As a child, Jennifer Sanders was endlessly seeking a place where she belonged in this world. She grew up witnessing the difficult paths of her parents, who were both addicted to drugs and looking for answers of their own, leaving Jennifer to navigate this process of self-discovery by herself. Jennifer reflects on this sometimes painful process, stating, “I often struggled with my own self worth, identity, value, and, later in life, drug addiction. I always knew deep down inside that I had something significant to offer the world and a purpose greater than anyone thought I was capable of. I would find myself with the outcasts of society, ministering the truth of God and the infinite universe. Yet, still I was incomplete, and the wounds of my childhood were still raw 30 years later.”
Alaska native Sabrina Hargrave had been working in finance for most of her life. She has spent fifteen years climbing corporate ladders, moving from position to position, increasing her salary… yet not her happiness. Stressful jobs had left her feeling disconnected from herself, and although she had meaningful bonds with other people, she didn’t feel like she was following her purpose. She was living a life created by belief systems that had been embedded in her since a very young age. Talking about that corporate grind, Sabrina shares, “We’re taught that these are the types of jobs that you can do that you will be successful and make money at, yet often our hearts are over there with these more passionate, creative jobs. I was a very creative person when I was younger, and I shut it all down to follow the route of ‘this is where you’ll be happy because you will make the most money.’ I pushed really hard and was good at it, yet felt like something was missing.”
Often, the only way Sabrina could find some respite from the stress of her job was by receiving a massage. However, after being injured during a deep tissue massage, Sabrina found herself afraid to get another massage and risk being injured again. “I was so upset because previously, massage had been the only thing that could really get me to relax and calm down. Then a friend suggested cranial unwinding, and I never looked back. It worked perfectly for me,” she says.
Licensed Massage Therapist,
Shortly after SWIHA was founded, a guest massage instructor came to our modest campus to offer training on a technique known as “positional release therapy.” In this type of therapy, the body is positioned in strategic ways so as to release the muscles and tension stored from past injuries, accidents, and traumas. Within the first few hours of the workshop, one of the students had a reaction to the position in which her body had been placed. She began to cry and then shake; finally, her left hand involuntarily contorted into a claw-like cramp. The guest instructor (who had over 20 years of experience) stood by in confusion, looking as if he had never seen an emotional release before. Immediately stepping up to the table, I offered the student a guided visualization, taking her to a “safe place” and instructing her to concentrate on slowing her breath to calm her mind.
As the guest instructor look on incredulously, he commented, “In all my years, I have never had THAT happen on my table!” Luckily, I had the grace to not say what I was thinking, which was: “And you never will… because you don’t know how to ‘hold space’ for others!” Even if I had shared what I was thinking, this instructor probably wouldn’t have understood what I was talking about.
Cranial Massage Therapist,
When Micah Lunassential speaks, she immediately commands your attention. Warm, kind, smart, and engaging, she brings experience, understanding, and enlightenment to people with her successful YouTube channel Ms.Micah. With a focus on love and relationships this channel embraces the discussion of uncomfortable topics that so often hold us back, like fear, forgiveness, addiction, and trauma.
Micah grew up knowing trauma, having PTSD as a child from a serious accident and later getting complex PTSD from abuse as an adult. These experiences dramatically affected her view on love and on herself. After years of feeling hopeless and being trapped in a victim mentality, Micah went to a Holistic Gathering at SWIHA in October of 2012 where she had a Toe Reading that would change her life.
“I was being mentored by the then Director of the Psychology department at Ottawa University for a class I was taking entitled Trauma Psychology,” Micah shared. “The Toe Reading reminded me of what I was avoiding because I was trapped in a victim mentality. True healing was learning to feel safe in the body after trauma or domestic violence.”
Like so many other students that end up at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, Steven Jaggers also found his way here through a need to find a holistic solution to an afflictive situation. Although he was originally born in Orange County, California, he spent the majority of his childhood in Arizona with parents who struggled with heavy drug addiction. After graduating high school, he entered corporate America, joining a microchip company. “I knew then that I wanted to help people because for me, it was more fulfilling than just turning a profit.” Almost like a consequence, he got laid off and his mother desperately needed help, so he moved in to take care of her. She was having difficulty with prescription drug abuse, and he knew there had to be another option to help treat her: “We needed a different way to deal with her underlying illness, rather than the ‘Western medicine approach’, which is to just mask symptoms. I began to search for holistic ways to treat her and the pills’ side effects which created even more problems. I knew there had to be another path. I really felt like we had been tormented by Western medicine." However, Steven had his own difficulties when he was diagnosed with scoliosis, and at one point, his doctor told him that we was going to need spinal surgery. He felt strong resistance to this treatment, as he did not feel surgery was the best option for him. Well, he was right. Today, his spine is healthy, and with the treatment of massage and soft tissue manipulation, most of which he experienced through his program at SWIHA, he was able to get out of pain and avoid surgery.
Alexis Holland grew up in sunny, humid Florida and has spent years bouncing around the country with her husky, Kiya, gaining integral life experience and wisdom. Sometimes she barters musical entertainment for a place to sleep, like the time she stayed in a Vedic Temple in Sedona, AZ in exchange for playing Kirtan (a Sanskrit word for a musical form a narration). They love to set up camp, especially in the mountains, with as little as a tapestry, her blanket, food, and instruments. In the midst of her nomadic lifestyle, her love of music from various cultures began to grow, as well. She found herself attending lots of drum and music festivals, from a Sufi ceremony called a Zikr (sacred ceremony of divine rememberance), to Rainbow Gatherings, a drum and dance festival called Paralounge (northern FL), and a handpan retreat called Hangout USA (Asheville, NC). Along the way she learned to play an array of instruments, trombone being the first in grade school. Since then her collection has grown; she plays the handpan, crystal singing bowls, tuning forks, guitar, cajon, drums, and digeridoo. She reflected, “Music was all around me, in many different forms… wherever I went, there it was…and there I was, fully immersed.”
The monthly event, Gifts and Graces, is initially what brought Tara Walker-Munroe to Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA). That evening led her to enroll in the 800-hour Yoga Teacher Training program at Spirit of Yoga (SOY), SWIHA’s extended yoga school and studio. Now that she has graduated, Tara reflected that the first 200 hours of her Yoga Teacher Training were actually her favorite part of the entire program.
“There is such a sense of community that is built. So much love and compassion shared all while learning how to help others find themselves, find stillness, and cultivate peace. It's a beautiful experience. Even if someone is not interested in teaching, the 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training program is great for self discovery, self growth, self knowledge.”
During her yoga training, Tara found that her favorite teachers were Laura McKinzie, Duane Armitage, Aradhana Kaur, and India Bee. She shared that they all taught with compassion and grace. During her training, she learned the tools needed to succeed and were instilled with the confidence needed to face self-doubt. “I also have to say my fellow classmates inspired me. When you embark on such a journey, the opportunity for learning is all around you.” Tara wanted to add that she also loved her Polarity teachers- Gilad, Tracy, and Dina. In all honesty, she knows there are people she is leaving out so she shared that it's safe to say that she loved all her teachers at SWIHA/SOY.
Yoga Teacher Training,
200 Hour Yoga Training,
Yoga for Recovery,
After retiring from the Air Force and moving back to Arizona, Tom Kreienbrink found the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA) through a Facebook friend. Throughout the duration of his Air Force career, Tom was in Graphic Arts and Multimedia, and for the last 10 years he was in leadership and management positions. “I worked in a design position for FEMA in Washington D.C. for a few years after retiring from the Air Force. Bottom line – I was ready to get out of the 'rat race,' and when I found SWIHA it was the second career I’d been waiting for.”
Tom shared how he’s always had a passion for learning about natural healing methods, nutrition, energy, and spirituality. “When I started studying at SWIHA, I found it was a school that offered practical holistic modalities and techniques that I could take out into the world and help people in my community and beyond.”
Tom graduated with his Associates of Occupational Studies Degree in Holistic Health Care – with a concentration in Mind-Body Transformational Psychology. The programs he completed with his degree included the 750-hour massage program, a Certificates of Excellences in Myofascial Energetic Massage, Transformational Reiki, Cranial Unwinding, Reflexology, and Hypnotherapy.
Tom went on to share how he uses all of the combined wisdom from each of his areas of specialization in his sessions. “Of the classes and programs I’ve taken, I love them all. I use them all. Even some of the required classes like Ayurveda, Western Herbalism – Foundations of American Herbal Studies, Life Coaching, and even Public Speaking offer me a lot to draw from when working with clients.”
Southwest Institute of Healing Arts,
mind body spirit,
Certified Massage Therapist,