Sunday, March 7, 2010

I got it is

I recently got interviewed by a student who is enrolling in a teacher training program and she needed to interview a teacher she admires. I felt so honored that she choose me. The questions she asked where wonderful and really allowed me to think about myself as a teacher and a student and the transformation that yoga has brought me over the past five years and continues to bring me. I thought I would share it with you, and I encourage you to contemplate on some of these questions as well.

What first got you interested in yoga? I used to be a competitive snowboarder and I broke my back (a fracture 3) and tore my MCL. I also wanted to get more in touch with something more. I didn’t know what it was but I thought yoga could help me. I was pretty sad, pretty disconnected to my body, and had family problems. I thought yoga couldn’t hurt ill give it a try.

How long did you practice before you began teacher training? I didn’t practice for very long before hearing about the teacher training at Flow. I had been using a Crunch yoga VHS for a few months before I discovered Flow yoga. It’s actually funny I was with my boyfriend (my new husband) and he found a flyer for flow and gave it. I practiced with some DVDs for a year, not regularly at all, just every once and a while, and probably at the studio for 6 months, practicing multiple time a week when I signed up for the teacher training program. I felt such a powerful pull toward yoga once I started at the studio. Not so much with the DVD. Since my first studio class with Lala Powers, I felt such a deep connection, that the practice was helping me connect to something bigger. Here I am 5 years later and I still experience the same awakening and connection to something bigger, it’s lovely.

Where did you do your teacher training? I did my first teacher training at Flow yoga (there first teacher training) in 2006 that was also co taught by Jonathon Fields and Lauren Hanna (co founders of Sonic Yoga NYC) and Jennifer Ellen Mueller. It was such a wonderful immersion into the study of yoga. I have since taken more teacher training courses. I took a course from SLCC which I did not find helpful. I took a module of Shiva Rea’s Prana Vinyasa teacher training called Fluid Power in 2008 which was great and has given me more fluidity in my teaching, and taught me how to be creative and dynamic in my sequence, like using mandalas. I took a yearlong teacher training from Nathan Hayes at his studio Living Spirit Yoga in Washington State. I think I got the most out of this teacher training. Since I had been focusing, practicing, teaching, and studying yoga for awhile. It was over a year, and demanded a 6x a week yoga and mediation practice. This teacher training was much more about developing us as yoga students. It taught me to articulate what we have learned in our own practice. This teacher training has been huge for me. I learned so much from Nathan, he was a great mentor, he helped me connect to myself, to learn from myself and then offer my own experience to teach it to others. I am now studying Anusara yoga. I am doing the upcoming immersion and teacher training through Kula. I am very excited about the teachings of Anusara yoga. I feel like over the past year and a half I have been coming up with my own style where I emphasis alignment and really work on keeping a heart theme throughout class. When I learned about Anusara yoga, this practice was what I was naturally migrating toward in my personal practice. But is even GREATER!! It teaches alignment and non- dual tantric philosophy. 

What would you say is your biggest influence on planning a class? When I plan a class my theme and intention are most important to me. My theme and intention are always heart orientated. I want my students to leave the class smiling, feeling better about themselves and having deepened their connection to their heart. I then work on teaching a few alignment principles and integrating those principles through all the poses throughout the class. I work on connecting the alignment action to the heart oriented theme. You can move your body into weird shapes but without a theme, without connecting to the bigger picture, without having a intention, I don’t consider it yoga.

Is there any specific text you find yourself drawn to in the process of planning your classes? I love reading about philosophy, Indian myths, poetry and human anatomy. I think continuing to learn about these things help your become a better students and a better teacher. I regularly refer to, Moving into Stillness by Erich Shiffman. I love his philosophy of yoga and his wording. He really focuses on connecting to the present moment. I also refer to the, Anusara teacher training manual, by John Friend. It is really good at explaining the principles of alignment, and so much more. I also find the Yoga Sutras, The Bhagavad Gita, very inspirational. Over the years I have been teaching, I have created 3 huge binders from teacher trainings, workshops, journaling along with a notebook of my favorite quotes, and two art notebooks that hold my outlines of my past classes and themes. One thing I learned from Nathan was “always come with a plan (when teaching a class)…but plan on ditching the plan”. I refer to these regularly as well.

What do you think sets your classes apart for the students? I want to help plant a seed in the students heart and help them to awaken, help them to have an opening, help them to have a revolution, help them to feel good about who they are and where they are at in their life. I encourage people to have fun, to smile, to love where they are in their own journey no matter how it compares to others. I encourage people to let go of judgments and connect to where they are in the present moment. I share my love and enthusiasm for yoga as well as provide well cued alignment instructions, so they stay safe and honor their own bodies and limitations. I want to teach students that what they do on their mat will and can translate into their life outside the mat. I want students to know if they are having a problem in life, by coming to yoga, connecting to their body and the present moment they can cultivate qualities and teach themselves how to deal with their problems off the mat. My husband calls my classes spiritual. I hope others feel the way he does, and enjoy what I offer.

What is your favorite part about teaching? Are there any dislikes? Being able to teach is so wonderful. Yoga has transformed my life in every way and has improved it for the better. I love being able to help people find that same transformation in their own life. I love being able to help people in their journey to figure out the truth about who they are and help them connect to something bigger. Everyone has different transformations, I have recently experienced some big ones, with people crying and wanting to share with me their stories and how yoga has changed their life. As a teacher people come to you for help. To improve flexibility, to lose weight, to heal a injury, and it is so great to help and even if they come to you for one of these things you still have an opportunity to plant other seeds. My dislikes are that I get stressed and nervous before class that people won’t like what I have to offer. But I am getting better at just being myself and teaching what I believe in. The great thing about yoga is there are so many styles if they don’t like me, they will find someone they do connect to. As long as I am true to me self while I am teaching and genuinely want to help people through yoga, that all I ask for. Another great thing about teaching is that it helps me be a better student. I learn so much through teaching, I learn so much from my beautiful students.

What advice would you give someone on the journey to become a yoga instructor? What do you feel is the most important part of being/becoming a yoga instructor? (I combined this question because my answers are similar) I think the most important part of being or becoming a yoga instructor is being a good student. In every great teacher there is a great student. I think it is important to first be a student. Be the best student you can be, learn as a student, and practice as a student. Then with compassion and humbleness share what you have learned firsthand in your own practice, with your students. Advice I would give would be: Be yourself, be proud of who you are, and trust that you have something valid and important to share. It is easy to get intimidated, second guess yourself and want to teach like other teachers. I know I went through a stage where in my teaching I tried to teach like a teacher I admired. Now I realize I admired those teachers because they taught from their heart. You need to go into your heart and teach from that.  I think the more a teacher is a student, the more they commit to their own reason for practice, the more it connects them to their heart, it then it becomes easier to teach from the heart. It then becomes easier to share your enthusiasm and love for yoga with your students.

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Intention and Testimonials

Testimonials & My Intention

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