About Sonya Chapnick

A Different Kind of Yoga Teacher

Sonya is a woman who sees the world differently than most.


As a visually impaired person, she is able to tune into many subtle energies, and she senses individual needs, challenges, strengths, breath, and points of resistance. Sometimes students ask things like "how could you tell?" or "how did you know that?" When one sense is not fully available, other senses strengthen and adapt to make new ways of 'seeing' possible. This is definitely true for Sonya. 

Where Sonya lacks eyesight, she brings much insight. She takes the information she receives, on many levels, and pairs this with her vast knowledge from both personal experience and extensive training, to meet clients where they are and guide them toward more ease, peace, comfort and strength.

"Sight is beyond vision."

~Adolf Huxley

Sonya is a certified yoga therapist with more than three decades of training and experience. (Read more about her training below). Yoga therapists see and treat each person as a whole, complex being with more than a body, and even more than a body-mind. Yoga therapists look at 5 aspects, from gross to subtle: the body, the breath, the mind (and how the mind relates to the world), the values and morals that shape a being, a life purpose or a connection to what's beyond the person. Sonya is deeply committed to weaving these dimensions of yoga therapy throughout her own life, and she joyfully brings yoga therapy to students and patients through her classes, private sessions and in her personal relationships. Read more about Yoga Therapy and Sonya's approach here.

Her specialties include customized classes for older adults, restorative yoga, programs for the visually impaired, and peri-natal yoga. Her unique combination of training fosters a deep, soothing quality in her yoga classes. Sonya is committed to sharing the unlimited potential of health through yoga. Because of her own expertise, she is able to personalize her approach to address individual student needs and goals along the journey toward greater well-being.

sonya merrin yoga fly
Sonya pregnant. downward dog
Sonya's Path to Yoga

Yoga became Sonya's lifeline about 30 years ago, after she was diagnosed with a rare eye disease, a rod-cone degeneration, preventing her from seeing with her central vision. Initially, she was told this degenerative retinal disorder could cause her to be completely blind within 3-7 years.

Sonya was a recent college graduate at the time of her diagnosis, working as an environmental biologist with a passion for pumping iron (working out and extreme strength training . With the news of impending permanent darkness, she truly felt her life was over. To help brave the unknown, she gravitated towards yoga, a move that led her onto a different, unexpected healing path of health and fitness.


Thanks to her yoga practice, Sonya has been able to adjust her life to accommodate living with a disability. Now, 30 plus years later, she retains some peripheral vision, tremendous health and vitality in general, and much inner strength and wisdom. 


Experiencing the power of a yoga practice in her own life, Sonya was inspired to devote herself to sharing the wisdom of yoga with others.

An official white cane helps Sonya 'feel' where she's going, since she mostly can't see where she's going. When you notice Sonya with her cane, you'll know it's one of the many ways she sees the world differently.  

Sonya is awesome. You'll love her. She's experienced. She's adventurous. She's gentle while pushing the boundaries of physical limitations and life itself. Sonya walks her talk, so you know she's been in every pose she talks about, and then some. Living with her own disability of blindness, Sonya understands what it's like to courageously and compassionately push past limitations and grow.


She even ventured out with Bear Grylls, appearing with him on his show, Face the Wild, in 2018. Check them out on Facebook Watch. And come explore your own adventurous yoga journey with a teacher who understands and knows how to support at every level.

Background & Work Experience

Sonya is a graduate of the Loyola Marymount University yoga therapy program (YTRx). She is a certified yoga therapist through International Association of Yoga Therapists ( C- IAYT) and is credentialed through Samata International Yoga for Prime of Life Yoga. 

She has been working in the fitness and health management industry since 1988 [with experience as a personal fitness coach and nutrition advisor].

Sonya has been teaching yoga extensively in the L.A. area since 1997, including classes at Planet Yoga, the YMCA and Yoga Works. She currently teaches group classes at Santa Monica Yoga, Los Angeles Oasis, and the Braille Institute. She also offers individualized one-on-one programs. 

Sonya received her yoga certification from Yoga Works in 1999. Her specialties include restorative yoga, peri-natal yoga and customized classes for seniors, recovering cancer clients, and for the visually impaired. Her unique combination of healing training fosters a deep, soothing quality in her yoga classes. Sonya is committed to sharing the unlimited potential of health through yoga.

As part of the LMU YTRx program, she also completed a yoga therapy internship (at the Simms Mann Venice Family Clinic Chronic Pain Management Center). In addition to serving the clinic as a yoga therapist she is also a senior mentor training the interns in the current program. Sonya extends her love for the practice by teaching at Los Angeles Oasis, Santa Monica Yoga and the Braille Institute.

Professional Certifications and Credentials
  • Yoga Therapist Certification through International Association of Yoga Therapists ( C- IAYT)

  • Optimal State of Living Mental Health Training & Essentials Framework (OSOL)

  • Yoga Alliance (ERYT 500)

  • Prime of Life Yoga (POLY) Samata International Yoga

  • 200 hour Yoga Instructor Certification from Yoga Works

  • Aromatherapy Certification

  • Advanced Thai Yoga Therapy Certification

© 2012-2019 Sonya Chapnick

Sonya pregnant. downward dog