What’s Next?

Tues, Oct 9
Week 8?

Today we had a great practice. Michelle taught the class and while it was a great workout with lots of sweat it was very non-stressful at the same time. I enjoyed it a lot!

Then during our teacher training class we talked about what we liked and disliked about the assisting workshop the Sunday before. I shared that I really loved the whole thing and wondered if people could get a job just assisting! Amy did say that if we want to help assist in a class let the teachers know that. They also may start a mentoring/assisting program of sorts.

Next two of our teacher trainees shared their research about opening a yoga studio. It was very interesting and definitely got me thinking (okay daydreaming!) about how cool it would be to have my own yoga studio someday! Who knows, right? Amy shared a bit about things to think about too.

We then talked about modifications to make for pregnant yogis. This was interesting and helpful to know that some women, especially if they have had an active practice before pregnancy, can continue to practice with modifications right up until delivery. Making sure their doctor has cleared them to practice is an important first step. The basic things to avoid for a pregnant woman doing yoga are:1) no lying on the back, 2) no lying on the belly, 3) no abs, and 4) no twisting.

Our homework is to write down what we want next in terms of yoga like 6 months out, 1 year out and 3 years out. Gulp. This should be interesting. I’m not sure I know any of those answers right now. I’m already thinking about the training being over in a week or so and while I’ll be glad to get some weekend time back I’m not good with endings of things and will be sad. The one thing I know for sure is that I want to keep learning and practicing. I would like to gain some experience teaching and also perhaps assisting. Who knows. I’m open to the possibilities out there and will have to just do some thinking about it. Now, I have some other things to pay attention to with my family, so that will take precedence, I think. One thing at a time, and one breath at a time…for sure.

My First Class!

Sun, Oct 7

I was so glad the afternoon before my first class (my final project for the teacher training program!) was filled with the assisting workshop. I already blogged about the workshop – it was totally awesome in its own right, but it also helped to keep my mind off of the fact that my class was mere hours away. I was in the middle of shavasana and getting a great assist from my partner when someone said, “oh, my gosh it is 6:20pm!” My shavasana mood was immediately over and I started getting nervous! My class was to start at 6:45pm!! We finished up the workshop and quickly cleaned up the room and I went out to get ready to greet my attendees! It was so fun to see so many friendly faces come in the door. With each person that arrived I felt more at ease, realizing that there was so much love and support for me in the room. I felt confident and ready to share myself and my love of yoga with everyone.

We turned the music off and I began with telling the class about the Hudson Food Pantry (the agency who the class was for) and how it has been meeting the communities needs since April. In September , 33 distributions were given, providing food for 89 people!! Very cool. I then began the class and shared the theme of the class while the class was in Child’s Pose. The theme was “Be Where Your Feet Are”. I shared a story about our whitewater rafting trip this summer and how Zach had a difficult time enjoying the moment. I shared how he yelled over the noise of the rapids, “what are we going to do next?” We continued on through the sequence and I continued to feel good about my cuing and direction. I assisted just a tad for fear I would lose my place in the sequence. I tried to weave the theme into the class at a couple points that made sense. In Gorilla pose I asked the class to notice, as they were looking at their feet, if they were being where their feet are or if they were thinking about what they were going to do after class. Then again in Boat pose (which can be a killer ab workout!) I asked the class if they were in the boat in the rapids wondering what comes next or if they were being here and just working the pose. At the end of the class I read one of my favorite meditations while the class was on their right side – in between shavasana and coming up to sit. I like this time in the practice. It just feels meditative for me. Overall I felt good about it and relieved that it was over. I got some great feedback from my family and friends who were there. There were 21 people there in total (not counting Shelly, my assisting partner, and Charry who was observing in the back), 9 of which were my teacher trainee friends. I was so thankful for them all coming and supporting me!! I look forward to getting my official review feedback from the teachers this weekend!

Connection vs. Correction

Sun, Oct 7
Assisting Workshop!

So today our teacher training session was focused on assisting. Assisting is what teachers can do to help students better experience a pose during class. While a teacher is teaching class and walking around the room, typically he/she will assist students gently through touch and breath. Sometimes it is hardly a touch at all, but just being there energetically for the student, offering support for him/her. It is one of the ways a teacher can really connect with her students too. At the beginning of the workshop we had a discussion about assisting in general. Assisting really involves trust at the core. It is not a good idea for someone to do a lot of assisting with someone who is new to yoga because there is no trust established yet. The new yoga student is taking on so much when they are first at the studio: new place, poses, music, connecting to their body, etc. The last thing they may want to have to take in is the touching!! The other thing that Amy warned us about is that as new teachers we may not want to touch very much at all. It is overwhelming for us too just teaching the basic sequence! The other tricky thing about assisting is that everyone is different and sometimes different from day to day. There will be times when people do not want to be touched (they are sick, or just not into it) and other times when people really dig it. It is important for the teacher to watch how the student is practicing and take clues from that. Also, the teacher should ask about injuries at the beginning of class and take note of that. Finally, the teacher can ask things like, “is that too much?” while they are starting an assist so the student can respond. In the same way that students may have days that they don’t want to be touched, the same can be said for teachers too. There might be days when we don’t really feel like it. The advice is DON’T ASSIST when that happens! The student can feel that the touch is forced or not genuine and that is not a good experience for anyonel. Amy underscored throughout the workshop that the assist is not a correction, but a connection which is a big difference. Our approach needs to be gentle and supportive not forceful or depending. We should also try to remind students that an assist is a caring, supportive gesture, not a correction or a “fixing”.

We then went around the room and each of us shared an example of a bad assist that we have had in the past. There were comments made about bad assists with:
Crescent Lounge
Balancing Poses
Floor Bow
Pigeon
Crow
Child’s Pose
Upward facing dog
Forward Fold
Balancing Half Moon
Wide Leg Forward Fold
Bridge
Wheel

There were quite a variety expressed and the interesting thing was that some of the assists that were identified as “bad” for one person was claimed as “good” for others in the group. This is a tricky business!

The last part of the workshop was my favorite! We partnered up one-on-one with someone else and took turns assisting him/her as they went through a majority of poses in the sequenced and learned the assisting options that there are out there for us. I loved this! We watched Amy as she assisted Charri in the front of the room and we tried to copy her. It was so fun to do it and I really enjoyed doing it and helping my partner get more open and “experience the pose better”. She also told me that the assists felt really good to her and that made me feel really good too. I almost felt like it was along the same lines as giving someone a massage. I actually got sweaty assisting (of course), which I found out is a good thing! I loved the way Amy described assisting. She said it was like seeing a work of art. I think this is so true. I actually asked if people can just get jobs assisting!! And yes, they can! I think the other reason why I liked it is because when you don’t have any teaching responsibilities and can just assist, you can give more of your all to the student. I hope to volunteer to assist at the Yoga Lounge sometime after I graduate the teacher training program so I can continue to grow and learn about assisting. It is so cool. Of course, as I mentioned before, we also did learn that there are a number of non-touching ways to connect with students too and are important. Charri reminded us that we are already all connected and we do not have to be limited to just using touch. We can connect through eye contact, words, compassion and caring about students. Indeed.

Weekly Activity
M – Rest
T – Teach at noon at JCU; 6:30pm power class and TT
W – Run 3 miles; Practice teach with Shelly
Th – 6 am power
F – 6am Stretch; Run 3 miles
S – rest (Homecoming weekend!!)
S – TT class; My first class to teach!; Carl’s class (45 min)
M – 6am Power; Run 3 miles

The Sequence Quiz – no pencil and paper needed!

Tues, Oct 2
Week 8??

So today’s class was another good one! First we practiced, as always, and it was another great workout. Next we talked a bit about voice in the yoga room and identified the pros and cons of using music, microphones and just general comments about voice.

Next we had a yoga sequence quiz! Yes, I actually thought it was going to be a paper and pencil quiz (duh). No. We went through the sequence and people were randomly picked to jump up and teach a section. It was a little nerve racking. I found myself trying to remember the section coming next until my name got called. I was also just hoping that I wouldn’t get balancing poses. They are not my favorite poses, really. I find myself cringing most classes when it is heavy on the balancing poses. This probably means that I need to do them more, of course. So, I wasn’t too shocked when my name was called for part of the balancing series! Thanks, Universe! We were in the middle of it, so all I had to teach was dancer’s pose and tree. I actually had fun with it and even added my own flair. It was a tiring night, however, since we had already practiced a 75 class (and very hot, I might add!!) and then basically did another 60 minutes – from like 9:15pm – 10:15pm. Good though.

In other news, I taught today at JCU at noon (60 minute class) and it went really well!! I am so appreciative of my yoga teacher, Lisa, who has been so generous with her support and feedback. I wasn’t planning on teaching, but she twisted my arm on the spot and I did it! There were probably between 12-15 people there so it was very cool. There were some brand new women (students) in the front so that was helpful to me, reminding me to cue well. The highlight for me was at the end of class. One woman who practices frequently at JCU came up to me and said that she had successfully done crow for the first time today! Totally made my day!! She thanked me and said she looked forward to another class! It is interesting because I don’t have any teaching gigs yet. I’m not even sure how that works. We have to finish first! First things first! I need to teach my yoga lounge class first too which is this Sunday! I’m a bit nervous. I will practice tomorrow with Shelly and Mike so we’ll see how that goes. Cross your fingers!!!

“The Lounge is Alive with the sound of OMing…”

Sun, Sept 30

Today was a long day at the Yoga Lounge! Most of us were there from 12:30pm – 8:30pm! In addition to our normal teacher training class (12:30pm – 6:30pm), we also had two of our classmates final project classes scheduled after class – one at 6:45pm and one at 7:45pm.

The teacher training part of the day was really interesting. We focused on sound and rhythm in yoga and all of the things we talked about fit into that theme. Michelle was our only teacher and she rocked the class! We started the class in a very cool way. We OM’d as a group for 15 minutes! For those who do not know OM is a mantra, or vibration, that is sometimes chanted at the beginning and end of yoga classes and is the sound of the universe.

Here is a little background on OM: “Somehow the ancient yogis knew what scientists today are telling us—that the entire universe is moving. Nothing is ever solid or still. Everything that exists pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Om. We may not always be aware of this sound in our daily lives, but we can hear it in the rustling of the autumn leaves, the waves on the shore, the inside of a seashell.

Chanting Om allows us to recognize our experience as a reflection of how the whole universe moves—the setting sun, the rising moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the beating of our hearts. As we chant Om, it takes us for a ride on this universal movement, through our breath, our awareness, and our physical energy, and we begin to sense a bigger connection that is both uplifting and soothing.”

For me this experience was very cool. The 15 minutes went by really fast and I felt energized when we were finished. It was neat to feel the vibration both in me as I OM’d, but then also amongst the group when I was quiet.

Next we went over the Sanskrit pronunciation of all the poses. It is a beautiful language with the “ahh” sound throughout the alphabet.

Next we talked more about the 7 chakras (energy sources in the body) and learned about the meaning, the syllable (vibration) and color that goes with each one and the poses that can activate each one. There are lessons associated with each chakra as well as physical dysfunctions associated with each one based on that part of the body. This was so interesting. I just summarized it here.

1. Base (Mulahdhara) – syllable – LAM; Color – Red; Base of spine, legs, bones, feet, rectum, immune system
“I am a part of the living universe. I acknowledge my connection with all living beings”
Poses: Mountain, boat, seated poses

2. Sacrum (Svadhistana) – syllable – VAM; Color – Orange; Reproductive system, hip area, lower back
“I have the power to create. i am able to bring something new into this life”
Poses: Child’s Pose, Triangle, Pigeon, Hero, Forward ben

3. Solar Plexis (Manipura) – RAM; Color – Yellow; Abdomen, stomach
” I am in control of my own power. i am able to make my own decisions.”
Poses: Twisting poses, wheel

4. Heart (Anahata) – YAM; Color – Green; Heart, lungs, shoulders and arms
“I feel compassion for all living beings.”
Poses: Bow, Upward Dog

5. Throat (Vishuddha) – HAM; Color – Blue; Throat
“I express my deepest thoughts and feelings with clarity.”
Poses: Camel, Fish, Shoulder Stand, Bridge, Wheel

6. Third Eye (Ajna) – OM; Color – Indigo/Purple; Brain
“I am in tune with an infinite source of guidance.”
Poses: Inversions

7. Crown (Sahasrara) – Silence; Color – White; Beyond physical – union with God
“I am what I am.”
Poses: Shavasana

Next we did an exercise about pacing for a class. We practiced doing a few rounds of Sun A and Sun B with two different types of pacing – one was slow and the other was double time. Our challenge was to breathe a full round of 4 count breath to last through each pose. It was interesting hearing what people preferred. I like the faster one more because I enjoy faster paced classes, but not everyone agreed. It made us think about pacing for the classes we will be teaching.

Our restorative class was only okay for me today. I realized when I got horizontal that I was really congested. I had been sneezing on and off through class and am finally coming to terms with the fact that I actually DO have a cold. Yuck – not time for that!

After restorative we had some specials guests come in to talk about chanting with us. I enjoyed this the most! We learned and practiced a few of the most common chants used before or after a yoga class. They are used to set a tone or to invoke a feeling or message. Then one of the women played guitar and another instrument called the quitar (sp???) and taught us some other chants of devotion or celebration. These were call and response chants so they were really easy to learn and fun to sing.

The last part of the evening consisted of both Shelly’s class (my partner so I assisted!) and then Jillian’s class. They both did great! I think we were all happy to have the evening finished!

Going Deeper

Tues, Sept 25

Tonight’s class was another fave! First we had a very crazy and fun practice with Amy! She was in a kookie mood and was really funny throughout the class. It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a power class (with a great workout to boot!).

Then our teacher training class started out with our feelings check-in around the circle. Then we went around and commented on what we liked about Sunday’s class and what we didn’t. Many of us said that it had been our most favorite session so far – largely in part because we learned some more about each other. I thought the same thing and I actually could not think of anything I didn’t like about Sunday. Then we went around and each shared what we felt we were doing well (yogically speaking) in our life and what we were working on. It was a little bit deeper of sharing and I loved it! It was a great sharing and connecting activity for our group. While I won’t share what the rest of the group said, I can share what I said. I said that I was doing better at living in the present moment and shared an example from vacation this summer. I said I was still working on not reacting. I seem to do well for a time or a certain situation, but then at the next react the way I normally would. I notice that if I’m worn down or tired I tend to go back to my default mode. Like I keep saying, it is a work in progress. It was really neat to hear everyone share. I think we have focused on practicing the sequence so much that we needed to spend some time connecting with each other. Both Sunday and tonight really cemented that and it felt good. That conversation took most of the time. The last hour we spent talking about concerns or problems we had about our class project. Amy and Michelle helped us by giving us great suggestions about cutting down sequences and helpful cues to use for beginners. We also talked a little bit about the role of themes/stories in the class. I feel a little better about how to construct my sequence and have a better direction about what I will share during my class. I have 13 people who have RSVP’d “yes” so hopefully they can all still come on Oct 7! I will email them reminders a few days before just in case. And there are other people who may just come that didn’t RSVP and that is great! I’m a bit nervous just because I feel like this is my only yoga class to teach. I mean, I hope I will have more in the future, but right now – it is all about this class!! So, no practice teaching again tonight, but that is okay. I’m practicing with my partner on Thursday night so we should be in good shape for her class on Sunday!

This week’s activity:
Tuesday – noon yoga at JCU, Teacher Training class – 75 minute power and class
Wednesday – Home practice
Thursday – 6am Power; noon – teach at JCU
Friday – 6am Stretch; Run 3 miles; Brian’s class (45 min); Practice teach and practice – 60 min
Saturday – 90 minute power; Observe Anya’s class
Sunday – Yoga Stretch, Teacher Training class; Restorative

Re-Connecting

Sun, Sept 23

During today’s class there was no practice teaching at all! It was a nice break, actually! We spent most of the time in discussion. First we talked about the homework we had turned in – the review of all different types of yoga. Then we talked about the various yoga workshops people attend and the pros and cons of opening a yoga studio. It was interesting to hear Amy’s perspective and how it has changed from where she started 4 1/2 years ago when she opened.

We then reviewed the Yamas and Niyamas and journaled about how we have incorporated them into our lives. This was cool and it was nice to reflect on how I do feel like I’m incorporating them into my life! I’ll refrain from sharing it all here. Suffice it to say it was a good exercise to journal about.

Next we talked a little bit about Brian’s class. Amy and Michelle gave him feedback and then the class (those who were there) gave some feedback too. We were reminded about the following things for our own classes: greet people, and make a donation jar if we are doing a donation class. We also were reminded to keep promoting the class! I think I have about 13 who have said they will come, so hopefully they will all come! I think I’ll send them all reminders too!

Next we did this cool partner strap exercise. We took turns in certain poses and our partner used the strap to lift us into better alignment. We did this in downward facing dog, warrior 2 and triangle. Then we practiced chanting for the first time and that was fun. We did call and response with about 3 different chants in Sanskrit. Next it was time for restorative which was majorly relaxing today!! I almost fell asleep again! At the end we did this cool partner exercise sitting back to back. Very cool and a cool connection.

We ended with ohms and that just like the right place to end.

Homework:
1. Research all the triangle variations we can find. Explain the different styles and variations and compare it to the Baron version.
2. What the six deep external rotaters and how are they all opened up in all the poses?
3. Sutra book: page 84, number 3

First one done!

Fri, Sept 21

We had teacher training tonight from 7:45pm – 10:15pm, but first many of us went to Brian’s class! He was the first one of us to teach his class for the final project. It was from 6:45pm – 7:30pm. He did a great job!! I’m really glad I went. I hope to make it to all of them! Most of the people there were either from our class or were people who practice regularly so I think that made Brian feel more comfortable to see familiar faces!

Teacher training went pretty well. We paired up with another person (not our partner) and practiced teaching the whole sequence for an hour, gave feedback for 15 minutes and then switched. I worked with Lisabeth. I felt good about my teaching. I remembered the sequence really well and gave fairly good instructions with a few flubs here and there with lefts and rights. She gave me some good feedback about remembering to offer modifications and to be careful about assisting – to really be gentle and guiding. This was really helpful.

Practice Teaching

Thurs, Sept 20

So today I was able to actually teach a real class – thanks to our yoga instructor at JCU! Lisa is so kind and generous. Once she found out that I was doing teacher training she offered to let me teach her class sometime for practice. A few weeks ago I just did a few Sun A’s and then gave it back to her, but today I did the whole class! The one bummer was that I had a 1pm meeting so I had to leave a bit early. I taught up through 1/2 pigeon and then had to leave. I didn’t like having to leave before the class was over, but I really enjoyed the chance to practice teaching! I got some good feedback from my friend, Mary Ann. I would have liked to get feedback from the rest of the class – hopefully I can next week. Lisa did share some feedback to via email which was helpful. She said she thought I did a great job, but need to remember to let there be silence sometimes. I was aware that I talked a lot during the class. The other thing she said was if I tell the students they will have 3 breaths to allow them the time to take them. Both of these things are true and I think are just the result of nerves for sure!! I think in general I just need to slow down. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to teach again before my class on Oct 7.

Fabulous Feedback!

Tuesday, Sept 18
Week 7!

It is so hard to believe that we are on week 7 already of teacher training! I feel like I just started in so many ways and I want to keep on learning. I understand now what everyone meant when they talked about how little 200 hours really is. I’ve learned so much, but still feel as if I’ve only just scratched the surface of yoga in teacher training. I think I’ve given it my all given the other things I’m juggling right now. I mean it would be great if I could get and read all the books on the suggested reading list, but let’s face it – I’m lucky just to get the required stuff done! And surprisingly, I’m okay with this! It just means I can keep right on learning!

So tonight we had a great practice. Even on her off days (which I didn’t think it was one, but she might have) Amy has such a great class. She has such a gift of being able to connect with people and share in the yoga room with just the right balance. I hope I can do that.

Next we did the best feedback/practice teaching exercise yet. We picked out of a bowl (okay it was the Tibetan singing bowl!) to figure out what part of the sequence we were going to teach that night. Five of us were on the mats first while 5 were observing and writing feedback for each person. So one person started teaching his/her part of the sequence for 5 minutes to the other four. After 5 minutes, the next person taught the next part, etc until those first five were done. The people writing feedback then turned in their anonymous feedback to Michelle to distribute to each person. Then the groups switched. I was in the second group and taught the triangle series. I was really happy that I drew that one because I felt really good and confident that I could teach that one. I got up there and just did it. I felt calm, cool and collected, definitely better than I have ever felt teaching before. I remembered the sequence and felt like I cued the poses well and gave good breath cues. I also felt like I connected well with the “students”. When everyone had finished teaching we got a chance to review our individual feedback and then summarize it for the group. For the most part my feedback was really positive so that felt good! Our feedback is formatted with four (4) prompts: (1) I heard…(2) I saw… (3) I feel…and (4) I can relate to.

Here is the summary of feedback that I got:

I heard…
a nice volume and breath being called; sometimes a bit of hesitancy, but that will change with time
called the poses, good directions
clear enunciation, knowledge of poses in her voice, good volume for the room, guiding breaths for class to hear and imitate
a confident voice, good direction, good cues on breath, called poses well
a soothing voice

I saw…
someone really watching the students; some discomfort with assisting, but that’s just due to multitasking
breathing with groups’ movements
connection with students
a teacher really watching the students; got block for student who needed it; adjustments being made, calm presence
gaze at students good, observant teacher, wanted to help, a confident teacher
a nervous face – I saw you wanted to assist and then would back off – just get in there! You also seemed to want to jump out of your skin (body language) Relax!

I feel…
you are getting more comfortable and enjoying yourself
you are amazing
Lisa will be a very good teacher. Her voice is strong and calm at the same time
you knew the series well, told good stories about why the pose is helpful
feel confident that you know the sequence

I can relate to…
how hard you are trying, lots of poses – can’t really get through them in 5 minutes on both sides
the nervousness

For the first time I felt relaxed and more natural teaching tonight. I almost forgot that it was an “exercise” and I found that my 5 minutes went extremely fast, rather than finding myself wishing I could be done in a hurry! I noticed that everyone had improved quite a bit since last time! It was a good way to teach and give feedback. It was a positive, productive and fun class!