Yoga Teacher Training: Weekend 7

Weekend 7 is done! Only 3 more to go until I’m officially a qualified yoga teacher. This weekend was so fun! We did lots of different things and got a chance to experiment with postures and styles that we wouldn’t have otherwise got to do. It was one of my favourite weekends of the course so far!

Friday

On Friday night, we talked through some of our homework including our personal manifestos – quotes and sayings to inspire us in whatever way we need it. Everyone’s was different but really inspiring. I chose to use some of my favourite quotes and a friend helped me to make them look pretty using my favourite colour – green. We also watched a documentary – Titans of Yoga which was all about inspiring yogis and what their practice means to them. Sadly, we also discussed the rest of the course and I realised how little time we have left. I’ll be really sad when it’s all over!

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Saturday

We started the day with a hot class in the studio – always a challenge but one that I love. It’s also really handy to go over the classic sequence before we practise teaching. After showering and lunch we did an adjustment workshop with some other yoga teachers. This was so useful as we went over all the common postures and ways to adjust and adapt for different people. We started with verbal adjustments, ‘two-finger’ adjustments and went through to more ‘heavy-handed’ adjustments depending on what was needed. After we’d completed the workshop, we worked through an hour class with each of us teaching parts. This also gave us an opportunity to practise using our adjustments. Today was a really useful day!

Sunday

We started the day today with a practise test for our exam and a discussion about the moon, astrology and astronomy and their effect on the world. We wrote things we wanted to let go of and things we wanted to bring to our lives. Then, after lunch, we did the highlight of the weekend…Partner Yoga! This was so fun and challenging. We worked through a series of poses in pairs using each other’s bodies to balance and counterbalance. We created amazing shapes and I surprised myself what we could do. Check out some of the things we did here:

If you ever get the chance to do partner yoga, definitely go for it! After that, we did some more practise teaching but with a difference. Kathy, our teacher, provided us with distractions that we had to deal with whilst teaching – loud music, falling water bottles, blocks and more threatened to distract our teaching but we got through it!

It was such a fun weekend!

April Happiness Project Summary

Another month of 2018 done! This month was pretty successful when it came to my Happiness Project and it was probably my favourite set of resolutions so far. It came at a perfect time as well because I had lots of events this month which involved friends of mine. Just to remind you, my resolutions this month were:

  • Go the extra mile 
  • Be happy for others
  • Make plans and stick to them 
  • Treat others 
  • Be positive 

I can honestly say I made a real effort towards these this month and really felt it pay off. I attended my best friend’s wedding and had an amazing time helping to make their day go smoothly! I made plans with lots of people and stuck to them – even friends I hadn’t seen in ages – for example I went to visit my friend’s gorgeous new baby girl! I tried to treat others where I could – lunch, drinks, even just time. I also worked on my positivity and tried to be more uplifting!

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I’d like to think people noticed but who knows…? I’ve felt better for it so these are resolutions to keep up. Stay tuned for May’s resolutions…

Yoga Teacher Training: Weekend 6

This weekend has been the most physically challenging of the entire course so far! Saying that though, I really enjoyed it. Honestly, one of the best parts of the YTT course for me is the incredible women I get to share it with. We have such a laugh and they’re all so supportive!

The focus for the weekend was Vinyasa Yoga and it was one of my favourites so far. It got me super excited to start designing my own sequences and classes! I’m planning to complete a more in depth training weekend about Vinyasa Yoga later in the year but this weekend was a great introduction. There was no Friday session which gave me time to go over the Sun Salutations and other dialogue at home.

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Saturday

We started Saturday morning with a Funky Vinyasa Flow which was really fun. It was very hot, very sweaty but a really good way to move around the mat. It was a pretty typical Vinyasa class which I always enjoy (I often do Cat Meffan’s classes on YouTube). Then it was time for showers and lunch! We’d certainly earned it. After lunch we went back into the studio for a mini version of Vinyasa training. We covered Sun Salutations, sequencing and then sequenced some classes of our own and taught them to each other. This was really fun and I’d definitely like to do more Vinyasa training in the future!

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Sunday

Today was a hardcore day! We started with a lecture about the chakras before heading to the studio for an epic 2.5 hour hot class of 108 asanas! This was a super hard class going through the Bikram sequence as well as other postures – headstands, handstands, crow, side crow amongst others. At one point, I wasn’t sure I would make it through the class but I did it! Afterwards, we did our final section of the hot sequence teaching practise. From this point, we will be going through the entire sequence!

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I would say this weekend has been the hardest, physically, but also one of the best so far! Only 4 more weekends to go until I’m officially a Yoga Teacher!

Hot Yoga in NYC

Last week, I visited New York City! It was such an amazing trip and I had the best time. While we were there, I had to try some hot yoga! I googled some studios before we left and decided upon ‘YogaSpark’  because it looked cool and was really close to my hotel.

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I went on the last morning of our trip but wish I’d gone earlier so that I could have taken advantage of their ‘newbie’ offer which was $45 for a week of classes. I paid $34 for one class so that would have been a great deal. From the moment I arrived, all the staff were helpful and friendly. The best thing about the studio for me was that everything was included – mat, towels, props, toiletries, everything! I hadn’t brought my yoga mat or hot yoga towel with me on holiday so having everything there provided was really helpful.

The studio itself was clean, light and spacious. The changing rooms had loads of free amenities – deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, moisturiser, hairbands, feminine hygiene products, dry shampoo – literally everything you could need and it was  very clean and inviting. Upstairs, the studio is huge and super cool – soft padded flooring, UV lights, sound system and red and white colour scheme. The equipment was also top of the range – Manduka mats!

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In the class I did, there was only around 10 people which was great as there was plenty of space so I didn’t feel like we were on top of each other. The class itself was called ‘Superspark’ and was described as a mix of their other classes – hot flow, with the blacklights on and a more restorative section at the end. I found the class challenging and super sweaty – I loved the UV lighting and the music was well chosen and motivating. I don’t usually do yoga to music so it made a nice change for me. The teacher had a headset so it was easy to follow her dialogue and she also demonstrated when needed. I liked her style and would have liked to do more classes with her! At the end of the class, she came round and put a cold tea tree towel on my head which was so lovely after such an intense, sweaty class!

Overall, I had an amazing experience at YogaSpark and would definitely recommend the studio to anyone looking for hot yoga in NYC. The one I visited is in Tribeca (downtown in Manhattan). If anyone is going to New York and has any questions or wants tips, just drop me a message!

Happiness Project: April Resolutions

Here we are… April! Month four of my Happiness Project and a set of resolutions I’m very excited about. This month, it’s not all about me! This month’s resolutions are all based around ‘Friendship.’ Spring is (hopefully) on its way so alongside my 30 days to simplify your life challenge that I started in March (see here for more details), I’m focusing all my attention on my friendships – old, new, see all the time, see once a year and everything in between! Below are the 5 things I’m going to focus on:

  • Go the extra mile – I’m always up for helping out; if you need me, I’ll be there but this month I’m going to try and go the ‘extra mile’ for people when they need it most. I’m not entirely sure how that will manifest itself yet but we’ll see!
  • Be happy for others – sounds a strange one but I’m going to try to show how happy I am for others when something great happens for them rather than make a joke (my usual style when confronted with positive emotions ha)!
  • Make plans and stick to them – I’m often guilty of making plans then when it gets to it, preferring to stay at home and chill. This month, I’m going to make plans with friends and stick to them! I already have some lined up 🙂
  • Treat others – making drinks, helping out, taking them out – treating friends just because…
  • Be positive – making myself nicer and more uplifting to be around by being more positive and upbeat – especially at work when things get crazy!

So that’s it for this month, hopefully things will be more successful than last month but I’m still working on those ones too. As always, I’ll be back at the end of the month to check in with how things went!

March Happiness Project Summary

Three months done – so already we are a quarter of the way through the year. Scary! The focus for March was productivity (read my initial post on this here) and I must say, I haven’t been as ‘on it’ as I would have liked. However, it has been a crazy busy time so I won’t beat myself up over it too much. Below are my reflections on each of my resolutions  – good and bad!

 

Change up my morning routine – I actually haven’t really done this except on weekends. In hindsight, I should have timed this better to coincide with the change in seasons. A new morning routine will be better once the clocks have changed and it’s lighter in the mornings. This March has been snowy, cold, dark and generally miserable. This means it’s been a time to stay in bed! I’m rolling this resolution over to April when it will (hopefully) be lighter, brighter and warmer!

Read a productivity book – I read a productivity book (No Excuses by Brian Tracy) in February for my book club so I focused on implementing some of the advice this month. This has meant that I focused on single tasking rather than multitasking, goal setting and just getting stuff done. Regular goal setting and reflection is really useful as it keeps you on track; especially when everything is so busy. I’m now focusing on reading a yoga related book each month for self  study and also a fiction book as I love reading so need to make time for it!

Stop wasting time – Mainly on my phone! I downloaded an app which blocks your phone for an allotted time which I’ve used and have found very helpful. I want to take this a step further and leave my phone in another room while I’m working on something or watching TV as (linking back to the fact that multitasking is a myth) I cannot concentrate properly on two things at once!

Work on my goals daily – I’ve mostly managed this even though on some days my action has been tiny. I’ve been studying for my yoga course, teaching yoga, blogging, reading, listening to podcasts – all to help me move closer to reaching my goals for the year. I’m going to sit down and reflect on what I’ve done and what I’ve yet to do on my goals now that we are a quarter of the way through the year as I can reset my intentions. Daily goal work is important so I’m definitely going to continue with this!

10 minute bursts – When I’m short on time, I’ve tried setting a 10 minute timer and just working solidly on something for those 10 minutes without distraction. It’s amazing what you can get done in 10 minutes if you get on with it. I will be definitely using this strategy going forward as it’s such a short amount of time but super effective if you make the time. I’ve used this for cleaning up the house, writing a blog, studying my yoga notes, reading – all sorts. There’s always 10 minutes to be found in a day. 10 minutes a day over a month is 5 hours of productivity!

Have I felt happier this month? Being and feeling productive always makes me feel happier so in those moments, definitely. I’ve not been as productive as I would have liked but I have set up useful habits which I will use going forwards. Stay tuned for April’s resolutions!

Yoga Teacher Training Week 5

Here we are at the halfway point of my Yoga Teacher Training journey! I can’t believe how quickly it’s going and how much I have learnt. Since my last weekend, I’ve taught a couple of classes and had smaller more private classes which has been amazing for practising my dialogue and cues. This weekend was all about breaking down different aspects of yoga – we’ve looked at principles of alignment, chakras, mudras, teaching people of different ages and more!

Friday

We started Friday night with a ‘lecture’ based lesson with an introduction to Anusara Yoga and the Chakras. We also talked briefly about some principles of alignment and how you are not ‘hanging out’ in any postures but that every part of your body should be active. We also discussed all of the home study we’ve been doing and had our first ‘test’ in preparation for our final exam. Despite this blog being a journal of sorts for me, I’ve kind of let my written journal slip recently so when I got home, I sat and reflected about what we had talked about. I’m not sure I buy into the Chakra system 100% but it’s amazing how something so ancient, links so closely to the body systems we understand today.

Saturday

We began the day with a Hot Yoga class which, as always, was mega hot, sweaty and a proper workout! After lunch, we began with talking about alignment principles and specifically internal and external rotation within different postures. We did a lot of physical practise in order to get to know our own bodies. You must know your own body – it’s strengths and limitations – in order to help others. We did a lot of posture breakdowns looking at every part of the body within the posture and where it should be and whether it should be internally or externally rotated.

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Once we were really warmed up we did arm balance work looking at crane, crow, baby crow and side crow – I still have ‘the fear’ about these so it’s very much a work in progress for me! We looked a lot about rounding your back, pointing your toes and ‘pushing your kidneys out’ to help get lift in these postures. I picked up some really useful pointers which I will definitely be practising at home! We also did an inversions workshop starting with drills to warm up shoulders and core then straight into headstands and handstands. I’ve been working on my headstands so it was useful to get some more tips on this and I even did my first (assisted) handstand!

Finally, before we went home, we practised teaching in groups ahead of teaching tomorrow! Full on day!

Sunday

I was so tired and achey today! We started the morning in the conference room with part 2 of our practise tests! This just served to remind me how much I need to go over my notes! Then we talked a lot about chakras, mudras and mantras. All a bit ‘out there’ for me but it was interesting nonetheless. We did some chanting, discussed the meaning of each chakra and some of the mudras and even went deep with our chats! Then we had time for lunch. After lunch, it was time for practice teaching. We taught our group a series of postures then got feedback. The feedback is always very useful – this week I was told I have good highs and lows to my voice to move the class along but at points can come across as a bit forceful…Oops! I also need to work on remembering all the important cues in each posture but that will come with time and practise.

After that, it was time for our afternoon workshop: backbends. We did a lot of warm up activities working our way up to fall backs and full wheel. The way it was done meant that we built up gradually causing no stress to our backs. The lift from our chests meant that we could come down deeper. I managed a fall back down the wall and full wheel with a lifted leg! Super proud. We also did some really cool partner work moves and looked at Savasana (my favourite)!

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I really enjoyed this weekend and it’s made me more excited to work on my own practise! We have a couple of weeks off before the next module which should give me plenty of time to work on all the things I need to!

Book Review: The Yoga Mentor

For Christmas, I got a load of Yoga books and I’m slowly working my way through them. The first one I’ve finished is The Yoga Mentor by Celest Pereira. Celest is a yoga teacher who not only teaches classes across the world, she also runs workshops, retreats and has online content too. This book is her guide for new yoga teachers to help them get started and help with some of the challenges of a new teacher. This book really appealed to me because obviously I will be starting to teach soon and wanted a bit of a manual I could read to help me along the way.

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The thing I love most about this book is the way it is set out and the style of it. There are 6 main sections which delve into everything from finding clients and places to teach, keeping clients, managing social media to the financial side of things and also keeping yourself motivated and healthy. The advice is very practical so it’s all stuff I could go out and actually do.  Best of all, it’s written in a friendly and chatty style so it is a really easy read – there’s no jargon or bits that are difficult to understand.

I found myself marking pages, making notes and tagging bits to come back to when the advice would be needed again once I start teaching. I would 100% recommend this book to both yoga teachers in training and new teachers who would like the guidance of someone more experienced. I have since reached out to Celest on social media and happily, she has responded which is lovely. At the end of the book are also interviews with other yoga teachers such as Rachel Brathen (Yoga Girl) and Lesley Fightmaster which are really interesting to read for a different perspective. I also have the Yoga Girl book which I’ll review for the blog in the future!

Let me know if you’ve read this book and what you thought and I’m always looking for new recommendations so please pass those along to me too!

My Top Podcasts

Recently, I’ve gotten really into podcasts! I listen to them whilst winding down for bed, whilst driving or when cooking/cleaning. When I mention podcasts to people, they often ask me which ones I listen to so I thought I’d collate a list of my favourites. Some are currently being updated each week and others have finished but are still available to listen to. I’ve grouped them into categories so you can choose based on what you’re interested in!

Yoga Podcasts

From the Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl – Rachel Brathen aka Yoga Girl on Instagram is a hugely well-known yoga influencer. Her podcast, From the Heart, discusses not just yoga but also loads of other things such as her views on current events, spirituality, her journey into veganism, her life as a new mum etc. Rachel is very honest as she speaks and her blunt style is what I love most about listening to her.

Namaslay with Yoga by Candace – Candace Moore is another ‘Insta Yogi’ who also runs a YouTube channel and retreats. Her podcast has just finished season 1 with the second one coming up soon. The episodes range from everyday lifestyle themed such as how to eat well whilst travelling to ones aimed more at yoga teachers and entrepreneurs. I enjoyed hearing Candace’s views on things and she also shares some really great advice.

The Mentor Sessions: Support and Strategy for Yoga Teachers – This is one of my new favourite podcasts since starting my yoga teacher training. This is obviously aimed at yoga teachers and Francesca Cervero, the host, discusses topics like encouraging your students’ home practice, getting private clients, how to teach certain things, anatomy studies etc. I’ve found it really useful as a trainee teacher as the advice and information is very practical. She also has a Facebook group for yoga teachers to share advice and ideas.

Health and Fitness Podcasts

Fit and Fearless – This podcast is hosted by the ‘Girl Gains’ Tally, Zanna and Vic. They’ve just wrapped up season 1 but are hoping for a season 2 soon! They have discussed topics such as cardio, pre and post natal fitness, eating disorders and weight training. Their advice, as personal trainers, is excellent and the discussions and interviews within the podcast are not only interesting but also inspiring. This is one of my favourite podcasts at the moment.

The Doctor’s Kitchen – The episodes for this have stopped updating for now but the ones that are still there are so good I had to include it. The podcast was launched along with the book The Doctor’s Kitchen and each episode outlines a principle for each well discussing things like eating fibre, eating colourful and eating more plants. I found the information extremely useful and well-informed.

Other

Happy Place – This is Fearne Cotton’s new podcast where each week she interviews a different celebrity to find out about their ‘happy place’ and what makes them tick. So far I’ve listened to her interview Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black, Dawn French and also Paloma Faith. Each interview has been really interesting and Fearne has a lovely interview style which is nicely informal whilst still asking all the questions you’d want to ask.

Serial – I don’t know many people who haven’t been hooked listening to Serial. It’s the true story of a young man who was found guilty of murdering his girlfriend when they were in high school in Baltimore, USA. Each episode delves deeper into the story analysing witness testimony, interviews with the defendant and much more. You are left wondering who to believe but every episode is gripping!

My Dad Wrote a Porno – Warning, do not listen to this podcast in public as you will laugh out loud inappropriately. Jamie’s Dad wrote a porno (erotic literature as he calls it) and each episode is Jamie and his mates James and Alice (from BBC Radio 1) reading a chapter and commentating on it. I’m not sure which is more funny – the book and it’s cringy and disgusting contents or their comments on it. Either way it is laugh out loud hilarious and I love it.

If you have any favourite podcasts, comment below to recommend them as I’m always looking for new ones particularly as a lot of the ones above I’ve listened to all of! If you do check out any of my suggestions, let me know what you think!

I did a Posture Clinic…

I practise the Absolute Hot Sequence, on average, twice a week and it forms the basis of my final practical teaching class as part of my Yoga Teacher Training. Last weekend, I attended a Posture Clinic at Sweat Studios, where my YTT takes place, to delve deeper into some of the postures and learn even more!

The Posture Clinic is a 2 hour workshop which is put on 4 times a year. Over the course of the year, every posture in the sequence is covered. There were 2 instructors and only around 18 in the class which meant plenty of individual attention. Some of the postures covered this time were: plank, floor bow and eagle but we covered around 10 including variations overall.

 

The teachers gave modifications and used all the different props (straps, bricks and blocks) to get us into the posture and ensure the correct alignment. This was really useful as it gave us specific prompts to come back to in our own practice. Once we’d been shown different ways to get into a posture and the specific alignment cues needed, we were given time to put these into practice. We worked with a partner to check each other’s alignment and assist. This was really useful because it allowed me to have another pair of eyes that could see my body in a different way.

If you get the opportunity and want to deepen your practice safely, I would definitely recommend a posture clinic. The workshop style really suits me as it allowed me to ask questions. If you have any questions about the posture clinic or yoga in general, get in touch and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction!