For Yoga Teachers

  • The Fast Track to Expanding Awareness

    Guest Post by Tiffany Wood

    As I reviewed the video I made called Expanding Awareness it made me cringe to observe my unaware patterns

    that were revealed to me through the objective lens of the camera. Yes, the contraction I feel around this has also afforded me an opportunity for expansion. I am wise in this way. However, it doesn’t feel good in the moment. Right now, I want to send Yoga Vibes an email and say “Please throw that video out! It’s not worthy and are all my classes that mundane?”

    And so, here I sit. Called to my own expanding awareness moment!

    As I said in my own video, “The things we have the most resistance around are what call us to expand into our awareness the most. Resistance is the container that allows the yogi to really open to the fullness of the moment.“  I was talking about the key actions used in the Anusara Yoga practice known as “hugging in to shine out” or Muscular and Organic Energy in their dynamic interplay within the asana practice. But, as I’ve taught a thousand times, those key actions play out in life off the mat as well. To hold ourselves in our own strong container that is aware of who we are in the moment allows us to access our own sticky parts; to know ourselves more fully. Especially when hugging into ourselves is NOT an easy or loving moment in time, is when the yogi is called to the true purpose of the practices!

    I can hold myself hostage in my own self critical judgments and stay in my limited and harsh view of myself OR

    I can place my awareness on what a gift it is to see myself more clearly so that I expand into the freedom that I already am. Hmm….I love this game!  Yogis know WHY RESISTANCE is VITAL to freedom and we know we have a choice.

    I once again choose to hug into my own resistance; the teachings that have been given to me by my teachers. Oh, yes, this is what I mean when I say to new teachers that the practice of teaching yoga will call you to your growth opportunities faster than most other tracks in life!

    I can find comfort and inspiration by expanding my awareness into what feels most life affirming in this moment in time. I can willingly reach for the high vibrational good feeling of acknowledging that life flows through me and I am forever evolving!

    So, as a wise teacher offered in the Yoga Vibes video called Expanding Awareness…

    “We share the practice in our own unique way and gathering with those interested in cultivating their own expansion is life affirming to our own path. There is really nothing more exciting to us than to know we are on the path to the good things coming. The only way to find that mind-set is to show up for the practice.”

    With that said, I will definitely see you ON the mat! I will meet you with such reverence and gratitude in knowing that I have expanded into my loving heart with an honest and clear view of what it means to walk my talk by holding my mid-line and willingly stretching into my own resistance.

    By Tiffany Wood. For a full list of Tiffany's Online Yoga Classes please visit her teachers page. To read more from Tiffany Wood visit her website at TiffanyWoodYoga.com

  • Create the Ultimate Yoga Class Plan, by Danielle Diamond

    Danielle Diamond Class Plan Blog

     

    This blog post appeared originally on XenStrength.com, it is reposted here with permission.

    Create the Ultimate Yoga Class Plan

    Hey Rockstar Yogi!

    I absolutely love creating new sequences and playlists, and researching dharma topics and new alignment instructions – but when I first started out I had no idea how to do it on my own.

    It takes a ton of time and dedication to truly offer your students an experience instead of the same old yoga class that everyone else is teaching, but it’s not always easy to come up with original ideas for sequences, playlists, dharma talks and more!

    I used to sit there and wish someone would do it for me, like a little yogi in a bottle would pop out with the perfect plan, but it never happened.

    At least I figured out a way to spend the time I had wisely- making sure each class had certain elements in it that would not only create an educational experience but also be a ton of fun.

    And I’m happy to share a few quick tips with you to make your class planning easier, so it doesn’t take you more time to plan it than it does to teach it!

    1-Figure out what type of class you’re going to be known for teaching

    I’ve had some of the same students coming to my classes for the last 15 years because they know exactly what they’re going to get and love the consistency of what I offer: a sweaty, challenging vinyasa flow sequenced around a theme of opening a certain body part or a peak pose, bookended with an inspiring dharma talk and closing meditation- all to a fun soundtrack that can include anything from Krishna Das to Das Efx….. I was a producer at MTV pre-yoga career, so music is a huge part of everything I do.

    Will your class only be focused on the physical? Will you teach pranayama and meditation? Will you talk about the Yamas and Niyamas? Will you play music, and if so what kind?

    All of these answers will contribute to the “experience” you’ll create for your students and if you create one they like, then they’ll keep coming back!

    The most important thing to remember is that you can’t please everyone, and if you try to please everyone you’ll wind up pleasing no one- so remember to do YOU, which brings me to my next tip.

    2-Find your own voice as a teacher.

    I remember when I first started teaching, I pretty much copied everything my mentor did. I used the same type of sequencing, the same music, I read from the same sutra book, and I think I even started using her mannerisms, which I’m sure freaked out students who also took her classes.

    After a month or so I realized that I was totally playing it safe trying to copy her and that I needed to develop my own style and attract my own tribe.

    It’s okay to share something someone reads or borrow a transition here and there, but make sure you find your own voice, your own instruction of the poses, your own style of music and your own translation of the Yamas and the Niyamas. Don’t be a copy-cat.

    3- Look everywhere for Dharma inspiration- everywhere! I was once at a John Mayer concert and for the first time wasn’t claustrophobic in a sea full of people on the stadium floor. I realized I was using my pranayama to stay calm and meditating on the idea that I was safe for the first 20 minutes. A few weeks later I brought that into my teaching a class on the great lawn at Bryant Park for Yoga Journal- with 750 yogis mat to

    I could tell people were feeling a bit like sardines so I shared my experience and it made for a great dharma talk about non-attachment. When you let your students see you as a student, always learning and sharing how you live your yoga, it inspires them to do the same.

    4- Know how to design a sequence that can be modified for anyone who comes. Unless you’re teaching a specified level, you’ll most likely get anyone from a fellow teacher to someone who has never stepped foot on a mat in the same class at the same time. You need to know how to teach to both of them.

    Creating a sequence with a peak pose that requires all advanced poses to get into is no bueno for an open level class. Make sure that you pick poses that can be modified either by putting a knee down or using a prop, etc. You want to make people feel welcome, and by giving modifications and talking about how you need to start some you’ll make everyone feel comfortable.

    5-Know the basics of sequencing a safe and effective flow. Every class should have a centering, warm up, core sequence, and relaxation.

    Centering can be anywhere from 5-10 minutes, depending on how long the class is. You can include a few rounds of chanting OM, a dharma talk, pranayama, a short meditation or a reading from your favorite yoga book or even an inspiring poem.

    The warm-up should do just that- warm them up for whatever you’ve got planned. I like to coordinate the opening in the body during the warm up with what we’ll be focusing on the class, whether it’s hips, shoulders, core, etc. You can do a few rounds of sun salutions or even a yin-style hold in a few poses.

    The core sequence is the bulk of the class and will vary whether you’re teaching Iyengar, Vinyasa or another style that might have a more set sequence. You’ll want to include forward bends, backbends, twists, standing poses, arm balances and inversions.

    The relaxation piece should include a few reclined poses; a spinal twist or reclined bound angle with pranayama are a great way to lower the heart rate, calm the nervous and prep them for savasana. The little things you do to make your students feel special really matter here-a lavendar scented neck massage, offering a bolster for under their legs or a blanket over their shoulders does the trick.

    6- Offer unique alignment and anatomy instruction When I’m planning a class I focus a ton of energy on figuring out new ways to teach the same old thing. Warrior 1, warrior 2, reverse warrior DOES get boring after a while, but flowing through them holding a strap makes it a whole new experience.

    Focusing a class on core and explaining that a 6 pack is really an 8 pack and using different tools to teach the engagement and alignment of working the core- ever move through a sun salutation with your feet on a blanket, sliding through the poses to engage your core-it’s an entirely new experience.

    Action Step

    The yoga teaching arena is getting more crowded every 6 months when new trainees roll out of their training. You want to make sure that your classes stand out so that you get hired to teach more, so that students keep coming back to your class, AND so that those students invite their friends to come to their favorite class in town.

    Take a few hours when you have time to sit down and plan a few great “back pocket” classes that you can return to over and over again-especially in those moments that you don’t have time to plan a new class. Find new music, come up with new sequencing, inspiring dharma talks and alignment instruction.

    Trust me, your students will LOVE you for it!!

    XO Danielle

    Check out Danielle's classes on YogaVibes.com, and see what else she's got going on at XenStrength.com.

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