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YM: You were born into yoga, please give us a picture of what growing up was like.

SB:
I was born into a lineage of teachers, a legacy of teaching that dates back more than 70 yrs through my father and mothers work in San Francisco. The Bhagavad Gita tells us, in chapter six, that one of the best births, though difficult to attain, is to be reborn into a family of yogis. Accomplishing that difficult feat,

spiritually has lead me into a vibrant and rich heritage to be born into. My parents Magana and Walt Baptiste were ahead of their time renowned Yogis, health, fitness, dance and human potential teachers. They served as leaders and pioneers, recognized for having coined the phrase ‘Body Mind & Spirit’.  Dad was one of the foremost authorities and teachers of Yoga in the World. Meher Baba called him a “son of Light”. Swami Rama of the Himalayas referred to him as a ‘Master Teacher’. Swami Sivananda gave him the sacred title of ‘Yogi Raj’. Swami Muktananda recognized him for “insight into the spiritual heritage of India as well as of the West”. Among many honors and great recognition Dad was invited to India to serve as the opening speaker at the world convocation of spiritual leaders during the great Kumbha Mela of 1974. In 1999 Mayor Willie Brown proclaimed it Walt Baptiste Day and in 2002 a Mayor’s proclamation was also presented officially declaring it Magana Baptiste Day in San Francisco.
My parents opened the very first and finest fitness centers in San Francisco’s financial district and is recognized for having established yoga in the West Coast. Revered as “America’s Royal Family of Yoga” they opened San Francisco’s Yoga Centre in San Francisco in 1955, helping to pave the way for millions who practice and teach yoga today. Our centers combined the disciplines of physical culture, yoga asanas, weight training, pranayama, concentration and meditation principles as the foundation in their system. Their teachings brought out the science of breath, along with a consciousness based approach to living and to life as constructive personal psychology. Mom was a seminal figure in San Francisco’s dance world and has helped to popularize yoga into what it has become today. They were constant resource of inspiration through dedication to these arts and sciences; they shared their vision and growing insights into the meaning of body-mind-spirit to enhance the richness of life.
This awareness shaped the out come and quality of my upbringing and life. I look back today recognizing that I was raised in a unique environment…one with insights and early training that I’m very thankful for. I’m the first born of three with my sister Devi Ananda, and brother Baron. Devi is a teacher of dance and hatha yoga, and a performing artist living in San Francisco. Baron renowned teacher and author is at the forefront of Yoga and Human Potential work. I give my brother great credit for opening up many doors in the mainstream for yoga's popularity and growth since the 1990's...his work continues to grow and blossom in the most unique ways, inspiring others to a greater depth of personal understanding. 

YM: When did you know that you wanted to teach and practice yoga yourself?


SB: Trained in my foundation by my parents, I began teaching in my teens. In my 20s it hit me that this lifestyle was a choice and that the choice was mine. I knew that I loved this way of living, being and breathing and decided to take it on as my own. As a child I observed the practice of yoga as practical and spiritual. To me yoga is not something you practice, but in truth it's a lifestyle. Everything is yoga; it¹s all yoga, every breath, every moment. I¹ve never not been practicing, it¹s simply who I am. I was trained to teach others at a very young age. Dad worked closely with me from the very beginning. I can remember being about seven years old, he would always tuck us in at night and walk us to school.



Tucking me he would teach me to work with my breath and meditation. I would fall asleep at night with these thoughts and insights into these practices going on in my head. One he spoke deeply to me about looking within for inner light, and about the Divine Mother. It was one of those pivotal moments that led me towards spiritual experience. About the age of nine I remember looking into my own eyes in the mirror as another key moment of awareness. In that moment, looking into my own eyes I touched base with my life energetically on a soul basis. In that moment I knew that there was a much bigger perspective going on in our lives, and that this life was something amazing. I had no idea what that meant, just that it wasn¹t random that we were here. My parents brought us into their lives fully. It was hip, and dynamic. We were a close family and always an integral part of our parent¹s work and life. It was a vibrant experience. In my teens I was Dad¹s assistant and had to attend his meditation and yoga classes in the process in many of the places including our own centers that he taught. He was a professor at SF State and Chabot College as well. My training was innate, natural, and gradual giving it time to sink deeply in on a cellular level. I stared teaching in my teens. To my horror mom had gathered a group of about twenty teenagers for a weekly class. They were my peers. It was painful as I was only fifteen, but they came back again and again and it opened the door to my own classes. That was the official start. I continued to study, and also teach Baptiste inspired yoga and dance classes having formal training in many different styles and disciplines. Next I opened my first business, Baptiste Natural Foods Store in San Francisco. I loved this episode in my life, as this store quickly became one of the Bay Area¹s most popular. People traveled from all over to shop with us because of the level of education we gave our customers. This chapter of my life allowed me to teach the value of optimal nutrition and tips for a healthy diet to thousands of customers. This store was on the ground level of our Baptiste Center that took up half a city block. It was four stories tall and also included huge yoga center, gym, dance studio, natural foods restaurant and a boutique. It was a pretty cool chapter in our families work, and also for their devoted and wonderful students who worked there too.
 
YM: Do your children practice yoga?
SB:
Yes they all do and love it. Once again keep in mind that the yoga that we know is a lifestyle, a way of being. We eat healthfully, love the outdoors, are very athletic and enjoy finding the work that inspires us bringing our unique passions and gifts to life. We love and respect life along with having good friends, and close family relationship are part of the joy of the journey for us. Our family practices have been taught to all of my children through exposure and retreats with my parents, bother Baron and myself. I have taken my daughters and son on yoga retreats and journeys that have included Bali, Yucatan, Salvador and Mexico. They love them, and have trained toward certifications as well with study. My daughter Vanessa works in the real estate industry lives in Aspen Co area. She has just begun teaching her own yoga classes there at the college and community studios. Nicole lives and works in Marin Co where she has her own business, a non-profit and works with developmentally disabled adults. She has integrated yoga practice into their weekly programs and is inspired to bring more of this into the large community as a resource of well being. Nick has just graduated from the University with his business degree and the Fire Academy serving the greater community as a fire fighter. He works closely with his uncle (my brother) in his yoga trainings and work, serving also as an assistant at his retreats. My youngest Connor is a champion baseball player-starting pitcher, a captain of his team in his high school. I watch his level of athleticism and his focus as he pitches. You can see that 'Baptiste Family Energy and Legacy Thing' coming through him loud and clear. I've gone into the local schools through the years teaching yoga to his friends at the requests of the teachers and coaches. His buddies have had fun with yoga. They're always ready to show me a pose... We have fun around it, and it's cool to see the kids in the community growing up with the popular influence of yoga in their lives also.

YM: Who are your teachers?
SB:
My greatest teacher is ‘Life itself’. Life is a gift and not to be missed, the greatest teacher resides within each one of us. With early training from parents, friends, mentors, wisdom teachers along the way, yogic techniques I’ve discovered that the tools and real support to be who we are, as fully made human beings, lies within. It’s within each one of us, our job is to notice and meet if half way. It’s an amazing journey, a dance of life, that carries with it the potential to be a masterpiece.
As we evolve, we feel more in control of ourselves in a healthy way and have the character to be of service in our immediate world and to the people we care about. We become an example to others: The reach of our service expands out similar to what happens when we drop a pebble into the pond and the water ripples out. In other words, a domino effect takes hold. As Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world. . .. It begins with you.”
Staying open to the evolution and process of my life personally offers challenge; a medium and conditions to work with. Living in the real world with family, home and work it has its rewards and stresses. It’s real life and I’ve found that working with the power of thought is an important key in the path of my daily experiences. I’ve noticed that habitual patterns of thought may sweep me away from being in the moment as its unfolding, sometimes needless worry can serge or imbalance from mental stresses may build in areas of my body. Recognizing that I have the power to influence my life through developing conscious thought patterns is a powerful thing that I’ve discovered personally as well. It can be summed up simply in a few words. It goes something like this, you carry ‘the power of change within you’ and when YOU look at ‘how you look at the things in your life’ the things in Your Life will CHANGE.

YM: What is Baptiste Power of Yoga?
SB:
Baptiste Inspired Yoga brings alive authenticity with deep spiritual connection. I teach yoga as a practice that opens us to the world and to life. We fall in love with life and life has a way of falling in love with us! Today I teach locally in Marin, lead retreats internationally as well as at the leading conferences around the US and Canada. In my ongoing group and private classes in Marin Co, CA I work with about three hundred people each week. Baptiste inspired yoga is based on the hatha yoga and taught as a flowing yoga practice that includes postures (asanas) held in accurate alignment. Classes and sessions are designed to move yoga and fitness training to new and exciting levels. Giving increased insight into yoga, health and fitness participants of these sessions will learn how to confidently practice and Baptiste inspired teachers learn to lead safe and challenging multi-level classes: classes that yield quick and lasting results with transformation and inspiration. Typically the practices are given as a strong dynamic intermediate level. The practice offers seamless transitions between the postures using flowing breath-based movements. This practice helps to sustain mental, emotional and physical well being, while enhancing creative abilities and a calm, relaxed state of mind. Philosophy is offered in each session to inspire, and overall the sessions leave us feeling better than we arrived. Again and again participants tell me that they experience a powerful process of growth and transformation that occurs during the classes, Baptiste Retreats and Yoga Journeys together. Very simply put the classes and retreats are often life changing for the participants, with benefits and newfound clarity and strengths body mind and spirit that are carried home into daily life. Bottom line we want to look and feel our best and the Baptiste System gives you that. During this deep practice for body, mind and spirit, you can feel the collective consciousness of your being gently open up. Every time you practice it leaves you a little bit better that it found you, and it's cumulative. It's an empowering practice that attracts wonderful people and with their commitment I see people changing and blossoming...it's exciting to see and rewarding to me as a teacher.

Beginners are welcome. This is for the layperson, beginner to expert, and householders to CEO's, anyone wishing to develop a deep relationship and a strong intermediate to advanced practice over time and with consistency. This is excellent also for Yoga teachers, health and fitness professionals wanting to bring in more of the quality and yogic depth to their classes and clients too. My work: Sherri Baptiste 500 RYT - Baptiste Power of Yoga Programs are recognized by Yoga Alliance. Sessions strengthen focus, balance, discernment in our lives, while building the quality of mind and body.

YM:What are some of the biggest changes you have seen in yoga since you were a child?

SB: Well of course we have all seen it turn into a business, an industry with product driven trainings and events. At the same time this has helped to integrate itself into modern life and our vocabulary. I don¹t think any part of it is a surprise as it's a terrific system of personal development and very much here to stay. I have seen a lot of the teachers new to the scene fade away. Some took trainings as a career move and they were very honest about that. But as I've observed so many come and go, it seems to me that the real teachers that stay in for the long haul, seem to find this perhaps as more of a calling. A process that develops us too along the way as we simply share what we know to be good with others through the natural process of our life and teaching. My sense is that Yoga is a Practice and System of Personal Development that over time really takes hold; it gets in on a cellular level that builds powerfully over time. Yoga serves our times and us so well; it has a way of shape shifting to meet our needs in current times. It's efficient, powerful, fun and inspiring. Yoga has no beginning and no end; it¹s time tested and here to stay. It offers a quality of excellence as a science and art with, techniques and practices that are timeless in their nature connecting us deeply to our deepest levels of awareness and consciousness of inner potentials in the process.

My classes are packed, and the wave that keeps building lifts us to new levels constantly in our experience of a deep dynamic breath based, life-changing practice together. We're loving it!

YM: What is at the core of your teachings?

SB: Breath, spirituality, yoga practices, authentic Self, joy in the journey and community.

What I love about teaching yoga is that it is time-tested. You can trace its roots and philosophy back about 8,000 years. Yoga addresses your mind, body and soul, and it has the power to touch people’s lives in meaningful ways. My classes, retreats and yoga journeys offer time to awaken your spirit and to strengthen, relax, renew, clean out and center yourself. I have found, that everyone can integrate yoga principles into daily awareness and living.

The beauty of the Baptiste Method of Yoga™ is that it creates a balance of strength and flexibility, mentally and physically. You notice an increase in your vitality and overall sense of well-being. If you want to change the quality of your life I invite you to join us.

YM: You created Yoga With Weights, an amazing blend of yoga and fitness techniques.
Please explain how it works.

SB:
Imagine you’re strapping on ankle weights and then picking up a pair of handheld weights. The weights are just heavy enough to put a demand on your muscles, but not so heavy as to strain your body. Standing up straight, you carefully align your feet under your hips making sure they’re parallel. You begin by breathing in to the count of four as you press upward, extending your right arm to the sky. Your rib cage lifts, feet ground down and belly gently presses in and up. The right hand reaches, and your eyes gently gaze in the same direction. Now exhale slowly, savour the intensity of the movement and lower the right arm back to the starting position. Notice as your awareness shifts to the left side of your body. You breathe in and out and follow the same movements using your left side. Pause after two sets, and feel the total body connection. The relationship between the mind and weights makes for a perfect partnership, one so harmonious that it will help you relax, breath well and renew your energy. Yoga with weights is a total system for the body, mind and spirit a form of conscious exercise. It is a hybrid of two powerful, time-tested exercise systems: yoga and the science of bodybuilding.

Just like yoga the weights also came out of India, as you can read in my book Yoga with Weights by Sherri Baptiste (Wiley Publishers) Working out with weights is one of the best ways to achieve overall physical fitness and to cultivate the anti aging factors. Yoga is renowned as a system of personal development through which you can cultivate peak performance and achieve a higher quality of life. By combining these two exercise systems, yoga with weights addresses the needs of the body beautiful, but it also goes beyond the physical dimension of your well being. The yoga-with-weights workout refines and lengthens muscles; it doesn’t bulk up your muscles. The added resistance from the weights forces the deep-core muscles to come into play. Not many forms of exercise engage the deep-core balancing muscles. A 20-minute yoga-with-weights workout will help stimulate your metabolism, develop lean muscle mass, control weight, support healthy bone density, target areas in the process of total body conditioning and make for a beautiful body. You’ll notice an overall sense of well-being and peace of mind.

YM: What is next?

SB:
A Journey to India in Oct 2008. This will be a journey of a lifetime, offering ripe potential for spiritual depth, and deep transformative experience serving as food for the soul in the process.

Baptiste Retreats & Yoga Journeys Presented : 2008 -2009

Journey to India Sacred Sites: A Path to Transformation Oct 2008
http://www.featheredpipe.com/workshops/worldtour_sherri_baptiste.php

Power of Women Retreat: Sayulita Mexico March 2009
http://www.featheredpipe.com/workshops/sherri_baptiste.php

Baptiste Yoga with Sherri Baptiste & Nia Movement Sessions with France Laude: Peru-Machu Pichu Aug 2009: http://www.powerofyoga.com

Baptiste Power of Yoga and Meditation Retreat: Green Gulch Zen Center Marin, Ca November 2009: http://www.powerofyoga.com

Teachers Training: http://www.powerofyoga.com

I’m always asked for more teachers training programs. My plan is to provide more of this in 2009. Baptiste Power of Yoga, LLC Training's offer a unique opportunity to enhance, refresh, motivate, and inspire not only the practitioner on every level, but serve to enhance the ability as a teacher while finding their authentic voice and gifts as a teacher serve the student well with skillful understanding, while contributing to the greater good of the community with personal truth and integrity in the process. My Baptiste Power of Yoga™ Teachers Training and Advancing Studies Programs are recognized at both the 200 and 500 hr levels by Yoga Alliance with excellent and very popular teachers that I’ve certified starting in 1999. Please contact us if interested in more information: info@powerofyoga.com

YM: Where can people find out more about you and buy your books, DVDs etc?

SB: Thank you for asking. I have a beautiful website:
http://www.powerofyoga.com I invite everyone to visit for updates on events, retreats, and useful information.

Products can be purchased there, and also from: http://www.EverythingYoga.com, http://www.IdeaWorldFitness.com and http://www.Amazon.com just to name a few. They all sell my DVD, CD and Yoga with Weights for Dummies Book (Wiley Publisher).

YM: Thank you for joining us!
SB:
Thank you YogaMates.com for all that you are bringing on an exciting and informative level to your readership. I think your doing a great service with this web site!

Namaste’ to all,
Sherri Baptiste

SB Bio:
SHERRI BAPTISTE – BAPTISTE POWER OF YOGA™
Sherri Baptiste, CYT, IYT, ERYT 500

Sherri Baptiste is an inspirational yoga teacher at the forefront of training in America. She is the daughter of America's yoga pioneers and master teachers Magana and Walt Baptiste. Founder of Baptiste Power of Yoga, she offers classes, workshops, retreats and teacher training. Her retreats and teacher training programs provide an empowering, peaceful oasis in a hurried world, a place where students can find within themselves the tools and knowledge to support and maintain a happier, healthier and more spiritual lifestyle. Sherri presents for Western Athletics Clubs’s Bay Clubs, Gold's Gym, Yoga Studios Larkspur and San Francisco, Nautilus, Loyola Marymount University's Yoga Therapy Rx Program, Equinox, IDEA World Fitness and Inner IDEA Conferences, Body Mind Spirit, Yoga Journal, ECA, AFPA, Can-Fit-Pro, Rancho La Puerta spa and Yoga Therapy Conferences. She has instructed for the International Himalayan Yoga Teachers Association (under Swami Veda Bharati's guidance) and conducts yoga retreats at locations such as Kripalu, Omega, Haramara, Green Gulch Zen Center and Feathered Pipe Ranch.

A member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT), Sherri’s teacher-training and continuing education programs are recognized by Yoga Alliance at the highest designated level of E-RYT 500. She is also recognized by the International Yoga Federation as an honorary member of the World Yoga Council. A radio and television personality, she is featured in video, DVD and CD programs that include "Power of Yoga" and "Power of Meditation." Sherri is the author of Yoga with Weights for Dummies (Wiley Publishers 2006). She also serves as the online yoga expert for VoiceofDance.com and is a published writer in Best Body Magazine, Yoga Magazine and Alternative Medicine Magazine, Caregivers Journal 2008.

Sherri's specialties include breath-based yoga flow (for all levels), chakras, breath work, meditation, yoga with weights, yoga personal training, yoga for older adults and therapeutic yoga applications.

Sherri Baptiste, Baptiste Power of Yoga, LLC, P.O. Box 414, Kentfield, CA 94914 (888) 804-9642, info@powerofyoga.com,

Baptiste Power of Yoga: Yoga Teacher Certification (200 & 500 hr) and Advancing Studies Programs (Yoga Alliance Recognized) with Sherri Baptiste: E-RYT 500
Web sites: http://www.powerofyoga.com & http://www.yogawithweights.com/