Who knows what the field of teaching yoga will be like in the next three months? The next six? The next twelve? Not I—and I have a book on the subject, The Professional Teacher’s Handbook, coming out in three months!
One growth field I see is bringing yoga to a group, either in person or virtually, rather than assembling a random collection of students together in a room. This group might be a family unit or household, or it could be an athletic team or a workplace cohort like a medical center staff or restaurant staff.
There are great benefits to teaching a group of folks who know each other. There’s already a rapport. You can be clear on what all your students have in common, what their shared needs are, and how you can help them with yoga.
My full-featured online course Teaching Yoga to Athletes covers just this. We talk about two situations: one, the open class, where you bring athletes to yoga, but the other, the private lesson or team class, where you bring the yoga to the athletes. You don’t need to be working with athletic students for this course to help! We explore how to identify patterns and habits in students’ bodies and minds, then address them with yoga.
I’ve just done a complete refresh of the course lectures, too! You’ll be getting the most up-to-date information and the approach I’ve honed in my eight years of teaching this course in person and online.
Meet The Professional Yoga Teacher’s Handbook, a new book to help both current and aspiring yoga teachers of any style and approach:
chart their course
choose the right trainings and continuing education
promote themselves mindfully
plan and assess their classes
develop healthy relationships with students, clients, and employers
navigate the landscape of online teaching
be professional whether teaching yoga full-time or as a volunteer
The book, to be released September 15, 2020, is the teacher training manual I have meant to write for a decade. I’ve put everything I know about teaching in it. It is here to help you in this strange new world.
You’ll find my advice on streaming classes and putting other content online, so it should be instantly helpful to you even if your regular or dream studio is not holding in-person classes yet. Most importantly, I encourage you to investigate your own blind spots and unexplored biases and outline ways to create an inclusive classroom to help people find connection with yoga.
Whether you’ve been teaching for a while and are looking for ways to adapt to a post-Covid world, or are considering making a career change or simply taking a teacher training for self-development, The Professional Yoga Teacher’s Handbook will be your guide.
In The Professional Yoga Teacher’s Handbook, Sage Rountree gives movement teachers of any background the tools they need to succeed. . . . It’s all here: from planning a class to getting a job to dealing with students to creating videos and other online content—valuable information for the post-pandemic landscape. It is a must-have resource for every yoga teacher and every teacher in training!
If you’re a yoga teacher or teacher in training who is eager to find ways to make your classes antiracist and antixenophobic, I am happy to invite you to a free, live webinar hosted by Duke professor and Durham Yoga Company teacher Nadeesha Perera.
We will meet online on Sunday, June 21, 2:30–4:00 p.m. If you would like to join, please send me a message and I will get you login details.
For several years, we’ve been offering three formats of our 200-hour yoga teacher training at Carolina Yoga Company: our eight-month one-weekend-a-month format, a three-week summer intensive format, and a nine-week weekday daytime format. Because we expect social distancing and limits on gatherings to stay in place, this summer we will offer our three-week intensive online in real time!
This means that wherever you are, if you can make the times work, you can join us from anywhere. We’ll meet online for six hours daily for three weeks, July 18–August 9, 2020, with three rest days (July 24, July 30, and August 4).
Class times are 10 a.m.–1 p.m. and 2–5 p.m., all Eastern Time. We have carefully planned a mixture of lecture, discussion, and movement, so while it may sound like a lot of screen time, it’s well thought out and will keep you engaged and balanced. You’ll learn from me, my business partner Lies Sapp, lead teacher Jenni Tarma, and a host of wonderful guest teachers. At the end, you’ll be confident in your own practice, prepared to help people with yoga, and eligible to register with the Yoga Alliance.
Because of the extra effort in putting this program online, we need a minimum of eight students committed by July 1 (we’re halfway there already). If you’re interested:
If you’ve been teaching online or if you’re considering getting started, you might have looked at the hundreds of professionally produced videos already available and asked yourself, “Who would want to watch ME over this?” The answer: the people who will connect with you for who you are: you, uniquely you.
One thing I miss when following along with slick videos is a sense of the teacher’s personality, and the sense of their journey through yoga apart from the physical poses. Alexandra DeSiato and I wrote Teaching Yoga Beyond the Poses to help you develop your own voice as you teach yoga philosophy and help students find connection and meaning. Check it out if you would like to add depth to your classes, either online or in person.
Thanks to our publisher, North Atlantic Books, over on Instagram we are each giving away two copies of the e-book, so you can win one to enjoy and one to share. If you’re a teacher, you can share with a colleague; if you simply practice, you can pass a copy to a teacher. Here’s how!
Of all the routines that have shifted, my Mondays have changed the most during the shutdown. Used to be I’d meet my running friends for the same strides workout, spend time doing desk work, go to the studio, take Alexandra’s Pilates class, then teach Yoga for Athletic Balance. The best part was coming home after class to the same meal every week: a bread-cheese-and-salad spread that my family would eat in front of the TV while watching Sunday night’s HBO shows on the DVR.
I’ve been teaching that Monday night class for sixteen years, so with vacations and holidays factored in, I’ve done it almost 800 times. The student group includes some really long-term regulars who I know are missing their yoga-and-beer routine.
Hopefully within a few months we’ll be back together for the comfort of familiar habit. Meanwhile, for my regulars and everyone, some suggestions. You can save $50 on an annual membership to Yoga Vibes using code sagevibes.
Are you sick of yourself yet? Me, too. Not only am I getting a lot of enforced downtime to watch my brain and all its patterns, I’m using the shutdown to record fresh video lectures for my main online course, Teaching Yoga to Athletes.* This means I spend several hours a day literally watching myself.
On the positive side, this gives me incentive to wash my hair, put on lipstick, and use my brain a few days each week.
On the negative side, I spend most afternoons editing the video lectures, snipping out my flubs, inserting my slides, and generally watching myself and all my tics and habits. I’m trying to embrace this opportunity to observe my patterns and start to change the ones I’d like to.
If you teach yoga and have either made a recent pivot to video or have recorded content in the past, don’t just send it out to the world without a critical eye! Take the time to watch it yourself, and maybe even to follow along. This is easier than it was in pre–shutdown days, when getting a recording of yourself teaching seemed like a bigger hurdle.
Here are some steps that might help you refine your teaching and emerge more articulate, professional, and helpful to your students.
Watch some or all of it to get your gut reaction out of the way. You’ll never be any younger in the future than you are in the video—someday you’ll look back at this more kindly. Yes, you sound like that. Yes, that might be a lot like your mother or father. If you need to cringe, get it over with.
Now rewind, and watch with a friendly eye. What is already going really well? If the teacher you see on video were your best friend, what would you say to her—and how—about ways she could do even better? Often, this means looking for what you could leave out: too many hand gestures, filler words, constant chatter.
Try following along with some or all of the recording to get a student’s sense of timing. You might be surprised at how your pacing feels when you aren’t leading but instead taking the class. Use the video’s scrub function to get an objective sense of your timing for asymmetrical poses. The timer won’t lie about whether you’re holding the second side long enough.
Here’s one of the first videos I made. From watching it, I learned to frame my shot a little differently, to plant my hands on the table, and to talk a little more slowly. I hope you learn lots from watching yourself!
If you’ve been considering taking this course, please do! As of today, I am 3/5 done with the updates, so anyone who starts now will have several extra hours’ worth of new content to enjoy. And of course, any previous course participants can access it as well. It all lives at sageyogateachertraining.com, alongside several other courses designed to help yoga teachers help students better.
Two weeks ago yesterday, I taught my last yoga class. My business partner and I had just resolved to suspend all studio operations at the end of the day. I was subbing yin yoga for a colleague who began social distancing before the rest of us caught on. I stood at the door to hold it open as the students trickled in. Among them were five members of the St. John’s University men’s basketball team, who were in the middle of a Big East tournament game when it was cancelled at halftime. They came home with a local teammate to settle in away from New York.
In yin yoga, we focus on letting go. We take a shape that we can hold for a long time, let go of tension and squirminess, and stay for a while. As the class held the shapes, I was mostly quiet but said something like, “Yin yoga teaches us to be with things as they are.” A student lifted her head and gave me the thumbs up.
Settle in to the shape. Soften. Breathe. When you grow restless, when you start to wonder when it will ever end, take another breath. And another. And another.
I have some follow-along videos if yin yoga appeals to you:
I hope you’re staying centered and calm (enough) this week! Yoga can help a lot. For many years, I’ve been amassing an extensive library of online classes for students of any amount of experience and continuing education courses for yoga teachers, so if you find yourself in need of some at-home de-stressing or something to do while your kids take their own online courses, here are some suggestions—and a few special deals.
If you are tense and want something mellow to calm you down
Check out the yin and restorative yoga classes at Yoga Vibes. These are doable using props from around the house—take a few cushions off your sofa, pull out a chair from the dining room, roll a few beach towels together. You can even fashion your own sandbag out of a bag of rice!
If you are going stir crazy and want something to challenge you
Have fun with my Core Strength for Real People video series. You can snack on any one of these short sequences, or put a few together to burn off any anxious energy.
If you are new to yoga and figure you might as well try it now
Once you’ve been practicing yoga for a while, you may feel the call to teach it or to learn more about the practice in the context of a teacher training. The first step is typically a 200-hour training. At Carolina Yoga, we’ve been offering these since 2011. In that time, we’ve had students from 15 to 70+ years old, whose day jobs included everything from ex–professional poker player to current professional salsa dancer to bestselling mystery novelist. In the next 12 months, we offer three different formats of our 200-hour yoga teacher training at Carolina Yoga Company’s Carrboro location: