Teacher Tech Tools

Being a yoga teacher requires a lot of self promotion and preparation for classes. Whether you get yourself a regular gig at a yoga studio or go completely free lance you’ll have to self promote your classes, style, skills, and experience. And then once you get in the studio, you’ll have to deliver. Here are my top tech teacher tools to help you be the best yoga teacher you can be.

Blue Tooth Speaker

Invest in a good quality blue tooth speaker, one that’s light and transportable and that delivers on sound. These come in handy to bring with you to outdoor, public space classes where other options requiring plugging in may not be available, keep in mind however, that if you host class in a very public space or near to a busy road, then even the best blue tooth speaker won’t be heard over honking horns or screaming kids. If you teach on an early Saturday when the public space isn’t busy yet, then bring your speaker for added energy to the class. Chose your playlists wisely.

Actually, Let Someone Else Chose Your Playlist

When I first started teaching I used to stress out about making the perfect playlist for each class. Honestly, I would spend more time on the music than on the sequence. I was fixated on having the best tunes for the varying layouts of each class. Thankfully for my schedule and my nerves I’ve loosened up about my music. Now I rely on a sharing service to have strangers in cyber space chose what students vinyasa and hold to. My choice of music site is 8 tracks. I know most people in the U.S. use Pandora, but Pandora wasn’t available abroad in Korea, so a friend introduced me to 8 tracks and I much prefer it. My go to vinyasa flow playlist is simply titled: Yoga.

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Get some Great Graphics12010532_899109916831156_7065303320034350228_o

When creating a social media event page, photos generally star as an eye catcher or are just generic-googled yoga images. But it can be more fun and more professional to create a poster or well designed social media image for your classes and events. For this you can hire out a graphics designer by using 99designs, a website where designers line up to design for you after you’ve set guidelines and price, but this site can be pricey and may not be financially feasible for a free lancin’ yoga teacher (may in fact be a better option for a logo.) Another option is Pic Monkey. This site is easy to use and offers a lot of fun fonts and backgrounds, they have recently started charging for they’re services though, which is a bummer. Above is a simple graphic made in 2015 for a community event I co-hosted with a bunch of great activists in Busan using Pic Monkey.

There you have it, a few simple tips from me to you for using tech to get the job and in class once you have it. Teaching yoga involves a lot more than just shouting out a pose name. As a yoga teacher aim to make your classes and events special and memorable by meticulously planning from the get go all the way through to the song that plays in Savasana. Utilizing tech tools can aid you in achieving that goal which in the long run will aid you in retaining students.

 

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Hosting Karma Yoga Classes

A karma yoga class is a class in which the payments are donated to a charity. As a teacher, they are very easy to  host and you do your part by donating the money, but also by teaching others about a charity or non-profit that has a lot of meaning to you (not to mention by giving everyone a well deserved yoga class!) Donations Only classes can be taught regularly or during special holidays or vacation times.I find that hosting karma yoga classes during holidays gives them just a little extra meaning; for example, I recently taught a class on Valentines Day, a great day to spread some love around. Here are some tips in hosting a karma yoga class.


Venue: 
Holding a donation based class outside at the beach or at a park is great, Beach Yogabecause no money gets lost to rent payments. When I first moved to Busan I hosted early morning beach yoga classes on the boardwalk and gave payments to my local non-profit of choice. Not much was raised, because not too many people are early risers, but every little bit counts!

Cost: Choose a minimum donation cost that is required, $5.00 is a good place to starDonationst. When I create my events I describe the cost as Minimum Donation of xxx, this way people might consider donating more. When class is finished and everyone is making their payments, I remind them that I have change for them if they need it, but if not their extra money is greatly appreciated by the organization. Many students will be generous.

Choose an Organization: Find a cause that means a lot to you personally and that you are knowledgeable enough about to tell others about in detail. At the beginning of the class, explain your organization of choice, where and how the money will be used, and other ways that people can help. Below is a description of the non-profit that I have been donating to.

BAPS- Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary

Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary is a privately run dog shelter in Busan, South Korea. The dedicated couple that run the shelter have rescued, medicated, and rehomed hundreds of dogs since 2008. Dogs have been saved from off the street and from the local pound; these are dogs that would have otherwise not had much of a chance at survival. BAPS is a no-kill shelter, so dogs are cared for until they are hopefully adopted for life. Money from donations goes to dog food, shelter upkeep, medications, male neutering, operations, etc.

My personal attachment to this non-profit is my love and joy, Fred, who I adopted from BAPS in 2011 with my boyfriend. He’s come a long way from his skin-diseased-street-dog-days and now lives a life of comfort, spending most of his days sleeping, curled up on my bed. He also loves to join me at beach yoga class. He takes a nice little nap in the sun while others flow.

To learn more about BAPS, visit their website or search for them on Facebook. Donations can be made within Korea by bank transfer or internationally by using Paypal. Information on how to donate is easily found on their website. There are even weekly dog walking volunteer events if you’re missing your furry loved one from back home, those can be found via Facebook.

Flow N Glow Event

This is a fun, laid back, and unique yoga event to both host and attend. I’ve had opportunities to co-host two previous events with another local teacher, both of which were well attended with students saying they had a good time. Recently I hosted a Flow N Glow, but this time solo as the other teacher was out of town on vacation. It’s a great event to hold in the cold months when not much else tends to go on.

Listed below are the vitals to hosting a successful Flow N Glow.

  1. The Studio– In order to get everyone shining their brightest, you’ll need backlights, the more the merrier. The space will have to be totally dark minus the backlights, so a space with not many windows is ideal. If there are windows, be sure to hold the event a while after the sun has set or block out the windows with some sort of opaque covering (bed sheet, cardboard, anything.)
  2. Things That Glow– UV Paint, glow in the dark stickers, and glow bracelets are what we’ve used. For my past event I chose not to provide glow sticks in order to reduce waste, but I didn’t discourage people from bringing their own. UV paint glows really well and is so much fun to apply. When planning be sure to give attendees at least 30 minutes to create their designs. Encourage everyone to wear white or neon clothes.
  3. Pumpin’ Playlist– Music is key for a dance inspired event. I took a lot of time to find out what songs are trending lately. If you go out, take note of what’s being played frequently. Be sure to include a range of styles to please a crowd. I included funk, pop, electronic, etc.
  4. Cleaning Supplies– The paint will come off throughout the night, especially if you get sweaty or spend time on the mat (on the belly or back.) Be respectful to the studio and be sure to clean up thoroughly afterwards. I provided my own home-made non-toxic cleaning spray.

And that’s how you host a Flow N Glow. One last, very important thing, be sure to advise students that not much alignment cueing will be given due to the loud music (and the lack of visibility for you as a teacher.) As always, it’s up to the practitioner themselves to keep their body safe. Encourage everyone to take child’s pose whenever, and as much as needed, and to only go as deep into a pose as they still feel comfortable in, and where they can maintain elongated breath. Glow on!

Photos by Nina- http://www.ninasn.com/

Winter Solstice Event

Winter can be a long and cold time of year. The days are short and chilly and unfortunately, most of us are trapped inside for the short precious hours of daylight by a job or school. It’s not very easy in the winter months to get out there and feel the sun on your face without simultaneously feeling wind chill. More so even if you’re like me, and would rather sweat it out on a hot beach than ride down the side of a mountain on thin pieces of fiber glass, meaning, winter’s not my ideal time of year, so I tend to curl up in blankets with books. I generally enjoy cuddling with my pup, but it can feel antisocial. I wouldn’t say that I get terribly depressed in winter, but seasonal affective disorder can be a very real thing, which is why it’s important to remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You see, onwards from December 21st, the winter solstice, the daylight begins to increase bit by bit until magically we find ourselves in spring.

Winter solstice itself is the shortest day of the year and the beginning of the winter season. The sun sets early leaving a dark evening to explore your inner self. This is something that can be done solo or with a group. I myself am very fortunate to be a member of an active yoga community in which a wonderful winter solstice event was planned and well attended. It was guided by myself and two other yoga teachers and I’d like to lay out the event as inspiration for your next winter solstice and as a reminder of the warmth to come.

After introductions, participants were asked to think of a goal or intention that they’d like to focus on and dedicate their vinyasa yoga practice to. Once they had one in mind, we all sat together in a circle and lit candles one by one to signify our intention. There was a symbolic meaning to lighting the candles in the circle; it represented the growing daylight of the coming months. In a more personal setting, intentions could have been affirmed out loud, but we kept ours silent.

Following the intentions, a heating vinyasa flow was practiced in the gentle glow of the candles. Many vinyasas were cued, but optional, to warm up as much as desired. Throughout the course of the physical practice, reminders to bring focus back to the intention were given, primarily in quieting forward folds which are very personal and often allow us to go within ourselves. Once inner heat was throughly ignited and stoked to battle the frigid air outside, there was a therapeutic partner practice to get even deeper into the muscle tissues. As mentioned before, I’m not one for outdoor winter sports, so my yoga is close to the only physical activity that I perform in winter. For this reason, a more perspiring yoga practice like vinyasa or power yoga is a good answer to my winter blues (and all those Christmas cookies!)

But alas, yoga is much more than physical and the event carried on into the mental realm. Working the body with the breath quiets the mind, so right after a yoga practice is an ideal time to meditate or simply focus thoughts. In the case of our humble event, a guided candle meditation was practiced. To top everything off there was a journal exercise. Currently (and for quite a long while,) I have fallen out of my journaling habit, but I plan to rekindle it in the coming new year. The journaling exercise of our winter solstice event involved considering the future and writing a short positive affirmation about yourself. I took a lot away from the journaling and will use the affirmation as a tool to bring me back to my target whenever I find myself straying. And that was the conclusion of our event, it was a magnificently warming, community gathering.

Solstice and equinox events can seem far off and even pagan to some, I know I used to roll my eyes in the past, but really when you think about it, they are simply calendar days that mark the changing skies and seasons. Winter solstice is the shortest day and summer solstice is the longest; the equinoxes are about equal in length of day and night. It is not easy to pay attention to the changing seasons with so many seemingly pressing matters pestering our minds, which is why making the time to plan an event or find one to attend is a good way to bring nature back into view. And if you’re still not sold on the idea, then a similar event could be planned for New Years Eve, a time when we transition into a new calendar year and look forward to the future.