A few years ago I was at one of my husband’s poetry events at a cafe, the event was pretty crowded and since I was sitting by myself I offered the empty chair next to me to a man I saw standing nearby. We struck up a conversation. Have you been here before? Are you a poet too? What do you do? I told him I was a yoga instructor and he mentioned that he had taken a few classes years ago. All was well until the waitress brought the tiramisu I ordered before he sat down.
” I don’t think yoga instructors are supposed to eat that.”
This was not the first or last time someone would tell me I was un-yogic. Other instances include:
Asking to be paid for the classes I teach
Playing hip-hop in class
Playing music period in class
Not being vegan
Bonus: I curse too. Never been called out on it by the yoga police (yet) but just figured I’d share!
I can keep going but I’m sure you get my point. Almost all of these offending behaviors were pointed out by perfect strangers (well except for the getting paid one but that is another story). This also happens in the virtual world where people are even more bold! Just recently I had the pleasure of interacting with a charming young woman on Facebook – let’s call her Ruby. Continue reading →
A classroom with children’s drawings on the wall and sand tracked onto the carpet from tiny tennis shoes may not sound like the idea space to center 20 teenagers – but that is exactly what we did! Special thanks to Manduka for providing the mats!
2013 has gotten off to a great start! My intention for this year is to bring yoga to people where ever they are and no matter their age, budget, or body type. The good folks at Manduka have helped me make good on this by providing 20 of their awesome mats! Their generosity could not have come at a better time as I was recently asked to teach an amazing group of teens at Temple Adat Elohim in Thousand Oaks, CA.
I normally have a few jitters about teaching a new class, but teaching to teens made me extremely nervous! They can spot BS from a mile away and tend to shut down when they think an adult is not truly understanding their needs. With this in mind I set my intention to be as honest and authentic with them as possible. Although this was not my first class with the under 18 crowd (I taught middle school yoga for two semesters at New Roads School) it was still a challenge.
I decided to open the class by first asking what they knew about yoga and how they could benefit from it? From there I just dove in with my truth – I started yoga to help with my anxiety.
So excited to be a new Manduka Ambassador and to share some thoughts that have come about with (in my opinion) the obsession with asana. For many of us yoga has become a source of not only physical wellness but also mental and emotional wellness.
“To be honest, at one point in my practice, I bought into the idea that an “advanced” practice consisted of jumping back to chaturunga or effortlessly floating up into handstand in the center of the room. These movements require much focus and strength, but wasn’t I already demonstrating those qualities in chair pose or by sticking to my mediation practice twice a day? The feeling of wanting to recreate postures I’d seen on magazine covers came to an end upon learning that many of my favorite cover yogis had regular chiropractic appointments or were nursing injured shoulders and bulging discs.. It was not a moment of judgement but more of a wake up call that there is more to this practice than posing.”
Loft @ Larchmont – 5700 Melrose Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90038
“Dr. Michelle’s education featured an emphasis in Multi-Cultural and Community Psychology and she sees her role in the media and in her private practice as an advocate for the underserved and an educator regarding all things related to mental and emotional well-being.”
Dr. Golland’s educational background and commitment to helping women makes this a perfect match! I look forward to this becoming a space for women of different ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds to meet while sharing the benefits of yoga and meditation. I am no stranger to sharing how both practices have helped me deal with anxiety and mourn the death of a family member. Continue reading →
A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another.Thus, the neuron “mirrors” the behaviour of the other, as though the observer were itself acting.
As most yoga teachers and students already know, our practice begins long before we ever step on the mat. My dear friend and fellow Yoga Tune Up® teacher Ariel Kiley gives a detailed insight as to just how much of our practice begins just by setting foot in the asana room…
“While each individual body may have unique needs, it is reassuring to know that the attitude you bring as a teacher will resonate across the board. As each student soaks up an alternative, positive attitude toward a student’s physical ailment, they immediately mirror it, and their energy begins to shift. As with Fran, they become more settled, relaxed, open and warm. The combined energy of the group can enhance this “vibe”, finding lightness and humor while experimenting with different techniques to facilitate healthy transformation in damaged or compromised tissue. Whether or not the individual symptoms subside, the experience of being in a space where the students feel safe and cared for can go a long way toward relieving their discomfort.” – Ariel Kiley in Yoganonymous
Teaching a new class can always be a bit scary whether you are a new or seasoned teacher. Being a substitute only adds to the anxiety of being in front of a room full of strangers. In a perfect world having a sub wouldn’t matter as long as you are still getting the stress relieving moving meditation that you came for – right?
There is a rush of excitement with teaching in a new space and you want to do your best – then it happens. He/She saunters in with yoga mat tucked under their arm and a look of disapproval on their face. Thinking a smile will make this introduction a little sweeter, you offer up an inviting grin, only to be met with ”Oh – you’re teaching today?”
As some of you may already know, The Magazine of Yoga is no longer publishing new stories. In the four months I spent as part of the team of contributors I learned so much from the editor (Susan Maier-Moul).
After what seemed to be a random email inviting me to write for her magazine I remember feeling terrified by the offer.
“What do I have to say and why would anyone take the time to read it?” – This was seriously my first thought.
In many ways the writing process mirrored my yoga practice. Showing up to my first class with uncertainty of what to expect, finding ways to modify the practice to work with my unique body. My articles were no different – with every submission I sent in there was a fear lurking in the back of my mind that my words would not resonate with anyone.
Maura Barclay has the trainees de-construct Warrior II using directions of movement
This training will change the way you teach and the way you look at the bodies that show up to your class. With yoga being a healing practice, it is our responsibility as the teacher to “do no harm. Yoga Tune Up® breaks down the nuts and bolts of human movement by using a yogic lens of awareness, conscious relaxation, and proper breathing techniques. This new lens of awareness sets you apart from the average 200 hour graduate. During the 70 hour training you will dive deeply into integrated anatomy and body mechanics while discovering a fresh approach to Asana. Go beyond formulaic instruction and truly learn how to think and teach creatively within your classroom.
“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” -Deepak Chopra
Some big changes to my schedule! After a rough year of driving from the valley to west LA, I finally surrendered and let all of my Santa Monica, Culver City, and Marina del Rey classes go. Well, actually they let ME go (be sure to check out my next post on The Magazine of Yoga for the details). I spent the last year trying to fill my schedule with classes and now I feel as though I am starting all over again.
So often we hold onto things that do not serve us. Eventually the universe will pull you away for your own good. It is our responsibility to find the lesson in the loss. As crazy as it sounds, 2011 taught me to appreciate, even celebrate loss. It really all comes down to perspective, have we lost something when people, jobs, or material items are no longer a part of our lives? Or, have we gained clarity by stripping away some of life’s distractions? When people are no longer in our lives due to conflict, distance, or death this is also an opportunity for growth and clarity, but only if we see it as such. Starting over again with finding new places to teach is much easier due to the lessons I learned the first time around.