yoga teacher training

Finding the Illusive Balance

Hey guys…whoa, long time, no see.  This is officially the longest I’ve gone between posts since I started my blog!  Sorry for going MIA.

I have been busy lately.  But oh so happy.  🙂

So, I thought this post would be a good time to talk about balance.  Even if only a reminder for myself.

Balance...get it?  Yay, yoga jokes! Photo credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

Balance…get it? Yay, yoga jokes!
Photo credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

Here is what I know I have to do to keep my balance in life:

1. Be willing to say no.

Starting out in this new line of work, I feel like I have to say yes to everything.  I realize, though, that I have to set some boundaries and be willing to stick to them.  For example, Tuesday is “date night” for Danny and me.  We always make it a priority to set aside time together for dinner and conversation, whether we go out or stay in, on this evening.  I have been offered a Tuesday night class more than once, and each time I have turned it down.  I will sub on occasion, but we really love our Tuesdays, and they are important for us and our relationship.  Which leads me to…

2. Set priorities.

I have been trying to do this for a long time, and it was really the thing that made me decide to take the leap and leave my school teaching job.

Danny and I talked a long time ago about our number one priority to be building a happy marriage together.  So, theoretically, all I do should feed into that goal.  Now, of course, I don’t get ridiculous and still hold responsibilities.  Those responsibilities, however, can’t bring negative to our upcoming marriage.

My job teaching school is a perfect example of this priority being damaged.  I was under so much stress and was so unhappy in my work situation, I would be in tears three or four nights a week.  I would, admittedly, pick fights about little things and, for some reason, would be hurt by the littlest things.  This resulted in a lot of fighting and emotional exhaustion for the both of us.

Summer rolled around, and I was a new woman.  We knew right away it was time for me to leave teaching and pursue what makes me happy.

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I’m not saying that everything is all sunshine and butterflies, of course, but there is way more happy in Danny-and-Amy land.

3. Be realistic.

Sure, after Yoga Teacher Training finished, I would have loved to continue my practice 6 days a week.  However, with working an eight hour day, teaching a class or two on top of that, commuting, and working toward other goals, all while trying to have a life and time with my family, a 1.5-hour yoga practice is just not sustainable.  I am surely getting my workouts in with some of the classes I teach, which leads me to…

4. Take care of your body.

This one probably applies more to the fitness professional area of my life, but doing my own yoga practice is sometimes just plain more than my body can handle right now.

During Yoga Teacher Training, we would do our own practice for about an hour and a half and, later, do a more informal practice while we worked on teaching and adjusting.  Then, I would go on later that day to teach a class or two nearly every evening of the week, including on my only day of from YTT.  While I saw amazing changes in my body, I was so sore most of the time that working out stopped feeling good.  Not the goal when you are trying to motivate others to work out.

5. Plan ahead

Last, but not least, I am going to work harder on planning ahead.  Read: write some blog posts ahead of time so I don’t disappear from blog land for another almost-week.  🙂

How do you find and keep balance in your life?

How Yoga has Transformed Me

Guess what, guys?  I’m officially a yoga teacher!

Now that my teacher training is complete, I thought it would be an appropriate time to take a moment to reflect on how this month has changed me.

For the title of this post, I originally wrote “My Body.”  Then, I realized that yoga has changed more than that for me.

I am more flexible than I probably have ever been in my entire life.

Now, by yoga standards, I am still not very flexible.  My past as a runner has blessed me with some wicked tight hamstrings and hips.  However, I am truly amazed by how much daily practice can do in a relatively short about of time.  I went from barely getting my leg into half lotus, to a full lotus in less than a month.  In a forward fold or down dog, I sometimes almost fall into it because I expected my body to start resisting sooner.  🙂  It’s pretty cool.

My posture and standing position have improved.

Photo Credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

Photo Credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

Nearly from the start, I was much more conscious of my posture.  This has continued, and I definitely feel it has improved.

The more interesting part to me is my standing position.  I have been pretty sore throughout the training process, but this past week became downright uncomfortable.  I has continued into the past couple of days (which makes since, because I haven’t rested much).  Yesterday, I was really uncomfortable just standing for a relatively short time.  I was in comfortable shoes and just couldn’t figure out the problem.  Then, I glanced in the mirror and noticed that I had all my weight shifted into one hip (my choir teacher in high school used to call it “pissy girl hip,” haha).  Not very yoga.  So, I evened out the weight in both feet, and, BAM, discomfort went away.  Pretty wild.

I’m stronger.

I remember on one of the first days of training, we went through warrior sequence, in which we have to hold warrior one and two on each side of five full breaths.  I couldn’t do it in the beginning.  Now, I do it regularly, and I could definitely do it longer.  My chataranga is a huge improvement as well.

Photo credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

Photo credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

This part is probably my biggest thing I want to promote.  So many people (me included at one point) view yoga as “less” than a workout, as it is supposed to be relaxing and connect you to yourself.  Sure, it does that, but you also get super sweaty and toned in the process, with a method of yoga that is built for those results.

I’m more poised and take better care of myself.

I don’t know if I can completely attribute this to yoga, or if it is just the result of what I have learned recently with my life changes.  Regardless, I truly feel like a better version of me.  I take the time to think about what I need and how to achieve it.  There was a time, not so long ago, when if something didn’t work for me, I would just deal with it, because that is what I was supposed to do.  Now, I am not afraid to speak up or act if I need a change.

Small example:  On Friday, Danny and I went out to dinner to celebrate.  It was a bit of a rainy afternoon, so, although I wanted to sit outside, we opted for an indoor table since the patio was still pretty wet.  We got our table in the second level, and it was freezing.  Not comfortable at all.  Plus, the atmosphere was weird.

Not so long ago, I would have dealt with it and probably got pretty annoyed and cranky.  Instead, we pretty much immediately decided to leave and check out the patio to see if we could deal with the water.  It ended up being perfect!

I have more clarity.

This one is kind of hard to explain, but I feel like I am waaaay better at clearing my mind because of yoga.  I will say that meditation is still quite the challenge for me, but I am getting there.

I am really able to clear my mind while I am practicing, which is a great feeling.  I do notice this feeling stretching into my daily life as well, which is so refreshing.  I am the kind of girl whose mind can be swarmed with thoughts to the point that it makes me want to freak out, but I have really been able to quiet many of those things, due to yoga and some practice.

Photo credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

Photo credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

So, that’s the Marvelous in My Monday!  (I’m linking up with Katie).

What benefits have you gotten from yoga?

Is there another type of fitness that has given you similar benefits?  Let’s hear about it!

How Do You TRULY Listen to Your Body?

I’m in a bit of a predicament.

As you probably know if you have read any recent posts, you know that I am going through a Yoga Teacher Training program right now.  Each morning (except Saturday), we complete the entire Ashtanga Primary Series, which is pretty intense.

This process has truly transformed my body.  So much so, I am planning to post about it next week when the training is finished.  However, this transformation has come with a LOT of soreness for me.

Running through shin soreness was not a good idea, and nearly took this moment away from me before I had the chance!

Running through shin soreness was not a good idea, and nearly took this moment away from me before I had the chance!

We talk often at YTT about how dull pain is a good thing, as it is the micro-fissures being created in your muscles that help you get stronger and more flexible.  We also talk about the difference between that dull pain and a sharp, shooting pain, which is your body telling you to stop.

My question today is, what happens when you find yourself between the two?

Literally every morning since the training started, I have stepped out of bed to some shocking stiffness and soreness.  I am getting it in the usual spots, but even in strange places like my hands and feet.  It typically eases rather quickly as I get moving, but it is a new feeling for me.

Today, I am having a dull, but constant, pain in the outside of my ankle/foot that radiates all the way up to my  hip.  It isn’t a sharp, shooting pain, but it is definitely uncomfortable and doesn’t feel like your typical soreness.  I’m also noticing a dull, deep-looking bruise in the spot that I am feeling discomfort on my ankle.

I am not one to make excuses.  Excuses are one of my biggest pet peeves.  I try to always remember the great things that my body is capable, and honor my body and how fortunate I am by not selling myself short of a workout because “I don’t feel like it.”  So, as soon as the thought occurs to me that I should sit out the next day, I start to dig deeper.

Is my pain just a result of spending a lot of time in high heels over the weekend?

Isn't he handsome?

Isn’t he handsome?

Did I get to crazy with my awesome wedding reception dancing?

Or, did I push it too hard in my practice today?

At training today, our leader, Caroline Klebl, came to town.  She talked to us for awhile about the importance of maintaining a consistent yoga practice.  Traditionally, this is 6 days a week.  However, she emphasized that importance of recognizing the negative impact over-exercising can have on your body and explained that 3-4 days a week works better for some people.

This was great for me to hear, as I am looking forward to getting back into running and other workouts after the training is over, but I don’t want to lose the benefits I have seen yoga have on my body.

So, now comes the big question.  Am I too sore/tired/injured to practice tomorrow, or am I just burnt out?  How do I know what my body is truly telling me?

What do you think?  Any and all suggestions are welcome (and wanted)!

Fitness Classes I Teach

Happy Friday kids!  I can’t believe we are already looking at the end of July.  Next week is my LAST WEEK of Yoga Teacher Training!  Time sure has flown.

Now that I’ve truly gotten my feet wet in this new career of mine, I thought it would be nice to give a little insight into the classes I teach and how I prepare for them.

HIIT Core + Core Strength

This is the first class I taught, and it is definitely fun.  The ladies I get in the class so far are “regulars” and are super sweet!

Typically, I run this class like so:

  • Warm up- about 10 minutes, starting with cardio and working into abs
  • Abs section- either a timed HIIT set/tabata, or a more traditional strength set for about 10-15 minutes
  • Cardio/full body section- timed intervals for about 10 minutes
  • Cool down- yoga-inspired stretching for a little less than 10 minutes

Ashtanga Intermediate

Photo Credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

Photo Credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

The Ashtanga system is the focus of my Yoga Teacher Training.  My instructor is great, and she has a lot of faith in me.  I started teaching this class in my first week of training!

I follow the Ashtanga primary sequence for this class, but I skip some postures based on the group I get that evening and time constraints.  It is fun in a totally different way from HIIT, as it is much more quiet and mellow, but I find it extremely rewarding.

Yoga Sculpt

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Earlier this week (or maybe it was over the weekend?  It’s all starting to blend together these days), I shared some ideas for fusing yoga and strength training.  This is really the focus of this class.  I take traditional yoga poses and modify them to include weights or a little more intense strengthening moves.

For last week’s class, I followed the Ashtanga sequence but modified postures.  This week, I am working with some of my own designs of flows.  Here is one that I put together today:

  • Samisthiti
  • Arms up
  • Fold forward
  • Look up and lengthen deadlift
  • Chataranga hold
  • Up Dog
  • Down Dog
  • High lunge, torso forward, grab weights
    • Lateral raise x5
    • Front raise x5
    • Rows x5
    • Bent-arm lateral raise x5
  • Up into full high/crescent lunge, tricep kickbacks x10
  • Windmill down to pushup, drop weights, hold chataranga
  • Up Dog
  • Down Dog
  • Repeat High Lunge with other leg
  • Jump through to stand
  • Look up and lengthen deadlift
  • Fold forward
  • All the way up, hands to sky
  • Samisthiti

Looked nearly identical to this yesterday…

Virtual high-five to the person who can guess which one in the Ashtanga photo is me!  (Little sisters need not guess, haha)

What is your favorite fitness class?

 

 

The Best Compliment I Could Have Gotten

…at least in my yoga teaching so far.  🙂

Last night, I taught my 3rd ever Ashtanga class.

If you read about the first time around, it was not pretty.  There were three regulars in the class, who have been practicing Ashtanga pretty regular for a year and a half.  At this point, I had only practiced three times.  So, as soon as I made a mistake and they corrected me, my confidence faltered, and I sort of fell apart.

Yeah…should’ve looked it up first.

I was relatively certain that those three would not be back if my name was on the schedule.

Well, last night, one of them came.  I felt really good about the class; I kept my confidence and was myself.  I tried not to worry too much about what she thought; I focused more on the cues she needed (and the rest of the class, of course).

After class, she came up to me and said, “You’ve had quite a week.”  I smiled, then she went on to say, “That was a great class, a really great class.”

I wanted to jump up and down, but I just thanked her (probably too many times) and made sure she knew how much her comment meant to me.

Another sweaty, but happy, selfie.  Please excuse the weird hair situation.

Another sweaty, but happy, selfie. Please excuse the weird hair situation.

Today, I was telling my YTT instructor (this student’s typical teacher) about it, and she was so excited for me.  She pointed out that this particular student does not give out compliments freely.  She told me that even for her it took a long time for her to feel like she had “won her over.”

On a day that I was feeling a little discouraged about myself as a yogi, let alone an instructor, this compliment really turned my day around.

What is the last compliment that really changed your day?

Can’ts into Cans: My Yoga Body

It’s been awhile since I did a Can’ts into Cans series post!  I figured now is a great time, as I am a week and a half in to yoga teacher training.  Let me tell you, 1 1/2- 2 hours of intense yoga per day is no joke!

With my practice jumping from occasional to six days a week, I have noticed some significant changes in what my body can do already.

Pre-yoga teaching...this is a better picture than after.  If you've seen my sweaty selfie, you get it.

Pre-yoga teaching…this is a better picture than after. If you’ve seen my sweaty selfie, you get it.

1. Forward fold

As ridiculous as it sounds, I thought my runner hamstrings would just never loosen up enough to truly touch my toes.  It only took a couple of days of practicing Ashtanga for me to get there.  Now, I get a little further in every day, and I know that I will get to the “full” posture if I don’t give up!

2. Marichyasana

 

Another posture I never thought I would get into.  Now, I can tell you that mine doesn’t look nearly as pretty as Kino’s, I have to struggle to get my finger tips to clasp, but it is so exciting to be there!  I’m looking forward to continuing to deepen in this one!

(Side note: If you’ve never seen Kino MacGregor’s videos, click around!  She is amazing!)

3. Headstand

This posture is one I’ve always been a little afraid to try.  One day, though, my teacher helped me get up and try to hold.  The next day, continued to be a struggle.  The day after that, I got up by myself.  At this point, my headstand doesn’t last long on it’s own, and I definitely need the wall to support me.  But, again, I’m looking forward to seeing it progress!

It’s truly amazing what the body can do with practice and dedication.  I’m only a third of the way through my teacher training, and I can’t wait to update you on my can’ts that become cans through the rest of the process!

Any yogis out there?  What pose did you think you would never get into, but you finally did?

 

Lessons from My First Week in the Fitness Industry

Happy Friday, folks!  Wow, this has been quite a week!  It’s hard to believe that just one week ago my life was completely different.

Pre-Saturday changes...

Pre-Saturday changes…

If you have been following along this week, I started a yoga teacher training program sort of out of the blue last weekend.

The instructor for my class had me pick up both of her Ashtanga Yoga classes this week.  I also taught my first HIIT class on Monday.  It’s been a busy week, especially compared to my teacher summer (aka nothing much to do, unless you count my crazy job search) life last week.

So, I thought it would be good for me, and hopefully you too, to reflect on this big week with some things that I’ve learned and don’t want to forget.

1. I have to make a schedule plan for myself before talking schedule with any studios.

Things went really well this week, and I have been asked to be on the schedule more at both of my studios, woo hoo!  However, my schedule was starting to get to the point that I was working seven days a week.  As much as I am excited to jump in to this industry and even more excited that people want me to work for them, I have to look out for me first.  Seven days of work will bring a burn out, fast.  So, I had to make the plan with myself of what my definite “off” times will be, so I know that I can have some me/family time.

Gotta have some QT with my guy and our furbaby!  (Photo credit: Ashley Lauer Photography)

Gotta have some QT with my guy and our furbaby! (Photo credit: Ashley Lauer Photography)

2. Don’t be intimidated by the “I’m scared” look you get from people in the class.

At my HIIT class, I asked for 100 high knees.  The look on the ladies’ faces was hilarious.  Luckily, the owner had warned me of this, otherwise, I probably would have let it intimidate me.  I just threw in a little extra motivation, and they did it!

3. Being in the fitness industry means you take a lot of showers.

My sweaty self after an Ashtanga practice.

My sweaty self after an Ashtanga practice.

No explanation needed.

(And yes, I have posted my sweaty selfie twice.  Don’t be jealous.)

4. Don’t let a mistake throw you off.

Just like teaching kids, being a group fitness instructor has a big element of acting.  Sometimes, you just gotta fake it ’til you make it, so to speak.  If you start off on the wrong side, and it’s not going to hurt anyone, just go with it.  Let the mistake go, and move forward.

5. BE YOURSELF

This is my number one biggest lesson of the week, and it will surely be something I always need to remember.  When I subbed for my yoga instructor on Tuesday, I tried to be her.  Not a good plan.  It went well for awhile, but when I ventured into her territory that I wasn’t comfortable with, things fell apart, and it got hard to pick myself up and dust myself off.

When I taught my own class last night, I went into it knowing that I had to be me and do what I was comfortable with.  Moreover, I put my own personality into my class.  Yoga can get serious sometimes, but I like to laugh and have fun.  So, without interrupting the flow, I let myself be me.  I had a TON more fun when I committed to this, and I feel like I have found my groove as I move forward.

Any lessons that resonate with you?

Any lesson I missed?

My First Group Fitness Classes

This week so far has been a big one!

I taught my first group fitness class and my first yoga class!

Pre-yoga teaching

Pre-yoga teaching

Monday night, I taught a HIIT class.  I struggled from the start with how to plan out this 45-minute class, because that is just too long for my usual HIIT workouts.  So, I structured it like this:

  • Warm-up (about 10 minutes)
  • Abs-only Tabata
  • HIIT (about 10 minutes)
  • Cool Down

This structure worked nicely.  I was wiped out, due to my fairly grueling yoga teacher training program that morning, but it was fun!

My sweaty self after an Ashtanga practice.

My sweaty self after an Ashtanga practice.

(I can’t believe I just posted my sweaty selfie on the Internet…)

The ladies there had really great attitudes, and one told me my class was exactly what she needed.  Win!

I’m talking with the owner to add some more classes to the schedule at this studio.  🙂

Last night, I taught an Ashtanga Yoga class.  Ashtanga is the focus of my yoga teacher training, and my instructor asked if I would sub for her class.

This one didn’t go quite as well as I’d hoped, but I held my own considering I had only three days of Ashtanga under my belt by that point.  The ladies in the class knew some of the poses better than I do, which was a slight blow to the ego, but oh well.  🙂

Overall, I’m pumped that I finally got my feet wet in the field, and I’m looking forward to more!

Have you ever done Ashtanga Yoga?  What did you think?

What qualities do you really love in a group fitness instructor?