Post Fourteener Restorative Yoga Sequence

Colorado is home to a lot of mountains classified as “fourteeners.” That is these mountains boast elevations of fourteen thousand something feet above sea level. The tallest mountain in Colorado is Mt Elbert at 14,433 feet and the shortest fourteener is Sunshine Peak coming in at 14,001. I have a fantastic view of a fourteener from my home, Pike’s Peak at 14,110. There are also a ton of thirteeners as well.

It doesn’t matter whether you hiked a thirteener or a fourteener, they both can be quite difficult to summit. First of all, they aren’t easy! The air is thinner, you’re exposed to high winds, sun, maybe altitude sickness, and perhaps all four seasons of weather. And more often than not, the routes to the top collect quite a few miles with steep grades in addition to snow.

As you climb and hike up, your mind plays games (especially if you are beginner) with you encouraging you to quit and you feel all your muscles at work to include all those involved with breathing. As you near the top, you gain a renewed sense of determination. When you arrive, there is a huge sense of accomplishment. You did it! You are elated! You enjoy the view! Maybe look for the geological marker on the summit. Take lots of pictures and maybe video to include one of you holding your summit sign (just make sure you bring your sign back down with you). Meet new friends on top. And you have a snack!

Then it is time to go down. In general, you’d think going down would be easier and of course faster, but on a fourteener, more often than not, you’re dealing with loose rock (talus) and scree. You don’t want to dislodge any rocks because that can quickly turn into a very dangerous situation. You have to be careful where you step because a miss step will involve a fall. Obviously some falls can have major negative results other than a minor cut or bruise. There is slippery snow even in the summer. Often the loose rock and scree is with you until you reach the tree line around 12,000 feet. On top of this, going down is hard on the knees and you’ll feel that right away! When you finish, you’ll probably be very excited to see the trailhead parking lot area. After a very long hike, the parking lot is a welcome site!

After all that hiking, you’ll want to take off your gear, pull off your hiking boots/shoes, and put flip flops or something else comfy on. Before you sit in your car for the long ride back to where you came from, it is smart to do some stretching. I highly recommend that you stretch out your quadriceps and calves in particular. Do each side. Use your car or a tree to assist you as you stretch since you probably won’t feel like balancing.

Nothing fancy about these tried and true stretches!

* Standing Quad Stretch – Pull one foot up and back towards your butt
* Runner’s Calf Stretch – Put hands on car or tree, step back in a lunge and press that heel into the ground
* Hamstring Stretch – Put one foot on your bumper or rock, bend at your hips, and reach towards your extended leg
* Standing Figure Four Stretch (Standing Pigeon) – Put your hand on your car or a tree, bend knee and place ankle on standing leg’s thigh, and lower hips as if you were going to sit.
* Chest Stretch – Interlace fingers behind back and lift arms up

A day or two after hiking a fourteener, try this restorative yoga sequence to lessen the sensations and muscle soreness!
MtElbert-Hike
1. Start standing in MOUNTAIN POSE. Find a deep equal ratio breath that will evolve into Ujjayi.
2. Inhale, lift those arms overhead for EXTENDED MOUNTAIN. Exhale TWIST right extending arms out to the front and back of the room. Inhale EXTENDED MOUNTAIN. Exhale TWIST left. Inhale back to EXTENDED MOUNTAIN. Interlace fingers, exhale SIDE BEND right. Inhale up. Exhale SIDE BEND Left. You can repeat a few times.
3. Inhale EXTENDED MOUNTAIN. Place palms together and as you exhale, slide hands to heart for ANJALI MUDRA. Next, place hands on backs of hips as if you were sliding hands in pockets. Soft, gentle BACKBEND, inhale. Exhale to MOUNTAIN. Inhale to EXTENDED MOUNTAIN. Exhale swan dive into FORWARD FOLD. You can use blocks and either way keep knees soft so hands are grounded into the mat or blocks. Stay here for a few moments. Inhale HALF LIFT. Exhale FORWARD FOLD. Do a few of these.
4. Stay in HALF LIFT, bend knees a lot and allow your torso to come to be fully supported on your thighs. Allow your arms to RAG DOLL. If you like it better, you can place your hands in the crooks of your elbows. Gently sway side to side staying supported on your thighs the whole time. Come back to center and place hands on mat or blocks for FORWARD FOLD.
5. Step back into DOWNWARD FACING DOG. Let your heels sink down. This should feel good after hiking. Peddle your feet for WALK THE DOG. Linger in one side as long as you like. Then return to DOWNWARD FACING DOG.
6. Shift forward into PLANK (your variation). Exhale into CHATURANGA to your belly. Use two yoga eggs or one block and push them into your sternum for a SUPPORTED SPINX POSE. Allow the butt to soften with legs hip distance apart. Stay here for a moment.
7. Remove the eggs or block and slide up into ALL FOURS. Slowly pursue a few CAT and COWS. Come back into ALL FOURS and find THREAD THE NEEDLE. Do each side and don’t rush. When finished, sink back into CHILD’S POSE.
8. Come out of CHILD’S POSE and find DOWNWARD FACING DOG. Lift your Right leg to the ceiling for THREE LEGGED DOWNWARD FACING DOG. If you’d like, bend your right knee and STACK YOUR HIPS for a gentle hip opener. Square up your hips and bring the right foot between your hands, drop your left knee onto your mat for a KNEELING LUNGE. From here, lift your left arm overhead, rotate your torso towards the left and then reach over your body. Undo your reach and rotation. Place your hands on the mat, framing your foot. Option to lift left knee and to come up on ball of foot. Twist torso into forward leg. Right hand can stay on right thigh or reach up towards the ceiling for DRAGONFLY TWIST. Come back into your lunge, step back into DOWNWARD FACING DOG again and do the other side.

9. If you are feel OK, add this next part in. If not, skip it and move onto step 10. From DOWNWARD FACING DOG, lift right leg up for THREE LEGGED DOWNWARD FACING DOG. Draw that knee into the chest and place the foot between the hands. Step in a little with your left foot and place it firmly on the mat with all four corners grounded. Orient your toes forward, allow hips to square, and place hands on hips. Hinge forward at the hips and as you exhale sink as deep into the pose as you feel comfortable for PYRAMID. Stay folded for as long as you like. Inhale lift your torso up, step back with your left foot to find a WARRIOR I stance. Inhale your arms up, exhale arms down, behind your back, and interlace fingers. Inhale lift the chest and pull your knuckles towards the mat. Exhale, forward fold, keeping hands interlaced. You can keep arms on your back or perhaps lift them slightly off your back but still keeping fingers interlaced. Sink head down towards your mat and keep your shoulders on inside of your forward knee for HUMBLE WARRIOR. Inhale brings you up and undo your hands. Exhale, cartwheel back to your mat and step back into DOWNWARD FACING DOG. Do your other side.

10. Inhale, look towards your hands, exhale walk towards them to find FORWARD FOLD. Inhale HALFWAY LIFT. Exhale back to FORWARD FOLD. Inhale reverse swan dive up into MOUNTAIN POSE.

11. Find a wall and stand facing the wall about arm’s distance away. From here, using the wall find DANCER’S POSE. Pull your heel up towards your hips and if you feel OK, slide supporting hand up the wall. Hold. Then with the same leg as you come out of dancer’s pose, place your ankle on your supporting thigh for FIGURE FOUR. Start to walk your hands down the wall as you start to sit turning this into SUPPORTED STANDING PIGEON. Do the other side.
12. Come away from the wall. Straddle your legs out just past shoulder distance. Orient your feet forward and place hands on your hips. Fold down and place hands under shoulders for WIDE FORWARD FOLD. Linger here. Then when ready, walk your hands backward till your fingers are in line with your heals. Flip your hands around so you fingers are pointing behind you. Flatten palms into your mat. Gently put body weight into the balls of your feet. Linger here. To get out, even out your body weight into your foot, flip your hands around, and walk them back under your shoulders. Place your left hand under your face, lift right arm out to the side and gently TWIST. To increase your range of motion, bend your opposite knee. Untwist and return hand to mat. Do the other side. When done, place hands in your hip crease and hinge up. Step together.
13. Prep for LEGS UP THE WALL. Put a folded blanket next to the wall. Orient yourself on the blanket and drift your legs up the wall. Stay here for as long as you’d like.
14. Come out of LEGS UP THE WALL POSE gently. Keep your blanket as a pillow for your head. Grab two blocks or two eggs. Lay on your back for CONSTRUCTIVE REST POSE. Place your feet on the blocks or eggs allow them to be at a slight angle that flows with your feet. Knock your knees together. Place your fingers to include thumbs on the soft part of your belly for PEACEFUL LAKE POSE. Imagine your knees as the fourteeners you recently hiked and your belly is a peaceful lake where all ten fingers are little boats floating on tranquil lake. Allow your breath to soften so your boats don’t have turbulence. Find your natural rhythm of breath. Perhaps you close your eyes. Stay here a while.
15. When you are ready, slowly come into a comfortable seated position. Find GARUDA MUDRA. Imagine the majestic eagle that sores the mountains. Give yourself an embrace and thank your body for the journey it just took. Find ANJALI MUDRA and close your practice.

Hopefully, you feel a lot better after this restorative sequence. It is not meant to be power yoga or a vinyasa, but rather more of a slow flow, gentle sequence! After all, you just hiked a fourteener. Maybe sooner rather than later, you just might be inclined to hike another, after all hiking a fourteener can be quite contagious. Colorado has 58 to hike and climb.

Perhaps, I’ll see you on a summit sometime.

NAMASTE,
Kristen

Visit Eighteenth Element Yoga and practice with me.

Posted in Deep Stretching, Hiking and Yoga, Outside Fitness, Stretching, Uncategorized, Yoga after hiking a fourteener, Yoga Flows | Tagged | Leave a comment

Salutation to Earth Day 2017 Yoga Class

I teach all sorts of yoga classes at a variety of locations and I’m always looking for ideas and themes. Another year has passed and just around the corner we celebrate a special day called “Earth Day.” Earth Day is always on April 22 and this year it happens on a Saturday. For this day or about this time, I like to celebrate earth in my yoga classes.

Spring time is a fond time for me and around mid to late April, it actually starts to behave more and more like spring here in Colorado. The world around me is coming to life with trees and flowers blooming and grass turning green. My neighbors are outside more and like them, I’m itching to be outside on especially nice days and it can be really rewarding if I can practice yoga surrounded by nature.

As I just mentioned, I like exploring ways to bring “Earth Day” into my classes during this time of year. One constant concept I’ll return to is that of “Grounding.” I’m pretty comfortable with teaching grounding as I teach a lot of trauma-sensitive yoga and its a pretty important theme. To enhance grounding, I’ve discovered therapeutic grade essential oils like Frankincense and Balance (grounding blend by doTERRA). If my class is open to essential oils, I have them hold their hand out as I go around and shake a drop or two in their palms. I encourage them to smell the oil and to put it where ever they want on their bodies. My folks tend to like this approach. Most folks opt for the oil but I have one or two who are cool with the aromatherapy but don’t actually want the oil on them.

Earth Day/Week Class

This year, I thought I’d incorporate all the “salutations” I know into class. My class is pretty familiar with Sun Salutations (A, B, and YogaFit’s hybrid of the two). On full moon days, I sometimes have incorporated Moon Salutations. I’ve used both the Ashtanga version and the YogaFit moon salutation versions in my classes.

So here’s my plan.

Grounding Theme. I like talking about connections, rooting, pushing down before we fly… those sorts of things.

Start with Child’s Pose (with one Egg Block under forehead) then slowly massage rock forehead on Egg. [(I use 3 Minute Egg Yoga Blocks. You can get them on Amazon plus I’ve gone to Jason’s training (creator of the blocks)].

All 4’s then Cat/Cow Flow then evolve into Sunbird Flow.

Transition into Downward Facing Dog and allow for feet pedaling and knee bends. After that Forward Fold interlaced with Half Lifts a few times. I then like to have them move from Half Lift into really bending the knees and draping/supporting their torsos on thighs and allowing the head to hang. If they feel comfortable, they can rag doll their arms or fold hands into elbow creases and gently pendulum side to side while fully supported. After a few, returning to Forward Fold then transitioning to Mountain Pose. From there, I often invite a few side bends just because I think they feel great.

Sun Salutation A (maybe add a little variation) – Do a few times.

Pit Stop in Mountain Pose.

Sun Salutation B – Do a few Times.

Pit Stop in Samastitihi (Equal Standing Pose).

Allow for Balancing Poses. I think Tree Pose and Half Moon are great options.

Moon Salutation (I’ve chosen YogaFit’s version because it is shorter than the Ashtanga version and I have time to flow through it a few times).

Transition to the Mat.

Earth Salutation (I’m only going to do one. I’m using the one I wrote about a while back for another Earth Day Celebration, but adding some transitions and variation that in my opinion allow it to flow a little more smoothly. Here is the link, if you want to check it out: Earth Salutation).

Then transition into Constructive Rest Position. Allow for Supine Spinal Twist and then giving my yogis their choice of final resting positions.

Usually, I close with Anjali Mudra, but for this class, I’m going with Garuda Mudra and as they are in it, reading the passage on page 103 of “Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands” by Gertrude Hirschi and ending with those Positive Affirmations.

You can make this class a Vinyasa style, teach it YogaFit style, or do more of a slow flow. It works great as one hour class but if you teach longer you can spend more time in flow sequence repetitions, flow breakdowns, or use the Ashtanga Moon Salutation Variation since it’s longer. I taught it this past Tuesday up at the Air Force Academy and they loved it.

If the weather is nice and you have the option, have class outside. If you teach inside, maybe use a nature inspired playlist.

So this is my plan, as I’ve said, I’ve already tried it out on one of my classes and it works nicely.

Use it if you’d like.

Namaste,

Kristen

 

 

Posted in Beginner yoga, Community, Community Yoga Practices, Creating Yoga Themes, Essential Oils, Exercise, Fun, Moon Salutation, Outside Fitness, Spring, trauma-sensitive yoga, Uncategorized, Yoga Flows, yoga lesson plan ideas | Tagged | Leave a comment

Frequently Asked Yoga Questions

As a studio owner, I get tons of questions from various people. It varies as to who asks, but generally our askers are folks who have never tried yoga, new in town but yoga practitioners, or some type of therapist.

Here’s our list for Eighteenth Element Yoga.

  1. This one is always asked. What are your prices?

Its a great question. People live within budgets and yoga does have a reputation of being pricey. But, it doesn’t have to be. At Eighteenth Element Yoga, we feel yoga should be assessable to all but still reasonable for our staff and studio. When you pay for a yoga class, your money supports the studio and goes towards paying the instructor.

Currently our Walk-in = $8

5 Class Package = $30

6 Month Unlimited Classes (Autobill) = $60

2. I’m not flexible.

Ok, this is more of a statement, but we get it a lot. Flexibility is not a requirement to go to yoga. At Eighteenth Element Yoga, we’ll meet you where you are with in your range of motion and work within it. We have numerous props that are available so you can have the yoga pose fit “your body” not forcing your body into some pose.

A well rounded fitness program consists of cardio, strength training, balance, and flexibility. Yoga depending on the style can be a low impact cardio class. You’ll use your own body weight to build strength. We always incorporate balance training. Yes, you’ll stretch but again within your range with or without props.

3. What do I wear or what should I bring to yoga?

Wear comfortable clothes you can move in. Think about your shirt. We do incorporate poses where your shirt could ride up. If that might bother you, consider one you can tuck in and still move or something more form fitting. You don’t need shoes. Yoga is practice barefoot.

As far as bringing stuff. Bring a water bottle and a small towel. If you have your own yoga mat, bring it. If you don’t, no worries. We have mats, straps, blocks, bolsters, strategic padding for sensitive areas, and blankets. All are available to you.

4. Where are you located?

This is important. We want you to find us. Eighteenth Element Yoga is in a tucked away corner and away from the business of the city.

5050 Edison Ave, Ste. 115

Colorado Springs, CO 80915

We are in a green and white tucked away office building with a butterfly statue in the courtyard. We are on the first floor. If you need a handicap access, the west entrance (closest to Asian Pacific Market) doesn’t have steps.

We are just off Platte approximately a 1/4 mile away from the Powers Intersection. If on Platte coming from Powers, head west (toward) the mountains. Shortly after Powers, you’ll go across the Sand Creek Bridge, immediately turn right onto Babcock and left onto Edison. We are the driveway right after Calvary Chapel. If you are coming from the west (Academy Blvd), head east on Platte. Turn left on Wooten and immediately right onto Edison. You’ll pass the Asian Pacific Market. We are next to the market on the east.

5. What facilities do you have?

We have bathrooms and a water fountain just outside of the studio. You can change clothes or use the restrooms. We don’t have showers. As for personal belongings, please bring them in the studio. We have hooks for your jackets and purses. Your belongings will be safe.

6. What classes do you have for newbies?

We gear our classes towards you. We are very adaptive and trauma-sensitive. If you have special needs please let us know so we can work within your needs. (Scoliosis, bulging disks, fibromyalgia, anxiety, PTSD, missing limbs, wheelchair…) If you are just beginning then let me point you towards our “Back to Basics,” “Beginner Yoga,” “Slow Flow,” “Mindful Yoga Resiliency,” and “Restorative Yoga” classes. We also offer a workshop series of “Body Awareness” where we focus on specific areas of the body. So far we have “Healthy Hips = Happy Hips,” “Honor Thy Back,” and “Sciatica: Pain in the Butt and Leg.” We have class descriptions on our website under our section called “Classes.”

7. How do I sign up for classes?

We have a couple of ways. First, you have to fill out our waiver (a one time deal), but then you can register online (preferred method) or just show up for class where we will register you and take payment. If you register online, you’ll guarantee your space and sometimes it can be cheaper (especially for workshops). We have two approaches. One, download our Eighteenth Element Yoga app (looks just like our logo), create a profile, check out our schedule, then sign up. The other approach is to go to our website, click on “Sign Up Now” to view our schedule and reserve your spot. When you register online, you can pay online from the convenience of your phone or computer and then just arrive at the studio.

8. Which yoga classes are trauma-sensitive?

At Eighteenth Element Yoga, our slower limbic based movement classes are trauma-sensitive. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, we’ve made it easy to identify them. All of our trauma-sensitive classes have a * next to the title. If you attend our “Mindful Yoga Resiliency” class, we recommend you also work with a therapist.

9. Do you have daycare? Can I bring my kids to yoga?

We don’t have daycare. Older kids are welcome to take yoga with their parents (just not Mindful Yoga Resiliency or Yoga For First Responders). We have fun kid friendly yoga mats. We ask that if you do bring your children that they do yoga and not run around the studio so they aren’t disruptive to our folks. We also have special kids yoga classes called “Kids Artistic Asana” which we do twice a month. We also occasionally host a teen/tween girls day.

10. How often should I practice yoga?

The more you practice yoga, the better you’ll feel. Yoga is a mind-body approach to wellness which means there are several approaches. You’ll exercise your body four ways (low impact cardio, strength training, balance, and flexibility). You’ll learn breath awareness. Breathing is a huge part of yoga. Several breathing exercises are introduced and explored and all are intended to enhance or self-sooth your yoga practice or reduce anxiety. Additionally, we work on your positive mind. The way you think affects how you feel. Yoga is big on Positive Affirmations, Positive Philosophies, Self-esteem, and the practice of Gratitude. We also offer opportunities to explore meditation, yoga Nidra, and iRest. You can do all of this at Eighteenth Element Yoga.

So start out maybe going twice a week. Gradually increase your yoga practice.

~~~~~

These are the most common questions we receive at Eighteenth Element Yoga. Hopefully, these answer your questions or concerns. However, feel free to ask other questions.

Namaste,

Kristen

 

Posted in Beginner yoga, budget, Uncategorized, yoga newbies | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Helpful Hints for Yoga Teachers Who Want to Get Teaching Gigs

As a yoga teacher and a yoga studio owner, I have had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of yoga teachers. Some teachers are well established and others are inexperienced having just graduated from a yoga teacher training. Overall, I have two perspectives: that of a yoga teacher and as a studio owner. While this topic is searchable online, I don’t feel people are being reached, the subject isn’t explored in depth, or maybe people just aren’t interested in bettering themselves. Who knows. Regardless, I’ll give you my perspective because I’ve experienced some pretty ballsy moves by some people. These are the kind of moves where you go “wow, did that just happen?!?!” and all you can do is shake your head. Yep, those kind!

If you are a yoga teacher; established or not, there is a high possibility you might want to get a teaching gig or add teaching opportunities. Why  wouldn’t you? You paid, thousands of dollars and spent countless hours learning how to be a yoga teacher so its likely you want to practice what you’ve learned and maybe even help others.

I’m betting that is the case.

As a yoga teacher, you can find numerous places to teach. You can teach in a gym and it really doesn’t matter what type of gym either. You can teach in churches, community centers, and recreational centers. Businesses even offer opportunities too. Perhaps you teach at a coffee shop or store that sells yoga merchandise. Of course, it doesn’t stop there. There are tons of corporate opportunities with giants such as USAA insurance or hospitals. If places don’t offer yoga, you can create opportunities to offer it. For instance, you can teach privates, hold classes in your neighborhood, or home. And of course, last but not least, you can teach at a yoga studio.

No matter where you might want to teach, you are looking for a job! It is the same as looking for any other job. Yoga is no different. Please treat it as such!

To increase your chances of actually securing a yoga teaching gig, I offer some advise. (Both my business partner and I have worked in the corporate world and we still do. We also happen to own a yoga studio). These are my expectations of a potential employee.

  1. Have a professional resume! Submit it (email, online, snail mail, walk-in)
  2. Be knowledgeable about the yoga studio, business, gym… (What is their mission statement? What type of clientele do they work with? Even better if you are part of our community).
  3. Be prepared to sell yourself. Be humble! You are looking for the job. The employer doesn’t need only you when there are several other instructors looking for opportunities too.
  4. Come prepared! Be able to talk about what is on your resume, about the studio, and how you could be part of the team. Have copies of your certs, Yoga Alliance registry, insurance, and samples of workshops that you can show me. Also, know ahead of time, if you’ll be doing a demo class and be prepared for that. (If I consider you, I will make sure you are legit).

Here is what I am not going to do as a studio owner! These are deal breakers!

  1. I’m not going to chase you. If you can’t make the time to meet with me at the studio where you’ll potentially teach then you aren’t the right person for my team. That right there tells me a lot about you as a reliable teacher! Plus, remember, I have several instructors to choose from. You aren’t my only hope.
  2. No one is a diva or rock star in my book and you especially as a newbie aren’t going to get preferential treatment at my studio over my established staff. Yes, I’ve heard it all before about how you pack the studio at where you currently teach. Guess what, chances are extremely high that your so called following isn’t going to follow you to your new location. Sure maybe one or two might, but not the whole studio and those onesies won’t show regularly either. I call this the “BAMBI” effect. (I’m prior Air Force and that means “back at my ‘last’ base I…”).  No, you’ll have to essentially start from scratch and build your class and earn clientele. Just like everyone else had to.
  3. It is my studio and I’ll tell you where I have teaching opportunities. Guess what, this is how the real business world works. As a studio, believe it or not, we’ve done the trial and error thing and have learned what does and doesn’t work. Plus, us studio owners talk. Overall, it is perfect if one or more of our class timeslots work for you. That definitely would be a win-win. Eventually, you might work your way into a timeslot that you’ll love. But know this up front, I’m not going to shuffle my studio schedule or staff around just to accommodate you. That is not how it works. I know my clientele and studio pretty darn well.
  4. I’m not going to entertain extreme left field ideas. If what you want to teach doesn’t fit our business model, I’m going to say no. For instance, if I don’t offer “Arial yoga,” why would you preach that on and on to me? Or that you want to offer a workshop that runs way over our typical workshop price points that our customers are used to seeing. There are legitimate reasons why we do and don’t offer certain classes or even prices. One top reason is insurance.
  5. You are there for the clients. You’ll teach to who is in the class. It is not up to you to decide who can and can’t take your classes. At Eighteenth Element Yoga we have clients with adaptive needs to include missing limbs and wheelchairs, those with PTSD and anxiety, and lots of newbies. Yoga is for every single person.
  6. I run the studio’s budget and we pay what we pay. If you don’t like it, no one is forcing you to take the job. Plus, if I do consider giving you more money, it will be because you’ve proven via steady performance how valuable you are to my team. You’ve got to show me!
  7. No your little kids can’t run around my yoga studio while you perhaps teach! I have a trauma-sensitive studio who caters to traumatized people. I don’t run a day care and no I’m not watching your kids.

These are just some common expectations. At least they mine. Yes, I had to say it! Probably others too.

One last note… If you are a nearby acquaintance who has never or rarely comes to my studio and are ballsy enough to say, “I’ll come to your studio if you hire my friend so I can come to her classes,” that doesn’t set the right tone for your ‘friend.’ Just saying! Yep, had that happen too!

I don’t want to end on a negative note. If you are part of my team you are a VIP in my book. I will work hard to mentor you and build you up. For instance, I offer more teaching opportunities (workshops, classes, YTTs…) if you desire them. I don’t want you to have to work at six different places just to make a living. I bring training to the studio so you don’t have the expenses of travel. I do give pay raises. I consider and often get what yoga accessories you want or need for your classes. That and more happens at Eighteenth Element Yoga Studio.

Namaste,

Kristen

 

Posted in Community Yoga Practices, creating a new yoga studio, How to get hired as a yoga teacher, Lessons Learned as a Yoga Studio Owner, Looking for Yoga Teaching Opportunities, Preparing for a yoga job interview, Uncategorized, Yoga, yoga studio, yoga teacher training | Tagged | 2 Comments

You’ve Planted a Seed. Now to Water it and Let it Grow.

This is actually something I’ve said to a young aspiring yoga teacher that my business partner and I are mentoring. Anything worth happening doesn’t come easy. Isn’t that the truth!?!?!

People seek yoga teacher training for a plethora of reasons! To strengthen their own practice. To discover themselves. To help others. And some do actually want to teach.

All of these are fantastic reasons!

There are a ton of yoga teacher schools out there. Some will firehose students with so much yoga in just a few short weeks that it is sort of impossible to digest it all. I can totally relate.

We all want to be the best yogis that we can be, regardless of whether we teach or not. In order to help you achieve that, I have some advise and that’s all it is. Take it as you see fit.

You’ve planted a seed by seeking yoga training. But you can’t stop there or you won’t grow. Just like a flower, you need some gardening.

1. Let go of attachment. This lesson is threaded throughout the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras. Attachment and ego are huge obstacles with regards to growth. How do you know if you have attachment issues? Some hints include not being openminded, believing there is only one way to do things, unwillingness to try new things, not wanting to seek additional training and especially if it comes from another school… Snubbing others because they were trained by some other school. See the theme.

2. It takes time to digest new material. Revisit your notes and books one subject at a time. For instance, I wasn’t ready to truely learn Yoga Nidra during my first 200 hour training. It was way after my training did I actually seek to truly understand. Now, it makes sense and it is really applicable for what I teach currently. You may find additional reading material that wasn’t part of your original training that helps you grasp the topic. There is a law of redundancy in that things you revisit often are the things you’ll permanently learn.

3. There isn’t one way that fits all. Take continuing education and other teacher trainings. Let’s face it, some schools excell in certain topics where others really lack. Additionally, schools have different perspectives and reasonings for their approaches. Maybe hearing or seeing it presented another way by another person is what turns on your lightbulb.

4.  Step out of your box! Get multi-influenced by taking classes from as many teachers as possible even from those trained outside of your school. See what other studios are doing. You’ll learn different approaches as far getting into poses, ways to manipulate the environment, and different cues. You’ll also learn what not to do and that can be a valuable lesson.

5. Seek out a mentorship. This can be a rewarding learning opportunity for not only yourself but your mentor too. It is a win-win. You will work out your weak areas through practice. You’ll get feedback, gain familiarity, work out any kinks, get more comfortable with being a yoga teacher, and gain confidence!

6. When you get ready to teach, write out a lesson plan and explore it. Go to the space where you will teach to practice your lesson plan. By doing this you’ll also learn the dynamics of the space (the lights, heat, props, stereo, exterior noises…) Know how to demonstrate and offer modifications with the poses in your plan not just with the body but with props too. Be prepared to throw out your lesson plan depending on who is in your class. If you demonstrate as you teach, learn how to mirror your class. Always be in your classes’ line of site.

7. Assists. You’ll get mixed advise here. Here is mine. Don’t touch without permission. It is better to talk a student through an adjustment than for you to manhandle them. If you are teaching a trauma-sensitive client, don’t touch!

8. Revisit the Yamas and Niyamas. Theses are excellent guidelines.

Namaste,

Kristen

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So You Wanna Be a “Good” Yoga Teacher

Every time I turn around, someone or some place is advertising their upcoming Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). Where I live, it happens a lot. If you are an aspiring Yoga Teacher contemplating all the schools, you are probably thinking this is awesome. Well… Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t.

Why maybe?

I’ve been to a few trainings to include a couple of 200 hours worth. Don’t get me wrong, in every training I have ever attended I have definitely learned something. I’ve taken tons of continuing education and those are great because the subject is narrow in scope and thus I can easily digest it and apply to my own teachings. But what about the longer ones, like the 200 hours trainings that train you up to be a teacher? Sure you learn, but when you graduate will you be able to teach with confidence.

This is the real question. Will you feel capable and confident that you will be able to teach a great yoga class? The kind of class that people will want to attend. This is a critical consideration! Because if you say NO and you just dumped $3000 plus on a training, you might be a little pissed. I know I would be.

One of the 200 hours training I attended must of felt the same way because before I got my baseline certificate from the first module of training, they made me teach as a volunteer. I had to teach eight hours of a community service type of yoga. Basically, I had to bring yoga to my friends, family, co-workers, and anyone else I could gather up. I had to write about my experience and submit it to the school. They in turn, reviewed my package and if they felt I did my Karma Yoga as they called it, I earned my certificate and this was just for the first 20 hours of training.

Karma Yoga might sound a little intimidating to some of you, but it is actually a good thing. At the time, I thought, ugh, I gotta do what. In hindsight, those eight classes let me make mistakes and learn from them in a friendly environment. As I continued my learning journey, they would take me aside and provide feedback which had a big impact on who I am as a teacher today.

I have met tons of newbie instructors via social media and also face to face. Many graduate and evolve into wonderful instructors. These graduates usually came from a very supportive and mentoring schools. However, there are a few graduates out there that are questioning their confidence, their abilities, and even asking basic questions us veterans can’t believe they don’t know. The latter makes me sad.

My overall thought is that some schools or studios are just cranking out teachers like a factory. They are in it for the money not necessarily for the student. Think about it, if you attend a local studio’s training and it costs $3000 and then nine others are in your class, that’s 30,000 the studio just brought in! All in six weeks or 90 days. Wow!

My studio business partner and I were talking about this the other day because we often get questions by yoga instructors on topics like trauma and yoga. (We specialize in trauma-sensitive yoga). We have been amazed that some teachers didn’t learn squat about the nervous system, some are pretty weak on anatomy, some don’t feel comfortable about adjustments, some have no idea what to do if they trigger a client into a spiral, and some can’t comfortably put together a safe sequence. This breaks our hearts.

I’ll say this up front, we don’t have a Yoga Teacher Training. What we would like to do is offer a yoga internship or mentorship program to our Newbie Instructors out there. (We are located in Colorado Springs, Colorado). If you are in the local area and are going to or recently graduated from a Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) and are feeling less than confident, I invite you to give Lara and I call or to email us.

We know not all schools are created equal or that some of you just need a little more practice. This is where we can help and we want to help!

At our studio, we will make sure you know about the nervous system, anatomy, trauma, sequencing, how to safely do adjustments, teach to special populations, and even how to put together a safe yoga sequence. We bring in outstanding national trainers where you can earn your continuing education credits. Also, we will take your questions seriously. Don’t know something, our studio is a safe environment where you can comfortably learn. Or, if you just need a place to teach your Karma classes, we can offer you a space and the opportunity. We also know that places demand you have at least a year’s teaching under your belt and our place will help you towards those hours.

If this is something that interests you, our studio is called Eighteenth Element Yoga. Our address is 5050 Edison Ave Ste. 115 Colorado Springs, CO 80923. Phone is 719-597-0048. Email, Lara and I at admin@eighteenthelementyoga.com. Check out our website.

We will set you on a path towards success!

Namaste,

Kristen

Posted in Beginner yoga, Community, Community Yoga Practices, Exercise Foundations, Learning | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summertime Lull and Yoga Activities to Bring Clients Back

Summertime is often a lull for yoga classes. It can be frustrating when you are used to a full class and then all of a sudden your numbers drop sometimes drastically.
Some people take it personally but they really shouldn’t. Its not you, its the nice weather and the fact that kids are on summer break so many families take vacations or pursue family activities. I don’t blame the clients. When it is nice outside that is definitely where I want to be. Also, many stay at home parents who usually attend daytime classes when their kids are at school don’t have access to daycare during the summer.
My studio and the classes that I teach throughout town are no different. I have had the fluctuations in my classes also.
To combat that, my studio has taken many opportunities to take our yoga classes outside. Here are some of the things we have done that have worked in our favor. First of all, we’ve made our outside classes donations. People seem to like the donation concept. Two outdoor donation projects we have done are a series of classes called Yoga in the Park and Yoga Takes a Hike.
Our Yoga in the Park is always at the same park and at the same time (early lunch time). We picked several dates during the summer, all for the most part on a Saturday. Our flows are family friendly so the whole family can participate. We then had our city’s newspaper publish our dates (we had to plan ahead).
For Yoga Takes a Hike, we host our hikes once a month on a Saturday morning before it gets to hot. All hikes are easy, family friendly and dog friendly. Here in Colorado, there are a ton of trails but keeping the hikes easy seems to be the best approach. We do light yoga stretches before we hit the trail, allow people to strike a pose at scenic vistas, and a light yoga practice at the summit. Overall, it is mostly a hike with a little yoga flavor.
Another thing we have done is join forces with other studios to put together a community event called Yoga Rocks the Park. (Event cost $15 at the gate). With this even, five studios joined together. We all advertised. We each took a turn to be the host studio which leads a 75 minute class. When you aren’t the host studio, you could be part of the vendor lineup which we definitely jumped on. Our Yoga Rocks the Park seems to be catching on and has been a great opportunity for us to grab a few new clients. We have two more dates coming up.
Finally, we have hosted a series of classes called Kids Artistic Asana. We have hosted these once a month on a Sunday afternoon. These classes consist of an hour of Kids Yoga and then an hour with a specified art project. Our Kids Artistic Asana costs though. For $35 dollars, they get to do yoga and an art project. The studio purchases everything they need so essentially all the kid needs to do is show up and have fun. Based on what parents are telling us, the kids seem to look forward to it and it gives them something to do during the summer.
So those are our classes that keep the clients coming in during the summer. We still have our other programs in place but we have slightly reduced the number of classes we have on our schedule. This limits how much we have to pay our instructors and it gives them an opportunity to take their vacations as well.
All in all, summertime doesn’t have to be a dreaded time for studios and instructors, you just have to get creative and explore opportunities outside. My studio partner and I are already thinking about next summer. We know we will pursue these four activities again next year. We are also exploring doing a little Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga. We currently have indoor SUP boards classes that we teach. This might be fun.

Namaste,
Kristen

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