Presence over productivity; embodiment as a means to healing; creative and critical thinking; restoring bonds between humans and the earth. These are the principles upon which Morgan Kulas founded Aarunya Yoga School in the Vail Valley.
Through both 200-hour and 300-hour certifications, Kulas helps people clarify what they are on this earth to do. Then, she helps them carry out their vision. She has certified over 20 yoga teachers since launching her school in 2019. Her authentic and unique approach to teaching has transformed people, inside and out.
“It completely changed the trajectory of my life,” says Jocelyn Laferriere, who completed the school’s 200-hour Yoga and Social Ecology Teacher Training in May 2020, and then completed the 300-hour individualized training in May 2021. “It made me open my eyes to what I want in my life, who I am and what my purpose is.”
Laferriere had worked in the hospitality industry for 14 years “doing things for others but pouring from an empty cup,” she shares. Kulas’ teaching style encouraged Laferriere to observe her deeper self, as well as her shadow side, without becoming absorbed by it.
“You can’t pull somebody out of a hole until you’ve been there,” Laferriere says. “Without doing your own deep work, you’re kind of a surface-level instructor, and I don’t want to be that, because I don’t need that, and I don’t think the world needs it.”
Kulas guided her to discover her own light and shine it; Laferriere already had a side business making herbal remedies, but Kulas helped her jump into her business full time by dropping excuses and disempowering beliefs. Now, she owns The Belden Witch and harvests local herbs to create healing salves and remedies.“
The training (involved) a deep dive of your shadow, your relationship with yourself and others, why you are doing this, what fills you up,” Laferriere explains. “It taught me to use my path and struggles to help other people.” Aarunya
Kulas is committed to “mindfulness, concentration and insight — the awakening of consciousness in service to a healthier world.” Her 200-hour Yoga and Social Ecology Teacher Training is open not only to people who want to teach yoga, but also to those who simply want to deepen their practice or otherwise benefit their communities. Her extensive curriculum includes meditation, experiential anatomy, neuroscience and social ecology, in addition to asanas, Ayurveda and much more. She individualizes her additional 300-hour program to deeply support students to follow their passions and gifts.
Kirstie Lovelace, a yoga instructor and energy healer in the Vail Valley, is currently taking the 300-hour training.
“Her knowledge goes so past what everyone sees or thinks yoga is,” Lovelace says of Kulas. “She asks questions that make you think. She has this incredible way of leading you to things.”
Kulas draws from her vast knowledge as a student of dance for over 30 years, as well as her experience teaching dance and yoga for the last 15 years. She studied yoga and meditation at Chicago College of Performing Arts, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in acting and dance. She delved into the philosophy and meditative practices of classical yoga through a private mentorship; it was there she seeped herself in the essence of yoga: concentration of the mind. She is currently enrolled in University of Hartford’s Interdisciplinary Art and Regenerative Culture MFA program, concentrating on social engagement, creative and critical problem solving and ecology. Aarunya
“I expose students to a lot of different information and let them choose what sparks their spirits,” Kulas shares. “What’s really important to me is authenticity, so I teach the way I practice. The goal of the school is to help facilitate a higher level of teaching, which involves educating teachers on the history of these practices, giving them a strong philosophical foundation and honing their voice to find their own style of teaching.”
Her program is more academic than other yoga trainings, yet it’s very embodied; through movement cues and awareness of breath, students deepen their practice. She aims to root students in their “true nature (which is) luminous and free,” she adds.
As a result of teaching in various studios and owning Mindspace Meditation Center in Edwards (from 2016 until COVID-19 shutdowns caused her to close the studio), she has had the ability to connect her students with likeminded professionals.
“She’s a conduit of energy within the community, and it’s amazing because it’s selflessly done,” Laferriere says. “She just has this energy about her that is so calming and welcoming and safe.”
Through her teachings, Kulas hopes to transform suffering into understanding and heal the body-mind-spirit connection in order to restore human bonds and regenerate systems.
“It’s really about finding your own voice and socially engaging; we reach out to a community that we care about, and we try to be of service,” Kulas says about her school. “It’s about how yoga and mindfulness can be the spine of social change, because they can be.”
Photos courtesy of Morgan Kulas.
Originally published in the Winter + Spring 2021-22 issue.