Chakra Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training. A 60hr immersive training for teachers. Beach front. Stay & meal included.
Go on a soulful journey into the chakra system...
Our chakra-Vinyasa yoga teacher training is an immersive, retreat style experience for yoga teachers. this 1-week training includes your stay and meals. Enjoy our oceanfront retreat centre, jungle and ocean view yoga spaces, meditation platforms, virtually private beaches and miles and miles of unspoiled paradise.
This is a full and complete course on its own. It is also a module of our Yoga Alliance registered 300hr YTT.
This teacher training includes your stay + 3 meals per day at our retreat center at Maderas Beach, Nicaragua. Located just outside of the lively beach town of San Juan Del Sur, Maderas beach is a safe and quiet haven. Our oceanfront private villa is the perfect setting for a month spent in paradise! You’ll get sunset views every evening from our dipping pool and our yoga shala boasts a 180 degree view of the ocean and the surf break! We also have a jungle yoga deck and 82 acres of hiking trails on this private property to explore.
Every morning you can meditate on the cliffs of this dramatic coastline that gives way to perfect beaches for walking and some world-class waves for surfing. This place is serene and stunning.
GETTING HERE: Maderas beach is located just 2-houra from Liberia, Costa Rica (LIR) airport and 2-hours from Managua Airport (MGA). Flying in to either airport. We can have our partners at the retreat center organize your transfers to us at Maderas Beach.
Yoga Academy International is a recognized and registered yoga school with Yoga Alliance. When you graduate our course you will be a certified chakra-vinyasa yoga teacher. This course also counts as 60hrs toward Yoga Academy International’s 500hr YTT. On completion of 3 elective modules + our core module, you can register as RYT-500.
Tuition for this program is $1765USD. Your chakra-vinyasa yoga teacher training includes:
9 nights at our private, oceanfront retreat center
3 locally sourced healthy meals daily
Daily Asana and Meditation practice
An opportunity to live your yoga, lifestyle and ethics
Campfires, singing, dancing, stargazing
A safe, sacred space for you to grow in to the most authentic and happy version of yourself
Mentorship and personalized guidance
* please note, there is 1 day off mid-way through this training. Meals will not be included on the day off. This is your opportunity to support local restaurants and visit the area!
There are no extras or hidden fees associated with our program. We invite you to come as you are and we will provide you with everything you need. Payment plans are available.
NOT JUST AN AVERAGE YOGA TRAINING; IT WAS AN ENRICHING LIFE EXPERIENCE. I LEARNED SO MUCH ABOUT THE MANY ASPECTS OF YOGA AND MEDITATION. AS WELL AS MORE ABOUT MYSELF. I RECEIVED THE TOOLS TO LEAD A MORE EMPOWERED AND CONSCIOUS LIFE. THE GENUINE LOVE, GUIDANCE AND SUPPORT FROM THE SKILLED INSTRUCTORS AND MY FELLOW STUDENTS WAS APPARENT ON A DAILY BASIS AND SO APPRECIATED. I ENJOYED EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS COMPREHENSIVE AND WELL-PLANNED PROGRAM. GREAT VARIETY OF KNOWLEDGE, EXPERIENCE, AND LASTING FRIENDSHIPS. I’M FOREVER GRATEFUL.
WHAT AN INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE! THE QUALITY OF THE TEACHING AND EDUCATION WAS TRULY FANTASTIC. THE STAFF ALONG WITH ALL OF THE EXPERT GUEST SPEAKERS WERE SUPER SUPPORTIVE AND KNOWLEDGEABLE. I FEEL WELL EQUIPPED AND EXCITED TO GO OUT INTO THE WORLD AND SHARE WHAT I HAVE LEARNED. I ESPECIALLY LOVED THAT WE WERE ENCOURAGED TO EMBRACE OUR OWN STYLE OF TEACHING. THE STUNNING AND MAGICAL LOCATION WAS THE CHERRY ON TOP!
I feel very lucky to have stumbled on to the gift of this practice, and I love that now I get to introduce it to others. I get to encourage the uncovering and discovering that inevitably comes along with it, not only during the asanas, but during those unexpected quiet moments of stillness…those golden moments where you find yourself going inward, and you find yourself. I’m SO excited to continue being a student of yoga…to continue being a teacher of yoga…to keep moving on this path
PLEASE NOTE: A NON-REFUNDABLE DEPOSIT IS REQUIRED TO RESERVE YOUR SPACE IN THE PROGRAM. A 50% BALANCE OF PAYMENT IS DUE 30-DAYS PRIOR TO THE START DATE OF THE TRAINING. THE REMAINING BALANCE IS DUE 10-DAYS PRIOR TO THE START DATE OF THE YOGA TEACHER TRAINING. A FULL REFUND, MINUS THE DEPOSIT FEE WILL BE OFFERED FOR CANCELLATIONS MADE MORE THAN 60-DAYS PRIOR TO THE START DATE OF THE TRAINING. CANCELLATIONS OF LESS THAN 60-DAYS ADVANCED NOTICE WILL BE REFUNDED 50% OF THE TEACHER TRAINING PRICE. REFUNDS WILL NOT BE OFFERED ON CANCELLATIONS MADE LESS THAN 30-DAYS IN ADVANCE. REFUNDS WILL NOT BE OFFERED ON DISCOUNTED RATES.
WONDERING WHETHER A YOGA TEACHER TRAINING IS THE RIGHT MOVE FOR YOU?
HERE ARE 6 SIGNS THAT NOW IS THE TIME TO DO YOUR YTT!
7 signs you're ready for a YTT
Wondering whether a yoga teacher training is the right move for you?
Here are 7 signs that NOW is the time to do your YTT!
1. YOGI GEEK
During downward dog you find yourself saying, “are my palms pressed into the mat? Shoulders back? Fingers spread wide? Basically, you can’t stop thinking about the intricacies of each pose the effect of making small adjustments excites you. At YTT, you will learn about the physiology of asana. You’ll get to know alignment and anatomy and you couldn’t be more pumped.
You are ready to expand your yoga community. You can’t wait to be surrounded by like-minded people in a trusted circle. You want to meet others who share your yoga joy and who want to partake in a huge experience. Added benefit of an international YTT — new friends from all over the world! <3
3. spread the love
The way yoga has influenced your life is undeniably amazing and you want to spread the love. Maybe you dream of being an international yoga teacher, headlining at major festivals. Maybe the idea of teaching big classes isn’t your thing, but you want to help others. You could teach family members and friends simple poses to help an injury or relieve some stress.
4. More Savasana
One month. 2 savasanas at minimum per day. Um duh. Why not?! Talk about bliss. At yoga teacher training you will savasana- a lot. Learning how to relax the body and mind isn’t easy. BUT after a month of multiple savasanas a day, there’s no doubt you can teach your body and mind to be wonderfully calm!
5. know yourself better
Know thyself- socrates said that. Yoga says swadyaya (self study) we say, give yourself the opportunity to get away for one month. Spend time with yourself meditating on the beach. Have the opportunity to look objectively at your life. Personal self-reflection is a big part of YTT. You will learn so much!
6. massive expansion
So you’ve been practicing for a few years. You have a really good grip on most poses. Now though, you are ready to expand beyond your mat. You want to learn more about yogi lifestyle. How can you bring more compassion in to your life? How can you open your heart? How can this help off the mat?
7. new adventure
You are ready for a leap in to the unknown! You are ready to take a new adventure! You want to travel but maybe are afraid to go alone. You want to try something totally different because NOW is the time to start living a life of passion.
We know that if it is your time to do your yoga teacher training, you might have no reasons or you might have a zillion of them. When you know you know. If you are reading this, you are probably already feeling the calling that it is time to get up, get out and make a big change in your life. You’re buzzing with that excitement of readiness, you’ve started the google searches and you are already on your way!!
This 60hr program is a complete and wholistic training on its own. It is also one of the elective modules that makes up our advanced 500hr yoga teaching certification. After completing this training you will be a certified Chakra-Vinyasa yoga teacher and complete part of your 500hr YTT.
10 things you need to know about yoga teacher training
Have you been practicing yoga for a while and want to take it to the next level? Doing a yoga teacher training is an amazing way to deepen your own practice, learn new things about yourself and gain the practical skills to teach yoga to others.
If you’re not sure what to expect, let me share 10 things with you that are worth taking into account before embarking on your first course.
1. You don’t have to be “perfect” at yoga
Before signing up for my own yoga teacher training, there was a voice in my head saying: “You might not be good and flexible enough to do a yoga teacher training, let alone teach yoga to others.” I’m so glad I didn’t listen to that voice and proved it wrong! You don’t have to be the most advanced yogi in order to do a course. In fact, asana is only ONE part of yoga teacher training. Learning more about the roots of yoga, meditating, chanting and personal development are huge factors as well. If you’re a bit insecure, let me assure you that you will walk out of your training with a new sense of what your body and mind are capable of – and a big boost in confidence.
2. You will make lifelong friends
Practicing, studying, eating, talking, laughing and crying with a group of likeminded people leads to a deep way of connecting with them. There will be a few special souls you will form real friendships with that will last long after your course has come to an end. It’s not easy to part ways after such an intense time, but luckily distance doesn’t mean you can’t keep in touch and see each other again.
3. You will have to sit – a lot
I’m going to be honest – you will sit much more than you practice asana. Yes, friends. You will meditate for long hours. Chant mantras. Listen to your teachers and take notes. Learn about the history and philosophy of yoga. Read. Write. It’s all part of the process.
4. Your intention of doing a yoga teacher training might change over time
Maybe you’re doing the training purely for yourself. In order to deepen your practice, develop a spiritual connection, learn more about your body and mind. And that’s completely fine and amazing! But who knows – you might develop a love for teaching others during the course (it happens to a lot of students!). The opposite might happen as well: Maybe you’re sure that you want teach after your teacher training and suddenly that idea isn’t as appealing anymore. Just be open for changes. Go with the flow – no pun intended.
5. You will be in pain
Be prepared to be sore. Sitting on the floor for long periods of time and practicing for several hours every day fatigues your muscles. I actually felt like I was getting stiffer each day. But what helped me was getting massages on the weekends, drinking lots of water and just accepting it – knowing that it is part of an intensive course and only makes your body and mind more resilient.
6. You will learn a lot about yourself
One of the best parts about yoga teacher training for me personally was that I got to learn so much more about myself. I thought I already did, but teacher training showed me even more facets about my mind and body. Committing to a yoga teacher training means you’re also committing to doing the work. And by work I not only mean studying and learning about yoga and teaching others, but also doing the work within yourself. You will learn about your limiting beliefs and what’s holding you back. About how to overcome those beliefs and gain more confidence in certain areas. You will learn more about your body and your weak and strong spots. About the tendencies of your mind, especially during meditation. And most importantly: You’ll learn that you’re capable of much more than you thought you were.
7. You will be very emotional
There will be a lot of crying during teacher training. And that’s completely normal. Tiredness, discomfort, new insights about yourself (negative or positive) and overwhelm can lead to unexpected emotions. One day you’re flying high, the next day you want to quit. But remember, you are on a journey of growth and in-depth studying. So don’t be too hard on yourself and see it as a part of it all. Which brings me to the next point…
8. You will have to take good care of yourself
In order to enjoy your yoga teacher training and stay strong and healthy despite physical discomfort, information overload and lots of emotions, make sure you’re taking good care of yourself. For me, that meant relaxing on the weekends, spending time with my loved ones, not talking about yoga, getting a spa treatment, having early nights and lots of sleep and nourishing my body with nutritious food.
9. You will have to confront different personalities
As much as we want to get along with everyone – especially as yogis and in a group of likeminded individuals – it’s very important to remember that our personalities are still very different. Everyone comes with their own baggage and sometimes other people’s egos can be hard to deal with – especially when we spend long hours with the same group of people. However, this can also be great opportunity for us to practice tolerance and to dig deeper: Oftentimes, having difficulties with someone means that a person triggered something in us. By taking an honest look at ourselves, finding out what it is that we are dealing with and beginning to work on it, we can then show up as better versions of ourselves.
10. You will have to let go of expectations
Despite sharing a few things that I find important to know before embarking on your teacher training, you can’t really prepare for what lies ahead. Every journey is unique and no one can tell you what will happen or how you will feel. The most important advice I can give you is to let go of expectations, be open for everything and fully committed. And I promise you, your yoga teacher training will be an amazing and life changing experience.
Now it’s over to you: Are you thinking of doing a teacher training and do you have any questions? If you have gone through training, what would you like others to know before they start?
Miriam is a Holistic Yoga and Kids Yoga teacher whose mission is to help people find optimal health and balance through personalised yoga, Ayurveda and health coaching. She offers online and private classes as well as Yoga and Life Coaching Retreats with her partner. Miriam is originally from Germany and currently lives between Bali, Morocco and Germany.
We are already one week into this summer’s 200hr yoga teacher training in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. At Yoga Academy International, we are raising the standard of education of yoga teacher training. We’re committed to providing our students with the best yoga teacher training out there!
We start our days with morning flow and beach meditation. What better place to do so than here in paradise? Our students learn yoga and alignment theory, along with practice teaching sessions, workshops and communication skills. We wrap up the day with uplifting evening satsang. Our students are working hard and get to indulge in well-deserved, nourishing meals throughout our intensive training. Still, we always make sure there is enough time to enjoy the beach!
Check out what’s been going down, and we are just getting started!
Bring back curiosity and mindfulness into your practice, leading a class is more than just being right on cue.
As intelligent, evolved beings we often find it challenging to take directions from others. Think back to the childhood curiosity that frequently found you pushing beyond the neatly laid out boundaries set out for you by parents and elders, questioning everything. If you spend long periods of time with young children in your day-to-day, you’re probably quite used to hearing the word “why?” endlessly repeated in response to basically any statement.
At some point in our lives, generally around the same time we found ourselves confined to a chair and desk for six hours a day, we started to lose that incessant desire to question; to explore beyond the surface of directions sent our way by others. We started to find it much easier to take directions without asking, and go through the motions on an autopilot of sorts.
In our modern yoga and movement practice, this lack of childlike curiosity and autonomy over our physical, mental, and emotional responses to our practice has become a (not-so) silent epidemic.
Drastic words? Perhaps, but I fully believe that the consequences hold some pretty serious implications and impact. Let me back track by saying that I do not think this falls entirely on yoga practitioners unwilling to ownership of their practice, but also on the part of teachers who continue to repeat generalized cues without much conviction or thought put into how they translate into the bodies of practitioners in the room at that moment in time. And it’s this continuous stream of bland, non-personal cues for both the physical and subtle body that lead to practitioners tuning out, running on autopilot, and failing to connect on a profound level with what’s happening through their practice. As a growing community that has embraced the concept and practice of yoga, it’s time to tune back in to both our teaching and practice, and bring back that act of self-aware questioning.
Let’s start by breaking down the difference between teaching and instructing, because they’re two very separate vocations. To instruct is to go through the motions, repeating words and phrases that are far too often not truly our own. An instructor leads with few modifications, and provides cues that do not allow much, if any, wiggle room, without questioning why he or she is asking practitioners to progress through a sequence of movements. A teacher, however, dedicates him or herself to moving outside his or her own definition of the practice in order to better serve the practitioners in the room, at any given time. A true teacher never defines him or herself as such (re: Yeah, actually I’m a yoga teacher. It’s pretty great!), but rather as a vehicle for learning.
The best teachers always question “why,” guide with purpose, and are always students themselves.
So “teachers,” let’s make waves and make changes. Instead of providing alignment cues in a tone that suggests everyone must follow suit, it’s important to provide practitioners with the space to experiment. Encourage everyone to feel out how their body responds to certain movements, to breath pattern, and even to different verbalizations and visual representations of instructions. Heel to heel vs. heel to arch vs. square your hips vs. toes at a 45 degree angle – there is no one or even two or three “right ways” for asana to make its appearance across a vast spectrum of different physical bodies. Let each practitioner determine what works and what doesn’t, and start to find your own voice in how you choose to verbalize your points of guidance.
The best piece of advice I have been given was by a friend during our 300 hour training in Rishikesh. She observed me teaching our final “practicum” class, and when I looked to her for feedback, she told me that the best parts of my class were when I was being my authentic self. She suggested to me that I forget about turning to those overused, tired cues that we hear teachers repeating with a tireless lack of conviction. Be a little awkward, try to crack a joke or two, if that’s how you best connect and communicate with others. Even those practitioners that are new to your classes and teaching style will better connect with a teacher who carries with him or herself a sense of credibility and confidence, and doesn’t force a falsified presence. Finding your voice, as non-traditional as it may be, is so key to feeling fully comfortable as you strive to enable others to feel comfortable and find themselves through their practice.
Continue to ask “why.” This doesn’t mean that every single cue provided to you by an instructor or teacher needs to be followed up with that verbalization, but question the purpose behind the pose, behind the movement, and behind the cue. Leverage this to build a sense of awareness within your own physical and subtle body – identify how your reactions and responses change each day, and start to foster a deeper level of self-awareness. It’s incredible easy to move through asanas and through your typical flow without fully absorbing each subcomponent within your own being. Avoid the autopilot trap, bring a sense of awareness into your practice, and let that attunement permeate throughout other aspects of your life.
In its most raw form, pre-Instagram yoga challenges, before “Hot Power Flow” classes and “Yoga Bootcamp” classes were ever a thing, yoga symbolized union. It is the understanding that we are all one and the same. Yoga embodies the fact that nothing separates each one of us here; we do not coexist, we only exist as one collective. So let’s take steps towards breaking down the dogmatic teacher-student barriers that have come to be, and provide practitioners with the ownership to shape their respective practices, both on and off the mat.
Growing up with a background in competitive figure skating, Cass’ journey with yoga began at a young age. What started as a way of maintaining flexibility and mobility has since shifted to focus on building strength, by combining elements of functional movement into her practice and sequencing, helping to explore the different ways in which each individual’s body moves and changes shape. Since completing Octopus Garden’s 200 hour teacher training, and Rishikesh Yog Peeth’s 300 hour advanced teacher training program, Cass has pursued Barre and Pilates certifications through Stott Pilates, along with Essentrics movement training. The most important thing she’s discovered along the way is that you’re always a student – be curious, always question, carefully analyze, and continuously seek new avenues towards unexpected answers. ‘Yoga is the journey from cosmetic to cosmic beauty.’
There’s a reason that the statement “getting down on hands and knees” is synonymous with doing all of the hard things. As with most clichéd statements, the words themselves may be overused, but their validity rings true. I’d make a joke about having a nickel for every time I saw a student come down and shake out his or her wrists mid-downward dog, but I think it’s time to lay to bed the literary devices (for now).
As a mammalian group that has evolved to carry out the majority of our lives on two feet as opposed to quadruped, the struggle gets very real when we are tasked with bearing significant load on the wrists. The struggle is further amplified when said wrist joints are supporting weight at a degree of flexion or extension that they so rarely get exposed to from our tech-absorbed lifestyles (re: texting, typing, and any other social media-induced sinning you can think of). The solution to the tenderness or lack of strength you may be feeling is not to simply keep pushing through chaturanga after chaturanga, letting your wrist weakness translate its way up into pinching scapula and over-extension of the lumbar spine. Scale back, and start with a basic wrist warm-up routine that you can build up over time to help develop both the strength and mobility you need to keep this integral synovial joint happy and healthy. Keep in mind that none of these exercises are revolutionary or unique (trademark anyone?), but serve to introduce a less familiar range of motion back into the joint, coupled with dynamic movement. Here are 10 easy exercises for stronger wrists.
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1) Table-top Dynamic Palm Presses
Start by positioning yourself on hands and knees; knees under your hips, and with wrists under shoulders. Wrists will not line up right underneath your shoulders, as you will have to allow for the carrying angle of the elbow, so you will notice slight ulnar deviation (fingers moving away from midline). Wrist creases will move towards parallel with the top of the mat. Spread all ten fingers wide, maintain a gentle curve through the joints of the fingers, and distribute your weight evenly by pressing in through the base of your palm (meaty party), as well as the pads of your fingers. Start moving back and forth, use your inhalations to take your hips towards your forearms, and your sitting bones back towards your heels. Make sure you’re not dropping your navel towards your mat; front line of your body remains engaged, but not tense. You can switch it up and move side to side, just be sure to keep the fingers spread wide, and the shoulder blades moving in opposite directions to avoid any pinching of the scapula.
2) Table-top Dynamic Wrist Extensions (Variation A)
Take the same starting position as 1). Turn your fingers out to opposite edges of your mat (thumbs forward, pinky fingers back). Move hips forwards and then sit weight back towards heels, keeping all ten fingers pressing in to the mat. Play with changing the weight distribution through your palms, and move through 10-20 iterations of this.
3) Table-top Dynamic Wrist Extensions (Variation B)
Take the same starting position as 2). Instead of moving the trunk and hips, lift one palm, suction cupping the palm diaphragm up away from your mat, and then place it back down. Repeat on other side, and feel free to lean weight slightly toward each side as your lift the palm. Repeat 10-20 times per side.
4) Table-top Reverse Wrist Extensions with Pulsing
Users’ warning: this is intense, especially for those of us restricted to a stereotypical office job where we spend the vast majority of our time typing, in wrist flexion. Take palms onto the mat, but spin wrist creases to face towards the front edge of your mat, fingers point directly back toward your knees. Walk your knees up to meet your finger tips to take some pressure and weight off of your wrists, and start to slowly bend your elbows slightly, taking your glutes back toward your heels, and lifting the palms away from the ground. If this is super intense, try a single palm variation, with one wrist crease exposed to the front of your mat, and one wrist crease facing back in toward your knee. Keep this exercises dynamic by pulsing the palms up and down 5-10 times, and on your last pulse, see if you’re able to peel the palm slightly higher, and hold for 3-5 rounds of breath.
5) Moving combo (2-4)
Stay in table-top, and move through the different wrist positions explored in the first four exercises, using your inhales to guide weight forwards, and your exhales to bring your glutes closer towards your heels. This requires some coordination, but is a dynamic way to work mobility through the wrist joint and challenge your breath-body connection.
6) Table-top, “Awkward” Push-ups
Stay in table-top, this time reverse the direction of your fingers from 2) and 3), so that your elbows point out, thumbs come toward your knees, and pinky fingers point forward. Keeping your shoulder blades spreading apart, upper back strong, inhale, then exhale to bend at your elbows in an “awkward” push-up variation, and press back up to straight arms on the inhale. Make sure your core braces to prevent your chest from collapsing down, and keep your neck in line with your spine. Repeat this 10-15 times.
7) Table-top Finger-Curls with Wrist Flexion
Now we’re getting to the good stuff! Maintaining table-top position, flip onto the backs of your palms (yes, that’s right. No, I’m not crazy, and yes, this is going to feel weird). Wrist creases will face out toward the left and right side of your mat, with your fingers spread wide apart and facing in towards one another. The soft, fleshy part of your palms (diaphragm), will face up towards your nose. Take an inhale to spread the fingers as wide as you can, and then exhale to curl the fingers into fists, squeezing. Repeat this 5-10 times, without compensating or taking tension in through your neck and shoulders.
8) Table-top Dynamic/Sustained Wrist Flexion
Same starting position (backs of palms) as 7). Take your wrist creases to face towards the front edge of your mat, and try to press as much of the back of your hand into the mat as you can. Hold here. Keep your elbows from bending, and spread your fingers far apart. You can play with spreading the fingers wide, and then squeezing them back together, in a snow-angel motion, to change the sensation through the wrist and back of your palms.
9) Isolated Finger Taps
Quadruped starting position, spread all ten fingers wide. Keep elbows from bending, and start to tap just the thumb on both left and right hands. Take 20 taps, then move to index finger. Move through all five fingers on each hand. You’ll find this gets significantly tougher when you move to the middle, ring, and pinky fingers due to the structure and attachment of the tendons in your hands.
10) Non-load Bearing Flexion/Extension of Wrists
Sit in kneeling, or any comfortable seated position. LiFt elbows to shoulder height. Inhale here, on exhale squeeze hands into fists, knuckles face towards center of room, inhale to release your hands open, extending the wrists and flexing fingers back in towards your face. Repeat 5-10 times. Move slowly, squeeze a little more tightly each time you take fists, and spread all ten fingers wide when you extend and open the palms.
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Pace yourself; start by spending around five minutes in total working through exercises 1) to 5) as your foundation. As you start to build stability, strength, and feel less strain or resistance, gradually add in 5) to 9), mixing and matching so that you are working in equal parts wrist extension (palm diaphragms DOWN) and wrist flexion (palm diaphragms UP). Most importantly, don’t be afraid to freestyle it. The more comfortable and confident in your wrist mobility you become, the easier you’ll find it becomes to explore modifications and creative additions to your wrist warm-up sequence that challenge your anatomical limitations. It may not be as sexy as a vinyasa or a bad-ass arm balance, but by building from the ground up, you’re developing a better understanding of your body as its own entity, and setting the foundation to move towards complex, challenging movements further down the road. So get down on your hands and knees, and work your stronger wrists.
GROWING UP WITH A BACKGROUND IN COMPETITIVE FIGURE SKATING, CASS’ JOURNEY WITH YOGA BEGAN AT A YOUNG AGE. WHAT STARTED AS A WAY OF MAINTAINING FLEXIBILITY AND MOBILITY HAS SINCE SHIFTED TO FOCUS ON BUILDING STRENGTH, BY COMBINING ELEMENTS OF FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT INTO HER PRACTICE AND SEQUENCING, HELPING TO EXPLORE THE DIFFERENT WAYS IN WHICH EACH INDIVIDUAL’S BODY MOVES AND CHANGES SHAPE. SINCE COMPLETING OCTOPUS GARDEN’S 200 HOUR TEACHER TRAINING, AND RISHIKESH YOG PEETH’S 300 HOUR ADVANCED TEACHER TRAINING PROGRAM, CASS HAS PURSUED BARRE AND PILATES CERTIFICATIONS THROUGH STOTT PILATES, ALONG WITH ESSENTRICS MOVEMENT TRAINING. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING SHE’S DISCOVERED ALONG THE WAY IS THAT YOU’RE ALWAYS A STUDENT – BE CURIOUS, ALWAYS QUESTION, CAREFULLY ANALYZE, AND CONTINUOUSLY SEEK NEW AVENUES TOWARDS UNEXPECTED ANSWERS. ‘YOGA IS THE JOURNEY FROM COSMETIC TO COSMIC BEAUTY.’
I am not flexible and I teach yoga. I used to feel like a complete sham, being a yoga teacher and not able to express full hanumanasana (the splits) …
Over time and with a lot of forgiveness, I have allowed this to become a strength rather than a hindrance. Due to an inability to demonstrate some poses in their fullest, I had been forced to improve my understanding of anatomy, my communication skills,
and my explanations of postures. Comprehensible and down-to-earth analogies were needed in order to safely guide students in an out of complicated asana.
I had to let go of a tremendous amount of ego watching my students advance and surpass me in their bendtacular physical abilities. Rather than envy or jealousy, I was filled with enormous amounts of gratitude. It’s a truly humbling experience to watch your students surpass you. I felt privileged to be their teacher.
When my stiff body does manage a touch of suppleness, it becomes a fantastic victory. Years ago, while teaching gomukasana (cow face yoga pose), I was demonstrating how to position the arms when suddenly my fingertips grazed each other for the first time ever.
I almost stopped the class to shout, “Hey everybody! My fingernails just momentarily brushed each other!! Wooo hoo!! Did anyone see that!?!? I am usually not a flexible yoga teacher”
Which would have been both inappropriate and ridiculous in a room full of clasped hands behind backs.
But there’s something more here: When tickling fingertips together draws such awareness and excitement, suddenly little things in life offer us so much encouragement.
This small victory made me feel like I could accomplish anything! The intense sensation of joy and triumph in that moment gave me so much empowerment.
Once I had let go of the goal-oriented nature of my practice and the negativity I had let myself experience for being Inflexible, my personal asana practice flourished.
Today my yoga practice is about joy. It is about love. It is so much less about the asana. When I step on my mat, I close my eyes and I move my soul with breath and posture. I let my heart pour out on the rubber floor. Whatever I am feeling I just let it be.
I have become so much more compassionate and forgiving of myself on the mat that it has permeated other areas of my life too-less judgment, more being okay with others as they are. By allowing expression and removing rigidity from my personal yoga practice, my body has opened up as well.
Today, not only can I do the splits, but lotus, arm balances, fallen angel, full dancer, have all become part of my regular practice. Oh, and gomukasana too! I can totally grab my hands and even reverse prayer these days! I never in my life thought I would be able to express these asana!
For anyone who is not a flexible yoga teacher or student, step on your mat. Close your eyes. Take some deep breaths. Ask yourself, “what is possible?” You might be surprised with the results, I know I was!
Lead teacher and founder of Yoga Academy International, Lauren is a globally celebrated yoga instructor. She has been teaching yoga for nearly a decade and comes from a variety of lineages and traditions. Lauren’s appetite for yoga and travel are insatiable. She continues to study with world-class instructors whenever possible, all the while leading her own yoga retreats and workshops. Lauren has solid roots in Hatha yoga with continued studies in Vinyasa flow, Anusara, Ashtanga, Restorative and Yin Yoga. She is inspired by teachers who tell stories. She has studied under Seane Corn, Chris Chavez, MC Yogi, Susan Cohen, Nancy Goodfellow and many others. Lauren is passionate about sharing yoga from an authentic and soulful point of view. She believes that yoga practice can help uncover the veils that hide us from achieving our full potential.