The journey of becoming a yoga teacher.
On our last training weekend before the holiday break, we were graced with the presence of Chrisandra Fox, who talked about women and yoga. One of her main points is for women to watch and honor the moon, so we can sync our cycles with it, as our bodies were designed to follow the phases of the moon. As this pertains to yoga, we were reminded to invite women on their cycles to do Viparita Karani (legs up the wall), instead of inversions, as well as gentle twists and forward bends. Conversely, for women in menopause, inversions are conducive to cooling and will help nourish the endocrine system. We also learned about lunar breathing, which is beneficial for pregnant women — breathing in through the left nostril and breathing out through the right.
Then, we started learning sequencing from Mark Morford. As Mark chants in his classes, one of the first things we learned was the Om Hrim Namah Shivaya chant, a beautiful chant that, like all chants, invokes divine energy. It is not so much a portal to the divine, but the thing itself. We learned that chanting is all about the vibration it engenders, not the literal meaning of the words, especially since not of all the words have a literal meaning in English.
Because the rhythm of this chant and the pronunciation of the Sanskrit words does not come trippingly off my tongue, I copied the chant and pasted it to the steering wheel of my car, because I enjoy chanting while I’m driving and it’s definitely more calming than flipping through radio stations trying to find a good song and avoid commercials. In fact, I’ve found it’s one of the most calming things to do while driving in Bay Area traffic. Maybe someday KFOG will incorporate chanting into its playlists. I can only hope.
We also learned about the role of the teacher in a yoga class and considerations for sequencing, such as the dominant gender of the class; the average age of the class; the average yoga experience and fitness level of the class; and the time of day.
Mark also talked about the three main principles of sequencing and some cues for handling students who may be pushing themselves too hard, which can be intimidating for a new yoga teacher. I think we all felt more comfortable hearing Mark say that he’s kicked students out of his classes, but only as a last resort, if they continue to push too hard and risk injuring themselves.
The biggest take-away of starting to learn sequencing is that we have to sequence in a way that resonates with us. We will all have our own unique styles and tastes and themes, as long as we’re teaching from a place of authenticity and alignment. Some of us will want to incorporate music in our classes; some not. It’s really about the teacher’s personal style and rhythm. I know what I like when I go to various yoga classes and I will likely incorporate what resonates with me – quotes from spiritual leaders, chanting, meditation, lots of warm-up – into my classes.
Ultimately, we are teaching to serve others and “be conduits for their awakening and liberation.”