Sunday, September 15, 2019

YogaFit: Restorative

Oh jeez...I thought I had typed up this review and just now, very belatedly, realized I hadn't.

I attended this training May 30 to June 2 at the Minneapolis Mind/Body/Fitness conference in conjunction with the one-day Seniors session (reviewed in previous posting).

I will admit, Restorative is not my "favorite" style at this moment in time. However, I do feel understanding the importance of a restorative class, and how to construct a restorative class, is integral to being a well rounded instructor. It's also important to understand the difference between a true restorative session and a yin class. Both offer relaxing components, but one is inactive and one is still active.

I believe if you are taking the Yoga Therapy track, this is mandatory. If you are perusing the 300 hour (for your 500 hour certification) this is also mandatory.

For this training, I had Skila Ramirez, and I can assure you, she is incredibly passionate about her teaching and class. You are also going to need as many props as you can stuff into your suitcase for this and even then its not going to be enough: (From the YogaFit website) Bolster, block, 10 foot restorative strap or Seniors strap, eye pillow, yoga mat; Relax & Renew by Judith Lassiter; **From home/hotel: hotel blanket, 2 bath towels, 1 hand towel. Fortunately, if you are unable to bring everything (which I wasn't), we do partner up and there is lots of sharing.

What you will cover:
  • Basic and advanced restorative poses
  • How to strategically use props to enhance the body’s relaxation response
  • Breathing techniques that most effectively elicit the body’s relaxation response
  • Specific ways to address particular health or postural challenges
  • How to teach, by practicing in a group, in pairs, and solo
  • How to guide your students/clients to consciously relax using restorative poses, breathing techniques, and guided imagery
  • How to incorporate restorative poses into your therapeutically oriented sessions or within a group class structure
  • How to use props to bring about awareness of muscular and respiratory holding patterns

As I noted above, this was not my favorite session. This is in no way a reflection upon the instructor, but a relation to the subject matter. There was simply, not enough movement for my personal constitution, so I became very fidgety. Personally, I would have liked a moving (flow) aspect to master class before we settled into our restorative poses.

Now whether you can actually do a restorative class in your current teaching curriculum will depend a great deal on your situation. A studio or an independent is probably far more likely to have - or be able to obtain - the amount of props you'll need than a gym setting. If you teach at a gym, you may have to either bring your own props or greatly, greatly modify.

And a note on class size, Skila noted (if memory is correct) shouldn't be more than four people.  That in order to account for the number of props you would need, for assisting the student(s), and moving between the three or four poses that you would do (yes, only three or four), you should not be trying this with a large (ie more than four) class.  Unless you have an assistant, I would assume.

So that's my review on Restorative - it's important to understand the role of a restorative class, the structure and how to use or perhaps integrate into your setting (if possible).  

As of right now, I'm planning on attending next year's MBF in Minneapolis.  I'll probably do Kid's, and I'm debating between the Ayurveda I and II or the YogaFit HealthCare I tract.   I'm leaning toward Ayurveda...  stay tuned!

Friday, June 7, 2019

YogaFit Training: Seniors

This past week I found myself back in Minneapolis for the 2019 Mind Body Fitness Conference hosted by YogaFit.  I did two different sessions that covered five days:  a one day training on Seniors and a four day training that covered Props and Restorative.

If I've done my calculations correctly, Seniors would technically wrap up a 200 hour certification.  I'm not sure I'm going to apply for it though, because I already have my 200 hour.  I'll need to think on this...

Back to the training.  This was a class worth taking, even if you aren't working directly with a "Senior" class.   At some point, if you are teaching, you WILL have someone 55, 65, 70 years old come to your class.  You WILL have someone - regardless of age - with hip or knee replacement.  This class will give you the ability and language to make the class more inclusive. 

From the YogaFit Website:
Class description:  This one‐day workshop offers ways to modify YogaFit classes to make them accessible to individuals over the age of 55, regardless of their fitness levels. You may take this workshop at any time that fits with your schedule, after completing Level One.

Class covered (but wasn't limited to):
  • Adaptations of the poses from Level One chosen to improve posture and balance, increase range of motion, and develop self‐confidence 
  • How to use props, including chairs, straps, blocks and bolsters, to make poses accessible for a range of physical abilities  
  • How to teach a multilevel class that challenges those seniors who are physically fit while offering a variety of modifications for those who lead a more sedentary lifestyle
  • How to modify for seniors with special conditions, including but not limited to: osteoporosis, hip replacements and knee replacements
In this training, I was was probably in the minority; most attendees (there was 25 of us) were leading a regular Seniors class. I have only ever done one chair class, and the group who showed up didn't need the chair, but that was how the class was advertised. 

I enjoyed this training - I liked all the tips and suggestions on how to facilitate a class that may be active older adults to sedentary seniors.    The range of possibilities was wonderful.   I love the breadth of experience the class contributes, and the willingness to share that information.

A suggestion, if I may, if you embark on these trainings, during the Master Class session (where you are lead through a class on the topic being trained on), treat the Master Class as if you are a [senior, pregnant, hip replacement, knee replacement, etc] in one of these classes.  Especially for something like Seniors or Prenatal.  Don't treat the Master Class like your "workout" time.  That defeats the purpose and you won't get as much from the sequencing, and its the sequencing and prop use you will want to be paying attention to.

For example, in Seniors Master Class, they had us working with a chair and a strap - yes, you could pull your leg way up high with a strap, you can twist like an owl, you can arch way back, you can raise your arms over your head...but can a Senior do that?  Can your future students do that?  Try and feel the class through the body of an older adult with potential limitations.

Bottom line, a very good session.  Recommended.

photo from the internet

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Studo Reviews: One Yoga, Downtown Yoga Shala, Yoga Tribe

Over the last several months, I've done some drop-in classes on my travels around Minnesota and in San Jose, CA.  I will admit, I didn't used to do drop-in classes.  I was a bit...traumatized, in my early and budding yoga practice when I attended a workshop at a (now closed) studio in Edina and did not feel welcome in the space - because I was not part of their "tribe", their close knit "clique".  So for a long time I avoided other studio's thinking (unfairly) they were the same.  

My confidence and experience has shifted and I have been to some truly wonderful spaces.  Because of my early experience, I want to make sure I give a shout out to these studio's.  I've reviewed some in a previous post, and here are the most recent:

One Yoga, Minnepolis, MN
Community focused, non-profit studio.  I went for the Ashtanga class. I was greeted warmly by the front desk gal, and she engaged me in light conversation.  The class instructor took time to greet me as a "new to class" student - specifically asking if I had Ashtanga experience (which I do).  I enjoyed the session, the instructor had good pacing and there were some new-to-me additions to the sequence from when I learned it in 2004 from David Swenson.  The class schedule is varied and I would go back again.  Recommended.

photo from One Yoga

Downtown Yoga Shala, San Jose, CA
Was within (safe) walking distance of the hotel.  Tiny studio with small (6 -8 people) classes.   I had two different instructors (unfortunately I don't recall who).  I will note, one instructor may have been mentoring the other, or perhaps both went to the exact same teacher training, because their "lingo" and sequencing was nearly identical.  In both classes I enjoyed a nicely challenging  but not overly strenuous, vinyasa flow.  It was perfect after sitting in a convention for several hours.  If you are driving, there is metered parking on both sides of the street.  Recommended.

Photo from Downtown Yoga Shala website


Yoga Tribe, Rochester, MN
Was within walking distance from hotel and on the way to/from the Convention center with classes at noonish and 5pm-ish. Both classes I took were Prana-vinyasa class, which was new to me but was a style of vinyasa flow.  The instructor was welcoming and enthusiastic about having some drop-ins in class (I wasn't the only one from the convention taking a much needed break).  There was metered parking available on the street if you drive.  Recommended.

photo from Yoga Tribe website


Saturday, April 27, 2019

Checking in

I realized it's been way too long since I've checked in over here.  Life has just been busy. 

I have some studio reviews I need to add, comments on a recent meditation workshop I attended, and at the end of May, I'm off to my next round of YogaFit Training in Minneapolis.  Seniors on Wednesday and Restorative Thursday through Sunday.

Isis! I saw your comments on the Restorative and Senior sessions - thanks!  I'm looking forward to a review on props. 

Stay tuned! 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Doing your own sequence in a lead class

I've been leading/teaching classes for about thirteen years now.  I won't say I've seen "everything" because as soon as I say that, some new situation will come along.  But I've seen quite a bit. 

This topic is one I think all instructors (and students) have faced at one point or another, be it from a regular attendee or a drop-in:  the individual who does their own thing through out a WHOLE class.  I believe most instructors or styles encourage the student to make the class their own, to modify when needed, to practice Ahimsa and self care,  but what do you do when you get "that" individual who is, literally, just doing their own thing through the entire class?  To the point where it's distracting not only you, but others?

Some situations I've been in:
  • Where they may be a significantly more advanced practitioner than the present class
  • Oblivious that their actions are affecting class (the person in the front row who's doing "their thing" and the beginners in back trying to follow)
  • They want to be in class, but they don't like the sequencing and do something different
I have yet to find an good solution to any of the above.

Well, except one.  I have had to stand in class in such a way that I couldn't see the individual (they were behind me). Out of sight, out of mind. 

This has brought a greater awareness of my actions when I attend a class elsewhere.  I LOVE to hit Corepower when I'm in the Cities.  Usually my schedule limits me to what I can attend, so not infrequently I'll take a CP1 class (their beginning class, unheated or moderate heat).  Some things I will do:
  • Park my mat in a back corner so I can take alternate moves without distracting my neighbors.
  • I stay within the parameters of the asana being offered.  I will deepen a pose, or work on the next level of that pose, but I won't bust out with a totally different pose.  
  • If the instructor pauses to break something down, I will pause as well and listen respectfully.  Who knows?  They might have a new approach to moving into something that I can bring back to my class.
  • Try to approach any class with a beginners mind. 
So my fellow instructors, what have you experienced and how have you handled the situation?  Or, if not an instructor, but a participant in a class, how has your instructor handled it?  How have you handled it when your neighbor is all over the place?


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

YogaFit Training: Yoga Fit for Warriors - PTSD

I did this training on the same weekend as YogaBacks, at the YogaFit Mind Body Fitness Conference in Minneapolis in June, 2017.

I will be upfront and say this was quite a departure from my usual anatomy, philosophy and flow based workshops and I had some trepidation going in that I wouldn't be a good fit for this topic.  But, this was the next class in line on my list of classes from YogaFit (my A-type personality has me marching down the line for the 200/500 training's), and yoga is about learning to work outside ones comfort zone.  So, I signed up.

This was, simply, outstanding!  You don't have to be working directly with trauma victims in a trauma specific to benefit from this session.  Bottom line -  nearly everyone in our society is coping with some kind of mental or physical trauma and you will never know what that is.  This class raises your awareness of how you can structure your language, your class setting, and some of your actions to accommodate someone who is coping with trauma and PTSD.   It's the little things that can make a HUGE difference.

From the YogaFit site:
This trauma-­sensitive yoga workshop zeros in on Post-­Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Trauma Brain Injury (TBI), the long­term effects each one has on the mind, body, and spirit, and how yoga can bring relief. Anyone suffering from trauma—military men and women, and their families; first responders; victims of violence or abuse—as well as the mental health professionals working with them will benefit from this two-day intensive. 
  • Polyvagal theory, the significance of the vagus nerve in trauma, and the role that yoga plays in its ability to function well  
  • The sympathetic nervous system’s role in understanding PTSD and trauma-­related stress response
  • Specific psoas release exercises, breathing techniques, slower movement, guided imagery, and meditation practices designed to release trauma stored in the body
  • How the language we use as teachers affects our students on a neurological and cellular level
  • How to use YogaFit’s transformational language specifically for this population to facilitate a deeper release of stress
This two day class covered a tremendous amount of information and was a great introduction to the topic.
Class began by discussing the Bhagavad Gita and Arjuna's conundrum on the eve of battle and the right way to live (dharma).  We then segwayed into what it means to be in the military, to live with someone in the military or know someone in the military - basically the expectations of military culture.  I was a bit surprised here when I was the only one in class with intimate knowledge on what it was to be in the military and live with someone who was in the military.  

We broke down what PTSD is, how it develops, symptoms, and treatments as it relates to the military, but really, these can occur in so many other situations so the application is multifold.
We discussed Traumatic Brain Injury - what it is, causes, and who's at risk. 
We read an interview between a Dr. Stephan Porges  in the Polyvagal theory by Ravi Dykema. 
Then we got into what we can bring to a class, such as: 
  • Bottom-up processing, that uses slower, more methodical movements to help people feel in control of their bodies so they can self regulate reactions. 
  • Observe Orient Decide Act Loops
  • Tapping or Emotional Freedom Techinque (EFT)  
  • Meditation
  • Yoga Nidra
  • Creating safe space - this one was extremely helpful and I've incorporated some small items into my regular classes.  
So much great information!  And two great Master Classes - two two-hour sessions where the instructor incorporated much of the lesson right into a moving class.  We did a psoas release on the second day that was fascinating.

Some notables that I took away and some I've already been doing  - let people know I'm going to walk around and pick up the blocks as they settle into deep relaxation at the end of class, give permission for self care of any kind, be mindful of how loud the music is, options - lots of options! 

To reiterate, I would strongly recommend this session for any instructor. 

If you find you want to delve deeper into trauma-sensitive yoga training, YogaFit does offer a Warrior Training tract, along with a Warrior Kids option.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

YogaFit Training: YogaBacks

I am way overdue in posting a workshop review.  It's been a crazy busy summer and fall isn't looking any calmer.

In June of 2017, I was back in Minneapolis for YogaFit's Mind Body Fitness Conference.  I missed 2016, and in the interim they had changed hotels from downtown Minneapolis at the Hilton to the DoubleTree near St. Louis Park.  I really appreciated the change - parking, price, safety and food options all being key factors.  Especially the free parking! 

I picked up another couple sessions, YogaBacks being one of them.  This is a one day workshop that focuses on back health.  This workshop was led by Kim Gray out of Illinois.  The YogaFit instructors are one of the main reasons I keep coming back to these sessions - the quality of teaching and knowledge these folks bring is amazing.

The background for the course (from the YogaFit website):
  • A basic overview of common back issues, such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, spondylosis, and sacroiliac instability
  • General guidelines for dealing with common back issues
  • How to recognize levels and type of pain, such as acute vs chronic pain
  • Yoga poses appropriate at different stages of back pain
  • Yoga poses to maintain a healthy back
  • YogaBack protocols and sequences that serve as a starting point for a therapeutically based back-care plan
  • Breathing techniques designed to alleviate or mitigate pain
  • How to modify poses, using props and gentle assists, to ensure a safe and appropriate experience
Yikes!  That sounds like some pretty intense stuff!   It was, but it was very doable and approachable thanks to Kim.

Over the course of the day we covered:
  • Causes of low-back pain 
  • Medical Red Flags - with the warning please don't come to class until you've seen a doctor. We don't want to make a condition worse or cause someone pain. 
  • Guidelines for a back-focused sequence which involved numerous reminders to stay pain free, or if already in pain, don't make the pain worse. 
  • Pain discussion - how the body protects against pain. 
  • Anatomy of the spine
  • Breath 
  • Theraputic Yoga for common back conditions
  • and we did a hour and a half master class that was wonderful
My take-away:  this should be a MUST DO class for anyone teaching yoga.  Back issues are so prevalent in our society and having the knowledge to move a class safely through a regular sequence or a back-specific sequence is a must in my opinion.   Having the ability to say to someone, "I recommend you see a Dr. before continuing," rather than assuming the back pain is muscle related, is a yoga practice in itself.  

I highly recommend this session.  

**These reviews are my own opinions and experiences.  I am NOT compensated in anyway by the YF corporation or other entities.  I attend these and other workshops on my own time and with my own finances for self improvement.  I share my experiences to help others find what might work for them.