Teaching Students to Become Yoga Teachers

Yoga Mutt Grads
Yoga Mutt Grads

This particular post has been attempted to be written 3 times unsuccessfully in the past 6 days.  It's been 6 days since Greensboro Down Town Yoga's Yoga Mutts Foundations workshop ended.  6 days ago my life was changed for the better.  For the first time in my 32 year and 2 months on this planet it's apparent to me that I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing.  Hallelujah!    I've been searching for the right words to share with all of you, but these words still seem inadequate, so I'm posting anyway.

Finally I've caught up on sleep and had enough time to reflect on what exactly took place during our workshop last weekend.  Personally I've been to many many yoga workshops in the last 7 years.  I've also been to enough workshops to know that these yoga weekends will change the lives of the students taking them.  Yes, if you are looking for a sign to take a workshop, retreat or finally pull the plug on a yoga teacher training program this is your sign.  Do it now, don't wait, it will change your life.

Belly Photo
Belly Photo

Retreat, workshop, 200 hour YTT they will rock your world.  You might not even notice the change as it's happening, but I guarantee you will start to think differently.  I've experienced this first hand, I've taught it and now I can say I've watched it happen.  What I was utterly unprepared for was having my life change powerfully by teaching our Yoga Mutts Vinyasa Foundations weekend workshop.  When I think about the students who are embarking upon the journey of becoming teachers, I know they don't have the slightest clue where this path is going to lead them.  I sure didn't know where my YTT would lead me.  I also didn't know that teaching students to become teachers was going to be one of the most moving experiences of my life.

It's humbling to have the privilege of watching someone stand in front of their peers and attempt something scary like teaching a sun salutation for the first time.  It's astounding to watch personal transformations and personal epiphanies happen right in front of your face.  It's also wonderful to know that the stars are aligning and you as a teacher are doing a good job and no one needs to tell you "good job, or thank you" for you to know that you did it well.  There are few experiences in my adult life where I've utterly known in the core of my being that I nailed it.  With the help of my incredibly insightful and brilliant co-director Andra LeBauer (who also nailed it) we taught in a way that gave the students space to learn, question, shine and grow which is what it's ALL about.

I'm surprised to find that teaching teachers is my calling, but it is.  This is exactly what I'm supposed to be doing.  Have you ever had that feeling before?  Truth be told these days all of the pieces are all falling into place.  The days are incredibly long, but they are abundant with the right stuff.  Greensboro Downtown Yoga is so much more than simply a yoga studio to me, it's a place for community, discussion, connection, and transformation not just for the students coming to class but for me as well.  It's my passion to share yoga with my community.  For the first time in my life I know that I'm definitively in the right place, at the right time, teaching something that is bigger than me and it turns out I'm good at it.

IMG_5201
IMG_5201

500 E-RYT

300
300

Yoga is not about a workout, it's not about sweat, a tight ass or a picture you can take for instagram.  Yoga is about what is going on inside yourself.  Yoga is about how present you are in each day or moment.  Everything you think or feel on your mat is a lesson for your daily life.  The mat is a crucible. When I came to yoga I didn't know what yoga was about, not really.  Would it surprise you if I said I'm still not entirely sure what it's all about?  Deep down there is a knowing that it holds lessons on inner peace, calm and tranquility that's why I'm drawn to it.  Don't ask me how it works, I'm still figuring that part out, most teachers are.  What I remember from one of my first formal classes is wondering if my hands would ever touch the ground like the pretty teacher standing before me in a small salmon colored room.  Little did I know this constant practice would become a friend, a must, would change my life.

Today I'm proud to say I'm a 500 hour E-RYT.  That technically means I've completed a 200 hour program, a 300 hour advanced program, and have taught over 1000 hours of classes. Almost every day I feel like a beginner.  Don't think that is a bad thing.  It means I've got so much more to learn.  Every class or workshop I take sends me flying deeper down the rabbit hole.  This yoga thing is a profound expansive passion.  I'm excited about the learning that will come next.

Can't wait to see you on your mat!

4 Ideas for the day after a yoga mala

IMG_3050
IMG_3050

Yesterday was the winter solstice.  You may have participated in 108 sun salutations, or you might have had a normal active weekend and are feeling tight and sore today.  Whatever you did this weekend, but especially if it was 108 sun salutations I recommend you pause to take care of yourself.  Personally I'm feeling surprisingly energized as I was wide awake at 4am, but I do feel tight.

Here are my top 4 tips for recovery after a yoga mala.

1) Take an epsom salt bath in very warm water:  I've never seen any scientific data that will make your soreness go away by taking an epsom salt bath.  That said a long hot soak is good for the soul and it gives me temporary relief and just plain feels good.  Not to mention it can help you with number 3! Go soak it up!

2) Drink Lots of water:  When you exercise your body builds up lactic acid and you've gotta flush it out and the toxins that came with it.  It's impossible to flush your system if you don't drink water.  Drink up!

3) Spend 10 minutes or more in meditation:  Did you feel a storm of emotions brewing as you took your body through a long moving meditation yesterday?  Did you run right out of class to grab a cup of coffee before finishing your christmas shopping or did you go spend a little time in reflection or meditation?  Yoga helps strip things down to the bare bones and brings us to the core of our beings.  If you haven't spent time reflecting on what you did yesterday I recommend you do today.  You might have missed some feelings moving just below the surface that need a little extra nudge, give yourself time to feel and explore.

4) More Yoga! Yes you read that right.  Get back on your mat!  One of the first things I learned in yoga teacher training is "The best cure for sore from yoga is more yoga".  You need to move. Try a few sun salutations, childs pose, downward facing dog, or twisting.  It doesn't really matter, just get on your mat, explore and see where it takes you.  It doesn't have to be another 108, but move!  It will help the muscles as they repair and rebuild from yesterday.  If you need inspiration here are a few past posts that might help, post 1 and post 2.

Now go mark your calendar for the solstices in 2015 because we will be practicing more malas on those days too!

xoxo -Alisha

The Reluctant Teacher

Feet
Feet

We are thick in the planning for our upcoming 2015 spring teacher training program at Greensboro Downtown Yoga.  It's our first one, and we are reflecting on all of the information incoming students will need not only to take their own practice deeper, but to also teach safely, knowledgeably, and confidently.  It's a mountain of information and any 200 hour program can only scrap the surface of what there is to learn in the world of yoga.

The most important thing students need is a spark.  One tiny light inside themselves that says "I want to try, this yoga thing feels right and I want to explore it further", or "this is something everyone needs and I have a desire to share it".

Personally this path of becoming a yoga teacher was not something I thought I wanted.  Actually I deferred my first teacher training by over 6 months after I put down my initial deposit.  Reasons to not do it kept creeping around my head.  9 weekends is a lot of time, how would I be able to completely disconnect from my life for that amount of time?  Not to mention how was I going to pay for the program let alone fund 9 weekends in Asheville in one year.  I'm honestly still not entirely sure how I was able to devote 9 solid weekends to teacher training, and I'm not sure how I produced the money to pay for everything. What I can say is that there was a spark, it felt right, and somewhere deep down I knew I needed to be there and do it.

Bike Shop yoga
Bike Shop yoga

"Leap, and the net will appear." -John Burroughs

There is a lot to be said about just taking the first step or jump.  Put one foot in front of the other and follow the road where it takes you.

In my teacher training program on our first weekend together I told my fellow students that I was just there to deepen my own practice, "I don't think I want to teach".  Maybe in that proclamation I was challenging fate or daring myself because in fact I started teaching before my 200 hour program was completed.  I was the first person in my program to start teaching a formal class at a studio.  Was fate laughing at me?

2 years ago when I signed the lease to open Greensboro Downtown Yoga I thought back to how I proclaimed "I don't think I want to teach".  Ha. It seems very funny to me now.

We can push against what is happening, we can kick and we can scream, but it's not going to change the path we are drawn to travel.

I've resisted.

I've kicked.

Screamed.

Cried and pushed hard in the opposite direction of where I was being drawn.  I'm not good at going with the flow, but I've gotten better the more I've practiced my yoga.

Often I wonder what would happen if I just give in.  Surrender to my passions, desires? Would it be easier?  I liked doing things the hard way, but I've learned through yoga there are better ways.

Do you have a spark?  Do you have an inclination to deepen your own practice or share the yoga that has given you so much?

If so I've got just the thing...

Vision and goal setting prep
Vision and goal setting prep

Celebrating Gratitude

lion
lion

The room was packed and vibrating with love.  Despite my cold with a side of laryngitis I was ready to embrace my students with the immense gratitude I'm holding in my heart for them.  We celebrated our two year anniversary at the yoga studio Thursday night and it was beautiful.

20 people arrived to celebrate and we packed in mat to mat, just the way I like it.  Class started with an extra long meditation on gratitude, we eased into a powerful flow with a backdrop of good tunes and found our yoga grove.  My yogi's showed up for themselves above all, the practice is for the student, not the teacher.  I enjoyed watching students find the right adjustments for their bodies and listening to their steady breath.

It's apparent your students didn't leave anything on the table when the windows are fogged up and the floor has condensation on it.  Aaahhhh

This next year at our studio holds BIG adventures.  We're starting our teacher training program called "Yoga Mutts Vinyasa Training: Yoga for all" Our aim is to help students find a personal practice and a personal teaching style that resonates with themselves above all.  We are excited for the deepening that will come with a program like this and we are looking forward to watching our studio grow even more in the year to come.  Thank you for being a part of this journey.