on the #yoga mat: why I’m excited to study with Alexandria Crow (video style!)

Hey #CLE yogis: You may remember my recent interview with yoga teacher Alexandria Crow. Well, Alex turned the tables on me recently and asked me some questions, mostly about why I’m excited to study with her at her workshops this weekend at Evolution Yoga School and Practice Space. So in old school, circa PIP early 2012 vlogging days, here’s my video reply to her questions…

Usually I get asked the questions but I flipped the tables on Poise in Parma’s Alicia Hansen and asked her what she’s looking forward to when I’m there January 22-24 at Evolution Yoga School & Practice Space teaching a workshop series. Check out what Alicia is excited about! Link below to sign up if you #cleyoga enthusiasts want to come down too.http://www.evoyoga.com/page/workshops#modal-iframe

Posted by Alexandria Crow on Friday, January 15, 2016

 

The invitation to join Alexandria at Evolution Yoga School & Practice Space this weekend, January 22-24, is still on the table, friends! Click over to the Evolution MINDBODY site to learn more about the workshops she’ll be teaching. Use the promo code POISEINPARMA (yes, all caps, all one big word) to save $5 off individual workshops or $5 off the full weekend.

Remember: you can learn more about Alexandria at yogaphysics.com, and give her a follow at FacebookInstagram and Twitter.  Many thanks again to Alexandria. See you all at the yoga studio this weekend for some Yoga Physics fun!

Disclosure: I am a member of the teaching staff at Evolution Yoga School and Practice Space. My thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Connect with me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

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on the #yoga mat: an interview with Alexandria Crow

In my last post, I mentioned wanting to “be better” as a yoga teacher. I credit much of my growth in the past three and a half  years of teaching to continuing my education. The studio where I teach — Evolution Yoga School & Practice Space in Cleveland’s East side — is known for regularly bringing in world renowned teachers to provide us Northeast Ohio yogis with more opportunities to learn and grow. And as a vinyasa teacher interested in blending yoga philosophy with alignment and anatomy, I am incredibly excited about the next teacher that the studio is hosting later this month, Alexandria Crow.

You can get to know Alexandria a bit better over at her the about page on her Yoga Physics website. Speaking of, isn’t that beautiful? The idea of combining Yoga and Physics, the latter being defined as “concerned with the nature and properties of matter and energy.” Thanks Google.

I had to opportunity to interview Alex before her visit to Evolution, asking her some questions inspired by the four workshops she’ll be teaching January 22-24. She kindly answered them with incredible consideration, humor and awareness…

alex crow cleveland

On behalf of the Northeastern Ohio yoga community, Evolution Yoga is incredibly excited to host you in Cleveland this month. As you travel around the world sharing the practice and teachings of yoga, what are you noticing in your students — for the better or worse? 

I’m thrilled to be able to teach at Evolution in Cleveland. I’ve been looking forward to freezing there….wait, I mean teaching there!  Hahaha…

For better, there is a desire to learn at a much deeper level than existed in the broad audience a few years ago.  Students and teachers seem to want to understand things at a much deeper and more intricate level than before and they seem to be getting more receptive to moving more slowly and with precision which I love.

For worse, there are a lot of injuries out there. A lot of them are happening in yoga class but aren’t being attributed to people’s practice. So often the practice – that is meant to heal – is actually hurting, but students don’t speak up and teachers don’t talk about it enough.

One of the workshops you’ll be teaching is called Practice Makes Progress. With much emphasis on advanced postures (especially as images of yogis are shared on social media), how do we still find and share enjoyment in the more foundational aspects of our asana practices?

I just answered this same question for Yoga Journal.  Funnily, I don’t love fancy poses. I don’t do many of them myself anymore and I teach students that learning a handstand will not really bring you to enlightenment.  The workshop is about making progress. Sure, we look at fancy poses as a tool, but what I look to teach people is that everyone is very unique. There is no pose that much be done in one way for everyone nor are all poses for everyone.  Progress is about identifying what holds you personally back and working through it. Tf what holds you back is that your skeleton won’t allow you to wisely do a certain pose, then progress is throwing that pose out and not worrying about learning it anymore. I love the simple poses. They’re elegant and far more useful for every level of student than he very visually pleasing fancy ones.

Say a student was going to purchase one prop for their practice, which prop would you recommend and why? 

A wood or cork block and a blanket….sorry, I can pick just one, although a single solid block will do in a pinch!  There are so many postures that require the floor to be elevated up to a certain joint or body part, and there are so many actions students can learn from using a block that would otherwise be impossible.  The only prop I use daily is a cork Manduka block and if you come to the workshops I’ll show you how I use it!

alexandria crow collage 1

There is plenty of advice out there for brand new teachers. What would you say to a teacher who is about one to two years out from their original TT program and is ready to take the next step in their path as a yoga teacher?

Oh Lordy, one to two years out of training I still knew nothing!  Even today, the only thing I’ve learned is that I still know nothing in the grand scheme of things and that fact keeps me interested and pushes me to challenge myself to broaden my understanding of things daily through my practice.

What I will say is at that stage, teachers are usually ready to start to break the rules wisely and safely a little bit when it comes to formatting a class.  Sequencing with wisdom based on sound bio-mechanical principles is a great place to start to explore, become a little creative and to make your teaching a more personal expression of you!

Personally as a teacher grounded in and training in a lineage deeply rooted to tradition, I have noticed a trend towards teachers and studios “Westernizing” their classes. Do you have any tips for those of us trying to find the balance point in sharing the timeless philosophy of yoga in a modern way?

That’s all I’m ever trying to do as well!  I am far more interested in the philosophical and energetic principles of yoga and how that pertains to the mind. To me, it’s more like psychotherapy than it is religion or exercise.  There’s nothing about the tradition to fear. It’s not something that requires you to give up your religious beliefs or traditions.  It’s something you use to learn about your mental and behavioral patterns as those interact with the world and with yourself. Yoga can be taught in a way that’s not devoid of the tradition, but can also be something that retains enough of the lineages’ practices and rituals so that it isn’t simply calisthenics.  Teach people to pay attention really close through what ever tricks you’ve got personally and then get them to watch themselves from that focused place. Ask them to make choices out of only the information contained within the moment, even when their ego demands the alternative.  If you’re doing that, you’re teaching yoga.  

The growth potential for yoga in 2016 is endless. Where do you see it headed in the new year?

 I see yoga headed down a gentler path, one of true healing.  I see it becoming much more personalized and with a wider set of choices as far as types or classes, as well as types of trainings.  I see it moving away from the fanciness portrayed on Instagram and into a more therapeutic realm. All of that makes me very excited!

alexandria crow forearm balance variation

I personally invite you to join Alexandria here in Northeastern Ohio this month at Evolution Yoga School & Practice Space on January 22-24.

Click over to the Evolution MINDBODY site to learn more about the four workshops she’ll be teaching and to register today to save your spot.

Use the promo code POISEINPARMA (yup, all caps, all one big word) to save $5 off individual workshops or $5 off the full weekend.

Learn more about Alexandria at yogaphysics.com, and give her a follow at FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Many thanks to Alexandria for her time, energy and answers and making this interview possible. See you all at Evolution on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of this month for some Yoga Physics fun!

Disclosure: I am a member of the teaching staff at Evolution Yoga School and Practice Space. All photos c/o Alexandria Crow. My thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Connect with me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

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on the mat: Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga {hosted by Evolution Yoga}

Congrats to Aaron (@AaronPikeCPA on Twitter): you won two tickets to Locavore on August 21st! Didn’t win? Purchase tickets online at the event website.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

Next month is my yoga teaching anniversary. With just under two years under my belt, the lessons keep coming — some faster than others. One of the many reasons why I enjoy being a part of the Evolution Yoga team is that owner and studio director Sandy Gross continues her lifelong education of yoga by hosting the best yoga teachers in the world here in Cleveland.

One of those teachers that she’s asked to return several times is Bryan Kest. He is recognized as a creator of Power Yoga. Bryan is the founder of Santa Monica Power Yoga in Santa Monica, but continues to teach classes, retreats and workshops all over the world. Since Bryan was born here in Cleveland, Ohio (someone update his Wikipedia page, please!), he’s always welcome to working in a visit to the Northeastern Ohio area.

This Wednesday night, Bryan made his ninth visit to Evolution Yoga, teaching a room full of 90+ yogis at the Shaker Dance Academy.

Bryan Kest Power Yoga Talk

Starting at 6:45PM, Bryan class ran all the way until 10:20PM. Part lecture and part asana practice, he challenged our thought patterns while keeping us on our toes the entire evening.  If you know anything about Bryan’s teaching style, he’s been known to add some colorful language into his lessons. This is just a collection of some of the quotes from Wednesday’s practice:

  • “Yoga is like a buffet. Eat what you want, don’t eat what you don’t want – and don’t blame the chef if you ate too much!”
  • (after someone let out a fairly long sigh in down dog) “We’ve got a moaner!!”
  • “I’ve been asked, “should you do inversions while you are menstruating?” How the f*ck would I know?!? Ladies, you have some crazy sh*it going on!”

With a name like “power yoga”, you knew exactly what you were getting into in terms of the asana practice. The flows were challenging, inspiring and kept you on your toes – even when you knew what was coming. Bryan told us to consider the class to be a big game of Simon Says – so while I knew we had to still flow the pattern of poses on our opposite side, I remained intensely focused – mostly because I wasn’t sure what was up his sleeve.

Bryan Kest Power Yoga Class

As we moved, Bryan also snuck in a plethora of gems – even with the occasional curse word:

  • “Yoga NEVER tells you what to do. Yoga doesn’t ask you to do anything except to wake the f*ck up.”
  • If you bring your sh*t to yoga (competition, vanity, judgment, reactivity), your yoga turns to sh*t.”

But then there were some that were sans cursing — all golden:

  • “Yoga is not a sport. It is awareness. Meditation is killing the enemy.”
  • “Cultivate the benevolent. Eliminate the malevolent.”
  • And my personal favorite: “Yoga doesn’t want to change you — it wants to take care of you.”

When the words came out of Bryan’s mouth, my eyes looked up from my trusty notebook — the light bulb had appeared over my head. Lately, I’ve been noticing just how hard I am on myself. While fully aware of it, it’s been hard to kick that habit — and to embrace one of being kind — forgiving of myself even.  Bryan encouraged us to drop those habits of negativity, judgement and aggression; noting how much better our lives would be if we could just seek the peace that lived inside us already. That last quote was exactly what I needed to hear that night. It’s been easy to take that lesson with me since — and I’m grateful to him for that.

LONG STORY SHORT: Earlier that night, I joined Sandy as she picked Bryan up before the class. On the car ride there, I could tell by her giddiness that we were all in for a treat. I purposefully came in to the night blindly — not watching any YouTube videos or even reading up all that much about Bryan. I wanted to be surprised by the experience in his class — and he didn’t disappoint. Bryan’s going to be visiting us at Evolution again this coming February, so keep an eye on the Evolution Yoga website. Sign up early — this last session sold out and I’m sure Clevelanders will be back for more Bryan Kest this winter!

Disclosure: I work at Evolution Yoga as a yoga teacher. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Connect with me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

 

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