Sonja Mattson-Barnes has been a practicing yogini for 10 years and teaching yoga for six years. Sonja earned her yoga certification in 2008 at the White Lotus Foundation in Santa Barbara, under the instruction of world renowned Yoga Masters, Ganga White and Tracey Rich. By studying yoga’s history, understanding anatomy, spirituality, meditation and humanness in general, she made learning about yoga and life an ongoing quest. Sonja was certified in Kripalu Yoga Dance in 2010, under Megha Nancy Buttenheim. Additionally, she studied with Ken Nelson to understand and create experiential workshops. A lifetime artist and equestrian, Sonja left her corporate job in 2010 to pursue her passions opening SonaEpona Yoga Studio, a space to introduce people to the practice of Yoga. SonaEpona is recognized by Yoga Alliance and is listed in the largest internet directory worldwide for yoga studios.
“Yoga literally saved my life. At the time I found yoga I was physically, mentally and spiritually depleted. I felt like I was living in a desert, and yoga caused the rains to come and made that desert flourish,” she says. “It continues to change my life and the yoga journey continues to get richer and more beautiful. It helps me daily to be a happier, more giving, more creative and alive person. I am blessed, excited and honored to be able to help other spirits in their human experience discover their own yoga path”.
Our studio strives to be user friendly for beginners. Each yoga class offers a warm up, 45-60 minutes of asana (yoga postures), 10 minutes of pranyama (breathing excercises) and 10-15 minutes of mediation and relaxation. Students are welcome to attend any SonaEpona Class and necessary modifications can be used to suit the student and the level of experience, fitness or physical consideration. Beginner, mixed and intense classes are available at various times during the week. The yoga I teach is primarily Hatha yoga but with a heavy Kripalu influence which encourages students to listen to their bodies and allow that observation to be the ultimate authority of each students practice. Also, we do some Vinyasa “flow” and meditative sequences. We occasionally work with mantra, chanting or variety of breaths during our practice. Each class ends with a Yoga Nidra or “yoga sleep”. Students rest in Savasana and are covered with a blanket, the lights are turned down and students are guided through a relaxation/visualization. Private one-on-one yoga is also offered. These are 90 minute sessions that provide a very focused and individual yoga experience. Students that want help exploring their individual yoga path at a deeper and more personal level find one-on-one very helpful.
SonaEpona provides mats, straps, blocks and pillows to make sure each student has props to help make their practice the most comfortable and accessible as possible. The studio is a small refuge in the country and overlooks a Zen Garden that is appreciated by the city dwellers who need a change in scenery.
Being able to offer yoga to people is a real gift, there is so much that happens on the yoga mat apart from working up a sweat or sitting still. We get reintroduced to our best, shiniest, most beautiful self. At times people are bombarded by life’s stresses and we lose track of that self. Yoga is a path back to wonder, love, joy and understanding. When those things are in place many fears, barriers, and traumas can be overcome. Sometimes the perception of yoga is seen only as the asana benefits, physicality and difficult poses. Bending into a pretzel is not a requirement to practice yoga. An open mind, willing heart and perhaps a bit of curiosity is what will get results.
Since opening the studio, I have been able to really see students expand and be more joyful since beginning their practice. Physical strength, balance, and flexibility improve weeks after coming to yoga, and even more after a few months. The transformation of hearing my students say that yoga has provided them deeper more personal gifts is most important to me. Yoga changed the way they look at themselves, others, life and enhances their overall sense of well being.