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yoga – back2basicsliving

Preparing To Teach A Yoga Class: What I Have Learned Since Completing YTT

I would like to start with a caveat, I am a yoga teacher, not a yoga teacher trainer and I am still relatively new to teaching (18 months) but I would like to offer what works for me.

I completed my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) at Semperviva in Vancouver in 2018 and since then added a 16-hour module with Julia Doty and a 40-hour Vinyasa module with Clara Roberts Oss. I highly recommend Sempervivas YYT program.

As part of our final assessment during YTT we were required to prepare a full class which was the first class I thought in a public setting at YMCA in Downtown Vancouver. I have since joined the team at Just Yoga on Broadway instructing Power Flo every Saturday morning at 10:45.

For me, the key is keeping it simple (hence the name of our website). I never teach complicated classes which are difficult to memorise or talk students through.

For the first year or so I would never teach a class without having a flashcard close by for reference, I have since moved away from that as my confidence grew but I recommend having your sequence on a flashcard and placing it somewhere you that you can refer to it at a glance until you are completely comfortable with what you are teaching. It has happened to me many times where I had to discreetly look at my written sequence while the class was in a resting pose. Nobody noticed, and nobody cares if they do notice.

I teach the same overall structure in every class. The poses vary but the overall structure is the same. Two or three waves (check out Clara Roberts Oss Vinyasa module if you are interested in learning more on wave theory), each wave consists of lunge poses, core / neutral poses and warrior poses. It is repeated to a total of two or three waves with a warm-up before, maybe a peak pose and a cool down.

If I have included a peak pose I break it down in different ways. What muscles are going to be working? I look at the pose from different angles, literally just turning an image of the pose sideways and upside down to see what poses are similar. I make sure the sequence builds up to this peak pose, working towards it, preparing the body.

I don’t always include a peak pose, sometimes I will give a rounded class, other times I will focus on a particular muscle group.

One of the greatest tools I have found for preparing a yoga class is Tummee. It costs $69.95 / year but is worth every penny. Tummee allows you to put together a class by placing an image tile for each pose. You can see a summary of your class and browse through thousands of poses and save your classes. It also makes it easy to revise your classes beforehand. I don’t think I’ll ever be the teacher who wings a Yoga class, many do I am sure and if that works for you, great.

I usually use one of two playlists I have. I enjoy classes with no music sometimes but I think I am in the minority of people who prefer that. I will change up the playlists every few months. YTT instructors recommend songs with no lyrics as it can trigger an emotional response. Some of my songs have lyrics but they are in Irish and I am teaching in Canada so I don’t think it is an issue. Just be careful with your music choice and the potential response it can evoke.

When I have my class created I revise it in a few different ways. I have each stage written on a flashcard and recall each pose as I draw the flashcards in order at first then I mix it up. I also sometimes use an app called Quizlet which is free and works the same way as flashcards.

My final prep method which works great is to recite each stage and pose into the voice recorder on my phone and listen to it as I drive or cycle to work. The only challenge is getting past my incredibly boring voice. I leave a space of a few seconds before each pose giving me a chance to recall and actively listen rather than passively listening and zoning out. We learn much quicker and retain more information when we are forced to recall rather than just actively listen to something.

I have probably thought 70 or 80 pubic classes now and I have never gotten lost or messed up without being able to easily recover for two reasons. I keep it simple and I practise. I repeat the sequence over and over until I know my class inside out. You can never be over-prepared and you will reach a comfort level where you know how much prep time is enough.

Every time I create a new sequence I practise it myself to make sure it flows nicely and to make sure the level of challenge is appropriate. The one thing I find difficult when I practise myself is the timing, I am always quicker than I teach when I practise solo, much quicker. I got used to the timing and am at the point where I can slow things down, speed things up or take a pose out of the class if I need to.

I really enjoy teaching and I hope that the people who take my classes enjoy it too. I want to take yoga to people who think it is not for them (Me 10 years ago). I hope that this helps some of you out there who are thinking of taking YTT or who have recently taken it to spread the goodness of yoga.

It’s not just about the postures, it is a way of life.

Peace,

George

 

Useful Links:

Semperviva Yoga

Julia Doty Profile

Clara Roberts Oss Website

Blog on the first public class I thought

Rob Lee YMCA Website

Just Yoga Website

Just Yoga Class Schedule.

Tummee Website

Quizlet App

40 Hour Vinyasa Module blog

 

My Current Yoga & Meditation Routine: How it has Changed Since Baby

Before our pregnancy I had a regular yoga practice, averaging between 3-4 classes per week. Mornings would always begin with a meditation session and some light stretches before breakfast. How does this compare to my current routine? It simply doesn’t. I have not been attending any yoga classes and a regular meditation time in the morning is not possible at this stage of my baby’s life. Do I miss yoga and a regular meditation practice, yes, so much.

My body is so tight, especially around the neck & shoulders. They are working hard holding the baby and breastfeeding. I miss the regular morning meditation because I love routine and this practice helped ground me every morning before I would start my day. My mornings start very different now and will remain this way for the next few months. I wake at 5:30 am to feed baby and then we get up. I make the bed, open the windows and curtains (even when dark outside), wash my face with a warm face cloth and prepare breakfast. This is the new routine and has been for months. Baby then naps on me for about 2 hours while I read and listen to audiobooks. I have to say the mornings are one of my favourite parts of my day. However, I don’t get time to sit undisturbed in a seated position to meditate or stretch.

Moving forward I want to incorporate meditation in my routine, I plan to fit it in just before I start reading. I am not in a seated position or lying down…my posture is terrible, to be honest. However, I’m still and I won’t be disturbed, I don’t have to worry about baby as she is sleeping on me. I have started a 40-day meditation challenge. I don’t want to use the excuse of not having time for it, which is kind of true. I don’t have time to sit undisturbed on a cushion for 20 minutes ever. However, if I just alter my way of thinking and use my downtime in the morning while baby naps on me it will work just fine.

The above picture is how I meditate now, noise-cancelling headphones, baby & me

When our baby was a couple of months old, I got to go to 6:00 pm yoga on a Wednesday however her schedule has changed and she is going to bed earlier. I cannot make the 6 pm classes anymore. There are no classes that fit my schedule right now. Therefore, I am not attending any yoga classes. Even though I miss my practice so much, I know this is just temporary and I will be back in no time. I’m trying to be easy on myself as there is no rush to have my life back to the way it was, it may never go back but I don’t want to add stress just to say “I’m back to yoga”, my baby needs me more right now.

The one thing I look forward to every day is my walk. Around 11 am each day we go for a walk regardless of the weather. This is my new meditation. I usually walk by myself while babe sleeps in stroller. I find the fresh air & movement so calming. I use this time to think and let my mind wander. It is a stress-free environment once the baby falls asleep. I just love walking under the trees or by the beach. Sometimes I’ll buy a tea and a treat. This is me time. I’m grateful for it every day.

I suppose what I am trying to express is that I realise I am not practising yoga; I miss it but I am giving myself a break and not stressing over it as I know it is temporary. It may be another 6 months or a year before I get my practice back but that’s ok. I believe we can be very hard on ourselves. We try and be everything at once when we should just be. We should slow everything down, free up our schedules as much as possible to have time to ourselves. Go for long walks while baby is asleep in the stroller, when baby naps don’t feel bad you have spent 2 hours reading and resting.

Yoga will be there for me when it is time to go back. In the meantime, to help with my tight body I have booked monthly massages and I want to fit in 10min of stretches a day even if I have to do them with baby on the floor. My meditation will hopefully get back to a daily practice.

 

Thanks, so much for reading,

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa

 

Yoga Teacher Training – One Year (ish) After

It is approximately 15 months since I completed my yoga teacher training at Semperviva.

Hopefully, this blog can be of some help or interest to someone who has recently completed their teacher training or is planning to.

I started out after graduating in June 2018 teaching free classes to my friends. I had no experience as a yoga teacher so I wasn’t comfortable teaching a public class without experience. The great thing about the summer in Vancouver is the weather, I had groups ranging from one to five on the beach for around three months and played around with different classes and teaching styles, discreetly (with the student’s knowledge) videotaping myself and recording the classes as I went.

One advantage I had was completing the training with my wife, Theresa. We could practise with each other and we took turns in teaching classes to each other once a week. Practise, practise, practise. Even if you don’t have a partner or close friend completing the training with you, professional life (in Vancouver especially) is all about networking so use the contacts you make during YTT to practise.

I applied to one studio just after completing the training but it was probably wishful thinking that they would hire a recent graduate with no teaching experience. I didn’t hear back from them.

It was shortly after the YTT with a few informal classes under my belt that I applied to volunteer at the YMCA. It seems that most studios are looking to hire teachers with at least two years experience so I think it is difficult to get that experience as a paid teacher. YMCA is located Downtown on Burrard and Nelson. They are always looking for substitute teachers or at least they were a year ago. I had to jump through a few hoops with references, police check, first aid certification but it’s worth it. It’s a great place to teach yoga.

It is voluntary, YMCA is a charity but you get free access to great facilities including a gym, pool and group classes. More importantly, you get to teach yoga. Some of the evening classes are quite intimidating with up to forty people. You can read about my first class here if you are interested.

I was asked by the coordinator to take a few classes and connect with one of the regular teachers as a mentor before I subbed classes. I was lucky and was offered a regular class almost immediately on Thursday mornings at 7 am. Perfect for me, giving me enough time to get to work in East Van after. I think one of the reasons I was given a regular spot so quickly was that I was willing to take an early morning. Try to be flexible with your time – it will work to your advantage.

Things started slow, my first substitute class was packed but my first regular class had only 2 people (one of them was my brother) so that was disheartening. One of the main things I learned throughout the past year is not to be disheartened. As a teacher, I read too much into class sizes and peoples reactions during class. It means nothing about you. I once had a man walk out during the middle of my class, immediately I assumed I was offering a crap class and he had left in disgust but I was wrong. He came back in a few minutes after using the washroom or whatever he needed to do.

Eventually, my regular class size began to grow from two to five up to a steady class of between eight and twelve. I got to know the regulars names and got to a stage after about 7 months where I was confident in the classed I was offering and was sure that the regulars who attended enjoyed them. If somebody didn’t enjoy it then it wasn’t for them, which is great. Different teachers and different styles of teaching will work for different people.

So, life went on at the YMCA and I continued to teach hatha yoga every Thursday morning to a growing group of regulars who I ended up getting to know and becoming friends with. YMCA is a great place to teach if you are willing to offer your time unpaid and I highly recommend that you do. You won’t get a paid teaching job without experience and you’ll probably (unless your the absolute bees knees).

I learned a lot during my regular classes. If I could share just one thing it would be to be yourself. let your personality shine through in class. some people will like it and some people will not. Some people like my classes, music, personality and style of teaching and some did not. It does not matter, those who do not like your classes will find a class they enjoy and move on. That’s exactly what we want for our students.

Learn from your classes also, after each class I make a brief recording of who was there and what went well and what didn’t go so well. I listen to those recordings every so often so I know where I am at. It is also a nice way to help you remember the names of the students who attend your class. The common courtesy of remembering somebody’s name goes a long way. Remember, even if you are volunteering your time it is still a job and you are building the foundations of your future career. We need strong foundations. Start as you mean to continue.

After about 9 months I thought the time was right to apply for some auditions. I kept my digital eyes and ears open on the social media and also visit some different studios on my lunch break.

My first audition was with The Hive climbing gym in North Vancouver. They weren’t keen on anybody with less than 2 years experience applying but included me because I have a membership there. It was fun. I was disappointed to find I was the only male teacher auditioning, I think there is a sad lack of male interest in yoga. The audition was tricky. We had to teach a combined class so we couldn’t prepare as we had no knowledge of what the predecessor might offer. It went great or at least I thought it did but I didn’t get it. Regardless it didn’t matter. I am a firm believer that auditions or interviews, no matter what the profession is essential.

I came out happy, I couldn’t have done any better nor would I have done anything different but it was great to get some feedback afterwards.

As I mentioned above I dropped into a few Yoga studios in person to see if they were hiring. Just Yoga is close to my workplace and I got chatting to the manager who is Irish. It’s such a zen space and one of the nicest yoga studios I have been to in Vancouver.

the Audition at Just Yoga was a 20 minute (If memory serves me) class. Again I was the only male to audition, I don’t know if that is typical but it probably leaves male teachers with somewhat of an advantage. I was lucky enough again that a regular class came up just after I subbed my first class and I was offered the Vinyasa power class every Saturday morning from 10:45 to 12:00. So far I really love teaching this class and have inherited a bunch of great regulars from the previous teacher.

I feel it is important to recognise your limits so reluctantly I decided to give up my regular spot at YMCA after a year. Two classes, a full-time job and a newborn baby were a little bit too much so I am just loving teaching my Saturday morning class at Just Yoga.

Apart from teaching it is so important whether you are a civil engineer (my day job) or yoga teacher to keep up professional development. I read as much as I possibly can on Yoga for example:

Your Body, Your Yoga

Bhagavad Gita

Beauty, The Invisible Embrace

Meditations From The Mat

The Lost Teachings of Yoga

Getting Unstuck

I also regularly read articles on Yoga Journal.

Over the last year, I have taken 2 courses with Semperviva (where I completed my 200 hr YTT). A 16-hour mentorship class with Julia Doty on accessible yoga and a 40-hour Vinyasa module with Clara Roberts Oss. Both were amazing, both teachers are a wealth of knowledge. I talk to and ask teachers for advice as much as possible (they are probably tired of me at this stage) and I take classes with as many different teachers as possible, though my time is limited.

I hope this was useful to any of you who have just completed teacher training or are thinking of completing it. I am far from an expert on this subject but if you do have any questions send me a message on Facebook. I’d be happy to help in any way I can.

If you enjoyed this blog or found it useful, please share it and have a read of some of our other blogs.

Peace,

George

If you are interested in reading more about Back2basicslivings teacher training journey see below:

vinyasa-40-hour-yoga-teacher-training-at-semperviva

ignite-mentorship-teacher-training-part-1-help-make-classes-more-accessible-to-everyone

ignite-mentorship-teacher-training-part-2-making-postures-more-accessible-to-students

vinyasa-40-hour-yoga-teacher-training-at-semperviva

how-to-plan-a-yoga-sequence-where-to-look-for-inspiration

top-5-tips-yoga-as-public-speaking

yoga-at-sunrise

its-not-about-touching-your-toes

my-first-group-yoga-class

Vinyasa 40 hour Yoga Teacher Training at Semperviva

As I have mentioned many times in my blogs, it was stress and anger issues that brought me to Yoga in the first place, then it was through Vinyasa Yoga at Semperviva that I started to really enjoy it and started to believe that it was something I would be practising for the rest of my life, so when I took my 200 hr yoga teacher training last year I always had the intention of taking some vinyasa training.

I love practising Vinyasa and I love visiting Semperviva’s studio (Kits beach studio is a 4-minute walk away from my home) and I am striving towards 500 hr certification, so I signed up.

Turns out I had to walk another 8 minutes all the way to the City Studio but such is life.

I hadn’t met or practised with Clara Roberts Oss before. I had intended to but the baby yogi in our home kind of meant I had a busy schedule.

From the get go Clara lived up to her reputation, people had told me I would work hard in her training and true enough, 2 hours in, there was so much sweat on my mat, I could have drowned.

To begin each day we came to our mats which were arranged in a circle around a beautiful alter. We were later given the chance to add something to it if we wished. We chanted together for between 20-40 minutes. No pressure to chant if it is not your thing and then we got stuck into a physical practise.

The physical practises were tough, especially 7 days in a row (I skipped one) but we had the option to skip it so long as we observed and noted the poses all the way through.

Lucky, after the second day, I remembered to bring a spare T-Shirt and Towel as we were certainly putting in the work and banging through content also. “Momma aint got time for that,” Clara would likely say.

Some of the physical practises contained little or no vinyasas (flow from downward dog to plank to half plank, up dog or cobra and back to down dog) and sometimes we held the poses for quite a while. This surprised me as I thought flowing through vinyasas and quick transition through the poses were trademarks of Vinyasa.

How much I have to learn.

From a practical standpoint Clara made sure she knew what each individual wanted to learn or take away from the course and she seemed to have memorized everybody’s name after about 22 seconds

Not everybody in the group were teachers. It’s inspiring to see people take their own practise seriously enough to invest time and money into it.

I was disappointed to find I was the only male, we need to see more men in yoga and I think that Vinyasa is exactly the type of practice which can attract more men. Men who are not yogis.

We need to bring the gift of yoga to the bricklayer on the building site, the gym addict who only lifts weights, the bloke who is intimidated to go into a female dominated environment, we need all of these fellows practising yoga because we, as men need it both for our state of mind and for our attitude.

We discussed class sequencing and Clara introduced the concept of Wave Theory. (No, not the theory of the wave motion of light with molecular vibrations of the radiant body, but waves and troughs, peaks and valleys in a yoga class). Planning a Vinyasa yoga class is a whole lot more complicated than I imagined.

This lead into the exploration of different poses, for example handstand and wheel, and a multitude of different ways to assist people. It really brought home the importance of being able to read your class. There is no point in teaching handstand or wheel if it is not something the majority of your class will be willing or able to attempt.

We then went on to dissect peak poses like CSI experts, pulling them apart in so many different ways that allowed us to construct a class from the bits and pieces we found and put them back together like the tin man into a class that consisted of everything we needed to prepare for a peak pose.

We also explored where we have come from as teachers by looking at the lineage of our teachers, that is, who I consider to be my teachers and who they consider to be their teachers?

I always think that from an ancestral point of view that knowing where you come from tells you a lot about yourself. I think the same applies to our teaching, knowing who has thought us and who influences us and in turn their influences. It is something I should make a point to find out more about.

The final day, after another tough practise we had a discussion on the Bhagavat Gita. I enjoyed this book. Stephen Mitchells translation is an easy read and it has lots to offer in the line of living well and it is a topic that one could discuss endlessly.

One of the main things I took away from this course is how much I don’t know and how much more I have to learn. I suppose that partly comes with experience but I would recommend this course to anybody who is either interested in deepening their practise or improving as a teacher, even if you have no intention of ever teaching vinyasa, the knowledge that was available to us through Clara was immense.

Peace,

George

 

 

 

 

Meditation Challenge: 40 Day Sadhana “Your Habits Define You”

Myself & the bump just completed our Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training with Semperviva Yoga guided by Teresa Campbell @lalupavia. To say we learned a lot is an understatement. Each yoga training completed has taken us on a journey which reveals what we need to work on to become the people we want to be for our family, community & workplace.

 

Self-discovery and self-development are not easy, its hard work and its supposed to be. To be the best version of yourself will take time and effort. True self-development doesn’t come from reading lots of books, it comes from doing the hard practices everyday no matter what life throws at you. A daily practice that you commit to for a period of time or for the rest of your life will change you.

 

For example, if you want to save more money, what can you do every day for the rest of your life to have more savings and live a financially secure life? Spend less and save more. Instead of buying that coffee every day or eating out every day, put that money into a savings account. Do this practice every day and see what awards you will have in just a few weeks.

 

The same goes for daily practices for the mind & soul. A daily practice like meditation can alter the way you think & feel. If you wake every morning and sit to do 10mins of mindful breathing you start your day relaxed, focused, in control and over time confident to deal with any situation. The reminder to come back to the breath will remain with you from your daily morning routine.

 

As part of our prenatal training we are required to complete a 40-day Sadhana which is a daily meditation practice for 40 days which you have a certain mantra to repeat for a set period of time. For example, your mantra maybe “I am strong”, “I am Confident”, “I am enough”, “I am a leader” …. for 11 minutes you repeat this mantra along with having the arms in an active position. This is a Kundalini yoga practice, there are many different arm positions for the meditations, look up Sadhana and find one that works for you.

 

For my 40-day Sadhana challenge I have chosen an Arc line meditation. The Arc line exists as a halo of energy, stretching from ear to ear over the crown of the head. Our Arc line is the connection to the Devine, when strong, the universe delivers. We strengthen the Arc line with committed, steady practice (sadhana). Having a strong Arc line gives us the presence and desire to serve humanity in action; it gives us balance in words & deed.

 

When weak, we are easily influenced by others, ineffective, inconsistent in mood and behaviour and unable to focus or manifest our goals. Arc lines are connected to our immune system. To remove any negative energy or subconscious garbage which has collected in our Arc line we need to practice to actively clear away the crap that gets stuck in this energy field. A daily practice for the Arc line is said to help clear away any past held onto negativity and make space for more clarity & true connection.

Apologies for bed head, I like to meditate first thing in the morning so hair is never brushed! lol!

Right now, I am on day 13 of the challenge. I play Waheguru by Nirinjan Kuar for 11 minutes with my arms overhead (see above) in a seated (non-moving) meditation. I record my meditations on Insight timer and Journal after each one. The arms are feeling it in the morning but I keep telling myself I know I can keep my arms up as I have done it multiple times already. When the mind starts to focus on the discomfort in my arms and shoulders I start to sing along with the mantra. Also I imagine others in far worse situations that they don’t have the privilege to change and I send positive thoughts to them, I sometimes imagine struggles animals go through to survive, I tell myself If these creatures can survive such struggle I can sit here with my arms up for 11 minutes. It’s a constant conversation with myself to tell my thinking mind I can do more, I am more…. this type of meditation builds up so much confidence for me personally. Being pregnant and having additional fears about pregnancy and labour this meditation is great to highlight how much further you can push yourself even when your mind is telling you to quit. Such a great confidence booster for everyone!

 

I will report back after the 40-day challenge is over, if you want to follow my daily process check out stories on our Instagram account back2basicsmovement. Watch this space everyone.

 

Not sure what the 40-days will bring but up for the challenge…. oh, and somewhere in there hopefully give birth to our little mini human;-)

 

Have a great week.

 

Thanks so much for reading,

 

Theresa Burns xxx