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Devata: Interwoven Yoga, Mythology, and Philosophy

Tuesdays: January 9 - June 26  |  6:00 - 9:00pm
with Ana Pilar and Susan SW at North


We are the stories we tell about ourselves—and these stories are full of wonder, grief, destruction, creativity, rage, desire, love, and ultimately, grace. These narratives are part of a living web of philosophy, one that underlies many yoga lineages but is rarely made explicit in contemporary practice.

In this intimate mentorship program limited to a small group, Ana Pilar and Susan will guide you through the rich and sometimes contradictory narratives of yogic philosophy and Indian mythology, connecting your teaching and practice to the larger tradition of goddess-based Tantric Yoga. Deepen your understanding of the ample pantheon of goddesses and gods, heroines and heroes, and tribulations and boons of Indian mythology, and open to what these parables say about your own life’s story. In connecting the practices of asana, mantra, yantra, nyasa, mudra, pranayama, and meditation to this auspicious tradition, we will unlock the allegories of yogic experience so you can share them with others. As a result of the mentorship, you will get in touch with yoga’s South Indian origins in non-dualist philosophy and learn to offer yoga as an act of radical self-acceptance.

This course is limited to a small group of 16 RYT-200s and counts as core curriculum for Yoga Alliance 500-hour certification


Understanding Tantric Philosophy in Modern Yoga
Gain an overview of various yoga philosophies, Indian history, and evolution of yogic thought. This part of the course will define and outline Tantra as a non-dualist tradition and compare and contrast it to Patanjali Yoga/classical yoga philosophy.

Devas, Asuras, and the Nature of the Universe
Learn the origin stories of humans and the universe from Indian mythology and yogic texts, as well as Tantric philosophy’s take on the nature of how we experience the world (the rasas, tattvas, gunas, and other Vedic systems).

Interwoven Yoga Practice
Engage in integrated Tantric yoga practice based on different stories, gods, goddesses, and philosophy including asana, mudra, mantra, yantra, puja, devata, nyasa, as well as one or more field trips to local Hindu temples.

Devas and Devis: The Gods and Goddesses in You
Deepen your knowledge of the masculine- and feminine-encoded stories of Indian deities Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu, Krishna, Lakshmi, Kali, Saraswati, Durga, Ganesha, Hanuman, Garuda and the Nagas, Akilandeswari, Meenakshi, Kartikeya, and Ayyappa to discover the incarnations of the devas and devis in you. We’ll consider these stories as empowering metaphors for our own experience, and we’ll apply their insights through lecture, storytelling, guided discussion, and creative projects.

Diksha: Initiation
Pass these practices on to your students by incorporating stories and philosophy into your classes. This portion of the course includes creating and presenting a workshop-style class to your fellow student teachers.

Independent Study
Students will choose a devata (as described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2.44: svādhyāyād-iṣṭa-devatā saṁprayogaḥ ||44||) and create a personal practice using a journal or vision board to chronicle the experience.


Tuesdays:  6:00pm - 9:00pm at North
January 9, 2018 - June 26, 2018

January 9, 16, 23, 30

February 6, 13, 20, 27

March 6, 20, 27

April 3, 10, 17, 24

May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29

June 5, 12, 19, 26

Two Intensive Weekends meet 9:00am - 5:00pm:
February 17 - 18 at North and April 28 - 29 at Westlake

COST: $1895




Awakening Shakti by Sally Kempton

The Shakti Coloring Book by Charles Ekabhumi Ellik

Optional materials will be recommended throughout the course


The Devata Mentorship was one of the most empowering experiences of my life. Guided by amazing teachers, who truly allowed the seat of the teacher to shift as every single person had something significant to add, I felt like the best version of myself. It has forever changed so much more than just my yoga practice. I bring the lessons and stories into my life on a daily basis, and I benefit from them and the relationships I developed through the program.
- Karen M.

The Devis and Devas have human emotions, interactions, and reactions. They have families and cope with challenges, failures, and successes. Just like us. Each story maps onto our own personal narrative, serving as a lens through which we can view our lives and the lives of our surrounding community as an interwoven, collective experience. Sharing these stories in a small group enlivens the discussions, enhances the stories' interpretations, and provides endless opportunities for self-reflection. My views as a yogini and a teacher were broadened because of this course, and I see yoga (and life) as a practice in compassion. There is divine grace within each of us, and this mentorship brings this knowledge to your heart, arming you with the tools to enrich your practice and your offerings. It will open up a whole new way of looking at life.
- Sireesha C.

The Devata Mentorship was such a gift. I was able to benefit from the wisdom and experience of my mentors and my fellow students, many of whom are outstanding teachers in their own rights. The community was generous, supportive, and ready for the challenges of "going down the rabbit hole." The mentorship brought to light new levels of depth and diversity in yoga: storytelling, discussion, exploration, art, ritual, and more became part of my practice, my teaching, and my life. I truly cannot recommend it highly enough!
- Olivia J.


ana pilar Ana Pilar, Spanish for "pillar of grace", Cruz is half Puerto Rican and half Scottish. She began her practice with a video tape of Raquel Welch's Total Body Fitness (don't laugh). In 2000 she moved from Chicago to ATX and began taking classes at Yoga Yoga. When Yoga Yoga began offering a Hatha and Ashtanga teacher training program in 2001, Ana Pilar jumped at the chance to make a life change and become a yoga teacher. She received her Registered Yoga Teacher/RYT-200 certification from Yoga Yoga's Hatha teacher training program in the spring of 2001 and started teaching Hatha classes that summer.

In 2003 she enrolled in an advanced 500 hour training at the American Viniyoga Institute under the guidance of Gary Kraftsow. She completed her 500 hour certification in 2005 and now holds an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher/ERYT-500 certification through Yoga Alliance. A constant student, she has supplemented her 500 hour education studying with Donna Farhi, Srivatsa Ramaswami, Leslie Kaminoff, Judith Lasater, Sadie Nardini, Anodea Judith and Rod Stryker. Ana Pilar has delved into the philosophical aspects of yoga in the last few years, specifically in the study of Sri Vidya Tantra.

Certifications: 200 hour Hatha, 500 hour Hatha

Teaches: Hatha, Hatha Flow, Hatha Intermediate, Vinyasa, Gentle




YPW_ICON_SusanSW A writer, teacher, mom, and global traveler, Susan has many roles, but her favorite one is helping yogis embrace the wisdom of their own experience. Her diverse and inclusive approach to practice—that yoga is for everybody and every body—inspires her teaching, which ranges from challenging, lyrical Hatha flow to regulation of the nervous system through yin and restorative styles. Susan offers yoga as an act of radical self-acceptance, and she is passionate about making yoga accessible and empowering though specialized practices including prenatal and postnatal yoga, yoga for bigger bodies, trauma-informed yoga, and other adaptive modes.

Susan is a graduate of Yoga Yoga’s RYT-500 and PRYT programs, and she has over 20 years of academic teaching experience at the university level. Her path to yoga was a slow-burning love. After earning her doctorate in literature at UT Austin in 2003, she moved around the country in various academic appointments and ended up back in Austin in 2007. Her first regular practice was a prenatal yoga class at Yoga Yoga that year, and surviving cancer in 2011 inspired her to connect more deeply to Hatha yoga, meditation, and Sri Vidya philosophy. Susan’s teachers include Dr. Douglas Brooks and Libby Bailey Cox, and she has also studied with David Swenson, Sadie Nardini, Judith Lasater, and Leslie Kaminoff as part of her 500-hour studies. In addition to the Devata Mentorship, she co-leads the Yoga in Bold series with Ana Pilar Cruz.

Certifications: 200 hour Hatha, 500 hour Hatha, 85 hour Children's, 85 hour Prenatal

Teaches: Hatha, Hatha Flow, Prenatal, Postnatal, Yoga for Stress Management, Yin, Restorative