Tag Archives: Yoga Teacher Training

Races, Running and Buddhas

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Can you believe it’s Thursday already?  This week has flow by!  Tomorrow morning I leave for Washington D.C. to support my team who is running the Nike Women’s Marathon Half.  I’m a little bit nervous but also kind of excited since I’ve never been there before.  I’m planning to fit in a little bit of sight-seeing in my down time. You all need to recommend some good things to check out!  On my list is the mall, the Smithsonian and possibly the Holocaust Museum. 

It’s a bit strange to be heading to another race so quickly after Boston.  I’m definitely nervous but this will be a good step to take in terms of moving on.  I’m just hoping everything goes smoothly, my team has a ton of fun and it’s an easy weekend.  Fingers crossed.

Speaking of races let’s talk running for a minute shall we?  My running has never felt better! I’ve been pushing my pace and increasing my mileage slowly over the past couple weeks. I’m starting to see my pace drop even on my easy runs and I’m wanting to run farther and push harder. It feels good.  The weather has been helping too, there is just something about running in shorts and short-sleeve shirt that feels so good after a long weekend!  Next week I plan to add in some speed work again and some hill workouts.  Hills seem to be where I can really increase my cardio and build my strength.  I’m looking forward to some more variety in my runs!

I’m starting to think about my fall racing plan.  I was considering doing a marathon but I realized I was looking forward to traveling this summer and not having to fit in my log runs.  Last summer I missed a couple of weekend trips because of teacher training and the summer before that Michael and I were training for Chicago.  I just really want to be able to go away, enjoy sleeping in, savoring my coffee and the cool summer mornings we get here.  I am excited to run a couple of half marathons.  Last year I ran the BAA Half Marathon and I plan to run that one again but I’m looking to add in one more.  I’m considering the Maine Half Marathon.  I’ve heard good things about the race and after our summer vacation there last year I’m pretty much in love with Maine.  It’d be fun to spend a weekend in Portland too.  Michael might even run the half too which would be awesome!  I still have plenty of time to make up my mind.  Any suggestions for other good half marathons to consider for the fall?

This is completely random but it made my day and I wanted to share! The other day Michael told me there was a package waiting for me when I got home.  He said it was a long overdue present.  I was pretty curious as to what it could be but I had a few ideas.  I was so excited to get home and see that he had so carefully picked out a Buddha for me!

My New Buddha!

My New Buddha!

I’ve been wanting a buddha since the fall when I was immersed in yoga teacher training.  I always thought it would be a good reminder of all the yoga means to me.  Think about it, your rushing in the morning to get out the door and head to work on time but you see the Buddha and it’s reminder to breathe and be more peaceful in the situation. It also just makes me feel like a real yoga teacher! It was exciting and I love the one he picked it out, it’s very me.

I’ll be back on Tuesday to share my experiences in Washington, D.C. and at the inaugural Nike Women’s Marathon Half! 

What are your suggestions for sights to see and visit in Washington D.C.? What fall half marathons do you love? Do you have a buddha?

In the Kitchen

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One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is to spend time in the kitchen.  I love preparing meals for the week ahead and find the time very relaxing.  When I was taking yoga teacher training we learned a lot about meditation.  Prior to teacher training I’d never meditated.  I always felt that if I was going to a studio for a class I’d rather just take a yoga class.  But through our meditations in teacher training I learned that meditation comes in many forms.

Walking meditation is very popular.  In walking meditation you focus on the world surrounding you and your breath.  You tune into the movements in your body and the sounds around you.  In the process you tune out your internal thoughts.  I’ve always thought that running is similar.  And quite honestly I consider running my form of meditation.  It’s quiet time, time to focus on my breath and to observe my thoughts without judgement.

While I was in the kitchen on Sunday I felt myself relaxing completely.  There is something peaceful about the sound of the knife hitting the cutting board, the water running in the sink, the feeling of warm water on your hands as you wash the dishes.  I love just staring out the kitchen window to the back yard as I wash veggies or do the dishes.  My mind started to quiet and was able to completely focus on the recipes.

Banana Nut Muffins

Banana Nut Muffins

Cooking not only helps me relax but it’s a way to spend time taking care of myself. I always love heading into a busy week with healthy food already prepared.  On Sunday I prepared a salsa avocado chicken salad (recipe coming on Wednesday!) and then went on to make homemade banana nut muffins.  I love cooking when I have the entire day to get lost in it.  I have no reason to rush or hurry my way through and somehow that makes me enjoy the food more.  I know when I’m busy this week and grabbing my chicken salad for lunch I’ll be reminded of how peaceful it was to prepare the meal and undoubtedly it will make me slow down while I eat.

So next time you are in the kitchen with some free time, preparing your favorite meal I urge you to slow down and relax.  Focus on the process of chopping the veggies, preparing the meat or mixing the flour and sugar before combining the wet ingredients.  You may find that you like the time in the kitchen a bit more…

Have you ever experienced meditation in the kitchen?  Do you find cooking relaxing?

On Teaching My Own Class!

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Wednesday morning I taught my very own yoga class.  Next week I’ll be teaching it again, and the week after that, and after that and well you get the idea.  It’s my class to teach each week!

I was pretty nervous about teaching on Wednesday.  It was the first time I’ve taught since teacher training ended in January and only the second time I’ve taught an hour and 15 minute class. I was afraid no one would come, that I’d mess up, that it wouldn’t be my best class and so much more.

Truth is I did mess up and it wasn’t my best class.  People did come, in fact two of the girls from the Athleta Burlington store where I am sponsored athlete came to surprise me! And you know what? I loved every second of teaching, learned so much and I can’t wait to teach again.

The Athleta girls and I after my first class!

The Athleta girls and I after my first class!

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The Athleta girls and I after my first class!

I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and reflections…

  • I did mess up, but you know what? Only I knew that.  I completely forgot Sun C’s.  Literally, could not tell them what to do.  I fumbled my way through a combo Sun A/Sun C type salutation, brought them back to the front of the mat and just did a few more Sun A’s.  No one knew, and they all still raved about my class at the end. And I remembered Sun C’s clear as day about half way through the practice.  Nervous, much?
  • I struggled to mirror…you know when I say right but do left?!  I can barely keep my lefts and rights straight at 5pm let alone at 6:30am.  I know I did it wrong, and even did a little dance shifting between right and left legs when their backs were to me.  Nobody knew.  I did learn that I need to always wear a ring only on one hand to help me identify left and right quickly.  And I learned another good trick to help me mirror…put an R in the left hand corner of my mat and a L in the right hand corner of my mat.  LOVE that.
  • I learned that planning a class when you know you have week after week ahead of you is so fun! You can pick a theme and run with it. And if you are like me think of a million good ideas while you are writing the sequence, you can just jot them down and use them the next week.
  • Planing a playlist is just as fun…I made a great playlist and then just changed it up slightly for next week! And to think, I’ll actually get to use all those awesome yoga songs at some point?! So fun!
  • I realized that next week, I want to find a reading to use in savasana because I just LOVE when the reading speaks to me and I want my students to experience that.
  • It feels incredible to lead a class through a practice you love, to share poses you love and sequences you love and see your students enjoy it as much as you do.
  • And lastly, it’s just down right cool to finally get paid to do something you love! Sorry…I couldn’t resist.  It was the first time I made money as a yoga teacher!

The biggest take away for me really was to get this first class under my belt.  I proved to myself that I can be a great yoga teacher and that I do know so much and it has a way of flowing out when I teach.  Wednesday’s class gave me confidence, which is exactly what I needed as yoga teacher.

Hopefully I’ll see you next week at Roots Yoga in Burlington, MA for Yogathlete with ME from 6:30 to 7:45am!

Roots Class

What was your first class as an instructor like? What is your favorite part of a yoga class?

How Teacher Training Changed My Body

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One of the questions I’m often asked is, “how has teacher training changed your body?”.  I definitely feel as if my body has changed.  I often thought I understood my body as an athlete prior to teacher training, I could push through pain and exhaustion and learned again and again how to improve my form or balance to become a better athlete.  Teacher training though taught me that I had so much more to learn.  Now I feel as if I am able to control my body and utilize the strength in my muscles to get in to deeper backbends and more challenging arm balances.  While  I still have my fears (um hello headstands and handstand) I’m slowly overcoming them and starting to trust in my body and strength more.

My running has improved thanks to yoga too.  My hips feel more open and my core stronger so each step feels more powerful.  I don’t feel as if I struggle with the pain in my hips as much as I once did and I definitely no longer struggle with ITBS.  I feel more balanced when I’m out running.  I haven’t had to wear my brace to help with runners knee in almost a year and I’ve never once thought I needed it!

My posture is much different.  I stand taller with my shoulders back and open more, my hips are more open on my front side and my tail is tucked.  It feels so good and natural.  As a taller woman, I’m 5’9″ I was always slouching and rolling my shoulders forward in an effort to look shorter.  It would make my back and neck hurt and was often really uncomfortable.  Today, I feel so much better and more confident standing taller.

I could talk all day about the subtle changes in my body but I think it’s best if I just show you.  Back in August we had to choose 3 challenges poses.  David photographed us in each one and then in January we came back and photographed them again so we could see how much we’ve changed.

Challenge pose #1

I choose wheel for my first challenge pose.  I really wanted to go from wheel to standing but knew I had a long way to go.

Wheel Pose August 2012

Wheel Pose August 2012

Wheel Pose January 2013

Wheel Pose January 2013

You can see I have really deepened my backbend.  I’ve worked to open my shoulders so I can straighten my arms completely and I’ve been working to open the front of my hips and contracting my glutes so I can continue to walk my feet closer to my hands.  With the support of a teacher to help guide me I can come up to standing and drop back to wheel again.  I’m still deepening my backbend to be able to come into this on my own.  I’m impressed with how dar I’ve come!

Challenge Pose #2

Handstand was my second challenge pose.  I’ve always wanted to get into this pose but struggled with getting upside down.

Handstand August 2012

Handstand August 2012

Handstand January 2013

Handstand January 2013

Back in August I couldn’t even kick up to a wall.  Now I am able to kick up to the wall and better understand how to control my body, which muscles to contract, how to hold my arms and shoulders to support my weight and I am slowly starting to get over my fear of being upside down.  I’ll be honest, I HATE kicking up to a wall but I’m learning and perhaps someday I’ll get into handstand without the wall.

Challenge Post #3

Forearm stand.  I always think people who can do this in the middle of a yoga class look ridiculously awesome and I wanted to be one of them.   Forearm stand scares me less than handstand but I’m still learning.

Forearm Stand August 2012

Forearm Stand August 2012

Forearm Stand January 2013

Forearm Stand January 2013

For me, what is most noticeable in this pose is the approach.  You can tell from the photos I’ve learned to engage my entire body in this pose and the chaos from the first pose is not visible in the second pose.  When I look at these two photos I see calmness and strength in the second photo and chaos and lack of trust in the first photo.  To me, that transformation is huge!

Like many things in life, I’ve learned we have all our strengths.  For me, I really wanted my strength to be going upside down or backbends but in the last 6 months I’ve learned that my strength is really in arm balances! I have the strength and flexibility to twist up my body and lift it off the ground and have so much fun doing it!  Arm balances are definitely my favorite now.  Next week I’m taking a workshop on arm balances and hope to learn some new balances and share photos!

Side Crow Pose

Side Crow Pose

Yoga is a journey and I’m impressed with how far I’ve come in the last 6 months.  I can only imagine how my practice will evolve and change in the future!

How has your changed your body?  What are your strengths and weaknesses?  Do you like backbends, stands or arm balances best?

Yoga Teacher Training…The Final Weekend!

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Last week I was counting down the days until the weekend.  I was so excited about this final weekend of teacher training!  I knew it would be celebratory and fun and most importantly the beginning of a new chapter.

Saturday when we arrived to the studio we were all buzzing, smiling and excited.  We started by assisting Jojo’s 9am class which was packed thanks to the new year and a group of Lululemon employees.  Adjusting classes is a unique way to be intimately involved with the students and their practice.  I love going around, helping students deepen poses, align better and relax into those juicy poses like reclined twist, janushirasana and pigeon.  Assisting students in savasana is always my favorite.  I love when teachers assist me, it helps me to relax and release any final tensions.  I try to give each student plenty of time and focus when adjusting in this pose so they too can enjoy savasana.

After Jojo’s class we had circle time.  Today was a little bit different. We each took a piece of paper, wrote our name on the top and passed it to the person to our right.  Each of us wrote one sentence on the paper.  The idea was to write down our thoughts, and impressions of the person on the paper.  We continued to pass the papers around, writing our thoughts and sharing what we admired in that person.  In the end we received our papers back.  They were filled with 13 notes from our fellow trainees with kind words, thoughts and opinions…words to lift us up and inspire us.  We then wrote our own words in response to those negative statements we have heard from those closest to us our whole lives. Then we read the notes from our peers and David asked us to write an affirmation about the person we have become…

I have the courage and presence of mind to say what others are thinking.  The intimacy and knowledge of my own practice take me to a place where I can teach and inspire others.

We broke for lunch and started to prepare for the afternoon community class.  It was truly a team effort to make the class a success. Those who were teaching walked through their class with the microphone and those how weren’t teaching prepared the studio.  That meant we were on vacuum, bathroom and prop duty…making sure everything was neat and clean and the studio was looking it’s best for those coming for the class.  While some of the trainees greeted people and helped them find what they’d need for a successful class I worked the front desk, signing people in and collecting waivers.  Once everyone arrived and was settled I headed in to take the class.

My Teacher Training Group!

My Teacher Training Group!

My fellow trainees literally rocked their class.  It felt like one giant party.  Everyone was great spirits and all smiles, the playlist was awesome and the class was challenging.  The room was packed with everyone’s friends and family there to support them.

After the class we broke for the day, my group quickly met to rehearse our class that we’d be teaching on Sunday.  I headed out to meet Michael.  We were staying in the city to go to dinner and see Savion Glover at the Boston Opera House.  Michael had gotten me tickets for Christmas and I was really excited for the night!  I showered and got ready for the night and wore a sparkly black dress.  Right before we headed out I quickly went to the bathroom.  As I was standing outside the door putting my jacket on to go I heard the sound of water…lots of water.  I turned the light on and saw the toilet over flowing.  Rapidly over flowing.  I quickly yelled for Michael and grabbed a towel and threw it on the floor.  I couldn’t help but laugh at the situation.  All dressed up for a night on the town dealing with an over flowing toilet.  But somehow it didn’t ruin my night.  It made it just that much better.

Sunday morning we took David’s public class.  As he said, it was his final gift to us.  David was in a great mood, full of smiles and laughter and had an awesome playlist to remind us the journey we’d been on.  We all laughed and enjoyed the class.  It felt good to sweat and flow next to my fellow teacher trainees.

Adjusting the Public Class

Adjusting the Public Class

We closed out the morning by having one final circle.  It was an opportunity to say whatever we wanted to the group.  We each went around sharing our story of the journey, and thanking each other.  For me it all seemed so surreal, to be sitting there on the final day of teacher training.  It was something I dreamed about and talked about for so long. We reminisced back to-day 1 when we had to hug everyone…and most of us agreed we had the same thought…hell no.  As for me, it was an opportunity to thank my teacher trainees and David for showing me that I actually don’t have my shit together, that I have walls just like everyone else and that I don’t need to be perfect all the time and really that’s the only way to live.  I told them the story about the overflowing toilet.  For me to laugh in that moment and know that I would still have a great night is truly a testament for how far I’ve come.  There were a lot of tears of happiness, joy and love.  In some way we all fell in love with each other throughout this journey.  And much like we started the journey we closed it by hugging each and everyone, but this time there was love and smiles shared with each hug.

Teacher Trainees

We broke for lunch and then prepared for another community class.  Sunday was my day to teach and I was so excited.  We mocked through our class with the microphone and set the mats up so we could demo as necessary.  Michael came to support me and soon enough the room was full.  We had a packed house! The class went so well.  I couldn’t have been happier! It was amazing to see more than 50 people follow our directions!

Teacher Trainees

After the class, everyone participated in our graduation ceremony! David showed a slide show with photos from our photo shoot.  They handed out our certificates and roses and before we knew it the day had come to an end.  It’s official…I’m a certified yoga instructor!

It's Official!

It’s Official!