The World Needs More Yoga Teachers


Last week, Megan and I were sitting outside at a picnic bench in Del Ray chatting about our teacher training programs at Mind the Mat. One of the things we discussed is how many yoga programs and yoga teachers are out there and what sets our program and teachers apart.

Here are the highlights from our conversation:

  • • All of the teachers in our teacher training programs have a niche they are passionate about and are considered experts in the D.C. metropolitan area on the subject they teach.
  • • Our teaching team is especially skilled at empowering students to find their unique gift and to share that gift with the world.



“What do I want out of life?”

But guess what? That gift is not always teaching yoga. If you are considering signing up for yoga teacher training, the question to ask is not “do I want to become a yoga teacher?” The question is “what do I want out of life?”

We ask students to set an intention at the beginning of our programs that answers this question and through the training they live into the answer. That process informs how they share what they’ve learned after they graduate.

In our teacher trainings I have watched students:

  • • Deepen their own physical yoga practice and commit to it in a way they never have before, with incredible passion and determination.
  • • Explore their philosophical beliefs in a way that changes their outlook on life and helps them navigate life and relationships more skillfully and joyfully.
  • • Encounter a sense of community and belonging that changes the nature of their connection to self and others.

Based on their experience in our program, students go on to do things in the world they may not otherwise have done, that aren’t always directly related to teaching yoga classes. This includes:

  • • Community building and connection through movement.
  • • Offering classes to underserved populations who benefit from lifestyle teachings.
  • • Helping clients commit to and achieve physical transformation.
  • • Advocating for wellness services in professional job settings.
  • • Bringing yoga (both lifestyle teachings and movement) into their current jobs as school teachers,
  •   therapists, or other health care professionals such as nurses and OBGYNs.


Who are our expert teachers and what are their true passions?


Megan Brown

Megan is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and teaches Anatomy & Bio-mechanics in our 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Program. She is an expert on quality movement and whole body effective conditioning. Her true passion is creating connections among people and inspiring people to have healthy connections with themselves. 

Megan also directs and teaches the Hawt Pilates Teacher Training at Mind the Mat. Next session coming up November 7-10, 2019!


Sara VanderGoot

Sara is a Certified Massage Therapist, Doula and Experienced Yoga Instructor at the 500 Hour Level of Training. She teaches Special Populations, Ethics, and Business Aspects in our 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Program. She is an expert at working with special populations including pregnant women and women post-pregnancy using many healing modalities. Her true passion is to empower women to find their voice and express themselves with both strength and openness/compassion.  

Sara also directs and teaches the 85 Hour Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training at Mind the Mat. Check out the upcoming session for the 85 Hour Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training starting this September, including three empowering weekends over a three month period and twenty-five hours of one-on-one mentorship.


Jafar Alexander 

Jafar is an Experienced Yoga Instructor at the 500 Hour Level of TrainingHe teaches History and Philosophy in our 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Program. He is dedicated to the study of yoga and uses his diverse and comprehensive understanding of yogic traditions and philosophies to guide his students. He encourages his students to find space in their movements and takes them on a journey of self-awareness, conscious breath, and physical strength. Jafar’s true passion is to guide people towards freedom from the attachments that cause suffering.


Debora Jackson 

Debora is an Experienced Yoga Instructor at the 500 Hour Level of Training. She teaches Lifestyle and Philosophy in our 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Program. Debora has dedicated twenty years to the practice and study of yoga. Her life and classes reflect her authentic love of yoga. Her true passion is to inspire people to realize their potential and bring their gifts to the world.


Caroline Deitch

Caroline is Director of Mind the Mat’s 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training and is an Experienced Yoga Instructor at the 200 Hour Level of Training. She has a background in leadership development and coaching others to find their true potential which she brings to this role. Caroline has trained extensively in yoga, Pilates and working with special populations including prenatal and post-pregnancy students. Her classes seamlessly weave together elements from her multi-disciplinary background and encourage students to become present in the moment and develop self-awareness. Her true passion is expanding what is possible and creating connections between individuals – to one another, to resources & opportunities but ultimately to themselves to create a greater sense of empowerment, peace & wellbeing.


Julie Wieland

Julie is an Experienced Yoga Instructor at the 200 Hour Level of Training. She teaches Applied Anatomy and Posture Clinics in our 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Program. Julie’s academic training in bio-chemistry makes her scientist at heart. She is invigorated by the exploration of movement and gravity and the science of healing. Her classes challenge and uplift. She brings her scientific expertise to her work in the public health sector. Her true passion is health, wellness and empowerment for women and girls globally.


Yoga Teacher Training

Check out Mind the Mat’s 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training. The next session starts in September 2019 and we have a few spots left! Attend a question and answer session on August 14 or August 25. Sign up now!

Mind the Mat also offers a unique Mentorship Program. Study under one teacher of your choice to develop your unique gift through one-on-one guidance from an expert instructor.


  • The latest from Sara
co-owner, CMT, e-RYT 200, RYT 500 | Mind the Mat
Sara VanderGoot, CMT, e-RYT 200, RYT 500, is Co-founder of Mind the Mat Pilates and Yoga and Director of Mind the Mat Yoga Alliance certified teacher training program. Sara is an experienced Registered Yoga instructor with Yoga Alliance. She studied Interdisciplinary Yoga with Don and Amba Stapleton in Nosara, Costa Rica and at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Sara is Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, licensed by the Virginia Board of Nursing. Sara has been practicing massage therapy, including specialties Prenatal Massage, Postpartum Massage, Deep Tissue Massage and Thai Yoga Massage, in Del Ray, Alexandria for over 15 years and a yoga instructor for 7 years. At Mind the Mat she specializes in Prenatal Yoga, Postpartum Core Yoga, Mommy and Me Core Yoga, Partners Yoga, and Hot Flow Yoga. Sara frequently acts as a birth companion for many of her clients, doing massage and yoga during labor and delivery to facilitate comfort during both medicated and unmedicated births. Before becoming a massage therapist and yoga instructor, she was a lawyer in the Washington D.C. area and found that the healing practices of massage and yoga brought a balance to her life that she had been searching for.

Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga was founded in 2008 by Megan Brown, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Polestar Certified Practitioner of Pilates for Rehabilitation and Sara VanderGoot, Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Registered Yoga Teacher (e-RYT 200, RYT 500). In their private practices as physical therapist and massage therapist respectively Megan and Sara observed that many of their clients were coming in with similar needs: relief for neck and shoulder tension and low back pain as well as a desire for more flexibility in hips and legs, stability in joints, and core strength.

Together Megan and Sara carefully crafted a curriculum of Pilates and yoga classes to address needs for clients who are pregnant, postpartum, have injuries or limitations, who are new to Pilates and yoga, and for those who are advanced students and are looking for an extra challenge.     

2214 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301


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