written by Sunee LaClaire
1. Come to class on time and by “on time”, we mean 10 minutes early.
Give yourself time to sign in, go to the bathroom, greet other community members, hug someone you have not seen in a while, get some tea, turn off your phone, remove your layers, gather your props, and breathe. It’s hard to get that done in less than 60 seconds. We reserve the right to close the class 3 minutes after the official start time.
2. Don’t feel the need to rush out after class.
Stay for tea, check out the upcoming offerings on the board, make a new friend or greet an old one. Please just keep in mind if there is another class entering, a prolonged or excited conversation might be better up the street at the coffee shop so that other students can have their opportunity to achieve a state of bliss.
3. Remove your shoes before entering the studio.
4. Take care of yourself.
In all the ways that you know how (and hopefully we can help you learn many more) make sure that you set yourself up in class to take the best possible care of yourself in the space. That might mean getting to class extra early to have a conversation with the teacher, using modifications and props, or speaking up if you need extra support. We are here to help you take care of you and we take that seriously. If you are not feeling well, taking care of yourself might mean staying home until you feel a bit better.
5. Share your thoughts.
Your constructive feedback is not only always welcome but it is relied upon to continue to improve and grow the YogaSole experience for everyone. If you have something you love or something you’d like to see at the studio or in the classes, let us know! We take all feedback under serious consideration and do everything we can to make sure your experience at the studio is a wonderful as we can make it.
6. Leave your devices in the cubbies.
Unless there are extenuating circumstances, you don’t need your phone or smart watch in class. Create a true yogic experience by making sure your devices will not make any noises during class and then leave them with your shoes outside the studio so you can be fully present during class.
7. Connect with and support the community.
We are a community studio and the essence of what we do extends far beyond group yoga classes. There is a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and experience that walks through the door daily and practicing yoga with friends elevates the experience that much more. YogaSole works to support our members, other neighborhood businesses, and nonprofit ventures both locally and globally. We welcome you to check out some of our non yoga offerings. If you have something to share with the entire community, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can post it on the Community Board of our website.
8. Check the Lost and Found occasionally.
We amass a rather surprising amount of lost items. Please check the bins occasionally to see if there is anything you may have accidentally left behind. We will remove all left items every quarter and donate them to appropriate charities.
9. Spread Love.
The studio is a safe space for all who enter.
10. Spread Joy.
If you love YogaSole, help spread the word by referring friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers. If you have the time and inclination, please leave us a review on Google or MindBody.
by Sunee LaClaire
I found it very telling that two people in my life emailed me a link to the April 6, 2019 New York Times article by Alice Hines titled "Should Every American Citizen Be a Yoga Teacher? CorePower, the country's largest yoga studio chain, is leading the way." I completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training program in October 2018 at a place I have frequently referred to as a yoga factory. I went through a rainbow of emotional reactions while I was reading the article that continued to cascade long after read the last sentene. Initially this article filled me with a mix of sadness and frustration but after having some time to contemplate it further, I started to try to look at it through the lens of 'lessons to learn and opportunities to harness'.
In the opening of the article, I identified with the students who took a 200 hour training only to find that it was sometimes an insufficient preparation to start teaching yoga classes. I felt that way when my yoga teacher training intensive completed. I knew that I had a lot more work to do to feel confident as a teacher. Luckily for me, I was already working at a yoga studio so I had plenty of opportunities to create that for myself.
By the time I read the last line of Alice’s article, my reaction tumbled into thoughts about all of the information and valid points that Alice left out of the article like some missing pieces of a second hand puzzle. She had put a picture together in her article but it was an incomplete picture. She made no mention other types of yoga studio models and the struggles of small community studios. She did not write anything about how yoga has transformed so greatly in America. Alice dedicated a tiny bit of time talking about the tech entrepreneur who founded CorePower and the funding that came later but without really using any word power to explore what that really means for a business, especially when the business is yoga.
And there is absolutely no doubt that Yoga is big business in America. It is a multi billion dollar industry. In the face of all of the money that Americans are spending on yoga classes, trainings, clothing, gear, etc it is absolutely no wonder that people are going to try and game the system. What made me sad though is the complete lack of mention about how un-yogic that is. Yoga is so woefully misunderstood and reading this article made me fear for those who have either been exposed to bad actors or who have never been open to learning more about yoga because of the many misconceptions. One of those false ideas I have encountered (that quite honestly makes me laugh) is that yoga is a religion. And yet, Alice went ahead and wrote that there are readings in yoga teacher trainings that come from "religious texts". Something in me jumped when I read that as I was fairly sure that isn't actually what she meant. There is no specific mention of the particular texts in question, but in my experience, the texts she’s most likely referring to might be better categorized as ancient or spiritual without actually being religious.
This article did delve into compensation for yoga instruction being shamefully low but without any deeper connection to why that might be. I spent hours wondering about the possibility of a link between the devaluing of yoga teachers and the fact that so many of them in the U.S. are women? Or even that there is such a pervasive misconception in our culture that yoga is for women? Alice made a casual mention in the article about checking out your teacher’s butt (for a higher purpose). Let me not get started on that!!!!
Overall, I found this article rather irresponsible but upon reflection, it was really the title that did that. If I had read an article with a title that pointed to greed and false advertising in a large yoga chain, ironically I might not have been so disappointed with what I read. Instead the subtitle of the article made it sound like something people should be aspiring to but the attitudes and behaviors cataloged within are certainly not.
I had to write all of these thoughts down to get them out of my system. Purging them helped me process my sadness and disappointment. After that process, I intentionally took myself to the other side of the coin, what is there to learn from this?
Here’s what I have come up with so far. I look forward to continuing the conversation with others who choose to chime in.
Honesty - Call your trainings what they are. If you want to train teachers to teach students, it is a yoga teacher training. If what you are aiming for is a deeper understanding of personal practice, that isn’t a teacher training and should not be labeled as such. Students will be equally as interested in an intensive or advancing your practice workshop or series. Be honest about what you are selling to whom. Trying to maximize profit by making one size does not fit all offerings is not very honest.
Authenticity - Every studio has its own take on yoga that is built by human beings who have their own understandings. Be true to that and speak (display) your truth so that others can see, hear, and potentially identify with it.
Intention - Setting an intention is something you hear in most classes but it is equally important to set intentions in our business and then do our best to align ourselves with that intention by bringing it back ourselves regularly.
Community - A small studio is a very different entity than a large yoga chain and we need to honor that by celebrating the individuals who comprise it as well as the group that we form by coming together.
Positivity - Focus on the wonderful things that yoga can and does do for us!
Equality - If we encounter inequality in the yoga world, what can and should we be doing to combat it? How do we take steps to ensure that we are not furthering any negative practices even if we are currently not conscious about it?
It turns out I got a lot more out of reading this article than even I initially considered. If it was intended to make me think, it certainly achieved that goal so really, I probably owe Alice Hines some gratitude.
Should women do Yoga during menses?
Mostly it's a matter of personal preference. Some women don't want to do yoga while have their period, many don't mind and continue to practice during menses. For women who do choose to practice, it is suggested that they avoid inverted poses, abdominal strengtheners, extended holding of any pose, or energizing breaths (kapalabhati). The issue is that these practices might interfere with the downward flow or cause discomfort.
Is it okay to practice Yoga while pregnant?
As with any form of exercise, it is okay to continue practicing yoga while you are pregnant as long as you were practicing before conception. Yoga is a great way to keep fit during pregnancy. In particular it can help strengthen the pelvic area, normalize thyroid functioning and blood pressure, and help keep you calm and relaxed -- all of which is good for the baby, too. In general, however, you want to avoid strain, compressing the belly or abdomen in closed twists and inverted postures, especially in the later stages. Taking prenatal yoga classes can help you learn how to practice safely and modify poses appropriately, as well create opportunities to build a supportive social network.