Spring Influences

I can’t believe it is already March! According to the calendar, March 20 is the first day of spring. (I know some of us live in the north and spring shows it’s face at different times). With that being said, if you are like me, spring inspires spring cleaning, spring detoxing, and weight loss efforts.

If you have been following me for a while, you likely know that I recently opened up a yoga studio with my friend Lara. Our studio is called Eighteenth Element Yoga. One of the things we are doing in the studio is a pose of the month and a essential oil of the month. For us, March sponsors Chaturanga and Lemon Essential Oil.

In my opinion, just saying or posting that Chaturanga is our pose of the month or that Lemon Essential Oil is our oil of the month is not enough. You should indicate “WHY.”

WHY
Chaturanga
1. Is a pose found in most active yoga classes and it is often repeated numerous times.

2. Is not an easy pose and many people don’t do it right thus leaving them susceptible to injuries. The shoulders often fall victim to improper technique so Chaturanga is often nicknamed the “shoulder shredder.”
***Because of this, we felt it was important to highlight this pose. At our studio, we film videos showing pose break downs and various modifications. We will do the same for this pose as well as demonstrating ways to build up strength if a proper Chaturanga (any variation) is currently out of a person’s league.

Lemon Essential Oil
1. Lemon Essential Oil can be a tool towards weight loss. We all know we are supposed to drink water. But the question is how much? Some people don’t know how much to drink or simply don’t like the taste of water. Here is a simple formula for the amount and a possible taste solution. (Just make sure citrus doesn’t mess with any medicines you might be taking).
***Divide your body weight by 2 = how many ounces of water you should drink
Put your water in a “glass” pitcher or glass. (Don’t use plastic with essential oils as the oils will break down the plastic).
For every 20-30 ounces, add 3-5 drops of lemon essential oil. [Only ingest oils marked Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG)].
Drink daily.

2. Lemon is a workhorse additive to a general household cleaner if you are into using green products. It is cheaper and easy to make.
***Find a glass or aluminum 11 – 12 ounce spray bottle.
5 ounces of water
5 ounces of white vinegar
1 tsp baking soda
20 drops of lemon oil
Add the water and vinegar to the bottle. Slowly add the baking soda so it doesn’t fizz. Then add the oil. Shake it up and use!

3. Lemon as aromatherapy has wonderful benefits. It helps eliminate negative emotions, and can increase concentration and awareness. To gain these benefits, you can diffuse it or put a drop or two in a tissue and inhale.

As you can see, Chaturanga and lemon are great stars to highlight as poses and essential oils of the month. But why March? That goes back to my what spring inspires…spring cleaning, spring detox, and weight loss efforts.
Lemon can be used to clean with, it can influence people’s emotions, and it can be ingested (only CPTG) to help with a person’s weight loss strategies. There are a ton of uses for lemon, I only offered 3 ways so I wouldn’t overwhelm anyone.
Chaturanga uses the entire body. It is a great multitasking exercise. So if you are limited in time, include Chaturanga in your yoga practice. If you include it regularly, you’ll see results the form of toned arms and core. Who doesn’t want that?!?!

Happy Spring!

Namaste,
Kristen

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Partner Yoga

I’m betting that many of you will try out a “Partner Yoga” class this month. Perhaps you explore it on Valentine’s Day or maybe this month since it is the month of the heart.

Maybe you are taking a class. Maybe you are teaching the class. I’m the latter.

As I was designing my class, I got to thinking about what I could do in the class and who might be in my class. A lot of the places where I teach, I have mainly intermediate and newbie yogis and they are of various ages and fitness abilities. A few are what I’d considered advanced; however, the majority are not. The last thing I want to do is throw in all those climb on top of each other and aero types of poses and scare everyone away. (I think that is better suited for when I have more experienced yogis).

So since I don’t know who will come tomorrow, I’ll err on the more cautious side.

Here is what I’m thinking. This is intended to be a flow class. The pace of course can be dictated by who comes. (Mats are side to side, touching on the long side).

LIMBERING:

* Community Pose – this is extended mountain with inside hands clasped

* Double Side Bend – standing side by side, inner hands rest on partner’s hip/waist, outer hand reaches up and clasps partner’s hand. Bend to the right. Bend to the left.

* Double Backbend – facing each other, hands clasp forearms, lean back into a backbend

BUILD HEAT WITH CREATIVE SUN SALUTES:

Sun A:

Community Pose - step back with outside leg into Star – step back into Community Pose – then flow into a Vinyasa (plank, chaturanga, cobra/upward facing dog, downward Facing dog) — repeat several times

Sun B:

Downward Facing Dog – outer leg lifts up and Hips Stack, perhaps feet high five – back to Downward Facing Dog – inner leg lifts up to step in between hands – twist towards front leg and extend hand upwards for Dragonfly Twist – Hands come to thigh to help come up and into Warrior IIReverse Warrior – finish with a Vinyasa — repeat several times

Sun C:

Downward Facing Dog- inner leg lifts – Warrior IWarrior IIR. WarriorTriangle – outer leg steps back – StarWide FoldStar then pivot to the back of the mat – Revolved TriangleVinyasa — repeat several times. Play with hands, maybe grab a partner’s ankle or reach up and try to find their hand.

BALANCING:

* Titanic – one person stands in front of the other and reaches their arms back. Back person takes their arms as the front person leans forward (over the boat).

* Partner Dancer - do one side then the other side

* Double Tree – do one side then the other side

MAT WORK:

The following are seated poses.

* Double Owl - sit back to back in easy pose. Right hand takes your knee and left hand reaches back towards partner or their knee.

* Heart and Butterfly – still back to back. Legs are in butterfly pose. One person leans back onto their partner (Heart) while the other  folds forward (Butterfly). Trade roles.

* Diamond Pose – Face each other, legs straddled out, grab hands/forearms. One person leans back as the other folds forward. Trade roles.

* Double Boat – Still facing each other, legs zip together and each other’s souls of feet meet as hands come together outside of the legs.

SURRENDER:

Laying on mats but side by side. Bring knees into chest and find supine twist on each side. Partners can help with a hand on their buddy’s knee.

End in Savasana.

This isn’t a complicated class. All levels can do it. Plus it doesn’t take people to far out of their comfort zone as far as touch is concerned.

Enjoy!

Namaste,

Kristen

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February Themes… Heart Openers

We are in the midst of February and I’m seeing what other yoga instructors and studios are offering in terms of special classes. The three main themes typically are “Heart Openers,” “Heart Chakra,” and “Partner Yoga.” In the past, I have done all three of these themes with success! Overall, these are great and fun themes that go along with February being the “American Heart Association’s Heart Month,” and also “Valentine’s Day.” Since February 2015 has started, I’ve been having “Heart Opening” themes in my classes. Heart Opening themes are fairly easy to teach for a couple of reasons. One, you don’t need a partner (I do Partner classes on Valentine’s Day). Two, you can teach this theme throughout the month. Three, there are a ton of poses to choose from so you won’t have the same class every time you teach. I’ll list them (just in case you are doing the same and maybe looking for a pose you hadn’t considered).

HEART OPENING POSE LIST *** If you offer variations of these or even use props, the list grows longer.***

Bow

Bridge

Camel

Cobra

Cow

Cow Face

Dancer

Fish

Forward Fold with Hands Clasped behind back.

Half Bound Triangle (chest slightly rotates towards ceiling)

Half Frog (Toe hold variation)

Heart Opening Wall Twist (Sit perpendicular near a wall. Place Hand on wall and twist the opposite way).

Locust Mountain with Hands Clasped Behind Proud Pigeon (Opposite Hand clasps extended bent leg. Chest revolves towards front bent knee and upwards).

Reverse Plank

Revolved Beam Pose Side Angle with supporting arm on thigh while top arm reaches toward the ceiling and then gently clasping head as chest slightly spirals toward ceiling. Revolved Head to Knee Pose

Rockstar

Sphinx

Supported Reclining Bound Angle (use a bolster)

Warrior I with Hands Clasped Behind

Wheel

Upward Facing Dog

Upward Face Staff Pose

Wild Thing

So as you can see, we have a ton of poses to introduce into our classes. Now after doing a few “Heart Openers,” you’ll want to neutralize the spine with a counterpose or two.

COUNTERPOSES

Child’s Pose

Constructive Pose - Lay on the back with feet as wide as the mat. Slightly pigeon toe the feet and allow the knees to rest against each other. Use arms to wrap around the chest in what I call an “Eagle Hug.”

Forward Folds - Any variation of standing or seated.

Windshield Wipers - Still laying on the back with feet as wide as the mat. Allow the knees to slowly fall to the side and then to the other side.

So there you have it. Grab a few fun “Heart Opening Poses,” thread them appropriately throughout your class, have a fun quote, story, or mention the importance of taking care of your ticker, and make a good feeling love-themed play list (Don’t do the sappy love songs as that can backfire. Instead, choose songs about being happy, loving life…).

I wrote this just in the event some of you were doing “Heart Openers” and wanted to do something outside of your go-to poses. I for one, never considered the “Heart Opening Wall Twist” until recently. I’d love to hear about your “Heart Themed” classes. Namaste, Kristen

Me in Garden of the Gods (Colorado Springs, CO) doing a little Wildthing.

Me in Garden of the Gods (Colorado Springs, CO) doing a little Wildthing.

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Thoughts: Yoga for Trauma

I recently read an article on Elephant Journal that really resonated with me and I know you guys can read it too. It is called “An Open Letter from a Trauma Therapist to Yoga Teachers: 12 Simple Ways to Make Your Classes More Trauma Informed.” I think all yoga instructors should check it out as the author makes a valid point in that nowadays numerous doctors and therapists are recommending yoga to their patients but new people will come to any yoga not knowing there are a ton of styles.

People come to yoga and each person has their own reasons why they first came and why they continue to practice or why they only come once.

Some of you might know that I have been trained under two different 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Programs. Both were great schools in their own ways. However, there was one major difference between the two and that was the concept that our students have options! Go figure!

One school taught that our client’s have options. The other relayed that we are the teacher, it is our yoga room, and we will make “adjustments” as we see fit. They even lock the door once class starts so people can’t come in (even if they had to go to the bathroom). Well, I couldn’t disagree more with the latter. When I heard the trainer say that I actually argued against it and made it clear that I didn’t agree. Nevertheless, the teacher still reinforced the concept despite my objections. (So as you can guess, I didn’t adapt my teaching style to fit the latter’s concept of options).

The way that I look at it now, I’m teaching my classes and it is extremely important to me that my clients feel safe and can trust me. So yes, I disagree with the one school on this portion of their training. My students have options and have control of their bodies! You know…my clients like options and it is practiced throughout class!

Regarding the article, there are a couple of things I’d like to point out and put my perspective on.

1. I don’t assume anything about any one. Unless I am told by the client, I don’t know about previous injuries, trauma, or conditions such as pregnancy. (A long, long time ago, I assumed a lady was pregnant and actually said something to her. This was in one of my aerobics classes. She wasn’t pregnant and needless to say it was pretty awkward).

2. At the beginning of class, I will always create a Yoga Essence that relays a safe practice. This includes listening to the body throughout the practice and that there are always options and choices. I also reinforce that there is no judgment or competition during the practice. I have had people come up to me after class and tell me how important it was for me to say that as once they heard me say it, they could relax.

3. I will never lock my studio door (where you can’t come back in). If people need to leave for whatever reason, they have the freedom to do so and they can sneak back in too. My yoga studio isn’t a prison. (I know some of you will have mixed feelings about this. I get it. It can be very disrupting to the others. But, maybe, just maybe, the person leaving is having a bathroom emergency, is feeling light-headed, in a lot of pain, having a panic attack, or a trauma trigger. We don’t know). Then again, I sometimes have people approach me before class telling me they have to leave early. I’m OK with that too. I just tell them to please pack up quietly. They always do and usually wave at me as they leave. (Some practice is better than no practice).
– All and all, I feel it is the front desk’s job to tell late comers that they will have to wait until the next class if class is already in progress.

4. Touch! I don’t touch people without their permission nor do I ever sneak up on them, they know I’m coming. One school encouraged adjustments in the form of verbal cuing or maybe putting your hand in space and having the client move their body towards it that way they have control, but the last resort would be manually moving their bodies into some position. The other school said, don’t ask, just adjust because touch and alignment is important.
– Now, in a studio that I am comfortable in, I personally don’t have a problem with being touched. But that is me. I have a friend who teaches at the place where they encourage adjustments, he puts people in child’s pose and asks about adjustments. People who don’t want to be adjusted simply raise their hand. It works for him! I’ve even adopted it.
– I usually leave people alone unless they will get injured doing whatever they are doing. Mainly, I cue to the whole class often changing the cue up or walking nearby till a certain person gets it.
– If I do touch (with permission) and they are in Savasana or Child’s pose, I will rub my hands together. It makes a gentle warning noise and also warms my hands.
– I know some people don’t like to be touched or that unwelcome and surprise touch may cause a trigger to go off. I always honor someone’s NO.

5. I usually introduce a flow slowly. Often I point out where dristi might be, if you are exhaling or inhaling, some places the pose might stimulate or where one might feel sensation. Additionally, I show various modifications; always showing the easier variation first. You don’t have to do the half series every single time, you can go straight to Downward Facing Dog, or if you need a break you can visit Child’s Pose or do a Watchasana while drinking water. Heck, you can even enter Savasana early. I think you get the point and my students do as well. The last thing I want my clients to think is that they aren’t good enough to take my classes.

6. I don’t force people to close their eyes. I make it an option! Probably the majority of your clients will close their eyes; however, there might be one or two that don’t for their own personal reasons. Let them be.

7. I don’t do guided imagery during Savasana. In fact, I don’t do a lot of talking. I let people enjoy their silence and do whatever they choose to do with their thoughts.

This is just my take on making my classes safe for everyone. I personally have taken an huge interest and as a result sought trainings so I could offer yoga to those afflicted by trauma to include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These are trainings outside of my 200 hours.

If you are of a similar mindset or have taken trauma training, I’d love to hear about your training and learning experience, mistakes you’ve made… I’m still learning and studying. One of my teacher friends often says, “the teacher and the taught create the training.”

Namaste,
Kristen

Link to the article:

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Adventures in Creating a Yoga Studio – 30 Days In

I’ve attended two 200 hour Yoga Teacher Trainings plus trainings towards my 500, several workshops, I teach and interact with my clients, and I mingle with other yogis quite often.  Quite a few of us dream about having our own studio where we could be our own boss and actually teach what we are passionate about in a world without workplace politics. Sometimes, my students encourage me to have a space outside of the gym which was really pronounced in 2013 during all the not so fun furloughs.

I’m a dreamer too.

I’ve been dreaming about being an owner/instructor for several years now. Oh, I’d talk about having a studio for hours with some of my yogi friends. (They know who they are). But months and years would go by and no studio of my own. (I know, I know).

Recently, I met some other yogis who had the same dreams as I. This time it was different! They were willing to invest in the time, research, and money. Finally!

So as you may have guessed, I’ve partnered with some yogis to open up a new studio hopefully in the near future. I say “hopefully” because there is a lot of preliminary work one must do before you even consider opening doors. I am learning this big time! WOW!

So 30 days into our yoga studio project, we have the following milestones:

1. A lot of talking and brainstorming. I think it is important to make sure we are all similar in mindsets. This goes on all the time.

2. A Studio Name and Mission Statement. Our name and mission statement compliment each other. (I won’t reveal it yet). It took us a little bit of time to come up with this. I keep asking myself with every task or thing I do; “Does this support my mission statement?” It’s a great question to ask yourself as it keeps you focused.

3. Filed with Colorado Secretary of State Department to establish our business as a “Limited Liability Company” or LLC. (I personally thought the website was very self explanatory and the process for pretty painless). This is an important first step.

4. We then picked a platform to host our website. (Our website is still under construction, but I am happy about its progress). Oh, the stuff to think about putting on your site!?!?

5. We hit up all the social media sites we could think of and created a business profile with them. This has been kind of fun and they are FREE!

6. We’ve had a photo shoot with all of us doing yoga poses. These will be used on our website as well as social media sites. We don’t want to use those generic people you find online. (I’m looking forward to seeing how they turned out).

7. Then the necessary stuff like a Post Office Box, joint bank account, and a means to collect money. (Eventually, we do want to make money).

8. We’ve also have done some fun stuff like buy our first mats. Explore Pinterest for ideas.

9. We’ve signed up for continuing training which supports our mission statement. Now, waiting for the training to come. Soon!

10. Currently, we are narrowing down a cool logo and are scouting out potential real estate locations.  And of course, documenting everything as we go.

11. We are still working on establishing a business plan which in my opinion is kind of hard. And there of course is more legal paperwork to establish and file. But…all necessary evils.

12. We are also looking into studio operational software. Which one should we use?

I have a multitude of emotions/states I’m going through…excitement, fear, panic, pride, curiosity, frustration, pain, anger… You name it. Oh, and things cost money and right now its a lot of nickel and diming. I keep reminding myself that anything worth having isn’t easy! One of my partners repeatedly says that you have to spend money to make money.

I have a ton of questions. The biggest one is am I and my partners doing this right? (It would be cool if there was a easy to follow checklist. I haven’t found one yet).

I wanted to start to document the journey as we go. I know so much will happen and after we are well established, there will be someone who asks me how they should go about starting a yoga studio/business. I don’t want to forget.

Those of you who’ve done it, I’d love to chat with you. Any advise? Things you wish you knew then that you now know? How was your journey?

So many questions…

Namaste,

Kristen

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Strike a Pose

GoGYou see others doing it… at the park, on Facebook…

I’ve finally have joined the ranks of other yogis by participating a in yoga photo session with a professional photographer. Let me tell you, it was a lot of fun and it was actually quite a workout (you have to hold those poses). Who knew?!?!

This past Saturday, I think my yogi friends and I spent approximately 2 1/2 hours posing for pictures. It was a beautiful day! Nice, sunny, blue skies, and approximately 52° (which is warm in Colorado for January) in a beautiful park known as “Garden of the Gods” park. If you ever come to Colorado, this is definitely a place to see!

Our photographer said to give her a week and then she’d have our photos ready. I can’t wait to see them. (and I’ll post a picture here too)

Besides loving yoga and striking poses being fun, we had a reason to have a photo session. My two friends and I have decided to open up our own studio. This will be part of our marketing approach. I am beyond excited and will definitely tell you more about the studio soon.

Whether you have a reason like opening up a studio or no reason what’s so ever. I highly recommend you getting together with a few of your favorite yogis and actually have someone capture on film what you love to do. You can use your iPhone or an actual photographer. Its is fun to strike a pose especially in a beautiful place.

Namaste,

Kristen

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1st Week of January…My Yoga Theme

Here it is the first week in January. I have three yoga classes to teach and I expect I’ll see newbies.

One thing I see often from people whether they are yoga newbies or seasoned yogis, is people make judgements about themselves based on whether they can touch their toes or can pull off crow or insert a pose of your choice. I hear it all the time. “I’m not good enough to take your class.” “I can’t touch my toes.” “I can’t put myself into a pretzel.” “Today, my practice sucked. I couldn’t balance with a damn.” “My firefly doesn’t look like those girls in those yoga pictures.” I could continue but I’m hoping you get my point. Heck, you probably hear them too!

Yoga is about learning to love yourself. There is no judgement, competition, or even expectations. I say this a lot! This is one of the reasons why I teach with the lights off or guide the class away from the mirrors. Sometimes, I even teach a class where the eyes are shut the entire time. It helps minimize these negative egoisms.

So with these thoughts and mind sets in mind, I decided to set a theme for my January classes.

This week its THE PRESENT MOMENT.strong>

I’m inspired because more often than not people make New Year’s Resolutions about how they are going to lose 10 or more pounds, get in shape, run a 5K or further, get a promotion…. And some people will succeed. Some won’t.

As far as the fitness goals are concerned, those that don’t succeed are probably going about it in the wrong way, both in mindset and practice. Several of us approach the goal with the ” want results now!!!!” So they lift excessive weight they never took the time to work towards, take 3+ plus aerobics classes in a day, take the hottest yoga class they can find, pick the most restrictive diet, and so on. The next day or two, these people wonder why they can’t walk. It is said that the gym rush typically dies down drastically after three weeks. Might it be these people? Humm!

I’ll say these supporting statements (all ground on Pinterest):

~The only job where you start at the top….is when you are digging a hole.
~You are where you are, at the time that you are, for a reason. Don’t waste it by wishing to be somewhere else. (Includes poses or anything else).
~Wherever you are, be all there.
~The present moment is the only moment available to us, and it’s the door to all moments.

Remember guys, enjoy your time on your mat, honor where you are, and just be you! Yoga is a practice, not a perfect. Also, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It will take time to take the journey. Enjoy the ride!

Until next time,
Namaste,
Kristen

Posted in Community, Creating Yoga Themes, Exercise, listening to your body, wellness, Yoga, yoga lesson plan ideas | Tagged , | 1 Comment