7 Killer Resources for Yoga Instructors
I've organized these resources into three categories:
- News & Research
- Teaching Tools
- News & Research. Staying abreast of news in the yoga community helps us determine how yoga fits in with the larger world. What is the growth rate of yoga as an industry? What other settings are yoga classes taking place in? Knowing the answers to these questions not only makes you a more well-rounded teacher, but it also helps identify new and growing career opportunities. Continuous education through research allows you to keep your classes safe for all types of bodies and provide therapeutic applications to students.
- Teaching Tools. You could come up with everything on your own, but why? Valuable resources exist to help give your classes more depth and structure. Having a reason behind each pose and theme is critical; these resources help provide the why behind the what.
- Inspiration. Unless you're a superhuman yoga instructor, the well of inspiration will run dry. Like any creative profession, resources exist to keep the creative juices flowing. Finding inspiration that resonates with you is up to you, but possibilities include music, art, poetry, books, images, conversations...they truly are endless.
- Create a ritual for reading news and research. For example, every Friday morning, spend 30 minutes reading about yoga.
- Give yourself time to plan classes. Think about a physical theme, an emotional theme, and tie in at least one breath technique or mudra.
- Stay inspired. Just like writer's block, yoga instructors can get stuck when planning classes. Use music, poetry, imagery - whatever it takes to keep the creativity flowing.
News & Research
1. YogaDork. The folks at YogaDork post about the latest yoga news, from Lululemon's latest shenanigans to pro-football teams using yoga to enhance performance. These stories help us realize the growing nature of yoga in our world; plus, I've forwarded a number of posts to students, sharing information I think they'll find either useful or interesting.
- Michelle Obama Turns to Yoga As She Turns 50
- Jasmine Does Yoga to Prepare for 'Aladdin' On Broadway
- TIME Magazine Chooses Mindfulness for Latest Cover Story
2. Yoga for Healthy Aging. Bringing medicine and yoga together, contributors of this blog have both impressive credentials and a passion for yoga as a tool for healing. Any time I'm looking for some anatomical assistance or therapeutic applications, this is one of the first places I go.
- Yoga and Your Sinuses
- Changing the Brain's Stressful Habits
- Spinal Movements: How To Keep Your Spine Safe
3. Yoga Journal. I would be amiss to leave Yoga Journal off this list. This one-stop shop for yoga instructors delves into yoga news, research and general wellness, while also providing tools for teaching and home practice.
Posted By Yoga for Healthy Aging
4. Yoga Toolbox for Teachers and Students (from Integrative Yoga Therapy). I can't stress how helpful this resource is; I use it every single time I plan a class. If I had to narrow this list down to one, this would be it. For each pose, this toolbox provides:
- Sanskrit. Both the English and Sanskrit names are included, and the Sanskrit translation is spelled out.
- Details. Delves into each pose and how it relates to ayurveda, the prana vayus, the chakras and where it lies on the langhana-brahmana spectrum.
- Modifications. Includes modifications for both beginners or for a greater challenge.
- Variations. Provides more options are given beyond the traditional pose.
- Teaching Points. Includes an entire script with cues for the physical, emotional and spiritual bodies
- Benefits. Includes how the pose benefits our physical bodies.
- Contraindications. Explains who should avoid the particular pose.
5. Mudras for Healing and Transformation (from Integrative Yoga Therapy). Can you tell I am IYT trained? I truly believe their teaching tools are invaluable. This is the most in-depth mudra guide I've come across, equipping you with the most appropriate mudra for your class.
What resource category is the most valuable?
6. The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. For each day of the year, Nepo includes a quote, a short entry and a short meditation. If you've never read Nepo before (I hadn't), you are in for a treat. He is profound, humble, heartfelt -- all the while, his poetry and prose is unmatched. I use this book when developing themes for classes, often reading excerpts verbatim throughout the class.
When we care, we receive the truth that lives beneath words, and the sense of what is too much to say then reflects off our hearts, soothing those around us.
Rather than finding ourselves in everything, we are challenged daily to find everything in ourselves, till being human is evolving inwardly in the likeness of everything, shaping ourselves to the wonders we find, until like birds, who have known this forever, we too make song at the mere appearance of light.
Again and again, the onset of pain makes us clutch and sink. But life has taught me that how we first open after doubling over is crucial to whether we will heal at all.
Underneath it all is the fundamental truth that as trees have leaves that are nicked and eaten, human beings have feelings that are just as worn by the act of living. We have a right to these. They are evidence of our human seasons.
7. Yoga on Pinterest. A simple search on this popular social media site will likely light a little fire of inspiration. From inspirational quotes to stunning images of yogis, a few minutes here will give you something to strive for.
Three Types of Resources
News & Research
IYT Yoga Toolbox
The Book of Awakening
Yoga for Healthy Aging
IYT Mudras for Healing and Transformation
A Bonus Tip
Perhaps the most important tip for yoga instructors: keep practicing yoga. All too often, yoga instructors stop attending classes, replace home practice with class prep, and forget to leave time for themselves. Sound familiar? Continuing to attend classes from your favorite instructor helps develop new ideas and fresh inspiration. Home practice with no alternate motive will allow you to relax and ultimately find more creativity. And practice what you preach: there is always time to set aside for yourself to unwind and relax.