Becoming A Yoga Teacher
Did you know that anyone can be a Yoga instructor? Anyone at any time can say that they know how to teach Yoga and can easily begin selling Yoga classes. There is no certification required, no registration, no education.
Of course, we know that this is not what makes a person a Yoga teacher. The ability to instruct people to move through various postures does not necessitate special training. However, the skills needed to guide people through a Yoga sequence that intentionally creates physical, energetic and emotional change requires depth of study and practice. The Yoga Alliance provides us with a set of guidelines to follow in our training.
Self Study is one of the most important practices a Yoga teacher must do. While studying the texts, philosophies and practices of Yoga we must apply that which we learn to our lives. We must move with the intention of noticing how it effects our own bodies and live as witnesses and observers of our own thoughts, speech and actions.
Teaching Yoga requires constant practice and study. It requires self awareness, continued study, growth and development. A Yoga teacher is always practicing, but not always posing. They are developing deeper awareness of themselves in order to gain a better understanding of the practitioners whom they guide.
Intense, but not Intensive
The training required to become a Yoga teacher is intense, but it should not be intensive. The quality of the training a blossoming practitioner attends can make the difference between them becoming an instructor or a teacher.
The most common initial Yoga teacher training program is 200 hours in length. A comprehensive program includes everything from history to anatomy and should also cover the philosophy and practices of traditional Yoga. To fully grasp these concepts it is important that a budding teacher apply them to life. To do this, we must walk the walk and talk the talk, everywhere. We must take the time to understand and apply everything we learn. A quality Yoga teacher takes the time necessary to develop themselves, their knowledge and their own practice.
Everyone has their own special set of skills. A quality Yoga teacher does more than instruct poses. They absorb themselves into the practice and radiate their passion into the studio as well as out in the world. Every aspect of their life is dissolved in Yoga. Listen to how your teacher speaks, watch them move, notice what they do while demonstrating or moving through the room. Listen for their unique set of skills.
Learn about your teacher. Do they have a degree? In what field? What lives did they live before they became a Yoga teacher? How does their past effect the way in which they teach? Each one of us applies that which we had learned before we became Yoga teachers to the way in which we teach and live. When you practice with a quality Yoga teacher you will be able to see, hear and feel who they are as a result of their past experiences.
Value Your Teacher
Standing on your head, jumping from downward dog to handstand and being able to wrap your legs behind your shoulders does not qualify you to teach Yoga. In fact, many teachers lack the flexibility to access many of the party trick poses you will find on Instagram. In addition, just because your teacher can do these things that does not mean they can teach you to access the positions in your body or that your body can move in those ways.
Think about your favorite teachers in school. What qualities made them memorable? A quality Yoga offers more than instruction during a work out. They offer space, energy, guidance, support, instruction, direction, passion, enthusiasm and themselves. The practice of Yoga is their way of life and they share their life with you every time they teach.
When you find your quality Yoga teacher let them know how much you value them by paying full price, letting others know what makes them different and showing up to support what they do and to learn and grow with them.
1) Tahoe is a Year-Round Playground
We have what are called "Multi-Sport Days" in Lake Tahoe. Any day of the year can include skiing, hiking, biking, swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking, and more. In any month of the year you can go out for a relaxing boat ride or tour the basin via car. Between the Tahoe Basin and the valleys below there are so many options for activities that you will need to stay for more than a weekend to truly understand why we love Tahoe.
When planning any retreat, it is important to have options. In Tahoe, they are built in. We have activities for people of all ages, sizes and ability levels. Every day of your retreat can include a new adventure that you can guide yourself, or hire a resident to arrange something just for your group.
2) This is the Air the Angels Breathe
Mark Twain is quoted as saying, "To breathe the same air as the angels, you must go to Tahoe." Lake Tahoe is the perfect place to breathe freely. The fresh mountain air, blue bird skies and incredible views will refresh and renew you from the outside-in. Residents of the basin will often brag of feeling like "super heroes" when at lower elevation. The thin air results in a need to breathe more deeply, move with consciousness, and consider what your body needs. Every breath you take while on your Yoga Retreat will remind you of the value of breathing.
The ancient Yogis would head to the Himalaya to practice. In Tahoe you can discover why they chose the mountains as a place to practice mindfulness, breath and movement.
3) The Views
In the studio, on the beach or paddle board, atop a mountain, on a boat, a roof deck or on the lawn; no matter where you choose to practice, the view is sure to be amazing. Studios like Lake Tahoe Yoga offer the unique option of a custom-built practice at the location of your choosing. The intention is to set the stage for a Yoga Adventure. Yoga is the practice of union and one of the best ways to connect with yourself, others and the world around you is to engage. Learn to practice with the sand between your toes, a board shifting on the water, the wind blowing and birds singing. At Lake Tahoe all this an more will enhance your practice.
Seek out an instructor who is familiar with the area and has local connections. Tahoe is a magical place with many unique and hidden opportunities. Trying to discover the best view or place in which to practice takes time. Rely on those who know.
4) We Know How to Have Fun
Lake Tahoe is located on the border of California and Nevada. California is known for having a laid back lifestyle and easy going attitude. Nevada has a reputation for nights that never end. Lake Tahoe combines the best of both worlds. Rent a boat and relax on the water or spend some time in the sun on the sand. Tour the Thunderbird Lodge, go down to Vikingsholm, climb up Fannettte Island or dive off of the rocks near D.L. Bliss or walk the grounds of the Pope Estate. In the evenings, plan for food and drinks, dancing and more. There are places to find mocktails, vegetarian and vegan options as well as locally sourced foods. Whichever type of fun you are into, Tahoe can accommodate.
Yelp can help, but a resident will be your best source for places to try. The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority can direct you to Tahoe's Best spots for fun, relaxation, food and more.
5) Tahoe is still a Hidden Gem
Visitors typically come to Tahoe for two reasons: Winter and Summer. What most people don't know is that Tahoe has more to offer. The warmth of Spring brings with it fields of wildflowers and soft mountain biking trails as well as the rush of waterfalls . The Fall season is crisp and cool. It is the perfect time for a beach cookout or early morning paddle.
Tahoe is beautiful during every season, but only peaceful during a few months out of the year. When planning your yoga retreat consider visiting when it's less busy and you'll find that peace is easy to find.
Jenay specializes in creating unique practices that honor your requests and always includes some extra TLC. Contact Lake Tahoe Yoga to join a scheduled practice or, have one customized for your group.
Lake Tahoe Yoga began as an idea. For years I would joke about various locations being "a great place for a studio." I never thought I would actually become a studio owner. It wasn't until I was approached by some locals who were curious about my skills beyond counseling that I considered starting my own business. I began with just a few classes, some private sessions, and free classes. Once I began actively teaching, I realized how much I had to learn about business, people and community.
Giving too Much Away
I am enthusiastic about instructing, guiding, and helping others to discover their paths. The teacher in me is always proud to see my students demonstrate their understanding, develop new skills and grow as individuals. While instructing others, I am always learning. It wasn't until it was too late that I realized the very people that I had been supporting, guiding, and instructing were planning on attempting to become my competition. Upon leaving Lake Tahoe Yoga Studio they took more than the knowledge I had shared; they took practitioners, ideas and more.
It is incredible to look back to 2008 and review how rapidly technology, advertising, marketing and business has changed. During this time there have been positive and negative shifts in every field. I have had to change everything about the way I market my business. What will never change is the roots of Lake Tahoe Yoga.
Many of the studios, gyms, etc. in town may be listed on Mindbody or some other app. They may have pretty photos with people posing on their instagram. Maybe they are offering classes at breweries, art studios, wineries, with goats and cats and dogs. They are viciously competing with one another. Lake Tahoe Yoga continues to remain focused on our roots: the practice, the knowledge and sharing it with others.
Putting our Money where it Matters
Lake Tahoe Yoga wouldn't exist if it wasn't for our community. It was the locals that encouraged me to begin instructing and who continue to support the studio. I didn't practice at any other studio in Tahoe. I didn't train with a studio here. I didn't learn how to run a business by working for another studio. Everything at Lake Tahoe Yoga grew through active learning, community engagement & support, and the dedication I have to the practice, studio, and practitioners.
Our social media photos are of Tahoe and people just like you and me doing their best to access more than a pose. They are trying to access Yoga. They are living in this world, working beside you. They are breathing, moving and observing themselves and the world around them hoping to bring forth positive change.
Every penny spent to advertise Lake Tahoe Yoga is purposeful and focused. From local memberships for TRYP, SLTWHS and Tahoe Chamber to social media the advertising is calculated to be the best way for us to reach the community and to give back.
Supporting Small, Local Yoga Studios & Businesses
Over the past 10 years I have learned much about Tahoe South, business, and people. I have grown as an instructor, business owner and individual. I have deepened my understanding of Yoga and what it means to truly practice. I know I am not perfect. I remind my students that not everyone lives life with an open mind and that most people are in service only to themselves. Taking this lesson to heart, I have chosen not to advertise on the popular apps so that I can donate a portion of Lake Tahoe Yoga's profits to local and international non-profits.
When traveling, I seek out the small, locally owned studios that are not listed on Mindbody and do not have fancy advertisements or websites. I have discovered wonderful studios, new instructors, friendships, connections and more. I have expanded this practice beyond Yoga studios and have begun seeking out small businesses, as well. It has opened many new doors.
Go Small, Support Locals
There is no guarantee that the studio you find listed on Mindbody is the best, nor is there a guarantee that the teacher instructing in the basement of her house is any good. You will never know if you don't try it out. How about giving that new teacher in the basement a try before heading to the studio paying to be noticed? Step into that funky little shop on the corner instead of going to the one with thousands of reviews. Ask a friend for a recommendation, ask a local where they go, step off of the beaten path and try something new. For it is only when we try that we know.
You are out of Balance
You night not notice it, but you have become so comfortable with how things are that you just accept that this is how you are supposed to feel. When was the last time you checked in with yourself? When was the last time you tried something new? When was the last time you felt uncomfortable? When was the last time you allowed yourself 15 minutes of time to allow your thoughts to run wild? When was the last time you allowed yourself 15 minutes to quiet those thoughts?
How well do you know your Self?
In the movie Anger Management, the main character is asked to explain who he is. Can you do this? Without describing yourself as what you do, who you know, where you live, what you enjoy? Can you describe your Self?
Try this: write down that which you do, where you live, what you enjoy, who you know, who you are in relation to others, etc. Now, describe what you look like, what you love and what you dislike about yourself.
Now, read what you have written. Is this you?
You are not your self.
Through the practice of yoga asana we develop an understanding of our habits. We learn that we have, over time, developed practices that protect us, that compensate, that hide the imabalances.
When we direct our breath, we identify the limitations we place upon ourselves and the ways in which we cheat ourselves from accepting who we are and what we need.
When we sit or rest in silence we learn to listen to the chattering within us. We begin to hear our body and breath. We notice the useless thoughts buzzing around in our heads.
Movement, breath and silence help us to identify all of the imbalances to which we are blind; it sheds light upon that which we have allowed to hide in the darkness.
You are your Self
We are not here to direct you through a workout or fix your ailments. We are here to help you to identify your imbalances. We are here to guide you through asana sequences that address physical and energetic change. We are here to guide you through breathing practices that shift your awareness and spark emotion. We are here to encourage you to be silent so that you can hear the chatter of your mind.
It's time to show up. To be here. It's time to seek synchronicity.
Yoga's sister science, Auyrveda, brings balance to our body, breath and mindful practices. By evaluating our lifestyle, eating, sleeping and working habits, we begin to paint a picture of who we are. We begin to see the difference between the self and the Self! We become whole only by breaking apart the pieces of our own individual puzzling selves. Each of us is like a puzzle that appears to be put together, but when you look closely, you see that there are pieces added or misplaced. As we practice, as we shed light upon the darkness, we begin to identify the pieces that need to be removed or replaced.
Book a Synchronicity Session today.
Identify imbalances. Learn how to return to your true nature. Return to synchronicity through specified practices.
The Meaning of Yoga
The word Yoga comes from the sanskrit root word, "Yuj," which means to yoke or unite. No matter the style which you choose, while practicing and afterward, you should feel a sense of self-connection as well as a connection with those whom you practice. No union = no Yoga.
There are two approaches to the practice of Yoga: Hatha and Raja. At Lake Tahoe Yoga we practice both, simultaneously. The effort, or movement, is Hatha. The mindful aspect is Raja. An authentic Yoga practice with offer both physical and mindful practices. Each movement should require focus and attention while at the same time an experience of release of distractions. As the practice continues, you should feel a sense of freedom and one-pointed focus.
Alignment is everything. Any teacher that tells you to "listen to your body," or "move freely in any way that feels good," is doing you a disservice. We each have our own anatomical alignment, but that doesn't mean we are all aligned properly. We have spent years moving in unhealthy, habitual ways. Yoga Asana is designed to help us adjust our bodies into the best position and to move more healthily. While moving, your attention should move to misalignments and a good teacher will help you identify ways in which to correct them.
Breathing is one of the most important aspects of Hatha. In a traditional practice, you will learn the postures first, and then the breath that directs each posture. Each breath is important as it helps to move not only your body, but your energy as well. Poorly directed breath can result in physical issues, mental strain and energetic blockages. Your breath should be effortful, but not forceful. If you are ever breathing with more effort than you are applying physically, you are breathing too hard.
Finally, energetic awareness is the key to a good class and high quality instruction. Your instructor should be able to hold your focus no matter where you are practicing. Shaktipat is the exchange of energy between yourself and your guide during your practice. If your instructor is distracted, unfocused, continuously talking, giving inclear instructions, etc., there is no shaktipat. Throughout the entire practice you should feel as though you can completely let go and just follow the guidance of your teacher.
Yoga has recently become a hot word to add to anything you do. There is Yoga with Kittens, Yoga with Goats, Naked Yoga, Paddle Yoga, etc. With the word yoga being thrown into everything from athletic work outs to types of tea, it can be difficult to figure out what type of yoga is correct for you.
The word Guru is of two parts: "Gu" meaning darkness and "Ru" meaning light.
In the world of spiritual endeavors the guru is the guide who helps your find your way on your path to enlightenment.
A Guide to the Path
Unlike a teacher, a guru is there to help you along without giving you the answers. Think about it this way; in school you have lots of teachers, they give you information, test your knowledge and tell you if you are correct or incorrect. When practicing on the path to enlightenment your guru is your personal trainer, therapist and swami. He or she will provide you with the guidelines, listen to your woes, provide guidance and send you forward on your travels.
The basic word difference between Teacher and Guru is the difference between 'takes' and 'makes'. For instance a teacher takes responsibility for one's growth whereas Guru makes one responsible for their growth. Similarly one beautiful difference is wherein it says a teacher prepares you to answer the questions whereas a Guru will question your answer.
Do Not Blindly Follow
I have been asked why we do not chant or do a group invocation at Lake Tahoe Yoga. My reason is because I do not feel qualified to tell you which mantra is the appropriate one. I invoke that which I need and that which aligns with the intention of the practice as appropriate based upon that which I am developing and teaching. I encourage you join in at the closing of the practice to offer peace through the words, "Aum Santi," but do not expect you to do so.
As a teacher, I am still learning. My intention is to develop a strong grasp of the practice and philosophies, to develop them in my own life and be able to demonstrate and explain these practices to those who choose to practice with me. I am a work in progress and self discovery is still out of my reach.
Seek out guides who are sincere, authentic and offering their whole self to you as they teach. A guru they may not be, but they will provide you with a mirror to your self and your needs as you prepare to discover a guru.
Seek Knowledge and Comprehension
If your instructor cannot explain or describe that which they are teaching or the reason for it, then you probably should not be following their lead. Lineage, quality training, continued study and dedication to the practice are the ways in which we shed light upon the darkness. You don't need to know everything about everything, but knowing what and why you are doing something is very important.
Do not be fearful of asking questions of your instructor. Whether new to the practice or experienced in teaching, they should be able to answer questions about why you are doing particular poses, breath practices or mindful focuses and the intention behind the practice. If the answer is less than inspiring or lacks knowledge, then move on to someone who provides you with what you need.
The Ultimate Guide
As you move forward through your practice of Yoga you will likely follow many teachers and be guided by many gurus. The ultimate guru is the one that is within you. Like your conscience, it will tell you if things are right for you. Above all, no matter what your teachers say, you must listen to your inner guru if you desire spiritual enlightenment.