The Driven Yogi: Wisdom for New Teachers

1. Where did you grow up and at what age did you discover yoga?
​I’m from a small town in Clinton, Utah. Growing up I was a competitive gymnast and power tumbler. The competitiveness I learned at a young age carried into different areas of my life, including my career.

It wasn’t until the age of 26 when I discovered the magic of yoga. I was in a high-visibility, high-stress career as a TV news reporter. I covered a wide range of stories from natural disasters to murders, and my stress and anxiety got to an unmanageable level. Since I use exercise as an outlet, I started experimenting with different classes. I took one yoga class and was hooked! I left the studio feeling grounded, light, and clear-headed. From that moment forward, I knew that yoga would be an integral part of my life.

2. How has yoga changed for you since you began practicing?
​When I first started practicing I was always frustrated when I couldn’t do a pose (the competitive gymnast was still in there). It was 6 months into my practice when I was finally able to dig deeper and really understand that I needed to accept where I was in my practice from day-to-day. Sometimes I wanted to move and move hard, and other times a child’s pose was exactly what my body needed. When I accepted this idea, I was finally able to let things go on my mat and that’s when my practice truly blossomed.

3. What attracted you to take a yoga teacher training?
​As much as I love yoga, it actually wasn’t the yoga at all that compelled me to enroll in a teacher training. I’m a competitive pole dancer and I absolutely love pole. When tackling difficult moves in pole, I use the breath techniques I have learned in yoga to help me get through the moves. Because of the benefits yoga brought me in pole dancing, I wanted to bring it to other dancers and create a class that combined the two forms of exercise. I was halfway through my yoga teacher training when I realized I wanted to teach yoga, as there were soooo many directions I could take it. For now, I’m focused on teaching yoga, improving my teaching skills, and sharing my journey through The Driven Yogi.com. I may still come up with the pole/yoga hybrid class, but for now, I’m just happy teaching yoga and guiding my students in their practice.

4. Do you have any advice for people who are just getting into yoga?
​There are a lot of misconceptions that stop people from practicing yoga and the first one relates to flexibility. Since teaching I have had several people say “I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible,” but that’s not what yoga is about. For me, yoga reminds me to breath, not take certain things in life so seriously, and to come to my mat to find that release and stillness that my body (and mind) need. If people decide to try yoga for the first time I would just say don’t have preconceived notions about what yoga is or isn’t. Try it out and see what happens. Allow yourself to have your own experience.

5. You have a great presence and have really put yourself out there. Any tips for teachers who may be shy about marketing themselves?
​First off, thank you for that compliment! As for the question, putting yourself out there is scary – I totally get that. But marketing yourself as a new teacher is necessary.
If people don’t know about your classes, how will they be able to come? The studios I work at are super helpful in promoting teachers’ classes, but teachers can’t solely rely on studios to do that for them.

In regards to digital promotion, it doesn’t have to solely​ be about promoting yourself and your classes.​ I find that students actually enjoy getting to know more about their teache​rs outside of class, and they look for ways to relate to them. The posts I put out that don’t have anything to do with yoga tend to get more interaction than the ​posts that ​do​​.​ And ​sometimes, students ​will mention things they’ve seen on my page when they come to my classes – and it’s always the post that don’t ​have to do with yoga.

6. Who are your favorite Namaste teachers and why?
​Oh my goodness, there are so many! I love how much knowledge and experience each one has and I love getting the chance to practice with them. Obviously, I rea​lly enjoyed my teacher trainers: Domonick for his unique yoga classes that combine sequences with dancing, Baxter for his knowledge around anatomy, Vickie for helping me fall in love with alignment-based yoga, and Ashley for helping make meditation bearable (I couldn’t stand doing it before I had her leading me and teaching me certain techniques). On top of the teacher trainers I had, Whitney Walsh (my mentor) is amazing and has such a unique way of leading classes. She drew me in immediately and I HAD to learn more from her. I practice with her weekly and am blown away every. single. time.

7. Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
​In five years I hope The Driven Yogi is the go-to source for new yoga teachers. Many great and experienced teachers have already contributed to the site by providing insightful tips for new teachers. As the site grows I will continue to reach out to teachers, but I definitely have plans for the future of the site​ – stay tuned!​

8. What is one tip or self-care practice that you can’t live without?
​This is cliche, but I couldn’t live without yoga. I have a Type-A personality and my mind is constantly on the go trying to figure out how I can check more things off of my neverending to-do list. Yoga reminds me to breathe, be present and let little things go, and it also keeps me grounded so that I can get back to tackling lists – in a healthier way of course.

9. Anything else you’d love our Namaste community to know about you?
I​f you’re a new teacher and curious about the next steps you should take after your yoga teacher training, or if you are thinking about doing a training, please visit my website and sign up for our email list so that you are always in the loop when new tips come out – TheDrivenYogi.com.

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Summer Reading List: Volume 2

Stay Curious! Summer is a great time to catch up on your active desire to read more and be inspired. Here, we’ve collected some top yoga-relative reading from your fave teachers. So, before it’s too late, pick a book up from our boutiques or load up your kindle with some of these brilliant recs.

[bottom left] Carpenter: Richard Rosen’s newest book, Yoga FAQs. Local Yoga Legend, Richard asked his students what they wanted to know, and he answered! Its a fun, accessible and yet remarkably thorough — and profound — collection and everything we always wanted to know about Yoga, its past, present and future.

[bottom right] Domonick Wegesin: One recommendation:  Stumbling on Happiness, by Daniel Gilbert.  It’s more of a mindfulness book, but shares psychological insights into what makes us happy.  Insightful read.

[top left] Baxter Bell: I love the books by Stephen Cope, The Wisdom of Yoga, and Yoga and the Quest for the True Self, as well as Richard Rosen’s Original Yoga and his newest book, Yoga FAQ.

[top right] Julia Alexander: I would recommend poetry – invoking our imagination, reviving the inspiration, speaking the language of the heart…Hafiz, Rumi (of course), Rilke…Mary Oliver, David Whyte…

[bottom left] Nubia Teixeira: Gita Wisdom by Joshua Greene, Yogini by Janice Gates

[bottom right] Siri Peterson:  Awakening Shakti by Sally Kempton, Disease Delusion by Jeffrey Bland

[top left] Vickie Russell Bell: The Mirror of Yoga by Richard Freeman, Yogabody by Mark Singleton (a controversial read!), Yoga FAQs by Richard Rosen

[top right] Claudia Florian McCaffrey: Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful, by Gurmukh, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Baby Massage, The Calming Power of Touch

Heads down people!

Learn more about our amazing teachers here.

(Including Jaimi Patterson, featured in pics in this post.)

Shop local and visit our boutiques where many of these books are available for sale!

 

 

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Seeing Gentle as Advanced Practice

By Vickie Russell Bell

I woke up this morning after sleeping for 8 hours and I felt wrecked, like I’d been hit by a bus. No, I didn’t have too many drinks the night before and I hadn’t even been awake at 3:30 needing to read for awhile to shut off the chatter in my mind. But I had been dreaming vividly. And the dreams were a bit like a post apocalyptic video game. What I knew upon waking was that my mind had been working through some stress. The evening before, I had finally made the decision to be honest with a man that I had been dating for a couple months. We had been having fun together, kind of a “friend’s with benefits” set up. But, I had been having this unsettled, nagging anxiety. After spending an hour quietly practicing restorative yoga, and inviting in this unsettled feeling (the sensation was just a clench in my chest and a hollow feeling in my belly that quickly dissipated as I gave it space) I knew that I needed to stop my current behavior in order to make space for the kind of relationship I truly desire.

Is this a piece about being single or dating etiquette? Not really. This is a piece about what’s often missing in our yoga practice. In the current yoga culture some of us have confused the practice of yoga with working out. Don’t get me wrong, working out is great and has it’s place. But the physical benefits of the practice of yoga are what I consider to be side effects. Long, lean, strong and flexible are wonderful by-­products of showing up on our mat.

The other day I was talking with a colleague about the idea “gentle is the new advanced”. I wholeheartedly agree.

Our culture rewards us for going hard all the time. We feel worthy when we push and stress.

I tell myself I am important when I answer the question “how are you?” with the answer “I am so busy!” We learn to ignore our exhaustion, our discomfort and our heartbreak. We learn to abandon our deeper Truths and needs in order to be productive beings.

And there it is BEINGS! For a long time I was a doer who had forgotten how to be. I ignored the young parts of myself that needed my attention and my comfort. I pushed all of that away and ran on adrenaline. Until I couldn’t do it anymore. Slowing down felt scary like a little death.

IMG_0833When I learned about restorative yoga and my nervous system, I felt drawn to it and scared at the same time. How can I stop pushing? Who will I be? What if all those plates I’ve been spinning crash down around me…then what? The ease that I touched kept drawing me back. I craved the comfort of the props and the deliberate stillness and silence. The physical yoga postures feel amazing in my body. It is fun to work hard in practice and to learn new things. The asanas can invigorate and challenge; they can be sensual and soothing. Gripping and protection start to soften and my mind is more clear. After 26 years of practice, this softening and clearing is the entry, the invitation to sit or to lie still. To invite the feelings that have been pushed down or distracted against (that nagging sensation of anxiety that leads me to the tenderness of knowing that I want more from a relationship).

After my quiet practice this morning, I knew that I had made a decision that was filled with integrity and honored all my desires and needs. I also knew that even though I had slept for 8 hours, I had still been exhausted. Sleep and relaxation are not the same thing. My restorative practice honored my night of disturbed sleep and the sadness of disappointing another in order to care for myself.

Some days when I lie down I am faced with a whirlwind of thoughts and an almost pounding sense of my energy. What I know now after years of balancing active asana practice with stillness and meditation is that it takes a little time, a little patience and a light attention on the breath and little by little my whole being starts to quiet down. Some days the ease feels deep and wide, and others, I barely touch it. When the chimes ring after 22 minutes of sitting or watching my breath or doing a restorative pose, I am more spacious, more sane and sometimes I feel like I’ve had a healing vacation.

Give it a try. Silence, stillness and savasana. Set your timer for 20 minutes. Switch gears. Get still and quiet. It will change your life. What’s missing from your yoga practice?

11_monthlyrestorative-socialJoin Vickie Russell Bell for the first session in her Restorative Series:

This Sunday, March 26 | Opening to the Equinox with Vickie Russell Bell

Take time to open up the body, wring out stress and balance winter kapha energy. This practice will center on restorative twists and renewing poses that free the breath to prepare your entire being for springtime. Sign up today: http://ht.ly/acWN30aarC5

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Meet Namaste Teacher: Siri Peterson

[Excerpt from SiriYoga]

I am an E-RYT 500 yoga instructor, dancer, wife and momma to my beautiful baby and greatest adventure, Lucia Louise. My mother introduced me to yoga at age 11, and I’ve been a passionate and humble student for the past 25 years. I’m grateful to this practice for supporting and sustaining me through every phase of my life, the highest highs and the lowest lows. Truly, yoga has saved my life… so many times.

I attended my first yoga teacher training in an effort to heal my own chronic injuries. At that point, nothing seemed to be working. Yoga worked. It gave me the tools I needed heal myself physically and emotionally. Since then, I’ve accumulated over 3000 hours in advanced trainings, and I’ve been honored to teach full-time for over ten years. Certified as an Anusara Yoga instructor, E-RYT 500, I now train, mentor, and certify new yoga teachers myself at YogaKula, Shakti Yoga Shala and the Avahana School.

New York Times recognized dancer and choreographer with a BFA in Dance Performance, I am always exploring the unique relationships between yoga, artistic self-expression and mindful movement. I received Reiki I & II certification at the Integrative Medicine Center at Sloan-Kettering and frequently incorporate this work into my practice. I also offer intuitive archetypal readings and spiritual coaching, having been certified by Carolyn Myss through her two year Sacred Contracts training. In 2011 I was a writer for Deepak Chopra’s Leela, a video game that brought the practice of meditation to wider audiences by integrating ancient wisdom with modern technology. In 2016 I was named one of 100 trailblazers in Yoga and Ayurveda by Spirituality and Health Magazine.


0612-IntroSiri-CCWant to practice with Siri? Try our Intro to Yoga workshop this weekend!

Perfect for new students* or beginner students seeking more guidance on alignment and foundational poses.

Intro to Yoga with Siri Peterson Cavanna

Sun Date: Jun 12, 2016 From: 1:00 PM3:00 PM Location: Rockridge
* new students to Namaste receive one week of free yoga!
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How to Empower Your Students

by Abby Tucker

A lot of my students and peers have been asking:

What IS Progressive Teaching and why does it make you a better teacher, empower your students and build a strong community of committed and consistent students?

The answer is really pretty simple.

Progressive teaching connects one class to another while reinforcing what’s been learned and expanding it into more.   Along the way, students become fully engaged in the process of learning, deepening, growing in their practices while developing bonds with each other.  Progressive teaching is sequencing not just over the course of a class, but over the course of a week, a month, a year, 5 years.

Progressive teaching weaves a thread of connection from class-to-class in a way that students can’t wait to find out what’s happening next.

You may have heard of or even become a devoted listener of the surprise runaway success podcast Serial.  Over the course of 12 weeks, journalist Sarah Koenig methodically and charismatically follows a single story.  Each week is built on the next and there’s really no way to just drop-in.  Listeners filled the social media-sphere with conversations, thought about it, tried to solve the mystery at home, and couldn’t wait until the next episode came out a long week later often gathering together with friends to do so.

Compare that, to say, a sitcom on TV. You can sit down, turn it on having never seen it before, watch it, laughing and thoroughly enjoying it, but an hour later, you’ve forgotten it and only occasionally remember to tune in next week.

Though it’s not exactly the same, by teaching yoga in a methodic and serial story format, your students are more likely to return week to week and to see their practice progress empowering them and exciting them to learn and practice more.

Students who are new to your class immediately sense that something is happening in these classes and your students become a magnet attracting more.

Please join us June 13 – 17 for The Art of Progressive Teaching. This 25-hour continuing education program for yoga teachers is designed to give you the tools to truly embody the role of teacher. Learn about the program here.

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Sensory Motor Amnesia: What Have We Forgotten?

by Sadie Chanlett-Avery

Soap operas invoke “amnesia” as a clichéd plot twist that leaves the character vulnerable to old adversaries. Hours of sitting in front of screens generates a less dramatic but possibly more insidious forgetting: sensory motor amnesia.

Thomas Hanna coined this term for the neuromuscular atrophy that results from a lack of movement. Increasing stiffness limits our ability to consciously contract and relax our muscles. Hanna questioned the inevitably of aging and suggested that SMA causes our decline.

When teaching, I witness the consequences of SMA daily. With yoga newbies, I use slow and explicit cues. Beyond competency, out of shape folks need extra time to process instructions. One client actually repeated my directions out loud to figure out the movements.

With conscious training, we reclaim motor control and enliven dull tissues. After most classes, a student approaches me a realization, “Wow, I didn’t know my hips are so tight.”

I contend that SMA is more than a muscular or neurological condition. As we stop moving we lose the joy of dancing, the satisfaction of physical labor, and the rejuvenation of exercise. We no longer hear the whispers of the body. Many of us are paralyzed and stuck in pain. We lose a sense of self.

Even late into life we can dismantle the limited patterns that confine our physical expression. It’s as easy as going barefoot, playing with kids, trying a new sport, or practicing a martial art.

We start by moving and paying attention. Establishing a movement practice may not be as gripping as the soaps. Yet reconnecting our mind to our movements could alter our fate.


SadieProfileBSadie Chanlett-Avery, holistic fitness trainer, yoga instructor, and writer, was named a 2013 Athleta Sponsored Athlete. As the In-house Yogi at Clif Bar & Co. she directs the yoga and perinatal programs, trains with kettlebells, and serves on the Wellness Team. Sadie received her teacher certification from Ana Forrest and has immersed for months in the jungles of Costa Rica with Master Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Glenn Black. Her M.A. in Holistic Health Education and multiple fitness certifications lends antomical depth to her innovative and playful classes.

She appreciates the diverse expression of the human genome with the belief that people of all ages and sizes can benefit from exercise and heal with yoga. Teaching for over ten years, she applies ancient yogic principles to individual needs and modern lifestyles.

Sadie blogs at www.activebodystillmind.com.

Blog posts by Sadie: The Dark Side of Detoxing

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