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5 Ways Aerial Yoga Can Lead to Gains in Your Mat Practice

5 Ways Aerial Yoga Can Lead to Gains in Your Mat Practice

If you’re looking for a new way to take your mat practice to the next level, consider aerial yoga. Aerial yoga gives you the space needed to challenge balance and strength in a new way.  The fabric is used as a prop, just like a strap or block, and will help you gain the skills needed to make progress on your yogic journey.  Read on for five ways aerial yoga can lead to gains in your mat practice.

5. Gain Confidence in Your Own Ability

One of the first things you’ll learn in an Aerial Basics class are the various locks which keep you safe and secure in your hammock.  Even with this new knowledge, it will still take time until you feel comfortable in the fabric and begin to trust your new skills. Many new students are amazed at their ability to get into a pose for the first time and it’s always a great moment to see people go from “I could never do that” to “I can’t believe I’m doing it!”  This newfound trust and confidence in your own abilities carries over to the mat practice, too.  Soon you’ll have the confidence to attempt (and nail!l) difficult poses, like Scale or Bird of Paradise.

4. Improved Balance

Aerial yoga is a major balance challenge. Tree pose, for example, can be done standing entirely in the hammock. While you’re completely secure in your locks, the hammock still moves around and can throw you off center.  This will challenge your balance in new ways. As you become more stable in moving, aerial variations of poses, you’ll notice greater stability in the mat version, too.

3. Gain Strength for Better Chaturangas

During an aerial yoga class, you’ll use the fabric to explore different variations of exercises like fabric-assisted pull-ups and planks.  Other aerial movements will require you to pull yourself up to get into the full expression of the pose.  All of this work will challenge your muscles in a new way and help you to become stronger overall.  After a few aerial yoga classes, you’ll notice mat postures like downward-facing dog and chataranga are easier to maintain.

2. Difficult Poses are More Accessible

Handstand, Scorpion, and Standing Splits are all difficult postures that become more accessible in aerial yoga. All of these poses are done with the hammock secured around the waist and legs.  Through this secure lock, you are able to enter the pose with the knowledge that the hammock will catch you and stop you from falling in all directions.  By practicing the postures in this way, you are able to build the foundation needed to nail the pose on your mat.

1. Reminds You Not to Take Yourself Too Seriously

Aerial yoga classes carry a different vibe then mat yoga classes. In a mat class, the room is laser-focused on the flow and yogis rarely make a sound outside of the Ujayi breath. This isn’t the case in an aerial yoga class where sounds include cheering (as other students support your efforts to get into a challenging pose for the first time) and giggling (as you find joy in movements you probably haven’t done since you were a kid).  We can bring this lighter energy back to our mat to remind ourselves that it’s ok if we aren’t where we want to be today.  Each day is different and we improve our lives and our practice when we remember to honor where we are in each moment.

 If you want to try aerial yoga and live in the Denver area, try out Unlimited Yoga partner, Atherial Fitness! Their supportive community and amazing instructors earned them the Best Place to Learn to Fly award from Westword this year. As an added bonus, all Unlimited Yoga subscribers get $12 classes at Atherial (40% off!). Use the code “UYFALL2018” when you sign up for class to get your discount. 

About the author: Jen Callahan is a Denver-based yoga instructor, Marketing Manager for Atherial Fitness, and aerial aficionada.  She currently teaches yoga to climbers at the Denver Bouldering Club and will soon be certified to teach aerial yoga. Connect with her on Instagram at @jendoesaerial

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How Yoga Helps Us Relax (And Why We Need To)

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How Yoga Helps Us Relax (And Why We Need To)

How Yoga Helps Us Relax (And Why We Need To)

Authored by: Annie Martens, Teacher at RiNo Yoga Social and Owner of Cosmic Kundalini 

RiNo Yoga Social

Whether you’re new to yoga or not, you’re probably familiar with that blissful state of peace after a deep practice. Why is that? And how is it that we often lose that relaxed feeling within hours, or for some, even minutes? Read on to discover what it is about yoga that actually makes us so relaxed, and why it is terribly important to be relaxed.

 Part of the basic truth of why we feel so darned relaxed after yoga practice is that the space and time it sets up for us allows us the freedom to rest. In a society heavily dominated by the need to “get more done,” work harder, make more money, get more followers, subscribers, clients, whatever — there is rarely a moment to rest just for the sake of relaxation. Rather, we reward ourselves with time to rest only after we accomplish said tasks. Haven’t you ever said something like, “if I can just get the last two things on my to-do-list done, then I can relax!” Oddly, in the name of relaxation, our life becomes about doing more. (1) In a yoga or meditation practice, the mind is stimulated in a way where it is allowed and advised to focus on only one thing — the breath or  bodily sensations — and suddenly all of that other mind-stuff gets to sit on the back burner.

When that happens, the brain changes. We can look at sleep as an example, because sleep is perhaps the most relaxed state you ever enter on a regular basis. During the deeper states of sleep, the brain enters what is called the Theta (deep) or Delta (deepest) brainwave state. In these states, the brainwaves rest somewhere in between 7 and 0.5 cycles per minute. That is extremely slow compared to the cycles in normal waking life, the state you are likely in right now, where Beta brainwaves can reach 100 cycles per minute. Unlike Beta, the slower states allow the body a chance to restore. It releases human growth hormones that maintain healthy metabolism and reduces cortisol levels, a stress-inducing chemical that accelerates the aging process. (Stay away!)

Can you imagine what it would be like if we didnt enter these slow, deep brainwaves states that occur during sleep?! Life would be so stressful, we’d be tired all the time, and don’t even get me started on insomnia. We absolutely need to enter these slower brainwave states that are vital to our ability to relax, heal, rejuvenate, and some even say to experience empathy and compassion. (1)

But what about when we are not asleep? In a meditative yoga practice like yoga nidra, seated meditation, or a very mindful asana sequence, the brainwaves can slow down enough to reach Alpha, (8-12 cycles), or perhaps even Theta (4-7 cycles), allowing the body to restore in similar ways that it does in sleep. And ta-da! You leave feeling AH-MAZING! You just gave your whole body a beautiful gift, the chance to do what it is designed to do — to take care of itself, something it certainly cannot do when it is put under stress or is sleep deprived.

And the scary thing is, the less time we spend in a relaxed state, the harder it is for us to enter it. This relates to what we call in yoga philosophy samskaras — or deeply engrained habit patterns. Unhelpful samskaras (tendencies) are difficult to dissolve, but it can be done. The good news is, helpful samskaras become just as engrained, and once part of your regular lifestyle, they are easy to maintain. For example, the more time you spend meditating, the easier it is to do again. The more time you spend in a relaxed state, the easier it is to maintain even in a stressful situation. It is possible to stay calm and at ease in a high-energy, fast paced world. All it takes is practice and the ability to recognize just how important it is for your health.

Yoga is not just about flexibility or having a fit body, it is about your ability to experience the external world with a calm, relaxed internal state of mind. The more we engage in yoga practices that slow down the brainwaves, the more easily we are able to enter a deeply relaxed state of mind at any time! Not just in a yoga-setting… So, do you want to live a healthy and happy life? Then you better relax, my yogi loves.

1. Desai, Kamini. Yoga Nidra: The Art of Transformational Sleep. Lotus Press, 2017.

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What is Yoga Therapy? Teacher Alexi Neal Weighs In

What is Yoga Therapy?

Yoga Therapy is a mind-body modality of healing that approaches life’s challenges with the assertion that each of us carries within us the potential to heal ourselves. There are many different types of Yoga Therapy- some that use yoga similar to the way you would physical therapy- prescribing certain poses, breathing techniques and meditations to work with the conditions presented. Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy is based on Carl Roger’s humanistic psychology, which asserts that your felt experience is your highest authority, and that transformation comes not from a prescribed set of poses, but from your own inner Truth.

Who can benefit from Yoga Therapy?

Some people come to Yoga Therapy to explore a physical concern, like chronic pain. Some people come because they're integrating trauma, experiencing anxiety or suffering from depression. Still others come because they feel stuck or off track in their life. Yoga Therapy offers a way for every part of you and your experience to be healed.  

What does a session look like?

Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy sessions are offered one-on-one, in a safe and supportive environment. The practitioner will guide you into an embodied experience completely informed by what is happening in your body right now, offering options for exploration, but with the only goal being to bring you into closer connection with your own felt experience.

So, how does this work?

So how does this work? Terms like “inner Truth” always carry with them a vague “wooey” feeling, no matter how much we may want to feel connected to it. There are more scientific studies and reviews coming together every year that supports this work, but this one in particular speaks to a different way of being that can lead to this transformation.

The study (1) was headed by Norm Farb and published in the Oxford Journal of Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. Farb and others wanted to look at the way we think about ourselves and our experience. It has long been theorized that there are two distinct mental pathways that we can experience at any given moment, narrative experience and direct experience.

Narrative Experience is our most common way of being and thinking. The analytical mind plans, remembers, worries, hopes, and projects. The contents of our thoughts are mostly about the past or future. This is a very important way of being – it allows us to move through our lives and make decisions.

Direct Experience, on the other hand, is a rarer phenomenon. The continuous narrative quiets down and ceases its planning, and the moment is experienced as it is, without analysis or judgment. Sound familiar? It has long been the goal of yoga practices to turn on this neural pathway!

So what happens when we slip into direct experience? The study showed that participants relatively new to mindfulness practices experienced less activity in the prefrontal cortex (the most advanced part of our brain, responsible for the continuous monologue of thought). Those participants who had continued the practice regularly also showed an increase in activity in the right hemisphere of the brain, especially in places responsible for creative, non-linear thoughts!  

Transformation and Change

So, being supported in dropping in to Direct Experience in Yoga Therapy, means we can access new ways of thinking about ourselves, our concerns, and come up with creative solutions for transformation! In a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy session, we use the tools of embodied movement, yoga poses, breathing, hands-on assists and support to facilitate moving past the Narrative Experience, into this quieter, more creative way of being. One of the most powerful ways of dropping into this space is finding what we call edges – places of powerful sensation where new information can be learned and changes can begin to take place.

While in this space, we talk about what you’re experiencing, so that your felt experience can be externalized, validated and processed. At the end of our session, you’ll have the opportunity to figure out what happens next, integrating the experience into your life in meaningful, tangible ways.

Ready to give Yoga Therapy a try?

Alexi Neal of The Neal Center for Counseling and Yoga Therapy is currently offering heavily discounted sessions while completing her hours for certification. That makes this the perfect time to try the work! You can also join us at the Free Therapeutic Yoga & Info Session on June 13th or June 27th!

1. Norman A. S. Farb  Zindel V. Segal Helen Mayberg  Jim Bean Deborah McKeon Zainab Fatima Adam K. Anderson; Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Volume 2, Issue 4, 1 December 2007, Pages 313–322, https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsm030

 

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My Yoga Teacher Training Journey: Part 6

My Yoga Teacher Training Journey: Part 6

This last post is dedicated to the BUSINESS OF YOGA, and the things we learned about teaching yoga as a profession. 

Lynn Koves Yoga - Yoga Teacher Training at Kindness Yoga

Certainly, one part of yoga teaching training was reviewing how to find work and also the realities of what it’s like to be a full-time teacher.

My biggest takeaway from the lesson was that being a yoga teacher, in a lot of scenarios, requires having an entrepreneurial spirit. What I mean by this is that is it common to have to create your own opportunities in order to gain experience in the field.

One way to gain experience is by working within the community where people work, spend time, and have fun. Many businesses, schools, recreational centers, assisted living facilities and more value yoga as a part of their wellness programs. In order to find these jobs, it’s common to have to create the opportunity for yourself by reaching out to companies out of the blue.

Once you're teaching, it's helpful to have a following of students - which requires consistency in teaching, providing great experiences, and marketing yourself and your classes. 

To work at studio, often you need to have prior experience and/or know someone at the studio in order to get an audition. The Denver market is fairly saturated, which can make finding work challenging but not at all impossible or out of reach.

Another option for teachers is to rent a space for an hour at a time. Yoga studios vary in terms of what they charge teachers to rent their spaces, but from what I’ve heard, $25-40 per hour is fairly common.  This strategy has some risks associated with it, in that you need to find enough students make up the cost of the class before you can make any money.  

As an independent contractor, you’ll need your own insurance to protect yourself in the event that someone gets injured. (To that note, it’s also good to get people to sign waivers that release you of liability.) Also, most teaching scenarios do not offer health insurance, so you’ll have to buy independently or get your insurance through a family member.

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Regarding the “realities” of being a teacher, something I learned is that many teachers only teach a few classes a week. Teaching can be draining, and also with scheduling, it’s not always feasible to go back and forth to a studio (or more than one studio) a few times a week.  One solid tip we were given was:  If you can, it’s a good idea to know a couple of styles of yoga so that you can teach back-to-back classes. 

In terms of salary, we learned that studios pay teachers a number of ways. Usually a studio either pays teachers a flat rate, or a flat rate + $ per head. Teachers often make anywhere between $20 and $75 per class on the high end if you have years of experience.  However, it’s definitely possible to make more. 

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Lastly, one piece of advice I have for teachers in Denver is to join the Denver and Boulder yoga teacher Facebook Groups. Having been in the Denver yoga community for a few years, I’ve gotten to know and observed the teaching landscape. The Facebook Groups seem to be the best way to keep a pulse on the yoga community, and hear about teaching opportunities.

These groups are ~ 

Boulder and Denver Yoga Instructors https://www.facebook.com/groups/177711345627347/?fref=nf

Denver Yoga Teachers https://www.facebook.com/groups/denveryogateachers/

Yoga Teachers of Denver https://www.facebook.com/groups/246227295423199/

There is definitely a lot more to it, but these were a few of my main takeaways. 🙏

 

Have any questions about my experience? Please leave any questions in the comments below. 

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My Yoga Teacher Training Journey: Part 5

MY YOGA TEACHER TRAINING JOURNEY: PART 5

This post is dedicated to the WAYS I GREW and the LESSONS I LEARNED in yoga teacher training. 

Lynn Koves Yoga - Yoga Teacher Training at Kindness Yoga

When you talk with people who have graduated a YTT program, it’s really common to hear about personal transformations, revelations, and the ways in which people grew in the process of training. 

I can’t speak for everyone (nor would I want to try), but it seems like the specific transformations that occur within people are specific to each person, where they are in life, and also based on who their teachers are.

When I look at back at my Kindness Yoga training, here a few very memorable lessons I learned and took to heart in my personal life:

·      Don’t do things out of habit.  Ellen and Jack reinforced to us that it is important to say things with intention. Not to go on autopilot with your teaching practice, or say things that you don’t wholeheartedly believe. Doing so can sound disingenuous and sometimes, like bullshit.

In life, live awake and make conscious choices for how you spend your time, who you spend your time with, and where your money goes.

Also, it’s impossible to change what you’re not aware of.  For me, this re-enforced the benefits of getting constructive feedback from mentors, peers, and people who observe my work. 

·      Words matter. Choose them wisely. In yoga, being a successful yoga teacher very much requires being a great communicator.  Ellen and Jack encouraged us time and time again to eliminate filler words, extra words, and confusing language in order to be affective teachers. Also, to be aware of the words you use when helping people get into poses or providing feedback on their practice as well.

In life, how you say things can determine the entire outcome of a situation, or even a relationship. Be mindful with your words.

·      Self check-ins are important. Ellen started week 2 with a question for people to self-reflect on. She asked us – “Up until this point, how have you shown up to training? And does it match what your goals are for the program? If yes, great.” If not, she advised that now was a good time to change course. 

In life, it’s a good practice to be self-aware of your participation in life, in your relationships, and amount of effort you’ve put towards your goals. I personally value self check-ins, and credit them for keeping me on track toward my goals, and also making sure I live a life that makes me truly happy.

·      Get out of your comfort zone.  There were plenty of times in YTT where I found myself a bit uncomfortable with the task at hand because it either put me on the spot, or was generally something I had never done before and wanted to do well.

During training, and in life, I recognize that getting out of my comfort zone is one of the best ways (if not the BEST way) to grow and evolve. When life gets uncomfortable, acknowledge that you are learning -- and appreciate where you are. It's all about the journey anyway. 

 

Have any questions about my experience? Please leave any questions in the comments below. 

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My Yoga Teacher Training Journey: Part 4

MY YOGA TEACHER TRAINING JOURNEY: PART 4

This post is dedicated to all of the YOGA RELATED CONTENT we studied during yoga teacher training. 

Everyday during YTT we spent some time learning about other interesting and fun topics related to yoga, including:

  • the history of yoga and how the practice has evolved over the last 5,000 years
  • different philosophies of yoga that have been passed down from ancestors
  • benefits of particular breathing and physical practices
  • about the other 6 limbs of yoga that don't get as much attention in modern, Western forms of yoga

To summarize the topics we studied, the materials we utilized, and a few books that were recommended ~ here's a top-level list: 

Topics we studied:

What is yoga?

The history of yoga

The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali (with translation and commentary by B.K.S. Iyengar)

Bhagavad Gita

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga

Pranayamas and bandhas

Sanskrit

Modern hatha yoga, and the elements of vinyasa

Anatomy and biomechanics (including over 9 hours with guest teacher Jen Wilking)

Meditation

Chakras

Yoga & pregnancy

Ayurveda

Mantras

Ethics of being a yoga teacher

Our materials:

“Light on Yoga” by B.K.S. Iyengar

Excerpts from “The Yoga Sutras” by Patanjali

Excerpts from the “The Bhagavad Gita”

Excerpts from “Core Concerns in Teaching Yoga” by Judith Hanson Lasater

Our Kindness Yoga YTT binder which is packed with information

Other recommended books:

 “Wheels of Life” by Anodea Judith

“Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga” by Michelle Marchildon

"Yoga Toolbox" by Joseph and Lilian Le Page

& MANY MORE

Namaste. 

 

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My Yoga Teacher Training Journey: Part 3

MY YOGA TEACHER TRAINING JOURNEY: PART 3

This post is dedicated to how much time we spent on our mats PRACTICING yoga.

It's probably pretty obvious - we did yoga every day during YTT! For most of the 4 week intensive program I participated in at Kindness Yoga, we started each day with 60 to 90 minutes.

A lot of days the theme of the practice we had in the morning was used as a jumping off point for the lessons we would learn later that day.  For example, one morning we used straps to stretch our hamstrings, and then later that afternoon practiced with straps, and reviewed best practices for how to use them properly and safely.  Another morning, we learned a breathing technique called Nadi Shodhana Pranayama or “alternative nostril breathing”. That afternoon we learned about other breathing techniques you can include in your classes to warm up your students.

The yoga itself was really nice and turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the training and of each day. (Surprising, I know.) I loved going there and waking up with a class by Jack or Ellen.

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One of my personal breakthroughs in YTT was with crow pose. When learning about this pose it was suggested to place 4 blocks in front of your nose as a safety net. I didn’t realize until I did this that part of my issue with crow was completely mental. Having the 4 blocks in front of me calmed fears of falling on my face, and gave me the confidence to learn fully forward. As a result, I held the longest crow I’ve ever held.

Lynn Koves Yoga - Crow Pose

Another afternoon, Jack debunked for us handstands, forearms stands, headstands, and shoulder stands. Learning forearm stand ended up being on the the best ways for me to improve my handstands, as it allows me greater stability, while feeling what it's like to have everything from my hips up properly stacked to keep me inverted. 

 The day we learned inversions we spent mostly sitting against the wall to use it as support. 

The day we learned inversions we spent mostly sitting against the wall to use it as support. 

For me and a few others one of our favorite activities was getting into groups of two one afternoon, taking pictures of each other doing 10 different poses, then matching up our photos against the pictures of B.K.S. Iyengar in Light On Yoga to see the differences in form. During this exercise it was when I fully realized that sometimes I bend at the back instead of bending at the waist.

As Jack once said, “It’s the little things.”  This phrase stuck with me, and became more and more apparent to me as true as we learned about the benefits of proper alignment.

We also had the great opportunity to learn from guest teachers about other styles of yoga, including Yin, Nidra, Restorative, and pre-natal.

During the pre-natal lesson we did with Kristen Boyle, we tied blankets around our waists with straps and practiced yoga that way to feel what it would feel like to do poses with a huge bump. 

In this lesson we discussed modifications for pregnant women, some poses that are probably best to stay away from, and the whole notion that yoga teachers are not doctors – and shouldn’t be treated as them either when it comes to people’s abilities if they are experiencing complications or are worried about them.

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The last week of training, we did A LOT of yoga in order to practice our final projects.  And on the last two days, we did a total of 5 1-hour classes in order to participate in each team’s final project. It was a bit strenuous, but also a great experience and so fun to see each person rock their part.

Have any questions about my experience? Please leave any questions in the comments below. 

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My Yoga Teacher Training Journey: Part 2

MY YOGA TEACHER TRAINING JOURNEY: PART 2

This post is dedicated to the concepts we learned and put into practice regarding TEACHING yoga.

To set the stage for the rest of this series, here’s how the Kindness Yoga training program I did was structured on a day-to-day basis.

Training was Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m for 4 weeks. My day-to-day teachers were Jack Cuneo and Ellen Kaye!

Each day consisted of a mix of activities balanced with movement (yoga), listening, teaching each other, working alone, working together in groups, and coming together as a class for group discussions. More specifically, a lot of our days looked like:

 Yoga /  5 minute break / lesson / 15 minute break / lesson / lunch from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m. / lesson / 15 minute break / lesson

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Alright, now about the TEACHING.

Learning to teach yoga was my number one goal for the program so I’ve focused on that aspect first. (it might come as a surprise that it’s not everyone’s top goal or reason for doing YTT)

All in all, throughout the training Jack and Ellen gave us a lot of tools “for our toolbox” to pull from related to creating a 60-minute sequence, teaching it, and facilitating an experience that appeals to all types of students.  

On Day 1, we learned what a Sun Salutation is and how to teach one. Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar A and B) are a series of poses that have been passed down from the grandfathers of yoga, and are “the foundation of vinyasa yoga”.

Throughout training there were many instances where we independently created our own sequences, and taught them to each other in small groups. For example, we learned and then put into practice these teaching concepts: 

·      Classes have 5 stages:  Centering, warming the body, pathway to the peak, exploring the body, and cooling the body

·      It’s important to pick your "peak" pose, and create a class that works the body in ways that lead up to the peak pose

·      We learned that there is an order of operation in order to keep bodies aligned and balanced, including: setting the foundation, contracting muscles, internal and external rotation of the arms and legs, and energetic expansion away from the body

·      There are lots of categories of poses to choose from to incorporate into your class: standing, sitting, core strengthening, twisting, arm balances, backbends and inversions

·      We learned that are several “strategies” for creating sequences and building up the intensity of a class: hold-to-flow, stair step, and progressive

·      We learned about assisting people into poses; why you would assist people, when you shouldn’t, and how to assist properly so that you don’t hurt yourself in the process

In the Kindness program they also focused a lot on communication for getting people into shapes, and also refining the language we are using to be more affective. Here are some of the formulas and best practices we learned for communication:

·      A formula for cueing is:  Inhale or exhale >> verb >> body part >> direction >> pose name (in English and/or Sanskrit) . Ex. Inhale, step your right foot back, lunge pose

·      It’s best to cue from the ground up. Tell people where to move their feet first, then legs, hips, side bodies, arms, and head.

·      We also constantly worked on being better at the 3-step approach to cueing people.  SHAPE IT. Start with cues that get them into the right shape. WORK IT. Provide cues that help your students gain stability and strengthen the right muscles. REFINE IT. Give cues that escalate the pose to be more challenging or require paying attention to small subtleties in order to get optimal alignment.

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·      Ellen and Jack re-enforced using verbs that inspire action, and aren’t passive. One of the bad habits that I (and others) had to curtail was adding “ing” to action verbs. For example, it’s better to say, “raise your arms high” than “raising your arms high”.  It’s more direct and ignites action when you drop the –ing.

·      Perhaps most importantly, be conscious of everything you’re saying, eliminate filler language (um’s, extra and’s, etc.) and observe your students to see where you can be more clear.

We also learned about theme-ing, or adding in stories and personal touches to classes. Although Jack and Ellen let us know that it’s not ‘must’ for a teacher, theming can change the entire experience for a person. For better or for worse. And that great themes balance both personal touches, and universal concepts that all types of people can relate to. 

To put this into practice, we picked out a couple of themes that burn in our hearts and matter to us, then wrote them down and discussed in groups how those themes could tie in while also maintaining the aspect of relating to anyone. 

For our final project for the program, we got into groups of 3 and together created a 60 minute sequence that we co-taught together the last day of training.  For me, this was a really great exercise because I walked away from training with a 60-minute sequence that I created, and know how to teach. 

In a nutshell, we learned A TON about how to create a progressive and balanced yoga sequence, about affective teacher communication, and some best practices for providing a great experience for your students.

Have any questions about my experience? Please leave any questions in the comments below.

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My Yoga Teacher Training Journey: Part 1

My Yoga Teacher Training Journey: Part 1 

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If you are considering yoga teacher training, or are curious about the value it can bring to your life, this blog series is for you.  

In February of 2017 I fulfilled my goal and dream of completing a 200-hour yoga teacher training program.

As a way to document my experience and help anyone considering Yoga Teacher Training (whether the goal is to teach or not), this 6-part blog series is designed to help prospective YTT students get an idea of the sorts of information and lessons one could expect to learn in a Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher training program.

In this blog series I will be sharing about my experience in themes. Truth be told, every day we did a little bit of everything. So for those interested in one aspect or another, the content has been broken up into the following 5 themes:

·      STUDY ~ BECOMING A PROFICIENT TEACHER I’ll review the things we learned related to: crafting a 60-minute yoga class, communicating yoga poses, and about how we put everything into practice by teaching each other.

·      PRACTICE ~ HOW MUCH TIME WE SPENT ON THE MAT Everyday we practiced. Most mornings we started with an hour or 90 minutes, and worked on individual poses and sequences throughout the day depending on the scheduled activities. We also learned from other Kindness Yoga teachers about Yin, Nidra, Restorative, and pre-natal yoga styles.

·      LEARN ~ ALL THE TOPICS WE COVERED We were given a lot of other context into topics related to yoga. We learned about anatomy, the impact of injuries, breathing techniques, meditation, yogic philosophies, the history of yoga, and much more.

·      GROW ~ THE LESSONS I LEARNED From what I’ve both heard and experienced, YTT can be a transformational experience. In this post I’ll share what life lessons I learned from training that I feel transcend past yoga into life off the mat.

·      TEACH ~ THE BUSINESS OF YOGA What I learned about the business of yoga, what you need to get work as a teacher, and how to find teaching jobs. I will also offer a couple of tips based on my own experience in the Denver yoga community over the last few years.

Before diving into the content of the program, here are a couple of things to keep in mind about the posts:

·      200 hours is a lot of time! This blog series is a mere summary of how my 200-hour YTT program at Kindness Yoga was structured, and about the broad topics we learned about and put into practice during the 4-week intensive.

·      Kindness Yoga in Denver, CO was where I chose to do my training.  After much research, I chose them based on their reputation in the community, the fact that they teach Vinyasa style yoga (the style I wanted to learn), and because I heard from other teachers that Kindness’ YTT program would give me the tools and knowledge to become a teacher shortly after program completion. As a full disclaimer, Kindness offered me a scholarship (discount) to blog about my experience on unlimitedyoga.com. That said, all opinions in this blog series are authentically my own.

·      While exploring YTT programs I quickly learned that YTT curriculums differ from one program to the next.  And no program, from my research, shares their entire agenda online. So you really have to make an effort to talk with people about their experiences and with the program managers in order to get an idea about the details and nuances of each program. I was surprised to learn that some programs make the ‘learning to teach’ part ancillary and focus more on yoga history, philosophy, and about the individual poses. Depending on your goal(s) for training, the details you find out could affect which program you invest your time and money in. Definitely do your own research and weigh your options.

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·      Something that cannot be understated in the whole experience is the people. While this blog series documents my experience, and my experience only… my classmates and teachers shaped everything about the program and the feel of each day. I am grateful to each and everyone one of them for their friendships and the lessons they taught me. They inspired me by the strength they exuded in the face of challenges and uncertainties, the vulnerability they let go of to learn something new, and their perseverance in a program that is appropriately entitled an “intensive”. 

If you have any questions or thoughts, please drop them in the comments below!

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FitLo Passport Class: RiNo Yoga Social with Unlimited Yoga

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We excited to announce that Unlimited Yoga in collaboration with RiNo Yoga Social will be featured on FitLo Denver's Passport program on October 26th at 5:30 p.m.

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Join us for a 60-minute vinyasa flow class in one of the coolest spots to practice yoga in Denver: RiNo Yoga Social, a shared yoga space where independent teachers can create their own classes and build a business. Every yoga class is innovational, inspirited and created by the yoga teacher's desire to share their journey. 

The October 26th Passport class will be co-taught by RiNo Yoga Instructor, Aly Ballow, and founder of Unlimited Yoga, Lynn Koves. 

The cost: FREE to FitLo Passport members, and $10 for non-FitLo members. 

So what is FitLo, you might ask? 

FitLo Denver, founded by Tricia Olson, is the lowdown on where to get fit in Denver, complete with gym and yoga studio reviews, an ever changing calendar of events, and most recently - the FitLo Passport program.  FitLo is all about sharing the authentic experience of the local Denver fitness and yoga community to help people find their home fitness studio or gym.

FitLo's Passport program takes members on a tour of the best gyms, yoga studios, and fitness events around town to assist in the process. For $30 for 3 months, or $52.80 for 6 months, Passport offers members VIP access to two guaranteed classes per month, a buddy pass, plus other discounts to local fitness events.  

If you are uninspired by your current workout routine, interested in trying new places but haven't taken the leap, or are new to the Denver area and looking to connect with new people through a healthful activity, FitLo Denver's Passport program may be for you!

Get in an awesome workout, try something new, and join a welcome community of  like-minded health conscious individuals.

FitLo Founder, Tricia Olson and the FitLo AmBADASSadors will be joining so you don’t have to go to the party alone. Of course your friends are welcome to join, too! 

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Getting Awake at ARISE Festival

ARISE Festival 2017

Big thank you to ARISE Festival for the awesome August weekend. It was our first ARISE, and we were sorely impressed by the organization, thought provoking content, eco-activism, yoga experiences, musicians, local vendors, food options, and more. 

Here are just a few of our favorite parts of ARISE Festival: 

- Not usually campers, we were pleasantly surprised how easy it was to pull everything we needed together for the weekend. When we didn't have all the gear, a friend loaned us her tent, and we found Outdoors Geek in Denver to rent us the rest of what we needed at an affordable price. When we arrived at Sunrise Ranch in the dark, we were so relieved to set up our tent under a light. (phewww.) 

- Waking up to beautiful Colorado scenery never gets old. Sunrise Ranch is nestled in Loveland, CO with naturally expansive views of the landscape, including a nearby lake. Walking around the campgrounds before sunrise yoga, we enjoyed our morning coffee and checking out people's camp set ups and festival gear, the Acro yoga tent, Wisdom Village, and observing other festival art we came across. 

- Sunrise yoga with headliner Shiva Rea included some free form movement for self-expression, and finished with a dance party. Not your typical yoga class, but we still got in all the pranayama (breath) we needed and even a hug with a couple of neighbors. 

- The art installations placed around the campground and festival space reminded us of pictures from Burning Man. With ARISE's mission as a leave-no-trace event, some of the art focused on sustainability and things like recycling - which we love. Our favorite > "Your small actions add up to big change. For better or worse." #Truth 

- Last but not at all least, we value and honor ARISE's focus on eco-activism, the notion of living and staying AWAKE, and conversation to better understand one another and spread ideas. On Saturday we partook in a group discussion with the Permaculture Action Network about sustainable farming and regenerative systems. And at night we attended a panel discussion about the Resistance Movement, highlighting the types of action we can take in our own communities to create positive change. (Show up. Vote with your dollars. Support the marginalized.)

We can't wait to see what next year has in store. Thank you ARISE Festival for the great time! We'll for sure be back.

This post is sponsored by ARISE Festival. However, all opinions are authentically our own. Namaste.

 

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Yoga on the Rocks - An Iconic Colorado Yoga Experience

Yoga on the Rocks 2017

As always, Yoga on the Rocks this season did not disappoint. 

If you've never been, it's a gorgeous start to the day at one of Colorado's treasures - Red Rocks Amphitheater. The natural surroundings of Red Rocks, and the view of the Front Range from Morrison will give you a perma-smile, I guarantee it. (Tickets go on sale each Spring and sell out quickly as a heads up for next year) 

Typically a 45-minute class, Yoga on the Rocks is also known for their awesome freebies and goodies, as well as inspiration from some of Denver's best yoga instructors. This year CorePower Yoga gave away sunglasses, and participants also got bottles of Propel water, Lara Bars, Silk yogurt and Caribou Coffee samples.

The finale class for the 2017 season was co-taught by two of CorePower's finest teachers - Sara Palecki and Melissa Schacht.

With the theme of #SummerWarrior, they beautifully weaved in empowering statements about living with a warrior mindset. How the heart of a warrior is brave and courageous in the face of fear, but at the same time accepts that you can't win every battle. However, "you are more powerful than you know." 

The class was tied together with a quote by Marianne Williamson - "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." 

Until next year Yoga on the Rocks! (In the mean time I'll continue to hike your terrain and climb your stairs.) 

Big thank you to CorePower Yoga for tickets to the season finale of Yoga on the Rocks. 

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Unlimited Yoga Produces YOGA + PLANTS, A Summer Yoga Series

Yoga + Plants

In the summer of 2017 Unlimited Yoga evolved from an online resource only, to organizing a few in-person yoga events, including the summer yoga series, YOGA + PLANTS.

YOGA + PLANTS was created with the vision of combining two healthful activities - yoga & plants, to create fun experiences that bring the yoga community together to plant seeds, (literally and figuratively) for a life, diet and home filled with plants and flowers.

To make things even better, 10% of proceeds from the yoga events were donated and re-invested back into the community by supporting Urban Peak, a local shelter for youth in Denver and Boulder who are either homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless.

The series, by design, was a collaborative effort between Lynn at Unlimited Yoga, professional gardener Eric Rooney of Rooney Bloom, studio owners Jessica Lyn Young and Brett Rezek of Evolve Yoga Denver, and a handful of rockstar up-and-coming yoga teachers (Addison Gumbert, Tiffany Adams, Aly Ballow, Jaclyn Fu, and Emily Tella).

Proudly sponsored by Stillwater Brands, doTERRA Essential oils and Beekeepers Naturals, between and May and the end of July, attendees of YOGA + PLANTS enjoyed yoga, smoothies, and plant-based learning and activities from gardener Eric on topics such as -

Indoor plants that require little to no sunlight: 

Yoga + Plants: Indoor Plants Day

Gardening 101 and how to keep various plants alive and thriving:

Yoga + Plants: Gardening 101

The importance of protecting bees and how we can help:

Yoga + Plants: Saving the Bees day

The medicinal properties of plants, including cannabis:

Cannabis Day at Yoga + Plants

How to arrange flowers to create beautiful arrangements:

Floral Arrangement class at Yoga + Plants

About smudging, and the materials to create your own herbal incense:

Yoga + Plants: DIY Incense Day

The mechanics of terrariums to foster plants, including a succulent terrarium project:

Succulent Terrarium Day at Yoga + Plants

About air plants, the simplicity of taking care of them, and a DIY old picture frame project:

Yoga + Plants: DIY Air Plant Project

Enjoying the relaxing nature of lavender flowers, along with lavender snacks and the materials to create a lavender-infused spray to use before bed or anytime:

Lavender Day at the Grow Denver for Yoga + Plants

To hear about future Unlimited Yoga events, including YOGA + PLANTS, subscribe to Unlimited Yoga’s weekly Denver and Boulder email newsletters. 

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The Evolution of Evolve Yoga Denver

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After a couple years of beach living and studying at the Miami Life Center under Patrick Nolan, Evolve founder Jessica Lyn Young fulfilled a long time desire to live in the mountains when she moved to Colorado in summer of 2015. Her past life as a busy executive in the chaotic NYC fashion industry couldn’t be more different than the calm and laid back Denver atmosphere; Exactly the kind of environment for which Jessica was searching. Denver seemed the perfect spot for establishing her dream Rocket Shala. With not a single Rocket studio within a hundred miles, Jessica accepted the challenge: establish a Denver Rocket culture by creating a home for Ashtangis. A place to share her love for Ashtanga yoga, teach through her passion of Rocket and create a more balanced, calm and rewarding life for herself in the Rocky Mountain Region.

Hidden directly in the center of the quickly developing Green Mile on South Broadway district, Jessica found the ideal area to introduce a new wave of yogi style to the Denver scene. The conversion of the Evolve Shala from dilapidated framing shop to gleaming yoga studio was a 5 month challenge, but well worth the wait for a June 2016 Grand Opening. With the addition of the Evolve Community Garden summer of 2017, the Evolve shala has transformed into a welcoming home for yogis and gardeners alike. A place to meditate, practice, study and share, the Shala is an oasis of calm surrounded by city blocks of concrete jungle. Once inside the garden walls, it’s easy to forget that this green and lush space secretly sits on the bustling Broadway Avenue.

Recently acquiring a business partner has been essential to the progression and continued growth of the Evolve space because as everyone knows, running a business alone is a daunting challenge. Allowing for Jessica to spend more time studying and perfecting her practice in order to be the most effective Rocket teacher possible, Brett Rezek joined on to manage the ‘non-yoga’ aspects of the operation. A long time student herself, but not a teacher, Brett’s passion for yoga was inspiration enough to join the Shala. Wanting to share her new found love of Rocket, Brett is excited to create, alongside Jessica, not just another yoga studio, but a third space where her native Colorado community can practice together, grow food, relax, share stories, and become a family.  

This post was co-authored by Jessica Lyn Young and Brett Rezek, owners of Evolve Yoga Denver. Evolve Yoga Denver, located on South Broadway in Denver is an Ashtanga-based yoga studio with Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Rocket, Yin and other regularly scheduled yoga classes.

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Denver’s First and Only Rocket Studio - Evolve Yoga Denver

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Ever wondered, what is Rocket?

Rocket is a condensed form of the traditional Ashtanga series which consist of 90 poses in 90 minutes, a vinyasa between each pose. Recognizing that the modern westerner doesn’t have the time or necessarily the strength to complete the entire 90 minutes of the Ashtanga Primary series, in the 80’s, Larry Schultz created a shorter class which was later dubbed Rocket by Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead because “It gets you there faster.”

Bottle Rocket is an accessible and comfortable class for all levels and is accompanied by music. Traditional Ashtanga practice does not contain music, but rather focuses on the sound of breath. For a student new to Ashtanga, Bottle Rocket is the best way to adjust to the meticulous Ashtanga style in a more modern way. 

Evolve Yoga Denver is the first and only Rocket-based studio in the Denver area. Popularized on the continental coasts, Rocket has yet to find a grand following throughout the country. It is however one of the fastest growing forms of yoga and for good reason. Rocket is intensly cleansing, promotes visible growth in your practice, contains fun and challenging inverted postures and maintains a strong traditional foundation, honoring one of the oldest forms of Indian yoga: Ashtanga.

This post was co-authored by Jessica Lyn Young and Brett Rezek, owners of Evolve Yoga Denver. Evolve Yoga Denver, located on South Broadway in Denver is an Ashtanga-based yoga studio with Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Rocket, Yin and other regularly scheduled yoga classes.

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The Basics of Ashtanga Yoga

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Ashtanga yoga is a meticulous practice popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois as a modern form of traditional Indian yoga. The quintessential power yoga, Ashtanga poses are meant to purify the body and mind by generating a detoxifying, internal heat. With synchronized breath and movement, not only does the mind find a deeper focus, but the muscles strengthen and tone with each posture. The countless vinyasas throughout the series also contributes to the overall fitness aspect of the practice.

Ashtanga flows are a structured class of repeated vinyasas and power poses including several inversions (poses where your head is beneath your heart) and seated positions. The room is not heated, and there are no weights. It's just you, your mat, and the wall for support if need be.

Ashtanga is a get strong fast, cardio type yoga, for people who want a challenge, and are okay with structure and routine. But like any class on the mat, the challenge comes from within. You can just as easily cheat your body and mind out of an incredible, detoxifying and strengthening experience. Ashtanga IS for everyone, but is not for quitters. Is not for the lazy, nor is it a ‘relaxing’ hour of stretches. It is a challenge, it is powerful and it is strength building.

Traditional Ashtangis have high expectations for their practice, but the Ashtanga series patiently teaches perfection and self improvement, starting with the most important part of yoga: the breath. After learning to breathe – something we could all work on – yogic postures become more attainable, maybe even more comfortable. Breathing through vinyasas and subsequent, consistent poses is the perfect metaphor for breathing through life challenges. With breath control, we calm our minds and relax the body: A better position with which to approach any number of challenges.

This post was co-authored by Jessica Lyn Young and Brett Rezek, owners of Evolve Yoga Denver. Evolve Yoga Denver, located on South Broadway in Denver is an Ashtanga-based yoga studio with Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Rocket, Yin and other regularly scheduled yoga classes.

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Unlimited Yoga Teacher Spotlight: Emily Tella

CoAsana Yoga At Sloans Lake

Emily is an up-and-coming yoga instructor in the Denver area. Emily, along with three other teachers co-founded CO Asana Yoga Collective, a group of certified Vinyasa yoga teachers who joined together in pursuit of a common goal: to create a cOMmUNITY where yogis of any stage can practice their art of expression, and to offer a welcoming environment for those looking to try yoga for the first time. They bring innovative and accessible yoga to Denver via donation based classes held throughout the city.

Emily taught YOGA + PLANTS: Saving the Bees - Pollinator Plant Project class with Unlimited Yoga in the Summer of 2017.  Her classes are also frequently included on Unlimited Yoga Denver's page for free & donation-based yoga in the Denver area. 

Here's more about Emily and her teaching practice  >>> 

UY: Where did you do your yoga teacher training, and what drew you to that program?

ET: I completed a 200 hour intensive Yoga Teacher Training program at Kindness under the amazing guidance of Ginny Biddle, Lindsay Gonzalez and Elle Beau. I had been feeling restless in my routine and was desperate to do something more empowering. Kindness became my home studio when I moved to Denver almost three years ago and I knew some friends who loved the YTT program. I met Ginny before one of her classes in the South Broadway studio and asked her a million questions. After class I asked her to put me on the list and resigned from my full time job the next morning. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.

UY: What made you want to become a yoga teacher?

ET: Teaching yoga is the best way to deepen my personal practice. By communicating poses to others, it helps me understand them better myself. Yoga is so special because it’s an incredibly personal practice surrounded by an aggressively supportive community. My goal as a teacher is to showcase those benefits to those who may not be comfortable enough to visit a traditional studio, so my friends and I founded CO Asana Yoga to give ourselves opportunities to practice teaching classes in spaces like schools, apartment buildings and city parks. We began almost a year ago and haven’t stopped since!

UY: What style(s) of yoga do you teach?

ET: Vinyasa and Align & Flow

UY: Where can people find you? 

ET: Sloan’s Lake Yoga classes are every Sunday morning (8:30 & 10 AM) and Wednesday evening (6 PM) through the end of September. Find out more at coasanayoga.com/schedule/

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Unlimited Yoga Teacher Spotlight: Aly Ballow

Aly is an up-and-coming yoga instructor in the Denver area. She teaches regularly at RiNo Yoga Social, and in June 2017, headlined an International Day of Yoga celebration in City Park.  Aly is also studio director for LoDo Massage Studio, and the mom to a gorgeous fur baby Golden Doodle name Bowie. 

Aly taught her famous "Glow From Your Soul" flow at YOGA + PLANTS: All About Lavender class with Unlimited Yoga.

Here's more about Aly and her teaching practice  >>> 

UY: Where did you did your yoga teacher training, and what drew you to that program?

AB: My training was with Kim Zamoff, a Baron Baptiste instructor, based out of Orlando, Florida in a studio called Warrior One. That studio and all the students/instructors in it became my family. I love that this practice brings community together like that. I think that and the overall health/self-love of a committed yoga practice is what drew me in!

UY: What made you want to become a yoga teacher? 

AB: I competed in gymnastics for 13 years of my life in Tallahassee, Florida. When I discovered yoga in my early 20s, I was reintroduced to the love of postures and challenging myself physically/mentally. Once the meditation aspect of yoga was introduced to me, I knew this practice was going to change my life. I felt the urge to share this knowledge/experience with anybody who may be on the same path... looking for something bigger/brighter within themselves. 

UY: What style(s) of yoga do you teach? 

AB: I enjoy teaching power/hot power classes most! Restorative, meditation, partner, and flow classes are a few others I love to teach. Recently diving more into workshop classes spotlighting arm balances and handstands too.

UY: Where can people find you? (for in-person classes and online) 

AB: Check out the calendar at www.rinoyogasocial.com and follow my FaceBook page - Glow from your Soul Yoga for information on my upcoming classes and events.

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