Sandra, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born in Lithuania, Eastern Europe in a beautiful Kaunas city. Since I was a little girl, I was very active and I loved spending my time in nature. From 6 till 18 years old, I was a Ballroom dancer. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and Ballroom Dance coaching my life brought me here to the US. Atlanta has been my home for a half of my life now.
Through all my life I continued to be a very active; going to the gym, running, hiking… I got to the point that I felt like I need something new in my life. I started to look for a bigger and deeper meaning in life, and also for something different, something I haven’t tried before. I started to take yoga classes at YMCA and instantly I felt how much needed and beneficial it was. My body was strong, but it was so tight and physically overworked. I instantly felt the benefits of deep stretching. What surprised me most was that I loved a slow pace of practice. It was completely different from all the other physical activities I tried before.
So, I started my first yoga training out of curiosity for something new. At first, I didn’t think I would be teaching others, I did it for my personal growth and a better understanding of my own body. Right after, I received my certification, I was offered to teach a class.
Now, it’s a big part of my life. I love working with people and sharing yoga wisdom, helping them to feel good in their body, teaching them different ways to relax and to reset and restore their happiness.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We all have obstacles and challenges in our lives. Following a dream could be a long, hard process. I followed my dream to live in the US and wasn’t thinking about all the hard days ahead. Not considering obstacles is a beauty at a young age. We know what we want and we go for it and seems that the Universe helps brave hearts to achieve it.
Being an immigrant wasn’t easy. I went through fazes of self-doubt, depression, many sad days and nights… but in spite of these feelings, I truly couldn’t think of a better place to live. As days went by, things were falling into their places.
Two important things in my life that I call blessings are my good friends and my passion for Yoga. Yoga helped me to be aware of my body and self-healing in a holistic way. Most of the time people view yoga practice only as asana, which is only a physical aspect of practice. To tell the truth this is how I started too. But the longer I practiced yoga, the more I became aware of additional benefits of yoga that include meditation, spiritual growth, self-realization.
Through yoga practice, I was able to stay positive, keep my hopes, love my life and enjoy the moment. Every given challenge has its reason. Every obstacle is like a diamond, it needs a bit of polishing, so we can discover its shine.
Bakari yoga with Sandra – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am a 500h certified Yoga Teacher with a therapeutic emphasis. I teach Yin yoga, flow, yoga for back, Yoga Nidra. I mostly teach private lessons or small group lessons, so I can focus on each individual. I am also leading yoga retreats in Blue Ridge GA. This year, however, I lead my first yoga retreat in Sedona, AZ. I also organize hiking-yoga events outdoors. Nature is such a big part of my life, so many times I would have my personal yoga practice outside. Practicing yoga outdoors is very different from practicing yoga indoors.
I guide people on how to build their home yoga practice, which includes teaching meditation and staying in tune with the breath. I take my work very seriously’. To gain clients’ trust, I must first trust in what I teach. For that reason I am constantly improving my own yoga practice, meditating, taking workshops with various teachers.
Being a yoga teacher gave me a purpose in life. Yoga changed my lifestyle and my outlook on life. As part of teaching, I try to inspire my students to adopt healthier, more holistic lifestyle.
My chosen path made me more compassionate and more aware of my surroundings. My ability to relate to my students is the key to guiding them to feel better in their bodies so that they could seek balance in other aspects of their lives.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I really enjoy watching my students’ natural progression during a single practice as well as over a longer period of time. It creates a mutual excitement and pride when, during a course of a practice, as a result of a progression of well-sequenced poses, they can reach a point of performing poses that they never thought they would be able to accomplish at the beginning of the practice. It excites them to see such an organic transformation, to learn what their bodies are capable of and it also gives me an immense joy of being able to get them to that point.