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Posts Tagged ‘yoga teaching’

I frequently get asked if there are DVDs and/or books that I’d recommend for new students (or even experienced students). I just got an email from Yoga Journal offering a discount on the DVDs I like best.

The Step By Step series is a great introduction to yoga or even as a way to fine-tune your asana and breath practice. The coupon is 20% an individual DVD or something like 45% off for all three.  Enter coupon code SBS2 at checkout and click “Redeem Coupon” to receive your discount or call 1-800-I-DO-YOGA (436-9642).

I don’t plug a lot of yoga ‘stuff’ here, just the things I use and love myself. I highly recommend getting all three discs.

In related news, my recommendating for practicing with a DVD (whether you’ve practiced yoga previously or not) is to watch the DVD at LEAST once to make sure you’re familiar with the positions. If there’s anything that sounds confusing, make notes on a sheet of paper that you can keep next to your mat during practice. You should NOT be looking up at the DVD while you’re practicing – it’s bad for your body and negates all the good work you’re trying to do!

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This morning I have unpacked another box of clothes (mine) and sorted three boxes of clothes (Spouse’s) for donation.  This cleared a big chunk of space in the office, where my clothes will be housed. I’ve also straightened the basement. I’m feeling quite accomplished. I also got my security code for the new job, so one more checkmark off the list!

Today’s list of things to do:

Obtain Colorado plates for both cars.

Drop off donation clothes.

Practice open at work.

Straighten guest bath.

Sweep.

On the bad news front, the teacher who had been considering taking over my classes at the gym in Michigan has apparently declined. I’m disappointed for my students and hope they’ll find a suitable alternative.

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Today we accomplished important task #1: putting me on  Spouse’s local bank account. That is pretty much all we did. We rented some movies, but have only watched one. Burn After Reading is an interesting and slightly bizarre film and totally worth watching just for Brad Pitt. I never thought I’d say that, but he’s just hilarious.

Up next: Hancock and Baby Mama.

Tomorrow: drive to Frisco and get my new driver’s license, as well as change over registration on vehicles and obtain Colorado plates.

When Mom and A left, they took the cold weather with them. Today was sunny and warm – 35 degrees. The snow on the roads has all melted, though it wasn’t enough to thaw all the rest of it. If you’ve looked at any of the photos, you’ll understand. Tomorrow is supposed to be just as sunny, though less warm. I’m very glad that I invested in good sunglasses.

I sent Mom home with an eclectic mix of music for her iPod. I’m interested to see how she’ll like it. Highlights included John Legend, Fergie, Adele, Rare Earth, The Eagles, The Beatles, Vampire Weekend, Gnarls Barkley, Sarah Harmer, and the Indigo Girls. There was a lot more, but I don’t recall everything.

My dad’s been on my mind a lot lately and it’s entirely possible that I’ll write about it tomorrow, but no promises.

I am looking forward to the house finally reaching ORDER and life returning to some semblance of a routine. As predicted, I’m a bit at a loss without my teaching schedule. Not only that, I’ve slacked on my own yoga practice for the last couple of weeks because of the acclimation. Someone sent me a yoga kick in the ass for Christmas, though, so I’m about to get back on the horse.

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I taught my last class at the gym yesterday and my last class in Michigan tonight. It’s a little sad and totally strange. My life has kind of been dicatated by my teaching schedule for the last three years and I’m going to be a little lost without it. I also had really, really great students here and I’m going to miss them. On days when I didn’t feel motivated to teach (yes, it happens) they motivated me. Watching them grow and get stronger was awesome.

I’m getting ready to close up the house – little last minute things to get it in order. Paint the bathroom, empty the cupboards and fridge, take out the trash, get the canoe down and load it up, get the chimes off the effing tree (I keep forgetting). Possibly the most challenging will be packing the car.

Given my list, I won’t be doing much blogging today and then tomorrow I’m on the road. I’ll be giving road updates on twitter because I love the text to tweet function.

All of my belongings are arriving at my house in Leadville RIGHT THIS SECOND.

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I have mentioned previously that I am not cute when I work out. I don’t ‘glow’ or ‘shine’. I sweat like an NFL linebacker – or, more accurately, like any member of the Detroit Lions offensive line. ;) As a result, I’ve never been a huge fan of hot yoga.

I took a great class in Boston (Hip Hop Yoga) that was in a heated room – 80 degrees, not the Bikram 100-110 range (which I still think is crazy). I liked the class but when I was in my triangle position, I had to mop off my face with the leg of my pants. All of the other dancers in the room (what you get when you take a class near a conservatory) looked lily white and perfectly cool, while I appeared to have inhaled Chinese Five Spice and chased it with jalepenos.

This is apropos of the classes I’ve been taking lately, which are also heated at about 75-80 degrees. As the weather has turned colder, I’ve got a better appreciation for the warm room. You still have to warm up your muscles, but the base temp makes that much easier. It also helps to loosen the muscles sooner, so that you can get deeper into asana earlier in the practice. I’ve been enjoying the classes but I’m still not loving that sweat drips off of my face and onto my mat. Not because I’m sweat-phobic but because it’s a distraction when there’s sweat running up my nose or down into my eyes. Having to mop down with a towel is a distraction, too.

I’m not sure what a good compromise woud be. 70 degrees, maybe? Warm but not hot? I’m going to keep on with the classes because it’s so refreshing to follow someone else’s directions. I also really do like the classes, I’m just not entirely convinced to the hot side. I *can* say that I don’t hate it and that it won’t keep me from trying other hot classes, I just probably won’t make it a regular part of my own practice.

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It’s unusual for me to get into yoga diatribes very often. Most people I know do not practice yoga regularly and I don’t generally talk about my teaching philosophy unless I’m talking about classes. When most of the people you know don’t practice, it doesn’t come up in conversation that frequently.  This weekend, though, my mom and I were talking about the move and whether or not I’d teach yoga in Colorado.

I’d love to keep teaching. I enjoy it SO much and it would be great if I could keep on doing it. At the same time, I’m going to be in a new place setting up a new life and starting out is hard. As evidence, it’s taken me two years to get a serious following of students.

I teach to all levels and there are a few reasons for that. Most importantly, it’s because you never REALLY know what kind of limitations people are working with. Sometimes they’ll tell you if they’ve got an injury, more often than not they don’t. Second, people need to feel like they can choose their own workout. Providing modifications lets them do that. Third, when I’m doing my own asana practice I run through a checklist of things – foot placement, which muscles are active and how, how I can change the position. If it’s valuable to me after my years of practice, I’ve got to believe it’s valuable to others.

When I teach, I typically use the modified asana. It’s simple – given an option a) or harder option b), most people feel pressure to go with the harder option. By taking the modified version a) myself, I’m eliminating a competitive element in the class. It’s not about MY workout, it’s about the students. And the fact is that most students feel more comfortable using a modification if the instructor does.

This is all apropos, by the way, of my classes this week. In every single class this week, my students made their own modifications. Students who were relatively new and students who have been in my class for a while, relative beginners and folks with prior experience. In every. Single. Class. someone (or more than one someone) modified down to where they needed to be.

I don’t get all new-age catchphrase about yoga. I’m pretty pragmatic about practicing and its benefits. I don’t utilize chanting in my classes. But I’m going to tell you that it actually gladdened my heart to see my students do their own thing. It was like it filled me up with light each time. I thought, “I’ve done my job.” Because with yoga, you’re SUPPOSED to go at your own pace. You’re supposed to listen to your body and adjust your concentration. And by listening to your body you IMPROVE your concentration. You improve the connection between your body and your brain.

I’m incredibly sad to be leaving my students. I feel guilty about leaving them with limited options to find instruction. But this week, I thought “They can do this. I’ve done a good enough job. They can adjust in any classes they take.” My shoulders felt lighter. I felt accomplished.

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It’s hard to teach other yoga teachers.

Everyone comes to yoga with their own baggage (flexibility, health, stress, et cetera). Teachers have a little extra something, in that they’ve got a way of doing things that they’re used to and may think is the only ‘right’ way. In my experience, most teachers are pretty good about being able to pick and choose what they’re going to use and adapt themselves. It’s challenging though because you’re never quite sure how they feel about the class.

In the class I attended today, there was a beginning student and two teachers (me and another). It was a really good class, in terms of pacing and difficulty. I only had a couple of quibbles – and those come from my own experiences attending and teaching classes.

First, teach the modifications first. It’s difficult (especially for beginning students) to ‘drop down’. Everyone has a certain level of competiton in their nature and if you start with Hard and go to Easy, people almost never take the Easy option. If you start with Easy, more students are likely to stay there when they should. For this reason I also teach that even if your teacher doesn’t offer a modification, if there’s a mod that you like or use – use it anyhow. A good teacher won’t make you feel bad about that.

Second, make sure you’re balancing out the right and left side equally. We worked the right side a little longer in most positions. It happens pretty easily because you start describing what you’re doing and the students are holding the asana while that happens. Then you switch to the other side and don’t stay there as long because you don’t have to explain anything. This is why I wear a digital watch. I can time – to the second – how long we are where we are and make sure it equals out. Not sexy, but effective.

I really did enjoy the class and will probably be going back for more. I’m going to try all the classes to see if they’d be applicable for all or most of my students. The teacher was very nice and approachable and I got a nice solid workout.

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