Yoga Teacher Training 101

Participating in a teacher training program can be a life changing experience.  It opens up new doorways and possibilities, and entices one to view themselves and the world through a different lens where they can begin to recognize blind spots, broaden perspectives, and consciously evolve on a personal level.  Whether your intention is to teach or not, choosing to be self-invested in your own growth is well worth the sacrifices made to embark on this enriching and life enhancing journey.  Yes, there are sacrifices made when choosing to sign-up for a yoga training.  Amongst all of the gifts that a yoga training can grant you with, becoming more self-aware, being inspired to live a healthier more conscious lifestyle, and often freeing yourself of un-serving patterns and habits, we also sacrifice time with our loved ones, the finances required to register for the course, and much of our free time.  With all of this to consider, it’s important that you take the time to research the programs you are interested in, know what to look for, and ask the right questions to ensure you are choosing the course that best aligns with your lifestyle and interests.

What is teacher training exactly, and who is it for?

It is easy to think that yoga teacher training is solely for those who want to become a yoga teacher, and although a yoga training is the first step to take if you do want to teach yoga, these programs can foster an immense amount of self-inquiry and personal growth.

At some point most practitioners of yoga realize the depth of the practice and become curious, craving a deeper understanding not just of the postures, but of the roots that lie underneath the surface of the practice. A yoga training will offer you in-depth information about the history, philosophy and science behind the practice, while also giving you a better understanding of the human body and how it works anatomically and physiologically.  There is thorough examination of the yoga postures, their purpose, physical alignment, plus benefits and contraindications, while also focusing on how to build a class through sequencing and how to cue students effectively.  On a much deeper level, a yoga training helps students to recognize their own inner intelligence and encourages them to step into their highest and most honest state of being so that they can teach and serve their students with authenticity.

But even if you don’t ever plan on teaching and you simply want to learn more about the practice, these programs can foster a huge amount of personal growth, which is always a worthy investment.  You will expand your understanding of the practice as a whole while refining postural alignment and discovering different approaches to the poses.  There will be lots of practice time, some schools teach 2 classes per day, plus the addition of meditation, pranayama and mantra practices as well.

Yoga training is an enriching experience that can enhance both your practice and your life.

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Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.–Lao Tzu ~ Tao Te Ching

How do I choose the right teacher training?

Registering for a teacher training can often be confusing.  There are so many different programs out there now, so which one is the right one for you?  When choosing a teacher training there are 4 very important factors to consider that can help you narrow down you choices pretty quickly.

Format – There are typically 2 different formats for yoga trainings. First is the intensive format where you will gather for 4-5 consecutive weeks with usually only one day off per week. This format is a great way to immerse yourself into the teachings, but can also be overwhelming with all the information thrown at you.   Second is the extended format, usually spread out over 4 to 6 months, meeting 1 or 2 weekends per month. Sometimes you will see a combination of the two, with a few weekends spread out over a couple months, and ending with a one or two week intensive. The two latter formats allow for more integration time, which is often needed when you are taking in so much information, so think about what kind of learner you are, and in what type of environment do you best retain information.  This can give you a better idea as to what format may support your learning more. It’s important also to consider your current lifestyle and think about what your life would look like with the addition of a teacher training program in your schedule, and choose the one that best fits.  Ensure also that the dates work for you, as one missed day in yoga training is usually quite a bit of content. Most schools are flexible with time missed, but do your self a favor and be present for the entirety of the course if possible.

Location – With the plethora of trainings out there you will often find a good number that are running right in your own town.  When doing an in town training, which are typically the extended format, make sure that it is easy for you to get to, parking is something to consider as well.  Know that when choosing an in town training you will need to skillfully weave the training in with your everyday life, work, school, kids, family, and whatever else you have going on, which can be a learning experience in itself!  Then you have the destination trainings.  As enticing as it may seem to go practice yoga for a month straight on a beautiful beach somewhere, it just isn’t doable for everyone.  If you can make a destination training work in your life, you get the added immersion without all the regular distractions of life which can be really wonderful and enhance your experience and learning.

Teachers – It is important that you resonate with the teacher who is leading the training, as your level of learning will be heightened when training under a guide who you align with personally, and whose style fits with what you are hoping to learn. If you don’t know the teacher in a training you are interested in, go check out one of their classes, or at least look them up online, follow them on social media, or talk to other students who have already trained with them.  If the teacher does not live in your area, see if you can get in touch with them via email or phone or skype and ask the questions you need answers to, and you should be able to get a feel right away as to if you connect with them or not.

Syllabus – Know what interests you, whether that be history, anatomy, the subtle body, etc. then review the training curriculum to ensure that what you hope to learn is going to be taught on or even emphasized in the training you want to take. Each training varies slightly with their main focus, so ensure that it aligns with what you hope to know more about before signing up.  Now its not imperative, but good to know if the training is Yoga Alliance certified or not.  Yoga Alliance is the governing body that ensures that their schools are offering a curriculum that covers all the important aspects of yoga needed to be a teacher.  With that being said, there are some great programs out there that are not Yoga Alliance, but it would be good to read some reviews and get some background on the school and their teachers before paying your deposit.

What is the difference between a 200 & 300 hour training?

There are two designations of yoga teachers as determined by Yoga Alliance, RYT-200 and RYT-500.

A 200-hour training is the first step to becoming a RYT-200 teacher. The content offered in the course would be basic yoga philosophy & asana, anatomy, class planning, the business of yoga and how to break out as a new yoga teacher. This level of training will guide all participants to a deeper understanding of the practice and themselves, while also creating a strong foundation for those who want to teach.

A 300-hour advanced training provides the additional 300 hours needed to become a RYT-500. The content of this course would expand on the content offered in a 200-hour, while allowing participants to continue to deepen their knowledge and their practice. For those already teaching, a 300-hour can help to re-inspire and refine the teacher’s skills, while also developing specialized knowledge on certain aspects of the practice.

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Your life is a sacred journey. It is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what’s possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path… exactly where you are meant to be right now… And from here you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing, of courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity, and of love. ~Caroline Adams

The next teacher training program scheduled to start at Bliss is in March of 2017.  It is a 300-hour advanced training designed to give a deeper understanding and contribute to the growth of the skill set of those who already have a 200-hour training and are currently teaching yoga.  If you do hope to teach one day, it is always a good idea to begins with your foundational 200-hour course, however, anyone is welcome to register.  If the course material of our 300-hour is of interest to you, and you want to attend solely for personal growth and have no intention to teach we would love to have you, and will help facilitate your own learning and growth.

Our next 200-hour program is in the works to begin later in the spring of 2017.  If you would like to join our mailing list for all up coming programs and dates, please email Lindsey at lindseyp@blissyogaspa.com

Meet The Franklin Method

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The Franklin Method isn’t a system of exercises; but rather a new way of thinking about movement. Popular in Europe, this method is now making its way across the pond and into North America.
 
Structured around functional anatomy and the natural design of the body, everything done in the Franklin Method is based on scientific evidence and the most recent research in biomechanics. It essentially teaches ‘you’ to yourself. You are learning your own anatomy. With all of the things that we learn throughout life, we’re not really taught what it is that we are made up of or how to use our body correctly. The Franklin Method does this. The key is that not only do you know anatomy and function, but that you also EMBODY it. Embodying means that you bring it into your physical experience. A form of experiential anatomy.
 
The second portion of the Franklin Method is that along with its use of anatomy it incorporates mental imagery or visualization. In other words, how you can apply your thoughts and mind to create lasting positive change in your body.
 
We have somewhere around 80,000 thoughts per day. We are a product of these thoughts and a product of what we are repeatedly doing. Our movement and thought patterns are mostly automatic. The body as a system uses an energy efficient way of keeping itself going; by cycling through what it has always done. Years and years of habits create strong patterns. Some of these patterns can be good and supportive but others can actually be detrimental and unhealthy. In order to make an intervention and change a pattern, the mind and nervous system must be incorporated. If the mind and the nervous system can be involved, then the body will quickly start to shift and re-pattern.
 
One of the greatest discoveries of the 21st century is the plasticity of the brain; that your life will shape your brain and your brain will shape your life. The Franklin Method is at the forefront of practical neuro-plasticity; showing you how to use your brain to improve your body’s function. It teaches you how to harness the transforming power of the mind. It all starts with the knowledge that we have the power to change.
 
Posture and movement are driven by imagery, our thoughts and the mental pictures we have in our minds. If the image in your brain doesn’t correspond to the way the body is designed, the result will be a steady decline in function. By contrast, the best way to improve function is to start with an image that corresponds to how the body is designed.
 
Imagery has been proven to be the fastest way to produce change in the body while coupled with movement.
 
Most people are familiar with the example of an athlete visualizing everything going perfectly in his race before he ever runs it. They hear of Olympians going through each step of a movement or dance in their mind before they go out to perform. They’re using imagery. Some of the best athletes have been proven to also be very good imagers. There is a reason for this. 
 
No matter whether you’re doing Yoga, Pilates, Golf, Running or any activity you’ll be able to do it better when you start practicing the Franklin Method. You’ll experience more strength, coordination, flexibility and efficiency in your movement. 
 
When practicing Franklin Method, there is always a focus on the movement we do together. By giving something for the mind to focus on, your mind becomes supremely focused for an extended period of time. It in a sense becomes a moving meditation.
 
The way Franklin Method has you move your body helps you develop a meditative mind without the struggle most people deal with when trying to actively pursue meditation.
 
So not only does the Franklin Method re-pattern your body and make it function better, it also imparts some of the calming mental benefits that come along with meditation.
Alysen
 
Alysen is very excited to introduce The Franklin Method to Edmonton exclusively through Bliss Yoga Spa. The Franklin Method has taken Alysen to Vancouver, Colorado and New York. She has recently also assisted Eric Franklin with his class at New York University (NYU). She is one of only a handful of Level 3 teachers in Canada and is currently studying to become a teacher trainer for the method as a member of The Franklin Method Faculty.  Join Alysen Mondays at 1:15pm to experience a fusion of Pilates and The Franklin Method in a warmed environment to connect more deeply with your own body while restructuring new and healthier pathways in both the body and the mind. 

 

Yin Yoga ~ Purpose & Benefit

Yin vs. Yang

Yin and Yang are the constant balancing forces within life; Yin is the moon to Yang’s sun, the dark to the light, the cold to the hot and the passive to the active. Yin cannot exist without Yang, nor can Yang exist without Yin, and at the centre of this harmonious pairing is called “the Dao.”

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“Daoist yoga” or “Daoist Yin” is the predecessor to the “Yin” yoga we practice today. This practice originated in China and Taiwan and is approximately 2000 years old.  Daoist yoga was taught along with breathing techniques first thing in the morning to Kung Fu practitioners to prepare them for extended meditation practices.  Daoist Yin was also taught to these practitioners as a way to naturally balance the Yin and Yang and the “Chi Flow” within the body.

 

Daoist yoga is a practice that combines both Chinese and Indian cultural traditions. This form of yoga tries to encompass all; It incorporates the Yin, the Yang, mediation and breath work in order to find the balance of chi flow or “the centre.” Yin yoga as we know it today was later derived from Daoist yoga by martial artist, Paulie Zink, and created popular in the western world by Paul Grilley, Sarah Powers and Bernie Clark. The name of the practice was changed early on by the latter three to avoid confusion between the teachings provided by Paulie Zink, and the much slower, more passive practice of Yin yoga taught by Paul, Sarah and Bernie.

 

yin 3With the new ideas towards Yin yoga, and the introduction of such passivity in a yoga practice, some clarity needed to be provided to differentiate these distinctive styles of yoga. The main yoga styles we see today can be categorized as either “Yin” or “Yang”. Yang styles of yoga go by a multitude of names but are most commonly referred to as “Hatha,” “Vinyasa,” or “Flow.” These forms of yoga in comparison to Yin yoga display opposition within their methods due to the fact that their approach targets independent yet coinciding tissues within the body.

 

The rhythmic activity of Yang Yoga, or “flow”, heats the body and stimulates the muscle fibres by stretching and contracting, while the cool passivity of a yin practice, where we hold poses for upwards of 5 minutes, establishes stress not stretch, on the connective tissues of the body.  The connective tissue targeted in a Yin practice include the fascia and ligaments which live in and around the joints, most of which are quite dry and stiff compared to that of the soft tissue of muscles. The purpose of initiating stress on the connective tissues is so that we can create more space and strength, which in turn creates a larger range of motion within the joint capsules. These tissues respond best to a slower, gentler practice as the more active yang practice would be more likely to damage these tissues, hence why the approach of a Yin practice and even the names of similar style poses are different. e.g.; swan in Yin is quite similar to pigeon in Yang.

 

There are a multitude of benefits we can receive when stressing our connective tissues, which include strengthening the bones and ligaments within the joint capsules and reducing inflammation while boosting our immune system and improving our natural healing response.  But in a Yin practice we also tap into an intricate internetwork within the channels of fascia called “meridian lines.” Meridian lines are said to hold the “Chi Flow,” “Prana” or “Life Force” of the body. We can access meridian lines through many different formats including accupuncture, acupressure and Yin Yoga as they tap directly into these energetic lines. These methods help to release stagnation through the subtle body allowing the chi to flow freely, which encourages increased vitality, organ health, a calmness of the mind and an increased emotional awareness. If the chi were to remain stagnant it could manifest itself as irritability, depression, anxiety, poor circulation, discomfort or physical illness.

 

Heated Yin vs. Room Temperature Yin

Since the rise of hot yoga, Yin has moved from an early morning, cool practice to a late evening hot practice, and a heated yin practiced in the evening definitely has it’s advantages.  In a tighter body, the added external heat in the room and the activity of the day is necessary in order to gain access to the connective tissues that we hope to stress and strengthen. Evening yin is also wonderful before bed as it provides a sense of calm, which allows for a slowing of the mind and a release of mental stress, which can assist us in falling asleep with ease allowing for deep healing rest. However, there is lacking awareness about the benefits of practicing Yin Yoga in room temperature and the often forgotten wisdom of the ancient Daoist practices from which Yin Yoga was born. When we practice Yin yoga in a heated environment we often create so much playability in the soft tissue of the muscles that they receive the majority of the “stretch” that is activated in each pose, leaving the connective tissue with only a small percentage of the stress applied in the posture.

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We are also able to be more supported and comfortable in yin postures with a greater availability to props, including blankets and bolsters, thus allowing for more of a restorative experience, which allows us to sink in and sync up that much more with each pose, ultimately benefiting not just the tissues of our body, but all of our physiological systems, our mind, and overall wellbeing. n Yin is practiced without warming the muscles it allows us to access more deeply the connective tissue so they can be the highest receiver of the “stretch” or stress.  Studies have also shown that longer, low force stretches that cause distraction within a joint, (when bones are pulled apart), stimulate bone and ligament growth, and produce the greatest amount of permanent elongation, with the least amount of trauma and structural weakening of the connective tissues. For the hyper mobile, heated yin can potentially become a dangerous practice, allowing for too much mobility in the muscles and the joints, and we all know that it is possible to have too much of a good thing. In a heated setting, “your edge,” also known as the safe end point of the range of motion in your muscles, moves to a much further degree making it much easier to overstretch or “pull” your muscles, causing pain, inflammation, and sometimes permanent damage. Since this stress does tend to move more into the muscles and out of the connective tissues, we are also limiting the benefits that would be received if the Chi did have more of an opportunity to become stimulated as it is in a non-heated Yin practice.  In a non heated setting, we are

 

In conclusion, all yoga is good yoga, and all Yin is good Yin.  When choosing a Yin class consider your intention.  Are you looking for a place to stretch muscle tissue in a toasty room and get a little sweat on?  Or are you hoping to create more long-lasting results in joint health and connective tissue elongation?  And when we ask ourselves the question of what we are hoping to achieve, the answer will always be clear and worthy.

 

Bliss YogaSpa offers both heated and non-heated Yin classes, check our online schedule for class times.

 

Written by Ashlynn Udholm

Edited by Lindsey Park