"Taking even just a 4-day training with you was really empowering for me. I'm not planning on teaching in the near future, but I'm discovering that the experience has been really helping me both personally and in my work.

Having to teach brought up a whole bunch of my personal issues. The first day I was terrified. I felt embarrassed and thought that I didn't know enough to be able to teach. I have public speaking anxiety, and on the first day my brain was just spinning with those feelings of inadequacy. Four days later, I was in a completely different place. I was thinking more about the teaching, being more conscious about my breath, and focusing on being myself. I was much more relaxed, which gave me the space to realize that I did in fact know the poses, and so why wouldn't I share that knowledge with others?

The guided meditations, the ceremony and prayer work we did really helped me make this above shift. They allowed me to tap into exactly what I needed in order to let go of my self-criticism and worry -- to truly put them aside. I was still nervous, but much more able to not have them rule how I was behaving and feeling.

I realized too, that I was able to switch gears and allow myself to be instructed. I've never been very gentle with myself through the learning process, whether it's learning tennis, how to teach yoga, or anything else. I tend to think that I should know how to do everything right away. I have never had the patience of a learner. But I was truly able to be comfortable in a learner's space by the end of the 4 days, which felt really good.

You guys are amazing at how you give feedback to people about their teaching. I thought it was so insightful and in a very supportive and positive way, but very direct and straightforward. You didn't shy away from saying what needed to be said. I listened to the feedback for everyone, and it was so right-on and very constructive. It is a true gift you guys have. I have to give feedback in my own line of work and I know how hard it is to achieve the balance of being truthful and clear while still being constructive and motivating. I definitely noticed how well you did that and how helpful it was. It was especially important to me because I was being so critical of myself that if the feedback had come in a different way, I would have probably shut down.

I thought everything was so helpful. I came mainly to deepen my practice, not so much to be a teacher, and I definitely feel like I deepened my knowledge base about how to do the poses, what's important about the poses, the details of the poses (positioning, proper alignment). The focus on hands-on assists was super helpful. The assists point out even more how to work in the poses, and so I feel like I have a much better idea now about what I'm supposed to be doing in my practice. Now, if I were teaching or assisting, I would have an idea of how to help others -- how to watch people's bodies and see what they're doing and what might help them.

What was so exciting for me also, was the day after I got back, I was seeing some of my clients, and it was so clear to me that I was in a completely different emotional place with them. I had some almost miraculous things happen with some of the people I was seeing. I was so much better tuned in to where they were in a really powerful way, and the communication was so much more powerful. It was so noticeable to me that it almost took me off guard. I believe that when we unload our own stuff, our love becomes that much bigger. Our ability to be connected in our heart grows. I feel like I have a pretty open heart anyway, but my heart opened just that much more. As a result of our work together, I didn't have my own stuff shutting down my ability to love, and my heart was open enough to experience exactly what was going on in the moment, which allowed me to be that much more effective for my clients. For me also there was the element of needing a break from the day to day stressors. Even though it was a training and it was work, it still had a revitalizing effect on my personal energy. Doing my own personal work put me in a much better general space.

I'm seeing how I'm starting to integrate breathing and alternative approaches into my psychiatric practice now, and I'm really excited about that. And I'm noticing my team members, the social workers I work with, they sit in with me on sessions, and they're starting to do it too. Thanks to a couple of days with you guys we're starting to talk about breathing and mindfulness and things like that that just haven't been in the dialogue in our setting for a long time. It's all very exciting." – Kim Nestler, February 2013
Sparkle-Up Story: Kim Nestler
"Before your teacher training weekend I was a very self-conscious yoga teacher who was very worried about "doing it right." I tend to be a people pleaser, and it became clear to me that I was trying to please my students! In our short time together you were able to see so clearly exactly what was holding me back, and you gave me tools to make changes. You taught me how to drop my shields and be authentic. In that one weekend I learned that it was really ok for me to be myself and that people would actually like me more as a teacher if I was me.

No one had ever helped me realize that before. I remember thinking to myself, "You know what? I have the wherewithal, I have the knowledge, I am going to take a risk and actually do it -- be myself." I realized that I had all these natural gifts but that I wasn't letting them shine through. And as soon as I chose to drop my shields and just be me I remember a feeling of lightness coming over me, and there was a freedom that came with it too. I felt my chest open and there was a sense of confidence that was different than anything I had ever felt before. I had always thought of myself as a confident person, but I think that was just a mask, like a forceful confidence. This was different. I felt confident but humble too.

Learning to be authentic was a process that took time. It didn't happen overnight; I had to keep working at it. But as I did, the gifts kept coming. I learned to be vulnerable and to be ok with sharing my vulnerability with others, especially with my students. There are times to be strong, and there are times to be vulnerable, and actually the two work really well together. Showing my human side to my students allows them to trust me more, and as a result they have the courage to follow me into things that will make them very strong and resilient.

I've noticed that since I've made this change my classes are having a greater impact on the students. I think I've become rather provocative now when I teach, which I would never have had the courage to do before. I now ask people to sincerely look at themselves and think about things, and I do it willingly. And now teaching is something that I look forward to. Before it was something to check off my list. Now it's a mission.

Becoming authentic, that whole process, felt in many ways like the best-worst time of my life. It was such a cathartic process that allowed me to truly deepen my relationship with the people around me, which I believe is our sole purpose in this world. As a teacher, it created the opportunity to actually help people change. People learn by example, including our students. Showing our authenticity is incredibly important. And when you go through doing that personal work of dropping your shields and being who you are, it inspires other people. And if people want to judge you for your authenticity, it's probably because they're really guarded themselves and they're probably just scared, and as a teacher you can have compassion for that rather than being defensive towards it.

Your message resonates deeply within me. You had set up such a strong environment of truth that allowed me to trust you and open up. Early on in the weekend I realized that we weren't going to just sit around and pretend, we were actually going to speak about how things really were and that was huge for me. As a result of our time together, teaching isn't a chore anymore. It has become a delight. And it's clear to me that it is what I am supposed to do." – Megan Kling, December 2012
Sprakle-up Story: Megan Kling
"I live what I teach. I believe that's what makes my teaching resonate and why I've grown my following in Madison. I'm constantly in my own life choosing to grow, because the only other choice is to hang on to the things that feel crappy and are holding me back. These past 4 years, since going on retreat with you and then deciding to go through teacher training, have been wonderful. I feel like I'm living my dream. And I attribute that to the fact that I live my truth. It doesn't mean that I feel "fixed" or that I ever expect to be "fixed." But that's why I practice - to focus and re-center and to remind myself how I want to live. It's more about the journey than a destination.

The first year or two, having you as mentors was vital to keeping me grounded and authentic. Keeping in touch with the Turbodog community, coming down to Chicago and taking classes, doing the internship with you and assisting in your classes - all of that was really helpful. Our monthly calls, which were like counseling really, allowed me to "walk my talk". I was asking my students all the time to figure out what they don't want anymore in their life, and guiding them through change wasn't just words to me because I was doing it myself. In our sessions I could bring up my fears and be vulnerable, and you guys held space for me to go through my stuff, and you gave me important insights and tools that I use to this day.

One of the big challenges I worked through was "people pleasing" and wanting everyone to like me. Not everyone does and sometimes people don't come back to class. Working through that pattern wasn't easy, but it's been so liberating because now I'm totally ok if you don't like my class. I'm giving you my truth and the best that I can give, and if that doesn't resonate for you, I encourage you to find a class that does. I admit that in every class I teach, to this day, I have a moment where I have a hint of that self-doubt: "Am I doing a good enough job?" And when I catch myself, I breathe, focus and remind myself that the only thing I can do is simply teach the best that I can.

There are so many times when someone who I thought hated class comes up to me at the end to tell me how it was one of the most profound classes they've ever had. I've grown to understand that I have no idea what's happening inside their head, so I don't waste my time with that anymore. I trust that as long as I am being authentic, if they're ready for the message, then they will receive it.

Steve wrote in one of his articles, which really impacted me, about Jesus. He spoke about how regardless of what you may think about Jesus, there is no argument over the fact that he embodied purity and love. And still he was killed for it. What I took from that was that living honorably and according to your principles may not always make you the most popular person around, but that's ok. I think truth seekers just stand in their truth, and if it means that somebody doesn't like you, so what? I find that I'm no longer willing to compromise myself. What a difference from where I started, when I used to care about what everyone thought. I may not be liked all the time, but I am definitely happy." – Ken Kloes, September 2012
Sparkle-Up Story: Ken Kloes
"Coming right out of training, I couldn't wrap my head around how to actually be a yoga teacher. My priorities had shifted during my teacher training. I wanted to integrate my newly identified values with the life I left in Madison, and it was hard to get the pieces to fit together.

Coming into the 1st workshop with you, I was nervous and flustered when it came time for me to teach. I felt like my cuing was off. I was really shy about giving hands on assists. Just general low middle-grade anxiety around teaching. Fast forward to my last workshop with you and I was light-years different. I felt confident in my cuing. It felt natural to walk around and give meaningful assists to lots of people, even as I continued teaching the class! I was the best possible version of what I think a yoga teacher should be - giving students good things to think about, cuing around the intent. It was a giant leap in the space of a year. I went from a fledgling teacher to someone who can conduct a class and intuitively know what poses will feel good. I became someone who can relate my own experience of the poses in a way that is beneficial to my students' personal journeys. Nothing short of remarkable in the space of one year. I would do it again, and probably will.

The more subtle but profound leap that I made over the year with you was in learning to feel more secure and to trust. That was a revolutionary thing because I'm used to people lying to me. It was a huge change not just in my yoga but in my life, too. Having a space where people were truthful and honest and caring, conveying information to help me grow into becoming the person I want to become was remarkable. In teacher training, I hated being critiqued. It was heart breaking for me, even when it was kind. I always wanted to defend or justify or rationalize my actions. So, it was a remarkable leap for me to instead just let things land, resonate, and marinate.

Watching the interactions between the two of you, watching how you interact with other people, your touch - I found myself being really comfortable, even though I don't really know you. And so, I felt that the critiques that came out of your mouths - good and bad - were said with love, and in an effort to make me a better teacher. There is something magical in the energy of the two of you and the style with which you teach. The way that you use your voices, your body and your energy convey caring and love and create an almost womb-like environment. I felt so beloved and precious that criticism didn't crush and destroy me. I knew that it was part of the bigger journey to becoming a better teacher which was something that I wanted. I feel such a profound underlying connection to both of you. I feel safe with you. One of the reasons your community is so powerful is because both of you find ways to connect with most people like that; it's not just with me." – Abby Hall, July 2012
Sparkle-Up Story: Abby Hall
"One of the biggest gifts I got in working with Steve & Talya is realizing how crucial it is to feel supported, and how when we're supported we can transcend our confining patterns. Because I felt, I knew, that they supported me no matter what, I developed the courage and the momentum to make choices in a more open and organic way, whereas before I always used to push, hoping to prove something to myself and others. Whenever previously I had been at a choice point in my life, I would choose according to some idea of what I thought my life "should" look like, even if it wasn't really what I wanted. Now I feel like I have the clarity and the confidence to go for what I do want, even if it's scarier, because I trust it will be ok. I no longer feel like I need to know what will happen and to control everything -- I am much more comfortable with uncertainty. And I've learned to listen to my body and my gut about what feels right.

This willingness I've cultivated, to step into my authenticity, has affected my teaching of course. When I stopped worrying about "doing it right" and was able to simply bring "Authentic Heidi" to class, I got a lot of positive unexpected reactions from the students. They started expressing to me just how much they got out of my class! It helped me dismantle the story I had in my head about whether or not I was being effective as a teacher. I've learned that I can trust that I do have something unique to offer.

This self-acceptance has changed my relationship with my body. Working with Steve and Talya has helped me step into my power- as a woman and a teacher- and I am able to love and appreciate my body more than I ever have before. This relates directly to how my practice has been unfolding- I am listening to what my body tells me instead of forcing it into what I think it should do/look like. This immediately shifts my teaching and thus my students- when I am able to be present in my own body in a non-judgmental way, they are able to connect to their bodies more easily.

Lastly, Steve and Talya are awesome at teaching hands-on assists, and I now feel much more confident in how I touch, giving me tons more tools I can use to help my students! " – Heidi Helling, May 2012
Sparkle-Up Story: Heidi Helling
"The teacher training weekend with Steve & Talya resulted in a profound change in terms of my entire approach to teaching, which is amazing considering they only taught one weekend out of a full 200hr certification program I was attending in Madison, WI. I realized that as a teacher, I wanted to bring more than just knowing poses, arranging a sequence, and speaking loud enough. I wanted to lead people into what I experienced with Steve & Talya that weekend, which was how to reach deep places in my body and my emotions that challenge me on a core level and spark transformation.

I had come into the weekend at an emotional low. During the practices I learned how to find my edges, my scary places, and how to steadily go into them. It was totally empowering. In those experiences I learned that I was powerful, that I was enough and that I could rely on myself. I developed the confidence to live as the courageous, creative, and independent person that I have always been. This shift in me also translated into a rejuvenation of my relationship with my partner, as I felt much better about myself.

One of the beautiful experiences of that weekend was when Steve & Talya had us, the trainees (24), give Savasana assists to the rest of the class (about 50 other students). It was the first time I really looked at a student and it changed how I viewed them. I was really looking to see them, and respond to what I saw. I wasn't worried about doing it right, I was completely focused on being there for them. After class I got some feedback from a man to whom I gave the Savasana assist. He told me that it was like he'd been given a gift that he'd never experienced before.

I now feel confident enough to work with kids aged 11-13, ages ripe with change and insecurities. I share with them my experiences around body image and connection to power. I speak to them about balance, we do a practice with balancing poses, and I relate it to having balance in their lives. I speak about going upside down, and as we do inversions I teach them about finding power, and how that might relate when their whole life feels like it's turned upside down. My relationship to those kids has totally changed. Their shielding, which is generally so firmly in place, starts to lower, and they have begun sharing about themselves.

Steve and Talya are kind, loving, and passionate people. The energy that they put into teaching me to be a teacher is generous and I am so thankful. " – Brianna Buhr, March 2012
Sparkle-Up Story: Brianna Buhr
"I've been in the Mentorship Program with Steve & Talya for the past year, and the guidance I have received as far as growing as a teacher has not only rocketed my teaching to new levels, but has touched my life in so many ways.

In the 2nd workshop of the Program I was teaching triangle. In searching for a way to convey how to move the hips, I chose humor and a touch of silliness and cued my students to "let their sassy out". I got such great feedback from Steve & Talya that it made me realize that I am silly and funny, and that I can use these gifts to reach my students and open them up. When I first started teaching and until the Mentorship Program, I was trying to emulate my teachers, attempting to learn how "to do it right". That "triangle" experience gave me permission to be more myself. From working with Steve & Talya, I was able to realize that I needed to continue to find my own voice and style.

I have also gotten a much stronger belief in myself and my skills. They've helped me recognize that one of my skills is to be able to visually see. I realized that I wasn't ever really looking at my students. Now, I watch my students, looking at what they're actually doing, and am able to guide them much more effectively. I also allow myself to pause during class, look at the room and *feel* into what cues are needed, as opposed to sticking to some script in my head.

One of the things that drew me to yoga was the emotional connection it teaches -- learning how to feel. Since the 3rd Mentorship workshop I have been steadily working on not shying away from emotions that come up, especially while I'm teaching. Instead, I'm navigating how to feel during class so that I can connect honestly with my students, without being overwhelemed by my feelings. My big win that day (of the 3rd workshop) was to be really present and connected while I was setting intent for the heart-opening class we were teaching. I have never felt so inspired and so empowered as during those moments. I was speaking about how one of the things that connects us all as humans is the fact that we have all been hurt at some point in our lives. As I spoke about this truth I felt my own heartache over a past hurt. As my own pain started to bubble up, I felt myself freeze a little bit and pull back. Steve saw that happen and pointed it out to me during the feedback afterwards. He suggested that rather than shying away from the emotions that arise during teaching, learning how to use them would be a powerful tool with which I could touch my students. He explained that allowing myself to feel the truth of the moment will enable me to more successfully guide my students into a place of feeling too. So I'm working on not editing myself and allowing myself to quiet down and connect. That connection is what kept me coming back again and again to yoga and so that's what I want to share with my students.

The real beauty of these changes is that they have transcended my teaching, overflowing into other areas of my life. I feel a sense of being more at ease with my daily life and in my interactions with other people. Whereas before I used to often feel like I was performing, the honing of my teaching/healing skills via the Mentorship with Steve & Talya has given me permission to be more myself. This has offered me more opportunities to connect to others in a meaningful way. " – Anna Schabold, January 2012
Sparkle-Up Story: Anna Schabold