Muladhara Chakra: Safety and Security in an Uncertain World

root chakra

Does the world seem a little bit cray-cray to you? Because it sure seems nutty to me! I’m like, “Is Mercury retrograde all the freakin’ time now?” But seriously?!?! What is going on? We won’t get into politics because we get enough of that any time we turn on the TV or log in to social media. This past new moon was freakin’ intense and it seemed as though everything went to “hell in a handbasket”… is that how that saying goes? I just wanted to chuck my phone in the trash, lock myself in my room, and never come out.

All of my woes centered around money. Miscommunications about money, people wanting money, refunds and cancelations, taxes … money money money!!!! And it sucked! Our finances and stress about finances are deeply linked to our first chakra, Muladhara. Muladhara chakra is associated with our feelings of safety, security, and survival… and in this day and age money is paramount. So instead of hiding in my bedroom and telling everyone to go away, I chose to give my root chakra a little love. I made a crystal grid for abundance and even called in the Goddess Lakshmi. It was time to do ALL THE THINGS.

Here you’ll be introduced to the qualities of the root chakra and a few practices to give your root and YOU a little tender loving care.

root chakra muladhara

Muladhara Chakra

Mul – base
Adhara – Support

The chakras are psychic centers as well as centers of transformation of psychic or mental energy into spiritual energy. There are specific behaviors associated with each of the chakras. Along with our experiences, these behaviors stem from our desires and our attachment to the pleasures associated with each chakra. And our root chakra is tied up with security in job and shelter among other things.

When one’s Muladhara chakra is balanced and healthy one is grounded and calm, they have a strong foundation, they feel supported and connected, they are humble, independent, strong and healthy. They feel generous and have the power to attract abundance.

Muladhara Chakra is the abode of kundalini shakti, the dormant spiritual energy that lies coiled within the first chakra. The practices of yoga coax kundalini shakti out of Muladhara and up the Brahma Nadi. Brahma Nadi, is a spiritual energy channel within Sushumna Nadi. It is within Brahma Nadi that the chakras reside.

Muladhara Chakra at a Glance:

  • Location: perineum and coccyx
  • Element: Earth
  • Color: Red
  • Lotus: Four petals
  • Bija Mantra: Lam/Lang
  • Aspects: Security
  • Sense: Smell
  • Vayu: Apana
  • Planet: Mars

When Muladhara chakra is healthy, one has self-control, physical strength, patience, discipline and the ability to “bear heavy workloads”. When out of balance, one may be obsessed with finding security (including job and shelter). This chakra is also associated with illusion, greed, anger, delusion, avarice, and sensuality. Those with an out of balance first chakra are often self-centered, cruel, and even potentially violent.

Someone who needs to work on their root chakra may find it easy to take direction from others, but not be able to find direction themselves or be able to direct others. They may be humble and respectful to those above them, but harsh to their peers and those they view as “below them”. If their security is threatened they will likely lash out violently like a cornered animal. They may struggle to care for themselves and they often need extra guidance and support.

Other signs that the first chakra may need a little TLC: one may feel like a victim (did you read paragraph two? Hello victim mindset!), be stuck in fight/flight/freeze, one may experience feelings of lack, guilt, overwhelm, anxiety and may also experience insomnia, fatigue, chronic illness or pain.

Muladhara Chakra and The Earth Element

In yogic teachings, the element earth (not the planet) is a combination of the other elements: water, fire, air, and akasha (space or void) and provides stability and security. It is the basis for our physical body, the bones, the flesh, the skin, the Nadis, and body hairs.

In Ayurveda, when the earth element combines with the water element it forms the kapha dosha, which is characterized by mucus.

The Muladhara Yantra and The Four-Petaled Lotus.

As stated in the Mahanirvana Tantra, the four petals of the Muladhara Chakra represent four different vrittis or mental modifications:

  • Paramananda the state of greatest joy
  • Sahajananada the state of natural pleasure
  • Virananda the delight in the control of the passions
  • Yogananda the blissfulness in concentration

The Bija Mantra for Muladhara Chakra

The bija mantras are sacred sounds used to invoke the divine energy within the body. The bija mantra or seed sound for Muladhara Chakra is LAM also pronounced LANG. When chanted it creates a lock at the root and prevents the downward flow of energy from Muladhara. The vibration of the chant invites Kundalini up into the Brahma Nadi and when chanted, this mantra deepens concentration, improves awareness, creates inner strength, and also removes insecurities associated with Muladhara.

Muladhara and Our Sense of Smell

Muladhara chakra, the nose and the sense of smell are deeply intertwined. Sweet smells, the smell of homecooked meals, the smell of fresh earth, and earthy essential oils like patchouli, sandalwood, cedarwood, and palo santo are wonderful scents for those working with the root chakra.

Muladhara Chakra and Apana Vayu

Apana is the Vayu that expels the semen from the male organ and urine from the sexes, it is the energy behind passing a bowel movement and that which pushes the baby from the womb during birth. Think of “down and out” as the flow of Apana Vayu.

Tips and Practices for Muladhara Chakra

Follow the yamas and niyamas.

Practice grounding pranayama techniques like Three Part Belly Breath (Deerga Swasaam), Square Breath or Nadi Shodhanda

Take care of the physical body by eating nourishing foods and getting adequate sleep.

Fears related to security, safety, and survival will need to be addressed and any real issues regarding the above will need to be solved.

Spend time out in nature. Put your hands and bare feet on the earth. Breathe the fresh air. Move slowly and mindfully.

Call in the Goddess Lakshmi.

Set an intention to heal your first chakra and create a crystal grid for safety, security, abundance, whatever needs to be addressed.

garland pose for the root chakra

A yoga practice that focuses on slow movements, rootedness, foundational, grounding and surrendering poses will help nourish the first chakra.

A lovely practice for the first chakra could include:

  • Supported child’s pose
  • Malasana
  • Lizard pose
  • Chair pose or goddess pose
  • Warrior poses
  • Tree pose
  • Seated forward fold
  • Legs up the wall
  • Savasana

muladhara chakra meditation

Meditation on the Muladhara Chakra in the presence of the element earth develops natural health, strength in the body, and intellectual power.

In meditation, visualize roots growing down into the earth. Feel this rooted connection to the Earth. Feel the support of Pachamama, Mother Earth.

While in meditation focus on a red wheel of energy or light at the base of your spine. While envisioning this red wheel of light, Muladhara Chakra, repeat the bija mantra for the first chakra or an affirmation like: I am safe and secure. I am firmly rooted and supported wherever I am.

I hope you’ve found this blog helpful and healing. If you would like to go deeper into the chakra, please join me on a chakra inspired yoga retreat or join the newsletter, where you will receive chakra tips and advice straight to your inbox.

The Goddess Lakshmi and the Art of Giving and Receiving

Lakshmi goddess of prosperity

Recently I’ve been drawn to the great goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. Their stories are magical and moving, exciting and inspiring, and sometimes even terrifying. My original intention was to write a blog post introducing the goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance, well-being, harmony, good luck and prosperity in all forms, but she also personifies so many other characteristics worthy of discussion and embodiment. We call on Lakshmi to access the ocean of abundance that lies within, to find our radiant inner beauty, and to guide us on the path of our dharma.

As one of the Great Mother goddesses, Lakshmi guides us from the darkness to the light. She helps us move from a mindset rooted in fear and lack into a mindset of love, abundance, and generosity. The name Lakshmi comes from the Hindu word Laksya with means “aim” or “goal”. When manifesting abundance we can practice self-inquiry and take a moment to examine our intentions. Why do I want this? How would having this influence my life? How would it improve my life and how could my having it improve the lives of others? How can I use this to serve my community?

Abundance Flows to You and Through You

“Abundance flows to you and through you” has been my mantra for more or less the past year. And yes yogis, it is true, abundance flows both ways! I’ve experienced this flow (and lack of) again and again. When I found myself getting stuck in feelings of fear of not having enough or lack I could feel the Universe pulling back. But what’s even more amazing is when I drop back into the space of abundance, gratitude, and worthiness, I feel the support of the cosmos, Lakshmi, the Universe, God, whatever you want to call it. It’s as if I could do anything.

Our ability to give and receive freely depends deeply on our own personal beliefs that we are worthy of love, worthy of gifts, and that others too are worthy of these same gifts. Sally Kempton, author of Awakening Shakti, said it perfectly, “When you can allow yourself to receive with the feeling that you deserve the gifts of life, and then give with the feeling that others deserve them also, you find yourself in what one of my teachers called the auspicious state of mind, the state where shri is simply flowing through you. You feel Lakshmi’s presence as internal abundance and also as gratitude and as the desire to bless others. It’s then that you can begin to feel Lakshmi’s energy as your own.”

Lakshmi: A Tale of Generosity

One of my favorite stories of Lakshmi personifies an attitude of generosity, compassion, and empathy. As the story goes, Lakshmi and her husband Vishnu were the manifest deities at a wealthy temple for the high-caste in Varanasi, India. One year, during the festival of Diwali, Lakshmi decided to visit the town’s untouchables and bestow the untouchables with food and money. Her generosity extended to both those who worshipped her and those who did not. A beautiful reminder that we are all worthy, whether we (or others) deem us to be worthy.

Upon learning that Lakshmi has been spending time with the untouchables, Vishnu becomes angry with her. She immediately flees and goes to live with a group of sweepers. Upon Lakshmi’s arrival, the sweeper community begins to prosper, there is an abundance of food and there is enough money for the sweepers to fix-up their homes.

While the sweepers are being lifted up out of poverty Vishnu’s temple is falling into ruins, the community stops bringing offerings, and the surrounding trees begin to wither. Out of desperation, Vishnu finds Lakshmi and begs her to return. She obliges on one condition, that he may never restrict her ability to share her blessings again.

I think we all probably know a Lakshmi. We have a friend that we can count on… she lends us an ear when we need to chat, she nourishes with food and her gracious spirit, she uplifts us when we need a pep talk, she believes in the abundance of the Universe and is happy to share. She gives from a place of love and heart and soul. She gives without expectations. And yes, abundance seems to flow her way.

The Goddess of Abundance and Padma Mudra (Lotus Mudra)

The lotus is a common image in Hinduism and Buddhism and Lakshmi is often depicted either sitting or standing on a lotus flower and holding two lotus flowers in her hands. Bansi Pandit goes into even more detail about the symbolism of Lakshmi’s lotuses and explains that “since the right side of the body symbolizes activity, a lotus in the back right hand conveys the idea that one must perform all duties in the world in accordance with dharma. This leads to moksha (liberation), which is symbolized by a lotus in the back left hand of Lakshmi.”

A lotus flower begins down in the muck and mud and rises up through the water to blossom unscathed at the water’s surface. You can think of the path of the lotus as the journey to enlightenment. It is the journey from the darkness to the light.

To practice Padma Mudra, bring your hands into Anjali Mudra (prayer mudra) in front of your heart center and then separate your index fingers, middle fingers, and ring fingers. Allow the fingers to spread away from one another like a lotus flower blooming while keeping the pinkies, thumbs and wrists touching.

Did you also know that Ambuja means lotus? Learn more about the meaning of Ambuja here.

Four Lakshmi Inspired Practices to Cultivate the Art of Giving and Receiving

“Until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.”

~Brene Brown

A practice in self-love.

Lie down onto your back and come into Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose/Reclined Butterfly Pose). To practice Supta Baddha Konasana, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet to touch. Allow your knees to drop out to the side like the pages of a book. If you have any pain in your hips or knees support your thighs with blocks, cushions, etc.

Now bring your right hand to your belly and your left hand to your heart. Before continuing, take a moment to bring your awareness to your breath and your heartbeat and simply witness.

Your right hand is often considered the hand of action and your left hand is often considered the hand of reception. In this exercise, envision a free flow of self-love flowing through your left hand and into Anahata Chakra, your heart center. Your heart, mind, and body receive this love graciously and without judgment or expectation. Stay with this free-flowing self-love, allow it to flow into your body for ten to fifteen breaths. Then release this awareness and bring your awareness to your right hand, repeat a mantra of kind words and affirmations of self-love, gratitude, abundance, and/or worthiness. If you’re feeling stuck, perhaps try the same mantra that I have been using, “Abundance flows to me and through me” or try “I freely give and receive the gifts and blessings of Lakshmi.”

A practice in the art of giving and receiving inspired by Sally Kempton’s Awakening Shakti

Set aside thirty minutes or so to journal about your beliefs about giving and receiving.

  • To begin, let’s focus on what you would like to receive. Free write a list of the blessings/gifts you would like to receive, whether they are material or spiritual. Be specific. Are other people involved? If yes, name them.
  • From the above list, decide which three are the most important blessings. For each of the three blessing answer the following questions:
  • How would this blessing influence your life? How would things change? How would this influence your relationships with others? How would you be able to serve others better?
  • How do I intentionally or unintentionally limit my ability to receive these blessings? In what ways do I limit my potential or practice self-sabotage?
  • How could I help someone else receive the same blessings that I want for myself? Write down a few actionable steps to help someone else achieve the same blessing that you want for yourself.
  • Now put it into action, for yourself and for this other person.

Say yes when help is offered. Ask for help when needed.

When we accept help from someone, we gift them the opportunity to be of assistance. If we deny their offer to help, we are shutting down the energy and flow of abundance. I know I struggle with this one! I like to be in control and allowing someone else to help with a task, means that it is out of my hands, but what a gift it is!

I was reminded of this recently when I was leading a yoga teacher training weekend in Bend and we had to be out of the studio quickly, so the next group could come in. One of my gracious students offered to help sweep the floors and my first instinct was to shut it down and say “no” and “that I’ve got it” simply because I’m a people pleaser and I want to make sure that I’m not inconveniencing anyone. I quickly checked myself and my ego and accepted her offer to help. The next time someone offers to help you I encourage you to check in and say yes.

And yogis, we have got to ask for help when we need it! I’m still working on this one. I will run myself into the ground before asking for help, so maybe I’m writing this more for myself than for you. But we cannot do it all ourselves.

And plus, when we ask for help, we are gifting someone with the opportunity to lend a hand. They will feel good about helping someone in need (YOU) and you may end up with a bit of free time to take care of yourself or help someone else in need.

And finally, get your chant on. Chant to Mata Lakshmi.

Okay, I’m definitely the crazy lady chanting in the car, walking the dogs, etc. But I don’t really care.

Invoke Lakshmi with this beautiful simple chant.

Om shrim maha Lakshmyai namaha

Ohm shreem muh-hah luhk-shmyai nuh-muh-huh

Om, I offer salutations to the great goddess of good fortune.

Jai Lakshmi!

Until next time beautiful yogis!

Love and Light,

Autumn

What Is The Meaning Of Om?

om mantra meaning

If you’ve attended a yoga class or visited a Hindu or Buddhist temple you have likely heard the mantra OM or AUM being chanted. The Om mantra is the most sacred mantra in both Hinduism and Buddhism. In addition, Om is also said to be the primordial sound of the Universe. The Om mantra is the most elemental of vibrations and is considered the sound of the void.

According to Patanjali, Om, the original sound, is a direct expression of isvara or God. Therefore, when we chant Om it provides a direct link to the Divine and divine knowledge. Om connects us to the Divine in vibrational form and makes our prayers and mantras more effective by increasing pranic energy.

Where did the Om mantra originate?

Om, an ancient Sanskrit letter, first appeared in the Vedas between 1500 and 1200 BCE. The main teaching on Om from the Vedas, Upanishads and Yoga Sutras is to experience non-dual awareness.

How do you pronounce Om?

The common pronunciation of Om is to pronounce the mantra with the same “o” sound as in “home”. But there are actually three sounds that make up the mantra: A-U-M or “aaah”, “oooh”, “mmm”. The sound of OM/AUM begins at the back of the throat with the “aaah” sound and ends at the lips with the “mmm” sound. When chanting the mantra OM, it fills the entire mouth from back to front, which represents the entire Universe. Similarly, when chanting Om, one can feel its vibration deep within the body. At the end of chanting AUM there is a pause or a moment of silence. This pause represents the state known as Turiya, or Infinite Consciousness.

What does the Om symbol mean?

If you look at the symbol for OM you will see three curves, one semicircle, and a dot at the top. In addition, each portion of the symbol contains not only the sounds of the mantra but deeper symbolism and meaning.

  • The large bottom curve symbolizes the waking state, A.
  • The middle curve signifies the dream state, U.
  • The upper curve denotes the state of deep sleep, M.
  • The dot signifies the fourth state of consciousness, Turiya.
  • The semi-circle at the top represents Maya or illusion. Therefore, it is the illusion of Maya that is an obstacle to accessing our highest self.

The three sounds of the om mantra represent the various trinities:

  • Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (creator, preserver, destroyer)
  • The past, present, and future
  • The waking, dreaming, and dreamless states
  • Heaven, earth, and underworld

In David Frawley’s book, Mantra Yoga and Primal Sound, he says:

“Om is the prime mantra of the Higher Self, or Atman. It attunes us with our true nature. It is the sound of the creator, preserver and destroyer of the universe, who is also the inner guru and prime teacher. It reflects both the manifest and un-manifest Brahman, sustaining the vibration of being, life, and consciousness in all worlds and all creatures.”

The mantra Om is directly linked to the sixth and seventh chakras, Ajna and Sahasrara respectively.

Sound and vibration are powerful tools for healing and transformation. Exploring the mantra OM, and the power of sound can remind us to treat our words and thoughts as sacred, creative, and divine. What we think and say, we manifest.

Nikola Tesla said, “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

om mantra meaning

How Mindfulness Can Help With Mood Disorders

new yoga teacher tips

Mindfulness is a much used method of relaxation and it can help you with a lot of different issues.

Some people have a little bit of a misconception about mindfulness and about meditation in general.

People often try to meditate in order to help deal with things like anxiety and depression and find it to be an ineffective treatment.

In some cases, it is ineffective and it’s never going to cure your condition completely. However, a lot of people just don’t actually know how to properly practice mindfulness.

It’s not about sitting down in a quiet room, closing your eyes and taking deep breaths. It’s something that takes a lot of effort and a lot of concentration.

True meditation has a history of reducing the symptoms of certain mood disorders when you master it. There are a few different ways to meditate, the most effective for this is mindfulness, although any type of meditation practice can help reduce stress, improve learning and memory, and improve emotional regulation.

Practicing mindfulness can help you a lot in dealing with some of the most debilitating mood disorders. Here are a couple that you can use it for:

1. Bipolar Disorder

As we’ve already said, it’s not going to cure your bipolar disorder completely, but it can help give you some relief from the symptoms.

Oftentimes, people who suffer from bipolar disorder will find it complicated if they are feeling stressed.

The disorder causes extreme highs and lows in the mood of those who suffer from it and when you’re stressed, these highs and lows can fluctuate much more aggressively and unpredictably.

And then people are likely to get even more stressed as a consequence of feeling the effects of bipolar disorder.

Practicing mindfulness will help you to stabilize your mood. When you’re practicing, the goal is to focus on how you are feeling at that very moment and be completely aware of all sensations.

Doing this will allow you to develop an awareness of anything that could potentially be causing your stress and how you are feeling in that moment.

By having this awareness, you can disengage from these thoughts and feelings and allow yourself to relax more easily.

This will help with the stress problem but it will also give you an understanding of your mood imbalance which will allow you to feel more at ease with your feelings.

Again, this won’t cure this or any of the mood disorders we’ll be discussing but it should help you feel better.

2. Anxiety

Anxiety is not always a mood disorder. Many people just suffer from some form of anxiety in their lives but there is something called General Anxiety Disorder, or GAD.

This is one of the more common mood disorders and there are a lot of sufferers around the world, but it’s also one of the easier ones to deal with.

Mindfulness can treat regular sufferers of anxiety, but it can also be used as a treatment for the effects of GAD too.

Anxiety is yet another problem that happens as a consequence of stress. Stress is something that people should be more familiar with because it causes many mental issues.

The stress of anxiety, in particular, is caused by unproductive worries which people assign too much power too.

Thoughts that wouldn’t normally be a cause for concern for most people but that the anxiety sufferer makes too big of a deal out of in their own mind.

The thing about mindfulness though, is that it will give you a chance to really focus on these thoughts and put them into perspective in your mind.

You can make it clear to yourself why you are thinking these thoughts and why they are irrational.

You will have to train your brain to think differently and the only way to do that is to put an active focus on actually thinking.

After practicing mindfulness for a while, you’ll begin to recognize these thoughts in your day-to-day life and deal with them as you would while meditating.

effects of yoga on the respiratory system mindfulness

 

3. Depression

Much like anxiety and bipolar disorder, depression is an issue that can be severely complicated by stress.

In the case of serious, clinical depression, you should probably seek professional help which will potentially result in prescribed medication, but mindfulness is helpful for side effects.

Some of these side effects of depression are things like forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, insomnia and a general distortion of thinking.

Practicing mindfulness will stabilize all of these specific symptoms by allowing you to understand the thoughts that are contributing to them.

Your depression will not disappear by practicing mindfulness, but you can prevent it from infiltrating your life in other ways.

Depression can completely take over your livelihood if you allow it to. Mindfulness ensures that you maintain a relaxed outlook and balance of your thoughts.

Conclusion

So to sum up, many of these mood disorders are amplified by stress and some of them are even caused by it.

As we’ve said repeatedly, meditation won’t fix your mood disorders, but by eliminating stress it can help you control how the disorders affect you.

 

New Yoga Teacher Tips: What to do when you’ve lost your center

new yoga teacher tips

Erik Brolin @ Unsplash

I recently moved to Santa Barbara, CA and have started teaching at some studios in the area. YAY! It feels great to be back in the studio teaching again… but I have to laugh because I feel like I’m starting over from scratch. Teaching in a new space, especially after a break from teaching tends to throw me off… even though I have been teaching for what feels like a bazillion years. So I thought I would share my go-to practices for recentering. There are a handful of tips for new yoga teachers I would love to share, but today I will focus on tackling just this one issue. Here are my favorite ways to teach a great class after I’ve lost my focus or center.

 

New Yoga Teacher Tip #1: What to do when you’re anxious before teaching your yoga class.

first yoga class jitters

Joe Gardner @ Unsplash

As a new yoga teacher, you could be anxious for a ton of different reasons. Maybe it’s your first class in a new space, maybe it’s your demo class or the studio owner is taking your class or a million other reasons… and that’s okay. We all get anxious sometimes. New yoga teacher tip #1 for centering when you’re anxious: DON’T start your yoga class with everyone sitting or standing there looking at you. Invite them into child’s pose or down into supta baddha konasana or even just to close their eyes. With their eyes off of you, start guiding them through some three-part belly breath (deerga swasaam) or alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhana). And do it yourself. A few minutes of either of these pranayama exercises will get you and your students grounded and centered for class.

 

New Yoga Teacher Tip #2: What to do when your music stops working randomly.

Santa Barbara Roll and Restore yoga teacher training

Okay, this honestly happened to me this morning. On a system that I don’t know how to troubleshoot (yet). Sigh. New yoga teacher tip #2: have your students hold a pose like downward facing dog, child’s pose, or forward fold while you troubleshoot your music. If possible, keep teaching the breath and they won’t even notice, or they’ll at least think it was part of the plan.

  • Check your auxiliary cord and make sure the connection is secure.
  • Check the settings on your sound system.
  • Check your bluetooth (sometimes if another teacher has their phone in the same room and it also connects to the same sound system then it can override your connection… *sometimes*)
  • If none of the above work… restart your phone. And try again.
  • If that doesn’t work, roll with no music.

This morning my Spotify account was being buggy. The songs would play for ten seconds and quit. Not so cool, but restarting my phone did the trick.

Keep teaching the breath. If you need to ground, join your class for a downward facing dog or a partial sun salutation.

 

New Yoga Teacher Tip #3: What to do when you forget the sequence on one side.

center your class new yoga teacher tips

rawpixel @ unsplash

Oops! You’ve linked together too many poses and can’t remember the other side!!! Eek! Okay, but seriously don’t freak out about this one. Once again, have them hold a pose for a few breaths while you try to remember… and if you can’t? New yoga teacher tip #3: OWN IT! You’re human, it happens. Ask your students! Laugh it off! Thank them! What would you do without them? Also, your students are your best teachers, often times they will go into the next pose without you even teaching it… a blessing in disguise!

That being said, if this happens a lot… you need to create shorter sequences or spend more time prepping for your classes. If it happens once in a blue moon, it will endear you to your students. If it happens every other class, it will drive them nuts.

 

New Yoga Teacher Tip #4: What to do when you fall out of a demo.

vinyasa-yoga-greece-retreat

Autumn Adams @ Ambuja Yoga

You might not be teaching advanced asana when you’re a brand new teacher, but also you might be and if you are, there is a good chance that one of these days you’ll fall out of an asana… perhaps you’ll fall on your bum or perhaps you’ll fall on your face. New yoga teacher tip #4: this is a great teaching moment. It teaches your students that it’s okay to fall. It’s okay to not be perfect. And you better get up and try again. Laugh it off. Keep it light. Smile. Have fun. And keep going.

I was teaching a private yoga teacher training for a student and we were taking a class together and practicing side-by-side and we were transitioning from eka pada koundinyasana up to chin stand and I hadn’t done it in a while and I used WAY too much force to lift up and I ended up skidding across the floor on my chin. It hurt, but I was fine and we had a good laugh. And my student now uses it as a teaching story in his own community.

 

New Yoga Teacher Tip #5: What to do when someone walks out of your yoga class.

new yoga teacher tips

Mitchell Griest @ Unsplash

Whatever you do, don’t take it personally when someone walks out of your class. It will happen eventually. Yes, it throws you off. Yes, it makes you doubt yourself. Yes, it makes you want to run after them and make sure everything is okay. Consider that a good thing because it shows that you care. You want people to enjoy your class. I get that. New yoga teacher tip #5: people leave classes for all kinds of reasons… smells, temperature, they don’t feel well, the level of the class, the music… honestly it is rarely because of something you’ve done. Personally, I like to let the yoga studio owner know… and that’s just so they can follow up with them if they want to. Keep going. When you’re distracted by your student leaving you might want to make your next sequence simpler, likely you will not be present as you were before they walked out. Get yourself grounded again… teach the breath, get everyone into a grounding pose, join your class for a pose or two. Give a simple *feel good* assist and move on.

 

New Yoga Teacher Tip #6: What to do when someone does their own flow.

effects of yoga on the body

Okay, I’m not going to lie, this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. It is so distracting! Not only is it distracting, but if you’re not careful you can get sucked into questioning your teaching ability… is my sequencing good enough? Is my pacing okay? Etc. Etc. Etc. New yoga teacher tip #6: Don’t go down the rabbit hole! If they’re doing mostly the same sequence and modifying to make it more challenging or more accessible let them be (this doesn’t bother me at all). If they’re doing warrior 2 to reverse warrior and the rest of the class is doing a crescent lunge sequence it’s going to be obvious and distracting. If you’re up for it, you can bring the class down into child’s pose/down dog and quietly check in with the student… they could have an injury or something else going on. If you’re not confident enough to address the issue right away, check in after class. If you do check in with them, make sure it is from a place of care not from a place of ego, doubt, anger, frustration, etc. And be prepared for any kind of answer.

Remember that it is their practice and it might be the only chance they have all week to get on their mat. Maybe ask them to set their yoga mat up toward the back of the room the next time they come in, simply so they aren’t distracting the other students. For me personally, I partially ignore these people. I will still have an eye on them, but my main priority is going to be keeping the students that are participating safe and engaged.

 

New Yoga Teacher Tip #7: What to do when you’re hungry/hangry.

new yoga teacher class ritual

Erol Ahmed @ Unsplash

Oh boy, this definitely happens. You accidentally skip a meal and now you’re irritable, light-headed, spacey. New yoga teacher tip #7. Keep a snack in your bag… something simple like a bar or a handful of almonds and eat it before class starts. If you don’t have a snack available, make some tea. If you don’t have tea available, drink lots of water. Also, do yourself a favor and keep your sequencing simple. Teach your go-to sequence. Maybe don’t demo your forward folds… you might get light headed when you stand up to tadasana.

 

New Yoga Teacher Tip #8: What to do when you’re exhausted.

new yoga teacher tips essential oil

Christin Hume @ Unsplash

Keep it simple. Simple sequence. Simple theme (or just use the breath as your theme). Personally, when I’m tired and I have to teach I get inverted! A couple of handstands at the wall will usually give me the little boost I need. And if I don’t have time for a short inversion practice I will center class using pran mudra… it’s a mudra for vitality and reducing fatigue. Another favorite is shaking… it sounds weird, but it really helps. I will shake my right hand/arm above my head for a count of seven, followed by my left hand followed by my right leg followed by my left leg. Then I repeat the sequence from six and then five… all the way down to one! You can even do this with your class if the energy is low.

When things don’t go as planned, go back to the basics. Keep it simple. Recite a grounding mantra or hold a mudra for a few moments. Keep a couple of your favorite essential oils in your bag so they’re there when you need them. Try to come up with a pre-class ritual that helps you ground and center. Follow these tips and you will be able to handle anything that comes your way with grace and ease!

Do you have a favorite tip that you would like to share? Comment below!

Much love,

Autumn