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?)
  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 doesn’t 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 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 lots of newbies.
  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

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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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What’s in a logo? A name?

I’ve been really busy trying to get my yoga studio started and going. Very time consuming to say the least! As I and my business yoga partners develop the business, there is one question that people continuously ask me. That is how did I come up with my studio name and the logo.

Well, I have to say, I didn’t come up with it all by myself. I had help. It was a joint effort on the part of myself and my business partner and friend, Lara.

Buckle up and let me tell you how we came up with our name and logo.

It all started the fall of 2014. Lara and I didn’t know each other, but we had one thing in common, we both signed up and were taking a yoga teacher training. That’s how we met. As we got to know each other, we learned that we had some of the same passions when it came to yoga so we were naturally drawn together. Our complimentary ideologies attracted a friendship.

I wanted to go beyond fitness based yoga and truly help people who needed it the most. People who are suffering from trauma or have life changing injuries. People with PTSD and especially veterans. As a veteran myself, I’ve seen some of the struggles and hardships military men and women and families go through. I felt compelled to find a way I could help. My way of giving back. Lara wanted that too.

Back in November 2014, both Lara and I were watching a documentary called “I am” by Tom Shadyac (Hollywood director of several popular movies). I have to give credit to the film because it was a catalyst that set the studio identity in motion.

In short, the film posed two questions. What’s wrong with our world, and what can we do to make it better? Tom made the film after he was in a cycling accident. He wasn’t healing and was depressed.  His money wasn’t making him happy (he had several mansion type homes, a plane, cars… excess) so he went on a quest to search for true happiness and if he could be a change he wished to see in the world. Doing his journey, he saw two extremes in the world. The super rich with excess and a lot of waste and the extreme poverty who didn’t eat or have shelter let alone things we take for granted. He noticed that some of the happiest people he met certainly weren’t rich and yet they would go out of their way to help another. He questioned how was that so!

After watching that film, I see that in the world and it’s sad.

Today’s world is filled with people so caught up in their own lives. Many don’t take a moment to acknowledge others, let alone lend a helping hand. There is a lot of I’m to important, materialism, and greed. Tom felt he was guilty too.

So with a new sense of purpose, Tom went on a quest to share with others his own awaking as he eliminated the greed and excess in his life and help influence others to do the same.

His thoughts were that we are all the same, we breath the same air. In fact, 1% of the air we breath is Argon which is a recyclable gas so everyone breaths this noble gas to include the great people before before us.

I could go on and on. All in all, the film sparked something in Lara and I.

Yoga is about the breath. We keyed in on Tom’s mention of part of the air we breath was Argon. Argon is the Eighteenth Element. When Argon burns, it takes a fusha color. Our colors in the logo are black and fuchsia. If you look closely, you can see an influence of the periodic table in our logo also.

Before watching the film, Lara and I felt it is extremely important that yoga is for everyone not just the rich or those who choose it for fitness. It was important to us to keep our prices low so it isn’t out of people’s means and two of our trauma programs are free. Several people really truly need it. The less fortunate, those who struggle with trauma in their day-to-day lives, and first responders. Our phrase Lara and I always say to each other; “if you build it, they will come.”

We started taking trauma focused yoga training, talking to trauma workers, and doing a lot of reading. The one thing we came to realize was that a lot of people feel like they are victims to their trauma and as such we keyed in on the Warrior pose because in our eyes, our clients can take back their lives, be their own warrior, and yoga can be one of the tools they use. This is our way of lending a helping hand.

So now you know the rest of the story. Why we named our studio Eighteenth Element Yoga and how our logo evolved. I hope you like it just as much as we do and just maybe we will meet you on the mat sometime soon!

Namaste,

Kristen

Eighteenth Element Yoga logo

Eighteenth Element Yoga logo

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What Makes a Yoga Class “Trauma-Sensitive?”

This is great question to consider. Chances are there is a person contemplating a visit to your class or studio because he or she was recommended to try yoga by his or her therapist or doctor. What potential clients and even some therapists or doctors don’t know is that there are so many different yoga styles out there and not all yoga is good for a trauma-sensitive person. This is often what your doctor or therapists says…”Go to Yoga.”

So in keeping with doctor’s orders you seek out yoga.

I say again… NOT ALL YOGA STYLES ARE GOOD FOR THE TRAUMATIZED PERSON! In fact, some yoga experiences can cause more harm than good.

As a co-owner and instructor at Eighteenth Element Yoga in Colorado Springs, I am extremely sensitive towards this topic. I also realize that yoga is or can be scary and just considering yoga is a huge step!

To set any potential client’s mind at ease, below is a list of what we at Eighteenth Element Yoga define as a trauma-sensitive yoga class.

1. (Rapport) First of all, just setting foot in a yoga studio especially if you have never ever have done yoga can be an anxiety provoking experience. We understand this at Eighteenth Element Yoga. To lessen anxiety, any client who would like to meet the instructor in advance of the class, can do so. We will accommodate meetings, give tours, and explore any questions a person might have. We understand the importance of you feeling comfortable and safe in your yoga classes. We will make sure you have a “Safety Plan” and “Coping Cards.” We have assembled a great team of instructors who have empathy, compassion, and a true concern for every single one of our clients. You won’t find diva or rock star instructors with big egos who don’t have the time of day for you at Eighteenth Element Yoga. Additionally, all of our instructors have bios on our website known as mats. Potential clients can check out our instructors before they ever step in our door! Also, another thing that is just as important. Our instructors are available after class in the event you have more questions.

2. (No surprises). There is predictability with our instructors and our classes. No surprises! All can take comfort in the safety and security of this. Instructors will always inform of what is coming before it happens. We understand there is fear in the unknown and by telling you what will happen next, anxiety is lessened.

3. (No searching for the instructor). Instructors stay on their mats in our “Mindful Yoga Therapy class” and our “Resilience class” which is especially geared towards those who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). During this class, our clients will always know where the instructor is at all times. Instructors will never approach a person from behind or catch someone off guard which isn’t comforting for those who with hypervigilance.

4. (Choices). Our classes and studio always promotes choices. We understand that you didn’t have a choice concerning the trauma that happened to you. Take comfort that no one will be forced to do anything. You don’t want to close your eyes, you don’t have to. If a pose isn’t working for you, you have the freedom to come out of it, explore another variation, or to not do it at all. You have the freedom to set up your mat anywhere in the room and we aren’t going to play the shifting game of having to slide your mat over every time someone joins the class. (We won’t ever fill our trauma-sensitive classes to the point of feeling crowded). However, if all you do is show up and breath that is totally fine with us. You will always have choices offered.

5. (Grounding). Our classes always have grounding practices. It is our goal to make this practice feel second nature to you. It is important for you to feel centered and anchored, as opposed to spacey and floating around. Grounding practices help provide a sense of support which will give you the courage to move into the yoga poses with a sense of balance and safety. In yoga, our body is supported by the earth (yoga mat) and our Bandhas (body). We take a lot of time in our Mindful Yoga Therapy and Resilience classes to gain this awareness and to learn that this can be a “coping strategy” in the event your PTSD is triggered. Lastly, grounding can also be the community of the yoga class who have empathy and you’ll find quite the support system at Eighteenth Element Yoga as trauma-sensitive yoga is our mission.

6. (Breathing Exercises). Breathing is a huge part of yoga and the same applies in our trauma-sensitive yoga classes. We spend a significant portion of our class on deep and awareness breathing exercises. The techniques will be redundant so you can be sure to master the technique and use it to avoid a trigger or to self-sooth in the event you are in a situation where you are triggered.

7. (Know what’s coming next). Our Mindful Yoga Therapy and Resilience classes have a structure. You will always know what comes after what. For instance, we will always have a breathing exercise at the beginning of class so you can count on that. We will also tell you what we are doing next. Also, in our Mindful Yoga Therapy and Resilience classes, our instructors teach from a standardized lesson plan so if you come to multiple sessions with different instructors, you can rest assure class is on target no matter who teaches. Another class we offer is our Warriors class. This is a perfect follow on class. This class also has a structure that will feel familiar; however, practices will vary because exploring different approaches encourage new neuropathway connections.

8. (Touching). Touching is a NO GO! We will never touch anyone or physically assist without permission. This goes without saying in a trauma-sensitive class. Also, take comfort that even when you are in any of our classes (even if they aren’t identified as a trauma-sensitive class) that we won’t touch you without your permission. Once again, you have a choice! For the rest of our classes, the studio has flip chips that students have total control of. Don’t want to be touched, flip the chip to indicate as such. There is no need to draw attention to yourself by having to say anything in front of the class. Additionally, we will help all our clients feel their body in space and discover their own adjustments as physical adjustments create dependency when you are working towards your own empowerment.

9. (Present Moment). All of our trauma-sensitive classes encourage “present moment” practices and mindsets. Trauma is a “past event” that likes to keep you in the past with things like flashbacks and nightmares. The future which isn’t even here yet can be stressful to think about. The present moment is a stress free zone and that is where we encourage you to explore. One of the ways we do this is with breathing exercises. Just being aware of the breath makes you be present.

10. (Effective Action). Our trauma-sensitive classes encourage and allow “effective action” practices. These are choices we encourage our clients to make that might make them feel better. For instance, being set up in a certain part of the room, to use or not use blocks, to ask for the lights to stay on verses off, to have extra padding… Things like that.

11. (Limbic-centric practices). Our classes have rhythms. Our trauma-sensitive classes move at a slower and limbic-centric pace. Class won’t be to slow or to fast but at the pace where one can feel the body move, allow sensation, relieve tension, and still feel connected to your breath. Additionally, we remind our students to continuously check in with their bodies. Opportunities are given to allow all to notice or experiment with pose variations or approaches to get into a pose. We feel there is more than one way to discover and explore.

12. (Mindfulness). Our trauma-sensitive classes reinforce “Mindfulness.” This is knowing what happens and feeling when you move your body a certain way. This is listening to your bodies and hearing the whispers it says and honoring those whispers so the body doesn’t scream at you later. Learning to concentrate on what your are doing for instance in a pose. Using breathing practices to energize and fuel your yoga practice, keep you present, and also to sooth and calm whenever you need. You can take your breath where ever you go and let it channel anger and anxiety as you are out and about in your world. All and all, mindfulness fortified the body-brain connection and rebuild one’s sense of control and safety!

13. (Quiet Practices). In addition to yoga, we introduce various meditation and yoga Nidra practices. These are embedded in our Mindful Yoga Therapy and Resilience classes. Additionally, we offer classes where all you do is mediation and Yoga Nidra (Yoga zzz’s). We realize that those with trauma often suffer from racing thoughts, insomnia, and restless legs as they attempt to sleep. Meditation and yoga Nidra practices can help our clients calm themselves, relax, and maybe actually fall asleep. Snoring is a good thing! 

14. (Environment). Environment is critical! We took a lot of care in finding the perfect studio and team. You won’t be startled by loud exterior noises like booming car stereos or people walking by and looking at you through the window. There aren’t excessive mirrors, doors, or windows. Our trauma-sensitive class are room temperature verses extreme heat that reminds you of Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq. We don’t burn weird incense or have weird exotic music. We get that “bells and smells” can be trauma triggers. Our studio is decorated with a soothing nature theme verses a bunch of subtle hints towards any particular religion.

15. (Language). Like all things, yoga has its own unique vocabulary. To put all at ease, at our studio, we speak everyday language. You won’t hear that weird language that is often commonly heard in other studios and then feel lost because you don’t know what the heck the instructor just said. Additionally, our Mindful Yoga Therapy cues are different. We won’t use commanding language or “out of body” expressions. Instead, we use an invitatory and positive language throughout our therapeutic class; one that emphasizes choice and processes.

16. (Appropriate Yoga Poses). Not all yoga poses are right for everyone and that is especially true in a trauma-sensitive yoga class! Our therapeutic classes will never have loaded poses such as Happy Baby and extreme hip and chest openers. And when we do introduce new poses, we will always bookend them with a familiar pose. However; in the event that you or someone is triggered during one of our classes (and we have seen this in other studios’ classes), we will help channel the stress response by reinforcing grounding, focusing on breath, and familiar poses and movements that incorporate the large muscles of the Psoas, gluts, or quads such as warriors poses and wide forward bends. Usually, together we can work through the trigger.

17. (Gratitude).  We teach and explore the practice of gratitude. This simple little gesture can be life changing and all of our classes incorporate this tool.

18. (Yoga is just one tool). We understand that yoga maybe a totally new experience and maybe even overwhelming at times. We highly encourage our clients to work with a therapist so the yoga can be an adjunctive treatment. Additionally, we understand that some instructors can fire hose people with a ton of information that you’ll stress over trying to remember everything. To counter that, we offer redundancy meaning we will repeat the things you learn. Additionally, we reinforce what is taught with support material such as free books, homework practices, and practice journals/logs to reinforce what you are learning. We call everything we do “tools” that you can put in your “toolbox.”

19. (Taking out the guess work). You don’t have to guess which class to go to. All of our trauma-sensitive classes are identified by an * symbol and a course description. When you check us out, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out actually how many of our classes are trauma-sensitive.

20.  (Private Classes). We have three classes that have a limit as to who can attend. Our Mindful Yoga Therapy and Resilience classes are only for those who have PTSD. Our Yoga for First Responders is only for first responders (firefighters, police, EMTs, ER nurses and doctors, 911 operators, and crisis therapists). Both of these programs are free! 

21.  (Educational Workshops). Throughout the year, Eighteenth Element Yoga has trauma-sensitive educational workshops that great learning opportunities geared towards knowledge, crafting, mediation techniques, and the power of essential oils. As a person healing from trauma, this is an opportunity to learn more, perfect techniques, or to channel your creative energy.

22. (Something for everyone). In general, our studio classes are for everyone! Trauma doesn’t discriminate and neither do we. Our classes are affordable, donation-based, and as mentioned before some are even free. We keep our costs low and transfer that to you. We are also backed by non-profits and their supporting organizations.

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There are a lot of yoga choices out there and many places or styles may not be appropriate for someone healing from trauma. All in all, I hope this provides some insight that not all yoga is right for a traumatized or trauma-sensitive person or someone who struggles with PTSD. For a trauma survivor, our goal is to help you reclaim your body more than manipulating you into a pose! The above is Eighteenth Element Yoga’s perspective.

If you are or will be in the Colorado Springs, CO area, stop in and visit us. We are just five minutes from Peterson AFB. You can check us out on www.eighteenthelementyoga.com and/or on www.facebook.com/eighteenthelementyoga.

Namaste,

Kristen

Posted in Mindful Yoga Therapy, PTSD Yoga, Tension Relief, trauma-sensitive yoga, Yoga, Yoga for PTSD | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments