Thursday, February 7, 2013

YogaFit Training: Level 1

Weekend training is over and I've had a chance to digest and apply some of what I learned.  It was about 16 hours of Level 1 intensive over Saturday and Sunday.  My short version:  some of the better training I have received especially as it relates to pose/asana dynamics and safety.

The long version: while a long weekend, especially with the Props session on Friday, this was not as mentally or physically challenging as other training (Ashtanga based) I have taken.  I was able to enjoy the weekend, rather than feeling exhausted, numb and overwhelmed.

Day One:
Introductions all around.  18 people in the session, with a range of abilities.  Group was predominantly fitness instructors looking to expand their class options.  There were 2 people who had taken one yoga class (yes, one) and seven yoga classes and decided they wanted to teach.  There was one gal looking to bring some idea back to use with cancer patients and their families, and then a couple straight up yogi's like myself.  So very diverse group.

The instructor was absolutely fantastic.  Her depth of knowledge as it relates to the human body, how it moves, the muscular system was just great.  She had an undergrad/masters in Exercise Physiology and Biomechanics and was pursuing a Doctorate degree in Kinesiology.  I don't recall how long she had been with YogaFit as a Trainer, but I thought I heard something like 15 years with the organization.

We touched on the philosophy of YogaFit covering their Principles of Alignment, the Three Mountain Format, the Foundational Poses, and the YogaFit Essence.  Then she took us through a 90 minute class which I absolutely loved.  Some more discussion and off to lunch.  In the afternoon we began to break down the poses YogaFit has deemed acceptable for a newbie to teach.  At least that was how I viewed it.

At any rate, it was some of the best pose breakdown I've participated in to date.  It was more than here's the pose, here's how you do it; it was more, here are the dynamics that make the pose what it is, here are some strengths and weakness of the pose, and here are some variations on the pose to adapt it to a wider range of people.  Nicceeee...

Homework was assigned and out the door we went.

Day Two:
Another 90 minute session.  Room was a little warm at 92*, but the instructor managed to get the temp down to 85* by the end of practice. 

After a quick break, we moved into our homework assignment and partner work, which was talking people through a series of poses.  Some confusion here, but she got us straightened out and we did our talking.  The small room was not conducive to 18 talking through a 'mock' session, but we managed.

Lunch break.

And more partner work to build on the mornings session, switching partners for the second round.

We broke again and she led us through some things people might expect to see in a yoga class, such as people with injuries, arthritis, high/low blood pressure, glaucoma, diabetes, scoliosis, osteoporosis, etc.  She further discussed some YogaFit philosophy, verbal cuing and very briefly touched on props.

Again, ultimately, a great session.  My only complaint/criticism is the homework and execution was not as smooth as it could have been.  It was given to us as "Find 2 Transformational Language Cues for Each Pose" when, I think it could have been elaborated to include, "find transformational language cues for each pose as if you were going to lead a class..."

I also thought switching partners 3x fragmented the homework too much and didn't allow the class to really feel what it would be like to do a session, even if it was a mini-session.

The manual handout that was given at the start of class was much appreciated by myself.  Very well done, with a binding that would lay flat for ease of taking notes.  Though it did leave me wondering if buying the book was really necessary - everything seems to be provided for at the class.  Well, no matter, book is bought and now marked up with notes in preparation for a class where we didn't use it.  

Lastly, and this is my personal quirk, I don't like to be given "options" during a yoga class.  I'm there to turn off my mind, to move with the flow, and I find it very jarring to be moving and breathing and have the teacher say, "Now do whatever you want, whatever feels good, for the next five minutes...".  Wha..??  No, no, no.  Now you just made me think, when my brain was happily turned off.   Grrr.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

YogaFit Training: Props

So I took the plunge this weekend and attended some YogaFit training that was offered in Duluth.  I've been a bit hesitant about moving in this direction as I consider myself to be more 'classically' trained and YogaFit is definitely a 'gym' style class, but a couple of items finally pushed me to sign up.

One has been a lack of local workshops (as in a 150 mile travel distance local) being offered the last three years.  It seems there has been a significant decrease in Well Known instructors being invited to lead weekend workshops in the Twin Cities.  Noting here that I am looking for instructors who teach an Ashtanga or Vinyasa style.  Another factor is timing of said workshops - I need weekend dates, not mid-week dates.  It is problematic for me to just take off work on a Wednesday through Friday.  I'm rather limited to weekends.

Through my YMCA connections I received notice that the YogaFit organization was going to be conducting a three day session here in Duluth.  Day One: Use of Props in a Restorative class.  Okay, that's good, I do toss in restorative sessions and substitute lead Restorative class on occasion.  Very apropos.  And a two day Level 1 training.  Perhaps a bit basic for my needs, but YogaFit does offer a slew of additional training sessions where they require you to have taken the Level 1.

Did I mention the training was in town?  No extra gas or hotel costs incurred here.  Nice.  And I can use the credits toward my Yoga Alliance certification.  Also nice.

So, Props.  Well, I was under the impression it was going to be Props for Restorative based of of the description on the website, but it was definitely Props for Vinyasa.  Which was actually better.  It can be...problematic to incorporate props in a flow class because you do not have time to "set up" a station.  

Props session was well organized.  We got started about a half hour late because there were three people missing and with -20* temps that morning, the instructor decided to err on the side of caution.  Third person never did show up.  Ended up being six trainees, five gals and one guy.  Nice to see that guy in class!  Every one but me had previous YogaFit training, which wasn't a problem - just some terminology differences like dead bug = happy baby and some asana sequencing that I haven't learned.

The instructor, Katie, touched on some review from prior YogaFit sessions (like Level 1, 2 and 3 training), a bit of "prop philosophy", then moved right into props and prop use in a vinyasa class ala YogaFit style.  It was a combination of talking and moving, she would explain, we would move through the sequence a few times, then move on.  There was good give and take from the group. 

In the afternoon we did floor and wall work.  I learned a very cool way to get legs up the wall without scooching:  Ninja roll!  Awesome...

Breaks were built in, we did have an hour for lunch, and we were done early at 430p.  I got the impression that's not always the case, but the exception since we were a very small group.

So my impression of my first exposure to YogaFit was very positive.  I was impressed with the instructors ability to pull from previous trainings, those Level 1-3 sessions (even tho I haven't take them), I never got the feeling that in any given pose that "that was the only way" to do it, and it was some of the best use of props I had yet been exposed to.

I also realized just how much verbal cuing, verbal adjusting, and modifications I do, because I generally don't use props.  

Next up:  Level 1 training.  Two day session.