Teacher of the Month: Jasha Stanberry
It is Tuesday at 4:55, golden sunshine is beaming through the tall open windows of studio one at SBYC, fresh air fills the room and several students have already assumed their opening pose, supported shavasana, waiting for Jasha’s class, Yoga for Healing, to begin. In his usual casual, humble yet strong presence, Jasha quietly enters the room without disturbing anyone’s peacefulness, and begins his class. Over the past year, Jasha has become a pillar at the SBYC, from managing the front desk, teaching, marketing and creative business consultation. It is natural for Jasha to be kind and generous to all that come through the doors of SBYC, and as a friend, I have been the recipient of his generosity and thoughtfulness. We met for coffee to talk more about his path as a yoga teacher.
What drew you to the practice of yoga?
Initially, when I moved to Santa Barbara, I had gotten out of a bad business situation and sought a break from work. I had done some yoga DVD’s in the past, and attended a few classes, mainly Bikram. I was looking for something more introspective, not just physical, and I looked online and found Steve and Michelle’s Ashtanga website at the SBYC. I had just driven 33 hours in 2 ½ days, slept for 2 days and got up at 5:00 am to go Steve’s yoga class. Class didn’t start until 6:30 am but he was there early because he does his personal practice before the class begins. He asked me if I had done Ashtanga yoga before, and I said no. He asked if I had a yoga mat, and I said no. He gave me the keys to the main office at the yoga center, which felt a big deal, and then when I returned Steve led me through he basics.
I practiced Ashtanga 6 days a week and really progressed. After approximately one year I started to run into old injuries. The way I was practicing Ashtanga was agitating them and since I had then come to manage the Teacher Training program at SBYC I started to immerse myself into different styles of yoga. I wanted to have more knowledge and help my injuries rather than hurting myself. I attended and managed the 500 hour Teacher Training program and I also took over the management of SBYC as co-director. My life for the past 3 years has been all yoga. It feels as if I’ve immersed myself into a masters program of yoga. With the love of yoga I must add that I don’t resonate with the idea of ‘guru’s’ or a specific hierarchy, I have come to see that everything has its place and I want to learn as much as I can with the opportunities I have been afforded. I consider myself a dedicated yoga practitioner and yoga parallels what I felt about life. I also feel drawn to teach and share my love for life with others.
What do you like most about teaching?
Seeing the physical and emotional transformation in people, when people tell me that the pain that used to have is no longer there, I see a clarity in their eyes and the water stills in people, and I believe these attributes are worth attaining. I am interested in helping people. My own healing has made me more stable and healthy to go out take what I have learned out of me and offer it to others.
The act of teaching includes engagement and shifting of both the teacher and the student, this is profound to me.
Can you picture where you’d like your teaching to go?
The element of direction is not something I am very good at, I am good at taking an opportunity offered to me, but right now I want to give to as many people as I can and shift though my own resistances. I am still new in teaching and I will find a path more clearly as I develop my own unique perspectives to teaching.
I started a new level 2-3 class this month and this type of class is what I am least comfortable with. In Ashtanga, it is quiet and introspective. In a restorative practice you stew with your own self. My new class is an opportunity for me to incorporate introspection with more activity, do both while moving people around without distracting them. It is a balance of leading and encouraging a deep listening to one’s own intuition. It is a challenge for me to teach a more active class.
What can people expect when they attend your new level 2-3 class?
A safe experience going into intermediate and advanced Hatha yoga postures. A chance to come into their bodies, a structure to cultivate their awareness with movement. I will incorporate Ashtanga, Iyengar, Anusara, Freedom Style Yoga, Yin and Gymnastics. We will play with inversions, backbends, twists and forward folds while weaving breath and awareness in each movement. I am interested in people finding the joy of yoga with tapping into how to maintain the right amount of effort. Students will use their bodies, unifying breath with movement. I feel like the discussion one has with the different challenges and sensations that come up in yoga is a representation of how we interact with life. In understanding yourself you can shift how you interact in the world; how you react to one thing is how you react to everything.
It will be a well rounded class for drop in students, and a class for students to take three times a week as a practice. I want the class to offer students a deeper practice that they can progress with for someone coming regularly.
How did you come to teach Yoga for Healing?
Cheri initially offered me the class and I declined. She had been teaching the class for 15 years and it was a big decision for her to let it go. We have a personal friendship as well as a professional relationship, I assist her with the Therapeutic Yoga training program. Being that I was relatively new into the teaching community I wanted to allow the opportunity to someone else that had been apart of the community longer. As a couple months passed I thought more and more about the class. I have a deep resonance with teaching Therapeutic Yoga and it comes very naturally. I decided to talk with Cheri and we agreed that I would take over the class at the beginning of 2012. I feel that the role of a teacher is a very honorable and serious commitment I was happy to have the time to think it over.
Teaching yoga is a position of great responsibility to me even through it requires no credentials or medical training. As a teacher you work with people on a very intimate level, the potential for healing as well as hurting is always there. It is very important to be present with people. I find that tapping into more presence and using my knowledge is it’s own practice of emotional and physical growth. When I do my personal practice I learn a lot about my self and how I interact in the world. When I teach my perspective of the world is exponentially expanded by seeing all of the variations in bodies and beings that I encounter in class. For me, I would rather share my knowledge and insight with others rather than keeping it to myself.
What can someone expect from your Yin Yoga & Meditation class?
Yin Yoga is about going deep. Below the muscles and superficial layers into the ligaments, tendons, connective tissue and the skeletal structure. We spend 3-5 minutes in each supported posture and practice a deep listening and self-awareness. There is a seated, guided meditation that lasts anywhere between 15-30 minutes. Students of all levels are welcome including people that suffer from moderate injury and/or physical or mental illness. I would recommend this class to anyone, especially athletes or active yoga practitioners as it is a practice of being not doing.
What can someone expect from your Therapeutic Yoga for Healing class?
Yoga for Healing is a class designed to give people with serious physical issues such as injury, surgery or chronic pain as well as emotional distress and depression. I try and make this class accessible to anyone who can manage to lie down on the floor on their own. We hold the supported postures for 5-15 minutes and take extra care to position yourself in a way that is completely supported and as much out of pain as possible. When we remove the pain and the stress on the body as well as the mind we can then allow the healing to take place.
I blend restorative yoga postures with energy work, Reiki, hands on massage and healing touch. Once a month I have my friend David Kennet who uses his technique of Soul Sounding to create a beautiful healing experience. David uses crystal singing bowls and his voice to tap into the energy in the room and bring out intention.
Class and contact information
If someone just wanted to take my classes every week, which is a lot of Jasha, their practice would be well rounded: 3 level 2-3, 2 yoga for healing and 1 yin. For people that have more serious injury I recommend the Yoga for Healing class or a one on one private lesson.
Regarding private lessons, I work with people with fibromyalgia, depression and serious physical iinjuries to others who just want to deepen the dialogue with their body. I am always happy to talk with the students after class and welcome feedback.
To stay up to date on the upcoming events, retreats and workshops please follow me on facebook at www.facebook.com/JashaStanberry
Click here to email me about private lesson rates and general questions.
Class Schedule at the Santa Barbara Yoga Center:
M, W, F 9:00-10:25am
Yoga for Healing:
T, Th 5:00-6:25pm
Yin Yoga & Meditation: