10 things I wish I knew when I was a new RYT

I heard from a social media consulting company that the best way to get people to read your social media writing is to put it in list form. Fortunately, I LOVE LISTS. 

So, after some kind encouragement from one of my recent RYT 200 graduates, I am compelled to share this list that I wrote for those graduates. 

1. You don't have to know it all to have something important to share- your perspective is unique and valuable!

Your current knowledge is perfect as is, share what you know! Someone will connect with it in a way that they could not have had it come from someone else.

2. Give of yourself, but also protect your time and personal needs.

As yoga teachers, we are compelled to care for our students and this is a good thing! We want to stay an hour after class and talk about your kids or your downward facing dog, and so sometimes, we will!

But it’s important to protect your time and make sure that your personal emotional and physical needs are being met, too. This will help create the most successful and fulfilling types of student/teacher relationships.

3. Be Genuine.

Your students can tell, even if only subconsciously, whether or not you’re dealing with them in a genuine way. Sometimes this will mean having an awkward or difficult conversation, but being honest and precise with your words is a skill that will serve you throughout your teaching career. 

4. Laugh at yourself-you're new at this!

You WILL make mistakes. You will say something wrong, or offensive or unclearly, sometimes multiple times in one session! This is part of the learning process- don’t let it scare you away! Instead, laugh at yourself and learn something about how to do better going forward.

5. Don't compare yourself to other teachers, publicly or privately. 

Yes, I know you want to be the next Kino MacGregor. Me too! But we’re each in different places in our journey of practicing and teaching yoga and by comparing yourself to your favorite local teacher or big name instagram celebrity, you’re missing the point. Try to take your own advice and be OK with who you are as a teacher right now! Learn from these experienced teachers, yes, but don’t get caught up in whether or not you can cue lotus as smoothly as so and so. 

If you make comparisons in public you will appear under confident, jealous and petty. If you make comparisons privately, in your head or to your partner, you will feel under confident, jealous and petty. 

6. Be a YOGA advocate. No one cares which kind of yoga you do, just be a yoga ambassador in general!

Full disclosure, I stole this one from Lizzy Tomber, over at the Yogi MBA. She reminded my teacher’s in training a few years back that most people don’t know the difference between vinyasa and kundalini yoga. It is your job as a teacher to encourage people to try yoga of any kind and find the style that works best for them! It is not your job to tell people why the style you teach is the best one and everyone needs to do it. I know this is hard, you like certain styles of yoga better than others yourself and you just want everyone to know how awesome blank style is and that's OK! Just be careful not become dogmatic and honor students in their journey of finding the style that's right for them. It will benefit you as a teacher and a person to be open and supportive to ALL yoga. 

7. Focus on creating a yoga experience instead of just leading a class. You are now a community facilitator! 

As a yoga teacher, it is part of your job to make students feel comfortable and welcome at your class! I personally have found that the relationships and rapport I have built with my students is the most rewarding part of being a yoga teacher.  This is also one of the best tips I can give you regarding student retention! Sure, not everyone will want to grab a kombucha after class with the gang, but don’t you want everyone to feel as though they could if they wanted to?

8. Separate person you from teacher you.

This one is important, don’t come to put all your self esteem eggs in the “I am a yoga teacher” basket. Yes, this is an awesome job and yes, it is part of your identity now, but it’s important that your sense of self worth is not linked only to what kind of yoga teacher you are. There are so many factors that go in to why someone likes or dislikes a given class. Just a few of which are:  what time it’s offered, who the teacher is, what style of yoga it is, what kind of space is it offered in, whether or not a student likes the music that is played, what kind of marketing efforts have gone into a class, etc. Some of this you have control over, some of it you don’t! And you can’t be everything to everyone.

Assuming you’re teaching a safe and well thought out class, focus on honing your skills and trust that students that connect with you will self select your classes. With some consistency and practice, you’ll find your ideal students. :)

9. Be Flexible!

Pun intended. Be willing to throw your class plan out the window! You never know what is going to walk in the door and although you should try to stick to the class plan according to how it has been advertised online, it’s OK to make changes in a way that will suit the group best. 

10. Keep practicing!

With time, you will find your most authentic and knowledgable yoga teacher self. Just keep practicing!

 

 

Finding a comfortable seat

Lotus (padmasana) is the quintessential yoga pose. If you ask someone off the street to call to mind an image of a yogi, they will often think about someone sitting in lotus. But the truth is, not all yogis practice padmasana. In fact, not all yogis should practice lotus! 

For many yogis, with time and right technique, lotus will become accessible eventually. For some, it will never happen. And that's OK. Yoga isn't about making the right shape. I often tell my students they won't receive a gold star for touching their toes, or putting their legs in lotus. Because this is such an iconic yoga pose, I often come across students that want to force it. They want to do it right and perfectly immediately and I can tell you that this is the fast track to injury. 

Finding lotus (or your version of it) will be a life long process for many, and even those of us who can sit with our legs tucked up upon one another are constantly refining the movement to make it safer and more useful. That being said, there is merit and benefit to trying

The key motions involved in lotus are a deep knee bend and deep external hip rotation. Along with pretty mobile ankles, a general mobile pelvis and strong spine, this posture can be practiced with great benefit and regularity. 

During my workshop "Finding a Comfortable Seat", we will be examining these motions as well as learning preparatory exercises to create the mobility necessary. We will also be examining alternative comfortable seated positions. There truly is a version of this posture for every body, and finding the version that suits your current body best will allow for greater freedom within your practice and should alleviate any stress you might experience when the teacher says "find a comfortable seat". 

Join me on February 21st from 1-3 PM at Amara Yoga & Arts for this two hour workshop. 

Sign up here

Inhabit Your Body

If you're anything like me the last few months have had an interesting effect on your life and your body. During November and December you let go of your rhythm to give way to celebration, perhaps travel and probably decadence. And while those times were wonderful and soul feeding, now it's January and you're feeling a little out of balance.

Balance is something I am constantly striving for in all areas of my life. And I, like many of you, like to use January as a month to check in on that delicate concept. Especially when it comes to my body. While many people make New Year's resolutions to lose weight, get to the gym more, cut out sugar or alcohol, etc. I have found the yogic approach much more helpful. Instead of looking at your body and your habits as something to manage and manipulate to suit your needs, the idea is to Inhabit Your Body, actually be inside it and use that experience to make wise decisions for your health; mental, emotional and physical. 

And that is what my workshop this coming Saturday will be all about. In the first session, Listening to Your Body, we will use a mixture of discussion, meditation, breathing, journalling and basic asana to try and tune in to the subtle whisperings of our physical bodies. And in the second session, Responding to Your Body, we will use the same tools to decipher what we're experiencing and try to connect that back to the little decisions we make on and off the mat regarding our physical, mental and emotional health. 

There is no 'one size fits all' yoga, diet, emotional health routine, etc. However, I do believe that using yoga to connect to our truest selves is the most authentic and effective way to learn which kind of lifestyle choices make the most sense for each of us individually. 

I hope some of you will join me for what is sure to be a personally empowering and enlightening experience this Saturday. You're welcome to attend just one of the sessions or both, bring a friend or come alone - everyone is welcome (even yoga newbies!). 

SIGN UP HERE

January 17th at Amara Yoga & Arts

1:30-3:30 Listening to Your Body

5:30-7:30 Responding to Your Body

$30 per or $50 for both 

($25 per or $40 for both for Amara Members)

 

Autumn and the case for retreating

Autumn is my favorite time of year. The light as the days grow shorter mixed with the colors of nature as it prepares to rest for winter just make me feel so grounded. I love the seasonal flavors that start to appear around me and the clothes that become appropriate. But more than that, I love the sense of winding down. To me, it encourages a kind of self reflection and softness that I don't get nearly enough of at other times of the year. I find during this time of year I need more and more time to myself. Time to retreat into myself, check back in and unburden myself of some responsibilities. 

This is why I am so excited to be a part of something that honors this need! That is an autumn yoga retreat at one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, Allerton Park and Recreation Center ( and that's saying something coming from this mountain girl). This spot is 1,500 acres of the Midwest's finest landscapes, which in November, should be beautiful and warm colored with the changing of seasons. And on this land sit many gardens, sculpture gardens, lakes and forest areas, all open to exploration and perfect spots for reflection.

Lodging is mostly in the mansion, which was Robert Allerton's personal home built in 1900 in the Georgian style and still boasting much of its original form and decor. All yoga and meditation is in the gallery, solarium or library of the mansion (and outside if weather permits!). And for those interested in Allerton history, we have a tour guide who literally wrote the book on Allerton coming to give a tour. 

The food last year was amazing, and we expect the same this year. Catered to all manor of dietary needs, the food was fresh and delicious. We also have picked out great wine to enjoy after dinner each night in the gallery for those wishing to be social, along with acoustic guitar accompaniment. If you're looking for a spa rejuvenation weekend, we offer massage, tarot card reading and facials as well as the already planned yoga and meditation. Of course there will be yoga and meditation offered throughout the weekend with myself and Kristin McCoy, including sessions titled "Inhabit Your Body" and "Meditation in Motion". 

Obviously I can't say enough good things about this retreat. We have worked very hard to create the most relaxing and pleasant kind of weekend and I hope that you will join us. 

Think of it as your special self care weekend before the craziness of the holidays and the harshness of winter sets in. Check in on Friday and stay until Sunday afternoon. You could turn off your electronics or enjoy in room wi-fi. Bask in the golden sunlight and healing benefits of yoga by joining us in the Amara Yoga & Arts Autumn Yoga Retreat. 

Questions? retreats@amarayoga.com

Sign up here!



Yoga Clothes

I came across this video today of dance choreographed by a friend from high school. We were on the dance company together. And the things that struck me about it were 1) wow, she is a great choreographer and I want to see more and 2) THEIR CLOTHES!

See, I used to be a dancer (at heart I still think I am), and I remember attending classes like this and spending my hours and days and weekends in studios just like this dancing my heart out, just like this, and wearing clothes just like this. The uniform here is simple: anything that allows you to move and feel comfortable doing so. That's all. 

There are dance classes where the dress code is more stringent. Ballet, for example. And this is obviously a class and not a performance, but nonetheless, I find myself yearning for the days of cut-off sweats, high socks and baggy shirts being my uniform. 

I jumped right in with this yoga business, I was still dancing in my high school dance company when I did my first teacher training program, and I remember showing up to teacher training everyday in something like what you see in the video above. I particularly remember a pair of cut off fruit of the loom men's sweatpants being a favorite at that time.  I have another memory from that time and that is that I was saving up for my first pair of expensive brand name yoga pants. 

That yoga teacher training changed everything for me. The biggest and most important shift that took place during that training was the realization that in yoga, it doesn't matter how a pose looks, but it does matter how a pose feels. Coming from years of 40 hours a week in a full body mirror in dance classes, this was revolutionary to me. It still is. However,

Interesting how the two disciplines taught me not to care how I looked in two very different ways. 

I will speak up to say I am a proponent of quality yoga clothes and as a teacher, I do want my students in form fitting clothes so that I can better see what's going on. And I should also say honestly I'm going to Chicago tomorrow for a yoga event and I'm planning out my most attractive yoga outfits, many of which cost more than my cell phone bill. 

So I guess what I'll say is that I love the way I feel (and look) in my yoga clothes now, but I'm sitting here in cut-off sweats and a baggy shirt and I LOVE the way I feel in that also. And don't these guys look happy to be moving, outfit aside? I'm hoping that we yogis can learn a thing or two about exercise clothing from these dancers. That is: wear what suits you, wear what allows you to move comfortably and freely, wear what gives you permission to enjoy inhabiting your body and don't worry about the rest. 



Mysore at Amara Yoga & Arts

I've been receiving a lot of questions about the Mysore program at Amara Yoga & Arts and so I have compiled this info to help answer those questions. This is an incredible opportunity to enrich your practice of Ashtanga Yoga and I hope many of you will take advantage of it going forward.

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What is Mysore?

Mysore is a style of practicing in the Ashtanga yoga tradition. Named after the birth place of the lineage in India, Mysore classes are a powerful way for practitioners to get individualized help from teachers while enjoying the benefits of practicing with a group. These classes are in an un-led 'free time' format with one or two teachers present to give adjustments and help students learn the series and progress deeper into their study of Ashtanga Yoga.

 

Who should attend Mysore classes?

Mysore classes are open to anyone looking to learn the Ashtanga method although students should have some familiarity with the Ashtanga Primary Series sequence before attending a Mysore class (attending several guided classes beforehand will suffice). No need to have the series memorized as new students will be provided with a practice sheet and a lot of help from the teacher.

 

Why Mysore?

Mysore is the traditional method for learning the practice of Ashtanga Yoga. It is an efficient and powerful vehicle for students to explore the postures with one-on-one help from a teacher. The benefit of memorizing the sequence and going pose by pose is both empowering and enlightening for a practitioner. Mysore class are often where students learn the most about both the practice and their own interpretation of it. 

 

What to expect in a Mysore class.

Because this style is self paced, students may arrive anytime within the two hour window and begin their practice then. The opening chant will occur sometime within the first half an hour. New students will be provided with a practice sheet and extra help from the teacher. Because Ashtanga Yoga is a progressive system meant to build pose upon pose in a safe way, every student will be stopped at whichever posture they cannot complete well enough to move to the next posture (a decision made between student and teacher) and be given time and options to workshop that pose one on one with the teacher. 

 

When are Mysore classes held at Amara?

Mysore class is 3-5 PM on Fridays. You can come anytime within that two hour window.

 

Questions about class format or whether or not Mysore is right for you?

E-mail: kelseybourgeoisyoga@gmail.com

Reflections on the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence 2014

I returned a few days ago from the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence in San Diego, California. The teachers present were some of the most senior teachers living in Ashtanga today, including Pattabhi Jois' son, Manju! To be taught by these teachers and surrounded by other dedicated teachers and students of Ashtanga yoga was no small thing. I came home feeling centered and rejuvenated, on a yoga high bliss wave that I'm still riding. 

I learned a lot in a few days, but more importantly was reminded of a lot of things I once knew (one of which is that I'm a total Ashtanga fan girl and I don't care who knows it). I will be digesting the experience for a while I think, but for now here are a few thoughts and pictures.

~For a style that is so much the same, there is a shocking amount of variance between teachers in approach and what is emphasized. I remember moving to the midwest and feeling sort of confused by what the Ashtangis out here were doing. This is a topic that the teachers at the confluence addressed the first day in the panel discussion on Evolution of Ashtanga in the West. None of them seemed to see any issue in this seeming divergence between teachers and one of them (I think Richard Freeman) said something about how we each experience the practice differently and therefore will teach it differently, even if it is the same practice. I love this permission to make your own choices within what can seem like a rigid practice. 

~It really isn't about 'getting' the next posture, and you will not be a better person if you practice second series instead of first. This one is hard to remember for some of us and to hear 5 of the most incredible teachers in the world say it, was very powerful. 

~There is more depth in nuance to 'ekam' than I will ever know. It was humbling and inspiring to take Dena Kingsberg's "Seeking Authenticity" workshop where we discovered the new spaces within the body for the breath and meditated on the kind of focus one must bring to practice. She compared this focus to that of holding a newborn baby, strong and purposeful, yet soft and giving. I also really connected with her voice and her presence and I hope I can someday see her again. Sidenote: her husband, Jack, is a babe and he reminds me of my dear husband, Isaac. :)

~Last, but not least, Timji's smile makes me believe in myself. This kind man has no idea the impact he has had on my life and yoga practice (in that order), but more on that some other time. Also, he helped me touch my heels in urdhva Danurasana and even though he laughed and called it 'the old college try', it was a big moment for me. ha! 

 Tim, me and Nicky, a fellow yoga teacher and friend here in Illinois

Tim, me and Nicky, a fellow yoga teacher and friend here in Illinois

 before the panel started 

before the panel started 

 Friends from Utah! (and now South Carolina!)

Friends from Utah! (and now South Carolina!)

 Me and  Mary Taylor , the women I want to be when I grow up. 

Me and Mary Taylor, the women I want to be when I grow up. 

 Post Mysore bliss because  Noah Williams  put me in Supta Kurmasana. Dreamy.. 

Post Mysore bliss because Noah Williams put me in Supta Kurmasana. Dreamy.. 


Decoding Yoga Jargon: Part I "listen to your body"

Yogis have a language all our own. Whether you've been practicing for years or you attended your first class last week, some of the phrases we all say can sound like a foreign language (sometimes it is a foreign language!). Even those of us who feel comfortable with the jargon may not always reflect on what it is we're really trying to say. These phrases are kind of like a shortcut language to explain huge ideas that have different meanings for different people. I want to explore some of these phrases and offer my understanding of how to interpret 'Yoga-ese'.

 Photo by Tracy Hill Photography 

Photo by Tracy Hill Photography 


Part I: "listen to your body"

Think about the first time you heard that phrase. Maybe it made a lot of sense to you. Or maybe you thought something along the lines of:

"my body doesn't talk. my mouth does, is that what you mean? I thought we weren't supposed to talk?..... I don't hear anything...... my back just cracked, is that the noise you're talking about?......how am I supposed to know what my body is saying?"

So here are a few possible translations of the phrase:

  • When a yoga teacher says 'listen to your body', they may be asking you to respect any limitations you're coming across so as not to cause injury. Example: if you feel shooting pains in your knee during virasana and your yoga teacher says, 'listen to your body', best to do a different variation of that pose because your body is saying 'no, don't do that, you are going to hurt me'. Your yoga teacher is putting you in charge here and giving you permission to do what you need to do. Talk to your yoga teacher after class if you experienced severe pain in a pose and ask for modifications or prep postures for next time! 


  • Sometimes they are encouraging you to try a more difficult version of a pose. The idea here would be that if you could do one version of the pose and it felt pretty good, maybe you could use that awareness to try a different, perhaps more difficult version of the pose. The reasoning might be something like this: "Ok, I feel pretty confident doing chaturanga on my knees, my teacher says my alignment is good and I feel supported and safe here, I think I'll try doing chaturanga without the extra help of my knees and see how my body responds to that". In this instance, 'listen to your body' becomes a tool for exploration and expansion of asana practice. 


  • Other times your yoga teacher is asking you to tune in to more subtle sensation or emotional experiences. They may ask you to listen to you body during meditation or savasana. In this case, the idea is to stop thinking about your to-do list and what you're going to eat for dinner and start considering what's going on in your body. Does anything ache? Do you generally feel good and loose? Are there areas that seem like they need some attention, perhaps a stretch or some strengthening?


  • And so many more! How do you 'listen to your body' or what do you mean when you say the phrase? Leave your insight below!


In the end, this phrase is meant to remind us to pay attention to the feedback we get from our bodies and use that to guide the way we move and live. Listening to your body is one of the major goals of yoga asana and so it's a concept and a tool that each student must develop and understand over time. But hopefully these translations give you a start on how to interpret one of the most common yoga jargon phrases.


What phrases or words do you hear in class or from other students that don't make sense to you? Lets talk about what can at first blush seem non-sensical! Comment below!



Who am I?

Today I was featured on Nossa Company's website and for the feature I was asked some great questions that really got me thinking about who I am as a yoga teacher. 

One of the questions they asked me was "What is Your Mission?". I thought long and hard about this one and here is what I came up with:


Your Mission:

My mission is to use yoga to empower people to be their best selves by asking them to ‘inhabit your body’. As a women’s rights activist, I see yoga as a valuable tool in helping women with confidence, self esteem and belief in their own ability to do hard things and the same to help men discover their power in softness, self discovery and their ability to do hard things. I do not believe in a strict gender binary, rather, I believe that yoga really does give every person whatever he or she needs. To this end, I teach currently or have taught in the past at battered women’s shelters, eating disorder clinics, rehab facilities and public high schools. I have also been able to work with martial artists, medical students, sorority girls, cyclists, rock climbers and those recovering from PTSD. I am a volunteer for a great organization called yogaforpeople that connects yoga teachers with groups that need yoga but may or may not be able to afford it. I love that in teaching yoga I have been able to see people from all walks of life and suffering from all different kinds of life’s troubles, come to yoga and find something. Maybe it’s peace, or strength or quiet, or simply more comfort in your own skin. This is where my ‘inhabit your body’ line comes from. My belief is that through yoga, each person can get more in touch with their true selves and as a result they will treat themselves and everyone around them better. I do not know the right thing for each person, but I believe each person can find their truth by tuning in and inhabiting their own mind, body and spirit. And I know I can help in that process.


To read the full feature about my hopes and dreams, influences and background, head over to Nossa Company

The Primary Series Immersion. (Or, why I love Ashtanga)

I spent the last week teaching an Ashtanga Primary Series Immersion at Amara Yoga & Arts with Corrie Proksa. We had a group of 12 Ashtangis so full of life and excitement for the practice that the whole week had that buzzing feeling that one experiences post yoga. 

For me, as a teacher, it was a beautiful week to watch my students break through physical and mental barriers they thought were true limiting factors for them. And I think that's a testament to the power of the Ashtanga Yoga method. If you dive in with an open mind and willing body, you will surprise yourself. 

This week I was reminded of a few important lessons I've learned over the years about Ashtanga:

1. Ashtanga is not about 'getting' the next pose.

This one is best summed up by a David Williams quote: 

"yoga is not about the pose, but about what’s goin’ on between the ears while you’re in the pose.”

Which leads nicely into...

2. Ashtanga is both an individual path and experience and a community activity and means for connection. 

Your experience on your mat during Ashtanga is yours and yours alone. What goes through your mind and how it all feels in your body is something no one else can truly know about. But the strength that comes from a supportive teacher, and the energy that you feel from the ujjayi breath in the room is not an inconsequential part of that personal experience. 

3. Everyone can do Ashtanga.

We had a lot of different body types, ages, asana ability, and knowledge about Ashtanga in our group this week. But everyone learned something, and everyone could practice, even if it didn't look like this. :)

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I wish I could express in words the kind of feeling in the yoga room after each morning practice, especially Mysore. It was that intangible 'good vibes' atmosphere that is hard to recreate with words. Maybe these pictures will give you a little peak into the magic that was our week of Ashtanga. 

 Susan gets into Gardbha Pindasana for the first time!

Susan gets into Gardbha Pindasana for the first time!

  Corrie  explaining the vinyasa from the ground

Corrie explaining the vinyasa from the ground

 Caleb getting his chin to shin!!

Caleb getting his chin to shin!!

 The whole group

The whole group

  Corrie  helping Suzanne with dropping back.

Corrie helping Suzanne with dropping back.

 Basking in the Mysore glow.

Basking in the Mysore glow.

 

Corrie and I are both still riding the high from a week with incredible students and an incredible yoga lineage and we can't wait to do it again!

Considering joining us next time? Be sure to get on my mailing list for updates on schedules for upcoming immersions and workshops. 

 

 

Why Ashtanga?

Corrie and I were asked 'Why Ashtanga' for the Amara Yoga blog. Read our answers below!

Corrie: Ashtanga challenges you and it doesn't let you off the hook.  I found my first Ashtanga class after practicing yoga for years.  I had a pretty strong and dedicated practice for a thirty-something mom… or so I thought.  My first Ashtanga teacher challenged me to try harder when I thought I was already trying really hard.  With this extra push, I discovered that there was so much more in me than I realized.  I could *still* get stronger and more flexible.  Plus, I learned I had it in me to truly dedicate myself to a consistent practice.  Believe me, I thought all of that was for "other" people.


Ashtanga's method of working through poses in a set order forces you to work through your weak spots in a consistent and structured way.  You don't skip poses just because they are hard for you or they don't feel good that day.  Backbends were never my strong suit.  Ashtanga challenges you to confront your weak spots head on.  By working on backbends consistently, day by day, they got better.  And they felt better, too.


This combination of bringing a deeper dedication to my practice and not shying away from the difficult parts has been paradigm shifting.  Like a metaphor for life.  Things are not always easy, but there are more possibilities than we know.  Keep at it because we're capable of more than we think we are.

 

Kelsey: Why Ashtanga? Hmmm... I love so many things about Ashtanga, I love the rhythm, the system, the flow, the challenge, the people, the commitment. But I think the true reason I keep coming back to it is that it's my foundation, my home. I started with Ashtanga (albeit a rogue form) and I have gone on to study and teach a few other styles of yoga, but Ashtanga continues to inform the way that I teach and practice and truly, the way that I live. Ashtanga is an incredible practice; it's not the only thing I do, and it's not right for everyone (though every body can do it if they want to), but I have seen it do amazing things for individuals. It's about finding this beautiful balance between pushing yourself to do hard things (both physically and mentally) and finding softness and healing. And I really believe the two are entwined; kind of like going through the refiner's fire-and everyone experiences it differently! Which is pretty remarkable considering it's always the same. 

 

For me, I found strength and then later healing, and currently it feels like home. I walked into my first Ashtanga class (incidentally my first yoga class) without the ability to hold myself up in chaturanga. And as I developed strength, I found a sense of personal empowerment that later made a world of difference after a traumatic experience. The mental part comes at different times for different people, but I have memories of myself in difficult postures, Urdhva Danurasana is coming to mind, and thinking "I am going to die, I can't do another one" and my teacher saying "inhale, up" and somehow, I went up. There is something really profound about doing something you didn't think you could. 

 

From a pure physical yoga perspective, the alignment and energetics of the poses and sequences makes so much sense that I still use it as a basic template for all other yoga I teach (including gentle classes!). I don't know if there is anything magical or mystical to it (though it can feel like that sometimes), but I don't think it matters... it's an amazing practice and I feel so fortunate to be able to share it with others. 

Last week at Amara: Interactive Yoga with Kelsey & Isaac

{blog photos lifted with permission from Amara Yoga & Arts }

 

Last week my  husband Isaac and I got to teach an interactive yoga class. The group was huge and willing and we all had a blast! One of my favorite things about teaching with my husband is the way we know how to work together. We each know who does what best and are able to balance that and give all the information necessary. Any kind of partner yoga takes such trust and love and so practicing it with someone who you trust and love is extra special. Acroyoga has been a part of Isaac and I's relationship from the beginning as you can see from these acroyoga bridals.

 

These yogis started with open minds and left with smiles, so I'm thinking it was a success. We'll have another one soon hopefully! Maybe more AcroYoga centered. Who wants to come?

 group circle

group circle

 Another teacher at my studio,  Kristin McCoy  attended too! 

Another teacher at my studio, Kristin McCoy attended too! 

inter3.jpg
 And many of my teachers in training came! Including miss Josie Heck and Brett Eaton (pictured above)

And many of my teachers in training came! Including miss Josie Heck and Brett Eaton (pictured above)

Streamline your practice

 

November 2013
I spent last week in Utah at 3B Yoga doing a Primary Series Intensive training with Amy Williams and Jen Rene. I have been practicing and teaching Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga for over 6 years now and it continues to surprise me how much depth there is to a set of postures that by and large does not change.

The Primary Series or Yoga Chikitsa (Yoga Therapy) as it's known, is the first of {6} intelligently sequenced sets of asanas brought forth byPatthabi Jois (also known as guruji). Sometimes my ashtanga practice is more consistent than others. Every time I re commit to my daily practice I rediscover the unique healing power of Ashtanga. It's not healing like a soft bubble bath, it's healing more like an intense talk therapy session. It breaks you down and brings you home to yourself. And even though I love, practice and teach many styles of yoga, I haven't found that kind of power in anything else.

My main take away from the week?

Streamline your practice. 

Jen (of Ashtanga Dispatch) really embodies the no nonsense approach to ashtanga. She encouraged us all week to get rid of extra movements and flourishes that don't aid our practice. She detailed various parts of the primary series where we can find a more direct path from point A to point B. And even though that path may be more difficult (it often is), she emphasized the efficiency of movement that will eventually come.

This streamlined approach to movement is very healing and meditative for me. After this week I feel lighter, as though I finally let go of some things, both physical and otherwise. And I guess that's the healing of Yoga Chikitsa.

So thanks to Jen for an enlightening week.

I look forward to joining my students tomorrow at Amara (7 PM) for a straight-to-the-point led primary series class.