Category Archives: Teacher Training

The Fourteenth Year: A Celebration

Last Monday marked the graduation of my 14th yoga teacher training.  Here are some photos of our last night together.

We gathered in a circle to share what the past ten months have taught us.

Then we cemented our intentions for the future.

My students surprised me with a wonderful gift—a gift certificate for a portrait of the Ana Pup!

We ate lots of yummy food.

The chocolate and baklava groups were well represented.

We shared some fun stories.

And took a selfie or two.

The evening wasn’t complete until the final group pictures. Some serious …

And some not so serious.

And then it was time for some hugs goodbye.

Leftover dessert, anyone?

As always, I loved this year’s teacher training group. I will miss them.  And I will always feel blessed to have been gifted with their presence in my life.

Namaste

Tracy

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, learn about our Yoga Alliance Registered yoga teacher training program, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. 

Saying Goodbye

Such a bittersweet day for me. Tonight’s graduation ceremony will mark the end of my fourteenth yoga teacher training.  Each year’s training seems to go by faster than the one before it. Each group offers new definitions of sweetness. New learnings.  New opportunities for growth.

I still can’t explain it, but the process of completing this training changes people, myself included. Actually, I can. (Explain it, that is.) As my teacher says, “Yoga is much more than stretching your hamstrings.”

Yoga is the process of examining the most important priorities of your life and endeavoring to live them. Yoga is sangha, community. People supporting each other through birth, joy, sadness, frustration, and heartbreak. Yoga is learning to find peace in silence.  And yes, yoga is bringing balance, strength, resiliency, and health, to not only your body, but also your heart and your mind.

Every year when I start a new training class, I secretly assure myself that this will definitely be the last one. After graduation, I’ll take a deep breath, convince my husband to move to a tiny house in the country, and finally get those goats I’ve wanted for so long.  I tell myself that I won’t have to remain tied to Seattle, which seems so very different from the city I moved to 35 years ago. I promise myself that I’ll get that dog training certification I’ve been thinking about for well over a decade.

I even believe it.

But about halfway through the training, something changes. I grow close to my new group. I read their Yoga Sutra papers. Their often-powerful insights show me how important this work has been to them. I see the steps they’re taking to positively impact their worlds. In short, I realize I’ve made a difference.

So I set the next dates, print the new flyers, and start meeting with the students who will comprise the next class. I vow not to slip into sadness on graduation night. I’m rarely successful, but I can live with that.

I say this about most of my classes, but I still mean it. This class was special.  To those of you graduating tonight, I’m proud of you. I adore you. Man, will I miss you. So let’s not say goodbye, let’s say, “Until later.”

Namaste

Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, learn about our Yoga Alliance Registered yoga teacher training program, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. 

The True Gift of Learning to Teach Yoga (It Might Not Be What You Think!)

The last month has been crazy for me, and although I’m getting better, I’m still healing from my car accident five weeks ago.  My focus has been less on writing, more on my yoga teacher training program.  Soon I’ll write to you about this year’s group and all that they have meant to me.  For now, I’m living in this weird space of observing, teaching, and correcting the final homework of this year’s class while meeting with students interested in the next one, which starts September 25.

I never know what to say to potential students. There is tremendous power in studying yoga, and I’ve seen first hand that my yoga teacher training program changes lives. I wish I could take all of the credit, but honestly, it’s not about me.  The tools I share existed thousands of years before I did.  Still, something magical  happens in the eleven months my students and I spend together.  Something that can’t happen in my regular group classes.  Since I couldn’t find words to describe it myself, I asked some of my current students to share.  This article is long, but I couldn’t bring myself to delete a single word. Here’s what they said:

What was your favorite part of Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program?

  • It was really amazing for me to see how much more there is to yoga than just the Asana. In particular I love learning about the yoga sutras and pranayama. There is so many levels to yoga that can transform your life and this training really dives into that.
  • My favorite part was the weekly sessions on Monday nights, spread over 10 months.  It felt manageable and became something to look forward to each week. I was before, and still am now, working on the right yoga for my body.  Starting the program I was newly pregnant and apprehensive to be too aggressive.  Viniyoga proved to be gentle and focused on adaption/meeting you were you are.  In the middle of my pregnancy, discomfort forced me to look at bodywork and yoga from fresh eyes and have even more grace for myself – also directly relating to the philosophical principles we were learning.  At the end of my pregnancy and postpartum, the program helped me balance my body and mind for the life and body changes I was going through.  I’m proof that this program can accommodate the adult learner at any stage of life and/or career.  It is insightful and wise to spread the training out over almost a year for the personal growth, as well as the honing of yoga skills, a training program requires.
  • One of the things I most enjoyed about the program was the attention to the mental aspect of yoga. This is one of the reasons why Viniyoga appeals to me.  Linking breath with movement and increasing one’s awareness of the breath has profound effects on focus, mindset and the body.  Tracy does an excellent job teaching future yoga instructors how to help their students’ explore new means of concentration, awareness and calm.
  • I like the community, working together with the group in the learning process. Getting to know them and sharing the experience with them.  The homework is well thought out and presented in a well organized form which helps with planning and scheduling.
  • I think it was the teaching style. I never felt out of place even being totally brand new to yoga. I learned to practice yoga and to teach at the same time.
  • I love how inclusive Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program is. Tracy truly provides a welcoming and warm environment for anyone, no matter ability, size, shape, age to feel at ease and empowered in developing their personal practice and the skills needed to teach. I also appreciate that there are assignments that really hold you accountable in learning the material for certification, it’s enough structure to help me feel prepared yet flexible enough to live my life and not feel stressed.
  • The quality of the training felt amazing at the start, but over the course of the year as I learned more about yoga is taught, and met with other teachers, it became apparent how truly high quality our training has been at Whole Life Yoga. We learn so much, and we’re taught how to integrate everything into our teaching as well as our personal practice. I really saw why the studio is called “Whole Life” when I took the teacher training.
  • My favorite part was how compassionate and uplifting the group of student is. ( I really like the energy request at the beginning of each class). I also like the fact that we can ask questions and a lot of them if needed to clarify a point.
  • I like the comprehensiveness of the program, but my favorite part is understanding the energetics of practice. I also like that we use a number of textbooks written by some of the best yoga teachers in the world. This allows us to understand yoga from a number of viewpoints.
  • I only have wonderful things to say about Tracy and the Whole Life Yoga program. Tracy creates a comfortable, positive learning community for her students- I’ve grown not only as a yoga practitioner and future teacher, but also as a person throughout this process. The classroom environment let me be open and honest with myself, and at times, even those around me. I believe the material- everything from the autonomy of the poses to the intricacies of breath work to the philosophy of yoga- is well rounded, and very well taught.

What do you like about Viniyoga (the style of yoga studied in Whole Life Yoga’s training)?

  • Viniyoga is a true healing lineage of yoga, which I connected with personally and professionally as a social worker. It’s been invaluable to my own healing journey as well.
  • I really like Viniyoga because I think it’s physiologically safe. Everything from the sequencing principles which prepare the body for the time on & off the mat to the awareness of correct alignment makes sense to me.  I feel like it’s an extremely beneficial type of yoga for people at all stages of life.  Because Viniyoga meets people where they are I have been able to address the needs of my teenage athletes to my 75 year old mom.  I look forward to putting my learning to use in group classes as well as with my patients.
  • The sequencing of Viniyoga combined with the movement and stays creates a well rounded yoga practice that leaves you feeling balanced physically and emotionally.
  • I was first drawn to Viniyoga to heal back injuries and loved how adaptable and healing it is. As I healed and was able to work stronger, Viniyoga was adaptable to that too. I love that Viniyoga is easily adapted to suit the spectrum of needs and abilities that we encounter from day to day. I can work gently and therapeutically if I need or I can work very strongly when my body calls for it. There is also a certain magic in how we link the breath with movement in Viniyoga, leaving you feeling balanced mentally and physically in ways I didn’t experience in other styles of yoga.
  • I love the focus of breath – abdominal contraction and spinal lengthening.  I feel I’ve warmed and stretched my body in 20 minute sequences if I focus on the right mechanics.
  • I was drawn to viniyoga because the style is so meditative. In the beginning, I preferred the calm and meditative practices. Now however, I really enjoy trying to adjust my practice according to what I need that day. I am again and again being amazed over the effect a yoga practice can have – both on my body and my mind. Viniyoga is a wonderful tool to help me calm down, but the practices can also be adjusted to give me more energy – when that is what I need. This is something very interesting and powerful – and I am just in the beginning of exploring it!  I also love that viniyoga is a style for all ages and all body types. There is no one right way to do a pose or practice in viniyoga. The right way for you is the adaptation that best serves your body and mind. This is truly a yoga style for everybody – and every body!
  • I like that viniyoga is suitable for everyone that has ever wanted to practice yoga. It’s so universal.
  • I love how Viniyoga is for everyone and every body. I’m so far away from the traditional cliche of the woman yogi, I’m much bigger and I have a chronic illness. Occasionally I could find a class that seemed willing to accept me, but to find an entire lineage that not only embraces my body but empowers me to teach, is a huge gift.
  • I like that it is a non competitive yoga style , it has a big emphasis on breath work and inside focus.  I feel that it is a yoga that can be adapted to all, a healing style of yoga.
  • Viniyoga is so accessible to anyone. I am proud to say I am an viniyoga teacher because we are able to essentially teach to anyone at any level. I like being able to reach a wide range of clients that are interested in doing yoga who may have not been able to otherwise.
  • The fact that I am able to do it! I am not flexible (although getting a bit better now) and yoga was never something I was drawn to previously. Connecting breath with movement in viniyoga is the reason I am in teacher training

What surprised you about the program?

  • I was surprised how much I learned in so little time. I’m surprised that I actually feel so comfortable & confident teaching.
  • How much I learned in 10 months about Viniyoga, the depth of yoga beyond asana or the postures and myself.  It was easy to incorporate the Monday’s and Sunday’s into my life activities.
  • How in depth it is! We have covered an unbelievable amount of information in such a short time without it ever feeling overwhelming. I feel far more prepared and confident to teach than I ever thought possible after just 11 months.
  • I was surprised by the diversity of the reasons people were attracted to the program – from personal growth and health, to fitness, to learning more about the yoga lifestyle philosophically, to starting a new career path.  It was intimidating to start the program without much experience in Viniyoga myself.  But, everyone had such varied skill and background, we all learned from each other.
  • I am a bit surprised over how much I have actually learned – both about viniyoga and myself. And also over how much more I would like to learn. It feels like this is just the beginning.
  • I don’t know that I was surprised by any particular part of the program- all of the high recommendations I received before signing up for the program held incredibly true to the Whole Life Yoga Teaching Training. I’d pass along that same sentiment to anyone interested in deepening their knowledge of Viniyoga either professionally, personally, or both. I’ll carry this experience with me for the rest of my life journey, and if the opportunity to progress to the 500 hour training under Tracy’s honest and caring guidance were to arise for me, I’d take it in a heartbeat.
  • How much I didn’t know! I thought yoga was 80% asana (poses), and 20% fancy breathing and some philosophy. I was so delightfully wrong! My mind has been opened to so much more. Yoga is a vast and beautiful path, that can and will accept anyone. I thought the teacher training program would feel like school. I didn’t expect it to feel like being adopted into an amazing family, and make me so excited about yoga that I would wish the program didn’t end!
  • The program is very thorough, this style of yoga is complex and I feel well prepared for teaching . I felt that all the facets of practicing and teaching yoga were explored. It is a strong learning curve.
  • I was surprised by the amazing community of people. I had always seen the same people when I would attend classes but after the training the connection and family like atmosphere was so much more prominent. You feel like you’ve found a home. People are all so supportive and caring.
  •  It was a surprise to me that I was actually taking yoga to integrate (Mohan textbook allowed me to discover that). Yoga is so much wider and deeper than how we practice it in the West. It is a lifelong study and practice.

What would you tell a student who is considering taking the training?

  • I would say it’s an amazing program for you to do weather you want to teach or not. You will learn so much about yoga and yourself in the teachings. I am so glad I did this program I have met amazing people along the way.
  • It will be worth it – the financial and time commitments and the “unknowns” of the next 10 months.  It will spark something in your heart that you didn’t know needed to be lit.   As I practice my written sequences at home now or teach my husband and two-year-old daughter occasional principles, I know I’ve gotten my money’s worth in learning a great way to care for myself and family.  I hope to teach and stay part of this yoga community.  But even if I never teach a class, this has been a great learning experience I will carry with me forever.
  • You will not regret it! Whether you intend to teach or not, or aren’t sure, go into it with the intention of staying open to the possibilities. You will grow and learn more about yourself than you can even imagine, it is truly a life changing experience and the outcome might surprise you!
  • You will never be sorry you did this. Even if you decide to take the training for your own enrichment and not follow a teaching path (although don’t be surprised if you change your mind!), every single thing you learn will enhance not just your own personal practice, but your life. I draw on skills that I’ve learned in my yoga teacher training on a daily basis. I’m currently struggling with an illness and won’t be able to teach for some time, but what’s amazing is how much this training has helped with my illness. I didn’t have to become a teacher to reap the benefits of my time here. I’ve learned to take care of my body and mind, together. It’s called “yoga teacher training”, but it’s also just in-depth viniyoga training. If you love yoga, you’ll love doing this.
  • I would encourage a student to take the class … it is very rewarding to be able to teach yoga to students.
  • You will be surprised how much you learn and the fun you have in the process!
  • Do it. My life has been forever changed for the better since taking this training. Tracy works so well with you to make sure that your able to get through the training, any hesitations should be let go. Go for it and don’t look back.
  • If you want to do it, you should do it.  Listen to that small inner voice. You will learn a lot about yourself, regardless of whether you ever teach yoga. Your life will show up during this program, and Tracy will be there to teach you and shepherd you through the process of training to be a yoga teacher, as well as the personal growth yoga brings. Tracy is a honest and true teacher of this lineage. It is an honor to be her student, and in following her example, I know I will never go wrong.

Thank you Sarina, Cassidy, Emma, Hollie, Isabelle, Jocelyn, Susan, Rebecca, Grace, Laurie, and Jodi for providing this feedback!  I’m honored to have shared the past eleven months with you.

Tracy

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, learn about our Yoga Alliance Registered yoga teacher training program, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. 

Six Considerations When Choosing a Yoga Teacher Training Program

Note from Tracy:  If you live in the Seattle area, Whole Life Yoga’s next yoga teacher training begins September 25.  Early registration discount ends July 31. E-mail me at Tracy@WholeLifeYoga.com to set up an information session.  Detailed information about the program is at this link.

Although I’m truly fond of the yoga teacher training program at Whole Life Yoga, Seattle yogis have a wide variety of excellent programs to choose from. So how do you decide? Reflecting on the questions below may help.

  1. What style of yoga meets your needs and the needs of your students? Consider the style of yoga you personally like to practice, as well as the style that serves the audience you want to teach. Some programs (including Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program) adhere rigorously to a given lineage. Others offer a blended approach.  Either way, it’s important that you understand and can support the style(s) of yoga you will be studying. Never enroll in a teacher training program if you don’t appreciate what you will be learning.
  2. What are the  physical requirements of the program? Some yoga teacher training programs  require that their graduates be able to perform a wide range of vigorous yoga poses.  Others, like the program at Whole Life Yoga, embrace all practitioners, regardless of physical capability.  Can your body safely meet the requirements of the training?  If not, you might be setting yourself up for failure.
  3. Does the structure of the program meet your learning style? Some students learn yoga best when they are removed from the demands of daily life. This happens most effectively in residential trainings. Others do better with what I call a trickle approach, in which bite-sized pieces of information are provided consistently over a longer period of time. I designed Whole Life Yoga’s training utilizing the trickle approach.  We meet Monday evenings and one Sunday afternoon a month for 11 months, which gives students plenty of time to absorb what they are learning.
  4. Can you realistically meet the program’s requirements? Ask about the the program’s complete costs, time investments, and other commitments.  Cost calculations should include any extra classes you’ll be required to attend, mentoring costs, materials, registration fees, and lodging. When you’re budgeting time, include the hours you will actually spend in yoga teacher training classes, personal practice, teaching time, and written homework. Whole Life Yoga’s program has significant homework requirements, though we liberally extend deadlines and work individually with students who need extra help.  Be honest with yourself. Choose a program that has the flexibility you need while still offering a rigorous learning experience.
  5. Are you drawn to the primary teacher(s) of the program? Some teacher training programs are led almost exclusively by a single teacher; others use a panel of instructors, each of whom leads classes on different topics. If you’ll be studying with multiple teachers, who will be responsible for helping facilitate your success? If there is a primary teacher, do you respect them? Do you trust them? At a minimum, you’ll spend 200 to 500 hours of your life with this person. Make sure the student/teacher fit is a good one.
  6. Do you want/need a certification that is nationally recognized? What other licensing requirements are important to you? Yoga Alliance is currently the only nationally-recognized regulatory body in the yoga teacher community. If your program is registered with Yoga Alliance, you may have career opportunities that others do not. In Washington State, a handful of yoga programs (including Whole Life Yoga’s) are licensed as private vocational centers.  In addition to Yoga Alliance’s quality requirements, licensed vocational centers pass rigorous tests of financial stability, longevity, and contractual fairness.  Additionally, every employee of a WA state licensed vocational center passes in-depth background checks. How important is certification and licensing to you?

As with most questions in life, there are no right answers, only answers that are right for you. If you’re interested in learning more about Whole Life Yoga’s program, I’d be happy to meet and discuss our program in detail.  Email me at Tracy@WholeLifeYoga.com to set up a time.

Best of luck to you in your yoga journey!

Tracy

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, learn about our Yoga Alliance Registered yoga teacher training program, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. 

Memorial Day Greetings and Family Photos

Happy Memorial Day!  I’m taking the day off from blogging, but I wanted to share this recent photo of some of my yoga teacher training students and graduates.   The man seated in the chair is my teacher, Gary Kraftsow.  Gary was in Seattle teaching a weekend seminar on yoga for anxiety and depression, and these lovely yogis represented the Whole Life Yoga family.  It’s so cool to see my students continuing to learn, teach and grow.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday.   Talk to you next week!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Welcome Whole Life Yoga’s Newest Teacher Training Class!

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Today’s post will be short and sweet. I spent most of last week kicking off my newest teacher training program and traveling to Cannon Beach, Oregon doing research for my fifth book, tentatively titled Pre-Meditated Murder.  (I’m sure that title will change.)

So today, I’ll just introduce you to the twenty-three new students and five assistants that have embarked on this ten-month journey with me. We range in age from early twenties to sixties, experience from relative yoga newcomer to already-certified teachers in other lineages.  Some practice Power Yoga, some Hot Yoga, some general Hatha yoga, some are Viniyoga veterans. We have software developers, construction managers, physical therapists, stay-at-home moms, and social workers, among many other professions and avocations.  We won’t all teach the same when it’s over, but we all have an interest in deepening our practice, and we are all drawn to the uniqueness of Viniyoga.

I always learn as much or more from my students as they do from me, and I know this year will be no exception. Stay tuned for lessons from the journey. It’s going to be an AWESOME ten months.

PS–Can you spot the guest visitor that came to our first Sunday class?

Tracy Weber

PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!

A Beginners Guide to the Chakras

Please welcome Whole Life Yoga teacher training graduate and instructor Julie Miller to the Whole Life blog today.  Julie can be reached at   ecojamill@yahoo.com.  Julie, I know you teach classes on Yoga Nidra and the Chakras.  Can you tell us a little about the chakra system?

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No matter what you may think of Donald Trump you will likely agree that lack of self-confidence is not an area where he struggles. Third chakra in overdrive! Cookie Monster’s addiction may be driven by second chakra issues (especially if the desire is emotionally driven), and one could consider the Dalai Lama’s immense capability for compassion as coming from an open fourth chakra. That said, there are no “good” or “bad” chakras. No one is better or more important than the others. When they are balanced, all work together to support good health in mind, body, and spirit. When they are out of balance, behavior or energy can swing to extremes, i.e. an out of balance fourth chakra might look like someone who can’t act without seeking approval from others first or the opposite extreme of being very guarded and untrusting.

To back up a bit and give a quick introduction to the chakras, they are centers of energy in the body –places where pathways of energy, called nadis, converge. These nadis often overlap with the energy meridians diagramed and used in Chinese Medicine. While you are probably most familiar with the seven chakras that run from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, there are other chakras in the body as well particularly on the palms of the hands (engaged for energy healing) and soles of the feet (absorbing healing energy from the earth). Yoga is just one of the many ways to work with bringing the chakras into balance. Mediation, chanting, color, sound, scent, foods, and crystals are other popular ways to clear, balance, and activate your energy centers. The ordering and synthesis of the chakras has been compared to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs or an elevator from which one gains a wider perspective with each level. Just like with the elevator, it is important to have a strong foundation and stability in the lower levels before moving in to the top floor. Let’s take a quick tour of the seven main chakras that run up the spine.

1st Chakra – Muladara (Root Support). Located at the base of your spine, this is where you ground yourself. Working with this chakra means looking at what makes you feel safe, secure, and centered. It can also mean taking a look at ancestral patterns, these might be inherited habits or tendencies that may have made sense in another time or generation but do not serve your highest good. Practices: walk barefoot, surrender in child’s pose.

2nd Chakra – Svadisthana (Sweetness-also thought of as one’s own base). Located just below your navel, this is where you awaken to pleasure. It is associated with the element water and all that water often symbolizes: emotions, movement, and sexuality. Practices: dancing, journaling, or any other form of art that that allows you to express your emotions.

3rd Chakra – Manipura (Lustrous Gem). Located at the solar plexus, here is where our light shines through. The qualities of this chakra are courage, self-confidence, personal power, and will. The element of fire associated with this chakra is the element of transformation. Focused intention here can help you to get motivated and transform old habits. Practices: candle meditation, twists with the intention to release can be very powerful.

4th Chakra – Anahata (Unstruck, as in the unstruck sound of the sound of the Universe).  Located in the center of the chest. The energy of the heart center is that of compassion, tenderness, and unconditional love. Practices: heart opening poses like bridge or warrior 1, especially with hands starting at the heart, loving kindness meditation.

5th Chakra- Vishuddha (Purification). Located at the throat, opening this center clears the way for self-expression, communication, and speaking your truth. As we move into the upper chakras the practices become less physical and more inward focused. Practices: chanting your favorite mantra or kirtan.

6th Chakra- Ajna (Perception). Located between the eyebrows, often called the third eye. The association here is with the mind, imagination, and intuition. This chakra can be utilized to help to visualize your best life path. Practice: one of the best practices to access this chakra is Yoga Nidra.

7th Chakra- Sahasrara (Thousandfold). Located at the crown of the head and symbolized by the 1,000 petaled lotus flower that connects us to our highest self. Opening the crown chakra leads to a path of recognizing the wonders of the Universe and our connection to all living beings. It is the chakra of community. Practices: silent meditation or prayer.

A great way to begin is to start with a grounding practice engaging the root chakra and then working with whichever of the chakras may feel a little out of balance. There are many great resources online included guided mediations or suggestion on colors, foods or scents. Be gentle with yourself and know that it is an ongoing process, like the practice of yoga, working with chakras can be a tool for cultivating self-awareness, mindfulness, and a general sense of increased well-being.

Many blessings!

-Julie

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, learn about our Yoga Alliance Registered yoga teacher training program, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. 

Forming Good Professional Relationships: An Excerpt from The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga

As a long term blogger, I often get requests to review yoga books.  I almost always decline.  I couldn’t resist this one, though.  Books on the business of teaching yoga are few and far between.  This one has tips on all aspects of the business of teaching  yoga.  This chapter below on relationships in yoga especially spoke to me.  Enjoy!  If you’re interested in exploring it further, check it out at this link.

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As yoga teachers, we are in a relationship business. To be successful, we must embrace relationship building on many different levels. It’s especially important for us to see our students not as devotees who should serve their teacher or guru but as paying clients deserving of nurturing care and attention.

There are seven primary kinds of relationships that are important to yoga teaching:

  1. Relationship with the divine
  2. Relationship with oneself
  3. Relationships with family and friends
  4. Relationships with individual students
  5. Relationships with staff and colleagues
  6. Online relationships
  7. Relationships with classes and community

For your own personal growth and for the good of your teaching, it’s important to assess each of these types of relationships in your life and ask yourself whether any of them need more attention. This may seem repetitive, but self-inquiry and growth are a huge part of being a yogi.

Let’s consider some of these relationships in more detail.

Relationship with the Divine

When we are connected to the divine, we feel more inspired, and thus we teach at our best. But this relationship often gets put on hold when we get busy. Today, with all the distractions of electronic devices and social media, it has become more and more challenging to unplug and find a moment of quiet. When I feel cut off from spirit, I increase my meditation and mantra repetition, get outside, put my bare feet in the grass, light a candle, or write in a gratitude journal. It does not take much to revive the dialogue.

Relationship with Oneself

Yoga teachers are taught to model self-care, but they’re often not consistent about following through. Being more stressed than your students is not a basis for good teaching. One of our graduates reported that after she consciously increased her self-care and spent more time unplugged, her teaching improved dramatically. Her students noticed and responded very positively to the difference.

Relationships with Family and Friends

According to the author and actor Ben Stein, “Personal relationships are the fertile soil from which all advancement, all success, all achievement in real life grows.” Your closest friends, loved ones, and family are vital to your growth and ability to stay inspired as a yoga teacher. When these relationships are nurtured, you also model the importance of personal relationships to your students.

To make sure you’re devoting time to tending these relationships, schedule a regular date night with your partner, put regular hang-out time with your kids on your calendar, keep in touch with out-of-town family more consistently, or set up frequent get-togethers with friends.

Relationships with Individual Students

Early in my career, more than a decade ago, I taught a weekly class in a basement room to sixty-five wholehearted New Yorkers at Crunch Fitness in Manhattan. Little did I know that the relationships I formed in that gym would lead to meaningful lifelong connections.

Every week, I came to class early and stayed after to talk with students, work on their therapeutic issues and injuries, answer their questions — and just hang out and gab. Some people sat around talking for an hour afterward. Most nights after class I brought students with me upstairs to Jivamukti Yoga Center to catch the tail end of Krishna Das’s weekly New York kirtans. We’d sing and sway, do puja, and delight in the fruit salad Prasad.

I am still in touch with many students from that time. Some of them went on to travel with me to new and beautiful places on retreat, and some became master yoga instructors in their own right.

These kinds of students can become loyal supporters who spread the word about your classes and help build a loving community of people around a common interest: yoga.

Relationships with Staff and Colleagues

Do you make a habit of being kind and speaking respectfully to gym and studio staff? I don’t claim to be any kind of saint, but I do my best to be friendly and considerate to these colleagues. Not only is this important to my sense of myself, but it makes for easier and more collegial working relationships, which make for better teaching.

Stories abound of yoga teachers at fitness gyms who act entitled, elitist, and pretentious, brusquely demanding specific conditions for their classes and acting as if the other gym staff are ignorant about yoga in general. How much cooperation do you think these teachers are likely to receive?

Because yogis often practice in community, we have a tendency to develop what I call yoga tunnel vision. Yoga, like anything else, can be taken to fanatical levels, to the point where practitioners can’t relate to non-yogis! And isn’t yoga supposed to be about connection?

Good manners, curiosity, kindness, helpfulness, generosity, enthusiasm, and sensitivity go a long way to demonstrate the spiritual and emotional benefits of yoga, as well as the physical ones, and help yoga continue to grow in the mainstream. Here are some specific ways to nurture relationships with colleagues at a gym or studio.

  • Get to know other teachers at the gym or studio and take their classes. Learning from other yoga teachers is a vital part of a yoga practice. Taking fitness classes at the gym can boost other aspects of your physical health as well as help you develop good relationships with the other instructors.
  • Attend all meetings and social functions of the gym or studio. Showing up for meetings and gatherings where you work, even if you are busy, does two very important things: it helps you know and be a part of the team, and it increases your visibility among managers and students. Managers who see you getting involved with the gym or studio are more likely to give your name when a student asks what class to take or is looking for a teacher to work at a special function, like a wedding party. Attending studio functions lets you get to know current students and gets your name out among potential new students.
  • Keep lines of communication open with colleagues and staff. Whether you’re a studio owner/manager or an employee, touch base regularly with the people you work alongside. Share your needs, goals, visions, feedback, and even grievances. Don’t let ill-feeling fester to the point where neither party is willing to try to resolve a problem.
  • Maintain good communication by establishing it before there’s a problem. If you teach at a studio, for example, chat with the studio owners about getting classes covered, or share with them how you handled a difficult student. By establishing a dialogue when nothing is wrong, you will have a good channel of communication in place if you need to bring up a touchy subject.
  • Be friendly with teachers of other styles of yoga. It’s simply unattractive when a yoga teacher says something negative about another teacher or style of yoga. Don’t do it. You’re the one who ends up looking bad. Instead, use differences in opinion as an opportunity to see and learn from another perspective.
  • When you don’t like something, offer a solution. If you are upset about something going on where you work, go directly to the source or the person in charge, state the problem, and then offer to find a solution. This way you won’t be seen as a gossiper or complainer.
  • Be a “go-giver,” not a “go-getter.” A go-getter comes in, teaches a class, and leaves. A go-giver comes in, sees what he can do to pitch in, and asks what announcements need to be made for upcoming events. After class, he folds blankets, puts away props, blows out candles, and picks up water bottles and Kleenex left behind.

Never think that you are above these tasks. Making this effort increases the feeling of goodwill in the studio, and studio managers who see you pitching in will be more apt to give you prime teaching slots when they open up.

Amy_Taro2-BlueAmy Ippoliti and Taro Smith, PhD are the authors of The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga and founders of the online school 90 Monkeys, which has enhanced the skills of yoga teachers and studios in over 40 countries. Amy is known for bringing yoga to modern-day life in a genuine way and has been featured on the covers of Yoga Journal and Fit Yoga Magazine. Taro is the Chief Content Officer at Yoga Glo and has over two decades of experience developing yoga, medical, and wellness enterprises. They both live in Boulder, Colorado. Visit them online at www.90monkeys.com and www.AmyIppoliti.com.

Excerpted from the book The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga: The Yoga Professional’s Guide to a Fulfilling Career. Copyright © 2016 by Amy Ippoliti and Taro Smith, PhD. Reprinted with permission from New World Library. www.newworldlibrary.com

PS–all three books in Tracy Weber’s Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!

The Tracks We Leave

“We are remembered forever by the tracks we leave.” — Native American Proverb

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This past Monday, twenty-two students, five teacher training assistants, and I completed an eleven-month journey together.  A journey that saw us through illnesses, addictions, pregnancies, deaths, engagements, divorces, moves, job changes, and more challenges than one could think possible in less than a year.  And yet we stuck through it.  Together.  It was only appropriate that we should celebrate.

We began with a ceremony to set intentions and commemorate our time together.

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We finished in a circle to honor our community.

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Afterwards we drank wine and ate delicious Greek food.

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Which is, of course, infinitely more delicious when shared with friends.

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Before we knew it, it was time to clean up, stack the blankets and head home.

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But even though the training is over, their work is just beginning. You see, these people are my tracks: the imprint I hope to leave in the world.

Taking yoga teacher training is a responsibility. It only starts with the classes, the homework, the missed family events, and the late nights designing seemingly impossible yoga sequences.  The real responsibility begins the date you finish.  The head of our lineage, Desikachar, says that if you learn the yoga teachings but do not share them, you have stolen them.  They are not the property of any individual—they belong out in the world.  During our ceremony, we chanted a single mantra: Om Namaha “not mine.”  A reminder that what we’ve learned is meant to be shared, whether or not we ever perform another asana.  Yoga is the act of living in greater balance,  more aligned with our values. Yoga helps us ensure that the tracks we leave behind are positive ones.

A personal message to all of these lovely new teachers: You were my thirteenth yoga teacher training, and like each group that preceded you, you were special. I wish I could give you the confidence to know what great teachers you already are, but the best teachers only gain confidence with time and practice. I’d like to say “make me proud,” but you already have. Instead, I’ll just tell you the truth: you’ve each taken a piece of my heart.  

Use it well.

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Namaste, my friends. I am better for knowing you.

Tracy Weber

The Gift of Self-Doubt

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This week’s blog entry was written by guest author Shelley Curtis. Shelley is a graduate of Whole Life Yoga’s 500-hour yoga teacher training program and a teacher at Whole Life Yoga. She  can be contacted at sac68@earthlink.net.

My confidence is easily shaken. This is something that has followed me from childhood, through young adulthood to where I am now. I’m closer to 50 than I care to admit and a mother of two young boys. I also teach yoga. Although I never thought I’d have children I have settled into the role with a passion I didn’t know I had. I recently read a quote that went something like this: “Making a decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.” That’s exactly what it feels like. And even though I love my boys more than life and mother them with 110% of my heart and soul, I still feel like I make daily screw ups. Heck, some days it’s by the hour.

Same with yoga. My passion for it has taken me by surprise. I was totally blindsided.  I took Tracy’s 200 hour training when I was pregnant with my second son and at the outset didn’t really intend to teach. But the bug bit me and I fell hook, line and sinker. I started teaching prenatal women and then new moms and found it extremely rewarding as well as challenging – a great combination for my mushy mommy mind. Yoga had changed my life in a profound way. Then I took Tracy’s 500 hour training and my mind was really blown. My teaching changed and my own practice changed in ways that I would never have imagined. And the community of yogis that I became part of has kept me going and growing. They are amazing and inspiring.

But just as with motherhood, I still feel like I make screw ups each and every time I teach. The most challenging thing for me lately is making sure I stay present and aware of each student. Teaching is like meditation for me most of the time. I am not thinking of my grocery list or how to make our bedtime routine less stressful or whether or not my son will eat all of his lunch. I am in the moment and totally focused on teaching. But even still, I feel like I miss so much. After each class I ruminate for hours. Did I keep that pregnant woman on her back too long? Did I not notice that someone was pregnant in my all-levels class? How did I forget to something for the upper back when that student said her upper back was tight? And it goes on and on. Sometimes I feel complete panic with the thought that I could’ve caused someone discomfort – or worse yet, injury. After every class I promise myself that next class I will be even more aware, even more present. And then I do it again. I lose a student in my memory. Someone I failed to be completely aware of, someone I failed to make a connection with. Tracy says I cannot possibly be completely present and aware of every student all the time. And I shake my head and say, “ Yes, oh wise teacher, you are right.” And then I worry some more.

After almost 10 years of personal practice, more than 500 hours of training and 5 ½ years of teaching I still feel like I just stepped onto the mat. I yearn to teach with unshakable confidence and to let go of my doubts and anxieties. But I can’t help but entertain the thought that maybe, just maybe, this is what will make me a better teacher. The desire to make each class for each student special and unique. To meet each student where they are and bring them to where they want to be. Perhaps instead of trying to push away the doubt and anxiety I should allow myself to lean into it, to let it be what it is. And then maybe, I could be more at peace with my teaching. Perhaps that is the lesson I am meant to learn?

Namaste

Shelley

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.   The second book in the series, A Killer Retreat, is available at booksellers everywhere!