Susannah Sanfilippo teaches weekly Sea Change Yoga trauma-informed classes at McCauley Residence, a residential treatment facility of Mercy Hospital, providing a comprehensive transitional housing program for women with and without children who are in recovery from drug and alcohol dependency.
Susannah has practiced yoga for over 20 years. She teaches hatha, restorative, slow vinyasa, trauma-focused yoga, moving meditation and chair yoga in group settings and privately. Along with training in classical yoga, she has in-depth studies in: yoga breathing techniques for relaxation, pain reduction and emotional balance; yoga and mindfulness meditation; anatomy of yoga positions; and sensorimotor and somatic practices that enhance kinesthetic awareness. Susannah is also a singer, performer and has a background in the visual arts.
Susannah is a 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance, certified by YogaSpirit and is a Y12SR Certified Leader as well as a Yoga Warriors International Instructor. She is also a certified Laughter Yoga Leader.
How would you define yoga if you had to explain it to someone who had never practiced before?
I define yoga as an art and a science – it is an ancient practice of self-care. Spiritual, physical, emotional, cognitive, energetic, and social self-care.
What did you think yoga was before you started to practice and how has your view of yoga changed?
I took my first class in the mid-80’s because a college friend suggested I try a class with her. I had never heard of yoga – I didn’t know anything about it. Many years later, I am still learning and still feel like a beginner with much to learn.
How do you see your practice show up in everyday life?
Besides my daily mat practice, I practice pranayama in the car and in the grocery line. I brush my teeth in a yoga pose. I often stand in Tadasana when waiting at the crosswalk. I also practice mindfulness - rather than judging my experience of life in the moment, I find myself breathing with my experiences more often.
How did you come to teach and what prompted you to move from student to teacher?
I never meant to be a teacher, that was never my goal. Because I simply wanted to immerse myself in the world of yoga, I took a teacher training when there was only two trainings that were randomly offered in Maine (now there are hundreds!) I was certified and not teaching for a few months when a friend/studio owner asked me sub a class one night. Once I did, there was no turning back. I’ve been happily teaching for 8-ish years now.
How has teaching affected your life and how do you feel when you teach?
Teaching has broadened, widened, deepened and opened me – there is no aspect of my life that yoga has not touched. I feel most “myself” when teaching, most at-home, connected to myself and others.
What brought you to Sea Change Yoga?
I was volunteer teaching at McAuley House, a transitional home for women when I was approached by Sea Change. I am so happy to be connected to this fantastic network!!
What is your “yoga dream”?
Oh goodness, there are so many dreams! I can barely keep up with them all!
And they all basically boil down to this: I’d love to live in a more beautiful world. If everyone in the world could find ways to lovingly detach from unhelpful thoughts and come back into the vast truth that resides in the body, we’d be living in a much more peaceful world. The very foundation of yoga, Ahimsa, non-violence/non-judgment is the path to freedom. If my practice (and my teaching) could in any way contribute to lasting peace and interconnection, that would be my dream.