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Tips for Teachers

Teaching yoga is a complicated, inspiring calling that brings to bear all our talents, knowledge and empathy. Read about the honor of teaching from some of the most experienced teachers around
  • Teaching Yoga: It’s a Two-Way Street

    Teaching Yoga is All About Listening
    “Listen to your body” has become a widely disseminated instruction in the yoga world. It’s an important one, a skill that reaches out into life off the mat. But when we tell students to listen to their bodies, we teachers need to remember to listen to our students too. When we listen we create an environment where students feel respected and safe, and we also might learn something in the process.

    About 25 years ago I attended a workshop with a well-known yoga teacher. We were working up to Urdva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow), stretching our quads...

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  • Healthy Yoga Practice - Don’t Stretch Your Joints!

    Some Ligaments of the Hip Joint

    Healthy Yoga Practice:  Don’t Stretch Your Joints!
    For the past few years, I've been on the faculty of the teacher training program at Avenues Yoga Studio in Salt Lake City. Early in the 2013 training, one student who had been teaching in a fitness studio asked a very important question. She explained that one of her female students became unusually flexible prior to ovulation, probably because of the presence of “relaxin,” a hormone that relaxes the ligaments that hold together the various joints in the pelvis—hip joints, sacroiliac joints and pubic symphisis...

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  • Why Bendy People Might Not Make the Best Yoga Teachers

    Trikonasana

    How the Struggle Teaches Yoga Teachers How to Teach
    Years ago, I heard a famous quote embellished in the film, Annie Hall. In the film Woody Allen said, “Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach gym.” (Allen’s embellishment is the second sentence.) It was meant to diss teachers, especially gym teachers I guess, but in my three decades of yoga practice and teaching, I’ve come to understand this quote in a completely different way.

    I was born with a very loose-knit body. My dad was a gymnast, and I inherited his hypermobile body. So when...

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  • Advanced Yoga — with Yoga Props

    How Using Yoga Props Deepens Practice
    Not too long ago, yoga made it into The Wall Street Journal. The article, titled “In Yoga, Blocks and Straps Get More Respect,” plugs yoga props as a way for anyone, including experienced practitioners, to deepen their practice while maintaining integrity. While acknowledging the mainstream misconception that many yogis see props as “crutches” to use until you can do the poses without them, the author debunks the notion by giving examples of ways experienced yogis use them move more deeply into practice.

    To this, I say, “Amen.”

    Some of my students have been attending my classes since...

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  • The Mixed-Level Class Conundrum

    How to Keep Everyone Safe and Happy in a Mixed-Level Class
    (Hint: There’s no easy answer.)
    Last weekend began the first segment of a teacher training I’ve been coteaching for the past three years. It’s always fun to meet the new trainees and to hear inspiring stories about how Yoga practice has changed their lives.

    During the last class of the weekend, we asked them to share with us what they consider to be essential qualities for a teacher. We also invited them to share their experiences with various teachers and tell us about what has worked and what hasn’t.

    One student related this...

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  • Teacher, Know Yourself

    Meditation:


    Teacher, Know Yourself
    It is wisdom to know others; it is enlightenment to know oneself. ~ Lao Tzu

    I’ve been fortunate to learn from so many knowledgeable yoga teachers over the past 32 years. My first teachers, Olivia Cita Mason and David Riley, as a physical therapist and doctor, planted a seed of curiosity about anatomy in me, and introduced me to the Iyengar system. The late Mary Dunn inspired through her knowledge and enthusiasm. Judith Hanson Lasater has, among many other things, shown me how to be a teacher. From...

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  • Where Is My Body? How Yoga Practice Answers That Question

    How


    Where is My Body? How Yoga Practice Answers That Question
    When I started doing yoga, I was confused a lot. Always having a hard time remembering left and right, and also being somewhat disembodied after years of residing in my frontal lobe, I had trouble following direction. In Warrior II, when the teacher said to turn my back foot in one way, I would often turn it the other way. Sometimes I would bend forward instead of sideways. Even how, over 10 years of yoga practice, when my yoga teacher says...

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  • Sequencing Yoga Poses: Not Just Cool Choreography

    Sequencing Yoga Poses
    In 1989 I went to India for a three-week intensive with B.K.S. Iyengar and his daughter, Geeta. Mr. Iyengar had just turned 70, and Geeta was officially handling the majority of teaching duties. However until the last week of the intensive, B.K.S. appeared every day and taught much of every class. During the last week, he traveled out of town to teach a class for one day, leaving Geeta to teach on her own.

    Because most of us were preparing to board a plane for the long trip home, Geeta led a class designed to prepare us for flight...

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  • Ending a Yoga Class

    Ending a Yoga Class
    When we begin teaching at a certain time, we don’t usually envision the class ending. Such was the case with my Monday noon-1:00 pm. Class I started teaching three years ago. The class was one of the first at a new yoga studio in the west side of our town where there aren’t other yoga studios, which tend to be clumped on the east side. Our hopes were high: this was a suburban area with lots of people, and surely many would want to come practice yoga in their own neighborhood.

    While the yoga studio has grown...

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  • Yoga Gossip: Have You Ever Been Dissed by Another Teacher?

    The Yoga Gossip Machine:  What Do You Do When Another Teacher Disses You Behind Your Back?
    When students ask my opinion about another teacher in town, I’m deliberately vague. First, with the plethora of teachers (100 or more) being trained annually in various local trainings, I no longer know 99 percent of the teachers in town. Second, even if I do know the teacher about whom they’re inquiring, I don’t necessarily know how the student and teacher might connect. I encourage them to find out for themselves if another teacher might have something valuable to teach them. My response is always...

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