Jason Crandell Workshop Take Aways

It was two months ago that I attended my first (but not my last!) workshop with Jason Crandell. I traveled a far distance – ten hours round trip to be exact – to practice and study with Jason, a renowned vinyasa teacher. You can read about the studio where the workshop was held here.
No matter what style of class or where, I always take something away form the teacher, good or bad, and store it for future use and implementation. Let me clarify that I do not mean that I take sequences or any other sort of “intellectual property” but rather a word here and there or an interesting assist. These are my take aways from Jason’s workshops.

Humor

He was funny, and frequently, too. There were around 80 people practicing challenging vinyasa sequences together, energy was high and as much as it is repeated and known not to let the ego creep in and self judge in class, I’m positive that eyes were looking around the room to compare practices. Jason cracked jokes that dissipated thoughts of the ego, at least that’s the effect that it had on me. The mood was lightened during handstand practice, and the point was made that life is not ending if the handstand is not perfect.
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Float Around

There was a small raised stage with a glued down yoga mat, I’m assuming that that’s where the usual teachers teach from, and it is where Jason started his workshops from, but not where he was glued to. Throughout the roughly eight hours of flow, Jason walked around the room to give his sequences. I liked this. It kept everyone involved and the energy flowing.
Also, it literally brought him back to the students’ level. Something that I had never though of until I heard the idea on Andreah Ferrerrit’s podcast, Yogaland, is that as teachers we have an instant air of hierarchy and power over our students. To move around the room and give students equal attention, not just the advanced students at the front (because lets face it, beginners generally go to the back and it’s usually only the late comers who have to begrudgingly roll their mats out right in front of the teacher, or it’s the confident students who choose to be there.) Hear Yogaland’s podcast about this topic and yoga in the era of #MeToo here.

Demo to the Crowd

Usually in class I demo poses myself, but often times Jason had a student perform a posture while he pointed out adjustments or assists, never to the embarrassment of the student, he demoed students capable of the poses. Often times his assistants were called over to a central mat to perform the pose, as in the photo below.

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This is such an effective teaching tool. It brings the entire room together to witness a pose developing in real time. Questions can be asked and answered then and there. This is necessary to do when having students partner up, you have to make sure that they know what they will be doing and what their partner’s role will be, especially when the pose to be practiced is an advanced pose such as an inversion.
As mentioned in the intro, my first yoga workshop with Jason will not be my last. I have signed up for a morning workshop with Jason in early June, this time closer to home in Cleveland, OH. It was difficult to make the decision to attend only one portion of his weekend long workshop in Ohio, but my mentor and good friend, Mindy Sisco is visiting me during that week from South Korea, so sacrifices had to be made. Not to mention, I’ll be practicing with her all week, including in Cleveland, so I’ll still be learning and growing as a student and teacher.
If you are a yoga student who is getting more into the practice, then I highly recommend finding yoga workshops near you this summer; teachers, of course you know how beneficial workshops are. Workshops are better than classes, instead of a teacher simply leading you through sequences, the teacher gives you the technique and drills to be able to perform difficult poses in the workshop or down the road as you build strength. Then you can take those newly learned skills and apply them to your home practice or at a the next studio class you attend in which the teacher says,”… and now pop into tripod headstand if that’s in your practice.” because it will be in the practice now, a new skill gained from a knowledgeable workshop.

Yoga Teachers – Continue Education

A two hundred hour training is not very long to learn an ancient practice of the breath, body, mind, and spirit, yet that is all that is required to be yoga teacher, and really it is not absolutely required because as of right now there is no licensing required to be a yoga teacher. That is why it is beneficial to the teacher and therefore to their students to attend as many classes as they can, go to workshops, and if possible attend multiple trainings.

That being said, yoga teacher trainings are expensive. The cost of mine in 2013 in Nicaragua was around $3,000, not including flight. The cost of my most recent training in India was much less, but still at least $1,000. Those prices may look high, but they are pretty low compared to what else is out there. When I was researching trainings I found some for as much as $3,000 for a two week, two hundred hour training (how you can cram 200 hundred hours and thousands of years of knowledge into two weeks is beyond me) which did not include any accommodation or food. The trainings listed above were both month long intensives that included room and board for the entire month. The current, official Bikram training, held at a fancy resort is $16,600 USD for a single room, the training is around two months long, therefore double the length of either of my individual trainings, but still very pricey.

Examples of costs of trainigns are to emphasize that I realize that most people cannot afford to take multiple trainings. That being said, what teachers can do is attend workshops, join studios, find a private teacher, and/or study online. Finding classes and workshops that are designed to be continued education. YMCA, power yoga classes are not what I’m talking about. Those are fine for a teacher to take to get ideas about sequencing, playlists, and cues, but in order to learn more about yoga, teachers must practice themselves and continue to study as much and as often as they can.

Workshops are great because they break poses down and actually teach how to teach, if geared towards teachers. Even if a workshop is for the general public and not towards teachers then teachers are still likely to learn something more than they would in a workout-style class.

A teacher could take every workshop and training available in their area and still not learn yoga in totality. That is impossible. What you can do it specialize your practice and teaching skills. Take workshops that are geared in what is needed in your local market or that you have a keen interest in. Areas of specialization might include prenatal, vinyasa, alignment, etc.

Once you get to a workshop make it worth as much as you can, ask questions, introduce yourself to the teacher and other students, network, and practice hard. Take handouts and study them. Take a notebook and pen and take notes. Treat your workshop time as you did your teacher training time and study.

Self study and being a forever student is what a yoga teacher needs to do to better their own personal practice and therefore to improve their ability to teach their students and to continuously offer more. A stagnated teacher leads to stagnated students, and yoga is about progression.