How to be a ROCK STAR student

There is a plethora of articles on what makes a good yoga teacher but the reality is it’s not just the instructor that can be bad. YOU could be a yoga teacher’s worst nightmare.

You come in late. You noisily roll out your mat. Your audible sigh practically echoes in the room. You showboat during class. You don’t listen to any coaching and worse yet you stoically stare at the teacher the entire session without cracking a smile.

So let’s talk about it… HOW TO BE A GOOD STUDENT:

  1. Lay off  the perfume but definitely layer on the deodorant.
  2. Walk in with an open mind that is ready to focus and work.
  3. Do I really need to tell you to silence your phone? Okay, well, SILENCE YOUR PHONE!
  4. Let the teacher know if you are new to the class, injured or recovering from an injury.
  5. Do your best to follow instructions and ask questions, if appropriate.
  6. Try not to move ahead of the teacher. Poses are held for a reason and no one likes a show-off.
  7. If the teacher says something funny, go ahead and laugh. It’s okay.
  8. Respect your fellow students – don’t lay your mat too closely to someone or block her view of the teacher.
  9. If you’re late to class or have to leave early, be as quiet as possible so as not to disrupt others.
  10. Provide feedback. (Really! We’d love to know how we could improve!)

Teachers are fueled by the energy from students. So any positive energy you can share not only improves your experience but helps the class as a whole. Remember, we are still human beings who want to make sure you’re also enjoying yourself so give us a break and smile back. It won’t kill you.

Your teacher is giving you everything he’s got. Are you giving back?

All work and no yoga makes for a bad combination

Lonely yoga matCONFESSION: I’m a yoga teacher who doesn’t do yoga.

It’s criminal. And I’m feeling haggard, stressed and like a complete fraud.

I teach yoga because I love it and I strongly believe in its restorative power… You’ve heard me go on and on about it. But these days, along with my full-time job, I teach two evening classes during the week and two more classes every other weekend. I also run, spin and occasionally weightlift… All of this while maintaining this blog, hanging out with friends, spending quality time with the hubs and giving myself some down time. And I need PLENTY of down time.

So where does my personal yoga practice fit into all of this? I don’t know. But something has to give…

But what? I love my students and I love teaching but it’s just not the same as being a student and allowing myself to be fully immersed. And writing? Well, I’ve always wanted to write and now I finally get to! Did I mention that I like to read and I have so many books I’ll die before I can read them all?

But ultimately, can I really be an effective yoga teacher without taking yoga myself?

The answer is no.

So what do you do when the life you’ve worked so hard to create turns on you and starts beating the crap out of you?

Photo via Flickr (Creative Commons) by mosabua.

How to meet the gym of your dreams

I once walked into a Bally’s in Washington, DC to check it out… I was subjected to a high pressure sales pitch then was insulted by the sales person when I didn’t cave in. Suffice it to say that I will never join a Bally’s and neither will anyone willing to listen.

But it begs the question, how do you decide which gym to join?

Factor #1: Convenience.

The more convenient the location of the gym the more likely you’ll go. Is parking available? Is it easy to get to? Do the gym hours work with your schedule?

Factor #2: Facilities

The equipment doesn’t have to be brand spanking new but they should be in good condition. Look for machines you might use. Visit the gym at a time when you would normally go. Is it crowded? Is there a wait to use the machines? Don’t forget to look at the locker room and make sure it’s clean and well-kept. Do they have other services that you’re interested in? Maybe a tanning salon, personal training, massage services, or a daycare?

Factor #3: Group Fitness

Do they offer a wide variety of group fitness classes? On your tour, take a few moments to observe a class. Is the instructor good? Do the students look like they’re enjoying themselves?

Factor #4: Ambience

Does the gym have a good energy about it or is it a barren wasteland with only a few surly-looking members hanging about? Is the staff friendly?

But what about price, you ask? That all depends on what you’re willing to pay and the kind of services you’re looking for. Some gyms have swimming pools and tennis courts. If you’re not going to use it, don’t pay for it.

By all means, take advantage of their free membership passes and get an even better feel of the place by actually using it. But please don’t sign any contracts without reading it! Some legal considerations at least in the state of Maryland can be found here. Your state government website should have some information for you.

Going to the gym can be a real drag and often requires a lot of motivation (even bribery) so having a gym that you enjoy will make a huge difference.

Good luck!

And as always, if you love your local gym, leave your recommendation in the comments. Hopefully we can partner up some people with the gym of their dreams.

Photo via Flickr (Creative Commons) by Sanchom.

Jump into YOUR first yoga class

Okay, you’ve heard all of the talk. Your cool friends are doing it… (And by cool I mean the ones who bathe regularly.) And now you’re ready to try yoga AT LAST.

Now what?

First, decide on which studio you’d like to try out. Preferably one that you’ll keep going to if all goes well. A lot of studios have a new customer special so no commitment necessary at this time. Perhaps go with a friend to his regular studio.

Second, decide which beginner’s class to take. Talk to the people who run the studio. They can match you up with a class and instructor who will fit your needs and your schedule.

Third, show up.

Well, okay. Here’s a bit more information:

  • Wear clothing that isn’t too baggy. It’ll be important for the instructor to see your form and make sure you’re aligned to prevent injury.
  • Bring a mat, a towel and a bottle of water. Most studios have mats you can borrow if you don’t have one.
  • Arrive early. Give yourself time to let the instructor know that you are new. Let him know of any injuries you may have so that he can show you options.
  • Clear your mind. Focus on the moment. And throw out any ideas that other people in the room are judging you. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

There are plenty of types of yoga out there and each instructor has his own style. Don’t try one and then give up. Try a few different classes. You’ll find your home soon enough.

If you have a yoga studio/instructor you would like to recommend, please feel free to drop it into the comments section. I would love to be able to share it with others and not just in the DC area.

YIOM

In case you were wondering, YIOM stands for Yoga Inspired Online Movement. We are a collection of yogi bloggers talking about all things yoga… from true life experiences to embarrassing moments to tips on reaching your full yogi potential. Check us out on: YIOM. Join our community, ask your questions, share your wisdom and let’s get deeper into yoga.

Yoga studio vs. the gym

Ever wonder if there is a difference between the yoga taught in traditional yoga studios and the yoga taught in sweaty, iron-pumping gyms?

Well, I have an “industry” secret to share with you. The yoga instructors you see teaching at the fancy-schmancy yoga studio? Well, they also teach at your local gym. More often than not yoga teachers teach at more than one studio or gym.

Area gyms like Gold’s Gym© and Washington Sports Club© require their instructors to be certified in their respective fields of expertise just like your traditional yoga studios. In the United States that certifying body is Yoga Alliance®. They are the national education and support organization for yoga. Some instructors have the 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) while others have the 500-hour YTT in a variety of styles be it Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Bikram or Hatha (to name a few!).

If you are like me, yoga is not the only thing you like to do. I prefer a more well rounded workout regimen which includes weightlifting, kickboxing, spinning and Zumba® just for good measure (and a good laugh!). And like most people, I have neither the time nor the financial resources to belong to a yoga studio AND a gym. Fortunately, my gym is filled with fantastic yoga and pilates instructors who teach with the same dedication and caring that they deliver to their yoga studio students.

Admittedly, yoga studios offer a wonderful atmosphere for your practice. When you walk in and smell the incense, your stress and blood pressure level instantaneously drop as you are enveloped in a world of Zen. Better yet you are joined with like-minded folks looking to deepen their practice. You also have access to a lot more instructors and varying types of yoga. You will be sure to find a yoga style of your very own. There is absolutely nothing like a good yoga studio.

BUT if time or money simply does not allow you to be part of a great yoga studio community or if you have never tried yoga before, I urge you to try the yoga class in your gym. Chances are they have more than one style and the class will be as challenging and fulfilling as any yoga studio can offer. If you are lucky enough to be part of a gym that has a dedicated space for yoga, then even better. So don’t let cost deter you from starting your very own yoga practice. NOW is the best time to start!

Include a yoga practice in your new year and jump in. The water is nice and warm.

Photo via Flickr (Creative Commons) by Mimar Sinan.

DC Yoga Week descends on the Mall

Originally posted on DCEventJunkie

Yoga On the Mall

Picture yourself in the shadow of the Washington Monument, eyes closed, sitting cross-legged on the grass, palms pressed together in your heart’s center, calmly breathing with hundreds of other yogis. Is it a dream? No way! On Sunday, May 15th yogis from all over the area will be descending on the grounds of the National Mall to participate in Yoga on the Mall (YOTM). This event kicks off DC Yoga Week! Their mission is to promote yoga, share the wonderful benefits of a yoga practice, and encourage everyone to give it a try.

Participating studios will offer free and $5 classes all week-long! This is your chance to check out your local yoga studio or the one around the corner from your job and find a new place to call your zen home.

What? You’ve NEVER tried yoga? Excuse me?! What are you waiting for? Participating studios like Tranquil Space in Washington, DC will open their doors and offer various classes at an unbeatable price. Joining a yoga studio is a huge financial commitment for most of us. DC Yoga Week will allow you to try out different studios with zero obligations. Talk to instructors and seasoned yogis and ask them any questions you may have about yoga then try a beginner’s class or a class on meditation.

I have said it before and I will say it again: There are only two types of people in the word – those who can’t live without yoga and those who have never tried it. Participate in Washington, DC’s vibrant yoga community starting with Yoga on the Mall and open yourself up to a whole new way of looking at life.

What: DC Yoga Week
When: May 15 – May 22, 2011 | Mall Event May 15th 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Where: National Mall & Various Yoga Studios Around Washington, DC
Who: Yoga Enthusiasts, Novices, and Experts
What’s Next: Check out participating studios and schedule; Fan on Facebook; Follow the fun on Twitter

Image via Flickr (creative commons) by Lululemon Athletica

How yoga changed my life

I hate to sound like an Activia commercial but yoga did change my life. During the time of B.Y. (that’s Before Yoga) I was depressed and more than a little lost. My “career” was a joke. My love life was non-existent. I had no money. No purpose. I just had no clue how to keep going… Or what for…

Then yoga saved me… from myself.

It changed my perspective – how I saw myself, how I saw others and life as it was coming right at me. It gave me a reason to get up – something to look forward to. For 60 minutes, 2 or 3 times a week I could just be good. I could be myself. I could let go of those things that weighed so heavily on my heart. And those moments of freedom saved me.

Yoga means different things for different people. It gave me clarity, peace and, most importantly, hope. I can’t guarantee that it will affect you like it affected me. Maybe you could have the same results by traveling, playing music or dancing.

In my case, I was finally doing something. It felt good to be moving and I haven’t stopped since.

My first yoga class

Okay, now what?

My first yoga class was with Inez. She was teaching a tai chi, yoga and pilates blend class called Body Flow. It was at the local gym and I confess to being dragged to it kicking and screaming. I was more of a kickboxing girl. After all, it was cheaper than therapy and I had a lot of anger to let out.

I walked out of that first class in a daze. I was physically tired but mentally… man, I wasn’t even quite sure what just happened! I felt like I just successfully ran a race and won! The most shocking part was that I was good at it! Well, “good” may have been the endorphins talking but I could do it. Not well… Yet… But I felt that it could be done. And I was ecstatic! As a non-athlete I couldn’t believe I had found something athletic-related that I could be good at!

Next week, I tried it again. Sure enough… Same feeling of fatigue and elation… Both fighting for hierarchy in my emotions. I kept taking the class and getting better every time. The moment came when months after months of practicing my transition into the crocodile stopped looking like a collapsed push up. I was sure then that yoga and I had the start of a beautiful relationship.

In the beginning… (An introduction)

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born…”
(David Copperfield by Charles Dickens)

The beginning of my journey started out like most life changing events do… On an ordinary day, I got dumped. Badly. I fought valiantly (maybe not intelligently) to hold on to the relationship but lost in the end. Upon inspecting my life I saw that I hated my job – making next to nothing, I was living at home, and I was humiliated.

So what did I do? I joined a gym. I didn’t have enough money to drown my sorrows with good ole Jose Cuervo so my sister took pity on me and paid for a gym membership. Just to give me something to do. And that my friends was the beginning…