Teacher Spotlight: Q&A with James Sander

James began practicing moving meditation and flow arts in 2004 by-way-of Tai Chi Chih and healing hands. Hatha yoga found him during an intensive experience in the winter of 2012 via the Veterans Administration. Yoga and meditation stirred his curiosity immediately. 

He began practicing transcendental meditation the following year. And since, he’s never halted his exploration of contemplative arts whether the modality is the mantra, meditation, asana, breath-work, and flow. 

1. How did you discover yoga and how has it impacted your life? 

A November morning in '11 and I arrived for work at Microsoft. I raised my badge to open the door. My body was hit with the most intense anxiety. My body said, "No! We will not work in Corporate America anymore." I'd never felt anything like it before not even deployed overseas. Searching for help, I called the Fargo Veterans Center. I recognized the voice but could not put a face to it. After driving over the vet center a councilor greeted me. He was a high school guidance counselor from when I was at Fargo South. Not mine, but I knew him. I never knew Schneider was a Vietnam vet. Now, he was working at the vets center. He helped me enroll in an intensive PTS, depression, and substance abuse program with the VA. He cut through red tape like the breath through angst and stress.  

I figured that the treatment would be old combat vets smoking cigarettes in a circle. There was AA, but I was surprised that the VA had a full mindfulness, meditation, and yoga track. I knew the mindfulness track was for me having practiced Tai Chi & Healing Hands in college. The program planted the seed of yoga in my body, so when I quit drinking later. I intuitively knew that I would replace drink with breathwork, happy hour with practice, binging watching with self-study and community. I don't know if it was synchronicity, fate, or Divinity that Ron was the veteran who pick up the phone that day, but he opened the door for me to self-heal.  

Yoga has granted me the awareness that I walk through darkness to be a single light. Yoga's impact on my life is I am in better alignment with my dharma- to profess self-evolution, to seek not the teacher, but what the teacher seeks, and to be service over personal profit. 

2. What does the Urban Sanctuary and yoga community mean to you? 

A space where all can be their authentic self. A space to create and express freely. A studio devoted to justice for all souls.  

3. Quite often men may be intimidated by yoga. What are some of the reasons that men should get into this practice? 

Increased range of motion 

Promotes active rest 

Improved breath capacity 

Increased emotional intelligence 

Transformation of frustration and anger into purpose and growth 

Enhances overall health   


4. The previous year has been a tumultuous one. What type of energy is needed for 2021? 

A return to tangible community and abandon the narratives pushed from our screens.  

5. How do you practice self-care? 

Regular embodiment practice, Japa and ritual work, appreciating the arts, literature, and music, stand-up comedy- laugh often, grounding in nature, eating more local, non-processed foods.