Take some short asana classes with Sharath at Sonima.com

If you haven’t seen it yet, the Sonima website (helpfully at Sonima.com) is up and running. I suspect — as I’ve been suspecting — this means that when the Encinitas Jois studio reopens after its overhaul, it will be as Sonima. We’ll see.

No doubt, the more general Sonima name better fits what’s happening there. Ashtanga — yoga, even — is just a part.

But on to the Sharath classes. He’s one of the “featured experts” along with Deepak Chopra. And included are short classes. Here’s a link to the 10-minute one. You’ll find 15-, 20- and 25-minute ones there, as well. They include students at different levels. I haven’t yet watched them closely — feel free to drop your reactions in the comments.

There’s even the below video (taken here from Sonima’s Youtube channel) of Sharath talking about what to do when you don’t have time for a full-out asana practice:

You also, of course, can just scoot around the site and see what you find.

Posted by Steve

Urban Yogis take it to the next level

Our last post focused on the really amazing work by Ashtanga Yoga Outreach with disabled adults.

AYO also has its Urban Yogis program. An update about it came across the Sonima Foundation blog a few days back, or a couple of posts down (as of our posting):

For a year, Eddie and Deepak worked with these kids on meditation and yoga, visiting them every month and bringing them along in each practice with gentle care and guidance. At the end of the year, some young people were doing so well with the yoga that Eddie offered a summer intensive program. Five students agreed to participate.

Again, those five excelled. Whatever their challenges, or successes, had been in the past, with yoga they’d found something new that brought them confidence, better health, and a deep sense of passion. These students were committed, and they wanted to continue to practice yoga through the course of the year.

And they did. Once or twice a week, they got on the train in Queens and traveled into Manhattan and continued to work with Eddie for the next nine months.

At the end of those nine months, Eddie surprised them with a question: “Are you ready to go to the next level?”

Curious and intrigued, they sort of hemmed and hawed in unison, “What did you have in mind?”

Then Eddie laid them out with an answer more surprising than the original question: “You want to be yoga teachers?”

You’ll have to click over to the Sonima blog to find out what’s happening in answer to Eddie’s question.

There’s also this video:

Bobbie and I — I believe — saw these students when we were back in New York in January; we came by Ashtanga Yoga New York a little early for a Siva puja, and Eddie was finishing up a class with them. He was kind enough to introduce us. They all seemed to be taking to the yoga and other instruction Eddie was providing — far better than I ever would have at 17 or so.

Posted by Steve

Sonima Foundation announces expansion of yoga programs in San Diego, New York

At its open house in Encinitas last night, the Sonima Foundation announced that it has — without the opposition it faced initially — expanded its yoga-in-school program to two other San Diego County schools and to New York.

The U-T San Diego has the story (not seeing anything yet at Sonima’s blog):

In San Diego County, the program has been in practice at the Monarch School for homeless children for about a year. For the past three months, it also has been in a pilot program at two schools in the Cajon Valley Union School District.


Ruffin said the program also has been smoothly introduced in inner-city New York schools. The program is in three schools in the Harlem Village Academy charter school, Broome Street Academy for homeless children and East Community High School.

Ruffin read a letter from the East Community High principal, who praised the program.

“One student after another has come to me and said yoga allows them to relax and focus,” he said.

The story also says that the initial year of a three-year study on the Sonima yoga program in Encinitas has shown positive results — no details, though.

Update, April 25:

A little more light on things.

From KPBS:

The University of San Diego has preliminary research showing students who practiced the yoga classes had more core strength and flexibility than students who did not, as measured in state fitness exams.

The Sonima Foundation, which sponsors the school based yoga classes, held an open house in Encinitas. Executive director Gene Ruffin said yoga is a prudent way to improve the health of children.

“The way we use it is a cost-effective means towards stress reduction, flexibility, the California Physical Fitness Test,” he said. “Our kids are doing better who take yoga.”

Ruffin said other school districts around the country are enquiring about the program. Each school district and pilot site develops a custom program to suit its student population, he said. All programs include yoga time on the mat and Common Core state standards for physical education.

And the Coast News:

At Broome Street Academy, a school that serves homeless and foster-care teens in New York City, students have been doing yoga since January. The template for their program: Encinitas Union School District yoga.

“I’m actually surprised at how it’s been embraced,” said Barbara McKeon, Head of School at Broome Street Academy. “Even the hard-nosed streetball guys are doing downward dog.”

In 2011, a representative from the Sonima Foundation, previously known as the Jois Foundation, introduced yoga at Capri Elementary in Encinitas. Encouraged by the results, in 2012 the organization put together a $700,000 grant for yoga and nutrition at EUSD schools.

That was followed by a $1.4 million grant from the foundation for this school year, which increased the number of yoga teachers at all nine district schools.

Drawing from EUSD best practices, the Sonima Foundation developed a yoga curriculum.

The foundation has since exported the program to 10 schools over the past year, including in Florida and New York. In the county, yoga has made its way to two schools in the Cajon Valley Union School District and the Monarch School in San Diego.

McKeon said she’s grateful for the program because her average student doesn’t have a lot of exercise opportunities. And many are grappling with social and emotional issues.

Why does Broome Street sound familiar?

Posted by Steve

Yoga in Harlem and, more surprisingly, Congress

The Pattabhi Jois/Ashtanga/yoga legacy is alive and spreading.

During the past week, representatives of the Sonima Foundation — including Eddie Stern — were in Harlem at the Harlem Village Academy (named corrected), teaching some yoga.

Here’s the video clip:

Also, the Sonima Tumblr blog mentions that a quartet of Sonima folk, including Eddie, recently met with Ohio Representative TIm Ryan. Why?

Lastly, four of our Sonima team (Sonia, Gene, Salima, & Eddie) are having lunch today with Congressman Tim Ryan of the 13th District of Ohio (think Youngstown, which is the northeast corner of the state for you California and New York folk for whom knowledge of the Midwest is a tad hazy.) Why Tim Ryan? Because Tim Ryan is a rigorous practitioner and tireless advocate of mindfulness.

It all started shortly after the 2008 elections, when Congressman Ryan joined a handful of business leaders at a five-day mindfulness retreat in the Catskills of New York. No reading, writing or working on the computer. No cell phones, smart phones or blackberries. No talking in general and no talking at all for thirty-six hours. No eye contact with others. And for Congressman Ryan, no looking back after it was done.

More on the goings on at the blog right here. It seems fair to say Sonima is hitting its stride.

Posted by Steve