10 Universal Reasons to Take a Yoga Teacher Training – by Sarah Ezrin

One of the more common questions I get at information sessions for trainings is “what if I don’t want to teach?”

Believe it or not, about half the people who take trainings don’t actually want to teach! Some of you may be thinking, then why take a teacher training versus attending workshops or regular group classes?

At YogaWorks we’re famous for saying (and proving) that yoga teacher trainings transform people’s lives whether or not you ultimately teach yoga.

Here are ten universal benefits to taking a yoga training:

  1. Understand the poses more deeply– This is probably the most obvious of the benefits. Workshop style practices, detailed alignment, and in-depth anatomy lessons help practitioners to develop greater comprehension of the postures.
  2. Understand yourself more deeply- Through the work both on and off the mat, trainees look at their habits (samskaras) and tendencies and learn how to make shifts toward healthy patterns and improved self-care.
  3. Learn the whole yoga picture– Though the word yoga has become synonymous with the physical aspect of the practice, asana (posture) is a sliver of the whole picture. In training you will learn how to live your yoga, as well as different types of pranayama (working with energy through the breath) and meditation.
  4. Make lifelong friends- My best friend and I met in a teacher training. Taking an inward journey together profoundly bonds people. Sometimes family or co-workers don’t quite get the “whole yoga thing”. In trainings you’re surrounded by like-minded people who love and respect the practice as much as you.
  5. Back to school element- There is something fun about going back to school as an adult. In trainings we are not only learning poses, we also study anatomy. There are philosophy nights where yogic texts are discussed in a forum setting. Learning is like mental yoga for the brain and an active brain is a healthy brain.
  6. Learn how to communicate- Trainings teach people to communicate clearly. Regardless if you want to apply that knowledge to leading a class, running a business meeting, or talking to your husband, you will learn to speak effectively and with precision.
  7. Accomplishment- Projects provide a sense of purpose, especially when you finish them. Setting a goal and reaching it is good for self worth as it facilitates spiritual fulfillment.
  8. Doing something for yourself- When was the last time you did something special for yourself? Many of us are so busy taking care of other people that we do not take the time to care for ourselves. Unless our tank is full, we have nothing to give.
  9. You May Want to Teach After All– Teaching is fun and rewarding! It is not unusual for people to set out not intending to teach and then catching the bug while in training. Being a yoga teacher is a marketable skill and while you may not end up teaching full time, perhaps you will continue to teach friends and family.
  10. Do what you love- Clearly you love yoga or you wouldn’t be reading this article! Why not spend 200 hours fully immersed in what you love!

Sarah will be leading two 200 Hour Teacher Trainings toward the end of this year:

Beirut, Lebanon- August 4th-August 29th: One-Month Intensive Format; Breathe the Yoga Studio

Los Angeles with Jeanne HeilemanSeptember 5th-November 23rd: 3-Month Format; YogaWorks, Larchmont Village

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IMG_0731Sarah Ezrin, E-RYT-500, is an energetic and humorous yoga teacher, writer, and YogaWorks teacher trainer based in Los Angeles. With a profound love of travel, Sarah runs around the globe leading trainings, workshops and retreats. For Sarah, yoga is not about the tricks or the postures; it is about finding one’s center amidst the challenges and chaos of the world. She believes that life is short and that it should be spent laughing, with the people and animals we love, and doing the things we most enjoy, like yoga! For more information on Sarah please visit her website or connect with her on Facebook.

Love Your Feet! – by Melissa Bourgeois

I’m a planner. Going on vacation? I’m happy to research the destination, compare flights, explore accommodations, find enticing places to eat, and map out a series of activities. Me and Excel? We’re good friends.

One night a few years ago, I was in the throes of planning a trip to Chile, stayed up too late and got cranky. Side note: I only admitted to the crankiness in hindsight. During the cranky period, I would have sternly said, “I’m fine!” Working toward enlightenment is a life long process, so I take solace in the fact that I have more time to observe my patterns! In any case, I said to my sweetheart, “Ugh. You need to HELP with this!” He said, “Happy to. And what would you do if I suggested where we stay during our trip?” I paused and begrudgingly replied, “I would plan the whole thing over again.”

All this is to say that I also plan the yoga classes that I teach. I always have a written sequence of poses with me, even though I rarely look at it during class. I make sure to bring awareness to the particular body parts needed for the more advanced poses. Working toward Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Facing Bow Pose)? We’ll open the shoulders, engage the abdominals, lengthen the sides of the waist, and so on.

Recently, in one such planned class focusing on backbends (including Urdhva Dhanurasana), we moved into shoulderstand as we were winding down. I walked over to dim the lights and surveyed the group to make sure everyone was approaching the posture safely. I saw something that I did not expect: tears. A student was crying while in shoulderstand. Although I know from both my personal practice and from teaching that emotions often surface, I was surprised that it happened during shoulderstand. I gave the student plenty of space to work through her experience, continued as usual and moved into savasana.

After class, she lagged behind as everyone else filtered out. We had a habit of chatting after class, and I wondered if she’d bring up her shoulderstand experience.

During our conversation she said, “Melissa, I was looking up at my toes during shoulderstand, and I thought ‘I love my feet!’ I felt strong and I thought, ‘Look at my feet up there! I love them!’

She went on to say that she had a history of eating disorders and body image issues, and this was the first time in years that she felt like she loved a part of her body. Her feet! She said she had never cried in a class before, but she felt overwhelmed by emotion and it surprised her.

I could never have predicted or planned for this. It had so much to do with the student’s personal experience, and much less to do with my planned sequence of poses. As a yoga teacher, I am lucky enough to provide a structure and offer space for people to experience emotion and discover new parts of themselves. That’s one reason why teaching and practicing yoga is so vibrant, so dynamic. It’s humbling to witness people putting themselves out there, both physically and emotionally. Moving through the postures in a room with other people requires bravery and vulnerability; it can be just as much an emotional process as a physical one. Everybody (and every body) has his or her story, and each student turns the page at his or her own pace. Once in a while, as a teacher, I get to see the page turn and it’s very, very special.

This was yet another helpful reminder that there is only so much you can plan in life. When you’re open to what comes, you can experience it fully, in this moment – the one happening right now. To quote guru John Lennon: “Before you cross the street, take my hand. Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

So please. Right now, in THIS moment, love your feet! Take time to experience what is happening without a written sequence or organized plan. You will likely discover something new, and that is where the real growth happens.

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Melissa teaches with a full heart and a generous dose of humor. Yoga helps her slow down, gain perspective, and find calm in hectic NYC, and she loves helping others do the same. She completed her 500-RYT certification through YogaWorks NYC under the mentorship of Chrissy Carter, and has pursued additional training in prenatal yoga with Carrie Parker, restorative yoga with Jillian Pransky and kids yoga with Asana Alphabet . She also studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and is a certified Health and Lifestyle Coach. She’s currently embarking on her newest yogic journey: being a new mom. Check out more at melissabwellness.com.

 

 

Two Trees Grow in Brooklyn – by Elizabeth Neuse Flint

Aborigines call the placenta the “Tree of Life”. They say that if you bury it in the ground and plant a tree over it, your child will be a well-behaved teenager. We’ll have to wait about 13 years to see if this is true.

My son, Griffin was born 18 months ago at home, in our rental apartment in Brooklyn. My husband, Nick, really wanted to plant a tree to commemorate his birth. We don’t have a backyard so we decided to plant it in a square of dirt between sidewalk slabs on our street that had been barren for the past 4 years. My dad and Nick purchased a cherry blossom sapling and enlisted the help or our nosy, chain-smoking neighbor to plant the tree (and the placenta) in this patch of land. We didn’t get permission from the City. Considering the magnitude of issues the City of New York deals with daily we thought they wouldn’t mind. We were wrong.

About four weeks after the tree moved into it’s new home, I found it uprooted and flung against the side of our nosy neighbor’s building. It felt like my heart had been ripped out. I ran upstairs crying. “See, this is the kind of thing that only happens in this city!” I sobbed to Nick. “Let’s move to the country where we can plant as many trees as we want!” He hugged me until I stopped crying and then went downstairs to investigate.

He found out that our neighbor saved the tree from the city workers who pulled it out. They said its branches were too low and therefore dangerous to pedestrians. You know what is dangerous to pedestrians? Walking into on-coming traffic with headphones on while texting, but they do that everyday!

Nick pointed out that at least they planted something there- a different kind of tree with higher branches- in a spot that had been a receptacle for cigarette butts. He placed the cherry blossom in a pot and brought it into the breezeway of our building. Then he visited the Parks Office a few blocks from our home. They agreed to plant the sapling in the park for us. Although the tree didn’t bloom the first year, Nick carried a gallon jug of water in the stroller every few days and soaked the ground around it. Our neighbor smoked cigarettes and watered the City’s tree daily with a hose from his garage.

This year when spring finally sprung we witnessed the gorgeous pink blossoms blooming on Griffin’s little tree in the park. My heart cracked open. I could see the perfection of life unfolding in a situation I had once seen as cause for suffering. There was the tree copykindness of my father, our neighbor and the parks department workers, my baby’s father taking wonderful care of a living thing out of the love he feels for our child. And we ended up with not one, but two trees for Griffin.

The Yoga Sutras offer the practice of Pratipaksha Bhavanam, flipping the meaning of something as a way out of suffering. It took me 18 months, but when I was finally able to do this I felt like I had been freed from my self-imposed sense of separation. If I step back even further I can see that all the trees in the park are there for every one of us to enjoy. We no more own a tree than we own our child. We are simply the caretakers for a little while of a few living creatures in this vibrant ecosystem. And finally, my original thought was actually true. This IS something that would only happen in New York.

Namaste,

EJ
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For 13 years Elizabeth has practiced and taught yoga and meditation around the globe. She is a Senior Teacher and Teacher Trainer at YogaWorks in New York. Elizabeth is also a writer, life coach and mother. She sees life itself as our greatest teacher, especially in New York City. Visit her website at www.ejneuse.com.

Day 15 – Approach Today’s Class with a New Perspective

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Let’s start this week off strong with today’s class, A Little Bit of Everything! For a level 1 class, try Fit Beginners #2

This class uses blocks and a strap. If you do not have blocks, use books, and substitute a soft belt for a strap.

Your journaling focus this week is to begin each class as if you have never done yoga before. The ‘I can’t,’ ‘I’m scared,’ ‘I’m too tight,’ ‘I’m too weak,’ throw them out the window and approach every pose as if you are brand new and without any expectations about your yoga practice. Write down what happened in those moments and at the end of this week, we will look back at those reflections.

This weeks nutrition post from Joanna McCracken, is still focused on the theme of crowding out. In addition to adding greens and whole grains to your diet, try adding in more healthy, lean proteins. Find out how Joanna recommends you do this and get all of her great recipes on the BLOG.

Hopefully by now you have already joined the discussion on the Facebook Group, but if you haven’t, it’s not too late, you can still join in and share your own experience.

Tomorrow your class is 30-minute Strength & Stretch.

Show gratitude to yourself and others.

Alexandria Crow

Spring Challenge – Nutrition – Week 3

Now that you’re halfway done with the challenge, I invite you to take a moment to reflect on how you’re feeling after eating greens and whole grains every day. How’s your energy? What about your mood? Have your cravings shifted? Any other positive changes to take note of? It’s amazing the difference you can feel in just two weeks with such simple additions to your diet.

For those of you who missed week one and/or week two, no worries! You can start at any time. Set your own start date for the challenge, read along on the blog, and reap the benefits of taking care of your body, mind and spirit.

And now for week 3… IMG_1541 WEEK THREE: Protein Power

Oh how easy it would be if there was one way of eating that was the “right” way. Instead, we’re all different and thus have different dietary needs. For example, eating meat might make one person sick, whereas another might thrive with a little bit in their diet.

That said, the typical western diet tends to involve way too much meat; we are a culture obsessed with protein, and when people think of protein they often think of it’s animal based forms (meat, chicken, eggs, fish, dairy). Consequentially, super healthy and protein-rich plant-based foods such as whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts and soy often go ignored.

This week, we’re turning our attention to beans in particular. High in iron, B vitamins, calcium and fiber, beans are an incredibly nutritious, versatile and inexpensive way to add plant-based protein into your diet.

How to Eat Them

  • Explore. There are so many types of beans to try such as lentils, adzuki, cannellini, black, chickpeas, great northern, lima, kidney, pinto, navy, mung, cranberry, black-eyed peas, split peas, fava and anasazi. Each has a unique flavor, size and use.
  • Digestibility. If you aren’t used to eating beans or have trouble digesting them, start with smaller varieties such as lentils, mung and adzuki beans. To enhance the digestibility of beans, soak overnight and cook with spices, vinegar, and/or a strip of kombu.
  • Cook Extra. Cooking beans can be time consuming. Doubling the amount you make and keeping the leftovers will save you tons of time at future meals. Leftovers stay good in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for a few months.
  • Can It. If you simply don’t have time to cook beans, buy canned. Look for BPA-free cans, and be sure to drain and rinse the beans before consuming them.
  • Use them in… soups, chili, dips, hummus, side dishes, salads, or as a base for veggie tacos!

Week Three Challenge

  1. Incorporate beans into your daily routine.
  2. Try one type you’ve never had before.
  3. Continue to eat greens and grains every day.
  4. Be sure to drink plenty of water! The daily recommendation is half your body weight in ounces.

A Note on Meat…

If/when you eat meat, do so in moderation and focus on quality! Here are some tips:

  • One portion of meat is 3 oz and will fit in the palm of your hand
  • Make sure your plate is filled at least 3/4 of the way with a variety of plant-based food. The remaining 1/4 can be meat.
  • Focus on organic, grass-fed, pasture raised, antibiotic & hormone-free, cage-free. If you can, find out exactly where your meat is coming from so you can be sure the animal was treated well and therefore healthy. Not only will you be supporting animal rights, but you’ll actually get more nutrients from a healthy animal than an unhealthy one.

Enjoy!

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Joanna McCracken photo by fluid frame 
Joanna McCracken is a health coach, writer, recipe developer, and 500-hour certified yoga teacher.  Her goal is to educate and assist people throughout their unique journey to better health, and to make that journey fun and delicious! Visit Joanna’s blog, Pepper My Salt, or follow her on Facebook.

Day 14 – Replenish Yourself With Restorative Yoga

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Can you believe the Challenge is already half over? You are doing great and I hope you are feeling great as well.  Today your class is Relax & Restore. Remember, if you don’t have a bolster, use a stack of blankets or a stiff pillow (one from your couch will work well). If you don’t have blocks use thick books. If you don’t have a strap, use a soft belt from your robe or an old tie (if you want to really feel like a yogi, order a set of real yoga props here.

If you’ve never done a “restorative” yoga practice before, you are in for a treat.  And a challenge if it’s hard for you to just relax and be still!  Restorative yoga is designed to calm your nervous system and replenish your whole being.  If you know you struggle with stillness, consider taking a run or a brisk walk before doing this practice and set yourself up for success by setting up your yoga mat and “props” in a quiet place beforehand. Tip: this is a great practice to do right before bed to help you slip into a deep and restful sleep.

Once you complete today’s practice, quietly review your entries from the week and look for patterns.  Within those patterns look to see if they reflect patterns in your day-to-day life.  Did you often quit before trying a pose? Does that correlate to your daily life, quitting before trying something new because you think you will fail.  Or maybe you are scared of a pose and so instead of trying it you take child’s pose, and in your real life you duck and cover or avoid instead of facing things head on.  Do you push into the final expression of the pose even when you’re not physically ready to because you want to do it perfectly? maybe you’re a perfectionist in other areas as well.

If you notice something new and potentially uncomfortable about yourself, experiment with just being with your observation without judgement.  It’s all just part of being human.

Tomorrow your class is 45-Minute A Little Bit of Everything.

Namaste.

Alexandria Crow

Day 13 – Take Today Off, You Deserve It!

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Today is your REST day! If you’ve kept up with the yoga portion of the challenge, you earned this rest day! But now is a great opportunity to spend more time on the parts of this challenge you may have been neglecting. Have you been journaling? If not, start today, give yourself 15 minutes to write about your experience over the last 5 days.

Tomorrow, your class is 25-Minute Relax & Restore, you can prepare by making sure you have a bolster or a stack of blankets or stiff pillow, a yoga block or thick book, and a soft belt ready to go.

Namaste.

Alexandria Crow