So, You Want to Be a Yoga Teacher...

I realized something the other night after teaching a yoga class...

One of the best ways you can support your students is to remind them of the power of their breath.

Simply being asked to breathe more, and to focus on our breath, has an incredibly healing effect. Our bodies calm, our thoughts slow down a bit, and we become more aware of the present moment.

When you breathe fully in a pose, you are able to receive the benefits of the pose. The pose 'sinks' in. On a physical level, this can translate to muscles relaxing, which can mean you achieve a deeper stretch in a posture.

My friend thanked me the other night after class, and he said, "Thank you for reminding me to breathe. I really needed that."

So, say you want to be a yoga teacher, but you haven't done a training yet?

Practice showing up for someone in your life, and remind them to breathe a little more deeply. Give them a small way to remember to be in their body -- to feel their feet on the ground. To stretch and release some stress.

To breathe.

Share your yoga practice this way, through your breath, which is your greatest teacher.

Namaste.

Photos in this post by friends and (last photo) CKCImage.com.

A Beautiful Yoga Book


Hi friends!

What yoga books are you reading lately?


Sponsored yogini Kels recently checked out Letters from the Yoga Masters, which features the collected letters of Dr. Hari Dickman to the hundreds of yogis he corresponded with—including Swami Sivananda, Ramana Maharshi, and Paramhansa Yogananda. 

Today on Alive in the Fire she shares her thoughts on the book...


This jewel of a book is a fitting tribute to a great soul, offered lovingly by his dedicated student. 

Its a book you don't want to lose. Its passion, its love, its life and most of its words are written by some of the greatest yoga masters of the past. 

Hari, Hari Rickman, (whom you'll later be introduced to, well, sooner than later actually) devoted his life to the study of yoga. He once said, "I'm obsessed with yoga and Ill never get enough." Even as Hari was living in a displaced persons camp during the Second World War, he was studying and practicing yoga. 

One of my favorite scripts is on page 129 where he describes when he learned about Yoni or Shanmukhi Mudra. I really needed a good insight on concentration. The hand written letters that are exampled are engrossing and very intriguing. You have to see them for yourself! 

How fortunate that the yogic knowledge Dr. Dickman gained from many revered teachers has been preserved so carefully and faithfully that it can enrich the lives of many spiritual seekers who otherwise would never have known of him. Right?! 

Last snippet; page. 87 discusses Sitali and Sitkari which I think its great to learn, especially during the warm season because it quickly cools down the body. The breathe is so amazing. Literally. 

Namaste. Kels.

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.

Namaste.

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.

Namaste.


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: 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).

Thoughts on Having a Sh*t Day, from Yoga Girl (Rachel Brathen)


Recently I've posted about what to do when you're having a sh*t day, which yoga poses to try when you're anxious, and ways to let go of worry.

Today on Instagram yogini celebrity Rachel Brathen (@yoga_girl) offered some thoughts on these same topics. How do we deal with negativity, and strong emotions?

I love what she has to say about allowing yourself to feel when emotions come up. Check out the video above, or the quote below... and I hope that you allow yourself a moment of feeling today, whatever those feelings are.

Video and photo via Rachel's Instagram, @yoga_girl.

"When you wake up in the morning, and you feel really crappy and you're just about to have a sh*t day, how do you move on from that?

How do you turn a day around?

And my answer is... do you really have to?

Sometimes life throws you curve balls. Sometimes you wake up and you feel sad. Sometimes you're angry, or frustrated, you're fearful, worrisome.

All of these emotions are valid, and they deserve space in your life.

So if you wake up in the morning and you feel like absolute sh*t, allow yourself to feel like sh*t, if you need to.

If you're sad, cry.

The thing about emotions it's not until we actually burn through them, that they transform.

That's why we have aches and pains, and increasingly so the older we get, because we carry a lot of unprocessed emotions.

Give yourself permission to have crappy days, and it will turn around, all on its own.

Before you know it, oh my god, happiness arrives. And then you can actually be grateful because that joy will be real and true.


Thank you, Rachel, as always, for being a bright shining light, and for sharing wisdom the way you do. Namaste.

Abundance Is...


What does abundance mean to you?

Lately I've been pondering the things besides money that make me feel full, happy, and content. Things like:

Love notes to remind me I'm awesome.


Waking up to a house that smells like coffee, because it's already been made.


Warmth on a cold day.

Love from a sweet old pup.


The feeling of being out on the water.

The feeling of fresh air on my skin, and sunshine.


Beautiful, simple things. 


Yoga books I get to review on this beautiful blog. 


My knowledge of yoga. Being familiar with the poses.

Understanding my own body, and of how the body can heal.


Friends who will practice with me ;)

Friends who are loving, fun, and encouraging.


My practice.

And the sweet surrender of Shavasana.

In what ways do you feel abundance in your life lately? I'd love to hear...


PS I think I'll make this a regular thing, reflecting on abundance. In the last year of quitting my 9-to-5 job in order to freelance and teach yoga, I've learned a lot and reflected quite a bit.

I often find myself thinking about:
  • money and how much money is enough
  • what things make me feel at peace, whether it's my practice or my bank account
  • what I deserve
  • what I manifest
  • how my identity gets wrapped up in my work
  • what my career goals are
  • when my heart feels most full
Stay tuned for more posts on this topic of abundance, and how it relates specifically to teaching yoga. May you witness abundance all around you today. Namaste, friends.

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 tummee.com 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!

Namaste.

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

Trusting



"Spontaneity is the ability to let go.

The ability to let go and to trust that, moment to moment, you're guided.

To trust back in life again. As though life is this, this most trustworthy best friend, ever, and will always be surprising you with something.


You never know what it will be. It could be not so yummy of an experience, but it's always the thing that will grow you to the level that you really actually desire to grow to."


- Meghan Currie, yoga teacher (quote from her beautiful video, the most intimate experience)

First two photos by Jobi Otso. Lotus pose photo by Cait Loper Photography. Bird of paradise photo by Felipe Silva of @the_lost_coast.

Moving to a New Home and Discovering New Yoga Spaces



Hi, yogis :) How are you? 

Recently I moved from the Sacramento area to Eureka, California. What a whirlwind month it's been!

I'm still getting settled and checking out yoga studios in the area and wanted to share a few reflections from the last few classes I've taken.


It's wild how much I've learned being in a new environment with teachers who come from different schools of yoga. In the last week I've experienced my first Forrest and Anusara practices and I've enjoyed picking up on small yet impactful differences in the language, cuing, and pacing of the classes.

Do you ever mix up your yoga routine? Or try classes at local studios when you travel? I highly recommend getting out of your comfort zone and taking a class where you aren't quite sure what to expect... open yourself to learning, and being a beginner again!

Tosha Yoga, Arcata, CA
This is a breathtaking space on the top floor of the building that I'll definitely return to. I love the natural light, the collection of lovely succulent plants around the room, and the calm, uplifting energy of the space. The Forrest yoga class I took here involved some awesome core work, grounding meditation, and new flows and movements that felt nourishing to the body (lots of Eagle arms, which I even felt the next day in my upper back!). 

The teacher Janine was very clear and precise in her teaching, and I appreciated the few hands-on adjustments she offered which helped me relax my neck and take tension out of my shoulders. At one point I could hear the sound of the rain on the rooftop. Very peaceful. I felt spaciousness, grounding, and openness. Even a little glimpse of blissful samadhi during Shavasana.

Om Shala Yoga, Arcata, CA
Om Shala offers a diverse range of yoga classes on their schedule. So far I've tried a basics Anusara class, a Hatha 'align and flow' class, and an all-levels Power Vinyasa class. The teachers here certainly have a wealth of knowledge about alignment and I've picked up some awesome tricks and tips about my practice. I love having reminders to pay closer attention to what my 'bad' habits are in class, or just to notice something new. This week I've been working on:
  • Knitting the low ribs in. Drawing energy into the center of the body really allows me to move from a place of more power! This helps in every pose - in foundational poses like Tadasana and Downdog, and especially in backbends and balancing postures.
  • Waking up the feet. Keeping the feet alive and the toes active brings more prana into the lower half of the body and the legs, giving more stability and grounding. Pada bandha, engaging the arches, is a subtle but very useful technique that makes a pose feel more balanced. I noticed this one in Half Moon. I also realized that metaphorically and energetically for me at this moment in my life it's very important to keep the feet awake so that I can feel more grounded in these new spaces I'm in!
  • Using props and the wall for support. I learned an awesome trick for using three blocks on the wall in Dolphin pose (beautiful, supported way to open the upper back and chest). I also worked on Ardha Chandrasana (Standing Half Moon pose) on the wall-- I was able to see how my hips needed to be more engaged in order to access more opening in the pose. Also started to work on wall walks in Wheel (!!!!) and practiced Forearm stand. So excited to incorporate these new 'tricks' into my home practice!
Sasha's power flow class at Om Shala was my favorite local yoga class so far since I moved. I loved her simple, direct cuing, her upbeat playlist, and the way she reminded us to send our breath into the area where our bodies most needed to heal. I definitely felt challenged and inspired, and was surprised by how many arm balances and sun salutations I was able to fit in!

Redwood Strength, Fortuna, CA
This class was an hour-long hot vinyasa practice in a new gym that's a mix of Crossfit-style workouts and hot yoga. I enjoyed the heat and thought of my friends and colleagues at CorePower Yoga and how I miss that beautiful room and its humidity ;) I enjoyed the teacher's enthusiasm and sense of humor and felt at home listening to the sound of Krishna Das' voice.

HealthSport, Eureka, CA
I took a Hatha class and was easily the youngest yogi in the room. One of my favorite moments was about 15 minutes into class, looking over at the gorgeous gray-haired yogini next to me take on full Hanumanasana with her arms overhead and a smile on her face :) The teacher Francis had a unique way of getting me to try more depth in the poses and I loved the mindful, intentional sequencing. At the end of class my body felt open and my mind clear.


Home practice
My home practice has been really key in the last few weeks, too. Rolling out a mat in the kitchen or in my backyard has given me space to be completely comfortable, to relax, to release stress, to breathe loudly and sigh heavily, and to cry a little. Moving is incredibly draining and exhausting work, and it hasn't been easy.

During the weeks leading up to moving, I felt overwhelmed by to-do lists and I benefited greatly from having a restorative yin practice. Since we arrived here on the coast, I've felt a little down and lonely on some days, so a more vigorous practice with inversions and backbends has helped me stay positive.

I can tell that in the weeks and months to come, as I take a little break from having classes to teach, my home practice will be a great way for me to stay creative, to keep up my self-confidence in my teaching, and to play with new flows and ideas for what I love to teach.


I'm still struggling a little bit to find where my new yoga 'home' is, and I'm certainly grieving the loss of having weekly classes to teach in beautiful communities, but I'm doing my best to keep a positive attitude and stay open to whatever opportunities come my way.

I'm thinking of offering a mom's yoga group or a beach yoga meetup... 

Ooh, and stay tuned for details on my upcoming Alive in the Fire yoga retreat that is now in the works! I'm planning a weekend getaway on the coast featuring yoga, chanting, meditation, journaling and hiking. It's going to be incredible! (And Yani and Kels from the sponsored yogis team will be attending -- wheeeee!)

Hope you are all having a beautiful week. Cheers to finding inspiring yoga classes and please know I'm sending you big hugs! Namaste.

Badass Women: Megan

 Photos in this post courtesy of Megan.

Today I'm honored to share a story in the Badass Women series on Alive in the Fire... it's a few days late, but I wanted to be sure we celebrate International Women's Day around here! :) 

Meet Meg, the lovely yogini behind the Instagram page @yogini.meg and the blogger of Yogi in the City. Meg is a yoga teacher in the Portland area and she and I both love a lot of the same things (yoga, writing, wine) and so of course we became instant friends! 

I'm so grateful for Meg's upbeat energy and the encouraging posts she shares. Maybe someday I'll be lucky enough to take her class! Thanks, Meg, for being a part of the Badass Women series.



What sorts of things do you do to connect in with your inner goddess / warrior woman badass energy?

Every day I remind myself that I am strong and that I've made it through every good and bad day to get to this day, and I will keep on making it. I wake up in the morning and tell myself, "I'm going to drink the coffee and no matter what happens today I'm going to get through it like the badass I am." I'm living on my own for the first time in my life and teaching toddlers, and those alone make me feel like a warrior on a daily basis. 

I've recently decided to pamper by inner goddess by taking weekly bubble baths. It is so important to make time for yourself and do something that brings you peace and makes you feel beautiful. On that note, I've also started to wear burgundy/red lipstick often. I used to shy away from such bold colors because I felt like they made me stand out too much--well screw that. We are all made to stand out in some way and putting on dark burgundy lipstick helps me feel like a badass, so I'm sticking with it! 



What has shaped your journey to this point in your life?

2015 was really a standout year in shaping who I am right now. I went through two completely different breakups--one that was a really good move on my part and the other which brought me pain and heartache took, and in a way is still taking, time to come back from. I accomplished a huge dream of mine and became a yoga teacher last summer. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I was surrounded by these incredible, strong, wonderful women and I learned so much from them and about myself. Shortly after that I moved to a new city and started a new job..and that brings us to now. 

I think one of the main themes of my life this past year is the idea of a fresh start. I feel like I am constantly starting fresh and I think it is so important. Sometimes "starting fresh" is in our control and sometimes it isn't, but I think continuously allowing myself that opportunity to begin again and learning from my experiences is really shaping me into the person I am now and the person I want to be. 

What helps you stay grounded and how do you rejuvenate?

Right now I'm all about strong and creative flow classes. I love practices that are filled with standing poses like the Warriors and Goddess which help me feel grounded and strong. If a practice has interesting/different transitions or variations I get really excited because I love trying new things. Of course, a practice for me is not complete without some energizing backbends. 

What would you tell a woman who needs help tapping in to her inner strength?

Inner strength is always there, even when at times we feel like we've lost it. For anyone who needs help accessing that strength I would say remember that you have made it this far. You have made it to today. Through every hardship, every triumph, you have persevered and arrived at this moment. That is so encouraging. At times we have days that are so hard and life seems so dark, but remember that you have your own light within and you can always light your own way through the darkness. Each one of us is strong. So hold your head high and tell yourself that you are strong and you are enough. That is important--believe and know that you are enough and never let anyone take that away from you. 

Where will you go from here? Any badass plans for the new year?

I'm excited for this year and I have a lot of plans in the works. Since becoming a yoga instructor last summer, I haven't taught much, so that's a major goal--to just start teaching, gaining experience, and sharing my passion. I'm starting a new "giving back" project that I'm calling "Project Warm Heart." Throughout the year I'm going to be knitting and crocheting scarves and this fall (when the weather starts cooling down again) whatever I have made will be donated to local shelters/homes. My sister is already on board to help and I'm hoping to recruit more people to join in as well! I'm really excited about this and to be working on something that will hopefully benefit the community. I have my own blog that I will be getting started soon, and my incredibly talented artist friend, Sarah Richards, has agreed to illustrate it for me. I'm looking forward to that collaboration and many new experiences this year. 

Thanks, Meg, for sharing your story, and cheers to all you badass women out there. Namaste and happy Friday, friends! XO

PS Meet more badass women: Summer, Brittny and Kim.

Sacramento Seva Yoga: Yoga Reclaimed

Photos  by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

What does 'yoga' mean to you?

In my eight years practicing and two years teaching, I've come to discover yoga is about union. Unifying the body, mind, spirit. Uniting the breath with movement. Showing up together as a collective, empowered community.


Yoga means uniting forces with other like-minded, high-vibration, compassionate humans and spreading love and kindness out into the world. Yoga is about learning to love more, feel more, and experience life more fully.

So with those things in mind, I recently launched a project with Respiro Photography and Sac Sierra Yoga where I'll be blogging about seva, or selfless service, and all the local Sacramento yoga studios where you can take free yoga classes.

I want to get out into new spaces, talk to yogis I've never met, learn from the amazing teachers in my local community, and say thank you.



 

As an added and incredible BONUS, Brynna of Respiro Photography is also giving back to our community by offering one lucky yoga student or teacher a free photo shoot this summer. During our travels around the area and our visits to local classes, we'll be talking to yogis to try and find someone who could benefit from having head shots taken, so if you might be that person, feel free to email me (aliveinthefire at gmail dot com) and I'll send you the application.


Photo  by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

Sacramento Seva Yoga: Yoga Reclaimed

My second stop on the tour was Yoga Reclaimed in Auburn. Full disclosure: in January, I started teaching the Tuesday and Thursday noon classes at Reclaimed...so you could say my deep love and appreciation of this studio is a somewhat biased perspective on the space :) But let me just say that even though I'm on staff, and therefore not necessarily a 'neutral' point of view, I'd still love to tell you about Reclaimed's free community class and believe it definitely belongs on the Sacramento Seva list.

The Saturday morning community yoga class at Reclaimed is a truly unique and wonderful experience. Studio owner Ryan Bailey teaches an upbeat, inspiring, and challenging 90-minute balance class. To me it feels like a cross between a sacred kirtan gathering and a dance party you'd have with friends-- the music is loud, the energy is intense, and the yogis all around you are working really hard, so you feel motivated and encouraged. 


The space has the energy of transformation. You leave the studio feeling a lot different than when you arrived -- sweatier, more lighthearted, and more connected. 



Vibe of the space: Sacred, grounded, authentic (and during class, fierce)

Favorite moments from class: I loved immediately grounding and joining together as a community with the call-and-response chant to Ganesha. Very powerful mantra, and great drumming :)


I also loved the intensity of the warm up sequence, and all the core work we did to get our bodies ready for twisting and backbending. Ryan teaches the kind of class where you can't run and hide from what's going on -- a lot is being asked of you, physically, and at the same time you have the opportunity to connect inwardly on an emotional and spiritual level. As he described it, it's like being at a buffet... you get to pick and choose what you want to eat, and you don't have to choose everything. And the poses that you do participate in, those are the ones to savor.

My favorite moment was toward the end of class, when Ryan offered a profound reminder to become a witness to our own experiences. Not only on the mat, but also in our lives -- to be willing to step back for a second, see ourselves and our reactions for what they truly are, and to go from there.

Ryan teaches yoga in an incredibly powerful, raw, and authentic way. He meets you right where you are, whether it's your first time rolling out a mat or you've been to his class for years. He acknowledges and sees his students, and he is willing to push you to be the best version of yourself. Thank you, Ryan, for sharing the love and devotion of Bhakti yoga!


Above photo by Adam Perron.

Reasons I can't wait to come back: The community at Reclaimed is vibrant. The yogis here are open-minded and open-hearted, incredibly willing, and committed to their practice. The teachers bring their heart and soul each time they step into the room to teach, and often the classes are blessed by generous, mindful assistants too, meaning that your practice will be enhanced by touch and sometimes even a massage of your temples or feet during shavasana. Most days I leave the studio having hugged someone and/or laughed wholeheartedly, too, and that is a beautiful thing.

Studio location530 Grass Valley Hwy, Auburn, CA 95603

Phone: (530) 305-9408
Seva (free) community class offerings: Saturdays from 9:30am-11 am


Photos  by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

At Yoga Reclaimed, all are welcome. Come kick off your shoes, roll out your mat, and dive right in!

Namaste.

Stay tuned for the next update in the Sacramento Seva Yoga series, and as always feel free to reach out to me with feedback or any questions.