Let’s Get Practical…


If you have been through any teacher training or are currently in a teacher training, you know that meeting the practical requirements can be one of the most challenging parts of the training.  As I approach the end of 2011, I find myself still one client-feedback short of my Relax & Renew assignment for Judith Lasater, Ph.D., that I began in March!  However, I think we find ourselves stuck in the mindset that the teaching needs to occur in front of a live studio audience (meaning, one of the already-existing classes in your favorite studio).  Unfortunately, I think I can attest that this is actually one of the least gratifying ways to meet the practical requirement.  Yoga is a gift that can be shared with any audience, anywhere, with very few resources.  Here are my top ten ways to offer a good karma yoga class:

  1. Church or Fellowship–Check with the administrators of your spiritual organization first.  Often, they are open to offering a free or donation-based class to the fellowship as one of their community activities.  Kids yoga is a great way to fuse stories, song, movement, and creativity.
  2. Girl or Boy Scouts–Kids love to explore their bodies’ potential!  While my son was involved with Boy Scouts, I often ran the physical exercise stations teaching the kids balance, strength, and flexibility… topped of course, with partner and group poses for the added challenge, cooperation, and pure fun!
  3. Local High School–Enough cannot be said about the need to build self-confidence and body awareness in our youth.  Teen and tween yoga is an opportunity for expression, acceptance, and grace amidst one of the most turbulent stages of development.  Hip playlists, jokes, and off-the-mat challenges awaken the best in this group!
  4. Support Group–When I was in Georgia, one of my favorite karma classes was for the Multiple Sclerosis support group.  I cannot express how important it is to get to know the audience, educate yourself about the issue at hand, and to listen to their needs.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude, though, after teaching simple chair yoga, with pranayama and meditation.
  5. Senior Center–Senior Centers are always looking for ways to light up their occupational activity programs.  Chair yoga, pranayama, and movement are a great way to brighten the residents day!
  6. Family and Neighbors–You don’t always have to think outside the box to find a supportive audience.  Family, friends, and neighbors are a great way to put together a class.  Check with your church, studio, or community center and see if you can use or rent (for a small fee, $25-$30 is the commercial standard for off-peak hours).  Even gyms don’t use their fitness rooms 24/7, I’ve used the base gyms to teach Marines from my husbands unit.
  7. OB-GYN–While it is important that you understand the physiology of the pregnant body, a simple yoga class offering standing or chair poses, deep breathing, relaxation, and massage will make Mamas-to-be very happy.  A few simple rules: mamas should not be on their bellies or their backs (backs after 2nd trimester), they don’t need big back bends, and they may not be able to touch their toes.  So what’s left?  Standing-strong poses, squats, balances, kneeling poses like cat, wall supported poses, heart-openers, and hip circles on the exercise ball. Restoratives are great, especially for active or working mamas.
  8. Art Studio or Gallery–Many art studios actually teach art therapy as a means to support or refine fine motor skills, but gross motor skills like movement, balance, and body awareness are an important part of the effort.  Sometimes studios have a classroom that is open for modeling that can be used at off peak hours as well.
  9. Local Spa–Spas that offer massage, thai yoga, and shiatsu understand how important movement-based therapy can be for their client base.  They often have a small room that will hold a few mats for yoga and meditation.
  10. College sports teams–Athletic trainers of competitive sports teams will tell you how much easier their jobs would be if their athletes spent a little more time warming up and stretching.  I have given team classes to college baseball, football, and soccer teams.  Not only does yoga warm up their bodies, but it helps alleviate the anxiety and nervous energy of the team before a game!

I have also developed up with a workshop based on my Circles for Change concept that I lead to support charity organizations like Off the Mat, Into the World; Global Mala Project; and Red Cross.  It’s called Simply Practical, a weekend chocked full of fun mini-workshops (3-hour) for teachers and students alike.  Each playshop will include an hour of technique or theory, one hour of application, and one hour of actually teaching each other… the weekend will present a total of 5 playshops led by various teachers, including myself.  The workshops are open to all teachers, teachers in training, and prospective teachers.  Free for Transcending Yoga Teachers in Training, $20 Donation per workshop for the public.  Proceeds will go to a charity decided on by the group!  To Register Online go to http://transcendingyoga.com/Simply_Practical.html .

Now that I have given you a few examples of how you can offer yoga as a gift to your community while fulfilling your goals as teacher, maybe you can think of a few venues to teach!


About Transcending Yoga

Transcending Yoga is a Yoga Alliance Registered® Teacher Training School committed to making a positive difference in the lives of others through the transformative power of yoga, meditation, and service. Transcending Yoga programs offer fully comprehensive, dynamic, and multi-disciplinary curricula for students who wish to deepen their practice, aspiring teachers, and seasoned teachers who desire refinement in their professional repertoire and leadership skills. Transcending Yoga programs are designed to empower trainees, not only with time-tested Hatha yoga techniques and philosophy, but also the courage and grace to experience life more fully on and off the mat… with purpose, authenticity, and compassion.

One response »

  1. Hi Valerie!

    I did my karma yoga for friends and a walking group at my church (after walking and in the mall 🙂

    I found it very nice to teach to friends that have never taken a yoga class and to have on-going feedback to make sure my cues made sense for beginners.

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