Badass Yoga Teachers: Online Resources You Don't Want to Miss

Happy Monday, yogis!

So far in the Badass Yoga Teachers series, we've talked about some great topics:
The more I write this series, the more I've realized: there are endless topics for yoga teachers to explore!

Today, I'd like to refer you to a wonderful list of websites that I've used for support in my professional and personal development.

Whether you're new or experienced, feeling eager or feeling stuck, these sites have some incredible wisdom to offer. Happy reading!

Websites Every Yoga Teacher Should Check Out

  • I love Allie's heartfelt writing. Her site is a wonderful resource for finding creative sequences to incorporate into your own home practice. I appreciate that she offers short yoga routines, and as a teacher sometimes a 10-minute or 30-minute video is the perfect pick-me-up for during your busy day!
  • She's also got a great post on how to create a blog, if you're a teacher hoping to share your story more.

What are your favorite websites for yoga teacher resources? I'd love to hear! XO

Badass Yoga Teachers: Things to Consider Before Accepting a Teaching Gig

Next up in the Badass Yoga Teachers series, a post on what to do once you've completed your yoga teacher training and you're starting to look for teaching gigs.

What do you need to look for in a studio? How will you know if it's a good fit?

While at first you may want to say 'yes' to every teaching opportunity that comes along, I believe it's important to find a balance between accepting offers to gain experience and accepting offers that will create long-term growth in your teaching career.

Here are 5 things to consider before accepting your next yoga teaching gig.

1. What's the vibe of the yoga studio, and how does it align with my teaching style? 

Consider practicing at a studio before teaching there (sometimes this is required; the owner and current teachers want to get to know you a little bit before they bring you on board to teach). Whenever you're in the space, notice: how do you feel? What sorts of conversations do you have? 

What energy do the people at the yoga studio bring to the space? Do you feel comfortable and at ease? 

See if you can step back and sense the bigger picture of what's going on with the space. What changes are happening? Is there drama? If you're familiar with someone already on the team, consider having coffee or lunch to chat about what it's like working at that studio. 

How will your unique voice fit in to the mix? Does the studio seem to be wanting a class that's in the style you teach, or would there be an expectation that you'll shift your style toward whatever is consistent in the space?

Taking notes and doing some free writing around these topics can often bring clarity. Consider finishing these sentences:

I see myself teaching here and feeling...
My goal for teaching here would be to...
This studio needs me because...

2. What leadership style does the studio owner have, and what is his or her vision for the studio? 

Studio owners have a big impact on the way a yoga studio runs. Notice if the owner of the space where you are thinking about teaching is present or distant. Does he or she hold regular meetings with staff? One-on-one meetings for feedback on classes?

What's going on in this studio owner's personal life and professional life? What goals does he or she have for the studio? How would you fit into the mix?

Does this studio hire teachers as independent contractors or as employees?

If possible, you may want to ask other teachers about their experience working for this studio owner. Have they had any issues or seen any problems arise with staff? How does the studio owner keep the teachers motivated and supported? What sort of a work environment do they create?

Keep in mind that some of these things may be a little uncomfortable to consider, but they will give you great perspective on whether or not this teaching gig is a good fit. Also keep in mind you're totally allowed and encouraged to ask questions such as:

  • How often will I get paid? 
  • Has payment to teachers ever been late?
  • How much will I get paid? Is my rate of pay based on class attendance, or is it a flat rate?
  • Am I expected to practice a certain number of times per week at the studio?
  • Will I be paid for time spent in staff meetings?
  • What are the expectations of me as a teacher with regards to arriving at the space before class, cleaning up after class, recording my time, and submitting my hours for payroll?
  • What tax documents, contracts, HR agreements, etc will I need to sign before I'm hired?
  • What is the procedure for schedule changes at this studio? If a class I'm teaching is going to change on the schedule, or be removed from it, how soon will I be notified before this change takes place?
  • How will my performance as a staff member and as a teacher be measured? Is there an expectation on how many students will be attending my classes?
  • Is there opportunity for me to grow the number of classes I'm teaching, or offer additional workshops as time goes along, or is this opportunity limited to the class(es) you're offering now?
These are tough questions but will definitely give you a realistic sense of the practicalities of teaching at a studio!!

3. Does the rate of pay align with my needs?

Teaching yoga doesn't always pay well. Before you say 'yes' to a class, consider if the rate of pay meets your needs. How much will you need to spend on gas to get to the studio? How much time will you need to spend at the studio before and after class, and when you do the math, how does that factor in with your rate of pay? 

Will there be opportunities to teach back-to-back classes? Workshops? Do teachers ever get wage increases?

Another note on pay: if you are accepting a gig that is unpaid, will you do me a favor? Please please please set some specific, clear goals about what you want to get out of your unpaid teaching gig. Write them down! Talk to a friend about them! Be accountable for meeting these goals. Whether you're looking to offer something to your community or to gain personal experience that will prepare you for future teaching gigs, be sure you're clear on why you're teaching for free. Because teachers are willing to teach for free, this impacts the economy of the yoga market, and can make it harder for 'full-time' teachers to secure wages that equate to enough income to survive. I totally understand that sometimes we must take unpaid opportunities as we launch into teaching yoga, but be sure to consider what you're worth. Your teaching is valuable! People are willing to pay for it. Don't sell yourself short ;)

PS Also check out this awesome excerpt from a book by Amy Ippoliti about money and teaching yoga.

4. If I accept the opportunity to teach this new class, or new classes, how will this impact my schedule?

One wonderful thing about being a full-time teacher is that you have freedom to create the schedule you want. The tricky part about this is that depending on the yoga market you're in, you may find yourself with a somewhat chaotic schedule if you're driving all over town to teach in different spaces throughout the day!

A couple ideas to consider with regards to schedule:

  • How many classes per day is your 'sweet spot?' For some teachers, 1 or 2 classes is perfect; others can handle more like 3 or 4. You may have to use some trial and error to discover how many classes a day you can teach without feeling too exhausted.
  • Similarly, it may take a little while to figure out how many classes per week is your sweet spot.
  • Take days off! If possible, get two days in a row off! Protect these days and schedule yourself some much-needed R&R when you're not teaching.
  • Before saying 'yes' to a new teaching gig, consider: will I be rushing to get to the studio in time to teach this class?
  • Discover what times of day you want to teach, and then say 'no' to the opportunities that fall outside of that schedule. When I first started teaching, I accepted gigs for 6am classes and 7pm classes. Over time I realized it was not a good fit for me to have to get up super early (I'd get anxious the night before, and have trouble sleeping). I also realized it wasn't ideal to teach later than 5:30 or 6, especially on days when I'd already taught a morning class, because I'd be exhausted and hungry by the time I got home, and it would take a few hours to wind down before bed.
  • Watch out for the 'split shift' schedule. If you teach an early morning class and a late evening class, consider what you'll be doing in the middle of your day. Driving back and forth from home can be exhausting. Consider stacking classes differently, or bringing your laptop and working from a coffee shop in between classes. Taking a nap or doing yoga outside at a nearby park during your break can always be fun too :)
  • SUBS! Get clear on what the protocol is for getting a substitute teacher when you're out of town or sick. How hard will it be for you to get a sub for this new class? Can the other teachers usually accommodate a last minute sub request, or will you need quite a bit of advance notice to get your classes covered? Getting subs can be a real headache, so be as prepared as you can by knowing who is available to teach during your time slots. Trades can also be a really nice way to support the other teachers at your studio. Get to know the teachers who teach right before you or right after you. Take their classes so you have a sense of their teaching style and the ability of their students. Then, if they need coverage, you can easily step in and help out!

5. What are students saying about the community?

What are students looking for? What's missing? Does this community seem like it's growing and changing, staying static, or is the energy and enthusiasm in the space dwindling? Do you feel connected to the students? 

Give yourself permission to be real with your students. Be open and honest with them from the start, and willing to be vulnerable as you move forward.

6. (BONUS question to consider!) What does my gut instinct tell me about teaching here?

If you're getting any sense of why you shouldn't teach in a yoga studio where you have an opportunity to, explore that hunch. What feels off? Who can you talk to about this? Clear up any doubt or negativity before you teach there, so that you bring clarity and excitement when you start. Alternatively, if you discover that this teaching opportunity is not the right one for you, give yourself permission to say 'no.' Be kind and honest with the studio owner or hiring manager about your decision (you're allowed to keep your personal life personal, but be real with them) and keep the communication lines open and positive; you never know how things may change down the road.

Trust yourself!

Was this post helpful? I hope it offers you some insight into making an informed decision before you decide to add a class to your schedule. I'd also love to hear your feedback on this post or any others in the Badass Yoga Teachers series! You can always email me at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com.


PS Some other posts for yoga teachers:
Sharing space with your students.
Tips on what to track when you're going to be filing taxes as an independent contractor.
5 books that will bring your teaching to a new level.

Illustration made using Canva. Photos in this post by Lucid Reflections (2, 3), Brett Miller (4), Respiro Photography (5, 7) and Felipe Silva of Uprise Collective (6).

Badass Yoga Teachers: Filing Your Taxes

Today in the Badass Yoga Teachers series, I'm talking about a subject that I usually like to avoid thinking about: filing taxes.

All in the same year, I went from working full time and teaching one or two classes a week... and then to teaching up to 12 classes at many different studios. With my unique income situation, I felt overwhelmed by the idea of filing my own tax return.

What did I need to keep track of? What could I count as expenses? How should I differentiate between studios where I was paid as an independent contractor or studios where I was paid as an employee? Was I missing anything?

I quickly decided that I wanted to hire a professional tax consultant to help me file my tax return.

And that's my #1 piece of advice about taxes: if you're feeling over your head, want to focus your time elsewhere, or you just know that you have a complicated tax return, consider hiring a professional to assist you. It's not super expensive; I spent about $150 for the entire process, and was able to ask as many questions as I needed to, meet with my consultant several times, and call her whenever I needed help.

If you are going to hire someone, ask around to your friends who are established yoga teachers to see who they can recommend that specializes in taxes for independent contractors.

I ended up working with a woman who deals mostly with freelancers-- yoga teachers and hair stylists in particular-- and she also does payroll at several local yoga studios, so she's very up-to-date on what the IRS requires, how often they audit, what you'll need to do if you get audited, and what red flags to avoid on your return.

In the meantime, as you're finding someone you'd like to work with, I recommend compiling some data about your yoga classes and the income you're making from teaching, as well as your expenses. (My tax professional gave me an awesome spreadsheet to use to track everything, and it calculates profit and loss based on what's entered in Excel, and having a tool like that has made all the difference!)

Start by tracking this information:
  • the number of classes you teach at each studio
  • what you get paid for each class, as well as how much you bring in with each paycheck
  • mileage you drive to any studios where you teach
  • your expenses:
    • trainings
    • workshops
    • books
    • Spotify or Pandora subscription for your playlists
    • yoga clothing
    • yoga gear, like mats or towels or candles
    • costs to create your website or pay for marketing services
Also be sure to save paystubs or checks you've deposited and receipts for your expenses. I recommend buying a little file folder with a section for each month of the year, and organizing the paperwork that way (you can even write off the cost of the file folder, too!)

If you're interested in tracking your growth and attendance, you can also use tools like Mind Body Online to print reports with your class numbers (how many students showed up, how many were comps, etc).

All these numbers may also come in handy if you're applying for a healthcare coverage plan, and need to report your income, too.

One key to all this tax business is to do a little bit of work each month so that you don't end up with a big pile of work at the end of the year.

If you write down your income and expenses month-by-month, the process becomes streamlined and efficient. And by giving yourself plenty of time to find a tax consultant to help you file your taxes, come April you'll be free from any headaches and able to breathe through the whole process!

Want more info about how to file your taxes as a yoga teacher? Here are some other great articles:

Cheers to a stress-free experience when filing next year! Namaste.

PS Other posts in the Badass Yoga Teachers series:
Holding space for your students.
Books you may not have read in your yoga teacher training.
Advice from real-world yoga teachers on how to sequence a class.

Badass Yoga Teachers

Are you following along in the Badass Yoga Teachers series here on Alive in the Fire? :) I hope you're enjoying the posts and finding them useful!

I've been digging through my archives and realized I have quite a few posts on topics relevant to yoga teachers and wanted to share, in case you missed any of these:

As always, please feel free to email me any time, too! (aliveinthefire at gmail dot com) Much love and namaste.

Badass Yoga Teachers: Holding Space for Your Students

For my next post in the Badass Yoga Teachers series here on Alive in the Fire, I wanted to share a little 'secret' that helped transform my experience of teaching...

About two years after my yoga teacher training, I had a full schedule of classes (8-12 per week) and was teaching Vinyasa yoga at five studios in the Sacramento area. I was hosting free community kirtans and offering a workshop every few months. My group of 'regulars' at each of my classes was starting to grow and I often heard positive feedback from them that they enjoyed taking my class.

And yet, I felt overwhelmed and burned out. I was tired of driving across town twice or three times a day. I wasn't sure if I could handle another conversation with a student about personal struggles. The thought of being at the front of the room to demo a pose made me want to take child's pose and just rest.

I had built up to this moment for so long... becoming a 'full-time' yoga teacher was my dream! And yet I felt exhausted, and a little voice in my head kept asking, When will it be my turn to have space held for me, instead of me being the one to hold everyone up? When can I find a teacher who will lead and inspire me? 

Around this time, I put a post on my blog about feeling stressed and immediately I heard back from a dear friend who is also a yoga teacher.

He offered me a piece of advice that has truly stuck with me:

What if, instead of holding space for your students, you focus on sharing space?

This was exactly the shift in perspective that I needed.

I began to notice the ways that my students were holding space for me as much as I was holding space for them. The more open with them I could be about my experience, the more support and love I received in return.

I also made a habit of receiving the energy of the room, especially toward the end of class.

There is something very sacred about people practicing yoga together, and I tend to notice it most when class is winding down; students are in restful yin poses, usually on the ground, or they are perfectly still in Shavasana. Supta Baddha Konasana and supine spinal twists are also poses where I notice the presence of deeply healing energy.

As a teacher, you can sit on the floor right in the middle of your students, and be with them in these moments. Feel how nourishing it is to share space, and how you receive the peacefulness of yoga even if you are leading a class rather than participating in it pose by pose.

By sharing space with your students, you gain the ability to hold space for yourself as a teacher. Next time you walk in the studio door to teach, perhaps you'll be able to notice what space is being held for you.


PS: More great articles on how to hold space as a yoga teacher:

The Badass Yoga Teachers series here on Alive in the Fire is meant to:
  • inspire you with new ideas
  • support you on days when you feel exhausted or worn down from teaching
  • ignite your passion
  • offer useful, tangible resources to help you create a successful yoga business
  • connect you with a network of amazing, talented, experienced yoga teachers
  • provide safe space for you to learn, share, and grow in your career
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this series! If you have ideas for posts, or want to share your journey as a teacher, please email me at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com.

Badass Yoga Teachers: 5 Yoga Books You May Not Have Read in Your Yoga Teacher Training

Welcome to a new series on Alive in the Fire dedicated to Badass Yoga Teachers!

Today I'm sharing five of my favorite books that have influenced my path as a yoga teacher

These books offer wonderful tools for:
  • building your yoga career
  • understanding the ethical principles of yoga
  • exploring who you are and what motivates you to teach
  • overcoming fear
  • forming new habits

Whether you're an experienced yoga teacher, new to teaching, or thinking about becoming a teacher, these are wonderful books to explore. May they encourage you on your path as you evolve and grow :)

The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga by Amy Ippoliti and Taro Smith

'Wow.' That's what I kept saying to myself as I read this book. And also, 'This book should be required reading in any yoga teacher training!'

Amy Ippoliti and Taro Smith offer an incredible wealth of knowledge about yoga, teaching, and business in this book. They are successful teachers and created 90 Monkeys, an online school that is focused on helping yoga professionals develop their careers.

Early in the book, the authors describe the 'vicious cycle of yoga teaching:'
  • Run all over town teaching eighteen or more classes a week to make ends meet.
  • Oops, no time for your own practice! No time to plan classes!
  • Teach subpar class because of lack of practice, inspiration, or groundedness.
  • Get home, have no time for reflection, fun, recreation, or family.
  • Get up the next day with even less inspiration, and teach to a dwindling number of students.
  • Make insufficient money to pay bills, afford necessary continuing education, or have much-needed free time.
  • Repeat.
When I read these statements, I couldn't help but laugh (and cry inside, a little) realizing how true these felt, as I've experienced some of them and witnessed friends and fellow teachers struggling with the same cycle.

I love that this book addresses many relevant topics and gives real-world advice for how to overcome the obstacles that many yoga teachers face.

Here are some of the subjects covered in the book:
  • understanding your strengths (and potential weaknesses) as a teacher
  • developing a mission statement to help focus and hone your teaching
  • building and marketing your personal yoga business
  • managing your business finances
  • how to avoid burnout
  • how to use social media to promote your teaching
  • self-care
  • lighting up the world
Highly recommend this book! If you're a stressed out yoga teacher, read this. If you want to understand some of the practical realities of what it means to teach full-time or whether you should quit your day job to start teaching, read this. If you're curious about how to create a fulfilling career as a yoga teacher, read this. XO

May Cause Miracles by Gabrielle Bernstein

This book changed my life when I first read it in 2014; it inspired me to dedicate the following year to being a fearless 2015, and also gave me the energy and willingness to leave my 9-to-5 job to teach yoga and freelance.

Here I am halfway through 2016 experiencing some big shifts again, and I'm re-reading this book as a way to reconnect with many of its relevant themes: releasing fear, increasing mindfulness, cultivating self-acceptance and radical self-love. I have a feeling I'll keep coming back to this book over and over again, because doing this work truly does cultivate subtle shifts which lead to miraculous change.

Gabrielle Bernstein's work speaks to my heart, and her writing is encouraging, thoughtful, real, and uplifting. She has a way of helping me look at things I don't really want to look at, of facing my fears, and I think that has been most powerful alongside my yoga teaching.

I encourage yoga teachers to try this book because I believe self-healing is needed every step of the way: when we make the courageous decision to become a yoga teacher, as we are immersed in the rigors of a 200 hour training (or 300, 500, 800 hour!), as we step into the studio to teach our first, or hundredth class, as we grow and evolve over time, contributing to our yoga communities.

Everything that goes along with teaching yoga will bring up emotion, ego, insecurities, and doubts-- whether you're being vulnerable with students, being vulnerable and real with yourself, receiving feedback from fellow teachers or studio owners, questioning why you teach, fine-tuning your classes, or seeing your numbers dwindle or skyrocket.

This book offers simple tools to help you understand yourself along the way, to let go of fear, to cultivate abundance, and to believe, even just a little bit, in how much of a miracle you are.

As Gabrielle says, "Welcome to your new life!"

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Four Agreements is a beautiful, artful book that explores self-limiting beliefs. Ruiz draws on ancient Toltec wisdom, outlining a powerful code of conduct that has the potential to free us from suffering and experience a life of happiness and love.

I believe these four principles offer me powerful wisdom in my daily life as well as my yoga teaching.
  • Be impeccable with your word.
  • Don't take anything personally.
  • Don't make assumptions.
  • Always do your best.
A beautiful book, not to be missed!

Zen Habits by Leo Babauta

Leo's blog Zen Habits is my absolute favorite blog, so of course when I heard that he was publishing a book based on the topics he often writes about, I was stoked! This book offers an incredible method for transforming any area of your life, and for dealing with any life changes, loss, illness, frustrations with others, and unhappiness with ourselves.

In the book, Leo outlines simple, beautiful ways to:
  • become more mindful
  • embrace change
  • create space and deal with things as they come up
  • release attachment
  • focus on intentions
  • foster appreciation and gratitude
All very yogic topics!

I'd suggest this book to anyone, yoga teacher or not, and especially if you're a teacher and looking to:
  • create a consistent home practice even while you teach a full load of classes
  • establish healthy boundaries as you build relationships with your students and studio managers
  • feel more peaceful in your own life
  • embrace discomfort
Zen Habits is one of my all-time favorite books.

The Yamas and Niyamas by Deborah Adele

I read this book during my 200-hour vinyasa yoga teacher training and found it to be a wonderful, thorough guide to the yamas and niyamas, yoga's ten ethical guidelines.

I especially love Deborah's writing prompts at the end of each chapter, which encourage the reader to do self-study and learn to apply these ideas to real life.

I love this book and have often read from it to my students at the end of class. I believe it is important for all yoga teachers to explore and develop their own personal understandings of the yamas and niyamas:
  • ahimsa (nonviolence)
  • satya (truthfulness)
  • asteya (nonstealing)
  • brahmacharya (nonexcess)
  • aparigraha (nonposessiveness)
  • saucha (purity)
  • santosha (contentment)
  • tapas (self-discipline)
  • svadhyaya (self-study)
  • ishvara pranidhana (surrender)
Here's one of my favorite passages from the introduction of the book:

"We all want to live well. Let's face it, at the end of the day, it's not how much you have or how much you have accomplished that counts. What matters is how well you have participated in your own life, both the ordinary routines and the extraordinary surprises. It's how you feel inside when you lay your head on the pillow."

This book is a wonderful tool for cultivating inner peace and developing a strong sense of integrity, both as a yoga teacher and a human being.

Well, yoga teachers and soon-to-be teachers, I hope these books offer you some incredible insight into your own lives, both on and off the yoga mat! XO

PS, I'd love to hear: what are some of your favorite yoga books?

Badass Yoga Teachers: A New Series on Alive in the Fire Dedicated to Yoga Entrepreneurs

Calling all badass yoga teachers!

Welcome to a new series on Alive in the Fire dedicated to your growth as a yoga entrepreneur.

Whether you're fresh out of your 200 hour yoga teacher training, you've been teaching for a couple years and want to kickstart your growth, or you're experiencing burnout as an established yoga teacher, this series is for you!

The Badass Yoga Teachers series here on Alive in the Fire is meant to:

  • inspire you with new ideas
  • support you on days when you feel exhausted or worn down from teaching
  • ignite your passion
  • offer useful, tangible resources to help you create a successful yoga business
  • connect you with a network of amazing, talented, experienced yoga teachers
  • provide safe space for you to learn, share, and grow in your career

Are you in? :)

One thing I've learned in my experience as a yoga teacher is that it's not easy. Teaching yoga is hard work, especially when you're putting your heart and soul into your classes.

There is a certain hustle to the lifestyle of a modern yoga teacher: you're constantly on the lookout for new teaching opportunities, you're busy running from studio to studio, at times you may question your motivation for teaching or wonder if you're making a difference or doing enough for your students.

You may experience drama, frustration, fear, or confusion. 

You'll also have days where you feel confident, encouraged, inspired, and connected.

I believe that yoga teachers are needed in our world, and I'm so grateful for the many teachers I've had that have inspired my path.

First and foremost, I want to offer a heartfelt thank you to all you amazing yoga teachers out there for doing what you do. I hope that this series is helpful to you, and I'd love to hear your input and feedback along the way.

Let's cultivate a community of thoughtful, respectful, encouraging, badass yoga teachers!

If you're interested in being a part of Badass Yoga Teachers on Alive in the Fire, please feel free to contact me at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com! I'd love to hear your ideas for blog posts, or hear your story about your yoga teaching career.

Stay tuned for post #1 in the series: Books for Yoga Teachers That You May Have Missed in Your YTT.

Namaste, friends.

Graphic illustration created using Canva. Photos in this post courtesy of friends and by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography (5).

Sequencing a Yoga Class: Advice from Real Yoga Teachers on How to Create Your 'Flow'

Calling all yoga teachers, and teachers in training!

How do you sequence your yoga classes? What tips, tricks and tools have helped you learn to put together a class that 'flows' beautifully?

Sequencing can be a challenge for yoga teachers, especially in the beginning...I know for me it took a few years to feel totally comfortable creating new yoga sequences. When you're fresh out of teacher training, you may have one memorized sequence you're ready to use, but how do you branch out from there? What helps keep you creative and coming up with new ideas? 

Putting together a cohesive, intelligent, engaging yoga class is not easy. In an effort to encourage and inspire all of my fellow yoga teachers out there, I'd love to share some awesome advice from three of my favorite teachers on how they sequence a class, memorize a flow, and create an environment for students that is supportive and fun. Enjoy!

The most authentic inspiration that I find for classes is to get on my mat and move. Some days I just allow myself to be led by my breath and intuition. Other days, I may have a specific intention/focus that I want to bring to class, so my movement is informed by this.

I’m visually minded, so once I have my game plan, I write/draw out the sequence for class. I like to use symbols, abbreviations, and little stick figure yogis. :) I keep a format that divides the various sections of class, so that it's easy to reference when teaching, if needed.

I love the way that this starts to build a catalog of classes. It is fun to look back at past classes; I will often revive, and sometimes refine, things that I've taught in the past.

Jany Slay:

In the beginning I would write almost every single transition or pose down in a linear list (took up half a page!) but now I focus on just one or two key poses or transitions that I really like and put in my basic flows around those pieces. I stop writing as much down too and just practice on my mat more WITH music. For me, music inspires my movements so getting on my mat with a great playlist is where I get inspired. From there, it's a random note-fest of transitions or poses that I must have in my class.

The biggest tip my teacher had for me in my classes she would take was "BREATHE!" I try to never skip a breathe cue. I try to emphasize fuller breaths in the middle and end of class when that can sometimes be forgotten. When I feel lost or nervous, I breathe. I also remember that some of my favorite classes was more because of the vibe and energy of the teacher and less to do with the sequences or poses.

Elizabeth Sosner:

Because I work with those with some mobility challenges, I pick a pinnacle pose and develop a sequence around the pose that doesn't require getting up and down off the floor in between poses. 

So I try to think in terms of a wave. We begin seated, move upward and end on the floor again. Since my background is in dance, I find that if I do the sequence myself beforehand I can commit it to memory better. I also use to see the visuals of my sequence and can rearrange things if it doesn't look quite like I wanted. Of course, if the class requires something else when I get there, I have a few alternates in mind.

Aren't these tips super helpful? I can't wait to try some of them when I'm putting together my next class sequence.

I'm so grateful to each of you-- Tristina, Jany and Elizabeth-- for offering all these awesome ideas on how to sequence a yoga class.

To summarize, here are some ideas for how to create a class that flows effortlessly:
  • Spend time during your own practice noticing the transitions between poses.
  • Keep a journal of class sequences you've taught.
  • Let music inspire you.
  • Choose a peak pose and work up to it.
  • When you arrive to teach, remember to breathe and adapt to who's in the room.

For all you Vinyasa yogis, I also recommend checking out my post on how I memorized the Baron Baptiste sequence during my 200 hour training.

Do you have tips or tricks for sequencing? I'd love to hear in the comments below!


Photos of me in this post by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography, and courtesy of Tristina, Jany and Elizabeth.

3 Ways to Reduce Soreness After Yoga or a Workout

Photo by Tom Huynh.

Are you sore from yoga class, or maybe you took a bootcamp class or went for a run? ;)

I find my muscles are sore often, from teaching and practicing yoga.

Here are my top 3 remedies for relieving soreness after a big workout.

Photo by Tom Huynh.

3 Ways to Reduce Soreness After Yoga or Working Out

1. Take an epsom salt bath. Epsom Salt is a pure mineral compound (magnesium sulfate) in crystal form. Soaking in an Epsom Salt bath is one of the most effective means of making the magnesium your body needs readily available. Not only does epsom salt soothe muscle pain, but it also cleanses your pores and detoxifies your skin. Amazing! My hands-down favorite brand to use is SF Salt Co, specifically their muscle soak with eucalyptus and peppermint and their sleep formula with lavender. 

I shared this salt with a friend recently who was so sore she could hardly walk (her quads were burning!) and afterward she felt much better. I've also relied heavily on epsom salt baths to get through a yoga teacher training-- it adds up quick when you're practicing 2 or 3 times a day! Even just after one yoga class, you could draw your bath, add a glass of wine and a candle and it's such a lovely way to wind down after a long day.

2. Hydrate. Drink more water before and after your workout. Especially if you are doing heated yoga or it's spring or summer with warmer temperatures, adding more water to your daily habit will help from getting sore. Carry your water bottle with you everywhere you go as a reminder to drink water throughout your day.

Photo by Tom Huynh.

3. Take rest, stretch, and use a foam roller or wheel. One of the best ways to reduce soreness is to get another yoga class in :) You could also do a relaxing, restorative yin sequence or 3 simple sun salutations at home. Deepen your breath to allow more access to deeper tissue in the body. Here's a good list of poses to try, or these restorative poses. Another good thing to remember is to give yourself rest days where you aren't doing a big workout, so your muscles can recover. Last and certainly not least, consider investing in a dense foam roller! I use mine almost daily, under my back, and to release tightness in my legs (quads and shins). Another effective option is the Dharma Yoga Wheel, which helps open the back, chest, shoulders, and hamstrings.

Cheers to feeling energized and releasing any soreness you've got going on!

Namaste, friends.

PS Do you teach yoga? Here are tips for taking care of yourself as a yoga teacher.

Advice for Yoga Teachers

Photos by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

Calling all yoga teachers!

Today I'd like to share three simple tips for inspiration. As I'm starting to teach more and more classes, I've found it's more important than ever to do these things...

Advice for Yoga Teachers

1. Prioritize your personal practice.
This one is pretty straightforward, but can be really hard to follow through on if you're scheduling yourself to teach a lot. Bottom line, practice yoga. Aim for a yoga practice every day (maybe one day off per week to rest). Choose a sustainable practice, where you honor what your body needs and you rest a little bit so that you have energy to get back on your mat again tomorrow. On the days when you're exhausted, do yin or a yoga nidra. On the days when you're energized, challenge yourself. Attend class at the studio before or after you teach. Also, have a studio where you practice where you don't teach. Sometimes it's really nice just to be a student, so set yourself up to be a part of a community where you can relax and be in your practice, rather than needing to hold space for others :)

2. Reflect on why you teach.
Ask yourself - why do I teach yoga? What am I really doing when I stand in front of a class? What am I hear to share? What qualities do I bring to my classes? At one of the studios where I teach, I had to write a bio and use three words to describe my teaching style. (I chose calm, heartfelt, and grounded.) What words would you choose? What is your purpose as a teacher? Lately I've been reflecting on how my goal with yoga is to bring peace to others. To give them a chance to be in a peaceful, safe space for a little while during their day. To get away from all the noise and chaos that usually surrounds us. I'm teaching yoga so I can be peaceful and inspire others to do the same. Why are you teaching? It can be helpful to sit down with your journal, talk to a friend about your vision for teaching, or sit in meditation and reflect. At the end of your meditation or conversation, take a moment to honor yourself for the amazing work you're doing. The world needs you!

3. Eat well and stay hydrated.
Just like #1, this one is pretty basic, but can also be a challenge if you don't plan ahead. Keep your body nourished with healthy foods and plenty of water. Notice your cravings. Notice what time of year it is and what the weather's like, and how that has an impact on what your body needs. Fresh fruits, juices, and nuts are a great snack for before and after class. In the mornings, pack a lunch or a bag of snacks to have on hand throughout your day. Especially if you're working in a heated space when you teach, be sure you're drinking enough water or having some coconut water each day so you're not dehydrated. Let your diet be a part of your yoga practice -- mindful awareness of what you eat and how you feel! Oh, and give yourself a break sometimes, too... indulge now and then. Last night I had a glass of wine and a piece of sea salt dark chocolate and I did not put any guilt or shame around treating myself :) As teachers, we are constantly holding space for others and we need to treat ourselves with the same love and respect.

Namaste, teachers! I honor you for what you're doing :)

PS Fresh juice recipes. More advice for caring for yourself as a yoga teacher. And an amazing guest post about finding your voice as a teacher.