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© 2016 - 2020 Shannon Sati Chmelar // All Rights Reserved


Sati's Story 

"I view all the pursuits of my life: somatic investigation, performance, yoga asana, textual study, and Buddhadharma as ways I have sought to understand and transform my interior and taste the “mystical” undercurrent of life. It has been at this junction of the personal and metaphysical that I have anchored my life."

I am an American yoga, philosophy, and religious studies educator who teaches internationally and online. 


From 2011-2016 I directed Vasudhaiva Institute, a contemplative education organization that hosted retreats, pilgrimages, and tours with scholars and contemplatives primarily in Nepal and India. I have taught yoga theory, history, and practices since 2004 in diverse locations ranging from universities to yoga studios, monasteries to living rooms. I have a long history of body-based inquiry through my previous incarnations as an āsana teacher, dancer, performance artist, and licensed massage therapist. These days my life is decidedly less kinetic; I love to mentor students in the theoretical and historical concerns associated with yoga studies and related contemplative investigations. I am influenced by research interests in contemplative studies, yoga studies, Indian philosophy, Buddhism, monasticism, mysticism, somatics, psychology, and psychotherapy.

Studies and Influences

Asian religions, yoga studies, contemplative studies, psychology 

Academics & Research 

My attraction to progressive educational philosophy (i.e., John Dewey) that stresses student agency in co-creating an educational journey led me to attend two progressive liberal arts colleges in Vermont for my undergraduate degree. I studied contemporary dance and choreography at Bennington College (Bennington, VT) and years later completed my degree at Goddard College (Plainfield, VT) with a focus on Asian religions, yoga history, and contemplative studies. My graduating 27,000-word thesis addressed the problematic distinction of "authentic yoga" and assessed critiques of contemporary postural yoga as being inauthentic and illegitimate. In  2019, I am co-authoring a conference paper that examines the rhetoric of B.K.S. Iyengar with Martha Cheng Ph.D. I have studied philosophy and history were under Professor Nagaraja Rao, Francis Xavier Charet Ph.D  (McGill/Ottawa), Khenpo Ngawang Jorden Ph.D. (Harvard), and Seth Powell Ph.D. candidate (Harvard).

I am currently completing the Post-Baccalaureate Program for Counseling and Psychology Professions through UC Berkeley with plans to begin a graduate program in clinical mental health counseling in 2020. 

Yoga Theory and Practice

I started the practice of yoga āsana in 2001 and established a committed practice within the Aṣṭāṅga Vinyāsa yoga tradition for many years (2004-2014). I was a dedicated practitioner of the complete Intermediate/2nd series, learning up to the early portion of Advanced/3rd. I completed several yoga teacher training certifications in various methodologies. However, in 2014 a severe chronic illness, new somatic impulses, and other theoretical considerations informed my decision to broaden and rearticulate my āsana vocabulary and explore other somatic methods. My earlier āsana and pranāyāma teachers included Shri Hamilton-Hubbard, Stan Hubbard, Manju Jois, Basia Lipska Larsen, Jeff Lichty, Harmony Slater, Paul Dallaghan, David Swenson, Rolf and Marci Naujokat, Greg Nardi, Tim Feldmann, and Alexander Medin. I have studied yoga philosophy and history were under Professor Nagaraja Rao, Francis Charet Ph.D., and Seth Powell (Harvard Ph.D. candidate). I am also currently influenced by the yoga studies research of Edwin Bryant, Elizabeth De Michelis, Stuart Ray Sarbacker, James Mallinson, Mark Singleton, Andrea Jain, and Jason Birch among others.


I am a student of Buddhism and have studied primarily within the Mahāyāna and Tibetan (Vajrayāna) traditions. I made several visits to Nepal (2009, 2012-2015) and lived there continuously from 2012-2013. In Nepal, I studied Madhyamaka philosophy under Khenpo Ngawang Jorden at the International Buddhist Academy. Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, and Lama Tsultrim Allione have been key figures who have inspired my devotion to dharma study. I have also received teachings from Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche, Dolpo Tulku Rinpoche, Ngawang Tenzin, Thupten Gongphel, and Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche. My scholarly influences (and in some cases personal guidance) include several key figures: teacher/translator Christian Bernert, Constance Kassor Ph.D., Natalie Quli Ph.D., and Ann Gleig Ph.D.