Yoga

Restorative Yoga

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Restorative yoga is a form of yoga that seeks to find physical, mental and emotional relaxation.  There are props oh so many props, bolsters, blankets, blocks and many more.  I have been participating in several restorative yoga classes, usually when I am feeling extra stressed and have the need to be soothed. I have never left one of these classes feeling unfulfilled. I'm always glad that I went.

So, it was with some delight and trepidation that I was asked to be a regular teacher of a restorative class on a Sunday afternoon.  I said yes of course, then silently inside had a panic attack.  I have never taught one of these classes before and having a regular gig was just a little intimidating.

Thank goodness, I found a 30-hour training locally, what a godsend!  This training is giving me a framework for developing classes and learning more of the philosophy of this type of yoga.

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I have always said there are two prerequisites for doing restorative yoga, that is breathing and lying down!  But it is so much more, it’s about surrendering and enlightenment. In some of the faster paced yoga classes like Vinyasa and Hatha it’s about finding your edge and staying there.  Restorative is the complete opposite of this, it’s about finding your comfort level and relaxing using props or feeling support of the ground beneath you, it’s about meditation and slowing down in our fast-paced lives.

So off I went to teach my first class.  90 minutes…...whaaat!!  That’s an awfully long time to fill.  I had spent days putting together just the right mediation, researching restorative poses like a PhD student.

I was a bag of nerves when I arrived at the yoga studio, everything had to be right, the lighting, the music, the temperature of the room.

People started wandering in to take the class, yikes this is really happening I thought to myself.  We all got settled, I took a deep breath, invited everyone to close their eyes and started with a soothing meditation.  It was at that moment when I relaxed, threw all my expectations out of the window and decided just to be, just be present in the moment with my students and with myself.

The 90 minutes went by with comforting poses, feelings of trust and clarification and a deep support of the poses that were presented.  I felt like I was in my element, I had found my thing, and I was and am eternally grateful that all went well.

Now onto developing the next class and hopefully many more.

My Week of Yoga Classes

Every week I look at my schedule and my first priority is seeing where and when I can fit in a yoga class.  May had been crazy due to many preschool classes, sometimes up to 10 a week that left my own personal yoga practice…well lacking to say the least.

This week I feel like my summer vacation started early as my only commitment was teaching one preschool class.  Heaven!

Here is what my yoga week looked like:

Sunday:  Vinyasa flow class taught by a particularly gifted and experienced teacher.  I try hard to get to her Sunday morning class as she teaches alignment based yoga and I always come away feeling like I have been to an intense but very good workshop.

Monday:  Mixed Level Yoga with a really, really good yoga sister who has become my friend.  She was a theatre major at NYU and so the banter and elevated entertaining chatter makes this ambitious class (well for me it always is!) just much more fun. And that 75 minutes always speeds by!

Tuesday:  I recently found a 5.30pm Power Yoga Class that I would have thought a few months ago was beyond me. However, even though this class is a humbling experience. I love the pace, the challenging new poses, the art of breathing and positioning to reach the pose. I love how it makes me realize that yoga is not about achieving the perfect position, it’s about the breath and finding that space within yourself that was not there before.

Wednesday:  Teaching assistant for a Restorative Reiki Class.  If you ever have a chance to take a restorative class, I highly recommend it.  The prerequisites are if you can breathe and lie down!  As the title of the class suggests it is designed to restore your soul through several compassionate, non-impact poses and with the added energy of Reiki, this class is just a joy to take and to assist in.  This is when I get blissed out with my yoga.

Thursday:  Teaching a very challenging but ever so fun family yoga class.  This week there was a grand total of 3 kids! A 10-month-old, a 1 year old and a 3-year-old, and none of them had any intention of doing any yoga! So, I did Very Hungry Caterpillar to myself, sang I’m A Little Teapot to myself 5 times and read the yoga book Rachel In the Garden all to myself….out loud.  Sometimes you just have to roll and know that working with preschoolers is like herding cats.

Friday: A very lovely beginners class, which is not so much beginner in its pace but maybe in its poses.  It’s always good to go back to the basics and this is a class I look forward to and enjoy.

So that was my week.  Yoga every darn day!  How much better and grounded and peaceful I feel after a frenetic April and May.  Time to rest and restore and get back on my mat. 

Hope you're having a great week.

Life After Graduating as a Yoga Teacher

So, it’s been a few months since I graduated as a yoga teacher, starting to get in the flow.  I’ve had some awesome classes where I came out energized and really pumped. And I've had some other classes where I came out ready for the psychiatrist couch. But there are some key things I did in the process of becoming a teacher that may be useful to other new grads. 

Here's my list:

  • I got liability insurance.  The practice of yoga is very mindful, but it is a workout and as such, people have the potential of getting injured.  Therefore, you want to protect yourself in case a client screams blame.  Liability insurance is relatively cheap and I feel comforted by the fact that if the worst happened and I am sued, no one is going to get the house.
  • As soon as I started teaching, I started a 3-ring binder. In there I keep a copy of all my classes with comments on what worked and what did not. I also have the contact information of the different studios I work for.  Also, I am logging my teaching hours as when I get up to 1000 hours of teaching I can market myself as an Expert Yoga Teacher (EYRT).  This is also a place where I keep a record of all my expenses so I can do that dreaded spreadsheet every 3 months and pay my taxes like a good citizen (groan). 
  • Continue updating and creating new classes so they are on hand if I get that last-minute call.  YouTube is the champion of all resources for yoga sequences.  I have found this particularly useful for planning my kid’s classes.  In my future repertoire: Hungry Caterpillar Yoga, Harry Potter Yoga and Fairy Yoga.  It keeps the variety fresh and helps me not teach the same class over and over again, which can get quite monotonous.
  • Offer to be a teaching assistance.  I have done this several times now and it is invaluable for not only gaining my own confidence but watching how an experienced teacher creates that blissed out atmosphere in a yoga class and techniques and sequences they use for success.
  • Look ahead for future trainings to enhance your teaching.  I am already looking forward to a couple of trainings I would like to do, maybe yoga therapy, maybe a nutrition certificate which would help make me the complete health package.  This is a little in the future as for right now I am trying to get compensated for my teaching to recoup the cost of my teacher training before I commit any more money to more qualifications.
  • Maybe take some private classes with a yogi you respect and aspire to be.  I did this in April and it literally changed my practice.  To have a one on one to tell me put your foot here, your shoulders like this, your feet grounded etc. was beyond helpful in how I will develop my own practice and help others.

I see my initial qualification of Registered Yoga Teacher just the beginning of my journey, it’s fun, it's challenging, it's growth in progress and I think always will be.

Hope you found this helpful. Any other yogis out there who have some helpful hints?

 

No One Showed Up

My worst nightmare happened.  I was scheduled to teach an adult yoga class and no one showed up.  I felt like I was having my own personal birthday party and nobody showed. I may have cried a little on the inside!

I had been asked to run some classes for a corporate office in New Jersey, about 45 minutes away from home.  So, off I went with plenty of time to spare, with my mat, my class notes and my carefully put together playlist on my Bluetooth speaker.

Sat in the assigned spot (the office cafeteria), got my notes out, reviewed them and waited and waited and waited. 

When I finally came to terms with the fact that nobody was coming, my first thought was “wow they must have really hated me last week”.  But it happens, especially in corporate yoga when the employee is not paying for the class. There can be less motivation to attend.

So, I did a few sun salutations on my own and then made the trek back home.  A two-hour round trip, in traffic! Not bitter, really.

 

But I have to assure myself that as a newbie yoga teacher I may not captivate my students all (or none) of the time.  There is room for growth and humility.  My adult classes have been small numbers and in a way that is good, it’s not so intimidating and I can really read the room and teach to the level and enjoyment of each person.

So, what did I learn through this event?

  • Do not focus on the negative, it’s easy to have your own little pity party but just pull up your big girl pants and be there for the next class.  Fresh start, fresh faces!
  • Don’t give up, keep coming up with new sequences, throw out what does not work and enhance what makes you sing, evaluate evaluate evaluate!
  • Follow your intuition.  I happen to think that all those doing yoga are particularly intuitive, when I am putting a meditation together for the beginning of class it sounds and feels divine but then when I present it to a group I can feel a little self-conscious.  I assume, maybe incorrectly if I am blown away by it then everyone else will be too…. not an awful place to be but be brave and do it anyways.
  • Not everyone will like my style and presentation and that’s ok.  I need to remind myself to be myself for myself and then my authentic voice will come through.
  • Keep up my own practice. 

After my no-show class, all I wanted to do was go and do a yoga class for myself to feel more grounded and connected to myself and at peace.  It worked, I got my mojo back pretty quickly!

Being a Yoga Teacher

So now that the spring semester is coming to an end, my schedule looks like it may be changing and I have some exciting prospects for the summer.

This spring has been increasingly busy with my yoga teaching commitments and although it has been a wonderful experience there have been some pros and cons:

  • Negative: I have had much less time to attend a yoga class for my own practice and I really, really miss it.  I know it’s important to keep up with my personal practice but when I have weeks where I have 10 classes, it’s just hard to fit in.  I have always found it hard to practice at home as there are too many distractions, folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, stopping the dogs from jumping on my head! But I am going to have to get disciplined and work on this. There are a thousand YouTube videos out there, I just have to do it when I have a quiet half hour.
  • Negative: Teaching yoga is not always fun.  I know, shocker! I thought I would always be inspired and blissed out.  But teaching yoga to kids can be rough, especially when they are not listening and throwing things at me or you get a group of 20 one year olds (one year olds don’t do yoga!). Also, I have taught a few adult classes where the class gave me nothing… just cold straight faces.  They were immune to all my fragile attempts at humor, not a great feeling.
  • Positive: the more I teach, the more my confidence builds.  I am beginning to find my yoga voice and do not have to follow my notes quite as closely as I did when I first started.  Sequences are becoming familiar and fun.
  • Negative: I have no intention of teaching yoga full time but if I were it would be super tough to make a living doing this job.  No one got rich teaching yoga!
  • Positive: A big plus is meeting some super nice people who are very much on my wave length.  It is challenging, yet refreshing to meet new people and it certainly has widened my world.

I am currently teaching 6 plus preschool classes a week but in a couple of weeks those sessions will end.  For the summer, I am already booked to run a fairy yoga class, this has the potential of being so much fun and I already have my wings in preparation.

I also intend to market myself more as a teacher of adult yoga, I really think that will build my skills.

Looking back, I definitely over committed since graduating as a yoga teacher. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it and gain experience and confidence.  But this came at a price and really if I am overwhelmed and losing the enjoyment of teaching, then what is the point?  I continue to strive for balance in all areas, but especially in the realm of yoga and teaching.

Until next time, 

Angie 

Why Yoga?

  • Improves athletic performance
  • Improves quality of life
  • Improves short term memory
  • Increases muscle strength and tone
  • Helps boost immunity system
  • Increases mental concentration
  • Improves quality of sleep
  • Gives you more energy
  • Better mental clarity
  • Improves skin tone
  • Improves self esteem
  • Improves posture (when I started yoga I was 5ft 6, now I like to think I am 5ft 6 ¼!)
  • Improves balance
  • Improves flexibility
  • Greater physical stamina (as noticed when hiking mountains in New Hampshire)
  • Helps to shred excess fat
  • Increases general productivity
  • Slows down the aging process
  • Improves ability to deal with stress
  • Reduces risk of memory loss, anxiety, obesity, cancer, stroke, heart disease, back pain, osteoporosis, drug dependency, depression, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, infections and thus excessive health care costs.
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And I can say yes to all of this.  I now measure my life before yoga and after yoga.

True Story: Hubby and I were in Philly and ended up in a diner for lunch.  I have a severe shell fish allergy and every time I have an exposure it gets worse, believe me it’s not pretty.  So, I am hyper-vigilant about asking lots of questions when we eat out.  But on this occasion, I forgot and within 10 minutes of eating my lunch I knew there had been cross contamination.  I immediately started feeling sick.  I sent hubby off to find a drug store to get Benadryl quicker than you can say anaphylactoid shock!  While I was waiting for him I started to meditate putting into practice all the meditation techniques I had learned in teacher training.  My symptoms slowly started to subside until I felt relatively normal.  When hubby came back I still took drugs (I like drugs!) but not sure I needed them.  Really you can’t make this stuff up and yoga and meditation has given me so many tools, well just to deal with life.

Until next time, 

Angie 

Etiquette in Yoga

I am not always known for having good behavior in all areas of my life, but I really love that quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, "well behaved women rarely make history."

However, I am very persnickety about my and others etiquette in a yoga class.  Here are a few tips that I think are important:

  • Be On TimeThis is super important, especially if the teacher is starting with a quiet meditation (which they usually do). There's nothing worse than someone coming in late, tripping over everyone to find a spot, all the while muttering “Sorry, sorry, so sorry”.
  • Practice Good Personal HygieneDespite what everyone may think, yoga can be a pretty intense workout and sweating, or glowing as I like to call it, does happen. So, I always make sure I have on that clinical strength deodorant. Also, in busy classes peeps can be close to each other so strong smells of perfume or body odor are not a good idea.
  • Do Not Bring Your Phone Into ClassThis has happened to me in more than one class.  One woman answered her phone and had a conversation! The whole point of yoga is to go within and disconnect from the frenetic world for a while.  I always leave my phone in the car so I am not tempted to look at it and it's quite refreshing to be disconnected for a little while. 
  • Wear Appropriate Clothing: I once (and it was the only time...sigh) took hubby to class with me.  He was opposite a very nice yoga lady who seemed very appropriately dressed until she did downward facing dog. Then her lovely airy v-necked top revealed a full frontal.  Hubby's ability to concentrate after that was seriously diminished. So, important to think about that, classes are usually co-ed and those men creatures are so visual, so be aware.
  • Stick Around For SavasanaI know people are super busy and often are pulled in a million directions. I myself have been known to make lists in my head during a yoga class.  But that savasana at the end (aka a nap) is SO important to relax, cool down, reassess your practice and prepare for the outside world.  If you run out early, you are not only cheating yourself but interrupting everyone else’s blissed-out experience. Wars have started for less!
  • Thank The TeacherWhatever you think of the class, this teacher showed up and gave you a class.  You may think it is the greatest thing you have experienced since wine was put into boxes, or you may think it was mediocre at best.  Whatever you think, suspend your judgement and thank the teacher.
  • Put Away All Your Stuff (better than you found it)This may speak to my OCD issues of needing everything in its place and put away in the same way it was found.  It's a small irritation when I need a mat and it has not been rolled up neatly by the previous person, or I have to fight my way through a mountain of blocks to find a matching pair (must be the same size and color…. see I told you I had issues!).  It really does not take 2 minutes at the end of class to put everything away better than you found it. And crazy ladies like me will not be swearing under their breath, which really is the antithesis of a yoga class!  Please save me!

These may be little things to many, but these few simple tips can make a much more euphoric experience for everyone. 

Have...Be a great day!

Angie