"A contemplative education not only empowers the intellect but also nurtures an experiential understanding of compassion, meditative insight, wise action, and wellbeing. It is an education that views life itself as a brilliant spiritual quest."
Hello! My name is Shannon Rose Chmelar, but most people call me Sati. I am an American
educator who mentors students in yoga studies,
Asian religions, contemplative studies, and wellness. I teach internationally and online from my home. Current locations: Oslo, Norway and Rochester, NY.
I have a passion for education that consciously attends to the body and heart while also training discursive and analytical faculties (i.e., traditional academics). My belief is that we can nurture our intellectual maturity in a way that is connected to our emotional, physical, and relational levels of wellbeing fuels every course, workshop, and retreat that I teach. After years of teaching in-person events, I recently launched my online programs that balance contemplative practices, self-reflection, and theoretical studies for busy adult students around the globe.
I am currently attending the M.S. in Mental Health Counseling program at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY. 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 and practice since 2004 in diverse locations ranging from universities to yoga studios, monasteries to living rooms. I also have a long history of body-based inquiry through my previous incarnations as an āsana teacher, dancer, performance artist, and licensed massage therapist. All these experiences—both as a facilitator and student—have informed my ongoing passion to craft educational journeys that nourish, challenge, and inspire.
1. Always in my refrigerator:
Kale, oat and almond milk, hummus, and berries.
2. Achievement that I’m particularly proud of:
Successfully launching a 16-day Buddhist pilgrimage for Vasudhaiva Institute in 2015. This complex event included taking students across two countries and many locations with a team of scholars, lamas, and specialist guides.
3. A highlight of my 20s:
Facing fears and finding internal reserves of personal power through dance, performance art, and yoga.
4. My astrological signature:
Sun: Capricorn, Moon: Taurus, and Rising: Pisces.
5. One of my best decisions:
Changing my plans last minute to travel to Bir, India in 2012 where hours after arriving, I ended up on the top of Mt. Billing in a storm to pick up a group of stranded paraglider pilots—one who is now my husband.
6. Happiest when . . . :
I’m teaching, reading an amazing book, having a deeply heart-warming conversation, and taking forest walks
7. What makes a house a home:
A meditation shrine, cozy blankets, incense, candles, plants, soothing music, and some books.
8. An unfinished project:
I'm on a quest to visit a long list of America's great national parks.
9. Favorite places:
The forests and fjords of Norway, the Tuscan countryside, the Berkshires of Massachusetts, Yellowstone National Park, Boudhanath stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal and the Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya, India.
10. Sea, forest, or desert?
The forest, most definitely.
STUDIES & INFLUENCES
ACADEMICS AND RESEARCH
I am currently attending the M.S. in Mental Health Counseling program at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY. 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 graduate-level 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 co-authored 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 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. Key figures who I consider to be personal mentors are Buddhist teacher and translator Christian Bernert and Constance Kassor Ph.D., professor of Buddhist studies at Lawrence University. Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, and Lama Tsultrim Allione have all inspired my dharma study. I have also received teachings from Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche, Dolpo Tulku Rinpoche, Ngawang Tenzin, Thupten Gongphel, and Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche.
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. In 2014, a severe chronic illness that I contracted in Nepal and new somatic impulses informed my decision to broaden my āsana vocabulary to a more blended vinyāsa practice. 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.