Archive for Yoga

Yoga Teachers: 3 Tips for Reaching Beginner Yoga Students Outside of Your Class

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As a yoga teacher, you’re always looking for ways to introduce yourself to new yoga students. After teaching yoga for nearly ten years, I recently went back to school at Northwestern University to study content strategy to learn how to market my business. Through this work, I found two recent articles on yoga that can help other yoga teachers think creatively about how to expand their market of potential new students.

For example, Cleveland.com community columnist Carol Kovach recently wrote about Lakewood, Ohio’s Spooky Pooch Parade, which brought 2,500 people and at least 350 dogs together for a costume parade. What was different this year is that, for the first time, the event included a doga class hosted by Lakewood’s Pink Lotus Yoga studio. Hosting a specialty yoga class at an event that’s not about yoga is a great way to catch the interest of someone who may not be ready to walk into a class at a gym or a yoga studio, but who is willing to give it a shot at a fun community event with family or friends.

 

photo credit: angela7dreams via photopin cc

 

Yoga specialty classes are also a great way a yoga teacher can give back to the community by raising funds for a local cause and meet new students at the same time. Nancy Alkire of Columbus Underground recently wrote about local yoga teacher Karine Wascher, who partnered with the Columbus Zoo on a “Slothvasana” fundraiser class with sloths.

Based on these unique approaches to expanding yoga into the community, here are 3 action items you should consider when you’re creating a specialty class to reach new yoga students.

Put Yoga Second. Think of something you are passionate about and design a yoga class around that

Find Public Events. Rather than making folks come to your class, consider partnering with an event that will already bring large groups of people.

Breathing is Critical. Make sure to incorporate breathing exercises at the beginning and end of class—a valuable tool for beginning students that experienced yogis will appreciate as well.

As you build your marketing strategy, have some fun bringing yoga into your neighborhood. It’s a good way to get your name out there, expand your base, and meet new yoga students who may not yet be ready to take your class in a studio or a gym.

What ideas have you tried to market yourself as a yoga teacher? Share your ideas with #yogaincommunity

Diane Renzulli teaches yoga and meditation every Wednesday evening at YogaWorks Dupont Circle, and she teaches as a sub at Vida Fitness Yards location.

Great Workshop on Yoga and the Brain

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I recently went to an awesome workshop by Baxter Bell, M.D. at Sun and Moon Yoga Studio.

He reminded the class of the Mayo Clinic’s six key recommendations for healthy aging – eat healthy foods, get physical exercise, be socially connected, reduce stress, sleep well, and continue to be mentally engaged. Yoga can help with all of those things.

For my 500-hour yoga teacher training, I held a workshop on yoga and the brain and wrote a paper on the topic. My theory was similar to Dr. Bell’s, but I focused on three ways yoga can help the brain: #1, it helps with sleep; #2, it reduces stress; and #3, it builds mindfulness, the ability to be aware of the present moment, which involves a lot of brain activity in the areas of the brain that help with focus, concentration, and executive functioning.

Check out Dr. Bell’s blog, Yoga for Healthy Aging.

Yogis: If you’re interested in neuroplasticity, I highly recommend this book…

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I had been practicing yoga for seven years before I learned in a workshop that my down dog was likely going to be the death of my shoulders. And while it was the first time I heard that I had to externally rotate my shoulders so my back and chest muscles would engage and protect my shoulders from injury, it took me another five years until I actually started feeling what that meant in my body.

Sound familiar? Why is it that a pose we may have done 10,000 times feels suddenly very different on our 10,001st try?

After finishing “Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain,” I think it’s brain plasticity at work.

Every yogi should read this book. Sharon Begley is my new science writer superheroine. She does such a great job breaking down lots of rat studies in a really accessible way to tell the history of neuroplasticity and what happens when a bunch of the world’s most prominent neuroscientists get together with the Dalai Lama to talk about the latest in brain science.

Buddhists have been saying for thousands of years that meditating can transform your life, and now brain scans that are starting to back that up. Pretty cool.

Here are some nuggets from the book that made me think it was only after 12 years of downward dogs that I had made the neural connections in my brain to actually feel what it means to externally rotate my shoulders and activate my chest and back muscles.

  • Animals that move the same part of their body repeatedly grow brain cells in the part of the brain that governs that part of their bodies;
  • Mice who  are active and cognitively challenged have bigger brains and are better at performing challenging tasks than their couch potato counterparts;
  • Mindfullness-based cognitive therapy has been shown to actually change brain circuitry; and
  • Brain scans of Buddhist monks who have meditated for years are very different than non-meditators, with more activity in the regions of the brain that govern happiness.

I want to point out that I’m an English literature major who never took a biology class outside of high school and I’ve probably completely misinterpreted Sharon Begley’s amazing prose. So I think I’ll stop there.

But please, please, please—if you’re a yoga student or a teacher, if you’ve ever known someone who struggles with depression, if you’re just interested in being able to justify why taking that exotic vacation will be good for your brain (it is! Go buy the tickets now!), please read this book.