Sunday, December 16, 2007

As Simple as Herding Cats

I'm in the process of applying for another teaching gig at a new "wellness center" that has opened in the Stateline area. It's affiliated with Beloit Memorial Hospital and has a whole wing with doctors' offices and physical therapy, in addition to a very swank gym, pool and studios (Pilates and yoga have separate rooms). There will be some overlap from my students at the Y, but also a lot of new folks from Northern Illinois.

I've hit a snag. Because of the medical aspect, they want to make sure all the instructors are well-trained and certified. The certified part works well for the aerobics teaching and trainers, because of the rigor with which ACE, etc. keeps track of their teachers. They are having some trouble with the yoga teachers' credentials, tho--especially me.

I had a very intense training period with my teacher in DC and spent every other Saturday for a year at her house studying poses--how to teach, how to modify, how to sequence them. I also did some (not a lot) of student teaching at her studio and she observed some of my teaching. So, I think I had a good grounding (ha) in the basics and have tried to stay current with various workshops, etc. when I can get to Madison or other yoga conferences. For what it's worth, my students seem to be happy with my teaching. But none of this is work towards a specific Certification...and none of it is with Yoga Alliance members (altho I have studied with Iyengar, Kripalu, Ashtanga, etc. teachers), so I can't count towards a R.Y.T. designation. There are 5 YA-approved schools in Wisconsin and the nearest one to me is in Milwaukee (80 min. drive each way), so I can't really start over from scratch.

It's made me think about yoga teacher training in this country and how to organize (if that's possible) all the different styles and approaches so that outsiders can measure how qualified a teacher is. This is a huge debate in the yoga community--and while the Yoga Alliance has the right idea--I'm not sure it's possible to gather all of us under one governing body. And maybe we don't want one governing body, but how to assess the quality of different trainings? And is teaching yoga in a multi-purpose facility, such as a gym, less legitimate than in a studio? And consider the possibility of including yoga in a wellness plan that insurance companies would be willing to support, how would they measure its effectiveness? How about those of us who practice and teach in communities without a large yoga network?

I'm not sure how it will go with North Pointe (the aforementioned wellness center). I hope I can cobble together a resume that they approve of, but we'll see. In the mean time, what do all of you think of this subject and how have you dealt with the issue of multiple trainings/quality of trainings/lack of certification/etc? Any ideas?

How do you herd a group of cats and keep them in the corral...

Monday, December 03, 2007

Don't Think, Just Do...Parivritta Janu Sirsasana

In the interest of maintaining some sort of home practice, I'm going to put up a single pose each week for you (and me!) to drop into. Preferably there would be some sort of lead-in and some sort of follow-up, but 5-10 mins. of yoga is better than nothing at all. I'm not advocating headstands without any warm-up, obviously, but most of the standard poses will still give you a nice stretch in the moment. Maybe some time, in the not too distant future, I can have my own practice, again. Sigh.

Parivritta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose)
1 . Begin in Dandasana (Staff Pose) with the spine long and aligned. Then slide the left knee to the side and, using both hands, gently roll the shin and top of the foot towards the floor. Try and line your heel up with the center of your perineum, but don’t loose the length in the lower back. Extend the left leg to the side so that your legs make a 90-degree angle. Keep the left big toe and knee pointed towards the ceiling.

2. Sit tall and concentrate on lifting the side ribs and lining the shoulders up with the hips. Start twisting to the right (towards the bent knee), concentrating the twist in the lumbar spine.

3. Keeping the twist in the waist and the length in the spine, start folding towards the extended left leg (leaning backwards, sort of). Slide your left hand along the left leg, or lower onto your forearm if you can still keep the spine long. With each exhale, deepen the twist as you lengthen the thoracic spine (the spine behind the rib cage). Place your hand flat on the floor to assist the twist, or take hold of your foot.

4. Bring the right arm straight up and then drop is slightly to the back to increase the twist. Then bring it to your right hip, or, if it doesn’t affect the length of the spine, reach over and take hold of the other side of your left foot. Breathe deeply and try to extend into the pose every few breaths.

5. Slowly release the hands and bring the torso upright. Untwist and then return the legs back to Staff Pose. Repeat on the other side.