are described by students as being alignment aware and breath-centric, with an encouraged and facilitated, deep mind-body-spirit connection. I hold  space that becomes a sacred safe space for people to let down their walls and veils, to let be what is.”

monica jayne adds, “I consider myself a Spiritual Counselor. My classes are a place for people to break down and build back up. Students can expect yoga philosophy and theory, something to ponder and apply to how they live their life, laughter and smiles, a little massage and healing touch, essential oils, music that encourages opening and me singing and chanting to them throughout.”

In closing, monica jayne stated, “I was told by an Astrologer that I am a ‘Mother of the Earth.’ In my presence, people feel safe to be open and vulnerable as well as nurtured and loved by me and most importantly, by the Self.”


Enjoy class with monica jayne Tuesdays & Thursdays at Santa Barbara Yoga Center:

11:00am        “It’s Happening!” Yoga

A meditative, guided, moving exploration to sense and experience your deepest Self.

5:15pm           To Asana and Beyond!

Gain awareness of your body and how it affects your life experience.

An Interview with Simone Duffet: November’s Teacher of the Month

Interview by Angela Wurtzel

I met Simone about a year ago when she started teaching restorative yoga at SBYC. When I took her class I was immediately impressed by her grace, sensitivity and compassion. She seemed older to me than her chronological age, and when she explained to me in our interview that she has to balance the three aspects of being a woman, Maiden, Mother and Crone (“That’s me!” she said), it made sense.

I was lucky one evening to be her only student and received a private class in which she gave wholeheartedly. We decided to do our interview after taking a Zumba class together:

What drew you to yoga?

Introduced to yoga by her mother, an Integral Yoga Institute trained teacher, Simone benefited from the prenatal classes taken by her mother, and she began learning asanas as a young child. Simone’s personal practice really took off when she began taking classes in studios around Santa Barbara after she moved here in 2007. Simone said that for her, yoga represents stability. It always works for her, whether for a burst of energy, to mellow out, or to feel grounded. She said, “Yoga always felt good in my body and spacious in my mind.” Not only did Simone experience prenatal yoga, she also remembers the Mommy and Me yoga classes and the instructor cheerfully describing her first shoulder stand as the “candlestick pose.” Even as a child, Simone noticed something at the yoga institute that was missing everywhere else. She said, “That old Victorian building was full of peace.”

How did you maintain your practice throughout your life thus far?

“In high school, I went to boarding school in Western Canada, and right away was recruited by the older girls for the rugby team. After a few years practicing outdoors through snowy winters, I decided to take aerobic yoga classes, and I must admit, I liked being more adept than most everyone else. This isn’t a mindset I maintain, but I do look back on it humorously.” In college, at UCSB, Simone started taking yoga more often and doing stronger poses. She started to mentally understand the process of drawing energy from other parts of her body to stay in poses. She realized yoga had always been there, a stable part of her. “I don’t really like to exercise,” Simone admits, “but I like how my body feels when I do.”

How did you come to decide to teach yoga?

“Last year I took a teacher training course, and after the Therapeutic Yoga training, Cheri Clampett recommended me to Sarah Tuttle. It just fell into place, and I realized that restorative yoga was the right yoga for me to teach. It suits my nature, my background, and I knew I could learn to do it well.” And that, I can attest, she has.

As with most of us, something happens in our lives that makes us look inward. For Simone, it was a very bad car accident in 2009 during her sophomore year at UCSB. The accident resulted in a broken back and neck. Simone was grateful she had always done yoga, not only because her bones broke without other damage, but also because she had prior experience with yoga’s calming effects. She was angry and depressed over what had happened. Her sensitivity and emotions were heightened by prescribed muscle relaxants and painkillers. She turned to yoga as part of her healing, and she also decided to foster newborn kittens. “Kittens can help with all that,” she said.

What can a student expect when they come to your yoga class?

Simone typically arrives to teach her class with fresh flowers, a basket, and candles. Her main goal, she said, is “helping people relax.” As a licensed massage therapist, Simone offers hands-on adjustments to her students, which in my opinion, is truly a gift! With soft music and candle glow, she takes her students on a journey to nurture and cultivate a reserve of well-being. She encourages her students to practice deliberate stillness. Most of our days are spent in movement because we’ve been trained from an early age to get more done faster, but Simone believes life is better when we take time to care for ourselves.

Simone comes to class with a plan in mind, and when she see who arrives, she meditates to be in tune with their energy and needs. “So far so good,” she reminds herself. “I also like to give students permission to move around or take other poses between the restorative poses I’m teaching. It honors me if a student actually hears what their body is asking for and if they feel free to move with what comes as a natural response. After all, different people need different things in class.”

Simone has definitely come a long way since the first class that she taught, “straight from Cheri Clampett’s therapeutic yoga flash cards!” She is grateful to Jennifer Steinway, who first encouraged her to train as a yoga teacher, and to Cheri Clampett, whose recommendation to the Santa Barbara Yoga Center landed Simone her position as a Therapeutic Yoga Teacher.

We are so grateful to have Simone as part of the SBYC community!

Teacher Training in December: 4-Day Freedom Style Yoga Intensive with Erich Schiffmann

GOING DEEPER: A 4-Day Freedom Style Yoga Intensive in beautiful Santa Barbara!
DEC. 6-9

Freedom Style Yoga as taught by Erich Schiffmann is about growing into your own personal, authentic expression of yoga. It is an intuitive approach to LIFE with three strands: 1) Meditation, 2) Asana Practice, and 3) the rest of the time.

It’s about learning to be “Online” all the time. The teachings and practices culminate in the ability to channel Online Knowing. This looks like you and me living our lives with creativity and wisdom. The idea is to listen inwardly to your heart and conscience, so that the intelligence of the Universe becomes your common sense. This can be summarized as, “Do not decide in advance about what to do or not do. Instead, listen inwardly for Guidance and trust into what you find yourself Knowing.”

This is not an inherently strenuous practice, but it is advanced. It requires that you be brave enough to follow YOUR deepest impulses about what feels right and what doesn’t. This is not always easy. It involves the development of self-trust based on the growing conviction that YOU are the specific and unique self-expression of that which is ultimately trustworthy: Life, Love, Truth, Presence, GOD.

Consider coming! I’ve never done a training quite like this before! This will be as advanced as I can make it, though the poses are likely to be on the easy side.


Should Your Practice Change with the Seasons?

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Summer is coming to a close, but before it makes its grand finale, it’s a good time to start thinking about our intention for the fall. As the season changes, weather shifts, and schedules alter, it’s important to re-examine the value of your yoga practice throughout the year. No matter what the season, yoga has a way of keeping us centered and more in touch with ourselves and our surroundings. In an article “Fall Back Into School Mode With This Yoga Practice,” Kristin McGee lists a series of poses that are perfect for ringing in the fall. She writes:

As the weather takes a turn, it’s important to keep a light, sunny summer attitude as we bring our attention more inward and prepare to hunker down for the colder months ahead. We want to keep our hearts open and not fall in to slouched shoulders and rounded forward posture. We also want to feed ourselves a very nourishing, grounding practice that can sustain us when the temps drop and the days get shorter.

What yoga poses do you recommend in autumn?

August Teacher of the Month: Kat Connors-Longo

by Angela Wurtzel

On a warm August Friday morning I had the opportunity to sit down with Kat and learn more about her and her yoga journey. Her sweet disposition and humble candidness allowed me to know her and understand why people flock to her classes at the SBYC.

What drew you to yoga?

My acting friend, Zina, thought I would like a yoga class being taught down the street from where lived in Santa Monica at the time, and I trusted her. It was a blend of Hatha & Kundalini yoga taught by a teacher named Thomas. I liked how the class and yoga involved my whole body and mind. Thomas would have us do something he called dharma dances.  Dance our anger.  Dance our joy.  I’ve always liked dancing.  I realized the creative energy I experienced in acting class was the same energy moving through my body in yoga but in a different way; what we call life force in yoga aka Spirit.  I started slow, taking classes twice a week and before I knew it I was taking six classes a week at Angel City Yoga in Studio City where I met Cheri Clampett. And, I remember in one of Cheri’s slow flow classes I did my first Scorpion pose in the middle of the room with her help. I immersed myself in a lot of different classes: Iyengar, Vinyasa, Sivananda, Bikram and Restorative.

Yoga became a journey of personal growth, transformation, embodiment and connection to spirit.  It helped me through a difficult relationship and it gave me strength to move on with my life. I am a sensitive person and yoga helps me handle my fear, anxiety, worry and self doubt. Yoga helps me feel at home in my body, vibrant and alive.

How did your practice evolve into becoming a teacher?

I had no idea I was going to teach yoga until I met Ana Forrest. At first, I was intimidated by her but if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be teaching. I waited tables at a restaurant underneath her studio for 7 years before I ever went upstairs to take her class. In my third class with Ana, I was in embryo pose at the back of the room, tears were running down my face and Ana got down on her knees next to me placed her hand between my shoulder blades and  asked me if I wanted to walk with my spirit. I shook my head, yes, inside I was thinking, how did you know?  My whole being lit up. That is when I knew I wanted to teach yoga.

I began to attend Ana’s class everyday so that I would be ready for her training. I also did research to determine if her teacher training was the right one for me, I talked with Lais, the owner of SBYC, Cheri and White Lotus and decided on Ana.

Her training had a big impact on me.  We were expected to be adults during the training; take responsibility for ourselves, our actions, our words, to look at our beliefs, perceptions, thoughts, emotions, and critical voice.  We were encouraged to take care of ourselves also by having a therapist and body worker available to help us understand and process what came up during the training.

I took Ana’s Teacher Training in June of 1999 and towards the end of the training Ana had an opening to teach a Level 1/2 class at her studio.  I jumped at the chance to teach and after that there was no turning back.

I am very thankful to Cheri for sharing the love of yoga, Ana for the strength and empowerment of yoga and both of them for the safe place and the encouragement they gave me.

If someone new were to take one of your classes, what would they likely expect?

I give many students their start in yoga by teaching the Introduction to Yoga course, Level 1 and Level 1/2 classes. It becomes the foundation for their practice.  All of my classes are breath orientated because the breath, in my opinion, is the doorway to everything, it offers the support for the poses, strength building, transformation, and insight.   My classes move slow and methodical so that people can feel themselves in the pose, breathe, and make a connection to them self. I also teach with the hope that students can take what they learn on the mat, practice at home and take it into their lives.

Students have thanked me for showing them how to see and speak of themselves more positively, that they have quieted their critical voice. I encourage students to explore areas of their bodies; to use the poses to process and release.  Asking questions, as I was taught: how does it feel? Hot? Cold? Heavy? What thoughts, feelings and insights come to them in that asana? If someone has an injury or an area of their body that is sensitive, I offer the idea of bringing balance, connection and integration.  When I teach I am aware of the language that I use so as to provide a healing space, a possible change in perception.  I teach so students can access being more at home in their bodies and their lives.

The Loving Kindness Meditation, as it was taught to me by Donna Farhi, is the intention I hold for my students.

May they be Mentally Happy.
May they be Physically Happy.
May they be Safe.
May they live with Loving Kindness and Ease of Well Being.
May it be so.

What do you like about teaching?

The collaboration that occurs between me and the students; I come to class with an idea of what I’d like to teach for that class but I also ask the students what they would like to explore.  I feel like a detective putting a sequence together based on what the students are asking for and what I came to teach.  So it is collaboration.

 Is there anything you would like to add that I didn’t address?

I’m toying with the idea of expanding my Back Care Yoga classes, perhaps a teacher training module based on a model of my classes. It is a very straight forward class and very beneficial.  We’ll see.

Class Schedule

If you would like to experience one of Kat’s classes, here is her schedule:

Level 1: Tuesday & Thursday 6:30 – 7:55pm
Level 1/2: Sunday 10:30 – 11:55am
Back Care: Sunday 4:30 – 5:55pm & Wednesday 10:30-11:55am

Pot Luck

Sunday, August 26th, 6:30-8:30pm

A Message from Steve & Michele

Back in the latter part of May and the first part of June,Michele took the boys up to Alaska to see her brother for a month. I took the opportunity, given an empty nest, communing with old ghosts, to take my blog back up, having sat on the blogosphere sidelines for four years. Well- what is it now, August?- I finally got the post done. Take a look, it may help you with an existential dilemma or two, . It’s about yoga and the stages of sleep, among other things, and it goes on and on. If you get all the way through it may turn a light bulb on.

Also of note, I just added two led classes at the Center, Tuesdays and Thursday from 9:30 to 11 am. Why? Well, we’ll be sending the kids to school this year after full-time homeschooling up to this point. We were doing the both-parents-work, home-school-the-kids-thing, which is about as easy as…fifth series. I think Michele was doing sixth series. Considering that we were already doing our practices in the morning, this must mean that we’re flirting with enlightenment by now. Only problem, 9-year old twin boys have a way of taking one’s yoga rainbow, putting it in a bucket and blowing bubbles with it. “Papa, why are you just sitting there?” “Tickle him!” Hah-choo!!! The thought of having some time and space blew the top of my head off so I decided to take on some more work.

These classes will be “level 2″, which means anywhere from half two two-thirds of primary series, with little helper hints, bits of wisdom and maybe some jokes. Similar to what I’ve been doing at Yoga Soup at 3:45 on Sundays for the last five years. If I have beginners I go slower, if more regulars show up, we’ll go a little faster. Either way, evolution guaranteed.

These classes can be distinguished from Michele’s “level 3″ on Fridays from 4 to 5:30 pm, which will be a run through of the entire Primary series. She’ll be there in her loft at 4 pm, Monday and Wednesday for Mysore, Friday for the led class. That’s room 3 at the Center, go up the stairway to heaven, she’s quite happy there, more intimate, comfortable on hot days with great windows opening to the clouds, overdo your jump through and you could fly right out the window into the dumpster, they’ll cart you off- not a bad way to go. And L-shaped for love.

o Steve Dwelley

In Memory of Randy Futa, SBYC’s Devoted “Flyer” Yogi & Dear Friend

by Angela Wurtzel

No matter what mood I would have been in on any given day walking through the yoga center doors, I would have always felt happy to see Randy. Whether he was sitting on the couch in the lobby working on his white computer or about to embark on a bike ride or join a yoga class, Randy would look me in the eyes with his sincere blue eyes and make real, but simple, contact with me. This quality about him repeatedly struck me and allowed me to consider him a friend.

Without any personal contact with Randy outside of the walls of the SBYC, I knew Randy only from our incidental yet regular encounters at the yoga center, and when I found out that he had died from a heart attack, while riding his bicycle last Wednesday night, I was overwhelmed with sadness. He made an impact on me with his gentle curiosity, sincere interest and tender playfulness. I will miss him deeply as I am sure so many others who knew Randy will too.

Because Randy made so many people at the SBYC his friends and family we have decided to hold a memorial in honor of his life and devotion to the SBYC on Sunday, August 12 at 2:00 pm. Anyone is welcome. Sarah Tuttle has asked that anyone who has been given one of Randy’s origami pieces please bring them to the memorial and, rest assured, it will be returned to you.

Please feel free to add any comments you may have about Randy at the bottom of this page. If you have any questions regarding the memorial feel free to contact the SBYC.

With love and gratitude, I will end this with the heartfelt and perfectly attuned passage Sarah Tuttle read in dedication of Randy in her class today:

I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.

Thus the wise man residing in the Tao
sets an example for all beings.
Because he doesn’t display himself,
People can see his light.
Because he has nothing to prove,
people can trust his words.
Because he doesn’t know who he is,
people recognize themselves in him.
Because he has no goal in mind,
everything he does succeeds.

- Tao Te Ching