Stephen personally embraced Yoga as therapy in 1997. His teaching began in 2000 when his teacher left to study in India for four months and honored and amazed Stephen by asking him to teach in her absence. He has been privileged to learn Yoga at the feet of some of the world’s truly great teachers.
Stephen is EYS's most beloved trainer! We are excited to share his interview with our community.
1. You were a Massage Therapist for many years before becoming a yoga teacher. What first got you interested in massage?
Working with a group of healers at The CenreWorks in Tulsa. I was impressed by how each practitioner eased the suffering of those they worked with, and realized that was what I wanted to do with my life.
2. And what led you to begin teaching yoga?
After a few years my yoga practice become more important to me and I realized that many of my clients could resolve their own long-standing issues by using yoga as therapy, instead of relying on me to ‘fix them’.
3. You are also a Certified Yoga Therapist. What kind of additional training is involved to achieve this, and why is this a good fit for you?
Due to my personal history of injury I naturally oriented toward yoga as therapy. So, over the last 20 years, I looked for teachers that focused on therapeutic applications. Back then there was no certification process, so I just began helping those that needed it, and kept learning, reading, studying, and practicing – thereby become a ‘yoga therapist’ by default. When national certification recently became available, I gathered up the required information and applied. One of the requirements was a minimum of 1,000 hours of one-on-one experience. When I went over all my past records I realized that I had over 16,000 hours.
4. Why should one consider taking the extra step to become a Certified Yoga Therapist?
Well, it’s a lot of extra study and requires a significant financial investment, and a deeper knowledge of anatomy, kinesiology, and body reading. The outcome of all that is one gains the ability to really help individuals overcome current obstacles regardless of their age, circumstances, or conditions.
5. There is growing concern over the misuse of the term “Yoga Therapist” and the possibility of misleading students. Why is it important to make the distinction and keep the certification separate?
I believe that a yoga practice should be therapeutic, but unfortunately many classes have become more about sweating and trying to keep up. At best, this is advanced calisthenics.
As a Yoga Therapist everything must slow down, and current habit patterns need to be addressed. Understanding the importance of alignment is important, and then being able to adapt all of that to fit the individual rather than trying to fit the individual into the pose.
6. Many readers of this blog are yogis who are considering becoming teachers. What’s one thing you would say to someone who is thinking about becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher?
Do it for the love of learning. Be a steady student for a few years before turning to teaching.
There are so many yoga teachers now that it is very difficult to make a livelihood from teaching yoga.
7. Why is it so important for yoga teachers to get training in how to work with people with injuries, or other physical limitations?
Because we don’t want to hurt them and make it worse. And, some people may not be able to do many ‘poses’ but everyone can use Yoga as Therapy to feel better.
8. What are some of the more common issues or injuries that you see in your classes?
Shoulders up to the ears. Forward Head syndrome. Collapsed arches in the feet. Holding the breath. Poor posture. Too much thinking, not enough feeling. As for injuries the most common is rotator cuff strains, carpal tunnel, various knee injuries, and SI joint issues.
9. Where do you see yoga headed in the next ten years – both in Tulsa, but also overall?
Its going to continue growing for sure, but I’m concerned that the depth and quality may not be maintained.
10. Who are some of the teachers or mentors who have inspired and influenced your teaching?
Beth Field, Mukanda Stiles, Gary Kraftsow, Judith Lasater, Aadil Palkhivala, and Doug Keller.
11. Tell us about yourself – other than teaching yoga, what are some of your hobbies, interests, and passions?
Designing / building contemporary Stained-Glass windows. Traveling to the mountains or the beach.
12. Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Yes, practice gratitude for all you have rather than obsessing about what you feel is missing.
Mandy Eubanks has been teaching yoga since 2004. Known for her playful and intelligent approach to yoga, Mandy's teaching style is a creative blend of movement, meditation, and inspiration designed to apply both on and off the mat. Mandy's intention is to integrate the ancient teachings of yoga with the latest research based practices, so that the essence of yoga is preserved and the practices are simple enough to meet students where they are. To be specific, her classes aim to awaken the soul and inspire a deep connection to one's self, the Divine, and the relationships we hold close to our heart. Her public yoga classes are often a refuge for those who serve and teach yoga themselves and her private personalized yoga sessions are transformative and truly address the whole person. In summary, her experience is vast enough that her transmission of yoga is simple and accessible to everyone.
1. You are a Tulsa native, but have traveled far and wide, and spent 10 years in Austin, Texas. What drew you home?
There is something very meaningful in bringing back to Tulsa what I have learned from studying yoga abroad and teaching in a major yoga hub like Austin for a decade. I also have family here, so with two young children my husband and I saw an opportunity to raise our kids around their loved ones.
2. Why are you so passionate about teaching teachers? What caused you to transition from a yoga teacher to primarily running a yoga school?
The depth......yes, it’s the depth. In a public yoga class, we barely scratch the surface (yet, 75 minutes of yoga can totally change someone’s life). When we get into a long program like a teacher training, the places we go and explore are mind-blowing. We really get into the “WHY” – we can better understand what makes this practice so powerful, and then learn how to share it with others. I also love watching the community form. Every yoga teacher training that I’ve been a part of has created life-long friendships.
3. Was it an easy transition?
Yes and No. Tulsa is where we are both from, and for the longest time we both swore we’d never return. Ha! Living in Austin for most of our adult lives we made some of our most important friendships there; we loved our neighborhood and neighbors; and really enjoyed living near our young nieces. Austin is where we got married and had our first daughter. Leaving all of that plus my yoga community and teachers was heart breaking at first. I grieved the loss of that chapter of my life. It was humbling. Tulsa has been so good to us though, and welcomed us with open arms. We both have made new friends, re-connected with old friends, and are really enjoying the growth of our city. Yoga is growing in popularity and has become much more accessible. I’m excited to see where it goes.
4. What’s one thing you would like to say to someone who is thinking about taking the RYT®200 or the RYT®300 Yoga Teacher Training?
Just one thing?!? Ha....well I would say that you must understand that it’s a process.
You can’t come in thinking that a 200 or 300 hour training is going to give you everything you ever need to know about yoga. Yoga is a life-long study, and a teacher training will propel you into the yoga lifestyle.
5. Many people want to become a yoga teacher because yoga has had such a profound impact on their own life. Was this the case for you?
Oh absolutely! The first Hatha Yoga class I ever took I was shaking in Half-moon
pose, barely able to breathe, and had the thought that I want to be a yoga teacher! This was before being a yoga teacher was even a “thing.” All I knew is that the lady who was teaching the class was doing it and I wanted to do it too. I’ve always had a strong desire to teach and serve and I knew that this is what I wanted to teach and knew it would help so many!
6. What’s behind the name, “Everyone Yoga School?”
I didn’t want EYS to be a specific training. I wanted it to reach a diverse and broad
group of people so that they could bring yoga into their own “bubbles.” Although the training is held at a yoga studio and we prepare our teachers to successfully hold classes in yoga studios, we also prepare them to get out of the studio box and teach at their jobs, churches, neighborhoods, etc.
7. What has been the most rewarding part of running and growing EYS? What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve come across?
Seeing our graduates getting out there and teaching has been so rewarding! I love that. Some of them have become full-time yoga teachers and since that is my career path, I love that others are also able to make that happen for themselves from their EYS training. The biggest challenge – which has also been the biggest reward – is learning to run a business, and a private and vocational state school. Finding myself in this role of small business ownership and being an organization’s leader has been confusing at times. But there are so many great resources out there, and I’ve reached out to other yoga schools around the U.S. for advice and support, and it’s been given so freely! Needless to say, I’ve learned so much from the success of EYS. . I’m really so grateful, beyond words for everything I’ve been learning. I'm invested in learning how EYS meets the highest professional standards in our industry and have received so much support in doing so.
8. What is your long-term vision for EYS?
I have so many ideas. I’m going to hold my cards close to my chest in this interview… but stay tuned. :)
9. Do you see a point where Tulsa has too many yoga teachers?
Yes and no – if Tulsa has too many 200 hour teachers who are not continuing their education, then we will end up diluting the yoga scene. I would hate for it be just another fitness craze or source of entertainment for someone. If we have highly skilled and trained yoga teachers, they will draw in more students who are ready step onto the life-long path of yoga. There are also so many people who are not yet doing yoga in Tulsa. Getting more teachers out there is really the best solution for getting more people to do yoga. And so far, most of our graduates haven’t had a problem finding a place to teach. Also, we only offer one 200 hour training a year now. I have lots of reasons for that but mainly I don’t want to be a yoga teacher factory. I want to provide Tulsa with quality yoga education, and develop long term relationships with our graduates.
10. You are very passionate about keeping a balanced work/life schedule. Do you find this challenging?
I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t challenging, ha! Running a business, staying true to my path as a yogi, and running a household has been the hardest thing I have ever done. All I can say is that I’m extremely grateful to have a husband that is super supportive and probably the best dad I have ever been around.
11. Tell us about yourself – other than teaching yoga, what are some of your hobbies or interests/passions?
My husband and I love adventures. We are always looking for the next stream to swim, mountain to hike, or city to explore. We both have unconventional schedules, and our kids are not in school yet so we go on family adventures every chance we get. Our kids are amazing little travelers. Right now we are on a road trip that has taken us all the way to Asheville, NC. I’m also passionate about eating and cooking. I have played with many “eating practices,” including veganism, ayurvedic diet, slow eating, paleo, raw, etc. and currently I’m on the “mom” diet – I eat what I can, when I can! Fortunately, I have a deep knowledge and personal history around conscious eating so that I can typically make wise choices in the moment. We love supporting our local farmers and we usually have a garden every Summer. We have always dreamed of urban homesteading, dabbled around with aquaponics and fermentation, and we will be raising chickens and producing a lot more of our own produce this year.
12. Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
I think you’ve covered everything…!
Andrea C. Neil
Our Journey Continues
This month, Everyone Yoga School launches our inaugural 300 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Program. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to bring this level of learning to the Tulsa area, for many different reasons. Most importantly, we are excited to be part of the growing Tulsa yoga community!
The EYS 300 Hour Yoga Teacher Training is accredited by Yoga Alliance, and once completed, teachers will be able to use the RYT®500 designation. The program is designed to deepen yoga teachers’ understanding of concepts introduced in the 200 Hour Program, and to allow them to offer more in-depth instruction to their students.
What’s the Why?
As a teacher, why would you want to complete an additional 300 hours of training? The easy way out would be to say “the reasons are endless – there are too many to mention here!” While that’s our first thought, we realize it doesn’t really answer the question very well. So here are a few “Whys.”
As a Teacher
The feeling of elation when completing the 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training is indescribable. However, if you’ve gone through this and have been teaching for any length of time, you’ll also realize that the first 200 hours is just a drop in the bucket of the huge ocean that is “Yoga.” The 300 Hour training is by no means exhaustive either, but it does give you the opportunity to deepen your practice even further.
In the initial 200 Hour training, many different concepts and practices are introduced; some resonate with you, and some don’t. And you may have found that as you have begun teaching, after you’ve had a chance to get your feet wet so to speak, your style may naturally gravitate towards certain topics or areas. Taking additional training allows you to delve in to areas that have piqued your interest, allowing for deeper understandings and enabling you to pass that understanding on to others.
Some of us learn by doing, others by reading, yet others by seeing. In any case, being part of a structured learning environment is a great way to connect with others and get more out of what you are studying. It allows you to ask questions, see demonstrations, participate, and engage. Plus, you will have access to some of the very best yoga teachers and leaders in the Tulsa yoga community as your instructors – a unique and priceless opportunity.
Becoming an RYT®500 Hour Yoga Teacher will also allow you to take a more active role in your local yoga community. You will be a more integral part of a group who is working towards a vision of yoga for everyone, and you will be a leader, bringing people together for a common cause and promoting wellness and well-being.
As your knowledge becomes more refined and you begin to find your niche as a teacher, you will also be able to increase your reach. New opportunities will be available to you, such as workshops and teacher trainings, and even personalized instruction.
For the Community
As we add to the number of RYT®500 Hour Yoga Teachers in Tulsa, this will have a profoundly positive impact on the community as a whole. We will be able to bring a greater level of understanding to our students, which leads to a happier, healthier, and hopefully kinder, and more aware population. Doesn’t that sound like something worth investing in? The Tulsa yoga scene will have more diversity, and will provide a higher level of instruction on a greater number of topics. All of this works towards the vision of bringing yoga to everyone, and towards creating understanding that yoga truly is for everyone.
Andrea C. Neil
You Are Here.
Mindfulness teaches us to become aware of the present moment. Right now, you are reading this blog post. There might be many reasons you’ve ended up here, but one thing is for certain: we know that you were meant to read this.
Everyone Yoga School is not just an organization that provides yoga teacher trainings. We are an opportunity for you to get more out of your own life experience; to be more aware, more awake, and to participate for fully in your own life. You’re reading this because you are looking for something more. It’s possible that you’re here for one (or more) of the reasons below. If that’s the case – welcome home, you’ve found your tribe.
The Born Teacher
Perhaps you are here because you are a born teacher. You enjoy using your intuitive, innate skills to impart knowledge, and you enjoy watching that proverbial light bulb go off over someone’s head when they have an “aha” moment. You most likely experience joy, happiness, and satisfaction in having created the space for someone to make those discoveries for themselves.
And maybe you love the practice of yoga so much, that you want to use your special teaching talents to share your passion for it and all of its benefits. Participating in a yoga teacher training program is simply a natural progression for you.
The Compassionate Helper
Do you feel deeply, and notice the discomfort or unease of others? Do you feel a deep desire to make our world a better place? Becoming a yoga teacher can be a satisfying way to make a difference in the lives of our fellow brothers and sisters.
Maybe you’ve experienced firsthand a significant improvement in your life, thanks to the practice of yoga. You know about the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits that yoga provides – because you have lived it.
Often when we have undergone such a change, we become excited to share the experience with others, drawing on our firsthand knowledge of the profound impact yoga can make. You can spread the word and make a difference as a yoga instructor.
The Perennial Student
Are you a life-long student, always wanting to learn more? Perhaps one of the biggest joys in your life is understanding that the thirst for knowledge is never quenched, and appreciating how delicious the process of discovery can be. Especially when it comes to self-discovery.
Many people have had a self-awakening experience on their yoga journey, and this event can leave one with a hunger for more. Understanding life and all of its complexities is a subtle process that, if allowed to unfold, takes place every day, throughout our entire life. If you enjoy this process and have made connections between improvements and discoveries in your life and the progress of your yoga practice, a teacher training program is a great way to enhance your journey.
Truth in the Cliché
“It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” We’ve all heard some variation on this. But as we started out saying, mindfulness teaches us to be present in each moment – to find clarity, appreciation and harmony whenever and wherever possible. You are here because you understand how yoga helps us all, on our journey. So whether you’re looking to teach or to simply deepen your own personal yoga practice, enrolling in a teacher training or continuing education class with Everyone Yoga School can be
incredibly rewarding. It is our desire to help you reach your goals, whatever they may be.
RYT 200, Graduate of EveryOne Yoga School Class of 2016
By Andrea Neil
They told us it would happen. They told us we would notice it wherever we went, whoever we looked at, whatever we were doing.
They were right.
When I went through training to be an RY®200 yoga instructor, we studied a lot of anatomy. We studied how different parts of the body move, and we studied the proper ways to move the different parts of the body. We focused on alignment in yoga postures, and more importantly, how the body takes up space in the world. We read from books, we listened to lectures, and we also practiced a whole lot of yoga. We practiced, and practiced, and practiced some more, and we became aware of our own bodies in ways we never had before. Because in order to teach the subtleties of movement to someone else, we first had to understand them in our own bodies.
Our instructor told us, with a smile on her face and lightness in her voice, that we would start noticing people’s alignment and posture and areas of tension – while at the grocery store, in a restaurant, at the beach – everywhere. She told us that the more we understood about the body, the more we would start seeing the bodies around us differently; that it would just happen. She was right.
Now I see misalignment, or asymmetry, or the results of long-ago injuries that went unattended far too long. Often times, people don’t even seem to notice these things about themselves.
about our Authors
The Everyone Yoga School blog is written by guest authors who are former students, instructors, and passionate yogis with the sole purpose of sharing the yoga experience in the live and hearts of everyone.