Sandy Castillo has always been a teacher sharing her journey through training for triathlons to thriving through cancer without side effects. Fast forward to 2008 and add sacred yogini to her already growing perspective as a global goddess. She teaches Vinyasa flow integrating the tantric Kundalini roots to heighten awareness. Sandy has been teaching and inspiring others for more than 30 years as a leader.
As a breast cancer survivor leading a yoga and meditation class on the beach, the class was surprised to see a single seal appear directly behind Sandy. She has been found teaching during the National Breast Cancer Coalition Project LEAD training on the lawn, and at the Breast Health Collaborative of Texas and CanCare conferences during breaks. She is irreverent. Teaching is in her blood. After taking numerous survivors on a Cultural Meditation Tour for years, she has been hosted by MD Anderson Cancer 180 for young adults and co survivors as well as the Women of Unity. The tour consists of breathing and inner knowing experiences to change the perspective while among Rothko’s larger than life canvases, before a healing yoga-inspired walk on the labyrinth replica of Chartres followed by tea and treats with Chris McKann from the Path of Tea.
Sandy became a group exercise instructor when she turned sixteen and went on to teach, train and inspire others through running 5 and 10Ks, triathlons, spinning, pilates and then finally became a yoga instructor in 2008, deciding to receive training in Austin as a Kundalini yoga and meditation teacher as taught by Yogi Bhajan. Little did she know that she was in fact indoctrinated into Kundalini when tasting the elixir of life and keeping it for her self in the early nineties while working in Northern California. She says, I didn’t know what I was doing, but every Sunday we would meet at the Community Center in Stanford and the teacher was an angel. Sometimes class was an hour and other times it was four hours but it never felt like more than ten minutes. She was ethereal and time would alter during her class. I knew then, that I wanted to follow in her footsteps. After adding the certification to her collection, a year later she was diagnosed with breast cancer and used all of her training to offset the side effects of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy by using her mind and nourishing her body to empower the transformation that was going on in her world.
She has witnessed the cultural transformation of mind and body exercise over the past thirty years as an instructor is still drawn to the gong. When she received her spiritual name, she was so overwhelmed that she cried. She is Sarang Kaur, which means goddess of beauty and music.
Since Sandy was a yoga teaching vegetarian when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, when she was finished with chemo and radiation therapy, she found healing in her own advocacy for others joining the ranks as survivors. Affecting the future of breast cancer therapy, she joined the ranks of other educated patient advocate Trifectas affecting change by lobbying for legislation, advocating for cancer research and empowering those newly diagnosed as a patient supporter. In 2013 after graduating from the Glasscock School at Rice University from the Leadership Institute for Nonprofit Leadership, she continued to attend 13 scholarships traveling from as far as Seattle to Uganda sharing inspiration in advocacy during conferences and symposia as it promotes healing for both the survivor and those thriving! She holds the space for positive changes in both business, advocacy and as a wellness coach for those affected by dis-ease. Sandy believes that those affected by cancer are the ones to affect positive change for the future of healthcare and their voices carry weight that cannot be duplicated. The only challenge is finding survivors that feel the same way and want to use their voice to change the future of cancer care and survivorship.
As an advocate, she started teaching Conscious Yoga utilizing yoga, pilates and meditation to awaken the yogi within by taking students to a point where meditation was integrated within class. She also shared Pink Pilates for women recovering from breast cancer surgery to increase their range of motion. In addition, as a Young Survival Coalition State Leader for Texas, she has also participated in the YSC Tour de Pink 200-mile bike ride along Pacific Coast Highway 1 as the top survivor fundraiser in 2013. She will tell you that when she looks back at life, she will always remember the third and final day of the ride going through a neighborhood along the coast and hitting 39 mph while in the fog going downhill! She yelled out, Thank you God!
Sandy co-coordinated the first ME! First Women’s Retreat in 2011 to launch women out of their comfort zones and into a life of their own with yoga and positive life intentions. After years of teaching in studios, she launched Flittercake as a business and nonprofit cross-pollinating her love of the outdoors and degree in architecture with asana and pranayam with the Cultural Meditation Tours now open to the public, while continuing to teach and hosting global women’s retreats. Check details for upcoming retreats throughout Texas, to Paris in 2015 and Japan in 2016.
Sandy has been featured on Channel 2 Houston, Fox 26, Oncology Times, NSIDE Texas MD, and recently on The Hive Society.com, where philanthropy is cool. She has written Chemo-Secrets: The Seven Pathways to Wellness and contributes to many publications and features.