Here’s Why I Teach Prenatal Yoga

By Business Of Yoga, Food for thought, Prenatal Yoga, Yoga Teachers

I came into teaching prenatal yoga by chance. I wasn’t sure if being a mom myself and a yoga practitioner would make me able to serve the pregnant population around me. My first classes were clumsy and although I knew Prenatal Yoga should not just be a diluted version of a regular class, I feared offering too much or going too far. Here is the magic though, a prenatal yoga class might very well be the only place your student will come to that doesn’t treat her like a person with an impediment.  The class is meant to meet students where there are in their practice whether they are brand new or seasoned.  

Asanas are multidimensional. They require flexibility of the body but also endurance of the mind as well as connection to one’s breath. The idea that a class, mostly seen as physical, can bring so much more into a person’s journey is extremely humbling as a teacher! When you see a student leave with a new perspective on their pregnancy or a newfound sense of autonomy and trust in their intuition, you know you’ve honored Yoga as a whole. They might be directed towards a class for alleviating common aches and pain but, when you know the vastitude of the yoga teachings, you know that most lessons are meant to flourish off the mat and, in this case, straight into the labor and delivery floor.  

Something happens in a prenatal yoga class; it acts as a central magnet for likeminded people. 

 

My absolute favorite part of teaching is when two students, who just met, can’t stop chatting, sharing experiences and leave the class sharing their phone numbers and making decaf coffee date. It happens often. We say it takes a village, and the village can be built before the mayor arrives. I am a firm believer that if we take the time and seize all the opportunities that present themselves to build a nonjudgmental, inclusive and safe community around the pregnant folks, the anxiety and stress that come with welcoming tiny humans into the world and the uncertainty and challenges of parenthood can be greatly alleviated.  

I think that there are very few jobs that never require you to be a student forever. When you are a prenatal yoga teacher, or have prenatal students in your classes, you have to stay very much informed. Not only to provide students with reliable information but also because guidelines and studies are constantly evolving. And while the framework doesn’t change much, the material you can bring in could potentially save a student’s like and enlighten them on their rights and the best practices to accompany them on their journey. As a yoga teacher with no other qualifications, I stay in my lane and never diagnose or pretend to treat anything but by constantly seeking information it allows me to stay relevant to my students.  

Do you know the best part of teaching prenatal yoga? The birth announcements. Pictures, birth stories and then sometimes meeting the baby is the most exciting part! Once you are part of someone’s journey through birth, you are part of their practice for life.  

 

Charitable Ways to Practice Yoga Sutras

By Sanskrit, Yoga, Yoga Lifestyle, Yoga Practice

A deeper understanding of yoga came into play long before fancy yoga gear and pretty Instagram photos attracted students to the practice. Some students will even admit that the cute outfits and celebrity praise from stars like Gweneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston guided them towards experiencing yoga (Gweneth once credited herself to popularizing the practice). Still, ancient yogis had a different meaning to yoga aside from the asanas and breathing techniques taught in class—a method that they encompassed into their lifestyles outside of the studio: the Yoga Sutras.  

The Yoga Sutras dates back nearly 4,000 years but still applies to modern-day living. The sutras focus on the eight limbs of yoga, guiding towards living a more peaceful and fulfilling life. As explained in the first two limbs, yamas and niyamas, yogis can navigate your daily lives more purposefully, transforming how you view the world. You can improve your social interactions, kindness towards yourself and others, among other pathways to becoming a better human being. And there’s no better moment to put the sutras into practice than now, as September 5th is International Charity Day. Below are some charitable ways you can practice yoga sutras and embody the true yogic lifestyle. 

Ahimsa 

Ahimsa is the Sanskrit word meaning non-violence or non-harming. It’s about separating yourself from the anger or aggression that may arise in certain situations. A charitable way to tap into this Yoga Sutra would be to extend kindness toward others and be more accepting of those you encounter. For instance, holding the door open for someone would be a nice gesture that demonstrates ahimsa. Instead of being annoyed that they are making you late, you can choose to refrain from negative thinking and introduce a more balanced approach. 

Satya 

Truthfulness exhibits the satya sutra. Upholding honesty in your interactions alleviates much of the burden you put on yourself, as well as helps you form authentic relationships. By filtering your words, you’re preventing hurting others with unwanted thoughts or opinions. Consider this sutra in all of your conversations to ensure that you showcase yourself in a trustworthy light. 

Asteya

Asteya, in modern-day terms, means non-stealing, which sounds much easier than it is for many. This sutra is more than promising not to steal money or goods that don’t belong to you but can also translate to consuming someone else’s time, energy or burdening them with work. Many of us learn to work hard for our money and possessions from birth, but asteya takes it a step further, making yogis aware of other things you do that may be taking advantage of others. Think about this sutra next time you request to leave the office early or keep an employee past their shift’s end while they help you with your order. You could be stealing from them without even realizing it. 

Brahmacharya

Also known as the conservation of energy, brahmacharya focuses on avoiding things that unsettle the mind and body. It’s often referring to sexual activity, which depletes both your mental and physical energy, but the practice suggests that other acts could violate this sutra. Examples would be consuming loud music or violent movies. Noticing what you are taking in and how you exert your body emotionally will keep you in line with this sutra.   

Aparigraha

Many of us are probably guilty of breaching aparigraha. Otherwise defined as non-grasping, aparigraha is a form of hoarding through greediness and always wanting more than you have. Societal pressures encourage this type of thinking, reminding us of the powers that an abundance of money or material items bring to our lives. However, pulling back on your impulse buys and feeling grateful for what you have at the moment is a way to practice this sutra and is a pretty charitable way to live.      

Saucha

Kicking off the niyamas is the saucha sutra, which emphasizes purity. The intention is to keep the space around you clean and organized and purify your thoughts manifesting inside. Try adopting this sutra by introducing meditation into your daily routine to rid your mind of anxious thoughts and establish more clarity. 

Santosha

If you are content with what life has to offer you, you are already following the sutra, santosha. On the mat, this sutra teaches you to accept that where you are may be different from the day before or after—feeling satisfied with your progress in a pose rather than beating yourself up for your abilities. Finding comfort in where you are in all facets of your life allows you to release the need for perfection in all that you do. 

Tapas

When igniting the tapas sutra, you have the desire and willingness to do more. You are committed to whatever the task is at hand, whether it relates to the changes in your physical being or how you treat others. Fueling your body with good nutrients and exercise, or even devoting much of your energy to your yoga practice, is a charitable action that embodies the tapas sutra. Target the contents of your life that could require more of your attention. 

Svadhyaya

In yoga classes, instructors often encourage their students to notice how they are feeling without judgment – witnessing the thoughts and feelings that appear without trying to change or manipulate them in any way. This exercise is a sense of svadhyaya. It’s a form of self-observation where you study your perspective to gain insight into specific parts of yourself. This practice also enables you to see compassion for others as you observe yourself outside looking in. 

Ishvara Pranidhana

The final niyama of the Yoga Sutras is Ishvara Pranidhana: one of devotion to a higher power. Asking yourself what God or a person of a greater essence would want you to do in a situation—thinking about a circumstance outside of yourself and what would be the best course of action for everyone involved. Practicing this sutra may help you find the comfort and mental clarity that you need.

class with a teacher who found out how to become a yoga instructor

6 Top Reasons for Doing A Yoga Teacher Training

By Mindfulness, Yoga, Yoga Lifestyle, Yoga Practice, Yoga Teachers

September is a time of transition.  The first leaves are changing, and pumpkin season is just around the corner.  September also happens to be International Yoga monthI was quite intimidated when I first started my yoga teacher training as I wasn’t sure if I was really ready for it. However, after a bit of research, I quickly realized how welcoming the whole Yoga community is and that it truly is for everyone who wants to expand their already existing knowledge.  That’s why I would like to share the top six reasons why you should enroll today and start your Yoga Teacher training.

1. Turn your hobby into a career.

Is there something more fulfilling to think of? Probably not. Over the last one and a half years, well, basically, since we’re dealing with a worldwide pandemic, I’ve seen many people rethink their lives, values, and priorities. I can feel a greater sense of awareness about our physical and mental well-being taking a more extensive presence in our lives, which in the end is a good thing, right? People are changing career paths: We’ve already adapted to life without gyms, and Yoga is an excellent example of a mind-body practice that can be performed everywhere – all you need is a mat. Modern technology makes it possible for you to start your zoom class from the comfort of your own home.

2. Build life-long friendships with like-minded people from all over the world.

YogaRenew has its own Facebook group for enrolled students. They can ask questions, exchange knowledge and tips, or simply celebrate their success when, for example, someone hosted their very first class.

I was fascinated to see such a heartwarming and positive group of people encouraging each other and am convinced to have made friends that I’ll keep for life. Having a shared passion can build incredible bonds. The sense of belonging within this positive community has also helped me feel less isolated when I couldn’t see friends or family due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

3. Push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Let’s keep it real; Doing Yoga Teacher training will not always be easy. It requires determination, discipline, and endurance. It can be very challenging at times, especially if you’re trying to balance family life and your already existing career –  I get it. But the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel once you finish it is priceless. Besides that, YogaRenew allows you to complete your studies at your own pace, as Kate Lombardo perfectly explained in How To Become A Yoga Instructor (The Ultimate Guide).

4. Do something for your mind, body, and soul.

Yoga is more than just stretching or exercise; Yoga is about mindfulness and helps restore the balance between soul and body. The so-called asanas aim to resolve inner contradictions and make you fully aware of the connection with the world, its living beings, and the whole universe.  While teacher training will provide you with all the tools to extend your wisdom and deepen your practice, you will eventually also have even more fun doing Yoga. I found that the more knowledge and understanding I assembled, the more rewarding and exciting it has gotten for me.

5. Experience a boost of self-confidence.

Knowledge is a power that can lead to more Self-confidence. I’ve noticed that many people look up to Yoga teachers as they are calm, wise, and overall balanced. Now that’s what Yoga does to you, right? My own mentor was a pioneer in the Yoga scene in Switzerland, and I remember vividly how I knew at the early age of fifteen that I want to be just like her one day. She’s over ninety by now and still keeps me inspired to this day. She radiates happiness and confidence. I aim to be that glowing old lady for someone else one day, and absolving a Yoga teacher training is undoubtedly a step in the right direction towards that goal of having a satisfying future with purpose.

6. Welcome the journey of self-exploration.

The term self-discovery comes from psychology and refers to a process in which a person wants to find out what makes them tick, what values they have, and what goals they are pursuing. Self-discovery, therefore, includes self-realization.

The Sanskrit word Svadhyaha means “self-study.” It is not without reason that self-discovery, along with the appropriate treatment of our fellow human beings, stands at the beginning of the path to self-realization. If you want to lead a happy life, you can’t avoid taking an inward look; something you’ll get the opportunity to do a lot while in training. Maybe you don’t even necessarily plan to teach but instead gain a deeper understanding of yourself, your mission in life, and your values? 

A yoga teacher training is not only a valuable education; it is also a powerful and fulfilling investment in yourself.

7 Yoga Poses to Keep You Grounded this Fall

By Wellness, Yoga, Yoga 101, Yoga Poses, Yoga Practice

Being grounded and in touch with your emotions is more important than ever during this time of constant change. Fall around the corner, and yoga can help to keep you grounded during the changing of the seasons and all of the changes our society is facing. The following poses allow you to just “be,” while performing subtle stretches. If you follow along with all poses of the practice, we will start with grounding into the Earth with our sit bones, and progress into grounding into the Earth with our feet.

  1. Sukhasana (Easy pose)

Even though this is named Easy Pose, the simplicity of it allows for the mind to dig deep, making it more difficult. While the sit bones dig into the Earth and your hands gently rest on the thighs, allow yourself to feel; give yourself permission to feel whatever you are feeling and don’t judge yourself for your own thoughts.

  1. Upavistha Bitilasana Marjaryasana (Seated Cat-Cow Pose)

You may be familiar with the Cat-Cow Pose done while on the knees, but this position allows for a subtle transition from Easy Pose. Like the previous pose, this pose is done while on the sit bones. Accompany the movement between Cat and Cow with deep breathing. When in Cat, absorb everything that is weighing you down at the moment. When you are in Cow, let everything that you just absorbed flow down your back and off your shoulders.

  1. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon Pose)

This pose opens up the hips and provides a deep stretch to the root chakra. Open your chest to the sky as you deepen this stretch and press into the mat. Feel the firmness of the ground beneath your hands and thank Mother Earth that you have a place to practice yoga.

  1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Rising to the feet after all of those ground poses should feel slightly exhilarating. While you stand tall and open your hands, receive the positive things that the world has for you. Think of the beautiful things that the Earth has to offer, and draw these positive thoughts and feelings into your heart.

  1. Vrksasana (Tree pose)

After you find balance in this pose, let your mind drift to the thought of how we are not so unlike trees. Feel your roots running through the Earth and think about where you came from and where you are today. What growing pains and experiences have you gone through to make you the person you are right now?

  1. Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)

In this pose, we focus on our strength. While we appreciate what we have gone through and remember it, we focus our eyes forward. Feel your feet push into the ground. Feel free to recite mantras such as “I am strong,” or “I am a warrior,” in this pose.

  1. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)

In this last pose, our feet are firmly planted on the ground, while one of our arms extends down and one extends towards the sky. This pose creates some great rotation in the body while developing strength. As we look up, we realize the importance of a connection to Mother Earth.

An Ayurvedic Guide to Vata Season

By Ayurveda, Healthy Recipes, Mindfulness

Autumn begins, and with it, the time for Vata. The air becomes significantly cooler, and the leaves slowly start falling from the trees. Whenever these transitional conditions begin, Ayurvedic autumn/winter starts. The perfect opportunity to interview Lindsey Rozmes, Curriculum Director, E-RYT 500hr certified Yoga teacher, and NAMA certified Ayurvedic Health Counselor.

Dear Lindsey, when the year slowly comes to an end, according to Ayurveda, the time of Vata begins. Seasonal changes can affect the human organism and also our mental well-being. Do you have any recommendations on how to have a smooth transition into the colder season? 

Ayurveda teaches us that we are part of the nature that surrounds us. We are made up of the same elements — earth, water, fire, air, space. As we shift from season to season, the elements shift too! Vata dosha is comprised of air and space elements. Its characteristics are cold, dry, rough, light, mobile, and irregular. To balance Vata and its qualities, we introduce the opposite qualities –warm, oily, smooth, heavy, stable, and regular! For a smooth transition into the Vata season, you can favor warm cooked meals instead of cold and raw foods. Avoid iced drinks and instead drink warm tea or water. You can slow down your pace and schedule more downtime in your daily routine. Vata season is a time to get grounded and restore rather than to push and deplete.

Ayurveda considers the change from one season to the next as especially challenging for our immune system; Do you have any tips on preventing colds? 

If you want to enhance your immunity, you have to make sure Agni (digestive fire) is strong! You can strengthen your digestive fire by drinking warm ginger tea or having a small piece of fresh ginger before meals. Eat good quality seasonal foods so that your meals are nourishing! Consider cooking with ghee and digestive spices like turmeric, ginger, black pepper, and cumin.  

Do you have any nutrition recommendations for the Vata season? Is there anything we should pay special attention to now that the season is changing? 

Mother nature naturally gives us what we need seasonally. If you go to the farmers market and buy whatever is fresh and local, the chances are high that it will be ayurvedically balancing for you and where you live.  

The Vata balancing tastes are sweet, sour, and salty. Think root vegetables like sweet potatoes, beets, butternut squash, and pumpkins! Warm grains like rice and oats. A squeeze of citrus. Warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg, and cardamom.

To balance the cold, dry, rough, and light qualities of Vata, favor meals that are warm, soft, dense, and a bit oily. 

Do you have a favorite Ayurvedic recipe you would like to share with us? 

One of my favorite Ayurvedic treats is golden milk! It is an anti-inflammatory tonic that is nourishing, building, and rejuvenating. It’s great as a nightcap and for satisfying sweet cravings.

Ingredients: 

1 cup organic whole milk (or dairy alternative of choice) 

1/2 tsp ground turmeric 

1/4 tsp ground ginger 

1 tsp ghee 

Pinch of black pepper 

½-1 tsp raw honey (optional) 

Directions: In a small saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, just below a boil. Add all the other ingredients, except the honey, and whisk by hand until frothy. Pour into a mug, sweeten with honey (if using), and enjoy warm. 

Do you have an Ayurvedic self-care ritual you follow? 

I do! An Ayurvedic daily self-care routine is called “Dinacharya.” It is a morning practice that consists of miniature daily cleansing practices to help keep the body and mind balanced and at ease. My Dinacharya includes waking at the same time every morning, tongue scraping, a glass of warm water, and meditation.

Is it advisable to adjust our daily routine now that the days get shorter? 

Yes! Ayurveda recommends that we make small shifts or changes to our daily routine from season to season to remain balanced. Each season has different recommendations for diet and lifestyle. Take your sleep seriously; try to get to bed by 10 pm. Invite more “Sattva”  into your life – stay calm, listen to soothing music, try not to overstimulate yourself. 

Is there anything else we can do to balance Vata? 

Yes! One of the most supportive self-care practices for Vata dosha is “abhyanga,” which is self-massage with warm oil. Abhyanga is an excellent practice for quieting the nerves and getting grounded. The warm oil also helps to create a barrier from the disruptive energies surrounding us and settle into a more peaceful state of mind. If oiling up doesn’t sound fun to you, hit a Yin or restorative class – so soothing for Vata! 

6 Ways To Incorporate Yoga Into Your Routine Without Rolling Out Your Mat

By Mindfulness, Pranayama, Wellness, Yoga, Yoga Lifestyle, Yoga Practice

It seems like yoga is the suggested solution by health professionals for many problems that arise nowadays. If you have a cold, your general practitioner may encourage yogic breathing exercises to clear your sinuses. If you’re experiencing trouble sleeping, a sleep expert may introduce you to nightly asana flows to help wind down your body and mind. Back pain? Your chiropractor may direct you to a class to engage in forward folds and deep stretching. Racing thoughts? Consider the benefits of pranayama coupled with the movement that various styles offer to calm your anxious brain – a therapeutic release that I highly recommend as a certified yoga instructor.

Yoga can significantly help curb varying mental and physical symptoms, but these approaches do not have to be practiced in a studio to demonstrate their advantages. I’ve compiled six ways to incorporate yoga into your routine without rolling out your mat in honor of National Yoga Month because you can practice yoga anywhere, anytime. 

Focus on your posture

I recently had a student confess how much their posture had improved since committing to a regular yoga practice. He proudly stood tall and detailed the changes he noticed in his posture. It delighted me to hear that he was benefiting from my classes each week; however, improving your posture can also happen off the mat. 

The way we sit, stand, and walk affects our musculoskeletal system long-term and should be monitored during everything we do – not just while sitting up tall in an easy seat. Focus daily on your posture while driving, typing on the computer, scrolling through your phone, and walking your dog, and you will see growth over time.

Develop a deep breathing practice

Many breathing exercises can be observed outside the walls of a yoga studio. There is no magical spell that consumes you upon walking into a class that is essential to develop a deep breathing practice. This can be done on your own, without the instruction of a teacher standing before you. 

You can try simple breathing exercises, which can help reduce any distractions or strains on the body by imagining the breath traveling through the body with every inhalation and exhalation. There is also abdominal breathing – an ideal exercise for stimulating a relaxation response through your breath. Or alternate nostril breathing – which helps center your mind and body (and clears the sinuses for those cold sufferers). These exercises can be practiced anywhere that allows a quiet space and room to breathe. 

Be compassionate and patient towards others

One reason yoga is encouraged is for its teachings of compassion and patience. Students are inspired by moving through each posture calmly without rushing from one pose to the next. The flowing nature teaches you to be compassionate and patient towards yourself and others – trusting the process without judgment or blame. 

This can be translated off the mat as well in our everyday lives. Treating others with kindness and decency embodies this practice, perhaps when in line at the grocery store or when driving in rush hour traffic. Getting in the habit of slowing down and being gracious towards others is an example of yoga. 

Live in the present moment

When you live in the present moment, you are canceling all outside influences, bringing your attention inward to what is happening here and now. I frequently instill this mindset with my students to concentrate on their own experiences rather than the uncontrollable occurrences around them. 

We often don’t appreciate what’s existing in the present moment because we fantasize about the future and daunting tasks of the past, which is why this guidance is essential to our daily routines. Channel this awareness in every activity to acknowledge the moment you’re in with gratitude. 

Maintain balance  

Your intention to attend a yoga class is most likely for the endless benefits that participating has to offer (I’ve already listed many that yogis can’t resist). But it’s also because yoga helps you maintain balance in your day-to-day lives. The practice supports a regimen dedicated to your well-being and grants time away from your other obligations (work, kids, chores, etc.). But just because you are not in a studio chanting AUM with a group of like-minded yogis doesn’t mean you can’t practice this elsewhere. 

You can still maintain balance by separating the tasks that need to get done and the hobbies you enjoy doing. Creating boundaries for yourself and treasuring the time spent on your health is a significant component of yoga. And we all end in Savasana at bedtime.

Be mindful of the treatment of your mind and body

Before discovering yoga, it didn’t occur to me that my actions could harm my health. The food that I ate, the content that I consumed, and the people I surrounded myself with could play a part in how I felt. I didn’t worry about my behavior’s detriment on me because I was not aware of the damaging influences they had on my health. 

Once I altered my thinking, I was introduced to a different perspective on my life – one where I honored and respected the gifts that I was given. Even when off the mat, you must be mindful of the treatment of your mind and body because it is your most cherished sense of being. Do this by paying mind to what you choose to read, the conversations you divulge in, the nutrients you fuel your body with, and the words you direct towards yourself. These factors are fundamental contents of yoga that you can practice everywhere you go. 

It’s easy to incorporate yoga into your days, even if you don’t have a mat or a studio accessible to you. A lot of what I teach in my classes are guidelines to be used beyond the hour class time. Let National Yoga Month be your inspiration to blend yoga into your everyday lifestyle both on and off the mat.  

5 Things to Know Before Your Teacher Audition

By Yoga, Yoga Teachers

You’ve been practicing yoga for years and have made the leap to enrolling in your yoga teacher training. You’re studying hard, but your thoughts are drifting to what you’ll do after you’ve finished your program. How will you use your certification? For many people, the ideal outcome would be to teach other yogis.  Did you know you have to audition for a teaching job?  Kate Lombardo, Yoga Director for YogaRenew, gave us top tips to help you stand out from the crowd during your yoga teacher auditions.

There’s a reason that a yoga certification requires so many hours of study, and it’s because there’s a lot of responsibility in leading people through a class.

Be An Active Student

“One of the most important qualities of a great teacher is that that teacher is also a great student of yoga,” Kate said.  This couldn’t be more true. Think about the greatest teachers or professors you’ve ever had. Most of them didn’t stop learning at any point in their lives. The best teachers are those that are continually hungry for knowledge to expand and supplement their experiences and existing education. It is important to continuously be a student of the topic you want to teach and this is equally true of yoga.

Introduce Yourself Confidently

Just because you never taught before doesn’t mean you don’t have experience.  Play up your credentials, and have confidence that you can not only lead, but teach a class. Do research on the studio owner, studio, and type of yoga they teach before your audition so you can speak directly to the particular studio you’re auditioning with.

For example:

I’m just getting started as a yoga teacher, but I’ve been a dedicated yoga student for X years and have studied X styles of yoga and dedicated myself to X hours of practice per week. Through my practice, I’ve learned X and I’m excited to start sharing that with students through teaching classes.

Dress for the Job

The age-old question…what do I wear? Kate advised that it would depend on the style of the studio for which you are interviewing. Corporate yoga chains and studios may want to see you in business attire, and then have you change into your yoga attire. For the majority of auditions though Kate said the studio owner will likely expect you to wear yoga attire. If you’re unsure, you could also ask this question in advance by saying something as simple as “Will there be a place available for me to change into yoga attire?”  The answer should indicate how they expect you to arrive for the audition.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Make sure to prepare a sequence in advance of the audition.  Most likely, the studio you’re auditioning for will tell you how long of a sequence you should prepare.  You’ll teach the person interviewing you.  Then, it’s up to you to show up with a well rounded sequence for the given time.  Also, ask what type of props will be available at the studio.  This will give you an idea of what you are working with before you arrive so you can plan your sequence accordingly.  

Be Authentic

And perhaps most importantly, be authentic, confident and friendly. You have been working towards this moment for a very long time. Be prepared to deliver specific and knowledgeable answers about your training and practice. Yoga is an incredible blessing to be able to deliver to the people around you and these tips should help you prepare to share that gift with others.

7 Things to Know Before Leading Retreats

By Wellness, Yoga, Yoga Teachers

After receiving your yoga teaching certification, new instructors have the option to utilize what you’ve learned in various ways. You can harbor your newfound skills to sharpen your practice; instill your teaching styles onto others in classes or during private instruction, or travel the world, offering your expertise to others outside the scope of your hometown. Or there is another favorable window of opportunity: hosting yoga retreats. 

Yoga retreats are increasingly gaining popularity as more people seek remote getaways to unplug from the outside world. The chance to book a trip with just your yoga mat in tow is appealing to yogis. An opportunity to go off the grid, disconnecting from our everyday stressors while taking in the beautiful scenic views that a retreat generally offers. A vacation for our mental and physical health providing our minds and bodies with the overall balance we need. So, it’s no wonder yoga teachers are just as intrigued by the notion of leading retreats as they are about investing in one. 

While attending a yoga retreat is extremely rewarding for the students and the teacher, it’s a different experience from opposite sides of the mat. If you’re an instructor considering leading yogis on your destination getaway, check out these seven things to know before leading retreats.  

There’s a Lot of Planning Involved

For many, the desirable aspect of attending a yoga retreat is minimal planning on their part. Participants are usually not required to do any prep work as their hotel stay, transportation, and meals are organized by the retreat hosts (that’s you). They simply pay the cost of the trip, and everything else is taken care of behind the scenes. On the flip side, as a retreat leader, there’s a lot of planning involved. You’re responsible for locating a venue, researching the area, arranging travel, compiling an itinerary, booking excursions, formulating a food menu, marketing the event, and so on. You are also accountable for making sure everything runs smoothly throughout your stay (read on for unexpected hiccups to look out for).       

The Location Won’t Sell Itself

You’d think that once you settled on a location to host your retreat, yogis would eagerly want to sign up. But your marketing efforts aren’t going to be that easy. Regardless of the hideaway you choose, the location won’t sell itself. It’s up to the retreat leader to get guests excited about coming along! Encourage your students to join you by advertising it as an event they can’t miss. Share your itineraries with them so they know what to look forward to and reveal your reasons for selecting these activities. By marketing the retreat, so others know how passionate you are about it, they will be more enticed to register.  

Unexpected Hiccups Will Happen

Even if you have the entire trip mapped out perfectly, mishaps can still appear that weren’t on the agenda. Let’s face it, despite your attempts; things don’t always go as smoothly as you envision. Understand that unexpected hiccups will happen despite your efforts to avoid them. When they do arise, don’t panic; instead, proceed with an action plan to tackle these challenges. Maybe the weather forecast isn’t as favorable as you hoped, or one of the main attractions you boasted about had to suddenly close. Decide how to move forward without allowing these inconveniences to ruin your entire experience. 

The Food is an Essential Aspect 

Your menu, lodging, and location are arguably the three most vital components to your retreat. Guests want to know what they will be consuming, where they will be staying, and what to do in the area before agreeing to attend. The food you offer is an essential aspect for your attendees because it’s an opportunity for them to do a food reset. It’s a time when they are away from the temptations stored in their refrigerators or while dining out with friends and can focus on their intuitive eating. Without the advertisements luring them towards unhealthy foods, they can pay attention to the signals their bodies are giving them to eat nurturing, healthy meals. Generally, this includes more plant-based options along with plenty of fruits, nuts, and beans.    

Consider Bringing an Assistant

As you’ve probably gathered by now, leading a yoga retreat is much different than teaching a class. It is a large-scale event potentially involving flights, several nights’ stays, and a group of people you may not have connected with before, which is why you should consider bringing an assistant along for the trip. It can be a fellow yoga teacher to help you teach classes throughout your stay or a trusted friend to aid in managing all you have planned (and any possible disruptions). Although most attendees will be adults, you are still in command of their well-being, just like you would be while teaching a class at home.  

Think of Your Students Needs and Desires

It’s great to organize a collection of fun activities for yogis to enjoy during the retreat, but you still should recognize what would be best for your group. Like gauging the room while in a yoga class to decipher what type of class your students need, do this when picking your excursions. Stray away from only offering high-energy ventures without the downtime they may be yearning for and vice versa. You don’t want to exhaust everyone early on, but too much relaxation could be monotonous and mundane for those looking to explore. The same goes for when you are choosing your destination. Think of your student’s needs and desires by interacting with them before and after classes to get a sense of the kind of getaway they would find most fulfilling.   

You Will Form Lifelong Bonds 

Traveling with other yogis is a gratifying experience, simply because you are sharing your common interests in a new city that you may not have visited before. The whole adventure may be out of your comfort zone and something you wouldn’t normally volunteer for. But you will leave feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. And you will form lifelong bonds with those who came along the journey with you. This holds true no matter which side of the mat you’re on. 

Yoga retreats are a satisfying experience for all involved. For yoga teachers contemplating leading a retreat of their own, make sure you do your research before committing to taking the reins. Once you know what to expect and plan out your trip accordingly, the journey will be worthwhile.   

3 Benefits of Teaching Prenatal Yoga

By Prenatal Yoga, Yoga, Yoga Teachers

Practicing yoga during pregnancy is an excellent way to get exercise as well as ease anxiety and prepare your mind for labor, but have you ever thought about teaching prenatal yoga? Prenatal yoga instructors go through training in addition to their standard yoga teacher certification to be able to safely guide pregnant individuals through yoga sequences. Vania Gomez, a prenatal yoga teacher & YogaRenew graduate in Phoenix, chatted with us to explain the benefits of teaching prenatal yoga.

Boost Your Mood

“I enjoy watching pregnant women feel better with their bodies after class. I notice how relaxed they are after stretching and calmer because they have worked with their breathing,” says Vania. Contributing back to your community in such a hands-on way can leave you feeling very valued and happy. Many teachers find that supporting their students brings them the same relief from anxiety and stress that the classes bring to their students. Pregnancy is a very difficult time that requires all the support available to have the best experience possible.

Experience Body Positivity

A lot of women struggle with body positivity. This is even truer during pregnancy. Being able to take a yoga class that is specifically designed for what your body is currently going through can make you feel better in your own body. It can have the same benefit for you as the instructor. Vania discusses how pregnant yoga students may be intimated entering a yoga studio not knowing if a class is available for them. They may feel nervous or worried about the difficulty level of a regular yoga class with their changing body. Vania says, “if they enter a yoga studio knowing there are prenatal classes available I know they will at least give it a try”.

Be Part of a Knowledgable Elite

Being a prenatal yoga teacher puts you in a special class of yoga teachers. You have not only undergone specific education to become a yoga teacher but you then went on to be further educated to safely guide pregnant individuals in yoga classes. You may be one of the few prenatal yoga teachers, or even the only one, in your area depending on where you work and practice. This gives you access to a very specific client base to work within a very rewarding industry. 

To be supported by YogaAlliance, a yoga teacher training school must have 85 hours in their prenatal yoga teacher training program. When researching a school to take your prenatal yoga teacher training always look into their curriculum. Ensure that you are going to not just be teaching but teaching safely. Pregnant individuals are undergoing a lot of changes, physically and mentally, which make them more susceptible to injury. Proper training and safety practices are essential to operating the best prenatal yoga program.

How Yoga and Meditation Helped Me Grieve

By Healing, Uncategorized, Wellness, Yoga

I unexpectedly lost my friend last year. Not only did it shatter my heart, but it also made me feel like I lost a big part of my own identity, which eventually led to wounded self-esteem. 

Since the loss was a reminder that my time on this planet is limited, I underwent an existential crisis. The good news is that I could regain my confidence, and I could take back control over my life. 

If there’s one good thing resulting from such a tragedy, it can lead you to want to make your life more fulfilling and meaningful. 

Yoga has always felt like a trustworthy, good old childhood friend I can always rely on. 

As a holistic nutritionist, I have always been aware of the importance of caring for the mind, body, and soul. It becomes especially crucial when you experience trauma.

It was then when I started looking more specifically into restorative Yoga. It played a significant role in me overcoming the emotional pain.

I am now much more aware of my emotional well-being, body and its limits, and the importance of relaxing and letting go. Getting more educated about this type of Yoga served as an inspiration for me to finally enroll in the teacher training.

What exactly is restorative Yoga?

In restorative yoga, the asanas are held for a long time – sometimes even up to 20 minutes. 

The goal is to experience relaxation and recovery. The postures should be taken with the least possible effort, so restorative yoga is physically less intense than Yin Yoga.

The top priority here is to achieve calmness and inner peace through passive stretching, sometimes with the help of blankets, bolsters, or blocks.

By holding each position for a long time, you’ll find intense access to your breathing, which in turn will lead to a deep relaxation of the entire body system (organs, muscles, tendons, mind). 

With Restorative Yoga, you cultivate your natural ability to relax. You practice letting go.

Grief, in my case, came along with shock, anger, and disbelief; learning how to be in the here and now and letting go of such thoughts can be a relieving experience and a crucial step in emotional recovery.

Meditation can help give your mind a much-needed break from overthinking.

In the Headspace grief meditation course, The Co-founder, Andy Puddicombe says that we need to learn how to incorporate a loss healthily into our lives in one of the sessions. This sentence has stuck with me ever since. I believe in moving forward instead of moving on.

While you take the time to sit down and actively make room for grieving, you get a clearer mind without being left with a feeling of having to suppress your emotions for the rest of the day.

I was then able to seize the day with all its responsibilities.

Rebuilding takes time.

We can not control everything in life, but we can control how we handle a given situation. The waves of sadness and grief still hit, but they come further apart, sometimes very unexpectedly, but the storm becomes calmer after a while. 

You’ll learn what triggers the grief; It might be the smell of freshly brewed coffee, a song, or a movie. But you’ll know that somehow you will come out on the other side.  Unfortunately, there is no set time frame when it comes to recovering from a loss. Grieving is highly personal, and there are no rules for it.

Sticking to a healthy routine and incorporating a daily restorative yoga sequence has become a priority to me ever since.

The relationship you’ve had with the person who has passed away is and forever will be unique.  Rebuilding takes time. We’ll always have a choice in life, and I made the active decision not to create additional layers of suffering.

One of my favorite  Poets, Lebanese  Khalil Gibran, once said, “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls.”  I am sending you strength, love, and light.