Yoga Barn Panglao – Guest Teaching Volunteer Program – An Interview with Barbara & Steve

My most recent post was about my experience guest teaching at the Yoga Barn Panglao, which is located on the utopian island of Panglao, Philippines. I am so impressed with the way that the guest teaching program is run that I decided to ask a few questions of the barn to get a better understanding.

I am a teacher who daydreams about teaching in paradises all over the world and might even want to run my own studio one day, so I was curious to learn more about their guest teaching program. Barbara and Steve warmly replied to my questions, so for your benefit and mine, I provide their answers below regarding their unique volunteer program.

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Barbara & Steve of the Yoga Barn Panglao


 

KBY (Kara Bemis Yoga): Where did the idea originate to freely host guest teachers?

YBP (Yoga Barn Panglao): One of my teachers taught me about the importance of non-attachment. When it comes to asanas we all have our preference for a style or particular teacher. For the good and growth of my regular students I love to give them the chance to practice with different teaching styles.

It’s also great to see teachers used to working in big city studios getting inspired all over again by the beauty and magic of the Barn itself. There are two types of non-resident teacher programs at the Barn.

The Guest Volunteer is for experienced teachers who are here for a short time and just want to share their skills and passion for a class or two.

The Intern Volunteer is a program aimed at freshly certified teachers who feel they need more practice or are a little shy about leading class or perhaps they just need some experience for their CV [resume]. For them we offer coaching, support and guidance and the chance to use a great space. For the new teachers as well as us here at the Barn it’s all about sharing, deepening our knowledge and teachings skills.

KBY: How does it benefit the barn, the community, and the two of you as managers?

YBP: These kind of programs take a lot of commitment from Steve and I [Barbara], but we really love to see our local community growing and getting a wider understanding of what Yoga really is about, and for us, we improve the business with the help of the volunteers, plus we get to meet some awesome people!

KBY: Who qualifies to guest teach?

YBP: Anyone who is an experienced Yoga or Meditation teacher, dedicated, passionate and wants to share can volunteer as a Guest Teacher. The volunteer intern [program] is open to those who have just finished their YTT or those who have been out of teaching for a while.

KBY: What is expected of a guest teacher and what is the general exchange for them?

YBP: From my own experience as a traveling yoga teacher, I learned that a flexible mind is more useful than a flexible body when it comes to teaching students of different levels, nationalities and attitudes! Guest teachers learn from the experience of serving, teaching and sharing and they get to do all of this surrounded by nature on a beautiful tropical island.

KBY: What’s the best way for an interested, certified yoga teacher to contact you and what sort of information should they provide?

YBP: Contact us before hand; we will want to know about you, about your experience, what you hope to gain from your time with us and how we can help each other.

Contact: info@yogabarn-panglao.com


 

If you are a certified yoga teacher who would like to keep your skills sharp while traveling, maybe looking to travel on a budget, and are willing to exchange your teachings for yoga classes, then guest teaching is perfect for you. Whatever your reason, you’re sure to leave with a new anecdote to tell your friends and family about that time that you taught yoga in the middle of a Filipino forest.

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Pure magic

Yoga Barn Panglao – Guest Teaching Experience

It has been a goal of mine to teach internationally after leaving my longterm home of South Korea. This idea of mine is nothing serious, I don’t expect to become a big name teacher, nor do I want to, but I do have a desire to use networks of teachers and social media to find teaching jobs here and there while I travel. I want to do this to keep my skills sharp and to experience different kinds of studios, and meet new students.

But where to start? It’s a daunting task to reach out to strangers and ask if you can teach for them. Who am I to them? I often think that I’m just a small fish in a little pond, but I’m now preparing to swim upstream and test bigger waters.

Of course you start with google searches, which is what I did before my recent trip to the Philippines, and I was happily surprised to stumble upon Yoga Barn Panglao, a picturesque studio set in nature on the island of Panglao, Philippines. It’s not uncommon to find yoga studios on tropical islands, but what is really unique is to find a studio with managers that openly accept guest teachers, and that’s just what I found at the barn.

Through my google search I discovered a tab on their website entitled Volunteering. I clicked on the page to find an outline of the opportunity they have for guest teachers to share their teachings in exchange for classes. This was exactly what I was looking for!  What was exceptionally perfect for me was the final description that read: No minimum volunteering time is necessary, key to my 10 day visit over the holidays.

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Teaching back “home” in Busan.

Emails were exchanged with the kind Barbara of the Yoga Barn Panglao and she instructed me to speak in person with their interim teacher who was holding down the fort for a month while Barabara and her partner, Steve, returned home for the holidays. Once I arrived on the beautiful island of Panglao, I attended the first class I could and met their substitute teacher, Emilie, my resume in hand, and we worked out a  teaching slot for me. It was perfect. I was instructed on how to manage things for my Wednesday sunset class: where to turn on the lights and fans, where the props were kept, and as for signing in students, Emilie met me there and took care of that.

The class itself was great. I was able to experience teaching a set of entirely new students and took on the responsibility of making them comfortable, confident, and safe. The second story platform studio is well equipped with mats and props, and I was even thoughtfully left with natural insect repellent for myself and students. And don’t forget that location! It was a dream come true to be able to lead a class in such a serene  setting surrounded by the sounds of crickets and shimmering, shining stars.

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Yoga Barn Panglao

The prior correspondence with Barbara was an experience in and of itself, as I felt the waters out of the bigger yoga world, polished my resume, and shifted into a warm, yet professional exchange. Barbara did a great job of melting away any and all of that business-like coldness and we were able to communicate openly and comfortably via email before my visit to the island.

If you get the special opportunity to visit Panglao as a yoga teacher, I highly suggest that you contact the kind people of the Yoga Barn Panglao and start a conversation about guest teaching. They’re warm, friendly, open and professional. And for you as a teacher you will get the rare opportunity to teach in the paradise of Panglao, growing your resume all the while.


 

Yoga Barn Panglao, How to Get There:

You could walk from Alona beach, but it will take at least 30 minutes or more. A cheaper and more comfortable option is to take a habul-habul, or motorbike taxi there. The first time I took a habul-habul the driver didn’t know where the barn was, so make sure t0 screenshot the image of the map on their facebook page to show the driver, or have them ask a local how to get there. It should cost about 25PHP from Alona beach.

Address: Bolod, Poroc 3, 6340 Panglao Island, Bohol, The Philippines

 

 

My Flying Yoga Experience

Flying yoga (also known as anti-gravity yoga/aerial yoga) is a trendy style of yoga that until recently I had never attempted. Luckily though, while on vacation in the Philippines, I learned of a class happening at the Yoga Barn Panglao and excitedly signed up.

Fellow karabemisyoga blogger, Amy Steele, came along for the class and it ended up being just the two of us in the morning Flying Yoga class that as of then was not yet added to their regular class schedule. Our teacher that morning was Alex Kuznetsov from Russia. Alex was patient and attentive as a teacher and demoed the entire class so that we could follow along. He then adjusted if needed.

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Teacher Alex stopping my falling angel from falling so much!

Here are my observations of my first flying yoga class:

  • It’s difficult – I went into the class not really knowing what to expect, but the second we started using the hammock for our warm up sun salutes I felt the burn. Having an extremity, or limb, lifted off of the ground means using your core to balance and keep from falling over. The hammock also offered some resistance that doesn’t usually come with basic standing poses. I found that my muscles were shaking like jelly in poses that are usually very comfortable for me, like Virabhadrasana 2.
  • It’s a prop – The hammock used in flying yoga is essentially a prop that switches up your regular yoga practice. At times the pressure of the hammock felt uncomfrtable against skin and bone, but Alex reassured us that that feeling was normal and would begin to fade away with more practice. I noticed as well that the hammock applied extra pressure that sometimes felt beneficial, such as in Vrksasana. I felt a strong pressure on the sole of my standing foot that felt similar to reflexology.
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(Uprooted) Vrksasana

  • It encourages engagement – The core is engaged for balance and deeper, more intrinsic muscles tighten up while pulling the legs together to stay upright. For example, in high lunge where the front knee is bent over the hammock, engaging my muscles a lot was necessary so that I could keep the form.
  • It’s beautiful – Although I struggled to get into certain poses, once in them, I did truly feel like I was “flying.” Doing Badha Konasana, or any other pose, while floating two feet above the ground is invigorating. Of course there are plenty of opportunities to snap some instagram worthy pics.
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Amy and Teacher Alex in Badha Konasana.

  • Relax in that hammock – It’s called a hammock because it’s a hammock, and we all know that hammocks beckon us over to have a doze. At the end of our class Alex guided us in relaxing, longer-held poses. The heat of the island and the sounds of nature could have easily lulled me to sleep in my big blue hammock, but I refrained from slumber.
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Seated variation of Badha Konasana with tropical palm tree view.

 

Flying yoga is a fun supplement to a regular yoga practice. There are many benefits to this style of yoga and at the very least it will reinvigorate standard poses that may have lost their luster from years of practice.

 


 

Go to Yoga Barn Panglao’s website or their Facebook page to keep your eyes out for future Flying Yoga classes with Alex Kuznetsov.

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