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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Yoga has gained a lot of popularity worldwide because of what the majority says. Most people would say, including me that “I feel so calm and relax after the class”. For those who haven’t tried it and heard this comment, it would sound so intriguing right? Yes, it has been proved that yoga can help you relax but what does it do to your body? What goes on inside the human system? How does yoga affect the human body?
How Does Yoga Affect The Human Body?
Effects of Yoga on the Skeletal System:
The skeletal system is the hard framework that is mainly composed of the bones, associated cartilages, and joints. It plays an important role in protecting the organs inside our bodies. Imagine the human body without the skeletal system? We’d for sure look like jellyfish.
Recent studies had shown that some yoga poses had improved the health of joints by stimulating the release of synovial fluids. Synovial fluid is responsible for reducing friction between articular cartilages. It helps joints flow smoothly during movements. The synovial fluid is significant for delivering oxygen and nutrients to hyaline cartilages that don’t have any sort of oxygen. Regular yoga practice can make practitioners move around more smoothly and easily.
Even though Yoga is a weight-bearing exercise like running, weight lifting, walking, etc. It is less risky than other exercises because it creates tension on the bones and helps them lengthen and align.
According to a study conducted by California State University in Los Angeles, they said that yoga practice increased bone density in the vertebrae. Yoga’s ability to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol (known as the “stress” hormone) which in result may help retain calcium in the bones.
It is a fact that as we age, our bones start to weaken or even deteriorate and a consistent yoga practice can help improve our strength and coordination.
These are some poses that can help strengthen the bones:
Table Top and alternate lifting and extending opposite arms and legs
Effects of Yoga on the Musculoskeletal System:
Yoga helps strengthen the joints and support the muscles. The isometric poses of yoga train the smaller muscles surrounding our joints to endure longer holds for balance or coordination. Over time, with regular stretching, the muscles become more flexible. Flexible muscles are far less susceptible to damage in the future and put less strain on the body’s joints. Less stress on the joints means less damage to the joints which reduces the chance of developing osteoarthritis. Also, because the muscles are warmed and stretched during a yoga practice, yoga improves recovery of muscle tissues.
Muscles function properly because of the increased blood flow.
Yoga improves flexibility and strengthens postural muscles. Poor posture can cause a lot of injuries in the future. It can result in discomfort, pain, or degenerative disease like arthritis of the spine.
As you practice yoga, you begin to notice where you hold tension. It might be in your tongue, your eyes, or the muscles of your face and neck. If you simply tune in, you may be able to release some tension in the tongue and eyes. With bigger muscles like the quadriceps, trapezius, and buttocks, it may take years of practice to learn how to relax them.
Effects of Yoga on the Nervous System:
Alternating sympathetic and parasympathetic activation. Regular practice of yoga, slowly invites the nervous system to shift out of patterns of chronic stress back into the body’s natural rhythm of activation from sympathetic to parasympathetic.
Yoga stimulates the vagus nerve. This is the 10th cranial nerve. The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve of the body. It connects to vital organs like the heart, lungs, liver, stomach, colon, spleen and other parts of the abdomen.
Practicing yoga also increases serotonin levels. Serotonin is commonly known as the “happy” neurotransmitter, serotonin is mainly found in the brain, intestines and blood platelets.
Yoga influences the rate of thyroid hormone secretion. Yoga asana, especially Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), by increasing the protein bound iodine and rehabilitating the thyroid gland it may be effective to treat underproduction of thyroid hormones. Various stretching, twisting and compressing yoga asana provide nourishment to the cells, improve blood circulation, massage the thyroid gland and stimulate it to release thyroid hormones.
Yoga decreases cortisol hormone. According to a study conducted by Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and the Yoga Research Society, a 50-minute yoga session performed for seven days- which included postures such as Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand), Salabhasana (Locust Pose), Vrksasana (Tree Pose) and Halasana (Plow Pose) – significantly reduced cortisol levels.
Practicing yoga also stimulates growth hormones. The body’s diminishing supply of growth hormone is responsible for the frailty that comes with aging. If you want to increase the level of growth hormone being secreted, consider asanas that are of moderate aerobic exercise. Studies have proved that moderate forms of exercise can increase basal levels of growth hormone in humans.
Stepping on your mat and flowing through class also ups oxytocin, the “LOVE” hormone. It plays a role in sexual reproduction, sexual arousal and is released by the hypothalamus when you have an orgasm.
Yoga also balances Dopamine “the reward” hormone. A clinical research from the J. F. K. Institute in Denmark published in Cognitive Brain Research found that Yoga Nidra– a guided meditation that produces deep relaxation- increases level of dopamine in the brain by 65 % on average.
Practicing yoga also balances melatonin “Rest-Sleep-Heal”. Researchers at Rutgers University discovered that melatonin levels for meditation practitioners were boosted by an average of 98%. Incorporating meditation into your life can be your much needed physiological re-balancing tool.
Performing pranayama or simply breathing deeply activates the prefrontal cortex and that results in an increase in cognitive function.
Yoga also increases endorphin levels. Endorphins are the “feel-good” neurotransmitters. Endorphins are the body’s internal painkillers. Endorphins are known to cause euphoria, produce a feeling of pleasure, reduce stress, increase relaxation and are highly effective in pain modulation and management.
Spending time on your yoga mat also improves GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) neurotransmitter secretion. GABA is a known major inhibitor neurotransmitter in the brain. This chemical can cause some common problems like: anxiety, nervousness, phobias, restlessness, and insomnia. In 2010, researchers at Boston University School of Medicine found that a 12-week yoga intervention was linked with greater improvement in mood and anxiety and increased levels of GABA than a metabolically matched walking exercise.
Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system. The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rates, decreases blood pressure and increases blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs.
Effects of Yoga on the Cardiovascular System:
Deep breathing ignites the sympathetic nervous system, causing the heartbeat to slow and reduces blood pressure. Relaxation exercises found in yoga help increase blood flow throughout the body which also improves oxygen circulation in the body.
Many yoga flows can also increase your heart rate (like Ashtanga Yoga) may lower the risk of heart attack and relieve symptoms of depression. Studies have found that yoga practice lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can improve your maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise—all reflections of improved aerobic conditioning. One study found that subjects who were taught only pranayama could do more exercise with less oxygen.
Effects of Yoga in the Respiratory System:
Deep breathing in yoga can increase lung capacity while reducing breaths per minute. It improves the supply of oxygen to the lungs.
With ‘Pranayama’ breathing exercise in yoga, you can increase your intake of oxygen up to five times. The more oxygen-rich blood that flows to the brain, heart, lungs and digestive organs will enable these organs to work better and further bolster one’s health. Moreover, deep breathing can help you to improve the flow of your lymph system thereby helping the body to get rid of toxins. And it is found to strengthen the diaphragm.
Even the use of chanting sounds such as chanting “Om” can even help soothe the sinuses.
Effects of Yoga in the Digestive System:
Yoga encourages the adrenal glands to produce less cortisol which can reduce cravings for fatty foods. Yoga lowers blood sugar and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and boosts HDL (“good”) cholesterol. This effect can reduce the risk of diabetic complications like heart attack, kidney failure and/or blindness.
Having a regular yoga practice also reduces stress, which can alleviate ulcers, IBS, and constipation, and other digestive problems. Yoga may also be a good method to help the movement of waste to move smoothly out of the body. However, there are some conditions for which using asana for exercise may not a good idea, such as severe cases of diarrhea or constipation, or for someone with an acute bout of pain related to their digestive disorders. In such cases, we recommended turning to other yoga tools, including stress management and relaxation.
Twisting poses can serve as an internal massage of the digestive tract. The massage effect ensures more blood and oxygen and strengthens the muscles of organs.
Asanas that affects the gastrointestinal tract:
Setu Bandha Sarvagasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Static poses that strengthen and stretch the abdominal area help tone the abdominal muscles that house and support the majority of the organs of digestion and may assist in the movement of material through the system. Dynamic poses that fold, stretch and twist the abdominal area can improve blood and lymph circulation, and create a squeeze and release effect on your organs.
Yoga and its many practices have numerous benefits for the human: body, mind, and soul! What’s keeping you from getting on the mat? And if you already practice, please share in the comments how yoga has influenced your life!
Rosalee Oxford is a passionate seeker of happiness and adventures. She just finished her 200 hr YTT with Ambuja Yoga as well as her 20 hr AYRx with Jen Healy. She’s on an ongoing quest to discover all the joys life has to offer and is excited to share her love for yoga with others. With this desire, when she’s not practicing yoga she’s either swimming, scuba diving, pole dancing, or chasing her brown goldendoodle around the house. Her classes are a combination of Hatha and Vinyasa flow that accommodates all skill levels."
Congrats! Embarking on a yoga teacher training course will absolutely change your life, and that’s why it’s so important to choose the right yoga instructor course for YOU. I have personally taken a handful of yoga teacher training courses that have ranged from really freakin’ awesome to ugh… what a waste of money, time, etc. I want to make sure you find the yoga instructor course that works best for you, your needs, your lifestyle, and your practice.
Here are eleven questions you should definitely ask any yoga school before signing on the dotted line.
1.) Is the yoga instructor course registered with the Yoga Alliance?
Yoga Alliance provides the minimum standard for which a Yoga Alliance registered yoga teacher training must meet. The Yoga Alliance outlines a minimum number of hours to be spent on each topic: philosophy, anatomy, practicum, methodology, etc.
I’ve heard horror stories where yoga instructors were duped into taking a yoga instructor course not registered with the Yoga Alliance and their teacher training fell way short.
While Yoga Alliance isn’t a perfect organization, it does provide a bit of necessary accountability to instructors leading yoga teacher training courses.
2.) Who are the lead yoga instructors? What’s their experience? What style(s) do they teach?
You will spend a LOT of time with your yoga instructors and your fellow yoga teacher trainees. I recommend chatting with the lead instructors before the teacher training begins. Find out what the lead yoga instructors are passionate about. What do they love to teach?
If possible, you should take a class with the instructor before the teacher training. Do you actually enjoy their class? Would you like to teach the way they teach? Some instructors will invite you to take a class with them at a local studio or give you a video link to preview. Familiarize yourself with their teaching style and explore other styles too.
What type of yoga will you be learning? Vinyasa? Iyengar? Bikram? Ashtanga? Restorative? Yin? Hatha? Integral? Kundalini? Make sure their teachings align with what you want to learn AND with what you want to teach.
3.) Where is your yoga teacher training course located?
Will the training be in your hometown or abroad? Is the training held at a yoga studio, retreat center, or conference room? Will all of your class sessions be in the same place? Are portions of your yoga teacher training done online?
What time of year is the yoga instructor course? Is it in the summer or winter? Is it during the rainy season or dry season? I personally wouldn’t throw out a yoga teacher training course just because it is in the offseason… you’re doing yoga and learning the whole time anyway, but if it’s important to you, then take note.
4.) What are the expenses associated with your yoga instructor course?
Typical 200 hour yoga teacher trainings cost between $2300 and $4500 USD. Sometimes these trainings are all-inclusive, other times it’s just the training that is included.
There are often additional expenses associated with yoga teacher trainings. Examples of additional expenses include: books, manuals, private lessons for missed hours and registration with the Yoga Alliance.
If the yoga teacher training course isn’t in your hometown, then you will also need to factor in accommodation, meals, and possibly flights.
5.) What is not included in the training?
Make sure you know exactly what is included and what is not included in your yoga teacher training.
Also, note that your registration as a Yoga Alliance registered yoga instructor is typically not included in your course fees. The Yoga Alliance registration isn’t much, so don’t let that deter you from becoming a yoga instructor.
Books are often not included either…. which is a good thing. You can often find used copies for cheaper online on Amazon or similar.
If it’s a destination yoga teacher training, then accommodation and meals are frequently included, but not always. You might as well double check.
6.) How many teacher trainees do they accept?
There are benefits to both larger and smaller yoga teacher trainings. In larger groups, you have an opportunity to connect with more like minded people and see more bodies in their yoga practice. In a smaller group you will receive more one-on-one time from your instructors, develop closer relationships with your classmates and have more time to practice teaching yoga. What do you value most? Choose accordingly.
7.) How long will it take to become certified? What is required to receive certification?
Some yoga teacher trainings are done in an intensive format, typically around three weeks long, others are spread out over a few months or even a year. All formats have their benefits. In an intensive you are fully immersed in the yoga lifestyle. In a longer training you have more time to integrate between sessions.
Are there any additional papers or online classes that you will need to complete before you receive your certification? I didn’t look into this for my 300 hour yoga teacher training and I realized that I was going to have to essentially write a masters thesis to receive my certificate. Whoops! I learned my lesson.
You will also likely be required to attend a certain percentage of class hours to reach the minimum requirement set out by Yoga Alliance. The lead instructors for your yoga course will also have their own standards of attendance.
8.) What’s their policy on attendance, cancellation, etc.?
Each yoga teacher training course will have different policies regarding attendance, cancellations, etc. Some teacher trainings allow you to make up time with private sessions (usually at a cost), extra book reports, or self-study.
Know the yoga teacher training course’s policies. If you know the policies then you won’t be surprised when something does come up.
9.) How much yoga experience is required to participate?
Many yoga teacher training courses require you to have a minimum number of years or hours of practice under your belt. Some yoga instructor courses are more flexible on this requirement and some are more strict.
A few courses may even require that you practice at their studio for a certain number of hours/months/years before acceptance into their yoga instructor course.
10.) Will the program teach you how to modify for those with injuries? How to teach beginners? How to teach all levels?
No matter where you end up teaching after taking a yoga teacher training course, you will end up with beginners in your classes and you will end up having people with injuries in class too. It’s important, from a safety standpoint, to be able to teach both of these populations.
11.) What are the yoga instructors passionate about teaching? How do they teach?
Are the instructors passionate about teaching anatomy? Are they passionate about story telling, theme-ing, philosophy? Do they teach from their mat? Do they walk around the room? Do they demo? Do they use their hands? Do they use their voice to speed class up or slow things down? Do they teach pranayama and meditation? Do they teach the business of yoga?
You should find out as much as you can! It’s okay to ask to see their syllabus too. You’re paying good money to enroll in their training, so they should be happy to answer your questions.
I hope this blog post helps clear up some of your questions. I also recommend that you reach out to your yoga instructors in your community and ask them about their experience with teacher trainings. In hindsight, what would they have done differently?
I know this blog post is focusing on time management for yoga instructors, but these tips will be helpful for anyone who owns a small business, takes appointments, or runs a busy household.
I’m writing this post after going through a year long period of burnout, where I got less done than I should have/could have, mismanaged my time, wasn’t focused, and was struggling in my marriage and my business. I was ready to throw in the towel… and then I just kept sliding down that slippery slope. I needed an energetic shift and I needed it badly ASAP!
As I reflect back on 2017 I can’t help but think about this Paolo Coehlo quote, “Discipline and freedom are not mutually exclusive but mutually dependent because otherwise, you’d sink into chaos.” Chaos was my middle name.
I’ve finally made it out the other side! Hallelujah! I’ve been spending the past month reprioritizing, saying exactly what I need and taking charge of not only my time, but my own wellbeing. I’ve given myself more structure, which has allowed for more freedom.
Here are the time management techniques and apps that I’ve used to take control of my life and truly begin to thrive again.
Time Management for Yoga Instructors
1. Establish routines.
Your brain loves routines. Routines become habit. They become automated. Remember learning about samskaras? Not all samskaras are bad, in fact many are what keep us alive and healthy. Establish a morning wake-up routine and a routine for going to bed. Eventually we want all of these time management tips to be automated.
2. Stack your classes or appointments.
We’ve all had those days when classes, appointments, and one-on-ones line up poorly and you feel like you can’t get anything done. There are a couple of techniques you can use here. The first technique, schedule your heavy teaching days Monday-Wednesday and leave Thursday and Friday for business tasks. The second technique, schedule your classes back-to-back each day. For example, teach Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9am to 1pm and leave 2pm to 5pm to tackle business tasks.
For me, I like to stack my classes in the afternoon/evening because I’m more creative and inspired in the morning. It’s a great time for me to blog and get stuff done! If you’re struggling to fit in your own yoga practice attend the class right after your class or use the empty studio to practice on your own. You’re already there and you’re already warmed up.
3. Block your time.
This tip for time management adds on to tip number two. I advise you to login to Google Calendar and create a new calendar called “Ideal Schedule” and block out your time. Remember to establish routine, so try to keep the days similar… this will make life easier for you because you will know exactly what to expect. Once you know what your ideal schedule looks like begin shifting your classes and commitments, so they align with a schedule you love.
4. Prioritize your tasks.
If you’re a master of the “to-do” list like me, we’re going to switch it up. Yes, you can still have your beloved to-do list, but now it’s going to be prioritized. Number those babies. Prioritizing your tasks is one of the most important tips when it comes to time management for yoga instructors and pretty much any working professional. When you’re prioritizing tasks take into consideration deadlines, the time it’s going to take to complete the task, whether it’s necessary, and whether it makes you money. Also, ask yourself if the task can be automated (especially if it’s a repetitive task).
5. Batch tasks.
Every time you switch gears it takes 11-30 minutes to get back into the groove. It’s very important that you batch your tasks. You don’t need to create a new yoga playlist each week, instead take one day (one creative block) and create them all for the month. Your mind, your body, your energy all get in the zone and you’ll end up creating awesome playlists… instead of scrambling to create a new one each week. Don’t have time to create playlists? Borrow them. Get yourself a Spotify premium account and follow other teachers who have playlists you like.
Instead of coming up with your social media content daily, batch it. Spend one creativity block creating your posts for the next two weeks or month. Create docs with all of your hashtags, common quotes, links etc. and use them. Do all of your advertising prep at the same time. All your writing at the same time. All your emails at the same time.
Learning to batch my tasks was one of the most valuable time management tools I learned this year.
6. Schedule breaks/buffers.
I love to over schedule myself… I don’t recommend it. So here is a chance for you to do as I say, not as I do. Okay, this is actually something I’m working hard on right now. Schedule breaks. Go walk your dog, do a couple of yoga poses, read a passage from an inspiring book. Yes, you do have time. I promise. Work less, to work smarter.
7. Schedule your practice/meditation/exercise.
You are an entrepreneur. And life as an entrepreneur gets crazy, and sometimes you end up going down a rabbit hole you don’t know how to get out of. Yoga, meditation, exercise…. that’s your ladder. Do it. Schedule it or it won’t happen. Some of your best inspiration will come while walking your dogs, resting in a yoga pose, or during that post workout glow. Hard truth: you cannot serve your community if you’re not taking care of yourself!
8. Set achievable, measurable goals and break them down into “bite size” pieces.
Gamify your progress. Use apps that track your goal progress. It might sound silly but when a little unicorn with some sparkles floats across your screen because you’ve achieved a task it’s awesome.
9. Say no to classes/events that actually cost your business.
Could your time be spent better working on something else? This is a hard lesson. When you’re first starting out and you don’t have much of a following say yes. Say yes to every opportunity to teach. Once you’re established, stop it. Seriously. You have an immense amount of value to share with the world. Before you commit to an event, get real and ask yourself if this engagement actually benefits you. And definitely don’t give up a day off if the class/event doesn’t meet your specific parameters. Your time is valuable, this is a lesson in healthy boundaries.
10. Class theme-ing and planning.
Okay yoga instructors, are you still planning individual classes with every pose memorized or noted? Can I ask you to stop doing this? You’re making teaching yoga harder than it needs to be. Don’t make life harder. Have your theme, have your peak pose(s), and have your playlist and show up and be present. What do your student’s need most?
I taught a class this morning focusing on lengthening the side body with some beautiful side body postures… all the students (except one) were knew to me because I was subbing. I did chat with most of the students before class to figure out what was going on in their body/life. A gal that has been doing a year of physical therapy for her lower back and hips was in class and she commented afterward about loving the class and being able to check off five of her daily physical therapy exercises. Lesson: it is more important to be knowledgable (always learning) and present than it is to plan a class from beginning to end.
11. Do not overload yourself with tasks and projects.
Have only 1-2 (no more than 3). I’m guilty of this. Likely, if you’re reading this you’re guilty too. I have so many dreams and plans, this is one of the hardest things for me as far as time management as a yoga instructor. I now limit myself to one or two big projects and one little project. What happens when we overload ourselves? We end up suffering. We feel like we’re not getting enough done. No matter how big or small your tasks are, break them down into small achievable to dos.
12. Minimize distractions.
Create a sacred space for work to happen. No pets, no kids and no social media. If it’s possible for your schedule, get your most important work done when you’re distraction free. The kids are at school. The dogs have been walked and fed. And then turn off your social media notifications or use an app that limits your social media time. Skip the scrolling. Use social media for business and don’t get sucked into the endless stream of videos, “news”, and political posts. Not worth it… and really, do these posts add value to your life? Be honest.
13. Schedule “email time” and don’t respond to emails outside this time.
I have been a chronic inbox checker. Out of class… check email. Bored… check email. Waiting in line… check email. Stopped at a red light… check email. Limiting my ability to check email has saved my sanity and honestly I feel so much happier not doing it ALL DAY LONG. And while you’re responding to emails, delete all the garbage… or even better: UNSUBSCRIBE.
14. Declutter & get organized.
Clutter = time wasted looking for things. I quarterly purge things. I love getting rid of things. Over many months spent traveling abroad I’ve learned to decipher what I need from what I don’t need. Clean out your closet and dresser. Donate what can be donated and toss out the rest. Do you need thirty pairs of underwear? Probably not. Do you need thirty pairs of yoga pants? Even if you’re teaching 15+ classes a week the answer is no.
Organize your computer files, your bookmarks, your playlists, your bookshelves, your closet. Clear your work space. Put seasonal items in storage. Unsubscribe from newsletters you’re not currently reading. If you don’t read it when it shows up in your inbox, chances are you will never read it.
The tasks that take you A LOT of time to finish, should be delegated to someone else. Hire a cleaner for your house. Ask your partner to take over dinner “x” numbers of nights a week. Use a grocery delivery service or similar. Have pet food delivered to your house. Hire a virtual assistant to help with social media, blogging, etc.
16. Plan ahead.
If you’re working on big projects and you know you have big deadlines or events coming up, plan for it. Start working on them early. Delegate tasks when it’s near. Ask for help.
17. Find out where you’re wasting time.
Rewriting the same emails? Creating playlists? I’ve known for years that I’ve needed to write standard form emails that address common concerns from students and clients and for the longest time I didn’t realize exactly how much time I was wasting writing these emails individually. No more. Repetitive tasks are being automated, so I have more time to spend with my family and friends. If you’re not sure where you’re wasting time, use a time tracking app. You will quickly find out what’s wasting your time, whether it’s social media, distractions, responding to emails throughout the day, etc.
18. Don’t get hung up on unimportant details.
If it’s not important, don’t waste your time and energy on it. Not every task/detail is important. Work on figuring our what is most important to your success and focus your time and energy on that.
19. Form new habits.
Yes, this means change. Change is tough for many of us. Change pushes us out of the comfort of our usual day to day routines. Now is the time to develop new time management habits that serve your wellbeing. Set healthy boundaries. Rework your schedule (that might mean giving up a class or two). Wake up on the first alarm. Get your exercise or yoga in before your first work commitment. Drink 8 oz. of warm water in the morning. Get rid of old habits + automate new habits = success.
I’ve mentioned automation a few times. It is so important to automate repetitive tasks and streamline your work flow. This is a HUGE time saver!
21. Schedule exercise.
Yes, exercise has already been included. Do it. No excuses. Schedule it. Make it happen.
22. Eat simple, healthy meals with minimal prep time.
Plan your meals. If you know you have to teach late, plan an easy meal. Don’t tempt yourself to eat junk food. Feed yourself nourishing meals with simple ingredients. I love to cook, so at least once or twice a week I try out a new, elaborate recipe for dinner. It’s fun for me and not a chore because 1) I love it and 2) all the other meals I’ve prepared have been easy.
Also, this is an opportunity to remind you to use convenience services. Fred Meyers/Krogers has a program called clicklist and they only charge $5 to do your grocery shopping for you. You choose the time to pick it up and voila! It’s ready for you at that time. Numerous cities have organic veggie delivery. Blue Apron might be another easy option for you.
23. Commit to your tasks.
Don’t dilly dally. Commit. Get it done. Ask for help when you need it.
24. Use the tools available to you.
There are so many tools that can help with project management and time management as a yoga instructor. Many of these tools I didn’t even know existed until I started speaking with professionals in other industries. Why we don’t learn these skills in YTT is beyond me.
Pick a handful of these techniques and tips to master now and as you get more confident in your time management as a yoga instructor add a few new techniques. Eventually, they will become automated and you won’t even have to think about it anymore. Life will be more streamlined, which means more time for the important things that bring you joy.
Anything I missed? Comment below with your favorite time management apps and tips.