The Art of Standing Still

guest poem by Tiffany Brown

Amy CaldwellI realized sometime recently that I had lost this.
This ability to sit. Stand. Be. Still.
I am moving, texting, calling, playing.
Always.
I often put down the tech for the joy of real life activity but never for stillness.
Never to be bored.
Never to be unstimulated.
My free moments have been raided. Captured by the little blue f, the Clash of Clans, the internet.
My children will remember me in their childhood and it will often be the view of the top of my head as I look down at a lit screen.
I do not simply sit in the sun. Or on the porch. Or in the car.
I do not give myself time to ponder. To think.
I wonder now what we are losing when we lose this.
Because I am not alone. I am not unique.
We are all losing the art of stillness.
Of simply being.
And with this loss comes a new sense of stillness.
A new sense of connection.
And it is with our smart phone, our kindle, our tablet.
This is now our alone time.
Connected to millions.
I am not sure yet if it is better, or worse.
But I am very aware of it being different.

Tiffany Brown

Tiffany Brown

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Yogi Reads: The Awakened Family

by Olivia Cecchettini

The Awakened Family 

by: Shefali Tsabary, Ph.D

Summary:The Awakened Family I’ve seen yoga used as a tool for radical self-acceptance, helping people become more aware, present and in tune with their lives. Using many techniques familiar to yoga and meditation practitioners, The Awakened Family encourages readers to shift their perspective on parenting. In this way, everyday situations become opportunities for spiritual awakening.

“This book will take you on a journey to transcending your fears and illusions around parenting and help you become the parent you always wanted to be: fully present and conscious. It will arm you with practical, hands-on strategies and real-life examples from my experience as a parent and clinical psychologist that show the extraordinary power of being a conscious parent.” – Shefali Tsabary

The Awakened Family is Tsabary’s 2nd New York Times best seller. It invites readers (whether or not they are parents) on a journey of enlightenment. From a young age, our families and society tell us what is expected and what is acceptable. In response, sometimes we hide our true selves when that image doesn’t line up with society’s norm.

Why I Love It: I remembered my own feelings as a child of wanting to please my parents but also wanting to stay true to myself. The line between my own ambitions and dreams was easily blurred by the expectations and suggestions from mentors, family members, and friends. This book acknowledged that sometimes we parent our children the way we wish our parents would have acted in the past, reliving or recreating unfulfilled childhood dreams or needs.

Tsabary encourages the reader to co-create a parenting experience with their children, acknowledging the child as co-teacher with valuable input of their own. This opened my mind to a new way of thinking about parenting, which can lead to a new way of acting. This also reminded me of how similar some of Tsabary’s techniques are to a yoga practice. Yoga opens the body to new ways of feeling and moving, which leads to new ways of being within ourselves.

Recommend For: Individuals wishing to understand and connect more with the children in their lives. The Awakened Family is an excellent read for people trying to understand their family, whether that’s the family of their childhood or the family currently living under their roof.

I believe true life transformation comes through education, empowerment and example. As we transform our old habits of thinking about families, we open ourselves to seeing each individual in our lives for who they are in that moment. Allowing people the freedom to just be themselves in the world, without any expectations, may be the most radical form of love I know. May we experience this love ourselves and may we share it with others.

Ciao,
Olivia

Yogi Reads for Children!

Enjoy sharing these titles with your little ones and please comment below to add to our list!

  • I Am Yoga, by Susan Verde and Peter Reynolds. A fun loving, very easy read about the practices of yoga. A perfect book for even the youngest of babies.
  • Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles, by Thich Nhat Hanh. This book teaches a playful and fun pebble activity that parents and educators alike can use to introduce children to meditation. Recommended for children ages 1-5.
  • The Dot, by Peter Reynolds. A powerful story about creativity and surrender. Great for children ages 1-6.

Olivia headshotOlivia Cecchettini
Contributing Writer

Olivia’s yoga journey began in 2003. She is certified in Vinyasa, Hatha, and Aerial Yoga and holds a Masters degree in Spiritual Psychology. She believes the mind, body, soul connection is sacred and encourages her students explore and expand within their own bodies and consciousnesses.

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Humanity: The Yoga Story of Oneness at the Museum of Man

guest post by Hannah Faulkner

this article originally published on Half Moon Yoga and Art Blog

PictureFangs, scales, or tentacles?

Have you fashioned a monster?

From snake-like, dragon-like, bird-like, or octopus-like, humankind has been creating monsters across cultures and time. Ironically, a fear of certain creatures and the unknown is shared on all continents. On the other hand, one of the important characteristics of historical heroes across cultures is being fearless in the face of big and often lethal enemies. This story and message has been told time after time throughout the human experience.

So, why do we still all use our imaginations to provoke fear?

When we imagine or see strange creatures, we often associate them with something that is large, ugly, and frightening. This triggers an unpleasant emotion, anxiety, caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous and likely to cause pain to ourselves or someone dear to us.

Accelerate breathing rate, sweating, and alertness are physiological changes in the body that show fear is activated. This reaction is an inborn response for coping with danger. This primitive mechanism can help people to survive by either running away or fighting the threat.

In the exhibit, Footsteps Through Time: Four Million Years of Human Evolution, we can identify tools, artifacts, body parts, habitats, ideas, and other touchable replicas of early humans, primates, and futuristic cyborgs (part human, part machine). Stepping through this display, we piece together some of their story. From the tool shed, we see an assortment of tools they used to fight their threats. These battles can result in either dinner, a peaceful night’s sleep, or both. Because early humans that were quick to fear dangerous situations were more likely to survive and reproduce, caution is theorized to be a genetic effect.

From an evolutionary perspective, according to Human Brain Evolution and the Neuroevolutionary Time-Depth Principle by Bracha in 2006, different fears may be different adaptations that have been useful in our evolutionary past, developing during different time periods. For example, a fear of heights, may be common to all mammals and developed during the dinosaur or reptile era. Other fears, such as fear of snakes, may be common to all monkeys and apes developed during the mammals and birds era. Additional fears, such as fear of mice and insects, may be unique to humans and developed during the early human paleolithic and neolithic time periods (when mice and insects become important carriers of infectious diseases and harmful for crops and stored foods).

As a result, humankind shares a fear of the unknown. 


Fear may be politically and culturally manipulated to persuade the citizenry of ideas which would otherwise be widely rejected. For example, sometimes customs and beliefs bring more separation amongst the human race. Only a century ago, “anthropologists at the Museum of Man and the Smithsonian Institution worked together to collect plaster life casts of different racial types. These casts were displayed in San Diego at the 1915 Panama-California Exposition as part of an exhibition about the “progress of man” that presented European Americans as racially superior. (Museum of Man website)”

Previous scholars tried to conclude judgements of species and intelligence levels between people with different colors of skin. However, science has now discovered that over of thousands of years, our DNA has adjusted our skin color to relate to the amount of sun/vitamin D that our bodies should receive at a time. People whose ancestors come from the North need less sun each day, so they could stay warm in shelters, while people from more equatorial regions would stay outside all day and therefore not be oversaturated with vitamin D. The skin pigments adjusted accordingly.

In the exhibit, Race: Are We So Different?, artists like Kate Clark strive to connect the dots between the museum’s archive of face molds to the reality of living and breathing people today. She created a series of face molds from museum visitors to break down the stereotypes from these older social constructs. Today, so many different races have blended and moved around that the results are remarkably more united.

Did you know that we share a connection with all living beings?

According to DNA, we are 50% related to bananas,
98.4 % with chimpanzees, and
99.9% similar to the person next to you
as well as all people in this world now.Picture

It has been theorized that the formation of communities happened because people lived in fear. The result of this fear forced people to unite to fight dangers together rather than fight alone.


Archaeological discoveries of masks, bowls, and figurines highlight the creativity and beliefs of the ancient Maya. Two plates show figures seated in sukhasana pose. For millennia, people all over the world have been sitting on the ground in cross-legged positions.

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Mayan Figure seated in Sukhasana Pose

Despite its name, sukhasana meaning “easy sitting pose” it doesn’t always feel easy for a lot of people, especially in today’s culture with the convenience of chairs. Using our core strength, we make many small adjustments to distribute our weight evenly over our sitting bones, balance our shoulders directly over our hips, and align our head directly with our spine.

A well-aligned Sukhasana produces the conditions for a relaxed, yet alert, state in both the body and mind. Therefore, sukhasana has the power to draw us deep inside, leading us toward a meditative state and revealing the immense joy present within our hearts.

The word sukha can also mean “happy” or “joyful.”
This name is a reminder of the innate joy that is within all of us.  

Is it surprising then that the opposite of fear is calm, assurance, love, courage, heroism, confidence, faith, happiness, and joy?

We have the power to overcome frightful social constructs through connection with our mind and body, we can breathe through fear! In yoga practice we call these breathing techniques pranayama.

Yogic philosophy is a guide and reference point along the journey made by those who have walked it before us. Thousands of years ago, Patanjali created the 8 Limbed Path as a guide towards true yoga and peace. He suggested the practice of asanas (postures) and pranayama as preparation for Samadhi, the very last limb, which means “to bring together, to merge.” Samadhi refers to union. There is an ending to the separation that is created by the “I” and “mine” of our illusory perceptions of reality. During samadhi, we realize what it is to be an identity without differences, and how a liberated soul can enjoy pure awareness of this pure identity.

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Mandalas at the Museum of Man are a symbol of Unity.

In the state of samadhi the body and senses are at rest yet the mind and reason are alert, as if awake. There is only the experience of consciousness and unutterable joy. Samadhi, is the ultimate goal of our spiritual journey on earth. Perhaps enlightenment is not your conscious goal right now, but samadhi is the highest state of consciousness that a human can reach in life.

There is no longer any individuality of our experiences: gender, personal history, family and cultural values, education, etc. In samadhi, that filter is removed to make room for being intensely present without a point of view. In samadhi you perceive all points of view of reality at once, without focusing on any particular one. This concept of samadhi brings with it the possibility of a deep hope about our growth as human beings.

Samadhi can be experienced through our purple Crown Chakra, the energy source, resting on the top of our head. This crown represents the invisible dwelling of God consciousness, our divine nature, this connection to our God Self, from which we came and also are destined to return.

We may have glimpses of this state, but it’s very rare to live entirely in this state. Some people have this experience during prayer or meditation, others during physically bonding, and still others while alone in the woods. Samadhi is awareness of the oneness of the Universe blended with connectedness, forgiveness, joy and love. We need the journey of yoga to help us discover what was present inside us all along.

PictureBe still.
Can you find this connection and oneness within yourself and all living beings?

Join us for Yoga under the Rotunda at the Museum of Man as we explore the story of humanity and reach towards samadhi.

Saturday, November 12th, 8:30-9:30am

Sign Up Here


unnamedHannah Faulkner

Guest Writer

Hannah Faulkner draws inspiration from her surroundings and seeks to find relationships between the ordinary and extraordinary daily life through her writing. With 4 years of experience as a flight attendant, and many more travels preceding, Hannah’s curiosity and adventurous spirit have soaked in elements from worldwide cultures while growing in her spirituality. As a yoga and visual arts teacher, she combines her passions to create beauty in a variety of ways through her inspiring stories, bridging connections with deeper yoga philosophy and wellness concepts at HalfMoonYogaandArt.com.

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Amy Caldwell on What Makes Yoga One Unique

Yoga One is more than just a yoga studio – it’s a family, built from years of dreaming, hard work, and daily presence from co-founders Amy and Michael Caldwell. If you’re looking for a top-notch yoga studio to improve your physical and mental well-being, Yoga One is the place to go. You’ll also find a community of welcoming individuals who are passionate about creating peace within themselves and without.

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Yoga by the Community, for the Community

Yoga One’s Mission is to share the joys and benefits of yoga with as many people as possible, helping individuals enjoy healthier and happier lives. Some of the ways we’re enhancing well-being in the community is by offering yoga classes at San Diego’s Museum of Man and through our ongoing Yoga One Teacher Training courses.

Recent YOTT graduate Michele Hines writes: After Yoga One Teacher Training, my experiences of “oneness” or “becoming one” have become less something I seek, and more something I allow. It is a moment to moment opportunity to be mindful and kind, for life to feel pleasant. #enlightenmentNow

“All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop.”  –  Kabir

Yoga at the San Diego Museum of Man

Yoga at the San Diego Museum of Man

Come practice with Yoga One at the San Diego Museum of Man

Yoga One in the Rotunda:

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP  

Every Second & Fourth Saturday of the Month

Next class: Saturday, October 22nd, 8:30 – 9:30 AM with Dina Weldin

Join Yoga One teachers for a spirit lifting, relaxing morning flow yoga class under the dome (before doors open for the museum’s patrons). Don’t forget to bring your own mat, water, and towel to class!

Tickets: $10 paid online or cash in person. Let them know Yoga One sent you!

Here are the links to register: November 12th class and November 26th class

Thank you to our partner:
San Diego Museum of Man
1350 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101

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Join us for our next Yoga One Teacher Training Course

Winter 2017, 8 Weekend, 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training Course:

January – March, 2017 (with Presidents’ Day Weekend off). Contact us today or call 619.544.0587 to register. Space is limited for each course, so don’t wait: Click here to register and save $300.

 

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Chakra Meditation: Sahasara, the Crown

by Monique Minahan

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I settle into my seat under a moon that’s full and bright, mentally laying out all the chakras I’ve worked with up to now.  In the center, I leave a space for my practice tonight, sahasara.

Sahasara is not considered an actual chakra in some traditions. Instead of approaching it as something to balance or open, I think of sahasara as the dark sky above me. That unlimited space that holds the moon, the sun – that will rise tomorrow, the clouds – that will come and go. Always there. Constant. A space that contains everything and nothing at the same time.

I light a candle for trataka (concentrated gazing). It is one of the practices for ajna chakra, but it refines my focus more than any other meditation.

My practice with sahasara is not so much to detach from this human form or reach an enlightened state as it is to blur the lines between me and what I perceive as the “other.” I try to inhabit a state of maximum presence, which can feel like liberation but actually makes me more human.

With my eyes closed, holding the flame of the candle in my mind’s eye, I begin a slow chant of the beeja mantras, or seed sounds, for each chakra:

Lam, vam, ram, yam, ham, om, om.
Lam, vam, ram, yam, ham, om, om.

Faster now.
Lamvamramyamhamomom. Lamvamramyamhamomom. Lamvamramyamhamomom.

When it merges into one long syllable I begin to slow it down. This practice is about unifying, merging, dissolving separation, and the mantras help me access that on a vocal and auditory level.

Attachment and its sisters, avoidance and addiction, are considered the demons of sahasara. They keep us in an I-it relationship with our world and limit our ability to immerse ourselves fully into the flow of whatever is happening.

I open my eyes and watch the great moon suspended above me. I consider the many phases of light and dark she travels through to become this beacon of light, of fullness, of completeness.

It’s not so different with me. I flow through phases of light and dark. Sometimes, on nights like this, the line that separates me from spirit gets so thin I feel this heart-expanding oneness that has no words.

This is the being part of me that is limitless, expansive, complete and universal. When I return to the human part of me that is equal parts light and dark, I try to put this feeling into words. The only word I can use is love.

Part 7 of a 7 part series. You can find part 6 here: Vishuddi, The Throat.

Mo Minahan

Monique Minahan
Contributing Writer

Mo is a writer and yoga teacher who believes in peace over happiness and love over fear. She likes to set her sights high and then take small steps to get there. You’ll find her walking the dirt path behind her house with her little fluffy dog, practicing walking her talk by keeping her head high and her heart open. Contact: moniqueminahan.com

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Never Stop Learning: My 30-Day Challenge at Yoga One

by Hannah Faulkner

This article was originally published on Half Moon Yoga and Art Blog.

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As I was walking out of Yoga One studio on a lovely July day in San Diego, a posted flyer caught my eye. “Summer Challenge- Complete 20 classes in 30 days- Ends August 30th.”

The following are the lessons that I learned in August from Yoga One’s amazing instructors:

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Photo Credit: San Diego Union Tribune

Never Stop Learning
-Amy Caldwell

Amy Caldwell, co-owner of Yoga One and twice featured on the cover of Yoga Journal, is a beacon of light.  She emanates joy from every angle as she is never seen without a smile.  After over 20 years of yoga practice, she is able to bend her body in ways that I didn’t know was possible.  As a teacher, she emphasizes “playing” around with difficult poses.  She offers options with blocks and straps to begin to open up each body to the possibility of getting the pose someday, but mostly it’s all about the journey.

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Photo Credit: Yoga One San Diego

“They might not be your favorite poses, but they are good for you!” – Michael Caldwell

Husband to Amy and also the co-owner of Yoga One, Michael offers an everyday approach to yoga.  Through jokes and references to popular culture, he leads the class through alignment-based intense stretches that he likes to call “Brussel Sprouts.”  These essential postures might not always “taste” the best while we are doing them, but they offer the ease that we need in our everyday life and more challenging yoga poses.  Through deep breathing, we stretch our wrists, feet arches, and shoulders as well as building core and arm strength. My favorite postures in his class were the subtle airport stretches for our shoulders, using the wall, as he imitated waiting around in an airport and joked about the individuals who make a scene doing Downward Facing Dog in the center of the waiting area.  I laughed because I love doing subtle yoga in the airport.

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Amy Freeman has been teaching yoga for almost 15 years. Amy’s goal is to help her students find and maintain a peaceful mind and body through effort and ease and she leads as a beautiful example. She starts each class with a slow meditation and develops in to a powerful alignment flow. One of the most unique prompts that Amy gives during Savasana (final resting pose), is reminding us to relax each part of our body individually. “Feet, knees, legs…relax. Hips, back, shoulders…relax. Ears, nose, tongue…relax. Eyelids, eyebrows, space between your eyebrows…relax. Forehead, scalp, chin…relax. Everything relax.”

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I’ve been going to Sarah’s class for years. There’s a familiarity and sense of home in the setting that she offers. Her playlist is always the same, but sets just the right mood for connecting your mind and body through sounds. Every week she sets a different inner focus on non-reaction, compassion, or contentment. She has guided me through detailed alignment adjustments as well as encouraging me to pause at the end of every exhale, or squeeze my glutes. During every class at some point she will remind us to soften our tongue and not hold tension in our face, but instead to breathe deeply through any slight discomfort.


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Kairou is an enthusiastic and energetic instructor.  I attended her class after hearing students say that they got their butt kicked in her class.  They were not kidding.  Her classes are filled with intense arm strengthening repetitions and core poses.  She creates an interesting flow with side plank and tiger variations that will build your sweat quickly.  One day she started class with explaining how sometimes we struggle through a yoga class because we forget to eat or drink enough water.  She said that she came to this realization this morning when she was light-headed after practicing this sequence.  Then, about halfway through teaching the class she corrected herself and admitted, “or maybe this sequence is just really that hard!” However, because of these intense sequences, I have been able to use my new core strength lift into tripod from the center of a room.  Also, as a Licensed Massage Therapist, she surprised me with a totally relaxing Savasana massage!


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Dina has a strong voice of a leader that reminds you to breathe. In her class, I feel that we hold poses a bit longer than in some of the other classes that I attend. However, she challenges me to find the ease in this stillness, after I’ve found my expression of the pose with some tension. This inner concentration is the key part of yoga called Dharana that leads to peace and oneness.


PictureMissy has a warm and friendly way of teaching. In the past, I’ve attended her Classic Yoga and Restorative Yoga classes. She gives beautiful hands-on adjustments and she is always aware of the student’s desire to receive, asking first if it is okay to adjust, and asking after how it felt. She recently subbed for a Level 2 Vinyasa Flow class as her focus was building up our forearm and shoulder strength for Forearm-Stand.  Throughout class, she directed us to take child’s pose after dolphin and forearm-plank reps. This was a much needed rest and I appreciate her direction. If she would have just offered child’s pose as an option to something else, I probably would have tried to push myself too hard and skip the child’s pose. But the truth was, that I needed to rest my shoulders and catch my breath. I thank Missy for foreseeing that necessity and allowing a space of non-competition.


PictureI’ve only been to Lori’s class a couple of times, but I thoroughly enjoy her nurturing teaching style. I attended her class after feeling sharp pains in my shoulders, from the previous day’s class. Before class she asked me if I had any requests. I told her about my shoulders and then she included many shoulder opening poses throughout her planned sequence, each time asking me if that felt good. Lori stressed patience, allowance, and self-love.  She once again reminded me why I love this community of amazing teachers!


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Inspired by an extensive background in the movement arts (Acro-Yoga, Tai Chi, Contact Improv Dance, African Dance, and Rhythmic Gymnastics), Mara creates new poses as we constantly flow with our breath. I feel like a dancer in her class as she radiates the beauty of being one with your body. In Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose with the variation in wide leg stretch, she instructed us to reach up and feel that our knees are facing the same direction and protruding for the same amount. Mara highlights the importance of being balanced and equally stretched on both sides.


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I admire Zaquia for her intricate choice of words throughout her class. She has a detailed understanding of human anatomy and she strongly underlines the concept of the greater your effort, the greater your reward. She teaches a power flow, connecting breath with movement, in the early morning that quickly awakens my heart and concentration. From her I’ve learned Fallen Tree and seen that it is possible to rise from Low Squat, Malasana, to Bird of Paradise, Svarga Dvijasana, using a strong balanced core. She has inspired me to take the extra chaturanga.


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I only went to one of Terri’s classes during this month, but I enjoyed her emphasis on stretching with the blocks and straps. Instead of giving us the option to use block or not, she gave solid instructions to use the block even if you think you don’t need it. The flow was slow and she accentuated the importance of closing your eyes and focusing on your steady breath in each pose. She used a variety of interesting transitions to slide from one pose to another. I ended up feeling lengthened and spacious throughout my day.

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Michael Caldwell on Finding The Right Substitute Yoga Teacher

Scheduling the right substitute is more than just finding an available teacher to step in and lead class. It’s determining if the substitute is a good fit for that particular class and for the studio as a whole. We at Yoga One take our students’ trust very seriously and so we have developed a system to optimize our class schedule, and keep things flowing (as smoothly as possible) even in the absence of a beloved teacher.

Here is an excerpt from Mindful Studio Magazine’s interview with Yoga One co-founder Michael Caldwell entitled Tips for Managing SubsYou can read the whole interview here.

Mindful Studio Mag

MSM: How do you manage your teaching subbing schedule? 

MC: Subs come to us via word of mouth, referrals from other teachers, students and the internet — often new teachers to the area. We also get a lot of teachers from our own Yoga One Teacher Training course. In all cases, we like to see potential teachers first as students. Therefore, we ask them to attend a class with Yoga One’s head teacher, Amy Caldwell. If after class both teachers feel that Yoga One is a good fit, we invite the prospective teacher to attend a teachers’ round-robin class. In the round-robin, we create a circle with everyone (so there are no hierarchies, edges or outsiders and we can all see one another). Then each teacher has about 15 minutes to lead the other prospective teachers in a sample “mini-class.”

In this way, we get to see the teacher’s individual styles, the juxtapositions of personalities, philosophies, energies and sequences, plus a teacher’s ability to adapt to what came before and the overall environment. Again, if both parties feel that Yoga One is still a good fit, we provide each other with feedback and then determine which classes would be right for the teacher to sub. Of course, for example, we don’t want an individual only interested in teaching power yoga to sub a restorative class. So we have created a chart listing the classes we offer and those teachers who are suited to particular classes get added as appropriate. When looking for a sub we can look at the chart.

MSM: What qualities do you look for in a sub?

MC: To us a great personality, energy and eagerness to share the joys and benefits of yoga with others are the most important qualities. Next we look for teachers who are knowledgeable, experienced and able to modify their teaching to the students who show up for class. That means a good grasp of optimal alignment principles and a confidence and level of ability and mental flexibility to mix up their sequence on a moment’s notice. And it should go without saying that a sub needs to be reliable, professional and on time. Please teach the class based on the class description, and to those who are in class.

MSM: What tips can you provide for managing subs?

MC: Fortunately, and unfortunately, first impressions are often correct. If someone shows up late to class or to the round-robin, they are likely to show up late when subbing. If they are slow in responding to correspondence and communication during the “interview” process, they are not likely to be any faster or more professional once hired to sub.

Getting the right sub for the right class is a little bit of an art form. It’s good to know both the teacher and the students whom she or he will be leading. It’s a great idea to get feedback from the students and the teacher after class — and not just the first class. It’s helpful to be as clear with exceptions and responsibilities up front. How can you hold people accountable if they don’t know what they are supposed to do? Hire good people and you’ll likely get good results.

 

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Chakra Meditation: Vishuddi, The Throat

by Monique Minahan

vishuddi
The birds are chirping even though it’s still dark. This kind of silence – the kind that isn’t devoid of noise but rather full of presence – is the backdrop for my practice today.

Physically located at the level of the throat, vishuddi chakra represents a gateway between body and mind, through which the energy of this chakra can be suppressed or expressed. As an energetic center for communication, creativity, and expression, this chakra is not just about speaking. It’s also about feeling heard.

Instead of beginning with the beeja mantra ham, I explore the concept of toning, where body and breath invite a sound vibration to form, whatever that sound may be. The tones I create symbolize speaking my truth, as opposed to regurgitating truths I’ve been taught by others.

I begin on my exhale breath with a guttural groan. As I refrain from judging or perfecting it, I watch it transition through numerous auditory forms, eventually settling on a cathedral-like ahhhhh.

From the seat of an observer I acknowledge the things I have heard in my lifetime: from my inner dialogue, my conversations with others and what I’ve been taught to be true by people in authority.

And I sense the times I’ve refrained from speaking my truth over the years, whether out of fear of being punished, disapproved of or not understood.

With the intention of freeing my voice both physically and energetically, I begin ujjayi pranayam. I place a finger at the front of my throat, the glottis, and visualize the breath entering there, at the front-body location of vishuddi chakra, known as the chakra kshetram. I place another finger on my cervical spine at the back of my neck, visualizing the breath exiting through the spine, the back-body location of vishuddi chakra. Then I reverse the cycle so it begins at the back of the neck and travels forward. This practice focuses my awareness, breath and entire being on the physical and energetic center of vishuddi.

Vishuddi is often translated as “purification,” but I think of it more as refinement. As a pause between body and mind where I begin to distinguish the chatter of my unconscious mind from a higher level of knowledge. An energetic space where I can observe the way things have been and choose to create a new song for my life.

I sit a little longer listening to the sound of my breath. Before opening my eyes I speak out loud my vision of how my voice contributes to the chorus of life. I hear that truth with my ears and I seal it by bowing my head to my heart.

Part 6 of a 7 part series. You can find part 5 here: Anahata, The Heart.

Mo Minahan

Monique Minahan
Contributing Writer

Mo is a writer and yoga teacher who believes in peace over happiness and love over fear. She likes to set her sights high and then take small steps to get there. You’ll find her walking the dirt path behind her house with her little fluffy dog, practicing walking her talk by keeping her head high and her heart open. Contact: moniqueminahan.com

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What Makes a Great Yoga Teacher

We love this piece from Rainbow Yoga on What Makes a Great Yoga Teacher!

Rainbow Yoga regularly leads weekend-long kids yoga teacher training courses at Yoga One (and around the world!) They will be back at Yoga One, August 4th – 6th, 2017 leading their 3 Day Kids Yoga Teacher Training. Join us for this great adventure in learning!

This article originally published on RainbowYogaTraining.com

by Gopala Amir Yaffa

Rainbow Yoga TraineesWhat makes a great teacher? Well, that’s like asking what makes a great day!

There are so many ways to make things rock as an awesome yoga teacher, but here are some quick pointers you can try.

Be Awesome

First, what makes an awesome teacher is simply being an awesome person. But in addition to being awesome, you need to let it shine so that the world can know how amazing you are! So whatever your coolness is, let it shine!

Who are you? What do you want to be?

The best way to learn is to teach; and teaching is sure to help you become a better you. When you teach, you need to be your ideal self; an expression of love, knowledge and kindness.

This is not to say that you should be fake. Just give it the best of you every time.

Be Real

At the same time, you have to be authentic to where you come from, who you are now and your challenges and struggles at the moment. We teach best from our own genuine failures and experiences.

If your life has been and is always perfect, you will have nothing to teach. It is often the most broken people that make the best teachers. They have overcome enough challenges to understand and relate compassionately to other people, they have real experiences and wisdom from the inside to share.

You don’t get the lotus without the mud and the more mud, the better the flower. Teach from the inside, from those life experiences that have transformed you.

  • Don’t be afraid to show your own limitations, it will help your students feel more comfortable with theirs.

  • Don’t pretend that you know something you don’t or you will miss an opportunity to learn something new.

If you are not Indian, don’t try to be one by wearing Indian clothes and speaking Sanskrit. If you are not all Om Shanti and relaxed, don’t act as if you are… people will know if you are faking it, and really not all of us need Om Shanti yoga – some of us need to be shaken to awaken.

“Be the best version of yourself rather than the second best version of someone else.”

Trust that you have meaningful gifts to give to the world that someone will need. Nothing is good for everyone, and everything is good for someone.

Offer your authentic gifts from your heart, they are sure to be a great service to someone.

Be New

There are a million yoga teachers out there, so don’t be like everyone else. Make it your own. Make it new!

What are your passions? What are you really good at? What have you been working on already for your whole life that has made you who you are today?

You don’t need to forget about all of those when you shift into teaching yoga. Life is an evolution rather than a revolution, and everything you will build from here on has, in one way or another, a foundation on what you have achieved and experienced in your past.

Combining your passions is a great way to come up with something new.  The possibilities are endless and this is how people came up with ideas like:

Kids Yoga, Partner Yoga, Senior Yoga, Aqua Yoga (yoga in the water), yoga and weight lifting, Doga (yoga with your dog), yoga on exercise balls, Yoga Fight Club (yoga and martial arts), Yoga Canvas and Cabernet (yoga, painting and wine drinking), Yoga for Surfers, Yoga for Golfers, Equestrian Yoga (yoga on a horseback), Naked Yoga, Acro Yoga, Aerial Yoga (yoga suspended from the ceiling by straps)… and there are many many more!

Yoga is not set in stone; it has been evolving since ever. Even the most “traditional” yoga teacher trainings have very little in it that was called yoga a hundred years ago.

Don’t be like everyone else! Have some style! Dare and live a little! Experiment!

Be Now

Start teaching right away! Don’t wait until you know everything before you start teaching, because no one knows everything.

Don’t wait until you are perfect before you start to teach, because no one is perfect. You learn as you go. You evolve with your students.

Waiting will just make you stagnant and dull your energy. Get out there and share yourself with the world now!

Be The Change

Whatever your new yoga is going to be, what is your job description as a yoga teacher?

In my opinion it is making people happy! You are AMAZING – we all are in our own special way! And you are going to change the world, one person at a time… and not by talking, but simply by being the awesome you that you have now freed.

Are you ready?

The real question is, is the world ready for you? Well… it better be, because you are going out there today to rock it!

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