Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Fourth Class

We began with Dave and Anne leading the following discussion:

Q: Why a set format -- there are so many different sequencing options and various postures that could be included?

A: There is so much going on in a class, it is better to start with simpler and easier. Once that is learned, there is opportunity for further development.

Q: Why did you choose to attend teacher training?

A: To gain more knowledge about yoga; to learn how to safely teach yoga; for personal healing; to gain confidence.

Q: What do you seek to achieve through teacher training?
A: deepen practice; become a better student; live yoga; managing ego and competitive urge.

Q: How do you think teacher training will challenge you?

  • physicality - many postures are very challenging, given some developmental difficulties and injuries. (Dave: Listen to your body. Injuries can be amazing teachers. Injuries can humble you.)
  • time constraints: working long hours on top of training
  • speaking in public
  • teaching
  • integrating teaching and student modes (Anne: following teacher training, your practice as a student will never be the same.)
  • emotional opening (Anne: If you are uncomfortable sharing your emotional experience, you need not do so, but be sure to experience it for yourself. Dave: allow yourself to experience as much as you can in teacher training, as the more you experience in training, the more able you will be to help students with similar experiences in your classes in the future.)
Q: How do you think teacher training will change your life:
  • Change careers and open a yoga studio
  • Learn to pace myself -- already I find myself stopping to take a breath in life, not just on the mat
  • Addressing insecurities
  • Giving time to myself
  • Questioning everything throughout my day -- becoming aware of a lot
  • Changing from hard driving style that no longer serves me

Q: What makes a good teacher?
A: Approachable (helps overcome student fears, answers questions, build rapport); Compassionate (assists in perceiving and addressing weaknesses positively); Inspiring mentor; Happy to be there; Humble and respectful; Patient and kind; Knowledgeable; Connected with students; Challenging; Good listener; Encouraging; Instills confidence; Energetic; Inspirational; Passionate; Engaged; Charismatic; Dependable; Aware; Empathetic; Present.

Dave: review this list and choose the characteristics that inspire you; then embody them. But also be aware that you often learn the most from the teachers who are not your favorites.

Q: Suppose you are a teacher in a Saturday morning yoga class. How do you approach the class? What do you want to avoid?
A: Intimidation; exerting ego as "The Teacher."
Dave: When you walk into a class you need to remember that you have no idea what's going on right now in a student's life. Don't judge whether the student should get out of Child's pose and back into the flow of the class. You have no idea. Don't assume that you do.

Q: How do you gauge how much variety vs. set routine to use?
A: With experience, you will learn to read the class, but in teaching C1, you should rely strongly on routine. The routine makes the C1 class more easily accessible to students and helps them feel successful. For beginners, the constancy of the routine is important.

Dave: the music you choose is also important. The music can affect the energy of the class. You should try creating your own mixes, and trying them out on others. We'll do some of that later in the training course. Maintain a non-judgmental approach to class. Drop your expectations. Don't let the number of attendees of a particular class affect your ego, whether it's to think that more students mean you're a good teacher, or that fewer mean that you're a bad one. Rusty Wells, in a point in an article at If you have one person or five in a class, focus on the ones in front of you -- focus all your attention on the ones present -- not on those who are not there. CPY point: Every time you teach, teach the best class you can.

Principles of CorePower Yoga:

Breath -- prana -- ujjayi
  • oceanic
  • you feel you can't inhale more
  • power through breath
  • start with open mouth to hear the sound, then close and breathe through nose
  • breath like you are trying to fog a mirror
  • David Swensen: The quality of your breath is in direct proportion to the quality of your practice. Seek to inhale and exhale the same throughout the entire class. Watch for times when your breathing begins to shorten.
  • Steady breathing calms the mind.
  • Take breath practice from the mat and apply to the rest of life
Bringing attention and awareness to the breath in class is challenging. Alanna cues every inhalation and exhalation in her classes, and she manages to time them equally throughout class. Start by incorporating breath instructions into every pose cue. What comes after "inhale"? "Exhale."

When you want to pause the vinyasa to explain something, instruct the students to "Breathe here" and then proceed with the other instruction. Don't keep the class suspended on an inhale or exhale. Once done, then restart breath cues.

Vinyasa: Flow (or more specific definition: "To place in a special way") Linking movement to breath.

Heat/Tapas: combined with music and flow, a key distinction of core power yoga. Enhances flexibility; allows students to sink more deeply into poses; makes some (not all) feel good; causes sweating and the resulting detox. You can help new students with the heat by setting expectations -- let them know before they enter the asana room that it will be heated. Ask if they have a towel and water. C1 is unheated (usually 80-85 degrees, no added humidity). C2 and C3 are heated to between 90-95 and humidity of 30-40%.

Drishti/Focus: The gaze mirrors the mind. David Swensen: maintain an external gaze and an internal focus. (Dave: You should read The Diamond Cutter by Michael Roach.

Uddiyana bandha: center stability; "core tight"; provides stability throughout the practice; engage all muscles.

Asana: no details needed

Rhythm: Helps make students successful; consistency; flow; breath timing; maintains right and left expressions of postures for the same length of time. Sets students up to succeed. Allows them to reach new heights of practice.

Transforming your teaching and practice:

Doubt your doubts: students who think "I can't do Crow" feel exhilarated when they do it.

Accept where you are today: Don't judge and compare one day against another. Every day is different. You can't grow without acceptance of where you are, whether on the mat, in a relationship, at work, or in life.

Journey -- not destination: no such thing as a perfect posture. What's the goal? There is no ending. On any given day, a student can play her edge. A good instructor will help every student to do so, even when their abilities vary.

Less is more -- relax, breathe, back off; help the students change the experience; each day is different.

Have fun -- if it isn't fun, change it.

Be yourself -- be authentic.

Be present: you can't change the past. Focusing on the future draws you away from the "right here, right now" where existence happens.

Follow your intuition. Listen to the voice(s) inside yourself. Is it right? The body is very, very smart. Use the 24 hr. rule: when you have a big decision to make, avoid reacting immediately. Sit with it for 24 hours and then follow your intution.

Be growth oriented: change is going to happen one way or the other; you can either resist it (futilely) or you can seek to grow through it. The alternative is stagnation. Growth require courage. To grow, you must be willing to keep pushing farther. Keep evolving.

Try things different ways: failing is good, as it tends to teach you to let go.

Let your expectations go.

Practice equanimity: balance; calm; even-tempered; breathe before reacting.

Try easy: breathe; relax; find balance.