Teacher Spotlight: Sangeeta Vallabhan on Empowering Students

This humble teacher is helping thousands find their way in New York—and in life.

This humble teacher is helping thousands find their way in New York—and in life.

A teacher at Yoga Works and Kula Yoga Project, Sangeeta Vallabhan travels the NYC boroughs on what she calls a Solemarch, a quest to help students be the sole proprietors of their own yogic paths. Steeped in formal dance education and more than 1,000 hours of yoga training, her teaching is inspired by the ancient yogic texts, and blends movement with intention. It’s an approach that has served her students for more than 10 years. And now she’s bringing her technique to free yoga classes in Bryant Park and to people suffering from post-
traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How did you find yoga?

After studying ballet at the University of Texas at Austin, I moved to NYC to dance, and a teacher introduced me to yoga. Over time, I trained with Jivamukti, Golden Bridge, and Kula Yoga Project, and started my own classes in 2003 at gyms in Queens. I went on to get an 800-hour Jivamukti certification and prenatal yoga training. Asana translated easily for me; the more I studied yogic philosophy, the more meaningful yoga became. It is my calling.

What is your teaching philosophy?

I want students to feel empowered and strong, not having to always look outside themselves for inspiration. When students practice with intention, they feel more grounded, bringing a sense of ease and connection to themselves and to the people around them. This is how yoga helped me 13 years ago, when my mother passed: I learned how to comfort myself, but also how to reach out for support.

See also Healing Heartbreak: A Yoga Practice to Get Through Grief

What inspires you?

When I see how much suffering there is in the world because we are divided by the color of our skin, gender, sexual preference, religion, income, etc., I’m inspired to help others see sameness more than they see difference, and treat everyone with love, compassion, and kindness. I’m also training with Warriors at Ease to introduce yoga to veterans enduring PTSD and other trauma. Bringing yoga to a community that may be otherwise unexposed keeps me inspired. I think yoga, in conjunction with therapy, inspirational texts, and other approaches, can facilitate healing for all of us

Learn More

Take Sangeeta’s classes on feeling grounded and opening your heart with YogaVibes. yogajournal.com/sangeeta

See also How To Yoga Videos

In the Details

Vallabhan shares a few more of her favorite things:

  • Pose:Savasana is where it all comes together. Rest is necessary for the body to settle.
  • Food: Anything my dad makes. It’s South Indian food made with love.
  • Escape: The beach, nourished by swimming in the ocean. My favorite destinations are Tulum, Mexico, and Culebra, Puerto Rico.
  • TV show: The Colbert Report. I love how everything was taken to the edge, but kept light and funny.
  • Music:Kirtan. I love chanting, at the beginning or end of a practice. It grounds me like nothing else.

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