Category: Practice

Wisdom Body Yoga & Meditation

Tibetan yoga

Have you ever witnessed a friend, family member or colleague at work create suffering or patterns of suffering for themself?  It’s so hard to watch.  It’s so easy to identify the pattern, the problem, the mistakes.  It’s equally simple to see an obvious solution.  On the other hand, you know that communicating your clarity and the obvious solution is unlikely to have the desired effect for the sufferer.  Your suffering friend will likely defend their actions, their pattern and even fight to maintain their problem (or that there isn’t a problem at all) until their last breath.  What you would witness, if you ever got the courage to approach your suffering person knowing that the friendship or relationship might be forever damaged, is the power of the ego.  Your ego knows that suffering and the commitment to that pattern is comfortable and complete.  The ego will jump in to defend itself and hear everything as a criticism.  The ego will not be defeated.  And, even worse, the truth for all of us is that we are also just as suffering, just as stuck in patterns of our own demise.  We are, at all times, the witness to suffering and the sufferer.

There is excellent news though!  We are not actually stuck in this wheel of suffering (aka. samsara)!  And, I imagine that you already know what the solution is, but, your ego is so strong that you aren’t permitting yourself to act on it.  If you have read any magazine, journal, newspaper, been on Facebook, made a new friend or overheard a conversation at a restaurant in the past ten-years, then you know that meditation and yoga are good for you.  REALLY good for you.  If you are reading this, it means you likely have an even deeper knowing.  Also, through trial and error you likely know that lots of things that you thought would make you happy haven’t actually relieved you of any suffering at all.  Examples might include: getting into college, getting laid, falling in love, having children, getting a new job, graduating, passing that test, buying a new car, when summer arrived, the day your book was published, that time you won that award, etc.  Sure, there was momentary pleasure, bliss, joy, excitement, passion, delight…………but, you woke up the next day your same miserable self.  Or maybe you were back to suffering in an hour or maybe the things you thought would bring you happiness didn’t at all, but everyone expected you to be happy and that expectation made you feel even worse?  And, there you were, back on the wheel of suffering.

For me, this is what I like about Wisdom Body Yoga and Meditation.  This yoga, based on Tibetan Buddhist yoga and meditation practices, brings a state of balance and equanimity that is immediate and satisfying.  Although many of the physical postures are identical to the Indian yogas that informed the practices traditionally, the intention, visualizations, and breathing techniques are very different.  With regular practice, we come to understand that we have the ability to generate a feeling of calm.  If this feeling of calm and joy is self-generated, then it is not so far of a stretch of the imagination to know that we are also creating our own suffering.  In addition, we are empowered to know that we don’t have to rely on anyone else acting in any particular way to feel calm and happy.  We can cultivate these qualities anytime we want and, in many cases, all it takes are a few deep breaths or some mindful movement or even a little nap.

The physical movements in my Wisdom Body Yoga and Meditation classes are not all that difficult.  Because the movements require certain breathing patterns and also visualizations, they are mostly practiced slowly and with great compassion.  This makes the practice available to anyone who wishes to try it.  I offer this class once a week on Wednesdays from 10:00 to 11:00 am at Mookshi Wellness Center in Pittsburgh.  The energetic principles behind this practice are the foundation for my group coaching program, Make Room, which can be accessed anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

I can’t make you do yoga or learn to meditate.  But I will assure you that it is worth the investment of time and energy to give it a try.  It is my life’s work to practice this and share the practice.  Of this, I am sure.  I am just as sure that your new purse isn’t going to make you happy by the end of the week, but a commitment to your meditation practice will give you a lifetime of security and well-being.  Oh, I know, your ego just whispered in your ear that you: don’t have the money, don’t have the time, would have to give up your knitting group, would miss precious time with your children, can’t get out of work in time for class, aren’t flexible enough, are too fat to take a yoga class, can’t let anyone see your ugly feet……blah, blah, blah.  Tell your ego to take a hike for an hour!

Written by Sharon Fennimore, an Integrated Health Coach, yoga instructor and doula based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Find out more about Sharon and her global services by clicking HERE.  If you want to learn more and receive updates and free wellness resources, sign up for Sharon’s newsletter by clicking HERE.  Do you need a good laugh RIGHT NOW? Check out this website for hilarious videos and content.  Do you wish you had a fabulous website?  Then you need to work with Kenneth Feldman.  Seriously.  He’s the best. 

Imperfect Vessels


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. 



Hope, Marx, and the Body


I have had the great fortune of studying with and, in some cases, just been able to listen to, some people that I would consider to be genuine geniuses.  My fortune has been so great, that it would not be possible to list everyone here.  One of these people is David Harvey, who I met and studied with when I was a student at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York.  David Harvey is a critical geographer and anthropologist with significant passion for improving the conditions of life for humans everywhere.  Anyone who has studied Anthropology, or perhaps, any social science, knows that, it doesn’t look good for humans.  Almost every ethnography documents some kind of suffering—-the kind that we inflict on each other, the kind that we inflict on ourselves and the tragedies inherent with war, famine, natural disaster, racism, disease and the list goes on.  After six years of graduate work in Anthropology, I can tell you that the research consistently reveals that we aren’t that nice to one another and we don’t like to share.  Therefore, it is of considerable joy to read the hardly lighthearted, yet somewhat hopeful, work of David Harvey.  Specifically, I refer to his Spaces of Hope (2000).  Basically, the news still isn’t good, but Harvey presents small flickering lights in the tunnel of human doom that provoke the reader to become a part of something bigger than themselves in the name of the greater good.  The other risk of reading Harvey is that you have a song in your heart for Balzac, Marx and Benjamin even though you’ve never had the least bit of desire to read their work.

What role does Karl Marx and the body play in all this?  Harvey (2000) suggests that Marx, “…from the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts onwards, Marx grounded his ontological and epistemological arguments on real sensual bodily interaction with the world (Harvey 2000: 101).”  Here, Harvey quotes Marx (1964 edition, 143):

Sense-perception must be the basis of all science.  Only when it proceeds from sense-perception in the two-fold form
of sensuous consciousness and of sensuous need–that is, only when science proceeds from nature–is it true science.

What is not discussed here is how, for many of us, we have lost our sense perception.  Many of us dis-abled our tools of sense perception somewhere along the way and now we move in a most un-sensual way through the world separated from our bodies.  We do not know hunger or fullness and spend a remarkable amount of time in some variation of the over-pose: over-whelmed, over-ate, hunched over, over it, over you, over and under—-trapped.  One of the only sensations we recognize is discomfort.  While this can be seen as negative, this discomfort is an invitation to return to a sensual state and to notice how we feel.  For many adults, this discomfort encourages a first experience with yoga and many new opportunities for health and wellness.

If all you feel is discomfort, there are two things that you can understand that may be helpful:

1-As you are human, and your discomfort is part of your experience, you can now be open to a deeper sense of compassion for all other humans.  I invite you to sit and feel your discomfort and know that you are not alone.  We can use our own suffering as a connective link to all living beings.

2-No matter where you are and no matter what your circumstances, if you can feel discomfort, there is still hope!  If you have remained sensual enough to feel this pain, then you can use these sense organs to feel non-pain.  You can use the skills of yoga and movement to wake up these capabilities that you have for something different.  Something better!

Here is a short exercise that you can do for as long as you like or as short as you like and wherever you are right now. This is the exercise of pure sound:

Take a moment to open your hearing senses and listen to sound without  judgment.  No, it isn’t easy when you’d like to throttle your neighbor for power washing his driveway each time you try to take a nap with your newborn.  But, just for the sake of this exercise, hear the power washer minus the judgement.  The same goes for hearing something lovely, like the song of the Cardinal outside your morning window.  You might hear this lovely bird-song and suddenly wish that it would never end, or think of some other time you heard such a song or you might think that it is time to purchase more bird food.   The idea is to just listen—-without the stories, ideas, thoughts and negative or positive judgements.  As soon as your mind starts to wander from the pure sound, let go and return to a sensing of sound.  Don’t get frustrated if this takes work.  It is work.  This work helps us understand the quality of our thoughts and how so very much of our experience is determined not by reality, but by what we are doing with it.  The mind is constantly moving, but the more we can create some space between experience and thought about the experience, the more rested, relaxed and clear we are.  Less angry, less in pain, but more sensual, more open and liberated from the confines of our memories and experiences.

Love this?  Get more great articles just like this and FREE meditations on awareness, compassion and happiness when you SIGN-UP for my weekly newsletter!


Harvey, David.
Spaces of Hope.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Marx, Karl
1964 edition, The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844.  New York

FREE Guided Meditation Webcast

Guided Meditation Recording

Oh no!  Did you miss the live webcast? Download the MP3 and listen at your convenience and practice as often as you like (but not while driving–PLEASE)!  The recorded meditation will be available within an hour of the end of the live webcast.

Online Book Club Courses

I offer an online book club that features my favorite books on Buddhism, meditation, yoga, philosophy, anthropology, science, the body, anatomy, energy and more.  You can enroll anytime in my book club style course on the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths.  The cost is $25 and we spend five-weeks on this book: Dancing with Life by Phillip Moffitt.  The cost of the book is not included in the participation fees.  Start anytime and read and watch the videos and complete the worksheets all at your own pace and convenience.


My newsletter members get exclusive access to additional FREE guided meditations, webcast seminars and yoga trainings.  If you aren’t already getting my newsletter, please sign-up today.  Upon registration you will immediately receive access to a mini-book of meditations you can complete on your own in less than 5-minutes for fast stress relief on the go.

Interdependence Meditation

health tree


Guided Meditation on Interdependence


In honor of Independence Day, I have decided to host a guided meditation on interdependence that you can experience from anywhere by calling-in on your phone.  This will be a live guided meditation experience.  All you need to do is dial-in to the conference call and then put your phone on speaker, get comfortable and enjoy the meditation session.  It doesn’t matter if you fall asleep and start snoring because the callers are muted.  You can even listen as you wash dishes or take a bath.  I am requesting a $10 karmic offering for the meditation, but payment is not required. There is a payment button below the sign-up if you do wish to make an offering for the meditation.


Monday, July 1, 2013

8:30 pm Introduction and basic meditation instructions for beginners
8:45-9:15 pm Guided Meditation
9:15-9:25 pm Closing (all times are Eastern USA)
Access Code:

Sign-up below and you will receive an e-mail with the dial-in number and access code on Friday, June 28th

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NEW Online Meditation Course

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Four Noble Truths: Insights and Meditations

In this five-week online course, we will explore the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism through Phillip Moffitt’s book, “Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering.”  The course includes guided required reading of this text and instruction in a variety of mindful meditations that help build compassion and insight.  Introductory tuition $25.

You can start the course at ANY time and have immediate access to the first unit upon enrollment.  You have five weeks to take the course from the date you start.  There is no schedule to keep to or required group activities.  Read at your own pace and engage with the videos, worksheets and guided meditations in whatever way is most helpful for you.  No grades.  No pressure.  No requirements.

This course is for you if:tangka

  • You want to feel less anxiety, stress and depression
  • You want to learn more about fundamental concepts in Buddhism
  • You need a flexible program that allows you to work at your convenience
  • You wish to increase your capacity for compassion

This course is for yoga and meditation students of all levels who want to know more about Buddhism and wish to learn metta meditation techniques to either start or refresh a daily meditation practice.  This is an intellectual, personal and shared journey into meditation practices that are inspired by insights related to the Four Noble Truths.  These are secular practices that can be incorporated into even the most busy lifestyle.

Dr. Dean Ornish has described the core textbook for this online course as, “…a profound book about the relationship between happiness and suffering.  It is filled with wisdom about how to live a more effective and satisfying life.  I recommend it for anyone who is struggling with change in their lives.” (From the back cover)

Do you want to improve the quality of your health on your own time, at your own pace and in the comfort of your home, office or local coffee shop or park?

Do you need an affordable meditation program that doesn’t require you to also pay for transportation, childcare, meals and housing?

Are you looking for new inspiration and meaning for your existing practice?  Are you a yoga or meditation teacher that wants to incorporate more meditation in your own practice and your teaching?  

Do not delay!  You will learn simple techniques for relieving stress, tension and anxiety on the very first day of the course—even before you read one word of the core text!

A Pep Talk for You!

Click HereA Little Pep Talk Just for YOU

How many flexible people do you know?  Let’s be honest here—you don’t actually KNOW anyone who is flexible.  If yoga required flexibility, then 15 million people in America wouldn’t have been practicing last year.  But, they did.

How many thin people do you know?  If yoga required you to look fabulous in stretch pants, then 15 million people in America wouldn’t have been practicing last year.  But, despite the fact that two-thirds of Americans are overweight, they did. And, by the way, I bet you look awesome just as you are.

Don’t think you have enough money for yoga?  Yes, studying yoga and meditation is an investment.  But, in 2010 the cost of heart disease in the United States was $444 BILLION DOLLARS (source).  This is a no brainer.  Invest now in practices that immediately improve the quality of your life at a fraction of the cost that chronic illness and disease imposes on your life later.

Stop making excuses.  Making an investment in yoga and meditation will bring you greater returns through your lifetime than almost any other class, exercise or weight loss program or activity.  The benefits of yoga are 100% proven and have stood the test of time.  You aren’t going to get any more flexible sitting here at your computer.  Maybe you aren’t flexible and you have a few extra pounds you carry around with you.  You and everyone else.  Buy a mat, put on your stretch pants and show up for class.

If you are breathing, you can do it.  No matter your age, physical fitness, education, size, weight, flexibility, health status—-you can do this.  Yoga and meditation are just words for a variety of simple techniques for using what you arrived here on earth with–your body and your breath—to bring you relief from tension, stress and fear.  The tools of yoga are free, but you must use them to receive the benefit.

Yes, you need your own mat.  Yes, you need your own meditation cushion. No, you don’t need to buy $140 yoga pants.  A quality mat that is made out of non-toxic materials is going to cost you about half of what a new pair of sneakers cost.  If you care for it well, then it might last you 10-years.  Your meditation cushion is a lifetime investment.  Mostly, you just need your body and your breath—free.  Don’t get tripped up by all the commercialism around yoga and the advertisements that would lead you to believe that all yoga practitioners are 16-year old former acrobats.  Real people, with real bodies and real budgets do yoga all over the world every single day.  And, if you happen to be a 16-year old former acrobat, great—yoga is for you too!

Yoga and Meditation Classes with Sharon Rudyk

This Week: Starting Monday, April 29, 2013

GROUP CLASSES: This MONDAY I am teaching an all levels (and when I say “all levels” I truly mean that everyone from absolute beginners to advanced students will all feel comfortable and get a great practice) yoga class at Mookshi Wellness Center.  Class is from 10:00-11:00 am.  Just $5 for your first class at Mookshi!  (LOCATION: 401 Biddle Avenue, 2nd Floor above Biddle’s Escape Cafe, Regent Square, Pittsburgh)

I have availability for private sessions or yoga spa treatments this TUESDAY afternoon and evening as well as THURSDAY in the morning, afternoon and evening.  Please call me to schedule (412) 855-5692.

Women of all ages with irregular menstrual cycles, PCOS, PMS, infertility, painful periods or other pelvic pain should check out my personalized womens’ holistic health and lifestyle counseling sessions.  Most women find some (if not a great deal) relief within six-sessions.

I have some private childbirth education and birth doula availability in June and July.  I will not be accepting births for August or the beginning of September.  Please contact me for FREE consultations for June or July or late September through November 2013 births.  Call (412) 855-5692.

I am offering a discounted introductory rate on my NEW Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training online course (will regularly be offered for $1,000, but this special introductory rate of $500) to the first 15-people to register (starts in June 2013 and ends in November 2013).  Please send me an e-mail if you are interested in learning more about this online training opportunity:  Application is required and all participants must have completed or be in the process of completing a 200-hour teacher training program or have similar experience.

Are you doing yoga “right”?

This is a re-post of one of the most read blog posts I have written in the past 5-years.  This originally appeared in the blog in February 2009.  It’s a great reminder as we start the new year for a healthy and safe way to approach your practice.

Both new yoga students and more experienced yoga students, at some point in a class or practice, may wonder if they are doing a particular pose correctly.  Many students wish that instructors would just come over and correct their pose or hope that, in time, they’ll start to get it right.  Most new students are sure they can’t possibly be doing yoga right and many experienced students have developed poor alignment habits that feel right, but are blocking them from deepening their asana practice.

This is why we all, regardless of experience level, need to continue to take classes, workshops and find instructors that provide encouragement and assistance in deepening our practice at all levels.  Even the Masters have a guru.

A well-trained instructor has studied principles of alignment and guides from their tradition in methods for breathing, moving during and between poses and various modifications for asanas.  It is their job to verbally instruct students and make physical adjustments that keep students moving towards these ideal alignments and to encourage students to deepen their pose while maintaining safety.

All this being said, I maintain that there is never a “right” way to do a pose.  If you are a perfectionist with a deep commitment to making sure that you do everything right, then this idea might drive you crazy.  The key to your asana practice is coming to terms with the idea that it isn’t how a pose looks that matters, it’s how it FEELS.  In a culture and society that makes appearance a significant priority, this might be an uncomfortable truth.  This is why we practice—–first, we shake our commitments up and then we work honestly with our physical reality.  Having the support and guidance of a fabulous instructor and a community of other students cheering us on is very important.

Yoga Matrika provides a lot of props that you can use to help poses feel better–cork wedges, bolsters, blankets, straps, cork blocks and meditation cushions.  We use these props to extend our reach and grasp and open the body in gentle and supported ways.  If you don’t know how to use a prop, just ask your instructor or watch experienced students to see where they place their block, blanket or bolster to support their pose.  Using props isn’t cheating!  When you use a prop it means that you deeply understand the alignment principles of a pose, feel that your body needs additional space to apply those alignment principles and that you are in touch with how you feel in your body.

Many of us carry stress in a habitual way in our bodies and have created patterns of movement that are adaptations to this stress.  For example, many people lead with their chins—-sticking their chin out and causing stress in the upper back and neck.  Many of us feel a rise in our shoulders with stress and have daily life-tasks that cause us to round in the upper back and shoulders.  Most of us sit in chairs all day long or spend time waiting for buses with a heavy backpack dangling from one shoulder or the other.  These adaptations manifest themselves in our yoga poses too!  The challenge is to identify these places where we hold stress and allow the alignment principles of asana (poses) to help us open and release.  When this happens during practice, many students have an “ahhhhhhhhh” moment and most students feel more grounded, balanced and even after a class.

Here is a guide to getting it “right”:

1) Each and every time you practice, you have a different body to work with.  Accept that “improvment” and “mastery” are not linear in yoga.  On Monday, you might be able to touch your toes.  On Thursday, you may feel tight and not be able to even look at your toes.  Being in touch with these feelings and changes is an important part of yoga.  It’s not about deepening the pose over time, it’s about working with the pose at THIS time.

2) If something hurts, then you really are doing it “wrong.”  Yoga requires effort and skill, but there should NEVER be pain involved. No pain during your practice and no pain after your practice.   If you are the type of person who tends to “over do it,”  then my recommendation is that you try to do every pose in a practice to 75% of your ability.  See how you feel the next day.

3) Let your breath be your guide.  During your practice, check in with your breathing pattern.  If you feel out of breath or are holding your breath, this is a sign that you are pushing yourself through your asana practice.  Slow down, exhale deeply and allow a fresh inhalation to guide your pace.

4) Ask yourself often: “Does this feel delicious?”  If the answer is yes, then you are doing it RIGHT.  If the answer is no, then move around a little to shift your pose or focus or breathing pattern and see if you can move into a sweet spot.  There are no rules and asana are not static.  Sometimes even a slight shift in weight or a bend in a knee or releasing your jaw can make a big difference.

5) Accept the learning curve!  There is a learning curve.  When you start anything new, it takes time to get a feel for it.  This applies equally to basket weaving, piano lessons, swimming and yoga—–anything new feels new, unfamiliar, and strange.  Sometimes this feeling can last a while.  Sometimes it comes back after a long time gone.  As you continue to make a commitment to your practice and roll out your mat more often, the flow and patterns and names of asanas and instruction cues will start to become more and more familiar.  You will gain confidence.  You will feel FABULOUS after your class.

When you take a group class, it is your responsibility to modify your practice in a way that works for you.  During class, if you need to slow things down while everyone is speeding up, then you should always feel free to come into child’s pose to lie down or sit down and breathe.  At Yoga Matrika, you will notice that many students are modifying their practice and not everyone is doing the same thing at the same pace at the same time.  A group class isn’t a coordinated event like underwater ballet.  Instructors provide suggestions, guidance, information—but YOUR body and YOUR breath determine what happens on your mat.


Have a Cuppa for Holiday Tension

Many of my yoga students confide in me that they “can’t meditate.”  In most cases, this is based on a misunderstanding of what meditation is.  In many cases, I inform my students that, in fact, they have been meditating with me for years in our practices together!  Here is a meditation in the form of a tea drinking ritual that everyone can enjoy and an added breathing exercise with aromatherpy for even more emotional balance.

Making an excellent cup of tea takes time.  Use this time to focus on what you are doing.  This ritual starts with the selection of your tea making equipment and mug.  If at all possible, boil fresh water in a kettle on the stove or an electric kettle.  If you must use a microwave, then you must, but for this ritual, it would be most effective if you boiled the water using heat generated from electricity or natural gas so that you can listen to the sound of the water bubbling and boiling.  The type of tea that we will be using for our tension taming ritual is Earl Grey tea.  Use whatever brand and either caffeinated or non-caffeinated, but you want a delicious and full-scented Early Grey.  This type of tea is scented with Bergamot, an essential oil derived from the peel of a citrus fruit.  It is a very special and effective form of aromatherapy that has deeply healing benefits.  This beautiful organic black tea has both the benefits of bergamot and lavender.  I’ve never tried it myself, but it looks delicious!  Please let me know if you do try this tea and let me know how you like it.  If you are looking for a recommendation, I have tried this loose leaf tea and it is absolutely fabulous.  If you prefer tea bags, then I find that Tazo Tea’s Earl Grey is very smooth and has a lovely bergamot aroma.  I like the taste of Twinings, but find that it is light on aroma and perhaps not as affective for this ritual as these others might be.  Avoid a “Lady Grey” tea as they tend to be light versions of Earl Grey.  Again, nothing wrong with Lady Grey teas!  It’s just that we want a full bodied aroma for this ritual.  There are also green tea versions of Earl Grey tea if you prefer lower caffeine and the benefits of green tea as well as caffeine free roobios versions.  Find a great tea that works for your diet and lifestyle considerations.  These links are just suggestions to get you started on your Earl Grey tea selection journey.  These companies are not paying me and I don’t get any benefit when or if you purchase your teas.  Please experiment and find the best tea for your taste.  Enjoyment of your cuppa is a big part of this ritual!

Does it have to be Early Grey tea? 

For this particular ritual, yes, it has to be Earl Grey tea.  This being said, if you don’t like drinking tea or know that you don’t appreciate the flavor or aroma of Earl Grey tea, then don’t torture yourself!  The whole point of this ritual is to decrease tension and increase joy.  Consuming a beverage that you can’t enjoy is going to negate any benefit you might receive from this ritual.  All this means is that this particular ritual is not for you.  I plan on designing many little ritual-based meditations, so search the blog and try another idea that works for you.

This ritual is based on the healing aspects of bergamot—both the oil and the aroma of the oil.  Here are just a few of these benefits:

*relieves tension, anxiety and depression

*the oil itself can be gargled to disinfect the mouth and used for cold sores (especially cold sores that appear when stress arises)

*the oil is excellent for preventing urinary tract infections

*create a spray mist of bergamot to clear stale air (especially effective if you have a tobaco smoke smell to deal with)

This ritual is about dealing with tension and not about perfection.  So, don’t clean your kitchen first or delay the ritual until you run the dishwasher or clear the table of all the present wrapping and junk mail that comes with this time of year.  Just do it.  Personally, I always have to laugh when Yoga Journal or even Martha Stewart Living magazines (both of which I love by the way!) offer advice on how to relieve stress that involve pictures of women who are clearly well-rested, not covered in baby food or bits o’ toddler snacks and live in homes that have been cleaned by a team of others.  The advice usually starts with setting yourself up in a quiet space where you can be left alone in your fabulously new and clean “relaxation practice outfit”………..HA! For this ritual, all you need is a (relatively) clean mug, a way to boil water and about fifteen minutes.  You don’t have to be alone.  You don’t need a special outfit.  So, just push that “stuff” to the side and make it happen!  This being said, as this ritual involves boiling water and a very hot beverage, you may want to wait until your baby or toddler has gone to sleep for a nap or is having quiet time if you are in the care of young children…… don’t want anyone to get hurt.

Seven Step Cuppa Ritual  for Tension Relief

Step 1: Boil fresh cold water.  While you wait for the water to boil, wash your mug if it isn’t already clean and really experience the process—-the texture of the sponge, the way the warm water feels on your hands, smell the soap.  If your mug is clean, you may want to take this time to wash your hands and perhaps apply some sandalwood, grapefruit, rose or lavender scented lotion.  As the water starts to boil, listen to the qualities of bubbling and the energy of heat acting on the water.  That’s a nice sound.  Perhaps your kettle whistles or your electric kettle has a tiny bell to alert you to the fact that the water has come to a boil?  Really listen.

Step 2: Pour the water over your tea bag or tea leaves either in a cup or a teapot as you wish.  Listen to the sounds.  Feel the weight of the kettle in your hands. Feel the weight of the water shift from the kettle to your mug or pot.  When you are done pouring, place your face a comfortable distance from the rising steam and smell the first aroma of the Earl Grey tea.  Light.  Feel the warmth of the scent when accompanied by steam.  Feel how your breath changes as you inhale the warm and damp air above your cup or teapot. 

Step 3: Wait for it to brew.  I’m not sure how long you would need to brew a green tea or a roobios tea version, but for black tea, no longer than 3-5 minutes or the Earl Grey tea can get bitter.  Set a timer so you don’t have to think about it.  As you wait, take deep breaths into your body and count.  When you exhale, take longer to release the breath than you did to inhale the breath.  If your sinuses are open, try breathing in and out through your nose.  Inhale and slowly, slowly, slowly release the breath. 

Step 4: Make your cup your own.  I like to add a teaspoon of honey and a splash of milk.  Perhaps you prefer lemon?  Do whatever you need to do to make your cup of tea as delicious as possible.

Step 5: Find a place to sit.  Yes, that’s right.  Sit down.  Push all the stuffed animals, socks and cheeze-it crumbs to the side, make room for your butt and then sit.  As you wait for your tea to cool, become aware of your environment.  Listen to the sounds of the room, feel the temperature of the air on your skin, notice the sensation of the parts of your body that are touching your seat and then feel your body, your skin, your feet. 

Step 6: Don’t rush!  Burning your mouth is not pleasant.  When you feel that your tea has cooled to a temperature that is appropriate for you, then take your cup to your mouth and take a sip.  Feel that each warm smallow of tea is bringing liquid calm to every cell in your body.  Be confident that this cup of tea is going to improve your well-being.  Through this ritual and this cup of tea you are giving yourself the greatest gift possible.  The gift of the present moment.

Step 7: After you have finished  your tea, do a gentle scan of your body before you stand up.  Starting with your toes, feel and relax your whole body: feet, legs, belly, low back, middle back, upper back, heart, arms, hands, throat, neck, jaw, face, skull and all the space around you.  Enjoy this feeling.  Your whole body relaxed.  That’s a nice feeling!

Repeat your little ritual as often as you like!  Take the time to make time for the present moment and you will be delighted in how even a minimal investment is returned to you exponentially. 

Bergamot Oil for a Calming and Balancing Pranayama

For this aromatherapy enhanced breathing exercise, you will need to purchase some high quality bergamot oil.  I exclusively recommend and sell Floracopeia essential oils.  They are very high quality and you can count on them to be pure and magical.  If you are a new customer to Floracopeia, then Sharon offers a special 25% off discount to all of her clients.  In order to receive the 25% discount off your entire order, you will follow this link and enter the DISCOUNT CODE: SharonRudyk.  As bergamot oil on the skin increases your chance of experiencing photo-sensitivities, it is best to do this exercise during the winter or in a climate and environment with low light.  If you live in a place with a lot of sun (lucky you!), then please stay out of the sun for at least 30-minutes after you use the bergamot oil on your hands.  Also, you can become sensative to bergamot over time, so switch up your oil use.  You can do this calming pranayama with different aromas and you are not likely to develop sensitivities to bergamot if you rotate your oils (other choices include clary sage, lavender, rose, cammomile or sandalwood).

Before you start the breathing exercise, place a drop of your chosen essential oil with a little carrier oil—–I like almond oil or jojoba oil if you have nut sensitivities—in the palm of your right hand and then rub your hands together.  Come to a seated pose, either in a seated meditation pose on the floor or sitting upright in a chair, and place your left hand in gyana mudra (thumb tip to index finger tip—like giving the OK sign) on your left thigh or anywhere on your left leg that you can comfortably rest it.  You will be using your right hand to alternatively open and close your nostrils.  

Now you will begin Nadi Shodhana Pranayama which is also called Alternate Nostril Breath or Channel Clearing Breath.  Here is a link to full information and instructions on this breathing exercise. As you have applied the essential oil to your right palm, each time that you breathe-in, you will draw the healing properties of the oil into your body and mind.  Continue in this process for 3 or 5 minutes.  Set a timer so that you can relax, focus on the breath and the scent of your palms and not on the time.

Step by Step

Sit in a comfortable asana and make Mrigi Mudra. Beginning pranayama students may have some difficulty holding their raised arm in position for the length of the practice. You can put a bolster across your legs and use it to support your elbow.

Gently close your right nostril with your thumb. Inhale through your left nostril, then close it with your ring-little fingers. Open and exhale slowly through the right nostril.

Keep the right nostril open, inhale, then close it, and open and exhale slowly through the left. This is one cycle. Repeat 3 to 5 times, then release the hand mudra and go back to normal breathing. (NOTE: some yoga schools begin this sequence by first closing the left nostril and inhaling through the right; this order is prescribed in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, 2.7-10).


  • Lowers heart rate and reduces stress and anxiety
  • Said to synchronize the two hemispheres of the brain
  • Said to purify the subtle energy channels (nadis) of the body so the prana flows more easily during pranayama practice

(Instructions and pranayama information all thanks to Yoga Journal)

This little ritual for real people is brought to you by Sharon Rudyk of Sharon Rudyk Yoga based in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA 15217.  Sharon is an independent yoga instructor offering mindful yoga and meditation practices, teacher training programs, mindful approaches to pregnancy, childbirth and parenting and classes for all ages and abilities.  If you aren’t in Pittsburgh, Sharon would love to come and visit you and also works with long distance clients using SKYPE technology.  Call Sharon at your convenience for a free consultation (412) 855-5692 and visit Sharon’s website for more information:

We Can Be Buddhas

Excellent Ted Talk by Robert Thurman about the ego and that our misperception that what we are is inside our skin.  Short, sweet, interesting and inspiring!

Yoga for Happy Holidays

The “holiday season” can be rough—-maybe your holidays are all about “too much”: you eat too much, drink too much, spend too much, cry too much.  Maybe, you find yourself in old patterns and behavior dynamics with friends and family that leave you feeling helpless, confused and angry.  Perhaps you just love the holidays so much that you dread the end of the season and find yourself on January 2nd wondering how it all went by so fast?  The stress of having perfect holiday events, experiences, presents——-it can all just be horrible or fabulous and you either dread it or look forward to it all year or maybe a bit of both.  Rather than try to drown your holiday response in cocktails, onion dip or peppermint bark, and credit card debt why not be proactive?  Let Sharon prescribe an individual mantra (repeated phrase) and mudra (hand pose) that you can use when you need some emergency holiday support!

Sharon is offering special 45-minute Holiday Mantra SKYPE sessions.

In each session, we will start by identifying the thing that concerns you the most about the holidays.  Then, I will offer you:

  1. A mantra/phrase that you can repeat to yourself in times of stress
  2. A mudra/hand pose that you can use to center yourself through the season
  3. A suggested scent that you can use for aromatherapy and meditation to clear your mind and center yourself

I will send you an e-mail after your SKYPE session to confirm your mantra/phrase and remind you of your mudra/hand pose.  Your Holiday Mantra e-mail will also contain a discount code of 25% off essential oil and aromatherapy products that will be suggested during your session.

Schedule at your convenience by phone (412) 855-5692 or by sending an e-mail with up to three days and times that you are available to:  Each session is $35 with payments through PayPal.


Pregnancy and Beyond

Please check out our Matrika Prenatal Website for all our fertility, pregnancy and postpartum classes, workshops and services.

Sign-up for our pregnancy and/or postnatal e-mail newsletter!

Matrika Prenatal Yoga & Exercise Class Schedule

All prenatal yoga classes are offered on an ongoing basis and you can start at any time.


6:00 to 7:00 pm Prenatal Yoga & Exercise at YOGA MATRIKA
Pay online and enroll HERE.

7:00-8:00 pm Seated Meditation at YOGA MATRIKA (2nd & 4th Thursdays)
[Note: this is not specifically a pregnancy class, but meditation is a safe and relaxing practice for women during pregnancy. A great class to share with a friend, partner or husband during your pregnancy!]
Pay online and enroll HERE.

9:30 to 10:30 am
Prenatal Yoga & Exercise at YOGA MATRIKA
Pay online and enroll HERE.


Benefits of Yoga and Meditation During Pregnancy


  • Gentle movements improve posture so that you carry baby correctly and prevent backache
  • Improved circulation mean less varicose veins, hemorrhoids and fluid retention
  • Relieve fatigue
  • Alleviate minor discomforts such as heartburn, pain in hip joints and ribs, muscle cramps and headaches
  • Strengthen the body and learn poses that you can use during labor for comfort
  • Learn pelvic floor exercises and other techniques for strengthening your body for birth
  • Stay toned and fit during pregnancy. Fit moms recover faster from birthing.


  • Balance mood and learn to center body and mind
  • Connect deeply with your baby before they are born


  • Meet other expectant mothers
  • Be a part of a supportive community
  • Have fun!


  • Take the time to be quiet during this pregnancy
  • Access your own strength
  • Become aware of your fears and learn to work with yourself, your baby and your care providers with confidence
  • Know yourself and be better equipped to communicate your needs and desires to your birth partner, care providers and family
  • Create a sacred and special time to relax, hope and dream

What to Expect in a Matrika Prenatal Class

We do not expect prenatal yoga students to have any experience with yoga. Our prenatal yoga classes are appropriate for women in all weeks of pregnancy. Although each instructor has their own style and may provide a different emphasis or tone to their class, all classes include some stretching and breathing exercises, some asana (yoga poses) that will tone and strengthen the body and relaxation. There is no wrong way to do yoga and the more often you practice, the more familiar you will become with the poses. As you become more familiar with the poses and exercises, then you can turn your focus inward. Although some poses may be challenging and you will feel the stretches as you create greater flexibility in your body, you should never feel pain in a yoga class. This is true in any yoga class and not just prenatal yoga! If you are ever uncomfortable or have questions, your instructor can help you modify a pose or answer any questions that you might have. Our classes are intimate and non-competitive so you can receive personalized attention from well-trained instructors.

Our classes are not just gentle yoga classes modified for pregnancy. Our prenatal programs are designed specifically for pregnancy and we use yoga to prepare for birth and for being a mother. Labor, birth and mothering a newborn are not easy tasks. The focus, strength and awareness that you learn in prenatal yoga classes will give you the skills you need to meet these tasks with confidence. We support one another and the entire Matrika community is here for you now and after you have your baby.

Thank you to Red Lotus Photography for the beautiful photographs of Matrika Mammas. Check here for deals on fabulous pregnancy and newborn professional photos just for Matrika students.

CLICK on BANNER to shop for cloth diapers and great products for baby! New customers use code NEW2HBC and get 10% off their first order of $30 or more. Free shipping!

Matrika Mom & Baby Yoga Class Schedule

11:00 to noon Little Om Play Group
Adults with infant 9-months to toddler 2-years
Class starts SEPTEMBER 10, 2012. Class is ongoing and you can start at any time

10:45 to 11:30 am Mom & Baby Yoga/Infant
Mothers or female care givers (this is a women only class) with infants from 4 weeks to one year.
Class starts SEPTEMBER 5, 2012. Class is ongoing and you can start any time

10:30 to 11:45 am Mom and Baby Yoga/Infant
Class is ongoing and you can start any time

Already have a class package? Register Online HERE.

Matrika Mom & Baby Yoga Class Tuition

Your first class at Yoga Matrika is $5

Single Mom & Baby Class $10
[Valid for 12-months from date of purchase]

7-Class Package $70
[Valid for ALL classes at Yoga Matrika for 12-months from date of purchase]


Mom & Baby Yoga

This is a yoga class for moms to share with infants up to one year of age. Toddlers and older children are welcome, but the yoga activities will focus on yoga for babies (gentle stretches, songs and playful movements). Yoga for moms is postnatal appropriate and we will always offer modifications for moms who have had surgical birth or need a more gentle practice for any reason. This is a breastfeeding supportive environment and we support all mothers, no matter how you choose to feed your baby, in feeding baby on demand.

Toddler Om

This is a class for moms and babies between 9-months (active crawling, cruising and early walking) and approximately 18-months. The yoga poses for baby are more active and there is less time and attention given to yoga for mom. Classes are 30-minutes and are a beautiful activity for moms and pre-toddlers and young toddlers to share. We schedule the class back to back with Mom and Baby yoga so you can catch up with all the other Matrika Mammas and babes in between classes. Moms, if you are looking for a class with more yoga for you, we highly recommend finding a way to take an adult yoga class on your own. If you need a recommendation for where to start, just give Sharon a call (412) 855-5692 or ask Rachel during class.

What to wear? What to bring?

You should wear comfortable clothing that you can move and stretch in. We practice in bare feet. You will want to bring everything you need to feed baby, diapers, a receiving blanket and any toys or snacks that you need to keep older babies and toddlers happy and comfortable. For your own comfort, please bring a yoga mat and a water bottle. You should bring a towel and burp cloths to pick up spills and thrills.

Mom & Baby Yoga Benefits

  • Increased strength, energy and endurance for mom
  • Recover physically & emotionally from pregnancy and childbirth
  • Stabilize strength in pelvic floor and abdominals
  • Learn yoga techniques to calm and delight baby
  • Bond with your baby and share an activity that brings you both increased health and happiness
  • Network with other new moms and share ideas, resources and support. Make new friends too!
  • Reduce anxiety, stress and some of the aches and pains of motherhood: sore shoulders, back and neck especially
  • Learn ways to cope when you feel overwhelmed and exhausted

Doing Yoga Together:
Preparations and Expectations

You love yoga and now you want to make it a part of your child’s life too. We are delighted that this is the case and we have a few things to keep in mind that will help you and your child enjoy the experience.

Keep an Open Mind

We find that it takes a couple of visits to the studio for children (ok, it’s actually true for adults too!) to understand what the activity is and what is expected of them. You might find that your child acts bored or is not interested in doing yoga. The way that babies and children enjoy yoga classes may be different from the way that you enjoy them. What we know is that, over time, sharing yoga together with your child creates beautiful memories and is time that you will cherish forever.

Prepare for Class

As much as possible, make sure that you and baby have had a snack and are wearing comfortable clothing. Try to leave enough time to get the studio so that there isn’t a lot of stress before class. Bring your little ones favorite toy or comfort item and some snacks as appropriate. Bring a receiving blanket for newborns and pre-crawling infants and a change of clothing and more diapering supplies than you think you need. For young children, after the first class, make sure that you talk with them about it and start talking about it again a few days before class—–remind them of the teacher’s name, another child’s name or some feature of class that they remember (a story, a sound or ritual).

Enjoy the Moment

When we release our expectations, we can enjoy whatever is happening. This is yoga! Yoga together is very different from adult yoga, but it allows us to stay fit and take time to meet our own needs as adults while sharing something that is very important to us with our children. Sometimes it goes as planned and sometimes it is a bit of a disaster, but know that you and your child are never judged at Yoga Matrika. There isn’t one of us who haven’t had a child tantrum during a Mom & Baby class or who didn’t have a baby who cried through an entire class——we welcome you and your little one, even if you are having “one of those days.”

CLICK on BANNER to shop for cloth diapers and great products for baby! New customers use code NEW2HBC and get 10% off their first order of $30 or more. Free shipping!

For everyone who has requested my class play lists for relaxing music for home yoga practice, resting, labor and just to enjoy, here is the mix that I played in class this past Tuesday (listed by artist, album, and song name):

Wah!, The Best of Wah!, Gayatri(Luscious Chill Mix)

Deva Premal, Embrace, Om Namo Bhagavate

David Newman, Love, Peace Chant, Ganesh Gayatri/Rising Sun

Deva Premal and Miten, Satsang-a Meditation in Song and Sil…, Sunrise

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, The Most Relaxing Classical Music…, The Planets: Venus

Yo-Yo Ma, The Silk Road Ensemble, Silk Road Journeys…, Sacred Cloud Music

Yo-Yo Ma, The Silk Road Ensemble, Silk Road Journeys…, Distant Green Valley

Jean Marie Hays, Deep Relaxation, Music to Relax

Meditation in Pittsburgh

So….Bhante Pema is traveling in Asia and we are missing the Monday night meditation classes at Yoga Matrika.  Please note that Bhante Pema’s fall meditation class series is filling fast and not only is there a $40 discount when you register for the series before July 1st, 2012, but registering for the series now is the only way to guarantee yourself a space in this amazing class series.  Yoga Matrika offers intimate meditation classes with Bhante Pema for $175 (early bird registration before 7/1/12 makes tuition just $135) for the 12-week series.  There is no other meditation class in Pittsburgh like these.  The environment is calm and supportive and the small-group class series allows you to receive personal attention and build your skills over time.

If you need some guidance and inspiration for your practice this summer, why not try an online course?  An online course in meditation will allow you to enjoy the sun, go out and play, and study and practice meditation at your convenience.  It’s hard to come inside and focus when all you really want to do is run through the sprinkler, garden and enjoy time outdoors with your friends, family and loved ones.  So rise early and study or take some time for yourself in the evening when the day of play is done.  This online meditation course is 12-weeks, just like our class series—-so you’ll be all set and ready for class when September 10th comes.  While it may seem now that the summer lies before you as a great expanse, you know that fall will be here in the blink of an eye. 

Just in case you are curious about some of the benefits of meditation, please check out the amazing benefits of meditation here.  Do you ever feel like a victim of your genes?  Read here about how meditation can change genetic expression

Posted by Sharon Fennimore Rudyk, owner and director of programs at Yoga Matrika, a boutique yoga center in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA 15217.  Small group classes, private sessions, teacher training programs, workshops for all levels and more!

All this Graduation Energy

Has all this graduation energy got you feeling, well, OLD? 

Flexibility is youth—-strong, long and lean muscles and bodies in alignment radiate youth.  It’s not to be found in a bottle, tube or powder…….practice yoga daily for a month and you will find yourself looking younger and feeling younger the following month.  Not only that, but without denying yourself one May night ice cream cone, your clothing will fit better.

All yoga classes at Yoga Matrika are now $10 each for the whole summer.  Want to test my flexibility is youth hypothesis?  Try unlimited yoga for 25-days for $40 and try to prove me wrong.  I’m not, but go ahead and try—it will make you feel better.

See you soon at Yoga Matrika!

Yoga Studies with Sharon

Yoga Studies with Sharon

Sharon Fennimore Rudyk, MA, E-RYT, R-PYT

Please send an e-mail to Sharon at: if you have any questions, wish to discuss the program or need information before you sign up. You can also call Sharon at 412-855-5692.

This 6-month Yoga Studies program (September 10, 2012 through March 2013) is $1,200. Tuition is paid in monthly $100 payments for 12-months starting with the date of registration. Tuition is non-refundable and non-transferable and payments must be made regardless of your actual participation in scheduled classes and workshops.

Register Here
This is an intimate program with a maximum of ten participants for each cohort. The program starts in September of each year, but you are encouraged to register and save your space as soon as you decide to make a commitment to the 6-month program of yoga studies. Register by signing a program contract HERE.

6-Month Yoga Studies Program Tuition Includes


Up to two-classes per week with Sharon Rudyk. Options include:
Tuesday night 5:45 to 7:00 pm
Saturday morning: 9:00 to 10:15 am


One two-hour special topics class per month with Sharon Rudyk per month. Each month, Sharon will offer at least two options, one evening and one weekend for a special topics workshop. Topics include: yoga philosophy, energy, pranayama, different yoga traditions, asana alignment and practice techniques and more. All the juicy stuff you don’t have time to explore in drop-in classes! One per month is included in your tuition, but you can always sign-up for more and pay for them a la carte.

Curriculum for the Yoga Studies Program

In 6-months of Yoga Studies with Sharon, you can expect to learn:

  • Learn Sanskrit names, alignment principles, cues and variations and modifications for 30-basic asanas
  • Read and discuss Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras
  • Learn about the central channel, movement of prana and the chakra energy centers
  • Explore the anatomy of breath and learn basic breath awareness, uijayi pranayama, kapalabhati, nine cleansing breaths and nadi shodhana
  • Use energetic awareness and breath in asana practice
  • Explore the relationship of the mind, skeletal system, organs and endocrine system in asana
  • Learn about Chinese meridian energy theory and Yin Yoga practices
  • Learn about therapeutic applications of yoga and yoga for seniors, yoga during pregnancy and to support common student complaints (hips, back, knees and shoulders)
  • Learn about Mantras, Chanting and the use of Sanskrit in yoga
  • Choose a kriya and mantra meditation to practice for 40-days
  • Explore your own practice, limitations and strengths with personalized direction and support
  • Learn common obstacles to home practice and examine different ways to overcome obstacles and make your yoga a part of every day
  • Learn how to make adjustments and modify asana so you can continue your practice through your life

Tuition Details

The Yoga Studies program requires a contract of agreement for 12-payments of $100 that will be automatically charged to your credit card once per month. You are obligated to maintain these payments regardless of your actual class attendance or participation in workshops and training sessions. There are no refunds for any reason and this program tuition is not transferable.

Yoga Studies for Teacher Training

If you wish to complete this program as a teacher training program, then you must complete, in addition to the Yoga Studies course:

  • 18-hours of anatomy training workshops with Mark Chandlee Taylor (Embodied Anatomy for Yoga Instructors I,II, III)
  • a minimum of three additional workshops of your choice at Yoga Matrika
  • take a total of 50 classes (25 must be with Sharon and 25 can be completed anywhere upon Sharon’s approval). The classes that are included in the Yoga Studies program count towards this total. Any other classes that you wish to take must be paid for separately.
  • complete a teaching skills/practicum training weekend (will be scheduled for March 2013)
  • complete an online course that includes significant writing assignments that require reading, observing and practice teaching (available in September 2012). This online course will cost $100.
  • teach a minimum of one practice class that is open to the public and observed by Sharon
  • a minimum of two private sessions with Sharon ($60 each)
We are a Registered Yoga School (RYS®) with Yoga Alliance and graduates of our 200-hour Teacher Training Program are eligible to register with Yoga Alliance as a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT®).

Readings Syllabus for Yoga Matrika’s Yoga Studies Course

A suggested reading list will be posted in July 2012 for the September 2012 cohort. Please note that if you are taking this Yoga Studies course for teacher training, you will be required to complete the readings and writing assignments as outlined in the online course.

A Little Guidance Please

Guided relaxtion recordings are a wonderful way to incorporate meditation into your daily life at your convenience.  You can listen during your lunch hour on headphones and take your relaxtion with you on the go—–airports, hotels…..just not for in the car while you are driving!  These meditations will bring you all the benefits of meditation and you can enjoy the convenience of being able to practice anywhere at any time.


Online Matrika Prenatal Professional 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!

Beginner Meditation Course

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We recommend this beginner meditation course.  There is a 60-day 100% money-back guarantee.

This is not a Yoga Matrika product, but we know that there are a lot of people in our community who can’t come and take a class, but really want to learn how to meditate or need some support for their daily home practice.