Sarah Scharf, MFA is a yoga teacher, author of the upcoming book, Holding Space: The Creative Performance and Voice Workbook for Yoga Teachers and theatre artist. She holds an MFA in Physical Theatre and has completed multiple training courses in Yoga of various styles. In London she taught at Triyoga – the largest studio in Europe – and worked as a mentor for the Yogacampus Teacher Training. She runs popular workshops and training on voice work and performance skills for yoga teachers, and works as a movement director and teaching artist for theatre. She is an American currently living in Vienna.
With the onset of regulations that have temporarily closed yoga studios and suspended public gatherings we have seen a rapid change in the yoga industry. Using live streaming video conferencing has become the most common way of teaching. Many of us have been challenged as teachers not only to learn to use the technology, but also to deal with the emotional elements of growing again as teachers. Some feel like they have to start over, especially those that relied heavily on hands on adjustments during their teaching and didn’t develop the language skills to adequately describe detailed movement or actions. This process of shifting online has shown many of us where we need to grow. It’s an opportunity for us to refine our work, to get more comfortable with ourselves and perhaps even create new opportunities.
There are many ways to teach online. I’ll focus on these options in the context of teaching yoga or movement and meditation:
interactive livestream classes
non-interactive livestream classes
Interactive Live stream
Interactive live stream requires conferencing software if you want to control the entry of participants. The main bonus is that you can see your students in real time. This gives you the opportunity to offer verbal adjustments and individualised instruction. This is only possible when you can see your students, which will require a larger screen for bigger groups so you can avoid scrolling. Some teachers use a projector, making sure it is a quiet one so the sound isn’t a problem. Other teachers avoid demonstrating and simply sit close enough to their screen that they can see everyone. Continue reading →
Believing in its transformational power, Sian O’Neill has been practising yoga for over 15 years. The first book she edited for Singing Dragon, Yoga Teaching Handbook (Singing Dragon, 2017), was a great success – and with the publication of Yoga Student Handbook, Sian and the contributors share their tips and advice for yoga students and teacher trainees.
In the first of three instalments about yoga journeys, Sian talks with Katy Appleton, founder of appleyoga.
appleyoga is probably one of the better known brands in the yoga world in the UK today. Founder Katy Appleton, self-described as a ‘lover of life’ and ‘recovering control freak’, was a former professional ballet dancer with the English National Ballet. Running in the family, Katy’s mum practised yoga while pregnant, and Katy remembers being a new student and attending yoga classes with her mum as a very little girl. Yoga arrived in her life as an adult to counterbalance the extremities of performance while a professional dancer, and she would practise breath work and tools to help her rebalance and sleep after a performance.
As a student, Katy’s first teacher training was in Ibiza in the Sivananda tradition. Other key yoga influences in her life include well-known yoga teacher, Shiva Rea, whom Katy credits with broadening her understanding of yoga and in particular, vinyāsa krama (which can be interpreted as meaning ‘step by step progresion’). Katy became Shiva’s assistant, travelling with her and then becoming a mentor on Shiva’s teacher training. She has also dabbled with Ashtanga with David Swenson, and mentions other yoga friends/influences including Annie Carpenter and Tiffany Cruikshank.
Why did you decide to teach?
Katy describes her decision to teach as a calling. Indeed, that is a common theme in the chapter by Katy and co-author Natasha Moutran on building a yoga business in Yoga Teaching Handbook that it is important to know the ‘why’ behind starting your yoga business. Katy has clear values underlying appleyoga including honesty and humility. She believes in holding a safe space for people and quotes Maya Angelou: ‘People remember how you make them feel’. For Katy, yoga offers a space that is ‘tangible and palpable that is touched when practising yoga’. She describes yoga as a ‘homecoming’ which offers a chance for the nervous system to relax, a place beyond the internet and understanding from books. She believes yoga can offer an anchor from which to move around in life. Continue reading →
Believing in its transformational power, Sian has been practising yoga for over 15 years. She completed the British Wheel of Yoga (BWY) accredited teacher training diploma with Yogacampus and also the BWY Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy module with Tarik Dervish, the Scaravelli Immersion course with Catherine Annis and the Qigong for Yoga Teachers Immersion with Mimi Kuo-Deemer.
Sian teaches a flowing hatha yoga class incorporating alignment, a mindful flow and breath awareness, aiming to help students on their own path of yoga. She is a regular contributor of yoga-related articles, including to Spectrum magazine, the official magazine of the BWY. She is the editor of the Yoga Teaching Handbook (Singing Dragon, 2017) and the new Yoga Student Handbook (Singing Dragon, 2019).
Please note that while our summit is open to absolutely everyone from all corners of the world, despite our best efforts we won’t be able to ensure safe, comfortable practice for every attendee nor take responsibility for your own practice. If you have any injuries or are dealing with any conditions that you would normally flag to your yoga teacher or therapist, please seek advice before taking part or following along with any of our classes or sequences.
Yoga Student Handbook Develop Your Knowledge of Yoga Principles and Practice
Edited by Sian O’Neill. Foreword by Lizzie Lasater
This practical companion for yoga students and teacher trainees shows how to deepen your knowledge of yoga and where to go next in your training, whether you are thinking of developing your own practice or considering becoming a yoga teacher. It covers the history, philosophy, different styles of yoga, and more. Read more
Matthew J. Taylor, PT, PhD, C-IAYT is a yoga safety expert, advisor to and past president of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, Accessible Yoga board member, and a yoga policy consultant. He directs SmartSafeYoga.com and authored the book Yoga Therapy as a Creative Response to Pain (Singing Dragon, 2018), as well as over 40 other publications.
In this video, Matt provides some practical information and tips on keeping yoga teaching simple and efficient, while remaining inclusive towards all students.
Yoga Therapy as a Creative Response to Pain
Matthew J. Taylor. Foreword by John Kepner
A guide that supports yoga therapists in creating a programme of care for those living with chronic pain, through bringing pain science, creativity and yoga together for the first time. It provides the skills and knowledge to create an environment that restores hope and meaning as well as practical guidance. Read more
Simply put: yes. Yes, there is a need for increased training in the world of yoga, because the focus of yoga that has become the most popular is asana, and asana deals with movements of the human body. And the human body is one complicated and mysterious machine — which is surprisingly easy to break. Now, this doesn’t mean a person can’t teach a good and safe yoga class without further education in related fields, but in order to advance the benefits of yoga by bringing it to a larger population of the world, it would be helpful if the concept of yoga evolved into a more respected and scientific field.
To become a basic teacher of yoga, in America, Yoga Alliance requires teachers to study two hundred hours of yoga before receiving a certification to teach the public, which is a step up from prior the 1990s when no certification was required. In those two hundred hours, a lot of information is packed into the training sessions, which can take anywhere from fourteen days to six-months to complete and students are required to learn techniques and practices (one hundred hours), yoga philosophy (thirty hours), teaching methodology (twenty-five hours), anatomy/physiology (twenty hours) and hands-on-experience (ten hours), with fifteen hours to spread out to whichever category they choose. And, although the training covers some anatomy and physiology, the certification process requires only twenty hours of training in the area of yoga most dealt with in yoga classes: the foundation of human movement. Judging by how complicated the human body is, that is not enough for new teachers to come out of their trainings feeling confident in their knowledge. Continue reading →
Originally a professional dancer, Catherine discovered yoga as a teenager. Practicing for over 35 years, she has explored everything from Sivananda to Astanga before gravitating to the teachings of Vanda Scaravelli.
Catherine’s practice and teaching focuses on deepening physical awareness and alignment to reveal the natural freedom of the body, particularly the spine. She teaches regular weekly classes in London at triyoga and the Life Centre and leads retreats worldwide. She created the first Scaravelli-inspired immersion course.
Developmental trauma (also known as complex trauma) is more common than is generally assumed and often undisclosed at yoga classes, even where it’s asked about on student intake forms. Most often, you will gradually become aware of the signs of developmental trauma through observing how your student is (or isn’t) in their body, the kinds of connection they are able to make and sustain with you as teacher, and how they relate to the group at large.
Developmental trauma generally begins very early in life, sometimes before birth and often prior to the development of language and cognitive thought, and is a response to childhood experiences such as neglect, abandonment, and/or physical or sexual abuse. The severity of the consequent trauma response depends to a large extent upon whether any trustworthy and caring adult – teacher, grandparent, older sibling, foster-parent – was available to the child. Recovery is generally much harder for those with whom no one formed a genuine, altruistic and nurturing bond.
Successfully resolving developmental trauma is a slow and challenging process, but it is possible, given appropriate forms of therapy (these are different from the types of therapy useful for working with PTSD or one-off trauma). Without therapeutic intervention, the effects of developmental trauma usually persevere into adulthood, profoundly affecting the person’s physical and mental well-being, cognition, capacity for meaningful relationship, and ability to live in and from their present-moment embodied experience. Continue reading →
Welcome to Singing Dragon’s first-ever Virtual Yoga Summit, a digital event celebrating inclusivity in yoga and yoga therapy with the help of a carefully curated panel of experts and authors. This blog will be the central hub to our event, so do keep checking back to access all content, including videos, articles and podcasts. For scheduled live events, please head over to the Singing Dragon Facebook page.
Click the cover below to browse the full programme, meet our contributors and read about our partners’ work.
Our Virtual Yoga Summit live events are as follows:
9th October 11.00am UK/ 6.00am ET – Lisa Sanfilippo & Charlotte Watts & Lisa Kaley-Isley: How to Teach Yoga Therapeutically – Discussing Yoga and Yoga Therapy. Live-streamed event at Yogacampus Finsbury Park
International Day of Yoga takes place across the globe on the 21st of June 2019. Many yoga teachers and studios will be offering free classes and events to help raise awareness worldwide of the benefits of practicing yoga. To celebrate, we have collated a reading list to support students and teachers in their practice, as well as those looking to incorporate yoga into their day-to-day lives.
Did we miss anything? What topics would you like to see on our lists? Let us know in the comments below!
The Yoga Teacher Mentor
A Reflective Guide to Holding Spaces, Maintaining Boundaries, and Creating Inclusive Classes
Considering how teachers can maintain appropriate boundaries with students and deal with common obstacles and ethical issues, this book offers mentoring and support to new or experienced yoga teachers. It includes chapters on creating generative spaces and the art of relating with difficult students. Learn more
The Complete Yoga Anatomy Coloring Book Katie Lynch
This practical and engaging coloring book helps yoga teachers and students develop their knowledge of the human body. Featuring 100+ illustrations and backed by rigorous scientific knowledge, it is the ultimate tool for all those interested in practising yoga effectively and safely. Learn more
Graham Burns, a contributor of Yoga Teaching Handbook, offers practical advice when introducing traditional and philosophical ideas of yoga when teaching students in these simple tips.
by Graham Burns
So, having decided which aspects of philosophy you would like to bring into your teaching, how do you approach that task in a way which will be accessible to your students? Here are a few practical ideas.