I hope you can join me for the third annual Santa Fe Yoga Festival next weekend August 26-28th, 2016. If you haven’t already bought your tickets, this is the time to do it. I’ll be teaching Saturday and Sunday, with at least one class accompanied by the amazing DJ’s Mental Physix. I hope to see you there!
5 reasons everyone should take a Yoga Teacher Training and they have nothing to do with becoming a teacher
For most people when they hear about a teacher training, they think that it’s not for them. Trainings can bring doubt about your skill level and age, whether you’d like to teach or not. But teacher training is more than that; it’s an investment in you. Here are a few reasons why.
- To ask questions
Have you ever been in class and had questions for the teacher? Most of the time it’s not appropriate to ask while they’re teaching and you may not always have a chance to chat with the teacher after class. This can be frustrating, and even cause injury if you’re doing something wrong.
During teacher training, students are encouraged to ask questions to further discussions about the physical postures or philosophy. Oftentimes other students will have the same questions, which can be comforting to know that you weren’t the only one who wondered that! Essentially, it’s like having several private sessions, but with other students which may give you different perspectives.
- To learn the proper alignment
Even advanced students can benefit from learning about alignment. Many students that end up in higher level classes may have only taken a few of the basics classes and then jumped into a 2/3. These classes are faster with fewer instructions and not always a lot of opportunities for adjustments. This is an injury waiting to happen.
In teacher training, we learn the anatomy of the body so we understand how bones should align and what muscles to consciously engage. We also look at different body types and address injuries so that we see that a “correct” pose for one person, does not work for another. These modifications can help avoid injuries, as well as teach you how to take your pose deeper when you’re ready. This can be especially gratifying for advanced students; just like when you reread a book and see something new, your practice will begin to become fine tuned with your new information and understanding.
- To learn the terminology
Have you ever been to a class where the teacher only used the Sanskrit name for pose? Half the time you were looking around to see what you should do. This can be very distracting and draws your attention away from the meditative aspects of your practice.
Once you understand the root meaning of the Sanskrit words, class becomes much easier. No longer do you need to crank your head around to see what pose your teacher is calling out. Being more comfortable with this new language allows you to relax and turn inward, putting your attention onto being more present.
- To understand the philosophy
It’s common for a yoga teacher to spout out some philosophy tid bits during class. Have you ever wanted to learn more than that? What book did that quote come from? What do the chants mean? How do you meditate? Does any of this conflict with your religious beliefs?
These are common questions that students have and a typical group class won’t be able to fully address. Through class discussions and further reading, you can begin to develop a better understanding of the history and philosophy of yoga. You will quickly learn that this will be just the beginning of your personal journey with these concepts.
- To build a community
Most of the time we run into class and plop our mat down and the second it’s over we run out the door. Unfortunately, this has to do with our busy lifestyles. But what is the point of practicing in a group instead of by yourself, if you’re not going to connect with those around you? With everyone in their own world anyway, you may feel intimidated trying to begin conversations or make new friends.
During the training you have the opportunity to meet your fellow students. You can get to know them better when we break into discussions, work in partners, or study groups. This is a great way to meet like minded people, and often these become lasting friendships.
Teacher trainings are really for all levels of students. Yoga is about meeting yourself where you are and moving forward from that point. It’s a lifelong journey, an investment in yourself and a stepping stone to the life you want to live!
Yoga is beneficial for cyclists for a number of reasons, including flexibility, core stability, circulation, and bone density.
Flexibility is incredibly important for cyclists and probably the most common reason for anyone to start a yoga practice. When the hips aren’t flexible it moves the work from the muscles of the legs and hip flexors to the lower back and spine. For example, on long or fast rides, it’s necessary to be low in the drops of the handle bars and this requires the hips to hinge forward so that the sit bones can move back. If the hips don’t have this range of motion, or the hamstrings are too tight, the pelvis will tilt posteriorly, rounding the lower back. This puts excessive strain on the disks and will cause fatigue sooner, as well as put the body at risk for herniations.
Yoga can increase overall flexibility with just a few short rounds of stretching per week. Plus, the longer a muscle is, the more force it can generate, which of course means more power output on the bike. The most effective time to stretch is immediately after a ride when the muscles are warm. This is also a great time to counter stretch your body from being in the same position for so long. Your upper back and hip flexors will thank you!
I can’t think of anything that core stability won’t help, including cycling. It’s important to remember that core doesn’t just mean your “six pack” muscles. It also includes your other layers of core muscles, lower back muscles, hip flexors and lateral gluteus muscles. I also like to add the shoulder girdle here. The shoulder girdle is very mobile, but fairly unstable. It’s helpful to keep it connected to the ribcage to access the strength of the core, especially when you need to pull up on the handle bars when climbing out of the saddle or sprinting.
Cycling itself doesn’t offer much in the way of building upper body strength, and the lateral gluteus is generally forgotten leaving the low back and knees at risk. Yoga offers the best way to strengthen the triceps and biceps while keeping them long and lean. An example would be working plank on the forearms and the hands interlaced. This is a great core stabilizer while also mimicking the arms when using time trial bars. The coordination of assessing ALL of the “core” muscles will give the cyclist better strength and control while handling the bike.
I’m sure that you’re thinking that cycling definitely will improve your circulation over yoga. In some ways this is true. The heart is definitely pumping the blood throughout the body when you are working hard. But even racers know the importance of warming up to get the circulation going before the race. You may not want to stretch much before a ride, but dynamic movements with the breath, can get the body warm and prepared.
Circulation can also mean respiration. Many cyclists are limiting the intake of oxygen just because of their posture. It’s common to round the upper back since the arms are reaching forward and the legs are drawing into the chest, especially if you are in the tucked position I mentioned earlier. The ability to draw oxygen into the lungs requires the ribcage to expand. This increases the volume of the lungs while lowering the pressure within, vacuuming oxygen in. Just by opening the chest and allowing for movement in the front, side and back ribs, a cyclist can increase their oxygen possibly up to 25%.
Last but not least is bone density. Cycling is a very rhythmic motion which can be great on say the knee joints, compared to the heavy pounding of running. But the down side is that it’s not a weight bearing exercise. Bones get stronger when there is force exerted on them which won’t happen while riding your bike. Because of that fact, cyclists have a higher risk for developing Osteoporosis, which makes the bones brittle and easy to fracture.
Styles of Yoga like Hatha or Vinyasa, are considered weight bearing exercise and thus helps to build bone density. Lifting of one’s own body weight plus the force of the tendons on the joints creates a need for the bone to add more layers, thickening the bones. This is especially important as we age, or if a cyclist has been riding his or her whole life without including other weight bearing exercises. Having stronger bones will help in the unfortunate event of a crash, but the best prevention is to stay calm and keep the rubber side down. In conclusion, yoga will help you ride longer and stronger!
Every teacher has their “story” of how they got into yoga. Here are just a few questions to get to know mine.
How did you get into yoga? I was attending college and my English professor suggested that I write my paper on Yoga and Meditation. I didn’t really know what that was, so she gave me about 15 books on the subject and sent me to my first yoga class. I was only 17 and had no idea what was going on! It sparked my interest though and I began taking classes. Thinking back, I love to sequence, I was always making up dance routines for my friends since I was 5.