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My work provides experiential learning opportunities that nurture meditative insight, loving-kindness, body awareness, philosophical analysis, and wise action. This is an education that views life itself as a brilliant spiritual quest.

Shannon (Sati) chmelar, ms, RMHCI 

My name is Shannon Rose Chmelar, but most people call me Sati. I am a psychotherapist and American educator focusing in yoga studies, Buddhism, wellness, and philosophy. I am a registered mental health counseling intern in the state of Florida.

For over 20 years, I've helped my clients and students holistically nurture their psychological, emotional, physical, and relational levels of wellbeing. Read more about my diverse training and experiences below and if it resonates, consider joining me for one of my offerings.  In all my work I strive to balance contemplative practices, self-reflection, and theoretical studies for busy adult students around the globe. 

STUDIES, experience, & INFLUENCES

Academics and Research 

I hold an M.S. in Mental Health Counseling program at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY. My thesis explored contrasting ideas of client expertise between the constructivism and Buddhist Abhidharma. I am a member of the Chi Sigma Iota Counseling Honor Society. In 2019, I co-authored a conference paper that examines the rhetoric of B.K.S. Iyengar with Martha Cheng Ph.D. In 2018, I assisted was one of eight specialists on the yoga research advisory council that supported psychology professor, Jonna Kwiatkowski, PhD (Mars Hill University) on her research program regarding yoga and aesthetics.  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 of the most radical colleges in USA nestled 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 thesis addressed the problematic distinction of "authentic yoga" and assessed critiques of contemporary postural yoga as being inauthentic and illegitimate. 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.  (Harvard). 

Yoga Studies 

2001 - Present

I started the practice of yoga āsana in 2001 and established a committed practice within the Aṣṭāṅga Vinyāsa yoga tradition for many years. 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 parasite-borne illness I contracted led me to broaden broaden my āsana vocabulary to a more blended vinyāsa practice. I teach traditional Aṣṭāṅga and Aṣṭāṅga-informed vinyāsa classes. Today my practice is more varied and softer. 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 was featured in lululemon's national ad campaign in 2007.

Teaching & Facilitation

2004 - Present

I started teaching yoga āsana and philosophy classes, workshops, and teacher trainings in 2004 while living in Florida. Outside the US, I have taught in Sweden, Norway, Nepal, and India. As of 2023, I have led 16 retreats, with 14 of them being held in Nepal and India. In 2015, I started to focus more of my teaching on philosophy and history and led several online study courses. While in Norway, I supported wellness programming for human trafficking victims for the Norwegian Red Cross. 

In 2011, I founded Vasudhaiva Institute (2011-2016). Vasudhaiva was an organization that led annual or biannual study immersion programs in the USA and Asia for adults seeking culturally sensitive, intellectually rigorous, and compassionate learning experiences with esteemed faculty and monastics. Vasudhaiva Institute's programming focus was within Asian religions and contemplative practices (e.g., Buddhism, Indian philosophies, yoga, meditation) and Asian cultural studies (e.g., history, architecture). Our work in Asia provided the opportunity for our students to study with Rinpoches, monks, nuns, scholars, area specialists, and archeologists.

 

Buddhist Studies 

2011 - Present

As a continual student of Buddhism, with a focus on Buddhist philosophy and psychology, I 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. I also attended a myriad of lectures on Buddhist history and philosophy at Rangjung Yeshe Institute. Buddhist teacher and translator Christian Bernert, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, and Lama Tsultrim Allione have all inspired my dharma study. I have also received in-person teachings from Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche, Dolpo Tulku Rinpoche, Ngawang Tenzin, Thupten Gongphel, and Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche. 

Bodywork & Massage

2006 - 2012

My passion for somatic wisdom and ancient healing modalities expanded into bodywork. This led me to complete over 400 hrs. of formal study in Thai Yoga Massage in Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2006. I completed a 360 hr. Thai Massage Teacher Training Program at the ITM School directed by Chongkol “John” Setthakorn as well as additional study with Rinraya “Ohm” Pankosol at the Sunshine School. I also completed training in the Feet of Fire Massage (shown in picture), Thai Herbal Compress, and Thai Foot Reflexology. After my return to the US, I attended the renowned Florida School of Massage Therapy and Hydrotherapy Program in Gainesville, Florida. I obtained my national certification and Florida State licensure in 2008 and practiced as a licensed massage therapist until I moved to Asia in 2012. 

Dance and Performance 

1997 - 2005, 2011

My love for dance began in my adolescence. This transitioned into multi-media performance art in my early 20s. I started my formal ballet training in my teens with Stephen Shaw in Tokyo, Japan. I studied improvisation, choreography, modern, and postmodern techniques under Dana Reitz, Sara Rudner, Peggy Florin, Terry Creach, and Susan Sgorbati at Bennington College in the late 90s. While in Jacksonville, Florida, I started to produce my own work, which took the shape of cathartic multi-media rituals. Between 1997-2005 I produced 25 works and collaborated on 11 other pieces. I received 8 commissions for new work. During this period, I founded a presenting organization, Dance Composers Umbrella (DCbrella) to provide performance artists the opportunity to show work collectively in a mutually supportive atmosphere. Thereafter, I founded and directed a program called LIVEncounters at Spiller Vincenty Gallery, which provided grants and space for artists to launch new work. In 2011, I produced my last work to date called Rokpa. That same year I taught a special class series,  "Performance as Spiritual Practice" for Jacksonville University MFA dance students. 

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MEMORIES

retreats, pilgrimages, classes, studies, lectures, travels

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FUN FACTS

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, on my yoga mat, reading an amazing book, having a 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?

Walking in the forest by a sea is the ideal.

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