Meet Abhaya Yoga Foundation’s 2020 Teacher Training Awardees

Toni Diep
My deepest gratitude to Abhaya Yoga Foundation for supporting my TT by offering an open-minded and non-dogmatic space for Yoga. My biggest hope is to facilitate Yoga that is accessible, grounding, and intentional to the LGBTQIA+ communities, of different socio-cultural-economic intersections, bridging the minds, bodies and spirits.
Danna Del Rosario
I am eternally grateful for the opportunity that Tara and the AYF has given me. Thanks to the scholarships offered by AYF I was able to enroll in the 200hr teacher training course. Without this scholarship, I would not have been able to complete this training. I am a Latina. A born and raised New Yorker and a resident of Washington Heights. Where I’m from there aren’t many places that offer donation-based classes in Washington Heights. I will use this training to serve overlooked communities which include Uptown & the Bronx. There is a need for a space where my fellow people of color can go to practice yoga at an affordable price.
Christina Gutierrez
I have no idea where to begin, so I will start at the beginning. Three years ago, I was introduced to yoga and it has literally transformed my life. I am a single, Afro-Latina mother who was seeking a way to heal her lower back pain and strengthen her core, after years of pain post an emergency C-Section. To say that I was a mess is an understatement. I walked into that particular yoga studio looking for an “easier way” to exercise and walked out feeling at more peace than I ever had in my very serious church going years. Exercise was not easy for me, breathing was not easy for me, but in the hour-and-fifteen minutes of “working” out, I found my breath, I found a small amount of peace, and I started getting well in areas of my life that I hadn’t deemed possible. Trauma is real. Generational trauma is real and I know better than anyone else how much trauma can affect the strongest of individuals. Now, while the practice of yoga has been transformative in my life, there is something that remains true; there are not enough people who look like me practicing yoga and there most certainly aren’t enough instructors who look like me teaching. So often, I have walked in to places where I am seeking to continue healing and strengthening, while simultaneously feeling uncomfortable because the people near me and teaching me, didn’t look like me or share my experiences. I have overcome this for the most part, but it is a reality that prevents my community members pursue the practice of yoga. The other factor that inhibits people in my community from pursuing Yoga is this: quality yoga training is expensive, and the same people who look like me and share my experiences are not practicing or instructing yoga, in part, because they cannot afford the memberships or training. This is what pushed forth my desire to become a Yoga Teacher; I have wanted to become a Yoga Teacher for a while, but funding was a true obstacle for me. Providing access and equity to all people of color is another one of my passions especially in the realm of healing. My goal is to provide healing, restorative, loving, and quality yoga to communities of color who wouldn’t ordinarily have access to the practice. The women in domestic violence shelters, the students and their parents in the schools that I have worked in, and my family members who need physical healing and could benefit from the “exercise.” Thanks to Abhaya Yoga and the Teacher Scholarship I am that much closer to achieving my goal of providing access to the healing practice of yoga to others in my community and I am so proud. It is because of funders, like you that I am a step closer to bringing healing into my sacred communities. So, anything you can donate matters. Donate today and help support another Yogi like myself, pay it forward!