Author: Sharon

Online Yoga Teacher Training

I offer unique online training and study opportunities for yoga teachers who are interested in learning more about meditation, Buddhist philosophy, reading sutras and working with pregnant and new mothers.  There are definitely benefits to online learning, but it is not necessarily for everyone.

It is ideal to have direct transmission of these concepts and ideas from teacher to student.  If you have the opportunity to work with a meditation teacher, study sutras or take a prenatal yoga training that allows you to be in the presence of your teacher, then you should take advantage of this possibility.  Sometimes though, the opportunity exists, but our lifestyle will not permit us to take advantage of it.  Perhaps the training times and dates are in conflict with your teaching responsibilities, work or home life schedule.  If this is the case, then exploring an online training may give you the guidance you need to study on your own and obtain the credits you need to maintain your Yoga Alliance membership and registration.

Many of my online students are taking my courses from all over the world and they simply can’t access the training they need in their geographical location or in a language that will be understood.  Some American expatriates living abroad know that they plan to return to the United States and want to keep up their credentials while living abroad.  In these cases, my online teacher training courses are absolutely ideal.  If you’ve never used SKYPE, it may seem awkward or foreign to study with a teacher through the internet, but it’s amazing how this technology allows me to make deep connections with my students.  We can’t “touch”, but I can be fully present.

Yes, online courses are less expensive than in-person trainings.  This is because my costs for offering the program are lower and I can pass these savings onto my students.  On the other hand, when I offer an in-person workshop or training, the cost is higher, but I have almost 100% attendance from students who have enrolled.  In my online courses, more than half of the students who enroll do not finish the course.  Many students sign-up because it is “so cheap” and they can “fit it in anytime” and then they find that they actually don’t have the time to do the work or study and no matter how much less expensive it is, if it isn’t the right program for you, then it is a waste.  It’s important to be highly motivated, organized and to be able to schedule your study time and private sessions and maintain your priorities.

I invite you to explore my online study opportunities for yoga teachers (many are open to non-teachers too!) and take advantage of these economical and high-quality courses that will deepen your practice, give you dynamic teaching and practice tools and enhance your career options.  If you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you:

Imperfect Vessels

chamundra single

I’m always reading.  Whenever I come across common themes in my reading, I try to make note of it and then think about what that theme means to me in my life, my practice and my work.  Two-weeks ago, in everything I was reading, the word or theme of “imagination” kept popping up.  This week, in two completely different books, the Buddhist teaching of the imperfect vessels revealed itself to me.  This teaching provides a way for us to study ourselves and then develop practices that support our current state of mind.

The first type of imperfect vessel is an upside down vessel.  It’s impossible to fill a vase with beautiful flowers if the vase is upside down.  In this type of vessel, the opening is completely closed off.  In this “closed mind” there is no role for meditation or yoga practice.  It is likely that all of us experience times when our minds are the upside down vessel.  It is just as likely that we can think of someone that we know or have been forced to work with or relate to that seems to have a mind like an upside down vessel at all times.  Nothing you say, no workshop, no training, no professional advice, no class—nothing penetrates or makes a difference.  In my yoga classes I never have to worry about having students with this mind-type because just deciding to take a yoga class is an opening—however small that crack or pore might be.  In general, anyone who reads this and thinks to themselves, “Wow!  Sometimes my mind is completely closed off like an upside down vessel.” isn’t the type of person who has a mind like this all the time.  It’s likely you have one of the other types of imperfect vessels that you are working with.  If you read this and think, “I’m never upside down or closed off.”—well, hate to be the one to tell you, but then it is likely your mind is more like an upside down vessel for most of the time than not.  There is a Buddhist sutra that says, “Things are not what they seem to be, nor are they otherwise.” (1)

The second type of imperfect vessel is the dirty vessel.  This is a mind that is impacted by physical body toxins, being psychologically toxic and needing to take steps or adapt a practice with an emphasis on purification.  The dirty vessel pollutes whatever is poured into it.  So, this mind can study all the teachings and practice yoga and meditation, but all the information received is polluted.  Personally, I’ve been thinking about this a great deal because one of my vices is Diet Coke.  Whenever I get stressed out or tired or lonely or sad or just want to choose a beverage to go with what I am eating for lunch, my first choice is a nice bubbly Diet Coke.  Well, this pollutes the vessel.  I can do all the yoga I want, but my body has to work really hard to get rid of the carcinogens, food coloring, blah blah blah……it’s hard to find any enlightenment when you have to work that hard just to get clear.  Part of my personal practice right now is to make other choices that are nourishing and support the qualities of mind that I wish to enhance through my meditation and yoga practices.

The third type of vessel is the leaky vessel.  This type of vessel has some kind of crack or hole in it and it can’t hold what you put in it.  A mind like a leaky vessel is unstable, there are too many distractions and it feels impossible to make decisions.  The type of practice for this quality of mind requires discipline.  Bringing the quality of discipline into one’s life through regular practice of yoga and meditation, no matter what, is a way to work with this type of imperfect vessel.

The fourth type of imperfect vessel is the tilted vessel.  In this type of mind, you receive teachings, but you are unable to maximize your full potential.  If this is the type of mind you are working with, then practices that are designed to help “right” your vessel are what you would work with.  In this case it is more about fine-tuning the subtle body and making choices about including practices that enhance the flow of energy through the chakras, work with sound and subtle body anatomy with pranayama and visualization.

Self-study and considering our quality of mind at any given time isn’t about judgment.  These imperfect vessels give us the tools to consider our quality of mind at any given moment and step-back from our habitual responses to criticism, stress, fear or confusion.  We can observe ourselves and others with curiosity and drop our attachment to specific outcomes or trying to control ourselves or others.  It’s a way to be more open and creative and find solutions to the challenges that we face with equanimity.

This post written by Sharon Fennimore who is offering a series of workshops exploring five Buddhist sutras in translation starting in fall 2015 in Pittsburgh, PA.


“Things are not what they seem to be, nor are they otherwise.” is from the Shurangama Sutra. 



Practice Notes: Rainbow Body

rainbow bodyEach week, I teach a mindful yoga class on Tuesday nights at Mookshi Wellness Center.  Recently, I have adapted a new preparation technique for teaching my classes and find the foundation theme for my class through daily prayer and meditation.  I have always been guided to teach from the wisdom of my practice as I was encouraged to do so by my compassionate and insightful teacher and mentor, Jill Satterfield.  But, for the past two-months I have been randomly choosing a sutra from Lorin Roche’s beautiful translation and commentary of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, The Radiance Sutras, and allowing the message of that particular sutra guide my choice of breathing, asana and visualization practices.

This past spring I took a truly amazing distance learning course with Janet Conner called “Soul Vows” (also the title of her newest book, which is phenomenal) and was able to do so through a generous full scholarship that she offered to me.  The truth is that I had a hard time with the course.  I still haven’t come up with my soul vows.  But, I had found her course through some research I was doing for my Radiant Heart course that I was in the process of creating and the soul vow discovery process required that I choose a spiritual book to accompany me on the work to nourish and keep it sacred.  The Radiance Sutras are “112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder and Delight” and while I couldn’t seem to identify my Soul Vows during the course, I kept thinking of the phrase “Choose Joy!” and these sutras and the commentary truly are about choosing joy regardless of circumstances.

This week, in preparation for class tomorrow night (if you are in Pittsburgh, please join us–it’s pretty much the most beautiful gathering of people I’ve ever been a part of, not competitive and you are warmly welcome), I randomly chose the 20th sutra and in the commentary, Roche suggests that we “sense all directions simultaneously” (Radiance Sutras, page 214):

Above me is endless space.
Below me is endless space.
Behind me is endless space.
To my left is space.
To my right is space.
Within me is endless space.

Roche suggests that “As the directions dissolve, so does your definition of yourself (214).”  When I read this I was drawn to Rose Taylor Goldfield’s instructive description of the Rainbow-like body in her book, “Training the Wisdom Body”.  She says, “The main point to remember about your body is that it is appearance-emptiness like a rainbow; it is purely the energy and play of luminosity-emptiness, like a body in a dream when you know you are dreaming.  Recall that your body is naturally light and luminous as you practice yoga movement.” (Taylor Goldfield, page 97)

The “Rainbow Body” in Dzogchen (an esoteric Tibetan Buddhism), refers to a level of realization.  This realization is when the separation between all living beings and phenomenon dissipates and all is one.  Taylor Goldfield instructs, “As you move your body, dissolve fixation on the duality of your own body here and the surrounding environment out there.  Melt into space.” (page 97)

In our practice this Tuesday night we will play with space and expand our inner and outer light for the benefit of all living beings.  Can’t wait!


The Radiance Sutras: 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder and Delight
Author: Lorin Roche

Training the Wisdom Body: Buddhist Yogic Exercise
Author: Rose Taylor Goldfield

Path to the Rainbow Body: Introduction to Yuthok Nyingthig
Author: Dr. Nida Chenagtsang

Soul Vows: Gathering the Presence of the Divine in You, Through You, and As You
Author: Janet Conner



Online Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training



Not only is this a very rewarding specialty, but considering the fact that over 80% of American yoga practitioners are women, it is imperative that all yoga instructors explore ways to support optimal women’s reproductive health for women who choose to attend their classes.  These skills will help inform all of your teaching and the program itself is rigorous and demands personal and professional transformation.r pregnancies and prepare for childbirth.

This intellectual approach to yoga as a science requires self-study and an investigation of the cultural, social and economic values that we hold around fertility, women’s health and specifically reproduction so that we can teach from our hearts.  Informed by contemporary social theory and medical anthropology, also allows Matrika Prenatal instructors to support students in a way that no other method provides support for.  If you are looking for a yoga training that is about memorizing asana sequences, then this is not the program for you.  These personal and professional training programs are transformative on both personal and professional levels and will require consistent commitment to study and practice.

This method, philosophy and approach has been refined over almost 15-years by Sharon Fennimore Rudyk, MA, E-RYT, R-PYT and DONA Trained Birth Doula and enjoyed by thousands of women.

Matrika Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training Program

Amazing online training with private mentoring sessions that is ideal for busy professionals trying to juggle career and family while also moving in the direction of your dreams.  Ideal for expats or English speakers all over the world who do not have access to a RPYT training school, but wish to work towards their certification while traveling or living abroad.  There are two tracks of study available:

  1. 30 CEU Credits for Yoga Teachers
  2. 100-Hour Prenatal Yoga Specialist Certification

What Makes Matrika Prenatal Yoga Special?

  • Emphasis on Tantric subtle body anatomy
  • Focus on how culture and reproductive politics impact fertility and pregnancy
  • Learn how to support optimum fertility with yoga
  • Use of Buddhist philosophy applied to teaching prenatal yoga
  • Learn how to teach visualization and meditation specific to pregnancy
  • Includes the use of yoga and meditation to prepare for labor and birth
  • Postpartum care and Mom and Baby Yoga

Who facilitates the course?

Sharon Fennimore, MA, E-RYT, R-PYT,  designed this course and has almost 20-years of experience teaching prenatal yoga and meditation.  Sharon is a DONA trained birth doula and holds two Masters Degrees in East Asian Studies and Cultural Anthropology.  She has worked with thousands of expectant women and their families over the past 15-years and has been offering prenatal yoga teacher training courses for over seven-years.

TRACK ONE: 30 CEU Credits for Yoga Teachers

Track One 30 CEU CreditsPerfect for yoga instructors who need a flexible continuing education program option and have a special interest in learning more about prenatal yoga and teaching yoga to women who are pregnant who may take public group classes during pregnancy.  While in the continuing education program, you can up-level to the certification option at any time by purchasing the additional private session package that provides the required contact hours for R-PYT certification.  Your tuition includes a holistic online course including 16-video lectures, audio guided practices, handouts and class planning tools, a copy of Sharon Fennimore’s eBook “Matrika Prenatal Yoga” with audio guide.  Your tuition does not include the required textbooks.

Enroll NOW for IMMEDIATE Course Access ($350) 

TRACK TWO: Prenatal Yoga Specialist Certification (R-PYT)

Track Two RPYTThe second track is a 100-hour program that leads to registration with Yoga Alliance as a certified prenatal yoga specialist with the R-PYT (Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher) credentials.  This track also includes four private distance sessions with Sharon Fennimore (either with SKYPE or by phone), unlimited e-mail communication during your course of study, review of all written work submitted and a graduation certificate that is required by Yoga Alliance as evidence of your completion of the requirements to be a prenatal yoga specialist.  Choosing this track is a significant commitment to becoming a specialist in working with pregnant women, their infants and their families and support system.  There is significant reading, writing and practicum requirements and certification requires your active participation in the online course discussion boards.

Enroll NOW for IMMEDIATE Course Access ($750)

Enroll NOW with a 4-month Payment Plan ($900 total/$225 per month of plan)

Comparison of Two-Tracks of Professional Study

Prenatal Training Track Chart

Tuition for both tracks includes: online course enrollment, a copy of Sharon Fennimore’s e-book “Matrika Prenatal” and the accompanying 45-minute audio guide, 16-video lectures, unlimited e-mail support from the facilitator during the length of the program, ongoing teleseminars and Q&A sessions and a BONUS 5 CEU credit postpartum yoga training.

Having Trouble Deciding Which Track is Right for You?

If you know that you wish to pursue continuing education in prenatal yoga and tantric subtle body anatomy with Sharon, but you aren’t sure if the 100-hour commitment is right for you, then the best thing to do is enroll in the online course (which is the 30-CEU credit option) and then see how it goes.  If you love it and you want to go deep into the study, then you can level-up to certification at any time during your course enrollment by purchasing the additional $400 private session package.

 Enroll in Prenatal Yoga Online CourseAs soon as you pay tuition for the online course, you will have immediate access to full course materials, list of required textbooks and graduation requirements for both tracks. If you are interested in the 100-hour prenatal yoga specialist track, you can purchase your private session package ($400) from the online course and schedule your sessions.  Everything is available at your convenience online 24/7.  You will work at your own pace and there is no way to “miss” anything—all events are recorded.  There are NO REFUNDS for any reason and only participants who meet the requirements for their track will be given certificates.  Enrollment is not a guarantee of graduation.  Fees associated with maintaining your Yoga Alliance registrations are not included in tuition.

I Know I Want to Pursue R-PYT Certification, but I Need a Payment Plan

100 Hour Program Payment PlanAre you interested in a payment plan?  A 4-month payment plan ($225 per month) is available for yoga teachers enrolling in the 100-hour prenatal yoga specialist track.  This payment plan includes both tuition for the online course AND a 4-private session package which covers all of the required private sessions for your program.  After you make your first payment, you will be invited by e-mail to the online course within 24-hours and you can enroll and schedule your private sessions.  There are NO REFUNDS for any reason and all payments in the plan must be made regardless of your actual participation.  Graduation and certification is not guaranteed and participants must meet all requirements in order to receive a final certificate to use when applying for RPYT status with Yoga Alliance.  Yoga Alliance registration fees are not included in tuition.

 The Online Course is organized by the following  topics:

Topic I: Orientation
Topic II: Culture and Reproduction
Topic III: Yoga During Pregnancy
Topic IV: Common Pregnancy Complaints
Topic V: Teaching Matrika Prenatal Yoga
Topic VI: Practicum and Professionalization
Topic VII: Postpartum and Baby Yoga
Topic VIII: Graduation and Evaluation
Topic IX: Course Resources


The online course includes access to sixteen lectures that you can download and watch at your convenience.  If you are taking this course for Yoga Alliance registration and certification, you will need to complete the worksheet that is associated with each lecture and submit your work for review to Sharon.  Worksheets are not required for the 30 CEU credit track, but it is highly recommended that all students watch the lectures.

Culture and Reproduction
Anatomy of Pregnancy
Introduction to “The Matrika”
Three Energetic Diaphragms and Pregnancy 11/17
Special Considerations
Class Planning
Using Matrika Prenatal to Prepare for Birth and During Labor
Postpartum Care
Anatomy of Pregnancy and Birth Recovery
Mom & Baby Yoga 

Group Mentoring Q&A Calls

In addition to the lectures, discussion board moderation and our private sessions together, I will regularly schedule group Q&A calls as needed.  If it seems like there is a particular need for the group or a topic that needs more time and exploration, then I may create a topic for a particular call, but these are designed to be open for any questions on any part of the course material.  I will also regularly add calls that both current and previous trainees can attend to discuss important topics for Prenatal Yoga Teachers.

Graduation and Registration with Yoga Alliance as an RPYT

In order to graduate from the 100-hour prenatal yoga specialist certification program, you must complete all required written work, observations, practice teaching  and submit your work for review to Sharon Fennimore, complete four private sessions with Sharon (distance by phone and/or SKYPE), and complete the online course module including active participation in online course discussions.  It is possible to complete the course within 6-months, but most trainees take an entire year to finish all of the requirements.  When you have completed all of the requirements, Sharon will email you a PDF of a signed graduation certificate that you can use to register with Yoga Alliance as an RPYT if you choose to register as a yoga instructor in this specialty.  A paper certificate is not provided, but you can print out your color certificate at your convenience from the PDF you receive if you choose to. Your costs for that registration are not included in your tuition.  Your graduation is not guaranteed and you will earn your certification through high quality work, enthusiastic participation and meeting all of the graduation requirements.

S01-YA-SCHOOL-RPYSYOGA MATRIKA is a Registered Prenatal Yoga School and graduates who meet ALL requirements are eligible to register with Yoga Alliance as a prenatal yoga teacher (RPYT).  Yoga Alliance requires that you graduate from a RPYS AND that you have a current registration with them as a minimum 200 RYT and that after you graduate from the RPYS that you teach a minimum of 30-prenatal yoga classes that you document with Yoga Alliance before they give you the RPYT credential.

Fine Print

  1. No refunds for tuition for online programs, mentoring packages or training retreats for ANY reason.  If you need an extension for personal reasons, please contact Sharon by e-mail at your earliest convenience.
  2. There is absolutely no guarantee of graduation or certification.  Your work and training portfolio will be evaluated and your ability to complete the program and obtain certification documents will be based on the merits of your participation and quality of the portfolio that you submit.
  3. Online programs are not for everyone.  With flexibility comes extraordinary personal responsibility.  You must also have the technical skills to register for the online program, upload documents and submit work as PDF files.  Consistent access to a computer and the internet are imperative.
  4. You should be able to set aside 15-20 hours for each month of your program for working online, reading and writing assignments.  It is important that you put these hours in your calendar and stick to a schedule.  Otherwise, it is unlikely that you will complete your program in time.  If something “comes up” then you must re-schedule your time.
  5. The cost of required textbooks is not included in any of the above fees.
  6. The cost of registration with Yoga Alliance is not included in any of the above fees.
  7. These programs provide an esoteric and intellectual approach to the science and practice of yoga.  This may challenge your current practice or ideas about yoga and meditation.  Personal mentoring sessions are designed to help you incorporate this information into your own practice and unique teaching voice.  Be prepared to be challenged and inspired!

Yoga for Getting Through a Rough Patch

rough patch cartoon
“So there he is at last.  Man on the moon.  The poor magnificent bungler!  He can’t even get to the office without undergoing the agonies of the damned, but give him a little metal, a few chemicals, some wire and twenty or thirty billion dollars and, vroom!  There he is, up on a rock a quarter of a million miles up in the sky.” ~Russell (Wayne) Baker


When I clipped this cartoon from the New Yorker, I didn’t know what a rough patch really was.  I’d had some days that were more difficult than others.  I almost failed Macro Economics (really) and that felt pretty awful.  But now, I don’t just chuckle at this, I guffaw from some deep and injured and yet mightily resilient place from deep inside.  It’s the place where the magic of yoga really touches.

How do we make peace with the fact of the Four Noble Truths that tell us that our lot as humans in life is to suffer—victims of desire and want and dissatisfaction—and the idea that our true nature is joy and happiness?  Philosophically, it is an interesting problem.  On the ground, it can be a pretty miserable conundrum.  As I am emerging from what I would like to fondly refer to as a three-year “rough patch”, I see that the play of shadow and light has always been at work.  Just as Leo Tolstoy writes in Anna Karenina, “All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.”  What I know now is that the shadows can dominate for long periods of time, but the light lingers even in those darkest places.

Yoga is for humans.  Sometimes, in a time of shadows, yoga is the thread that keeps us connected to the small rays of light that can peek up through the narrow slats of wood in the kitchen floor, to some feeling in our toes, to memories or dreams or even just a remembering of a time when imagination was possible.  When our breath is caught in some invisible net at the base of our throat and the breathing diaphragm feels permanently fixed in space, then we can explore the corners of our nostrils and the sensation of breath on the lips, however light.  That’s yoga.  When our back is in knots and our head pounds, we can sip water and feel that wash over our tongue and enjoy the cool sensation.  That’s yoga.  Then, when the shadows dance to the corners and the light fills our subtle spaces again, and it will, then our yoga is still with us.

So, if it turns out that your life is a rough patch, find something precious and small that you can sense and breathe into that moment.  You never know what will tip the scales.

Practice for Shadow Dwelling

Are you in a rough patch?  Please try this practice.  It is unlikely to solve your problems, but it can shift your awareness in this moment so that you can experience a brief peace and clarity of mind.

#1: Fill a glass (and please do use glass if it is available) with fresh water

#2: Have a seat in a chair and place both of your feet on the ground.

#3: Take five breaths as slowly and deeply as possible.  If you feel tight in your chest or throat, like you can’t take a deep breath, then focus on taking as long as possible to exhale.

#4: Drink the glass of water and visualize the water washing your cells of stress and tension.  Feel connected to the oceans and lakes and rivers and streams of the world and all the living beings that rely on these waters.

A Precious Human Life


Everyday, think as you wake up,
Today I am fortunate to have woken up.  I am alive,
I have a precious human life.  I am not going to waste it.

I am going to use all of my energies to develop myself,
To expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment
For the benefit of all beings.

I am going to have kind thoughts towards others.
I am not going to be angry, or think badly about others.
I am going to benefit others as much as I can.

~HH The XIVth Dalai Lama

No Time to Meditate

I know.  You don’t have time to meditate.  I don’t have time to meditate either.  No one has time to meditate and yet we all have all the time we are ever going to have.  We strive for peace, beauty and happiness, but our hours, days, weeks and then years seem to slip away and we are just as behind on our “to do” lists as we ever were.  While we are busy, it seems we are making things happen, being productive and that we are with purpose.  Resting and calming are considered luxuries that we simply can’t afford.

Our failure to rest makes us prone to panic, anxiety and depression.  Our unhappiness creates mental chaos and we find that even small decisions are hard to make with clarity.  Our sleep is elusive and of poor quality and we can’t remember our last dream.  Our health is “ok”, but we suffer headaches, digestive problems, chronic low back ache, exhaustion and most of the time we can function, but it always feels like just getting by.  Barely.  At times, our little aches and pains tip the scale  towards illness and unease that makes us miss work, school and the activities we enjoy.

Why are we so willing to invest time and energy in creating conditions of unhappiness?  We are terrified of what would happen if we tried to sit for five, ten or even fifteen minutes a day and check in with our bodies, ask our hearts their desire and to feel the breath moving in and out.  Maybe you tried to meditate once and became overwhelmed by the flood of thoughts, ideas and fantasies that came to mind in a powerful and uncontrollable flow?  Maybe you would like to meditate but you don’t know how and you have imagined that you need to sit somewhere quiet for an hour and “clear your mind” and you know that’s impossible for you?

Meditation is available to you and bringing acts of awareness and compassion into your daily life is a radical and transformative act.  You don’t need special clothing, to be able to sit on the floor or to be able to “empty” your mind.  All you need is what you have if you are reading this—your body and your breath.  You don’t need to sit for an hour (wouldn’t THAT be nice!).  You need to make a commitment to practice and there are infinite ways to practice.

I offer an online course called A Mindful Month that invites students to use their senses of taste, balance, touch, and smell to create a sensual state of mindfulness through the day.  The course gives written guidance for twelve 5-minute meditations, four 10-minute audio guides that you can download as MP3 recordings and a bonus 20-minute audio guided deep relaxation.  You can enroll here for INSTANT ACCESS.  The benefits of meditation have been proven, but you must practice to receive those benefits.  This is a perfect introduction to meditation or a lovely inspiration to re-inspire a dedicated meditation practice.

Written by Sharon Fennimore, a birth doula and yoga and meditation instructor based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Her Registered Yoga School (RYS™), Yoga Matrika, offers a variety of online yoga teacher training programs.  Private sessions are available on SKYPE wherever you are in the world or in-person in Pittsburgh.