Why developing as a teacher is so important

I'm sorry teachers but it's just not enough to teach a sweet or fancy sequence and lack the depth of what it is you are trying to do in this practice we call yoga, but I too often experience as a diluted, postulated performance. You can only get by for so long watching yogaglo and trying to emulate what you see.  You owe it to yourselves and your students to understand more and receive the deep statifaction that comes from sharing knowledge from what you fully embody.

Back when I did my training, I had already practiced with my teacher for 6 years solid and my training was done over a 2 year apprenticeship style.  While this was at time extremely intense and gruelling, it gave me a firm foundation that I have never stopped expanding upon.  My love of yoga and teaching is backed by 15 years working intimately with the human body as a massage therapist, I have looked, touched and learnt from literally thousands of bodies and am passionate about sharing this with fellow teachers and students.

"Mind blowing, very inspirational and supportive, it was challenging in a good way."

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The yoga world has changed so much since then, in many ways for the positive, but now teachers can undergo teacher trainings with very little practice behind them and qualify in a exceedingly short amount of time!  While this is great in many ways, enabling the practice to become more and more accessible to the general public, it also makes the practicalities of being a yoga teacher more difficult. Yup I'm talking earning enough money for your sweet asana to survive, keeping yourself inspired, motivated and enthusiastic and really understanding in theory as well as in your own body the full practice of yoga.  

I find a large gap in teachers understanding of anatomy and being able to see imbalances in their students and effective help cultivate understanding and shift patterns in students.  This is what has prompted me to put together the Teacher Development program, to grow support and nurture emerging teachers.  We start from the foundation of the body in functional anatomy sessions, working from the feet to the cranium, focusing on common misalignments, injuries and reinforming patterns.  we work together in a supportive group to be able to 'see' what we learn in each others bodies.  We work on cultivating clear verbal, and hands on cues to help our students discover more and assist their practice.  Through out the course we work on personal development, finding our authentic voice, how to teach from our heart and look at the business of yoga and how we can have the greatest impact.

"I feel more confident in my teaching, I am defiantly more empowered to teach and assist more challenging poses and have a deeper understanding of what i am teaching. I have become more mindful and present in what i am saying" Karine Dion

The next teacher development is being held as an Immersion in Queenstown Nov 11-17th for more information click here

 

Announcing the first ever #kiwiyogini challenge on Instagram

Come and join the fun for the month of September and be in to win an epic prize pack worth over $1,000!

Each day you will be introduced to one of our awesome NZ yoga teachers and have an insight into their variation, philosophy or technique. This challenge is for every'body' so you don't have to be a yogi to start, grab your friends, sister, parents, husband or kids because it's all about community and connection.

To be in to win you must follow all of our sponsors and tag them each day along with the guest teacher.  Don't worry if you miss a day you can play catch up as long as you've completed the challenge by September 30th.

SO HEAD OVER TO INSTAGRAM & FOLLOW

@nikkizr  @ecostorenz : elite gift packs for the winner and 2 runner ups  @greenleaforganics : $50 voucher to be used online or at GLO cafe  @wellnessretreatsnz : 'Vitality workshop' ticket for Oct 4th@halosmith2013 : 'Guardian' bracelet   @lululemonausnz : Yoga mat, mat bag and sweat towel@rapidreset : 2 month subscription to 'Hey Dot'  @nuzestnz : Good Green Stuff, Clean Lean Protein, Good Kids Stuff, shaker and bars@theyogaconnection : An introductory pass for you and a friend anywhere in NZ!  @emma.mildon : Framed and signed print 'people are dicks, love them anyway'

Ninja love warriors (and a random cat)

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I got back from holiday and it was raining and cold so I knew that it was imperative to make an army of ninja love warriors to add a burst of light to our days.  

As soon as she opens her school lunch box boom boom peow the love ninjas will never let you down (same works with adults and a cup of tea)

To make your army you will need:
125g butter
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 egg yolk
1t baking soda
1t vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup flour of choice
3t ginger
1t cinnamon
1/2t clove

Melt butter, sugar and maple syrup over a low heat, mix in vanilla and egg yolk once off the heat. Gradually shift in dry ingredients until well mixed (I use my hands) then wrap and place in the freezer to chill for about 2 hours, this makes it much firmer and easier to work with.  Use enough flour to stop it sticking and roll out into about 1/2cm thick. Cut with your cookie cutters (i picked my ninjas up in the UK)

Bake for 6-10 min on baking paper lined tray at about 200 degrees until nice and brown and yummy smelling. Allow to cool on tray for a bit if you like them crispy. Then cool completely on a wire rack.  

When cool, decorate as you want, get creative, be wild!

Preparation for Bakasana aka Crow pose

I've lost count of the amount of times someone has come up to me after class and said something along the lines of "I just want to be able to do Crow pose! You know, I don't need to be a super yogi or anything, I just want to do Crow!" Maybe the sneaky crow doesn't seem quite so illusive as some of the other arm balances, but you can be sure that the crow will ignite some degree of fear "what if I fall on my face!"  

So lets start to enjoy the journey and enjoy the ride whether you fly or float you can guarantee that you will feel stronger and more connected with this preparation work.

Make sure you look after the wrists and give them some regular love once you start spending more time on your hands.  Wrist mobility will vary widely so don't push the wrists, always respect your boundaries and learn to work with what you've got.

Get that core fired up, drawing the naval towards the spine and move with your breath from boat pose to what I call 'sleeping crow' curling into a tiny little ball and pressing the hands up to the ceiling, as you inhale extend legs back out to hover (if your lower back is ok) repeat 6 times with your breath.

From table top curl inwards as you exhale drawing knee to elbow staying smooth and connected thought the motion. Then take it up to Downward facing dog with tiger curls. If you have the mobility in  your wrists, start to take the shoulders beyond the wrists gripping with the finger tips to balance.

Open shoulders and upper back with eagle pose, bowing forward over the legs after 5 breaths.  Learn to soften the groins with Marichyasana 1.

Now you are ready to set yourself up for Crow, start in a squat with hands shoulder width apart, bend the elbows and hug the arms in towards each other, start to take your weight forward and draw in to your core.  Push the floor away just like you did in sleeping crow, maybe tuck one foot up towards your buttocks at a time. Remember to get grippy with your fingertips, these are your handbrakes (ha ha ha)  Make sure you have fun, if you are really worried about face planting then pop some cushions out in front of you to take that fear away!

I want to see you

I want to see you
To hold your hand
To stand with you
If only for a moment
To Breathe the same air as you
To look into your eyes and be seen
As we are in strength and vulnerability
To laugh with you until we cry
To dance until our feet hurt
To listen to your stories
Until we fall asleep
To be with you
Is enough.

Happy hips sequence

Ahhhhhh when the hips are happy and balanced our whole system feels the difference. The hips and pelvis comprise of a dense complex group of muscles, we want to gain flexibility and openness in this area and balance that with strength and stability by firing up dormant muscles in the glutes especially to help alleviate back pain, sciatica and postural problems.

We spend so much of our lives sitting, driving and more sedentary than ever, that we can over stretch the ligaments around the sacrum, making other muscles over work by picking up the slack!  This simple sequence can be done anywhere.  Remember to work mindfully with your body, tuning in to your breath so that you soften into the poses rather than pushing or forcing.

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Bound angle pose (Supta baddha konasana). Start in a seated position and bring the souls of the feet together, knees wide, lay back onto a bolster/blanket or flat on the floor.  Make sure you lengthen your tail bone towards your heals without flattening out the lower back. Take extra support underneath the thigh bones if you are really tight in the inner thighs, this will allow you to relax the muscles and open the hips.  If the head drops back then take some height with a blanket or towel under the back of the head.  Stay here for a few minutes and draw your awareness inwards to the journey of your breath, on the exhalation let go of the stress and tension from the body and the mind.

Sleeping Pigeon Laying on your back with knees bent, cross the right ankle above the left knee, reach the hands through and grasp either behind the left calf or deeper through to the shin.  Guide the right knee away from the face to externally rotate the thigh.  Keep the pelvis grounded and draw the legs towards you.  Pause where you can start to inquire into your tension and holding patterns, bringing the awareness back to a smooth consistent breath. Stay for at least 10 breaths and remain on this side for the next pose before swapping sides.

Twisted sleeping pigeon Take the left hand onto the top of the right foot and lay the right arm out to the side, twist the legs across the body to the left until the sole of the right foot touches the floor.  Turn the upper body to the right and guide the right knee away from the face. Observe here where you are holding tension around the hips and try to soften as you meet these borders. sometime even holding back out of the pose slightly to encourage release.

Gluteus activation Lay on the back with knees bent and soles of the feet on the floor, inhale and lift the buttocks up ioff the ground, press down through the heels and lower the hips a few centimetres, press down through the heels to slowly lift back up.  Focus your awareness on the lower gluteus and upper hamstring attachment, activating these muscles to support the pelvis.  Keep the knees from splaying out, repeat 10 times with the breath.  For more of a challenge you can raise one leg straight into the air, hugging towards the midline to maintain stability while you slowly lift and lower for 10 each side.

Downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana) Press into the hands, especially the pads of the finger tips so that you don't put took much pressure in the wrists.  Lengthen up to the hips to extend the spine, if you are tight in the hamstrings keep a bend in the knees.  Broaden the upper back and soften the belly towards the spine. Three legged dog, inhale raise the right leg up, keep both hands pressing into the earth as you bend the right knee and open the knee and hip unto the sky, stacking the right hip above the left, opening the hip flexors on the front of the right leg.  Draw the left heel down to the floor to open the tissues on the back of the left leg.

Low lunge (Anjaneyasana) Square the pelvis from 3 legged dog and step the right foot through between the hands, drop the left knee to the floor.  Inhale and raise the torso up, hands can remain on the right knee or extend up along side the ears, lifting from the back of the heart.  Anchor the tailbone down to the ground and draw the pubic bone towards the navel. Stay for 5 conscious breaths.

Reverse warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana) Bring hands to the floor and turn the left heel down to the ground, inhale rise up to warrior 2, stay low in the right hip and keeping the knee stacked over the heel, slide the left hand down the left leg, resting the hand either above or below the knee.  Extend from the right hip crease through the whole right side of the body. Stay for 3 to 5 breaths filling the chest and opening the heart.

Extended side angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana) inhale rise up to Warrior 2, exhale reach and extend over the right leg, rest the elbow on top of the knee or reach the the floor.  Keep the right knee open onwards the little toe side of the foot, anchor the left heel to the floor and draw the right buttock in underneath you. turn and open the chest, firm the shoulder blades into the back.  The left arm can extend straight up to the sky or reach over by the left ear. Stay for 5 breaths.

Half moon (Ardha Chandrasana) Turn to look down at the floor, start to reach out beyond the right foot (take a block under the hand if needed) step the left foot in closer then start to transfer the weight onto the right foot, Firm the top of the right thigh bone in to the hip socket and extend throughout the left leg and foot. Once you find your balance start to turn and open the rib cage to the left.  Beginners keep the left hand on the hip, for more of a challenge, extend the left arm up to the sky and shift the gaze forward or up.  Advanced variation: Ardha Chandra Chapasana- If you are steady, bend the left leg and reach back to take hold of the foot or ankle, firm the right hip in, then open through the heart by pressing the left shin back and reaching the chest forward. Stay for 3 to 5 breaths with a focused but soft gaze.

Extended warrior Slowly step back into extended side angle, then bring both hands to the floor inside the right knee, extend the torso out to the side, you can press the right hand into the inner left knee to keep it from collapsing inwards or else extend both arms long, soften in the hips and stay for 5 breaths.

Wide legged forward fold (Prasarita Padottanasana) Walk the torso around to the centre and turn both feet so they are parallel, start with hands under the shoulders, reaching the chest forward to lengthen the spine (hands on height if needed) press the thigh bones back. Spread the sitting bones apart to create space in the pelvis, exhale and fold forward softening in the front of the hips.  maintain as much length as you can in the front of the torso.  Walk the hands back in line with the heels or take hold of the outer edges of the feet.  Stay for 5 breaths.  Repeat standing poses on the left side for equal amount of time. Return to downward facing dog after.

Half pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) From downward dog step the right knee outside the right wrist, the right foot can come across towards the left front hip for beginners or more towards the left wrist for a deeper opening. Slowly fold forward from the hips, drawing the thigh bones into the pelvis as you inhale and as you exhale spread the sitting bones back and apart.  Don't worry about the right buttocks coming down to the floor, either relax here or take some support under the right buttocks.  Drop the head or rest it on the forearms or floor.  Stay for 5 to 10 breaths allow the outer hips to slowly unravel, each exhalation you can use the simple mantra "let go". Raise the torso up, sit down on the right buttock and bring the left leg around and cross over the right thigh

Half lord of the fish pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana) Take height under the buttocks if needed so that you can sit tall and upright. Press the left foot to the floor and release the groins. Inhale and lift the right arm up, exhale come across the body into the twist upper right arm presses against the left thigh. Inhale and lift and lengthen the front torso, exhale soften the belly to the spine and twist a little deeper into any space that opens up. Stay for 5 smooth breaths, not pushing or forcing anything. Return to centre then close the left knee down on top of the right knee.

Cow face pose (Gomukhasana) If you are tight in the hips here either take height under the buttocks or switch to simple cross legs.  have the feet outside the hips, soften in the groins as you forward fold.  maintain length in the front body.  Spread your breath to the back ribcage, open the back of the heart space and filling to the back of the lunges.  let the head hang.  Stay for 5 to 10 breaths slowly lift the head and tradition back through down dog to repeat on the other side.  Once both side are done, lay down on your back for a sweet sweet savasana.

Fresh out of 4 days of community, expansion and absolute joy of Wanderlust festival, I went straight into a 2 day immersion with 'Off the Mat into the World' – lead by the equally dynamic Suzanne Stirling and Kerri Kelly. I uncovered truths and limiting self beliefs that I knew were still in me rearing their ugly little heads in moments of self doubt, but I had no idea just how much my soul needed to do this work and reclaim my voice that had been suppressed through childhood.

I have found my voice in teaching but still struggle in some of my intimate personal relationships to speak my truth. I have told myself the story that I can't sing, I have covered my voice behind shame and fear, fear of not being enough, fear of abuse and confrontation. As I fully surrendered to the work of the past to days I felt deeply held tension and repression unravelling from the tissues of my body, as I moaned, sighed and sang I dropped in to a deep physical relief that I haven't felt in years. As I fully own my traumas, pains and heartbreaks I allow the richness of those life experiences to connect me deeper to my purpose, to live more from my authentic truth and share that whole heartedly, to create dynamic change in myself and the world around me. I am deeply filled with gratitude in being supported to uncover the deepest parts of my self the shadows and the light. 

Kerri shared this poem, it touched me deeply...

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, 'Yes.'

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer