My Vinyasa Practice (MVP): 300hrs Final Practicum YTT

Background

Since qualifying with the 200hr Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) through My Vinyasa Practice in July 2020, with the impact of Covid-19 here in the UK, I have adopted virtual live stream yoga classes in support of the karma hours for the 300hr YTT. I started by building this website with a linked YouTube channel (Crystal Core Yoga) & social media platforms (@crystalcoreyoga) to help promote engagement. 


During the last 3 months I have guided karma yoga practice in a few different ways, including: 

  • Cover teacher in Diana Brook’s (my yoga teacher & inspiration) community yoga studio;
  • Monday evening yin yoga through August/Sept; 
  • Friday lunchtime relax & unwind yoga to my work community & chair yoga to the disability staff network through Sept/Oct;
  • Two practices per week (& cover classes) since September on a Wednesday & Sunday as part of the Healthy Home Yoga Team, led by Jennifer Osbourne.

Cover Classes

I found teaching the cover classes to be very rewarding with Diana’s studio reaching a wide student base. It was great to connect & flow with so many different individuals early in my teaching experience & provided a platform to establish the technical side of teaching virtually. I designed sequences around the themes for the scheduled classes that included strength & balance focus. For two of the classes I had more than a day’s notice & had time to research, prepare & practice. In these early experiences, I noticed my own high expectations of self in delivery & how frustrated I would get if I didn’t include all I had planned. I have spent some time reflecting on my limiting beliefs around this, which has brought up feelings of ‘not being good enough’ & ‘imposter syndrome’ as a new yoga teacher. I practice self-compassionate forgiveness & continue to do so, if & when it arises, recognizing truth that a ‘divine being in a human experience’.

For one cover class, I had less time ahead of the session & found it more challenging to guide, feeling under prepared. I felt that I over complicated the practice, bringing in more & more complex poses & transitions, losing track of time & pace. I reached a stage when tuning into breath, that I had to slow whole practice down to regain focus. This became one of my greatest lessons, that has really informed my teaching style since: ‘Don’t over complicate things. When starting out with teaching yoga, be kind to yourself too. It is really easy to get lost when teaching & can attempt to bring in more adventurous poses, but maybe slow it down a little. Pace yourself & breathe!” (from personal blog of experience).

Work & Community Classes

I advertised free yin yoga sessions through social media platforms & friends & family who had expressed an interest. Whilst it took time to build engagement, numbers of yogis attending increased gradually & it was heartwarming to see people come back to the classes each week & the lovely feedback shared. One friend commented ‘you were like goldilocks.. just right!’ – which made me smile a lot. I personally adore guiding yin yoga & through all my teaching experience to date, yin yoga stands out as an area of the practice that I would like to explore more. As an individual with managed bipolar, I can relate to the concept of finding your edge, allowing yourself to release more into a pose with time & finding stillness in mind, body & breath & is a practice I hope I can guide others through more. 

I work at Cardiff University in South Wales, UK & during the pandemic a top priority is staff & student wellbeing. I started to offer Friday lunchtime yoga to relax & unwind & chair yoga within our disability staff network. Engagement each week has been brilliant. I originally circulated to my local team & invited them to share with whomever maybe interested (capped at 30) & numbers gradually increased with a core group tuning in each week. I had intended to stop at the end of October, but with encouragement from the group & as we enter a second lockdown in Wales, I will be continuing classes through November.  I am aiming to do further chair yoga with our disability staff network & prior to first delivery was worried about not being inclusive enough in this practice & spent time considering the language & options/ modifications offered with diverse abilities. Feedback from one member was ‘super appreciative of how attentive you were to everyone’s needs’.

Healthy Home Yoga

Through My Vinyasa Practice, I saw the invitation to join the new initiative that Jennifer Osbourne started in August with Healthy Home Yoga (https://www.healthyhomeyoga.com) to help build this provision, in light of the pandemic & facilitate people’s asana practice in the comfort of their own homes. After sending details through to Jenn & connecting through zoom, I joined the team from the beginning offering nourishing & balancing flows twice a week. I helped to promote sessions, through Instagram & Facebook posts & have linked with the other new teachers virtually, which has been an extremely rewarding experience. As with any new business it has been a slow start & I’ve been very fortunate to have two regular yogis who zoom in to every class & it has been a joy to connect with them across the globe.

Summary

I feel very privileged to have been in a position to teach & guide yoga practices virtually & reach so many different people in time & space from a diverse range of backgrounds & abilities during the last few months. It has been an exponential learning experience, both through the material & content provided through My Vinyasa Practice, the virtual environments created through zoom & the continual self-exploration along this path.

Through the journey so far, I have been able to better understand where I feel most able to support others in their asana practice, with a focus on connecting mind, body & breath to relax, unwind & destress. I have identified many of my own limiting beliefs & continue to work through them & understand my triggers with tools to manage. Through understanding my own boundaries & acknowledging limits, I continue to work to have an optimal mindset to safely provide a space for others to practice asana. Eternally grateful for the opportunity that My Vinyasa Practice has provided at a very challenging time & how the knowledge & tools provided continues to help me grow on a daily basis to help share the practice of yoga, always coming back to collective truth ‘divine beings in a human experience’.

Settling into teach yoga virtually: Adapting

I am so grateful to those who have joined me online over the last few weeks for late evening yoga. It has been so rewarding to be able to guide yin & vinyasa flows & to hear of some of the benefits it has had.

I have learnt so much about the practical side too, including:

1. Importance of a stable internet. Zoom is very keen to tell you when things are getting ‘unstable’.

2. Lighting in the room, particularly if teaching in the evenings. Very surprised how important this is in my quite dark home!

3. Taking it slow when teaching & guiding a practice virtually. Finding less is more has been a definite improvement through sessions.

4. Music & microphone takes a special skill, I still haven’t mastered!

Having tried & tested virtual yoga a few times now, keen to be part of a team & very excited to be joining Healthy Home Yoga & Nourished Wellbeing in the next few weeks.

Healthy home yoga is based in the US & Nourished Wellbeing is based in the UK. Both offer a range of virtual yoga & pilate classes for everyone with a number of different teachers & time slots. A range of class packages are available with some special offers too!

Until the end of September I will be offering free karma yin yoga sessions at 8pm every Monday eve. DM or email crystalcoreyoga@outlook.com to receive the zoom link if you would like to join.

Whilst this year has been like no other, on many levels.. reaching a space of gratitude, acceptance & contentment. Seeing new norms appear all around & embracing whatever arises with discernment.

It is what it is’ favourite motto of 2020

Maybe see you (virtually) on the mat. With love & light, namaste x

My vinyasa practice (MVP): 200hrs final practicum experience & lessons learnt

Experience teaching the class
I enjoyed preparing the script & choosing asanas for a 1hr mindfulness flow Karma practice. Recording this final practice for the 200hr MVP YTT felt like a consolidation of many of the teachings I have observed over the years, particularly with Diana Brook & Jo Gardener, two phenomenally inspiring yoga practitioners. I tried to build in the lessons I have learnt this year about teaching others though the MVP teacher training course & the initial training I’ve started with Jamie Yoga. Trying to incorporate a more inclusive language through cues & applying a more adaptive style with modifications wherever possible.

From the start I gave the option for participants to listen to their own bodies & take the cues as a guide & coming to rest in child’s pose if needed at any time through the practice. I tried to draw in the feedback from my mentor, including metaphoric cues & linking the intention at the start through to the end of the practice with a focus throughout on coming back to the breath.

Rationale
I chose to do a gentle flow class, bringing in mindfulness through the practice & connection of mind, body & breath. Rationale for this based on the importance of pranayama as a tool to help still the mind & ground in the present moment to reflect the yogic philosophy. Asanas were chosen to flow through the typical structure of a yoga sequence building through a gentle warm up to the peak & then grounding back to the earth using seated asanas before integrating in savasana. I didn’t want to over complicate the practice & tried to keep the flow simple & easy to follow, choosing asanas that I have always enjoyed & have found helped with own mindfulness & connection with breath, hoping it too would help others.

Areas to Improve
Teaching to camera is very different to in person & sometimes forget I am recording & become absorbed in the moment. Without the presence of those around, aware of the constant check in I have to do to stay present. Also teaching virtually recognise the need for extra cues to help participants to be able to easily follow the practice. Conscious that at times I muddle words like hands & elbows or I’m thinking ahead to next pose & when that happened in this practice tried to recognise & slow down thinking & stay present.

I was using a microphone to help with sound & during the flows it had dislodged & at one point landed on me in bridge, which distracted me from the practice for a moment & went a little off focus in cueing & movement.

Doing the MVP course has helped me to acknowledge & embrace the challenges of virtual teachings & learning for next time to ensure I have microphone well fixed for the recording. Also have a lot of animals & have always enjoyed them interacting when I am doing my daily asanas but also aware that they may be a distraction for viewers of recordings.

Reviewing the video, I felt I could have given cues a little faster & built in more asanas or vinyasa flows, particularly in seated poses, where I was going to do vinyasa flows in between each pose. When it came to recording, the vinyasa flows felt too much in the moment & decided to leave them out & on reflection could have offered participants an option to take a vinyasa in between for extra movement.

I opted out of the vinyasa flows because I felt a little physically tired as I was working through & body was asking for gentleness & as that was in line with the intention for the session, decided to exclude the vinyasas. I also felt some of my own asanas weren’t quite in alignment & did consider re- recording. I have acknowledged through my personal self-reflections on daily yoga practice that this is part of my own chitti vritti & perception/verbalisations/limiting beliefs that practice is ‘not good enough’ & instead came back to truth ‘a divine being in a human experience’.

The fact that I felt physically tired may have also impacted chitti vritti & in the future will ensure I am prepared in my physical, emotional, intellectual & spiritual bodies to embrace the practice & delivery with more energy & that as a yoga teacher you need to be kind to yourself too in order to hold a safe supportive space for your students. At the end of the practice, choosing the asanas & flow I had, I personally felt more nourished & replenished & grateful for where I was at on this journey. It certainly has not been the expected path I anticipated travelling this year & more than anything have learnt adaptation & flowing with what presents, trying to not hold attachment or aversion & practice more discernment.. which I have also recognised is easier said than done!

As one chapter closes, another opens & looking forward to what arises through next stages of journey. With love & light 🙏