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Co-Creating Rasayana School of Yoga

Heather Anastos, Rasayana co-founder

Hi, this is Heather Anastos, one of the co-founders, along with Joanna Dunn, of the Rasayana School of Yoga. We’re passionate about providing yoga teacher trainings that are holistic and comprehensive, passing on our years of training and experience to each group of students who feel called to teach yoga or deepen their practice. I’d like to share our story about how we co-created this school, why we chose to do so, and what Rasayana means to us.

The Seeds of Collaboration

Joanna and I first met the final weekend of my 200-hr YTT program in early 2009. We talked during the breaks and realized we had similar interests in alignment-based yoga, restorative yoga, and shared a love of mindful, thoughtful movement. We particularly bonded while discussing the work of Judith Lasater and our shared interest in an upcoming 300-hr YTT with Pacific Yoga Teacher Training in Seattle. We both ended up in that advanced study program, furthering our yoga education with Theresa Elliott and Kathryn Payne. That program instilled a foundation in Sanskrit, Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and pranayama while reinforcing our love of intelligent sequencing and movement in the body.

By 2011, Joanna was sharing those concepts while teaching her own 200-hr YTT in Leavenworth. She hoped to expand her program and proposed we collaborate. I declined, feeling like it was too overwhelming while working full-time and managing The Yoga Community in Kennewick. In 2013, Joanna arranged for Theresa and Kathryn to teach a YTT in Eastern Washington, which was ultimately hosted at Yoga Community. Joanna and I were both faculty for that YTT, honing our teaching skills for teachers with the amazing 2013 Pacific Yoga Kennewick graduating class! In 2014, we again considered the possibility of collaborating for YTT, but Joanna had just started Evolve::Local Yoga, a yoga studio in Leavenworth, and wanted to focus her energies on growing her new studio.

Joanna Dunn, Rasayana co-founder, teaching Virabhadrasana 1

The magic alignment came in late 2015 when we both agreed it was time to co-create a YTT. We had the name within 15 minutes: “Rasayana School of Yoga,” along with the tagline of “Rejuvenating Body, Mind and Soul.” We both wanted a Sanskrit name to tie our school to the traditions of yoga and the lineage of great teachers from India. But we also wanted it to be unique and not something commonly in use. I suggested “Rasayana” which in Ayurveda is the therapeutic practices of rejuvenation.

Rasayana School of Yoga Logo

Our Philosophy and Approach to Teacher Training

We both believe that yoga is a holistic, healing practice not limited to the physical postures. We both have passions for meditation, pranayama, subtle body/energetic work, and yoga philosophy. We believe the physical practices of yoga should be practiced (and taught) mindfully, with knowledge of anatomy and awareness of the effects on the nervous system. When practiced in this way, yoga becomes a rasayana – an elixir of life – that promotes optimal health and longevity. Interestingly, rasayana can also mean poison. This emphasizes the Ayurvedic idea that what can be medicine to one person can be poison to another. Such is the practice of yoga. We don’t teach one-size-fits-all or cookie-cutter yoga. We teach our graduates the foundations of yoga and the discernment to evaluate what practices support and rejuvenate versus which may not be applicable to a certain person at a certain time.

Since there were limited options for YTT in Central Washington at the time, we created a program that allows teachers to diverge in many directions post-graduation. We offer an alignment-based approach, as that is one of our primary influences - both of us having studied with many teachers who came from the Iyengar tradition. But we incorporate vinyasa, somatic movement, Yin, and other influences. Our intent is to take the very best from the many trainings we have attended and merge them into the ideal 200-hr YTT we wish we had been able to take!

We emphasize foundational concepts in asana, anatomy, philosophy, meditation, pranayama, subtle body, Sanskrit, Ayurveda, and teaching skills. These skills will serve our students (and their students!) well even if graduates opt to do no additional study in yoga subjects. But our program also lays a solid foundation for additional study, either independently, through our 300-hr program, or through any other fields of yogic study.

Original Rasayana Yoga Logo Concept

Finding Meaning in Our Logo

The logo we chose for Rasayana is a mandala – or a sacred circle geometry. Mandalas often have several layers of meaning, and ours follows that tradition:

· The eight interconnected circles represent the eight limbs of Patanjali’s yoga – the foundation of our training. We work to balance and integrate all eight limbs, as the logo depicts. This is also a symbol for the integration of the individual – finding balance internal to ourselves as taught in Ayurveda and yoga.

Mercury Yantra

· The color scheme is based on the colors from a Yantra (another form of sacred geometry) for the planet Mercury. Mercury is the planet of communication, speech, and the nervous system. It governs teachers, writers, lectures, and business. When it is conjoined with the Sun in Sagittarius, as in the Rasayana astrological chart, it is an indicator of spiritual or philosophical teachers and teachings.

· The yellow at the center represents Jupiter, the Guru or great teacher. The green is the color of Mercury. The dark blue is the color for Saturn, the planet of organization, stability, devotion, and hard work. Each of these planets is significant in the business chart for Rasayana, and by including them in our logo, we express our desire to harness and bring out the best possible outcome in each of these areas.

This is what happens when one of the co-directors designing the logo is a Vedic Astrologer!

Our Teacher Training Legacy

When we look back at the graduates of our program, we see amazing teachers who have taken the skills they learned in our program in many different directions. We have graduates teaching alignment-based yoga, hot yoga, vinyasa, restorative, and Yin! We have a graduate who is now a certified Yoga Therapist, one who has trained for Lymphatic Yoga and Yoga for Traumatic Brain Injury.

By using the foundations of our program with their past and new experience, they branch out to follow their own unique teaching path. Feedback from our graduates indicates they feel ready to teach, and those who have gone on to continue their yoga education express how well prepared they are to do so.

We are so grateful for the opportunity to share our knowledge and experience with others – and in turn, have them share it with their students. Sharing the rejuvenation of body, mind, and soul through the holistic practice of yoga is our mission, goal, and legacy.

For more information on Rasayana School of Yoga, Heather Anastos, Joanna Dunn, and their current yoga training programs, class schedules, or workshops, visit the Rasayana website.

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