Sonja Graff

Laguna Niguel, CA
United States

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Following my divorce in 1998, I was a train wreck of epic proportions. After a slew of bad relationships left me beating my head against my headboard, I finally stopped long enough to ask, “What in the name of all that is holy and good would bring you happiness?” Unfortunately, the only answer I could muster was, “House music and Grey Goose.”
A friend, sensing my pain but fearing my wrath, took me to my first yoga class. It was there, during meditation on the environmentally friendly yoga mat, I experienced an awakening of sorts.
The yoga teacher asked the class to envision our beating hearts. She then asked us to locate a door. We were to open the door and see for ourselves what lived within our hearts. My breath caught as I begrudgingly played along, opening the imaginary door to my imaginary heart; when much to my surprise, a gorgeous, vibrantly colored, albeit imaginary butterfly fluttered out. Remembering one of the very few times my mother had been kind to me, telling me when I grew up I could be anything in the world I wanted to be, tears streamed down my cheeks as I recalled how desperately I’d wanted to be a butterfly. (My mother, true to form, belittled me, “If you had a brain you’d be dangerous. No one can be a butterfly. You’re an idiot.”)
I left yoga class that day feeling renewed, but it was short lived. Recalling my mother’s hateful words, my newfound joy was displaced by resentment; and true to form, I went to a nightclub, drank too much Grey Goose and danced til dawn.
Unfortunately for our hero, there would be years of heartbreak, loss, self-loathing and overall bad decision making before I was truly ready to part company with the past and begin the long journey to self love and forgiveness.
I’d been a not-so-dedicated student of yoga both on and off the mat since 2003. In 2007, my children and I suffered a tremendous loss when my beloved first husband was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and chose to end his life; leaving me to raise our two grieving children on my own. Fate stepped in and by the summer of 2008, I was blissfully remarried, this time to the love of my life and living in Orange County, California. By all accounts, everything seemed to be coming together. But, no matter how hard I tried to make things look good on the outside; there was still a hole in my heart from the voices in my head telling me I was an idiot and if I had a brain I'd be dangerous. I knew in order to silence the negitive head chatter, I was going to have to leave my comfort zone and dig deeper. By the grace of the universe, I clawed my way back to my yoga mat, or as I would come to know it, my magic rubber carpet--that's when the miracle happened.
After graduating from the School of Hard Knocks with a Master’s degree in Self-Deprecation, I also received my CYT-200 certification through Cloud Nine Yoga as well as my RYT-200 through Yoga Alliance. Using my past pain as a teacher, I have developed a fluid, energetic, “slaying demons” style of yoga founded on my studies in falling down, getting up, dusting off, and starting over; as well as Ashtanga, Hatha and Vinyasa Flow teachings. As a yoga guide my style reflects a deep understanding of the body, and emphasizes the dynamic interplay of focused action and receptive awareness. Through language, I weave rich imagery and metaphor into each class.
I consider myself a student first and continue to train regularly with master instructors throughout the United States to enrich my teachings. I am proud to report that in addition to trading Grey Goose in for Perrier, following my dharma and becoming a yoga teacher; I am also a public speaker, freelance writer and…a butterfly.

"I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become.” Carl Jung.

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