January 18, 2019
10 Ways to Survive Yoga Teacher Training
Are you considering yoga teacher training, but are unsure of what to expect? Having gone through two teacher trainings myself, and co-teaching several others, below are some insights to help you on your journey, and to make this the best experience of your life.
- Always have a journal or notebook on hand. Whether or not you’re a notetaker, you will want to jot things down in order to refer back to them at a later point. Having a journal by your mat to write down certain phrasing or words that resonate with you will be helpful once you graduate and start teaching.
- Put down the pen and paper from time to time, and just allow the whole experience of the training wash over you. Let go of any worry that you may not remember everything that has been taught. Embrace the present moment and sense how the experience is impacting you. Trust that the information will be there, within you, when you need it.
- Bring snacks! Teacher trainings can be long days with lots of physical, emotional and mental stimulation. Always have food on hand to keep you energized and refreshed.
- Comfort is key. There are moments during teacher training where you will be sitting for long periods of time. Bring layers to ensure you stay warm. Sitting against a wall or with the support of bolsters and blankets is always a plus.
- Self-care. Take time after your long day and weekends to decompress. Whether you go for a walk in nature, journal or binge watch your favorite show on Netflix, take some time to get out of the yoga teacher training mindset. You’ll find that this helps reenergize you physically, emotionally and mentally.
- Epsom salt baths…your body will thank you.
- Be prepared to meet the most awesome people from all different walks of life. Yoga teacher training is a bonding experience. You will connect with like-minded individuals that you may never have met or gotten to know had you not signed up for a training. Be prepared to form lasting friendships. Yoga teacher training is not just about learning to teach, it is also an opportunity to connect with others.
- Smile and share. Teacher training is about self-discovery. We all have similar fears and worries. Teacher training is a safe place to share your questions, fears and experience. You may discover something about yourself that you didn’t know, while learning that you are not alone on this journey. Teacher training not only equips you with the tools to go out and teach, but it also equips you with the tools to connect with yourself.
- Be open and let go of any expectations. This goes along with number 3 and self-discovery. Know that there will be moments during the teacher training that you don’t particularly like. Be okay with that and let it go. Yoga is about being in the present moment, welcoming in every experience or sensation, and allowing that experience to flow through you. Know that you will have the support of your teachers and fellow trainees to get you through any difficult moments.
- Be prepared to be transformed. Whether or not you decide to teach afterwards, yoga teacher training is such an amazing and life-changing experience.
July 18, 2018
Having a good quality yoga mat is no different than having good quality running shoes. Yoga mats are sold just about everywhere, but they’re not all alike. Some are squishy, others extra sticky, while others are mostly just for decoration. The type of yoga mat best suited for your practice depends on the style of yoga you’re interested in. If you’re practicing at a hot yoga studio, there will be lots of sweat! Sweaty practices require extra sticky mats or using a yoga towel on top of your mat to catch the sweat and to provide extra grip for your hands and feet. If you’re an outdoor yogi, you may not want to invest a lot of money into a mat that you’ll use for practicing on grass, sand or concrete. Using your yoga mat to practice places other than a yoga studio will mean that it will come into contact with a great many surfaces of a questionable cleanliness. If you’re a traveling yogi, a mat that folds up and fits in your suitcase is perfect for using on hotel carpeting and practicing in the privacy of your room.
Before you invest a lot of money on a yoga mat, you should try out a variety of mats. Lululemon will let you try out their yoga mats in-store; your local yoga studio may have loaner mats by Jade, Manduka, Gaiam or others. Take your shoes off, get on the mat and strike a few poses to see how the mat responds under your feet and hands. Does it stretch underfoot when you open up into warrior two? Is it difficult to come into tree pose because the mat has too much squish? Too much cushioning may seem like a good idea at first, but super squishy mats are more suited to a home Pilates practice.
Things to think about when choosing a yoga mat: does it offer enough cushioning for poses like camel, but not stretch out in all other poses? Is it a light color mat that will show dirt? Does it have a warranty against defects or wear? Do you practice every day or just at yoga events? You may find that you have a couple of different yoga mats for different purposes: traveling, outdoor yoga or yoga studios. Not all yoga mats are created equal. You may find that your yoga practice has been suffering because of the bargain bin yoga mat you’ve been using. Ask other yogis what they practice on and why? Ask to step on their mat and see how their mat feels different than yours does underfoot. You may find a renewed interest in your yoga practice if you trade out the mat you bought at the local drugstore.
Jennifer Huber 200+hr RYT
July 18, 2018
Effects of Yoga
The effects of yoga on the human body have been studied extensively and they all point to the fact that yoga has many positive benefits for its practitioners. Yoga has been found to reduce stress, lessen anxiety, promote positive life choices, prevents cartilage and joint breakdown and can also help with osteoporosis. Yoga builds a mind-body awareness by creating a state of mental well being through mindful movement and intentional breath. The linking of breath and movement influences the chemical balance of the brain by reducing cortisol levels and lowering adrenaline levels. Yoga studies also show links between lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, benefits the immune system by reducing the production of proteins called cytokines that cause inflammation at the cellular level.
Children’s yoga studies show that yoga helps them manage stress and increase concentration levels through breathing exercises, spatial awareness, meditation and healthy movement. Post-traumatic stress sufferers show decreases in stress levels by stimulating the parasympathetic (calming) branch of the central nervous system and reduce the hyperarousal symptoms of PTSD. At risk and underserved youth have shown increased self-esteem levels, increased ability to cope with social stresses as a result of practicing yoga. First responders groups all across the nation are beginning to incorporate yoga asana into their workplace training to reduce the emotional and mental stress associated with their line of work.
A yoga practice can be slow and deliberate; yin yoga, yoga nidra or it can be a physical workout; power yoga, vinyasa yoga. Regardless of the style of yoga you choose to practice, the effects of yoga on the human body are well documented and bring about an increased overall state of mental and physical well-being. That being said, if you’re not already practicing yoga; today is a perfect place to start from where you are right now. If you are already a yoga practitioner, bring a friend with you to class next time!
May 17, 2018
Natarajasana (Sanskrit) – Dancer’s pose is a big shoulder stretch and standing balancing pose. The pose stretches the shoulder, chest, bicep, hip flexor and your balance! The pose can be done with an open shoulder rotation or a closed shoulder rotation as long as the arm rotation is completely open or closed.
- From Tadasana, set your drishti (gaze) on a spot that is not moving. Shift your weight to your right foot and stretch your toes out on the mat. Press the four corners of your standing foot into the ground and hug in. Skin to muscle to bone.
- Bend your left knee and clasp your left hand around the left ankle.
- Your thumb can be pointed up or it can be pointed down. If you reach back with your thumb pointing up, this is an open shoulder pose. If your thumb is pointing down, it is a closed shoulder pose. Engage the right arm and extend it towards the ceiling.
- Kick your foot into your hand and pull back on your foot with your hand. Lift the back of your thigh (hamstring) parallel to the mat and flex your foot.
- The stability in this posture comes from the strength in the kick—the harder you kick, the more stable you’ll be.
- Square the hips. Try to square the hips and keep your left knee in line with your left hip joint rather than opening out to the left side (which is what your body will want to do by default).
- Protect the standing knee. Take care to not hyperextend the standing knee in this posture. Hyperextension occurs when the knee bends past its usual range of motion when straight. This is also known as locking the joint. To prevent this and protect that standing leg, engage the quadricep of your standing leg (“lift the kneecap”) and make a microbend in the knee of your standing leg.
- Hold for 5 – 6 breaths, then switch sides.
Jennifer Huber 200hr RYT