The Toughest Part of Yoga Teacher Training

We’re in our eleventh round of 200-hour yoga teacher training at Carolina Yoga Company. (Join us for the twelfth! Or go deeper with our 500-hour advanced studios yoga teacher training!) As usual, we have a lovely crew of earnest students who anticipate a journey of self-discovery and growth that will be difficult at times. But the toughest part of yoga teacher training isn’t learning Sanskrit, resolving your questions about alignment, or gaining comfort leading group classes. It’s sitting on the floor.

And how appropriate this is! The Yoga Sutras tell us very little about poses—only that we should find a seat that is both steady and comfortable. I consider the poses we do in the twenty-first-century West to be preparations for this work of getting cozy in a seated position. Because once we can hold the seat—once we have strength through the core and ease through the hips—we are ready for the more inner practices of yoga that lead us to self-awareness, starting with meditation.

Here’s some of my best advice for sitting:

  • Eschew the cross-legged option. Instead, build a kneeling seat. Here’s a piece I wrote for Yoga Journal on how to kneel with greater comfort: “Find Comfort in Sitting.”
  • Prop up when you’re cross-legged, too.  A bolster or even two under your hips will help a lot.
  • Build into it slowly. Adaptation to any stimulus must happen progressively over time. Overdo it, and you’ll find up doing more harm than good.
  • Take breaks! We encourage our yoga teacher trainees to shift position, to move to a chair, or to stand in polite attention to the teacher.

And if you’re leading a yoga class, remember that your students may not instantly be comfortable sitting. Start lying down or standing instead—it sets a lovely tone for class. We explore lots of alternatives to the traditional seated start of class in Sequencing Yoga Classes from Welcome to Namaste.

Watch: Live Stream of Yoga for Athletic Balance, Free 10/2

Brave new world that has live streaming in it! Starting Monday, October 2, my Yoga for Athletic Balance class at Carrboro Yoga Company will be available for you to follow along in real time wherever you have an Internet connection. These classes will join the almost 100 videos I already have available at, and once they have streamed live, you can also watch them offline using the YogaVibes2Go app.

To celebrate, we’re offering a free live stream of the class at my Facebook page. To join:

  1. Click over to to like the page
  2. Get on your comfortable clothes and unroll your mat to be ready for the class Monday, October 2, 6:00–7:15 p.m. EST.
  3. Enjoy!

Here’s how I introduced the class during last Monday’s session.

I’ll look forward to seeing you there!

Newly Certified: Melissa Butler

Meet Melissa Butler, one of the newest certified Sage Yoga for Athletes teachers. Melissa was part of the sweet group that did the in-person five-day at 1440 Multiversity in the Santa Cruz mountains. A formidable runner, she was up and cruising over the no-joke hills every morning, and she would recommend the local high school track to you as a great workout spot. Melissa lives in Sacramento, where she coaches both high school runners and adults. She teaches both yoga and Piyo, a Pilates-yoga hybrid, and she’s been including yoga with her team’s cross-country training this summer and fall.

As a former home-schooler, Melissa is especially good with young people. Her no-nonsense demeanor helps make yoga less mystical and more accessible. And she leads by example with her dedication and discipline in both running and yoga practice. If you’re near Sacramento, make it a point to study with her in person. If not, you’ll learn lots from her website, Aspired Running, and you’ll find more inspiration at her Instagram account, @aspiredrunning.

Want to follow in Melissa’s footsteps and spend five days with cool colleagues exploring how to teach yoga to athletes of all sports and levels? Join me at one of these three intensives in 2018:

Newly Certified: Shelley Sams

Meet Shelley Sams, one of the newest certified Sage Yoga for Athletes teachers. Although she has been a student of ours at Carrboro Yoga, she’s now living in Malawi, where she teaches both locals and expatriates in Lilongwe. If you’re living there, you probably know her already—the yoga scene is tight-knit—and if you aren’t, let me know if you’re traveling there and I’ll introduce you!

As a recreational tennis player, Shelley focused on tennis-specific work, but she also has a strong understanding of how yoga can help athletes in any sport. Her final project was a lovely sequence for cyclists of a certain age. Shelley’s teaching is inclusive, calm, and reassuring, and she’s a measured thinker open to new experiences, as you might imagine from someone living far from home. It was a special treat to have her drop in on the in-person teachers’ intensive in North Carolina this summer.

If you’d like to join Shelley as a specialist working with athletes, you can get started online anytime at!

New: Core Strength for Real People: Reset Your Hips and Spine

All the core exercises in the world are useless if you can’t balance your pelvis and spine. In these relaxing exercises, you’ll give the muscles that control movement of your hips and back a timeout. This brings them into harmony so your next core workout will be more productive!

Enjoy the preview above, and buy or rent the entire video at the Core Strength for Real People page. Better yet, subscribe, and for less than the price of one Pilates or yoga class, you’ll get access to the entire library, and a new video to challenge you every other month. There are lots more fun challenges—and release exercises like these—coming your way! Get started now.

Read and Watch: 8 Yoga Poses for Injury-Free Running

Photo by Mitch Mandel

The September issue of Runner’s World includes my favorite go-to core routine. I like to say it’s just enough to make you feel like you can check off the “I did my core!” box for the day. Including these a few times a week after your runs will help you stay balanced and ward off injury—and it doesn’t take long, so you can do the routine even as your mileage builds toward your fall races.

Read the full instructions here.

And for dozens of follow-along videos, see my Core Strength for Real People video series. You can rent or buy any single video, or subscribe to them all for only $9.99—less than half the price of a Pilates class!

Sage Advice: Balance Professionalism and Personality in Yoga Classes

Your teaching persona should be authentic to your day-to-day self, but that doesn’t mean you would share with your students in the same way as you would with your friends. I explored how to find the right balance in an article for Yoga Journal, “Balance Professionalism and Personality In Yoga Classes.”

Yoga fosters connection, including a connection between teachers and students. But sharing too much personal information with your students can damage the classroom dynamic. How can you maintain appropriate professionalism as a teacher without seeming distant or robotic? How can you be personable without being too personal? The key could be to have a clear intention to serve your students, and to use details in the service of that intention.

Read the full story here.

Like most things in yoga, the key is to find the right balance and to be clear on your motivation. Why are you telling a story or sharing a detail, and how does it help your students in their own experiences?

In the online course Professionalism for Movement Teachers, we explore all the relationships that yoga teachers have: with their students, their colleagues, their money, and more. The course is part of Carolina Yoga Company’s advanced studies (500-hour) yoga teacher training, and it’s open to anyone who wants to find the right balance of professionalism and personality—of disciplined effort and fun ease—in a career teaching movement. Read more here!

Excerpt: Anti-Aging Health Benefits of Yoga

If you’ve ordered your copy of Lifelong Yoga and are waiting for it to arrive—or if you need a reminder to order it—take a look at this excerpt from the book, over at Yoga Journal.

Along with the smile lines and gray hair, aging brings changes that are harder to see but very easy to feel, especially during movement. As you age, you’ll encounter general physiological changes in elasticity, stability, speed, strength, and endurance, as well as a different perspective on physical goals. Specific health problems emerge as we age, and these age-related illnesses might affect your yoga practice. Here, we offer our thoughts on how to modify your practice for these common ailments, and we detail the ways that (in some cases) yoga can actually relieve symptoms or has been proven to improve medical outcomes. From heart issues to less lung capacity, decreased bone density to hormonal changes, and bad backs to artificial knees, physical changes will affect and dictate the needs of a yoga asana practice, but in all cases, doing yoga will make you feel better.

Read the full piece here. Then order your copy today! And once you’ve had a chance to read it, please leave it a five-start review. These help other people feel better using yoga, as they encourage more people to pick up the book. Thanks in advance!


Today’s the official release date for Lifelong Yoga. While it’s my seventh book, it also marks some important firsts—it’s my first book cowritten with my longtime assistant, Alexandra DeSiato, my first book to be published by North Atlantic Books, and the first to feature my husband, Wes, as a model. (He’s joined by two other lovely lifelong yogis with professional modeling experience, Victor and Patricia.) It’s also a treat to see the Gold Circle Room at Carrboro Yoga Company get its moment in the sun!

Alexandra and I really hope you enjoy the book, which has a special foreword from my star student, Coach Roy Williams. If you’ve preordered it in paper format, your copy should arrive today or this week. E-books should deliver today. If you haven’t ordered yet, what are you waiting for? Buy it at your favorite bookseller—links are here—or direct from me. If you prefer to shop local—thank you!—ask your favorite indie store to order you a copy. You can also pick up copies at Carrboro Yoga if you happen to be in central North Carolina.

Once you’ve had a chance to read and practice from the book, please give it a five-star review. These positive reviews will help other people find the book, so that more people can benefit from including a little yoga most days over the years. Thanks in advance!

LIFELONG YOGA is released one week from today! It features a foreword from this longtime student of mine, Roy, who also happens to be a three-time and the current NCAA men's basketball championship coach. Coach Williams's foreword is a testament to the power of yoga to keep you flexible and balanced across the years. Order your copy at the link in bio! @alexandradesiato #yoga #lifelongyoga #yogaforhealth #goheels #gdtbath #author #yogaforathletes #yogaformen #yogaforbasketball #yogaforbasketballplayers #yogaforbasketballcoaches #roywilliams

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The Absence of Stress ≠ the Presence of Recovery

Much of my work is selling the concept of recovery. My weekly Yoga for Athletes classes have a little bit of movement, mostly focused on balance, but the majority of class is an opportunity for Type A athletes to practice being still, quiet, and relaxed. This can be hard, and it’s the most important thing to learn if you want to reach peak performance in sports or in any endeavor. Beyond my studios, my other businesses—Hillsborough Spa and Day Retreat and Carolina Massage Institute—also create space and train skills so folks can help themselves and others relax better.

And of course, I wrote a whole book on how not to work out, The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery. It includes a chapter on the benefits of massage and the benefits of self-massage with a foam roller. (There, a little bit goes a long way; don’t think more is more, or you’ll wind up aggravating tissues that need time to rest and recover. Pain is not a positive in self-massage!) There’s a new, extreme version of rolling gaining popularity in weight rooms called body tempering. Here, the roller isn’t foam, but steel. I haven’t had the chance to try tempering yet, and I could see how for bigger, heavily muscled bodies it might be useful—and, conversely, for smaller, lighter bodies it might be overkill.

In my recent five-day Teaching Yoga to Athletes intensive at Carrboro Yoga, we discussed this trend and, more generally, recovery modalities for athletes. Here’s a brief clip from the end of a 90-minute recovery yoga practice (hence the relaxed students).

Don’t confuse the absence of a stress stimulus—a 130-pound steel tube on your back, a three-hour run, a five-minute hold of a yin pose—with the presence of adaptation to that stimulus. Just because you aren’t experiencing extreme sensation doesn’t mean you’ve recovered from the stress that led to the sensation. Recovery and adaptation take time. You need faith in the process and patience to let it unfold at its own rate. It’s not glamorous, and you can’t force it. But when you learn to allow it to happen, you’ll be better prepared to achieve your best and perform at the highest levels.

In April 2018, I’ll be teaching a weekend on how to adapt to stress using recovery practices from yoga at the lovely 1440 Multiversity outside Santa Cruz, California. Stay tuned for details when registration opens!

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