From skeptic, to student, to believer and now a fully invested, certified yoga instructor – Sonja Rzepski wasn’t sure how she felt about yoga at first, but she knew it was something special and sacred. Once she was hooked, Sonja became passionate about bringing yoga to others. She now works full-time as a Yoga Therapist, healing athletes and trauma patients through the power of yoga. Sonja shares with us her journey to practicing and succeeding in her career as a Yoga Therapist.
When did yoga enter your life?
I was in my early 20’s and I was working as a personal trainer, training and performing and always living in physical pain. One of my clients said I should try yoga and I was very skeptical, but she persisted and convinced me to try an Ashtanga class with Paul Dallaghan (now of Samahita Institute in Thailand). After the first class I was greatly moved in a way I couldn’t really explain but I knew that I had to understand what this was all about. Paul recommended I go to Eddie Stern’s Mysore practice on Broome St.
What was your very first class like? Were you hooked right away or did it take time?
The first class Eddie had me just practice Ujjayi breath, that was it, then savasana. Honestly I was a very bad student and could not focus at all, I mean what with the incredible practices going on all around me, and then the alter and the beautiful Indian yoga rugs, it was like walking into an amazingly different universe, but at the same time it felt completely like I’d come home after a very long trip. So I was perplexed mostly, not sure why I was there but not wanting to leave. I’m pretty sure in the beginning the instruction went in one ear and out the other, but Eddie was so patient and kind, as well as his amazing wife Jocelyn, so as bewildered as I was, I also felt safe and on some level understood what they were teaching was sacred.
Why did you decide to pursue teaching yoga as a profession?
It was like many, first it was just a way to deepen my own practice, I had no intention for it to turn into a profession, then it just became a passion to share it. Really everyday I am grateful to Paul Dallaghan, the Samahita Institute, Eddie Stern and his teaching Shala and now Dana Slamp and the Prema Institute, for all continuing to inspire me to want to share what I know about yoga. The way I see it, as a yogi we learn and we share the learning to the best of our ability, but then we also must keep studying, very important.
What is your specialty/style as a yoga teacher?
I am now a Yoga Therapist. I have a very wide range of clients, from Olympic athletes to those overcoming trauma, experiencing yoga in a differently abled way or at a time of recovery from serious illness or injury. I also teach the Ashtanga primary series a lot.
Where do you teach currently?
Do you have a motto in life that help you professionally and/or personally?
May I live up to the clearest version of myself.
Do you have a certain ritual when you wake up or when you go to bed?
What is one tip you’d give someone who’s just starting a career in the fitness industry?
You are helping to heal and fortify your students, but at the same time don’t lose your sense of self. Your mental emotional and physical wellbeing is of utmost importance so you can walk the talk.
Who is(are) your favorite fitness instructor(s)?
Well, I already mentioned my yoga influences which everybody who wants to do that should definitely check out brooklynyogaclub.com, yogathailand.com, premayogainstitute.com, but in terms of fitness cardio/strength training and more, do check out the Aaptiv app. an audio app for fitness.
Check out Sonja’s website
Follow Sonja on Instagram
Endorse Sonja on Superr
Photos by: Ray Tamarra