I’m a yoga teacher, not a doctor

In my teacher training, we were reminded that students would ask us all kinds of questions, including us being asked to diagnose something in a student’s body.

I love talking with my students before, during and after class.

Most classes I teach a student tells me it was exactly what they needed. Usually someone tells me they feel so much better after class.

Since I go with themes someone will tell me they are in the service industry and the feet sequence was helpful or they hurt their back earlier in the week and the low back practice made them feel better or the neck sequence felt so good for their strained neck.

Sometimes I have people telling me about an issue in their body that may or may not have anything to do with the sequence I just taught and they want advice.

I can give them advice on poses they can try to help with the issue(s) in the body or poses they might want to avoid. But that’s all I can do. I am a yoga teacher, not a doctor.

But if I don’t know I am honest about that. If it’s something I think I can do … Continue reading

Here’s to another year of reinvention

At the end of my yoga teacher training in May 2014 we did an exercise in class where we pretended like we were all getting together a year later for a reunion.

We talked about what we did. The idea was if we said it as if it did actually happen it would make it more real. We were advised to write a letter to ourselves to read in a year, which I did.

I wrote to myself on May 9, 2014 with instructions on the envelope that I could open the letter on May 8, 2015 or later. I opened that letter May 8, 2015.

I read the letter a year ago (and wrote about it here) and wrote myself a second letter to be read on May 8, 2016 or later.

I opened that letter last night and am posting today (May 9, 2016).

I stated intentions in my second letter (with some edits) to the following:

Dear Ann–now a yoga teacher with almost two years of teaching. DONE

Continuing the triangle transformation

When I applied for Piedmont’s Yoga Teacher Training in May/June 2013 an optional part of the application was to include a picture of myself in Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose), which is the picture in the top left photo, taken May/June 2013.

Once in the teacher training our long-term anatomy project was to pick three yoga poses that we were able to do but found challenging.

My three poses were Utthita Trikonasa (pictured); Dolphin; and Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby).

The middle left photo is the first photo I submitted for my long-term anatomy project.

We took the first set of photos of our three poses and did a write-up on the poses.

Over several months we explored our three poses and learned about our bodies in the poses in terms of alignment and feeling, whether emotional and/or physical.

There is a vast improvement between the first and second pose. I learned to eliminate hyperextension in the front leg without losing strength in the pose. I found a better spot for my head and neck. And I found more extension in my side body.

(If you want to learn more about eliminating hyperextension in the knees in poses liked Extended Triangle, read a … Continue reading

Doin’ yoga in the closet

Normally my daily yoga home practice happens in my yoga room, which also happens to be the spare room and the guest bedroom when guests are staying over.

Last week my dad and Hilda were visiting.

While they were visiting my home practice moved to my closet.

Yes, I’m bragging a little that I have a big enough closet to comfortably fit my yoga mat.

But really this post is about how you only need enough space for a yoga mat and you have enough space to practice yoga.

I have been in packed yoga classes where each student’s mat is just an inch or two away from each other. It’s not ideal, but it’s doable.

And at home you really only need the space of a mat and you’re good to go.

In my yoga teacher training we discussed how important a home practice is and how much of a struggle it can be at times.

There was a story we were told of a now teacher who would practice at home with his mat right next to his twin bed where he pretty much only had enough space for a mat in his tiny apartment.

I know creating a … Continue reading

A year later

A year ago today I graduated from my yoga teacher training at Piedmont Yoga Studio in Oakland, Calif. Wow, it’s already been a year? Wow, it’s only been a year?

Marilyn, my mother-in-law, asked if there would be video of my graduation. I told her no, but there would be photos. Curt did end up taking video. You can watch it here.

I had some idea of what I would use my new knowledge and skills toward. But I had no idea I would be where I am today.

It’s better than I ever imagined.

Two days after I graduated I headed to Tucson for some R&R and some time with my family.

I taught my very first yoga class at Mindful Yoga Studio as a donation class on that trip. It was a scary, but great experience. I appreciated that Hilda let me teach the class at her beautiful studio and all of the students and friends (and family) who came to support me (and Tucson’s food bank).

I started subbing at Alameda Athletic Club in August and September for the regular teacher. She went on maternity leave in October and I took over her classes while … Continue reading

Livin’ the dream

At the end of my yoga teacher training we did an exercise in class where we pretended like we were all getting together a year later for a reunion.

As I type this I realize our reunion would be about now …

We talked about what we did. The idea was if we said it as if it did actually happen it would make it more real. We were advised to write a letter to ourselves to read in a year, which I did.

I wrote to myself on May 9, 2014 with instructions on the envelope that I could open the letter today or later. I opened that letter today.

I addressed the letter to: Dear Ann–now a yoga teacher. Check! DONE

I stated intentions in class and in the letter (with some edits) to the following:

Thanks, Piedmont and farewell

There are so many great things about taking yoga classes, especially at a studio. Establishing a yoga community is such an important part of the practice.

While in Oakland I regularly took classes from two yoga studios.

Piedmont Yoga Studio is where I did my yoga teacher training and also took classes from teachers who were also teaching me how to be a yoga teacher.

On Saturday Piedmont Yoga Studio will close its physical doors.

In 1987 Piedmont Yoga Studio was founded by Rodney Yee, Richard Rosen and Claire Finn.

Until recently I regularly took classes from Richard. In November I took a master yoga class with Rodney Yee and his wife Colleen Saidman when they were in town. And earlier this month I took a class with Claire Finn. I told her after class that I had to make sure I took yoga classes with all three of the original Piedmont founders.

Piedmont will become “a studio beyond walls that is open and accessible to all.” You can read more about that here.

Even though I was only part of the Piedmont community for a little more than a year I have an attachment to it, what it represents and the … Continue reading

Learning over the weekend

Over this past weekend I attended two 5-hour yoga workshops.

There were supposed to be three, but unfortunately the Friday Fibromyalgia yoga workshop was canceled.

I attended the two workshops at Piedmont Yoga Studio.

Piedmont explains a little about the workshops: Adaptive yoga is the tailoring of the practice to people who are not “sick” but have physical limitations. This 2-day workshop explains the benefits of yoga in helping with issues such as pain, mobility and emotional states.

Saturday was on yoga and Parkinson’s with one of my favorite yoga teachers and people, Vickie.

Vickie has been teaching people with Parkinson’s for many years and has learned so much along that journey.

During my yoga teacher training we were required to observe and assist 25 hours of classes with any of the teachers who were part of the program.

I observed some of Vickie’s Parkinson’s classes. It was fascinating and I always felt happy while there. And I learned so much. There are so many ways to do Surya Namaskars (Sun Salutations).

And the best thing I learned was that yoga is accessible to everyone, no matter your limitations.

Something I really like that Vickie says is to teach to the … Continue reading

Pursuing happiness

You want to know the real reason I quit my job?

I wasn’t happy.

I was also becoming a person I didn’t like.

And that definitely needed to change.

When I started my yoga teacher training about a year ago (can’t believe that was a year ago) it wasn’t my intention to quit my job and solely be a yoga teacher.

I planned to teach on the side and maybe eventually move more full time into health and wellness, which would include being a yoga teacher and blogger (and maybe a few other things I have up my sleeve), but like everything in life, things changed.

I have many things to do on my to do list. But the No. 1 item is to be happy.

I can’t be the best me if I am not happy and good to myself.

A few friends have asked me: Are you teaching full time? Where are you teaching?

No to the first question. Keep reading for an answer to the second question.

First, yoga teachers can’t possibly work 40 hours a week as a yoga teacher. Most teachers have to travel to multiple studios (or gyms) for classes, teaching can be emotionally and physically … Continue reading

Curbing sadness with yoga practice

This was originally posted on Nov. 10. I thought it would be nice to repost. This is a great sequence to do any time, not just when you are sad or have low energy.

Someone I care about has been sad lately. I want to help him. And anyone else who could benefit from this post.

So I did some research on yoga poses to help with sadness and mild depression.

In yoga teacher training on Thursday night we focused on forward bends. Forward bends bring your energetic level to calm and take your attention inward. The mind is quieted while in forward bends.

There are some forward bends in my Curbing Sadness practice.

And, of note, you don’t have to sad to do this practice.

Yoga poses have contraindications. So if you have health issues, please inquire before practicing.

And remember if something hurts or just feels wrong, don’t do it. Sensation is different than pain.

I did this practice myself. And I have to say it was very calming and relaxing. I felt well-rested after practicing.

From doing a little research, here is a practice I have written up to curb sadness/mild depression, which can be done … Continue reading