Seattle is blessed with a wide variety of yoga teacher training programs. Although I’m partial to the one offered at Whole Life Yoga, to be completely honest, many of the programs offered by other studios are also quite good. So how do you choose? Reflecting on the five questions below may help.
What style of yoga are you drawn to? This question actually has two parts. Consider the style of yoga you personally like to practice, as well as the style that would best suit the audience you want to teach. Some yoga teacher training programs (including my own) adhere rigorously to a given lineage; others teach a blended approach. Either way, make sure that you understand and can support whatever you’ll learn. Never embark on a teacher training program if you don’t appreciate the style you will be learning. Doing so will lead to frustration and disappointment.
Does the structure of the program meet your learning style? Some students learn best when fully immersed in the teachings, as is the case with residential trainings. Others do better with what I call a trickle approach, in which bite-size pieces of information are provided consistently over a longer period of time. Are you more likely to learn when you remove yourself from the rigors of your daily life or when you integrate your yoga practice into it?
Do the program’s requirements realistically fit your schedule? Find out the full program costs, time, and other commitments of the training. 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 time you will actually spend in yoga teacher training classes, personal practice time, teaching time, and written homework. Are there make-up options if you miss class? Be honest with yourself. Choose a program that has the flexibility you need while still offering a rigorous learning experience.
Are you drawn to the primary teacher(s) of the program? Some teacher training programs are taught almost exclusively by a single teacher; others use a panel of different instructors for different topics. If you’ll be studying with multiple teachers, who will be responsible for mentoring you and helping assure your success? If there is a primary teacher, get to know them. Do you respect them? Do you trust them? At a minimum, you’ll spend 200 to 500 hours of your life with this person. Hopefully your connection will last significantly longer. Make sure the student/teacher fit is a good one.
Do you want/need a certification that is nationally recognized? Love them or hate them, Yoga Alliance is the only nationally-recognized regulatory body in the yoga community. If your program is registered with Yoga Alliance, you may have teaching opportunities that others do not. Not every person who attends a yoga teacher training intends to teach, however. Is a nationally recognized certification important 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.
Best of luck to you in your yoga journey, whatever particular path you decide.
Most people think of crunches or even Navasana (Boat Pose) as the holy grail of yoga core strengtheners. But what if you could strengthen your abdominal muscles simply by breathing?
This simple exercise strengthens the girdling muscles that stabilize the lower back and pelvis. You can do the motion with every breath in your yoga practice, but I like to teach it lying on the floor, where you can more easily feel the motion of the spine and you aren’t distracted by other movements. Give it a try for 5 minutes each day. You’ll notice the difference. Your abs may even talk to you the next day!
Lie on the floor, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Notice how this position flattens your lower back curve.
Place your palms on your belly.
As you inhale, allow your belly to soften.
As you exhale, imagine that you are closing the zipper on a too-tight pair of jeans. Pull in your belly starting at the bottom (the pubic bone) and contract upward toward the bottom of your ribs. You might feel your belly hollow out and your lower back press toward the floor.
On the following inhale, imagine that you are breathing in from your collar bones down. Keep your belly pulled in strongly for the first half of the inhale, and then slowly allow it to relax in the second half.
With each following exhale, close the zipper again.
On a scale of 1 – 10, make the abdominal contraction on exhale about a 6. Strong enough to feel the muscles, not so strong that you feel breathless or tired.
Relax the rest of your body. In particular, notice any tension that builds in your neck, shoulders, jaw, and arms, and consciously release it.
Once doing the exercise becomes habitual when lying on your back, try it seated crossed-legged on the floor or in a chair.
Once doing the exercise becomes habitual without movement, integrate it into every breath of your asana practice.
As many of you know, I’m on a five-week-long sabbatical from teaching yoga. This isn’t a vacation—it’s a chance to devote myself to my writing. You see, writing a book (or books!) is only the first step. Right now I’m in different parts of the publishing process for three. I’m deeply immersed in a one–month blog tour for my first book, Murder Strikes a Pose, working with my publicists to plan for the launch of my second, A Killer Retreat, and finishing up the second draft of my third book, tentatively titled Karma can be Killer. Whew!
Part of the fun of this sometimes-overwhelming flurry of activity is getting the chance to share the principles of yoga with people who might otherwise never even consider it. I have fans (those three words alone give me a thrill!) who have taken their first yoga class after reading my first book. Others have recommitted to a yoga practice they dropped years ago. Still others are asking me for coaching and yoga advice.
“The beauty of Viniyoga lies in its accessibility, which is part of what makes it so perfect for a mystery series. You don’t have to be ultra flexible or super fit to partake, just willing to be more mindful in everyday life. For those of you curious, the following four characteristics differentiate Viniyoga from other yoga styles….”
This week’s blog entry is written by Frankie Marrazzi, a graduate of Whole Life Yoga’s 200 hour yoga teacher training program. Frankie can be contacted at email@example.com. She wrote on this topic in response to a student request for information on yoga and ergonomics in the work place. If you have a question or topic request, please e-mail Tracy@WholeLifeYoga.com.
Take your practice to work!
Each yoga session begins with a few minutes of centering yourself, getting in touch with your breath and leaving the rest of your world behind. Refreshed and renewed you are ready to resume your day-to-day life but this time you do not want to leave anything behind! Take your practice with you – to the park with the kids, to the kitchen as you cook and to the desk job at work. Everywhere you go, your practice can come along.
If you have a job that requires a lot of sitting, there are ergonomic basics you can apply but you have to make the effort. There is no magic accessory that makes it easier for you to sit for hours at a time. And that is where your yoga practice can help. Use your awareness of your body and breath during your work day to guide you. If you find yourself wiggling a lot that usually means you need to take a break. Stand up, do a few simple asanas (standing forward bend for example) . If your shoulders and neck are feeling tight – same thing, do a few deep breaths and some shoulder circles, shake out your arms.
Listen to your body and also apply these basic ergonomic principles:
Chair: invest in a good chair (yes you can find them at office supply stores for reasonable cost). Do not purchase sight unseen unless you have tested the chair before and know that it will support you. Look for these five minimum features: 5-legs with castors, adjustable arms (up/down and in/out if possible), adjustable seat pan (what you sit on), adjustable height (if you are taller than average you may need a longer piston which can be special ordered for you in most cases), and lumbar support.
Feet: flat on the floor or a foot rest with 90-135 degree angle.
Shoulders: Relaxed not hunched.
Wrists: Neutral not flexed.
Chin: level so neck is not bent up or down.
If you are at a computer, stop typing every 20-30 minutes for 20 seconds just a quick rest pause.
Drink water! Stay hydrated, this helps with every activity work or play.
For more details and ideas of how to further adjust your workspace the OSHA web site is a great resource, including a self-evaluation checklist: