Yoga

I’m officially a yoga instructor! Here’s how I prepared to teach my first class

Yesterday afternoon I taught my first 75-minute foundations yoga class to complete my 250-hour yoga teacher training program at MokShana Yoga Center. I only made a few minor cuing mistakes and ended up coming up short on time (which meant students got an extra long savasana!), but overall Ida (the studio owner) said it was a great class and said I seemed very comfortable teaching. Yay! (more…)

Our invisible cages: Why cultural isolation is ruining our health

lone treeYou know when you read something profound and it sort of clicks, then you come across several other timely articles and examples and you think, “That’s it. This makes total sense! But now what can I do about it to help?”

Last night I came across this article about the opioid crisis we’re experiencing in BC at the moment. Author Andrew MacLeod examines the many complex factors that contribute to deaths due to opioid addiction amongst middle age men and women, including broken marriages, guilt, shame, past abuse, high housing costs, debt, poverty, mental illness and the weakening of social support groups like churches and service clubs. But the overarching reason for addiction, MacLeod argues (citing retired Simon Fraser University psychology professor, Bruce Alexander), is cultural isolation. “When I talk to addicted people, whether they are addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, Internet use, sex, or anything else, I encounter human beings who really do not have a viable social or cultural life. They use their addictions as a way of coping with their dislocation: as an escape, a pain killer, or a kind of substitute for a full life. More and more psychologists and psychiatrists are reporting similar observations. Maybe our fragmented, mobile, ever-changing modern society has produced social and cultural isolation in very large numbers of people, even though their cages are invisible!’

Social and cultural isolation aren’t just catalysts for substance abuse. I feel it’s at the very heart of what’s breaking down our society as a whole right now, even though we have access to more information and knowledge than ever before. You think we’d be so enlightened by now, right? (more…)

How to design a yoga class around a theme

Although my formal yoga teacher training ended at the end of November, I still have one more observation to do, one more written assignment, my practicum, and my certification class to complete before I can actually call myself a yoga teacher. The plan was to do my practicum and certification class this February, but due to unforeseen things taking up my time this coming month and now being in full-blown wedding planning mode, I’ve postponed my practicum, observation and certification class until fall of 2018.

Since I had already started my final written assignment back in November, I thought it might be helpful to post it on the blog for yoga teacher class inspiration 🙂

Yogic Text Assignment: Design a class around a theme from a yogic text

Most of the yoga classes I attended at MokSana incorporate elements of yogic tradition into the asanas, which is important because without weaving yoga’s rich tradition into class in some form — be it chanting, meditating or sharing stories — students are just moving their bodies into various positions and gaining none of the mental and spiritual benefits. Yogic philosophy provides context, and a well-prepared class with a yogic theme that ties in nicely with your poses makes a class feel purposeful and complete. (more…)

Japa Mala Beads: What they mean and how to use them (and how to win one of your own!)

Most yogis and anyone who frequents craft fairs and markets on Vancouver Island will be familiar with malas: those long, beautiful necklaces made out of wooden or gemstone beads with either a stone or tassel hanging near the navel. Aside from looking gorgeous on anyone from Salt Spring hippies to New York fashionistas, malas have a much more significant purpose and meaning for the wearer.

What does “mala” mean?
A mala, which means “garland” in Sanskrit, is pronounced mall-laa with a long A—not to be confused with mālā with a short A, which actually means poop (like the malasana yoga pose, or pooping pose, commonly misinterpreted as garland pose). Malas are strands of beads traditionally used to count the number of times a mantra is recited during meditation. They usually consists of 108 beads made out of ‘Bodhi seeds’, which come from the Rudraksha tree in India. In Hinduism, Rudraksha seeds are said to be the crystallized tears of Shiva, who cried tear of compassion for the welfare of mankind. (more…)

Why everyone should take yoga teacher training

After attending 16 yoga classes, doing 3 class observations, spending 172 hours with my yogi cohort (or kula, as it’s referred to in yoga) on weekends over 10 weeks, spending 35-ish hours reading textbooks, working on research assignments and writing blog posts, and after having many eye-opening, ah-ha and emotional self-discovery moments, I’ve completed the in-class portion of yoga teacher training at MokSana Yoga Center. And it was worth every second.

I still have one more observation to do as well as my practicum, which involves shadowing the teacher, assisting by handing out props and then teaching the warm up over three consecutive Foundations classes before I take my final certification class. I’ve scheduled my certification class for February 18, so I have lots of time to practice my cues. (more…)

Yoga Teacher Training Update: 3 weeks to go!

Even though I’ve spent almost 190 hours over the past month and a bit at MokSana learning about asanas, yogic philosophy and western anatomy—as well as practicing yoga almost every day—I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface on what it means to be a yogi, let alone be prepared to teach the physical practice of yoga to other people.

But like any new skill, I know it will take many MANY more hours until I feel like I come close to understanding it all and feeling comfortable as a teacher. As our teacher Misha explained to us, “just when you come close to your 10,000 hours of practice and think you know all there is to know about yoga, you’ll discover something new and think, oh my god, I’ll never be an experienced teacher!

I guess that’s why we refer to yoga as a practice; it’s something you’ll most likely be practicing for the rest of your life! (more…)

The two best styles of yoga for endurance athletes

As part of my yoga teacher training program at MokSana, I’m required to prepare a written assignment comparing and contrasting two different styles of yoga. Since there are probably close to 20+ styles of yoga out there nowadays and because I come from running and strength training background, I thought it would be useful to look at two styles that endurance athletes could benefit from the most and share it here on the blog 🙂

Although pretty much every style of yoga is beneficial for athletes since most involve static stretching, functional movement, isometric strength, deep breathing and some form of meditation or mindfulness, two styles in particular stand out to me as being great for endurance athletes: vinyasa flow and yin yoga.

Vinyasa flow and yin yoga are fairly opposite of each other in terms of the pace and energy of the practice (perhaps vinyasa should be called yang yoga!), but complement each other and are particularly beneficial for athletes who do impactful, fast and repetitive activities like running and cycling. (more…)

Yoga Teacher Training update: Handstands and the five koshas

Guess what?

I got up into a handstand all by myself in class this week!

After proper instruction and assistance from Ida to feel confident going upside down on my hands, I was able to hop up into adho mukha vrksasana (adho = downward, mukha = face, vrksa = tree, asana = pose), or handstand, on my next try.

It felt amazing. I could have hung out upside down longer if it wasn’t for all the mucus from my impending head cold stuffing up my face yesterday. (more…)

How I’m switching up my daily routine to live a more sattvic life

If you have a regular practice or certain habits that help you live with less stress, more sleep, more mindfulness, more empathy, better nutrition and more movement, you might have a sattvic practice. Sattvic come from the Sanskrit word sattva, which means quality of positivity, truth, wholesomeness, serenity, balance, lightness, peacefulness, and virtuousness. Sattva is one of the three guṇas (tendencies, qualities and attributes), a complex philosophical and psychological concept developed by the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy.

One of my homework assignments last week for yoga teacher training was to come up with my own sattvic program – habits or practices I can do each day to bring myself closer to a state of sattva. Traditionally, some of these practices might include: (more…)

Yoga Teacher Training Week 1: Initial thoughts and learnings

moksana teacher trainingEven though I’m exhausted after my first weekend of yoga immersion at Moksana Yoga Center, I’ve never felt so energized.

As I’ve mentioned before, doing a yoga teacher training program has been a long time coming for me; my blog is called Run Lift Yoga, after all. And even though I’ve been practicing what I’ve known as “yoga” for the better part of a decade – which is really just the physical aspects of the practice and is a very small part of what yoga is – I’ve always felt like a bit of a fraud for calling myself a “yogi” when I’m really just an endurance athlete and personal trainer who borrows poses, or asanas, from yoga to get a good stretch at the end of a training session. I’ve skipped savasana at the end of practice more times than I can count.

What we know of as “yoga” today in the Western world is basically just the physical asanas, which we’ve turned into a fitness program, and bits and pieces of culturally appropriated Hindu and Buddhist words, symbols and practices we associate with yoga but don’t really understand. (more…)

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