yoga teacher training

Maui Yoga Teacher Training

Dear Universe: thank you for the love, light and joy that radiates from these beautiful new yoga teachers.

I’m so proud to see this amazing group graduate from our 200-hr yoga teacher training.
They’re off to spread their light to the world!

Our time together is over, but our lives are just beginning. Mahalo. I love you all.

To apply for our upcoming yoga teacher training programs in
Maui, Costa Rica and Florida, e-mail me at smile@sufey.org.

We’re here to kickstart the life of your dreams.
We also have kickass early bird deals for you.

Aloha & namaste! xx

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Unraveling

In the spirit of freedom, two girls from our 200-hr yoga teacher training and I filmed a practice in our living room.
In our yoga, we don’t have rules or limits or walls. We have only our love for each other.

***

Yoga is a deconstruction of limitations.
A deprogramming of societal conditioning.
A path to inner enlightenment.

Often, people get lost in the “right” or “real” way to do yoga.
Often, people get lost in the way they “should be” or “should act”.
Often, people toss away their dreams to settle for something that is “good enough, I guess”.

This is tragic.

“if only this, then…” or “I wish I could, but…”

We manifest our own lives.
We move how we want to move.
We are who we want to be.

Yoga feels good. Yoga is whatever you want it to be.

A Gift from Goddesses

Wow, wow, wow.

I came home today to find a stamp-kissed package perched on my doorstep.

SUFEY CHEN — it sang in big bold letters.
BERGMAN — it was a love-box from darling miss wendy.

Open me, it teased. I shrieked like a child on Christmas Day.

I gingerly peeled open the first layer and gasped:
a beautiful family of polka-dotted packages peeked out under pretty yellow flowers.

I counted them— 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, seven.
My goodness, Wendy Bergman, you’ve outdone yourself. 

I opened the gifts before the letter, as per instructions.

I bubbled up in happy exclamations:

peanut butter M&Ms + fuzzy peaches (I haven’t had these since I was a kid!)
a box of funky-coloured straws (I love sipping through straws!)
The Book of Awesome (I’ve been dying to read that!)
Chicken Soup for the Soul word-finds (perfect for the plane ride to Maui!)
bright pink nail polish (my favourite colour!)
Hello Kitty band-aids (oh. my. god. Hello Kitty!!!!)
and two beeeautiful drawings from Gracie and Charlie.

Oh, wow.

I tore open the letter and tears sprung to my eyes.

That Wendy would take the time to create such a beautiful gift—
such an incredibly sweet, thoughtful, big-hearted gift—
made me so very happy and gooey and glowy inside.

And the letter, oh. It overflowed precious wisdom for my hungry soul:

Dear Sufey

Life sometimes has a way of knocking us down
and making us question everything about ourselves. 
The best advice I can give you is to just let this time 
wash over you like waves over stone. 
This experience is meant to polish and strengthen you; 
ultimately to make you even more beautiful. 

This little gift’s purpose is to help you connect with your inner child
(Gracie picked most of the gifts for you),
as the best things to heal our wounds are 
hello kitty bandaids,
cold milk through a straw,
a fresh coat of pink nail polish,
an easy word find to build your confidence
and a good book to fill your soul. 

All our love, 

Gracie & Wendy

 I melted.

Gracie and Wendy, thank you.

Your sweet, selfless act brought so much joy to me today.
Thank you for your healing love in a time of need.

You are genuine pearls in an ocean of empty shells.
And I’m — really, truly, heart-too-fully — lucky to be your friend.

I’m sipping cold milk through a straw right now.
And somehow it makes everything a million times better.

Adventure #5: Heather Jones

“You don’t need to be amazing. You don’t need to be not amazing. You just are.
You are, in and of yourself, worthwhile.”

Heather Dawn Jones (nicknamed “Noodle”)  |  Artist  |  31  |  Lookout Arts Quarry

I fell in love with Noodle the moment I saw her.

There was something about Noodle—
her bright turquoise cowboy boots,
her addictive, unscripted giggle,
her handwritten notes in big green print on pale pink paper—
that captured me instantly. Instantly.

I was at Creative Mornings with a dear friend, and Heather was giving a talk on Minimalism.
She spoke a rawness that blazed open my spirit— I listened, I connected, I lusted.
I didn’t realize it then, but she was a living possibility of what I could be.

I tackled her after her speech— I swooped down and hugged her and sing-songed:
“Will you go on a date with me?”

And thus began our adventures.

Decorating our brunch at Catch 122!

Noodle is the kind of person that gets better and better as you get to know her.
She also makes art of everything (like breakfast!)

She lavished my mind with stories of her journey, and my own forgotten dreams began to flutter alive.

Heather wanted to be an artist.
But the life of an artist, romantic as it sounds, is not one that comes easy.
She tree planted for six years and put all her earnings into the bank, keeping only $2000 to live off each year.
She would sweat and toil over the summer, then hibernate and create over the winter.
She found cheap art supplies— rocks, tin cans, broken chair legs— lived simply, and made her own clothes.

When she saved enough, Noodle and her friends pooled their money.
They bought 50 acres of land (previously an industrial rock quarry) near Bellingham, and dubbed it an art collective.
They live, breathe and create as circus performers, slackline walkers, visual artists, musicians… everything.

People go to lose themselves in nature and find themselves in art.

I was hooked.

Photo of Lookout Arts Quarry — Heather’s home!

Noodle was the living, breathing proof that people could manifest their own destiny.
She was so happy, so spirited, so generous, so free. She was everything I wanted to be.

“It’s one thing to make a beautiful art piece.
It’s another to create an environment that changes people.”

And that’s what Noodle does— she designs immersive art pieces: a place for transformation.

Like a 75-foot installation at the Vancouver International Children’s Festival,
where 4000 children wove recycled strips of fabric onto a gigantic dinosaur framework.

“From the outside, it was cool… but from the inside, it was a whole new world.
Kids were playing tag, whack-a-mole, crawling around, I’ve never seen so many kids laughing!”

Heather and her dinosaur from the Children’s Festival!

She reminisced about her own childhood, growing up with her cousins and neighbourhood kids.
“Once you know what that’s like [a connected collective], you’ll always be looking for it.”
And in Noodle’s case, creating it. Building it. Pouring her loving energy into it.

I could write a book about breakfast alone.

But soon we gathered up, biked our way to the Maker Faire and lost ourselves in a musical abyss.
We danced to fiddles, poked at glow-in-the-dark contraptions and surrendered to the midday sun.
We soon parted ways, and planned to meet up the next night.

But the next night, while she was biking up to my house with pho for dinner, I smashed my bike into a wall.

And this is where our friendship truly begins—
because that night, this beautiful, exquisite stranger, who I had known for just a day, saved me.

She mothered me, soothed me, and held my hand as I lay writhing in agony.
She comforted me, dressed me, and told me that I would be okay.
She took me to the hospital, talked for me, and stroked me till the wee hours of the night.
She gave me everything.

If I had been alone, I don’t know what I would have done.
I was in the kind of pain that makes a sane person irrational and crazy and reckless.
And she saved me.

That night, she was Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, and every holy angel in the world to me.

I was grateful (though grateful is not strong enough of a word) to her then, and I will be always.

Because that night, I saw the sweetness of humanity in her eyes.
I tasted a radical, exhilarating love.
I felt kindness sweep up my soul,
gathering up all the cracked little pieces of me
and sewing me back together,
laboriously,
one soul-stitch by one.

I have a million words and no words left to say, but there is no need to describe a thing more.
I discovered a new language with Noodle, one that exists only in being.

 ॐ

Her affirmation from earlier that day echoed in my ears:
“I am worth loving.”

A Return to Love | 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training

The day I left the corporate world, a teaching opportunity manifested.

I said: I want to heal, travel, teach.

To touch and be touched, move and be moved.
To scrub mud on my body and joy on my soul.
To kiss the sweet earth and taste love on my lips.

I want to set my spirit alive.

He said: come to Maui, teach teachers, return to love.

And so it begins.

Here I Am

Two weeks ago, my life exploded before my eyes.

I lost control of my bike, smashed full-speed into a wall, and crumpled onto the street. I hit my vulva on the crossbar as I crashed, which led to an 8×8 cm hematoma on my right labia (as discovered later).

Pain crushed my body.
Terror choked my mind.

In that instant, I was desperate for life. Pitiful prayers to a higher power wrestled a wretched fear in my head. I’m not ready to go, I thought. Please. Let me do better.

The days that followed were a blur of hospital visits and severe anxiety. I lashed out emotionally. I was clouded with anger and a throbbing reminder of the things I was no longer capable of. Like sitting. Or peeing. Or fending for myself.

The doctors said it would take a few months to fully heal.
And thus began the longest vacation of my life.

I’m learning that life is never going to be comfortable. It’s not supposed to be easy. No matter how much we plan and prepare, there will always be challenges, roadblocks, ambushes and pitfalls.

You can fail even if you’re playing it safe.

So I say fuck it and follow bliss. Again and again. When I die, I want to be covered in dirt and scars and drenched in tears. I want to have traipsed the world and built an empire and watched it collapse and built another. I want to fight. I want to be worn, used and fully spent, consumed by the fires of a deep and blazing love. I want to say I’ve been true to my heart. I want to say I’ve given it my best shot. My all.

And so here I am.

Big changes are coming again.