Yoga Teacher Training Instructor – Vidya Jacqueline Heisel
Vidya Jacqueline Heisel, E-RYT 500
Director of Frog Lotus Yoga International Yoga Teacher Training Programs
Owner and Director of Suryalila Retreat Centre
My whole childhood I was haunted by puzzling spiritual questions about the nature of self, life, death and reality. When I was nineteen, I started a degree in philosophy and became intrigued by eastern philosophy. It was at this time I was thrilled to discover meditation, and the teachings of the Buddha, and from then on I devoured countless spiritual books, which opened up a whole new universe for me. Suddenly life had a deep and profound meaning that had previously been veiled to me.
In 1975, at the tender age of twenty, no longer content to just read about these matters, I took the hippy trail to India to find a Guru. I started practicing Yoga in 1975 in Poona India, at the Shree Rajneesh Ashram. I fell in love with India, with Eastern Philosophy and then very passionately with the physical practice of Yoga. I practiced Iyengar Yoga religiously every day for a year at the Ashram, where I was living. Ironically, my teacher there was an American. After a year, my yoga teacher left the ashram and I was asked to teach the class myself, and I happily rose to the challenge. What I lacked in experience, I made up for in enthusiasm. I taught that class in Buddha Hall daily for the following four years. I lived at the Shree Rajneesh Ashram in Poona, with my teacher Osho, in its heyday from 1975-81. It was a life-changing and magnificent mystical experience. I have visited India many times since, to travel and to attend meditation retreats.
I have studied and practiced and taught many different styles and techniques all over the world, including Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, Kundalini, Hatha and Forrest Yoga, as well as maintaining my profound love and study of Iyengar Yoga. I have studied with many talented and well-known teachers including Ana Forrest, Patricia Walden, Rodney Yee, Shiva Rea, David Swenson, Doug Swenson, Baron Baptiste, Sarah Powers, Richard Freeman, Tiffany Cruikshank, Leslie Kaminoff and many others.
I was originally certified to teach Ashtanga Yoga, by Larry Schulz, in San Francisco. I took a very inspiring Advanced Yoga Teacher Training, with Ana Forrest, in Forrest Yoga. I have also taken Advanced Yoga Teacher Training with Rodney Yee. I completed a 200 hour training in Kundalini Yoga, at the Yogi Bhajan ashram in New Mexico. I also took a 150hour anatomy training with Leslie Kaminoff. My own on-going daily practice continues to be one of my deepest inspirations. I have developed my own unique style of Flow, which weaves together everything I have studied into a joyful and intelligent practice.
I have taught yoga in countless different places and situations, from an ashram in India to the most exclusive spa in the country, Canyon Ranch in The Berkshires. I am convinced that Yoga is, as Mr. Iyengar dubs it, a path to holistic health. Yoga, practiced regularly, will make you strong, supple, radiantly healthy and give you a deep sense of well-being. Yogic philosophy can bring unimaginable depth and meaning to your life, and offer you an amazing path to waking up and living your life more fully and more consciously.
I continued my spiritual endeavour ceaselessly, meeting many great spiritual teachers, meditating, studying and having many profound experiences myself. In 1993 I met my second long-term spiritual teacher, Andrew Cohen. I spent 13 years in his sanggha, doing spiritual practice, contemplating and living and growing in community. I was one of the cooks at the ashram in Massachusetts. Cooking wholesome vegetarian (mostly vegan and raw) is my other great passion. I am passionately into a healthy diet and study alternative nutrition avidly. Over time, I no longer resonated with Andrews teaching style I left the community in 2005.
In March 2002 I opened Frog Lotus Yoga Studio in North Adams, Massachusetts. It was a great joy and pleasure to create and direct such a beautiful space for Yoga. Around the same time as opening the studio, I designed a comprehensive Yoga Teacher Training programme that I began to teach there. In 2005 I began teaching the Yoga Teacher Training program at different exotic locations around the world.
There are now several thousand graduates of our Yoga Teacher Training program. I am very passionate about teaching the Frog Lotus Yoga YTT programs because they offer me the freedom to share my passion for all aspects of yoga; the philosophical and metaphysical dimensions, as well as the physical practice. The training remains a source of on-going wonder and joy to me as it grows and evolves and allows me to birth so many amazing fledgling teachers. In the process of teaching the training, I also grow and learn so much myself.
In October 2008, after having become increasingly engrossed in the Yoga Teacher Training Retreats internationally, I passed on the torch of Frog Lotus Yoga Studio to Jennifer Yarro, who is the current owner and director of the Studio. I now focus solely on the Frog Lotus Yoga International Teacher Training Programs. Jennifer and I have also designed an Advanced Yoga Teacher Training together, which we currently co-teach.
In 2010 I created Envision Yoga, a profoundly transformational practice combining Kundlaini Yoga and NLP techniques.
In 2011, I founded Suryalila, a Yoga Retreat Centre in Andalusia, Spain. My goal was to create the most outstanding retreat centre in Europe. Suryalila continues to flourish and is now a well-known yoga destination. www.suryalila.com I teach all of my 200 hour YTT programs at Suryalila now.
In 2016 I was introduced to Vedanta, which, like yoga, is one of the “darshanas”under the umbrella of Hinduism. Yoga is inextricably woven into the Vedantic teachings. I met a teacher of Vedanta, James Swartz, and this meeting has reignited my passion for spiritual knowledge.
I feel blessed beyond my wildest imaginings to be doing what I love successfully and to be living in such a beautiful paradise.
My on-going mission is to continue to spread the life-transforming teachings of Yoga and the joyful physical practice around the world, with as much love and wisdom as possible!