A Yoga Journey

Yoga is practiced in many different ways, in a wide variety of settings, and for any number of reasons. We see yoga used to advertise just about everything, from cars to beer to clothing, you name it. Yoga shows up in movies and in television shows; today, more people have taken a yoga class than have not. For some of us, yoga is a passion, it’s a way of life, and we want to share this incredible technology with others.

Photo by Nityatara Cathy Prescott, 2017, Camino De Santiago in Galicia

Photo by Nityatara Cathy Prescott, 2017, Camino De Santiago in Galicia

Some of you know who I am, but most people don’t know a lot about me because I have chosen to do more work behind the scenes than on stage. My name is Cathy Prescott, or Nityatara, and I came to yoga 40 years ago, fresh out of college after moving to Pittsfield, MA. Classes were advertised on the bulletin board of the local health food store and being held in the annex of the Unitarian Church. The minister’s wife and two other amazing women were our teachers. There weren’t any other yoga classes in town and Yoga Journal was only an offbeat newsprint magazine.

I took my first class that fateful winter evening and never looked back. My teachers soon offered their first YTT and even though I couldn’t imagine being the one teaching, I was hungry to learn everything about yoga and excited to step out of my comfort zone. Over the next several years, there were frequent moves, I got married, and started a family. Even though I wasn’t teaching classes, study continued through correspondence courses offered by the Himalayan Institute, the Ayurvedic Institute, and the British Wheel of Yoga.  

In 1992, Yoga Journal published an article about IYT and I knew that I would someday take that training. In 1999, before the Yoga Alliance standards for teacher trainings went into effect, I was finally able to study with Joseph Le Page, the founder of IYT, at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. The training was an intensive two weeks of deep study and experiential practices. I was amazed by the quality of instruction, its comprehensiveness, and Joseph’s generosity in sharing the wisdom teachings of yoga in an easy-to-understand way.

In 2001, I completed IYT’s first Yoga Alliance-registered 500-hour teacher training and joined their faculty as a mentor, program assistant, and manager of the Home Study Correspondence Course. In 2007, I began instructing in the trainings. As Yoga Alliance has evolved, so have training program standards, and I have been honored to edit and revise manuals for the 500-hour YTT and Home Study programs as well as IYT’s esteemed publications, the Yoga Toolbox for Teachers and Students and Mudras for Healing and Transformation (book and card deck). I am deeply grateful to Joseph Le Page for taking me under his wing so many years ago to help me grow into teaching and for our continued collaborations.

Yoga is such a vast discipline that there is always an opportunity to learn more and I will always be a student. Curiosity has led me to study a variety of styles of yoga, from Ashtanga Vinyasa to Yin to Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, and I have also earned qualifications in several complementary disciplines, including Massage, Clinical Aromatherapy, Reiki, Vedic Counseling, and Ayurveda.

Yoga brought me to Cleveland, OH, in 2012, in search of community and deeper study within a traditional yoga lineage. Through the Atma Center, I traveled to Colombia and India for study with the Bihar masters and received initiation into the Saraswati lineage. I also completed the Yoga Academy of North America’s Yogic Studies and Teacher Training Programs and continued to work in the organization as an instructor and administrator for three years. In some ways, I had come full circle as this style of yoga is therapeutically based and parts of my IYT training had been conducted by visiting Swamis from the Bihar School of Yoga.

The beauty of Integrative Yoga Therapy is that all of these modalities have become part of my teaching. IYT is primarily a methodology for bringing yoga to various populations and supporting the management of various conditions. It is grounded in the yoga tradition while embracing modern practices and scientific discoveries. IYT teachers are not “cookie-cutter” instructors; rather, each of us develops a unique approach to best serve our students and clients.

Yoga Therapy is an ever evolving and growing profession. The International Association of Yoga Therapists is now the accrediting body for yoga therapy schools and has set up rigorous standards for their 800-hour qualification. My IYT training exceeded these standards and I received the C-IAYT (yoga therapist) designation through grandparenting. In 2016, IYT’s Yoga Therapy Training Programs (300-hour and 800-hour) were acquired by Kripalu. This year, I was hired to develop curriculum and instruct in their Embodying the Principles of Ayurveda module for the 800-hour program. I continue to assist in curriculum development and will be instructing in other modules next year.

One of my greatest joys has been helping others develop their yoga teaching and therapy skills so they can bring the benefits of yoga to their communities throughout the world. Over the past 18 years, I have helped train 100s of yoga teachers/therapists and have personally mentored several of the instructors who are now IYT mentors and 200-hour YTT affiliates.

In Northeast Ohio, Dharma Kshetra Yoga (IYT-Cleveland) is the exclusive IYT affiliate. We are registered with Yoga Alliance and this program meets the prerequisites for continued training in Yoga Therapy. Our inaugural teacher training begins in September at Partners to Empowerment in Beachwood, with monthly weekend intensives running through June. All of our instructors have years of experience in yoga as well as in training yoga teachers. Class size is limited to 8 and we only have a couple of spots remaining. Is one of them for you?

If your dream is to teach what you love and bring the joy of yoga to others in a way that is truly accessible, then this training is for you. If you work in a health-related field, yoga can enhance the services you offer and this training will give you the tools to do just that. If you want to learn how to adapt your personal practice to support the inevitable changes that life brings, it’s time to take the next step.

Please visit www.iyt-cleveland.com to learn more and submit your application. We are here to support your journey in yoga. If you have any questions, please call us at 216.862.7463 or email iyt.cleveland@gmail.com.