Clarity

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Light from the kitchen glows into the dining room, my sacred practice spot du jour.  I sweep the dog hair off the floor and roll out my matt.  9:15pm and finally stepping into my own practice, not much rest for this entrepreneur.  The beat of my heart slows.  Folded into child's pose, space is starting to lodge itself between the many thoughts rolling around in my head.  Ujjayi dials my energy inward, down dog, three leg dog on both sides ever so slow to warm up.  The hot heaviness from today's 90 degree run still lurking in my body.  Exhale, inhale, fold, that's the rhythm.  Sun A's, Sun B's repeat, repeat, repeat no faster than my breath will take me. Illuminating sparks creep into my being, clear-headed moments allowing my true nature, my true self to peek through the clouds.  Twenty Five minutes later, clarity.  All is right with the world.  A little yoga is all it takes.

Writing prompt for Yoga Teachers: What Makes a Good Yoga Teacher?

IMG_2301 Our teacher training program at GDY includes a good deal of time for personal inquiry and reflection.  We think this is important in helping students transition from student to teacher.  When I became a yoga teacher the program I took gave us ample opportunity to reflect, meditate, and write in addition to all of the normal things you do in a YTT.  One of the writing questions we needed to answer was "What Makes a Good Yoga Teacher".

Maybe you are a yoga teacher or you dream of being a yoga teacher.  If you need a writing prompt this is a good one.  Set a timer for 5 minutes and let yourself write it out.  Don't over think it, just write.  What comes to mind?

This was one of the assignments our trainee's had during the first trimester of their YTT.  While our sweet group of trainees wrote I decided it would be a good idea for me to write out my thoughts on this as well.

Here is what I came up with riffing for 5 minutes...

A good yoga teacher is someone who can simultaneously teach a challenging physical class, all the while weaving in yoga philosophy, pranayama, and maybe even chanting.  All in order to help the student achieve a sense of union with the divine.  Helping the student transcend all of the physical and mental clutter that pulls us out of the moment.   The teachers ultimate goal is helping the student achieve their own objectives thus helping them journeying into their true self.   Juggling all of this while knowing what to say when you see someone out of alignment and helping the student learn to bring the body back into alignment.  It is through the physical that we can access the spiritual, and beyond.  A good teacher pays attention to what is happening in their students bodies throughout the class.  A good teacher is able to get the students uncomfortable and do it with humor and compassion.  If we can learn to live with the uncomfortable in our bodies we can start to be comfortable with the uncomfortable we find in our minds.  What else makes a good teacher?  Hands on adjustments, 10 minute savasana (always a 10 minute savasana) and above all boundaries and grace.

That is what I strive to do, be, and posses as a yoga teacher.  Those are the characteristics I look for in the teachers I practice with.

Looking at what I came up with it feels like I created a yoga super hero.  "Super hero/Yoga teacher"  but we've all gotta have goals right?  These are mine.  If you are a yoga teacher or a yoga taker I'm sure you've got an opinion on this and your answers will be most likely be pretty different.  I want to hear what you've come up with.  Leave me a comment and let me know what you think makes a good yoga teacher.

xoxo -Alisha

Intuition

IMG_3796 He asked me "is it bitter-sweet?"

"Only if I'm a short-sighted idiot" I answered

If you have a dream, a goal, wish, secret desire, a want to build and create, do it.  Start now, with little steps.  Follow the voice inside the place in the pit of your belly.  Follow what you see in your mind's eye.  Follow the pull at your heart.  Every time you follow your intuition you flex its muscle and make it stronger.  I used to think I didn't have intuition.  I just knew when something wasn't right, but far too often I wouldn't listen.  Instead ignoring or walling myself off from the strong feelings of knowing.  Afraid of their power.  Instead of exploring what I was feeling I shut those feelings out.  This weakens your intuition.  Most often I would hear her voice asking "why aren't you putting more consideration into what is making you happy?" I dismissed her questions as frivolous.   She clearly didn't know how to pay the bills, and provide for herself if she was putting such focus on pleasure.  But I was wrong and she was right.

Somewhere down the line I started listening better, It had everything to do with the deepening of my personal yoga practice.  Getting still in meditation, practicing stillness so that I could indeed hear and consider what the voice of my intuition was pleading with me to wake up and see.

It's a learned skill to listen to your intuition.  It's something you have to practice.  When I started truly listening things happened.  In fact the universe blew doors wide open for me recently, it nodded at the baby steps I took in listening to my intuition about this yoga studio.  Those calculated, deliberate, hard-working, grey hair creating baby steps added up to marathons and the universe paid attention.  The universe noted that I was listening to what was right on the inside.  It stood at attention and watched as I tried (and still strive) to bring myself into alignment with what I know to be true and right.  The universe looked on as I started building the foundation of my dreams.

All that's to say when my trusted friend extended her hand to join me in growing Greensboro Downtown Yoga I didn't hesitate because my intuition had already tipped me off to what was right.

The path of growth requires that you water it with love, and attention.  The path of growth requires that you feed it with energy and devotion.  It doesn't mater if you are growing a yoga studios or growing your intuition they each require the same diligence and attention.

"Nope" to answer Tumbleweed's question "it's not bitter sweat that the studio no longer belongs to me alone.  It's beautiful.  It's humbling to share something you love with someone who will love it as much as you.  It's an honor to work with a friend you respect beyond words.  It's the joy of knowing that I do have intuition and it's not steering me in the wrong direction."

Tips for following through on a home practice

Standing forward fold with shoulder opener 1) Carve out 10 minutes every day A little a lot consistently is better than a lot a little.  Start with 10 minutes if that is all you can do, own that 10 minutes.  I wrote about this yesterday and I think it's the key to a home practice.

2) Be consistent.  Your body craves consistency and routine.  My dream has always been to have my home practice first thing in the morning.  It's what my favorite teacher does, it's what works for a lot of people, and I'm a morning person so you would think this would work for me, but the majority of the time it doesn't.   Right after work is normally a great time for me to practice.  It's the bridge between my Type A existence and my home life.  If I stop for 10, 15, 20 or even 30 minutes before I settle in, my evening at home or teaching at my studio goes a heck of a lot better than if i don't practice for at least 10 minutes.

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3) Eliminate as many distractions as you can. You will never be able to eliminate all distractions.  You can do yourself a favor by eliminating as many as possible.  Turn your phone on airplane mode or turn it off altogether, if you live with others ask them to leave you be for your set amount of practice time.  If you live with animals put them in another room if you can (my dog barks at me If I segregate him to a different room so we compromise with him sitting quietly near by).

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3) Set a timer for your desired amount of practice time.  10 minutes, 30 minutes one hour doesn't matter.  This will eliminate the distraction of wondering how long you've been practicing for, or worrying about being late for something else.  This tip will also aid your meditation practice.

4)Boredom comes, it's ok, it's all part of the process. If you've been practicing consistently for a while you might already know and understand this.  Your practice will not reveal insights every day, it will not feel great every day.  Sometimes you come to the mat and you want to be anywhere but on the mat.  Sometimes you wonder if you are going to do the same old sun salutations every day.  You will feel uninspired and that is ok, it's all part of the process.  It's the commitment to getting on the mat that's important even if you spend your whole 10 minutes in legs up the wall.

5) Use tools if you feel uninspired We've all been there.  We don't feel like getting on the mat.  We might be out of ideas of what to do with our bodies.  This is a great time to put together a playlist for yourself, maybe turn on a yoga DVD from your favorite teacher or grab your favorite yoga book and try a sequence.

Having a personal practice will get you in-touch with yourself in ways that you can't access otherwise.  IF you are a yoga teacher you will not become a great yoga teacher unless you have a solid personal practice, I know this to be true from experience.  Use your personal practice as a place of opening and exploration.  Have fun, enjoy it and see where it takes you.