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How To Do Dancer Pose: 7 Alignment Tips

By Yoga Poses, Yoga PracticeNo Comments


Dancer pose is a fun yet challenging balance and back bending pose that requires the combination of strength, flexibility, and stability. Dancer pose enables us to be more focused, calm, and can promote better balance in our lives. It also grounds us and keeps us rooted. With the opening of the chest and back bend, it is also invigorating and opens us up to new possibilities in our lives. It stretches our chest, shoulders, hamstrings, quads, spine, and hips. At the same time, it strengthens our ankles, shoulders, core, and larger leg muscles.

Due to so many working elements in this pose, it can be a very intimidating pose to attempt especially for newer students. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself in this pose. It is okay to fall from time to time when practicing Dancer pose. Be playful with the pose and get comfortable with getting outside of your comfort zone. Dancer pose will always look different from person to person so try to focus on how the pose feels in your body instead of how it looks. Your balance and flexibility with this pose will develop with patience and practice over time.

How To Do Dancer Pose

1. Begin in Mountain.
2. Begin to shift your weight onto your right foot.
3. Bend the left knee back behind you, allowing the left heel to come towards your left side glutes.
4. Reach your left hand back and grab your left foot inner ankle. If this is too difficult to reach, you can use a strap by bringing it around the top of your left foot and grabbing hold of it with your left hand.
5. Bring your opposite hand, right hand, up towards the ceiling.
6. Find a focus point to keep your gaze and balance.
7. Press into your grounded foot and activate your core to keep you balanced.
8. Begin to tilt your torso forward and at the same time begin to lift the right foot away from the body. Keep the chest open.
9. Bring the
back foot up as high as is comfortable for you, working to get your back thigh parallel to the ground.
10. Hold for several breaths. To release, come out of the pose slowly. Lower your back foot down and come back to your Mountain pose.

Alignment Tips For Dancer Pose

1. Firm Your Foundation
Ground down and firm your standing leg without locking it. Engage the larger muscles in your legs – the quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles to protect the knee and also increase your balance. To do this, imagine feeling the kneecap of your standing leg lifting upwards; this automatically activates your upper leg muscles. You can also prep for this by strengthening the muscles in your legs. By increasing our strength we also increase our balance. Try prep poses that tone the legs such as Chair, Goddess, High Lunge, Warrior 2, Warrior 3, or Warrior 1.

2. Root Down In Your Foot
Firm down through all four corners of your standing foot. Aim to feel the ‘lift’ of the natural arch in your foot. By doing so, it will keep you more balanced in this pose. This works because the weight distribution of our bodies will even out through our feet, ankles, and surrounding leg muscles.

3. Square The Hips
In this pose, there is a tendency to want to want to rotate the body towards the side of our lifted back leg. This can take us off balance and can injury our lower back, knees, and hips. Work to get your pelvic and hip area squared to the front short edge of your mat. This will give you a better foundation and allow you to balance better on your standing leg.

4. Open The Chest
As you lean forward and come into the back bend of Dancer pose, one way we can avoid compressing the spine is by broadening out through the chest. Keep the chest lifted upwards and draw your shoulders down and away from the ears.

5. Draw The Lower Belly & Ribs In
As you lean forwards in this pose, draw lower belly in and also knit the ribs in. This will keep your torso from falling too far forward and also increase your balance.

6. Focus On A ‘U’ Shape In Your Back Bend
You want to think of creating a soft ‘U’ shape with your back bend instead of a sharp ‘V’ shape. This will help you to avoid compression of your spine. If you ever feel any sort of pain or pinching, ease out of the pose gently. All parts of our bodies are connected so a way we can deepen our back bend is working on stretching the surrounding areas; the abdominal and pelvic area. Some good prep poses you could practice to increase your flexibility in these areas are Camel, Bridge, Upward Salute with a slight back bend, and Wheel.

7. Be Patient & Ease Into It
Keep in mind, try to not focus on how the pose looks and avoid comparing how your Dancer pose looks to others. Be mindful and always work within the limits of your own body. With time and patience, you will be able to achieve whatever expression of the pose you wish. If you move too quickly in and out of the pose, you could run the risk of injuring your knees, hips, and spine.

More Tips For Beginners
If you find you have trouble balancing on one leg, you can try using a wall or chair for support. Work on just lifting your back leg up and grabbing the foot without leaning forward or coming into a back bend (think of just a simple standing quad stretch). As you work to gain flexibility in your quads and balance in your foundation, you can ease into the pose slowly.

If you find you have have difficult grabbing your back foot with your hand, you can also try using a strap for assistance. To do this, loop one end of a strap around the top of the back foot and the other end in your same side hand. Increase your shoulder and arm flexibility will also aid you in being able to grab your back foot with your hand. Try prep poses that stretch the shoulders and arms such as Downward Facing Dog, Camel, Eagle, Child, Cat, and Cow pose.

Advancing The Pose
To advance the pose, you could try bringing both hands overhead and grabbing hold of the lifted foot with your hands. When grabbing hold with both hands, be mindful to keep both arms knitted into the body, with elbows close to the ears. Be mindful to keep your shoulders drawn down your back.



Nadia Goudy is yoga teacher, yogi, and owner of Recharg Corporate Yoga – a company dedicated to bringing yoga and mindfulness to the workplace and also the founder of YogaRenew Teacher Training. Nadia received her training in yoga teaching in the U.S. over 12 years ago, and has since dedicated years of teaching yoga to individuals who have not been regularly exposed to it; including non-profits, workplaces, senior centers, and healthcare organizations. She currently resides in Washington D.C. with her husband Nick. Her
focus and mission has always been to inspire others through her yoga teachings, especially in situations and areas where individuals might not be regularly exposed to or have access to it. She created YogaRenew Teacher Training as a way to spread the knowledge and wisdom of yoga teaching around the world.

6 Creative Places To Teach Yoga

By Yoga, Yoga TeachersNo Comments


As yoga has become more mainstream, cities across the world have been flooded with yoga studios of all sorts. However there are certainly still people today who have limited access to yoga studios and still have a desire to continue expanding on their existing practice. Maybe you’re looking to start teaching, but don’t have the resources to open your own studio? Or perhaps you live in a rural area without a nearby yoga studio? Or you might live in a smaller town without any openings at your local studio for new teachers. Today we’ll look at some alternative creative ways you can build a classroom outside of a yoga studio.

1. Clubs or Community Centers

Humans are social by nature, and it’s no surprise that every city has tons of clubs and community centers to choose from. Schools, churches, social clubs, sports clubs, event based groups – all of these are potential resources for you to offer your yoga classes to. You could reach out to the person who manages the club or organization and pitch them the idea of setting up weekly yoga classes with their members.



2. Outdoor Yoga

Outdoors is a great place to practice! People love being outside, especially when the weather is nice so this is another great way to attract people to yoga. You could find a local park, beach, or any other open outdoor area to use as your outdoor yoga classroom. Invite friends or advertise online through social media, blogs, or outdoor flyers to attract students to your outdoor yoga session! This is a great opportunity to spend some time outdoors in nature.



3. Fitness Centers

If there isn’t a yoga studio nearby, or you can’t find open teaching opportunities – another option is a fitness center or gym. There are lots of fitness centers that build classes around specific time frames including early morning, afternoon, late afternoon, and evening. Fitness studios and gyms are great opportunities to teach to a bigger audience because you’ll often get people who are completely brand new to yoga. This is another great way for you to help spread your knowledge about yoga and expand your student base.


4. School Gymnasiums

One consistent you’ll be able to find within any community is a school! Contact your local schools to see if they would be interested in having a yoga instructor come teach during gym sessions or even during class. You can market it as something great for the community and to also help improve their students’ overall well-being.



5. Online

It is a different dynamic dealing with people online than it is in person of course, but the internet has provided a great tool for people all over the world to connect with one another! It can be a great place for you to teach and connect with new students. By providing an outlet to reach a bigger audience, you could even expand your teachings to students around the globe.


6. Corporate

You can help people relieve work stress through workplace yoga! Workplace yoga is a growing trend around the world as companies are becoming more mindful about corporate wellness for their employees. You could offer lunchtime or afternoon classes or even a workshop about yoga and meditation at the workplace. The office can be a fantastic place for you to share your gift of yoga knowledge to others.


6 Pro Tips: Overcoming The Fear of Yoga Teaching

By Yoga TeachersNo Comments

 

Dread the idea of getting in front of a group and leading a yoga class? Afraid of speaking in front of others? Yoga is a passion for many people but sometimes the transition from student to teacher can be a terrifying one! Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered with 6 ways you can cope with the fear of teaching yoga.


1. Preparation

The amount of time and effort you put into rehearsing and practicing your yoga sequences and your classes will help to build confidence in your ultimate delivery. You may not want to jump into a retreat with 50 yogis your first time teaching – it can be quite intimidating. Preparing in front of smaller class sizes when you first start off can help build your confidence. Its important to be yourself in front of the classroom, and in order to truly accomplish this, you’ll need to find some comfort in your own skin – starting small can help you do this.

If you aren’t able to get in front of a classroom for whatever reason, you shouldn’t feel bashful about asking some other yogis or friends if they’d like to let you lead a small class for them. Ask them for their honest feedback about your teaching style and be open to any constructive criticism they give you.

You also want to make sure you plan out your lesson plans ahead of time and keep them to refer back to. Having detailed class sequences that you’re familiar with will go a long way in building confidence in your delivery.


2. Connect With Your Students

One way to help alleviate your pre-class jitters is to connect with your class. Getting to class early, and talking with the students beforehand can go a long way in helping to familiarize yourself with the class and remove some of your fears. Ask your students for feedback about what they liked about your class and what they would like to see more of. Again, be open to any constructive feedback they give you. Its important to be comfortable in your surroundings so connecting with your students will help you.


3. Stay With Your Breath

Breathing is an important part of yoga, but also an important part of presenting. As you slow down and connect with your breath, it’ll help you pace yourself, slow your heart rate, and ultimately relax. Focus on your breath – get lost in its motion and let its power release you from the anxiety of your task at hand. Fear by its nature lives in the present but is rooted in our perception of the future. Focus on controlling your breath and your thoughts will shift from the future to the present, where they should be. In addition to alleviating fear, breathing will help you keep pace in the delivery of your lesson plan. Allow your breath to absorb the silence when it comes, and drown out the sound of your fear consciousness.


4. Transform Fear To Excitement

I know someone who once used to say “it is not fear that gives me the jitters, it is excitement!” It is interesting how we as humans, with awareness, can channel our jitters into excitement rather than fear. To help you, focus on the positives of sharing your gift of yoga to others. Think of teaching yoga as a positive challenge that will help you grow and evolve to reach your highest potential. It also helps to think back on your past accomplishments and how far you’ve come as a yoga teacher.


5. Use Failure As A Learning Experience

Despite what happens, continue moving forward in a positive direction. As a yoga teacher it is completely normal to make mistakes in your classes. Don’t be embarrassed and use them as learning experiences. After you a teach a class, take time to reflect on your class and see if there are any areas you could improve on. Also, take the time to reflect on the things that you liked about your class to help you clarify what you want to expand on in your teachings.

6. Be Persistent

Continue to push through your fear and keep teaching classes. The more you teach, the more confident you will become as a teacher through your experience. Remember, your gift to the world and your students is offering your knowledge of yoga – the world needs your gift! Be persistent and with time, you will find teaching classes a breeze and a less fearful experience.

 

 

 

6 Tips For Picking Your Yoga Class Playlist

By Yoga TeachersNo Comments

 

 

Online yoga teacher certification

There’s a lot of debate about the use of music in yoga classes today. Most traditional classes use music that fits the tone of their class, while some teachers argue against the use of music all together. While there be alot of different opinions on what is best – we believe that there is really no right answer.

Most information today related to music in yoga is meant to support a specific objective, or the opinion of one person – but yoga is universal and also a very personal practice. What one teacher prefers may be different from the next.

With all these differing opinions, we’ve created a simple guide for you on how to build your next yoga class playlist.

1. Choose Ambient Music

For many people, yoga is a way to access to their own personal sanctuary. A place where the rest of the world stops and an internal peace calmly rises from within. A ton of studies have been conducted into the power of sound as a way to help provide focus and inner peace. Ambient music can help to quiet the conscious mind, providing an avenue for the deeper parts of a yoga practice to arise. If you’re looking to provide a calming and meditative experience to your class, ambient sounds can be a valuable tool.

2. Use Themes

Themes can be a powerful way to inspire your students in their personal practice. Choosing music that relates to your class theme is a great way to create an empowering class experience. If you have a class theme that focuses on balance, you could choose calming ambient music to help balance the mind, or you could even use songs with lyrics related to balance. Another example would be if your class theme was inner power or confidence, you could use more uplifting and energetic music with your sequence. Planning your music with your class themes is a great way to create a better class experience for your students.

3. Choose Appropriate Music

As a teacher, using your creativity and personal preference when picking your list is great. However, it is important to keep in mind the style of yoga you are teaching when curating your music list. A high cardio power yoga class might be better suited with upbeat and lively music. At the same time, a restorative yoga class might need a more calm and quiet play list. A vinyasa flow class could have a mix of calming music for the warm up and cool down and more upbeat music during the peak poses.

4. Use Music With Lyrics

Often time yoga teachers will avoid music with lyrics for a number of reasons. But sometimes lyrics can actually pull the listener into the song and away from their internal self. Voice is a powerful entity. As teachers, we strive to find a voice that caters to our students. If you do choose to use music with words, make sure it’s appropriate to the theme of the class. Another option is to choose music with light lyrics but mostly instrumental music.

5. Time Your Playlist

Another consideration when picking your class playlist is the structure of the soundtrack itself. As a yoga teacher, you’re leading your class on a journey, and you want to provide a soundtrack which will complement this experience. Think of the different sections of a well sequenced yoga class – the intro, the warm up, peak poses, cool down, and Savasana. In each of these sections, your students will experience something different. For example, the intro and warm up is most likely going to be calm and slow. In contrast, the peak pose section may be more upbeat and lively.

6. Volume Is Important

The volume of your music is also important when planning playlists. You want to make sure the music is not too loud where it drowns out your instructions or distracts the class. Use a good quality speaker for your classes and make sure the volume is timed for each of the different sections of the class. For example, you may have the volume turned down a bit for the intro and warm up section of the class and then turn it up a slight notch for the peak poses. Once you get to the cool down and Savasana, you’ll want to turn down the volume again.