Online Yoga

Self-Service Yoga & Fitness

The weird thing about this whole article is it’s like a returning to the roots. I heard the very amusing Graham Norton on his Saturday morning radio show a couple of weeks ago saying that isn’t it funny how the image of 2020 from the space of years ago was wearing suits that look like Star Trek.  Everything will be automated anyway; going to work in a pair of “hoover boots”. Where the reality is – he is a vegetarian  and  going to work on his bike – it seems everything is going back to nature rather than back to the Future. 

The whole industry we are in, if you attend any form of yoga fitness class or gym as I said in the previous blog, is undergoing massive change for a provider of both education and classes.  It’s a really interesting problem because if you are going to be on top of changes in your industry you have to work out where it’s all going

Seems to me like of all the things we do on a daily basis the self service industry is the one that is surfacing very quickly.  Who have imagined you would be checking through your own shopping or booking and printing off your own airline tickets or even scanning yourself through security and passport control!  Life is becoming a regular DIY! 

The fitness industry is no different. One of the biggest booming parts of this is evident from the company F.45 that does the hiring of spin bikes delivered to your home so you can join in from the luxury of your home and spin with your choice of teacher, or even join in with worldwide groups any time you want.  Yoga with Adrienne, a hugely watched YouTube Yogi  (5.7 million subscribers), is capturing people who are choosing to do her short but effective do-anywhere any-time in the comfort of your own home yoga flows  because they can fit them realistically into their ever busier becoming lives.  

The penny has finally dropped.  People are taking control of designing their own fitness and yoga programs realising that self preservation and maintaining their own energy is up to them. The general public are finding it more and more difficult to find a two hour time slot to go to the gym, the pressure of work and family and expectations via others because of social media, and instant accessibility is making time shorter than it ever was.  So if you want to stay fit and healthy you have to work out how it’s going to fit into your life and your timing. 

But where does that leave us the providers?   Unless you’re going to start making weekly or even daily videos, then try to market them for free,  how can we help or get into this market?  I think one of the solutions is to realise we have a responsibility particular in yoga teaching to encourage people and show them how to have a home practice.  A bit like Graham Norton we’re going back to our roots and how it was originally designed.  This practice of yoga is all about self practice but the key to this is that people don’t know how?  So one of our most important jobs is to show them. 

Whilst doing that you also need to explain why you’re then giving the customer more value, catering for their needs and their values, and therefore becoming more important in their lives. The community and tribe vibe now comes into this a little bit.  There is a huge surge towards community-based clubs, classes and gatherings. By making your class as a group aware that you are giving them more than just a quick one hour fix they feel they are part of something.  Giving them handouts or doing it once-a-season retreat day where are you showing them how to bring the do-it-yourself season into their life at home? Giving them time to interact with each other over a cup of tea and a seasonal snack or create this community support feeling, and hopefully at the same time give you, the business owner, something unique.   With less people passing through and more people committing to regular updates from you, they can bring it into their lives properly.

It has come full circle. I think Yoga is coming back to its roots.  Accessible access and knowledge that people will get from teachers like us of how they can bring it into their lives permanently and benefit from it whatever they are and whatever age they are,  with you as their guide. 

Give them more!  A simple home yoga flow drawing or an outline at the beginning of the season,  guidelines of how to bring seasonal living in the home in a handout,  and they will want a seasonal afternoon retreat with all the guidelines on how to live the season at home.  And you will become a very popular teacher with an increasing bigger community because you value the people in it!

Visit our Seasonal Hub for more information or more from Julie on her website

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Yoga Anatomy

Moola Bandha – The Master Key

Introduction

We have probably heard many times in our regular classes our teacher saying the words ‘activate moola bandha’. If you are lucky, you know where it is, what it is, why you are doing it and, most importantly, are able to do it. However, if you are not one of the lucky ones, here are a few pointers to get you in the know. 

Why do you want to do this? This is an incredible technique, kept secret by the yogis for its far-reaching effects. It impacts us from the physical all the way through the pranic, subtle and mental bodies. It can be done anytime, anywhere and is an amazing boost to yoga practice. Here are a few of the highlights;

1. Physical: In the beginning, most people use MB to assist in the creation of a stable core. In some strong flow styles, they will use MB to support a lightness in the body as the practitioner moves between postures (e.g. in ‘jump-backs’ or lifting into arm balances). 

2. Deep relaxation tool: There are some important parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation and rejuvenation) fibres in the pelvic area, which are activated upon correct contraction of MB. This leads to a decrease in heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and an increased feeling of rest and wellbeing. What this means is, when you activate MB you are bypassing your mental stimulation of stress, and accessing calmness directly. Like you are ‘hacking’ your nervous system. This is amazingly brilliant in today’s super stressed out society.

3. Subtle: However, this is only the beginning of how cool this technique is, the main impact is a subtle one. MB blocks the descending movement of apana vayu or downward flowing energy, and redirects it upwards. This is good news for lots of reasons. 

4. Kundalini: The activation of Kundalini Shakti, a special kind of energy that lives in Mooladhara, your root at the base of your spine. After being lucky enough to have been initiated into some kundalini practices, I must say that the stronger my MB, the stronger the kundalini techniques, and (as a general rule) no MB = no kundalini rising. 

Where is it? 

Location of the Moola Bandha – The Master Key

For blokes it is in the area of the perineum (the ‘notcha’ point…not yer scrotum, and not yer anus, but in-between the two ;)), and for ladies it is the set of muscles around the cervix.   

It may take a bit of time to isolate the specific muscles, in the beginning often the muscles around the anus or front of the pelvic floor also contract, but with practice you can isolate all 3 of these areas, and activate each separately. 

These are 3 separate techniques in Yoga, if you are interested in knowing more about this, please see ‘Moola Bandha, the Master Key’ or other publications by the Bihar Yoga school on bandhas as they make it very clear. Also reference them for exact location if needed. 

How do you engage it? 

You contract and lift the muscles inwards and upwards. 

How does it work? 

Physically: You will strengthen those inner core muscles and learn to isolate and connect to the pelvic area more effectively. You improve the blood flow in this area of your body. You will also improve your neural connections to this aspect of the nervous system, so as you squeeze the muscles, it will send a signal through your nervous system, to your brain which triggers certain neuronal circuits and creates a more sattvic state of being in your body. 

Pranically, the lock unlocks knots (granthis) in the being which stop the energy from moving upwards along the spine. Upon release of the bandha, it removes physical and mental impurities, and flushes prana through the body. 

What would happen if you integrated this amazing technique into your being? Why not have a try? 😊 

Teacher Training

The Seven Best Ways you could talk yourself out of a Teacher Training Course !!!

Confused Yoga Student ponders whether to join a yoga teacher training course

The thinking process of “Will I? … Won’t I?” happens to everyone trying to make the decision to embark on a Teacher Training course. 

Running it past the logical left brain will give you your old beliefs and learned logistical patterns.  These are often negative.   Your right brain thinks – “how can I creatively make this happen in my life?”, so also running it past this side where your thoughts are usually positive allows a more balanced viewpoint looking from both sides. 

Engaging the thinking mind and then going beyond the thinking mind to the realms of infinite possibilities can lead you to a life changing decision.

Here are seven negative beliefs that can stop you making that jump! 

1. I am not good enough                                                                      

Internal Dialogue: 

Everybody will be so much better than me and so much more experienced 

Course Director:

A good course should cater for everyone and make you feel reassured at the interview process. Often those with the least experience turn out to be the best and most passionate teachers. 

2. I can’t do difficult postures

Internal Dialogue: 

I’m frightened to be embarrassed or put in a position that my body finds too difficult and maybe hurt myself.

Course Director:

Yoga is for all – all shapes sizes and abilities. This means teachers should be all shapes sizes and abilities too as they inspire and attract others most like themselves.

3. My life is too busy to add anything extra onto it! 

Internal Dialogue: 

I can’t possibly spin any more plates, do homework and read because I am already stressed as it is! 

Course Director:

Isn’t that just the very reason why you should do the course? Everyone is busy! A good course will give you the space and time for yourself that you most crave and re-charge your energy!  Its a win-win for everyone, partner/ kids and you! 

4. People around me won’t approve … 

Internal Dialogue: 

They’ll think I’m turning weird. 

Course Director:

So what!  They’ll also be the first to ask you to teach them! So step out of your comfort zone, feel the fear and achieve your goals!

5. What happens if I miss a weekend or some family event happens and I can’t attend?

Internal Dialogue: 

After the time and financial investment I wont get a qualification.

Course Director:

We always have to deal with this on any course we run but rest assured there are always solutions to you finishing your required hours.  Stuff happens and any good course will always work with you and not against you 

6. I can’t afford it

Internal Dialogue: 

The course is a lot of money for me to spend

Course Director:

You can’t afford not to!  Most good courses offer payment options and there are more funding options appearing all the time. Always ask about scholarships or exchange!

7. It’s not worth the investment

Internal Dialogue: 

Its only a dream – I can never really afford to do it!

Course Director:

How much are you willing to spend to have time developing and working on your personal, physical, mental and emotional health and a feeling of well-being? The change first happens with you, and then change happens in the world around you.

To sum up … Try getting rid of old belief patterns that keep you stuck as doing so is the way forward to a new future. Turn the negative thoughts into positive actions and the world is your oyster, or, the world is your Kurmasana (in Sanskrit)! 

Julie Hanson, Sue Woodd 

Seasonal Yoga Teacher Training 

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How Best to Study to Become a Teacher:

Short Intensive Courses, versus, Longer study Options

As a yoga teacher who has studied a lot abroad, I am often asked about yoga intensives and whether you should study yoga teacher training in one chunk on a beach in Goa, or at home over a longer period of time. They both have their benefits, of which I am sure you are aware of many.

Benefits of Short intensives:

  • shorter training time,
  • intensity of practice,
  • immersion, the time away can offer a very welcome space from the demands of daily life and in that space, a depth of understanding and practice can prevail,
  • sometimes cheaper,
  • heat (!!),

However, there are limitations to shorter trainings too, I hope you will find the benefits of my experience helpful to add to the mix.

The yoga school I attended ran its programs in intensive month-long courses. I did the training in chunks, my first month in Rishikesh was the first Yoga I ever practiced and when I got hooked by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda there. That month changed my life forever.

A few years later, when I worked as an accountant for Ernst and Young, I had the luck to be offered 3 months of leave before entering into the next phase of my journey with them. I jumped at the chance and headed back to Swami. He had moved the school to Thailand, so I studied months 2-4 on the gorgeous beaches there. That was it for my career as an accountant, I changed path almost as soon as I returned home. I then went back and forward to the school in Thailand each year until I had completed the Hatha and Kundalini programs (26 months).

 

Screenshot 2019-06-25 at 20.15.26

What was interesting about going in and out of the school like that was being able to take the teachings and then try to apply them for a few months before heading back for more intensive training. That was great. Some of the other students there just stayed in the ‘yoga bubble’ surrounded by beaches and other young practitioners also eating brown rice and discussing the latest colonic advice. It was very easy to assume you were making progress there, having amazing meditations with hours of practice each day and never losing your temper, even when your ‘fan spot’ was taken by a new comer to the school.

I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if you removed my friends and popped them back into their family home for a week with their parents and siblings to see just how evolved they really were! I know that I was a total Yoga wally for many years before my regular trips back home to Glasgow brought me well and truly back to earth.

You see, when you remove yourself to practice yoga intensively, a lot of change can happen very quickly, and so it can bring a sort of re-integration period when you come home:

  • Internal conflict at the vast differences in ethos of the two places,
  • lack of community and support upon your return,
  • lack of time to integrate the teachings slowly so that they go deep into your being,
  • gradual melting away of the impact of the training, and if you do not go away again all the learnings may disappear completely,
  • lack of compatibility of the teachings with real life, (as a yoga teacher who has not integrated the teachings with the Western lifestyle you are not able to really understand the demands of the life of a working parent, and so inappropriate advice on practices and depth may be given.)
  • and the most important one – you separate yoga from life.

So, although I highly recommend going away and doing intensive periods of practice, these should be integrated into the life you lead. They should support your growth in all the areas of your life, your work, your family life, your studies, your place in society, as well as your personal evolution.

I would consider that the benefits of longer periods of training at home are:

  • They can fit around your day to day life (e.g. 1 weekend per month means no time off work and not leaving your family and loved ones for extensive periods),
  • You will usually be learning from Yoga teachers who are living and breathing their Yoga in the environment in which you live and so the advice is more relevant,
  • As you start to live the Yoga teachings, you are supported through the changes, which can be challenging, by your colleagues and teachers,
  • You will become a member of a Sanga (spiritual community) which is close to your home and can become your yoga network for the rest of your life,
  • The pauses in study give time for integration and digestion of the information, so far more is retained and embodied,
  • You will have a school you can continue studying with beyond your training close by,
  • You can spread the cost over a longer period of time.

Ultimately the right choice will depend on your needs and preferences and what your intension is for your training. Whatever you choose, good luck on your Yoga path.

Marit Akintewe of Seasonal Yoga

 

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Why goal setting is important ?

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10 Tips to Goal Plan

The first and most important thing about Goal Planning is knowing what you have to do before starting the process and why you are doing it. Get a note book or piece of paper and write each title from the list below. 

1. If you don’t know where you are going, how do you know the direction to go?

 
 
 
 
 
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You are in charge of your own mind, or are you? Are you being pushed into making life decisions by the wants and needs of others?  If you have no plans of your own you may find yourself doing meaningless jobs that are other peoples’ priorities.

How can you make sure you are living by your own values and meeting your own needs and priorities? What are your personal values?

Complete this questionnaire to dig deeper. In Seasonal Yoga we always talk about our life values as part of the Metal Element (Autumn) coins/ metal / value – but always useful to do this in any season! 

 

2. Look at your achievements for last year 

Knowing you can achieve and giving yourself a pat on the back helps with moving ahead in achieving last year’s goals and you create a positive attitude to planning them for this year.  Keep list of your achievements on a piece of paper. I have a goal book which I use each year and it’s interesting to look back at my steady improvement and achievements over the years I have been doing this. 

3. Look at the things that happened that you could have done without

It’s usually called “Pulling the Weeds”.   Look at this list then look at what you did to resolve the emotional upheavals created.  The past is gone, now look ahead.

4. What did you not achieve which you wished you had? 

Look at the list and work out which of the things on the list you would still like to happen and why.  Also think about why you didn’t achieve them. 

5. What about the things you succeeded in? 

How did you do it?  Think about this question and answer “how” for each achievement, listing them down

6. What made you happy last year? 

Close your eyes and recapture the moments of happiness – write them down.

7. What roles do I have in my life? 

List all the roles you have in your life.  

8. How much time to you spend in each role? 

Draw a circle and map like a pizza.  How much time you spend doing each role ?  Section each subject in pizza slices, then mark how much of that slice you spend in that role.

9. Look at the wheel – notice where the spaces are and where the time is full

Connect the pizza slices by joining the dots, then seeing how your wheel looks ? What are the gaps in your life?  Would you like to fill them?  

10. Look at your values from point 1 

Now list your top three values, the things you would like to achieve for next year.  Be realistic but do set high standards. 

Now your road map is set for the coming year. You have a clear direction.  Meditate on it.  Remind yourself constantly and see if you can realise your dreams for this year or at least make a dent in moving toward them.

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6 Mistakes to Avoid when Choosing Your Yoga Teacher Training Course

Is the teacher more interested in you or their phone ?

1.Check which type of Yoga you will be qualified to teach when qualified

A proper conversation with the trainer or applications assistant is essential here.  Ask what type of yoga will I be qualified in on my certificate?  Attending a class of a previous student can let you see the interpretation of the style of Yoga and allow you to see if they meet your target as a Yoga teacher.

2. Ask how many people are attending the course

We run teacher trainings and have noticed that people differ in their preference for size of training school.  If you are quite a shy person and find it hard to speak in public or ask questions in front of big crowds choose a course that is smaller and more intimate.

3. You don’t like the teacher(s)

We have many people applying to move to our training courses from other trainings because they just don’t like the teacher.  Yoga is a very personal thing and if you have not already established that you like the energy of the person you will be spending 200 hours with, now is the time to do it before you pay the deposit!

4. Not asking if you can speak to one of last years newly qualified teachers

Always ask if you can have a phone conversation with a person who has recently finished the training.  Make sure it is a student form the most recent course as any good course organically grows in content or ability. Sometimes they can also go downhill so check this out.  If there is a resistance in giving you a way of contacting someone be very suspicious.  Look online at the latest testimonials and ratings.

5. The times and dates match availability in your diary

Quite often students don’t check for family occasions in their diary expecting to just be able to catch up somehow?  Any good yoga school will be strict with your contact hours – or they should be!  The recognised authority says that of 200 hours, 180 of those have to be contact hours – according to Yoga Alliance – so you may have to wait anther year to catch up.  It’s also a good idea to ask what their catch up policy is in case of an unexpected event creeping unplanned into your diary.

6. Ask about drop-out rates

Make sure to ask how many students start each course and what percentage of those actually complete it.  If the school has a very high drop out rate perhaps the material is too difficult to grasp or the teaching style and delivery not up to scratch.  Consider asking if you can sit it on maybe 30 minutes of an actual course to get a feel for the energy of the teaching.  Ask if they have an open day!

More info on Teacher Training

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