Stretching Toward Success: Senior Phoebe Sanders goes from student to teacher at Black Swan Yoga


Sanders demonstrates her yoga poses and skills.

On Sunday afternoons, rather than finishing up her homework or frantically cramming for a test the next day, senior Phoebe Sanders is at Black Swan Yoga. But she’s not just attending a class — she’s the one teaching it.

Sanders, who became a yoga instructor over the summer, started practicing yoga at the age of 6 with her mom, Visual Arts Chair Susan Sanders-Rosenberg, by going to parts of her Bikram yoga classes. She only habitually began attending classes at the beginning of her junior year.

Sanders is a frequent patron of Black Swan, a donation-based studio with locations across Texas. The studio, which promotes a community-focused, down-to-earth yoga experience, appealed to Sanders not only because of its close location to her house but also because of the people there.

“I was really attracted to the whole studio and its philosophy,” Sanders said. “It had such a magnetic, galvanized community.”

After a few months of regularly attending classes, Sanders began to notice not only the physical benefits of the classes but also the impact they had on her mindfulness and the improvements to her mental health.

“Yoga helps my outlook on the world, and it helps me to go inside myself from time to time,” Sanders said.

Sanders first decided she wanted to teach classes of her own after she recognized how much she enjoyed them and the high level of dedication she had towards yoga. However, after beginning the 200-hour long certification course at the start of the summer, she realized that her true motives had nothing to do with herself.

“For me, it was an opportunity to serve other people in the way that yoga teachers who have helped me grow did,” Sanders said.

The course to become a teacher took Sanders a month over the summer, as she trained around 10 hours each day at the studio on topics ranging from physical practices to the history of yoga, teaching skills and self-reflection. Sanders now uses these tools when writing the sequences for her own classes, which are at 2:30 every Sunday, and considering the intentions behind each aspect of her class.

She tries to visit the studio every day and often attends other classes besides her with friends. Senior Ellie Estes has accompanied Sanders on her yoga journey, and said Sanders makes an ideal instructor because of her ability to speak clearly and softly while still persuading others to worker harder.

“She creates a comforting environment to practice yoga and try new things,” Estes said.

Junior Zoe Cote also attended Sanders’ first class on Oct. 6 and said Sanders was well-prepared for her first venture into teaching.

“They say the hardest part about teaching is giving instructions ahead of time and keeping that rhythm within the class, and Phoebe somehow did it perfectly on her first try,” Cote said.

As a whole, Sanders said the best thing about yoga is its malleability, and she appreciates that it can take many different forms.

“Yoga doesn’t have to look like one specific thing,” Sanders said. “It’s really just about giving yourself space to evolve.”

Story by Maddie Stout

Photo provided by Phoebe Sanders