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The Ultimate Guide to Staying Motivated into the New Year

Even though we're already a couple weeks into 2016, there's no reason why you can't choose a resolution now. The holiday season has its share of wonderful moments; it's always great to see family and celebrate, while taking some time off work. However, there's no doubting that the season is also full of hectic situations. From planning events to buying gifts, it's easy to feel exhausted going into the holidays; there’s just so much that has to be done.

Staying motivated throughout the New Year instead can be extremely beneficial to your focus, efficiency and overall health. The six tips below will help you use the chaos of the holiday season as a surprising way to stay focused and motivated into the New Year:

 

Maintain Your Exercise Routine

It’s easier to stay motivated if you strive to maintain your exercise routine to a reasonable degree into the New Year. Doing so will shake off the holiday grogginess that many people feel come after New Year’s, mostly due to sitting around and eating/drinking. Those things are fine; it’s the holidays after all. Just be sure to start back up with your usual exercise ASAP to burn it off and stay motivated.

 

Give Time, Money, or Gifts to Others

Charity is mutually beneficial; it helps others while boosting your own sense of self-worth (and rightfully so). A lack of motivation can be due to fear of failure or lack of faith in one’s abilities, both areas that can be aided by the work and resulting feeling of helping out in a soup kitchen, donating your bonus to charity, or going gift shopping for others. Being charitable not only during the holiday season, but all year long is the right thing to do and helps you stay motivated as well.

 

Set Realistic Goals

There's a lot of stress injected into our lives during the holiday season, largely because we're deliberating about changes to our lives in the near future. With this in mind, it's always important to set realistic goals, as opposed to over-encumbering yourself with unrealistic expectations. Making short term goals as opposed to long term goals can help provide a likelier positive mental payoff that rewards your psyche and maintains focus.

 

Visualize Tasks

Getting back into a routine after the holidays can be tough. It's a useful habit to use visuals to aid in organizational skills. This can be done as simply as placing yellow post-its on your fridge, or using a small section of your home for work with a small board displaying tasks that need to be accomplished.

There are also a wide assortment of mobile apps that aid in task management. Many of them feature notification options that will notify you via a text message or pop-up when a certain task needs to be done, or simply a friendly reminder. This is particularly useful for those who are wary of losing track of time and responsibilities during the holidays, which is certainly the most vulnerable time of the year for such to occur.

 

Do the Mundane Tasks Right Away

Specifically by attending to any pending mundane tasks, like paying off your credit card, addressing any bills, making any repairs you’ve been putting off, etc. This will make the transition from holiday break to work a lot easier when the time comes, keeping you motivated, focused and confident as opposed to unprepared and overwhelmed.

 

Show Interest in the Careers of Others

Not only is showing interest in this admirable conversationally, but it can also keep you motivated; hearing of others’ business successes will motivate you to do the same, while more bleak tales of business can serve as a lesson of things to avoid.

 

These six tips should keep you alert and motivated throughout the holiday season, enough to make the transition seamless when it passes, resulting in a very ideal way to start the New Year.


Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 8.48.46 AMKacey Mya Bradley is a lifestyle blogger for "The Drifter Collective."  Throughout her life, she has found excitement in the world around her.  Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations, cultures, and styles, while communicating these endeavors through her passion for writing and expression. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Twitter. Pinterest.

The Drifter Collective: An eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us.

 

Yoga In The News: Current Events in the Yoga World

In addition to bringing you some killer yoga excursions, travel opportunities, and ways to amp up your asana, we at Yoga Travel Tree like to keep you in the loop of whats going on in the Yoga world.  Here are some headlines you may have missed:

Silent Disco Yoga

Picture this.  You walk into a studio, crazy black light and neon surround you.  You’re given a pair of wireless headphones that are not only going to have your teacher on the other end, whispering the flow for your upcoming vinyasa flow class.  Theres also an in-house DJ about to drop some serious beat in your ears while you rock your asana off in one of the coolest contemporary yoga classes to date.  The company behind the magic is Sound Off, and they are bringing this new style of Yoga across the country.  From a pop up inflatable studio in Manhattan, they’ll be visiting cities like Chicago and Las Vegas in the near future.  Check their website out here.

Huffington Post’s Dickipedia:  Bikram Choudhury 

We recently did an article on this extravaganza, you can find it here!  Long story short, Bikram Choudhury, founder of Bikram Yoga has earned his spot in Huffington Post’s new “Dickipedia” series, a video encyclopedia of people around the world making waves in their industries.  The wrong waves, obviously.

Yoga In The Big Leagues:

Yoga has been rising in popularity among many sports teams, and now some stadiums across the country are starting to host enormous yoga classes to give yogis and yoginis a chance to practice where the pros play.  Instructors from YogaWorks in LA launched a class in Dodger Stadium that included entry to the field after a ball game and your very own Dodger Yoga mat.  Other cities have been following suit, with Ralph Wilson Stadium (The Buffalo Bills) hosting Namastadium, a similar event that serves to raise money for a new Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, New York.

Fat Yoga? 

A studio in Portland, Oregon is trying to combat the stereotypes of modern day yoga by creating a venue where people of all body types can practice and reap the benefits of yoga.  Yoga For Abundant Bodies, MegaYoga and Buddha Body Yoga are the names of a few studios in New York focused on breaking the yoga image that’s ever so apparent on our instagram feeds these days.  In Nashville you’ll find Curvy Yoga, Heavyweight Yoga in Austin, and Big Yoga in Buckingham, VA.  Instructors at these studios aim to customize the practice for their clientele, something that a lot of teachers don’t know how to do in most traditional yoga studios.

International Day Of Yoga

The world's first International Day Of Yoga took place this past Sunday, June 21st.  The inaugural event took place months after the U.N. General Assembly officially approved the holiday which had been approved by India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  Yogis from all over the world brought their practice outdoors to celebrate with one another at many of the worlds most recognizable venues.  These include Times Square in New York City, underneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and along Rajpath in New Delhi.

Transcending The Greek Debt Crisis Through Yoga

In Thessaloniki, Greece, hundreds of yoga enthusiasts have taken to this ancient practice in order to try and relieve the stress caused by the countries economic crisis.  It's common knowledge that yoga is quite possibly one of the greatest stress relievers of all time, but to see this implemented as a strategy to calm the people of Greece's second largest city is a first.

That’s it for now!  Be sure to follow the site for updates on what’s happening in the world of Yoga!

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Feature Image Credit:  Jagrap

 

Bikram Yoga: Dickipedia Feature

*** Video's audio may be mildly NSFW, or you might want to put some headphones in.


Bikram Choudhury has been making waves on waves in the yoga community.  Now he’s officially been given a feature spot in a Huffington Post’s “Dickipedia”.

The Backstory:

Known for being the founder of Bikram Yoga, this yoga instructor and multi-millionaire businessman is credited for being one of the originators of hot yoga.  His classes are held in rooms with extremely hot conditions and feature a sequence of 26 postures (the same sequences, same order, every class).  In 2002, he attempted to copyright these 26 postures (that have been around for thousands of years), earning him a place in The Huffington Posts Dickipedia.  Aside from comparing himself to Jesus and Buddha, he’s been making waves in the news after several of his former students have made allegations of sexual assault during his teacher trainings.

Recently:

In addition to these allegations, the video highlights Choudhury’s relentless ego, showcasing the fact that he owns numerous luxury cars, compares his man-parts to atom bombs, and makes women massage him, brush his hair, or else they flunk training.  What are your thoughts on Bikram Choudhury?  The father of modern day yoga, or a dude that simply needs to back down a few notches?

 

 

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Image Credit:  Sombilon Photography

Sanskrit 102: Pose Name Basics

Image Credit:  Pandu Adnyana


 

Welcome back for Sanskrit 101 part 2! We’re going to discuss pose names in more depth, and explain common modification names.

In the first part of this series, we introduced the names Trikonasana, (a.k.a. Triangle Pose), Uttanasana (a.k.a. Standing Forward Fold), and Dhanurasana (a.k.a. Bow Pose). I’ve found that a great technique for memorizing names is learning about their separate elements!

Etymology:

1.  Trikonasana

The name comes from the Sanskrit words trikona meaning “triangle” and asana meaning seat.

2.  Uttanasana

The name is derived from the Sanskrit words ud (a prefix indicating superiority), tana meaning “stretched”, uttana (meaning “straight” or “stretched”), and asana meaning “seat”.

3.  Dhanurasana

This name comes from the Sanskrit words dhanura meaning “bow” and of course asana, which of course means “seat”.

4.  Utthita:

Meaning “extended”.

Some poses have an extended variation that uses utthita in the name. One example is trikonasana (triangle pose), which is sometimes calledutthita trikonasana (extended triangle pose). Different schools of yoga disagree about the difference between trikonasana and utthita trikonasana, though it seems to depend on the placement of the hand and where the torso is. Trikonasana may keep the bottom hand off of the ground, whileutthita trikonasana may have the hand placed on the floor or holding the front big toe.

Another pose using utthita is utthita parsvokanasana (extended side angle pose). This pose has a wide open-pelvis stance with the back leg straight and the front leg bent. The torso extends over the bent leg and the top arm extends forward over the top ear.

Utthita hasta padangustasana is a standing balancing pose with one leg lifted and extended forward. The big toe of the raised leg is held, and the chin is brought forward to rest on the shin.

5.  Parvritta:

Meaning “revolved”.

Many poses have a revolved variation to deepen the stretch and incorporate the detoxing benefits of a spinal twist. Parvritta trikonasana(revolved triangle pose) is one example of this, in which the torso turns to face backwards and the opposite hand is placed on the floor.

Parvritta parvokanasana is another pose that is revolved. The legs are the same as in utthita parsvokanasana, but the torso twists so that the torso faces backwards and the shoulder meets the outside of the bent knee.

6.  Baddha:

Meaning “bound”.

“Bound” poses are with the arms wrapping around and one hand clasping the opposite wrist.  Baddha trikonasana is one example, in which one arm reaches behind the back while the other wraps under the front leg. The hand of the bottom arm clasps around the opposite wrist to complete the bind.

Baddha parsvokanasana is a very similar bind, with one arm behind the back and the other wrapped under the leg. The difference is in the position of the legs since baddha parsvokanasana is a wider stance with the front leg bent than baddha trikonasana.

7.  Supta:

Meaning “supine”.

Supine poses are poses done laying down or reclining.  One example is supta padangustasana which is a hamstring stretch done lying on the back. One leg remains flat on the ground, and one is raised and brought towards the face. The fingers of one hand hold the big toe, and the chin is brought towards the shin. This pose is very similar in shape to utthita hasta padangustasana (described above), but takes place lying on the floor instead of standing on one leg.

Supta baddha konasana is another reclining pose done lying on the back. The soles of the feet come together, and the knees fall to the sides towards the floor. It is a version of a seated pose called baddha konasana that has the same position of the legs and feet, but folds the torso forward over the legs.

8.  Ardha:

Meaning “half”.

Ardha is used to indicate in the name that the pose is modified, usually in a simplifying way. For example, ardha padmasana (half lotus) is a common modification for the hip opening pose padmasana (lotus pose).  Instead of both feet resting on top of the crossed legs, only one foot is up while the other remains on the ground.  This modification is great to use when beginning to open the hips for deeper stretches.

However, in the pose ardha uttanasana, the modification is used to actually deepen the stretch in the hamstrings and legs. From uttanasana(the standing forward bend), we lift the torso up while keeping the hands down on the shins or floor.

Variations:

Many poses have multiple variations to deepen or change the pose’s effects and benefits. These variations often change the Sanskrit name of the pose, in the same ways that they would change the English names.

Ultimately learning Sanskrit pose names is about memorization so will require you to put in the effort needed to remember the individual sounds. The most helpful thing for me has been taking classes with teachers who use the names in class, since hearing them repeatedly makes memorizing easier. Also, trying to use the names on social media posts has encouraged me to read about Sanskrit since I don’t want to write it wrong!

 

In case you missed it, check out Sanskrit 101

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A Brief History Of Yoga

Image Credit:  Hendrik Terbeck


 

Yoga has been around a long time.  Like, a really, really long time.  Try about 5000+ years.  Originating in India, this practice has changed dramatically in the years since its birth.  Rather than go into an explanation of the early stages of yoga and it’s four extensive, broad categories (Vedic Yoga, Preclassical Yoga, Classical Yoga and Postclassical Yoga), I want to get straight to the question.  Can we still find examples of traditional yoga today in Western Society?  What changes have been made to this practice that brought us to where we are now?

OK.  I lied.  In order to truly see the changes yoga has gone through, you need a brief history lesson on the subject:

Vedic Yoga

Sometimes referred to as "Archaic Yoga", this practice was directly connected with the ritual life of the ancient Indians.  Their idea of yoga was to embrace sacrifice as a way to connect the material world with the spiritual world through focusing their minds for extensive periods of time.  This ability to cultivate inner focus is the root of all yoga.  A successful Vedic yogi or yogini was fortunate if they were able to experience a vision in their practice, for which they could now become a “seer”.  This was the ultimate goal of the Vedic practice.

Preclassical Yoga

Moving right along, this period is considered the time when many different schools of yoga began to develop.  The teachings from these schools can be located in two of India’s greatest yogic scripts:  the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.  You might be familiar with the Bahgavad-Gita, which is embedded throughout these works.  Essentially, these schools began developing many different techniques for creating deep meditation in order to lead yogis and yogini’s in going beyond their mind and discovering their true nature.

Classical Yoga

As we begin to move forward, you might recognize some familiar territory you’ve heard about in a modern day yoga class.  This period of yoga refers to the eight-fold yoga teachings by Patanjali in the Yoga-Sutra.  Most yoga students begin identifying with many of these teachings as they dig deeper into their practice.  The teachings of this period are meant to further explore the separation between the physical body and the mental mind.  The goal?  Formless but conscious existence in day to day life.

Postclassical Yoga

This period of yoga evolves with a new focus in mind, the ultimate unity of everything.  In contrast to previous periods of yoga focusing only on the mind and how to separate ones physical self from their mental state, many teachers in the postclassical yoga period began to take a turn and discover the hidden potential of the physical body.  New systems of practice began focusing on prolonging ones life, and rejuvenating the mind through this physical practice.  Born around this time, Hatha-Yoga is an excellent example of a style that is practiced today due to the priority of wanting to energize the body.

Modern Yoga

Yoga has evolved in many different ways.  Although many of it’s roots are still apparent in modern day classes, there has been a significant shift in how yoga is viewed in modern society.  Previously, Yoga referred to realizing the entire mind, body and spirit as one object, with a goal of separation between these aspects.  Yoga was seen ultimately as a spiritual practice; a pathway to discover ones true inner self.  In modern times, this view has shifted to focus on the postures of yoga.  Don’t believe me?  Open up Instagram and search #yoga, and you’ll be flooded with pictures of yogis in graceful, challenging, or inspiring postures.  Of course, this is neither a good or bad change, but one can easily notice the shift Yoga has gone through.  In addition, Yoga is also seen today as a mere means to achieving physical fitness.  Many studios pride themselves on creating an environment to tone, strengthen, and loosen the muscles.  While this is definitely a positive aspect of Yoga, it strays away from Yoga’s original purpose.

Changes?

One obvious, yet overlooked change has been made in the past few decades.  The idea of a “Yoga mat”, a device used to assist in achieving various postures to the highest degree.  This object has been significant in creating today’s “Yoga industry”, which also includes “Yoga” clothing, jewelry, props, accessories, etc.  Since the Yoga mat is a device used primarily to help achieve postures, it has helped modern day yogis and yoginis to stray away from Yoga’s original intent.  Another result of this introduction of a yoga mat is the creation of yoga "on" and "off" the mat.  In the past, there was only Yoga, and with the addition of a mat we are brought another complex world of viewpoints and opinions on what Yoga is truly meant for.

Ultimately, it’s up to you whether or not to buy into the hype that is modern day Yoga.  You can decide for yourself whether to walk into a Yoga class focusing on its mental and spiritual aspect, or solely for it’s physical practice.  Don’t get me wrong, Yoga is an excellent way to ease stress, focus on your inner spirit, alleviate tension in your body, and strengthen your muscles.  But there is so much more to what you might experience in a modern day Vinyasa or Hot Yoga class.  To truly develop an understanding, and to practice Yoga to it’s fullest degree, start looking beyond the physical practice.  You’re mind, body and spirit will thank you in the long run.

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Sanskrit 101: The REAL Meaning of "Asana"

Image Credit:  Salvador Fornell


It’s become common to see Sanskrit names of poses on social media posts and in articles written by yoga practitioners. For a beginner, it can seem super overwhelming to see long strings of letters that look unfamiliar and to try to remember them! However, learning the Sanskrit pose names can add a deeper level of meaning to your yoga practice, and often inspires practitioners to delve into the philosophy and history of the yoga lineage.

Where do Pose Names Come From?

Many of the poses are named after animals, Hindu gods, religious figures, or mythological characters. Developing an understanding of these can help a practitioner learn about where yoga comes from, why we practice it, and how to move beyond just the physical aspect. One of the first things people realize about Sanskrit when they begin to learn about it was that since Sanskrit is not written with the same characters as English, there are many ways to spell things. You might see different forms of spellings depending on who wrote it, such as savasana versus shavasana or danurasana versus dhanurasana. It’s a choice in phonetic translation, so there’s no right or wrong version but it can get confusing when seeing a spelling other than the one you’re used to.  Try to figure out the pronunciations and common spelling differences. In the savasana/ shavasana (a.k.a. Corpse Pose) example, the difference is the use of the letter h but the two are pronounced the same way. Some people choose to use the “sh” spelling, but it’s very common to see just the letter s and have the “shhh” sound implied.

Why do Some Poses Have More Than One Name?

Another important thing to note is that since there are many different schools of thought in yoga, sometimes you’ll see certain poses being called by different names. An example is “chakrasana” which is a name used for a backbend in Iyengar yoga (a.k.a. Wheel Pose). However, in traditional Ashtanga yoga this name is given to a transitional movement in which one does a backwards roll over the shoulders. Postures having multiple names is an intimidating thought when considering how many poses there are in yoga. Luckily, most have a name that’s most commonly used and when in doubt you can always just describe it in English.

So What Does "Asana" Really Mean?

We’ll start with the term “asana” which is part of most of the Sanskrit pose names. “Asana” is defined as any of the yogic postures or movements, but literally translates to “seat.” It’s said that originally the only posture in yoga was a comfortable seat taken for long periods of mediation. Eventually the other postures were developed to help find ease in sitting for so long, and to assist with opening the mind to a meditative state. The postures are used to increase hip flexibility so one can sit crosslegged, and to stimulate the chakras and nadis (allowing for energy body throughout the body). “Asana” is a very thought-provoking term, since thinking of each posture as a place to find the meditative “seat” or state of mind brings the practice away from just the physical movement and begins the journey of the mind looking inward. It also reinforces the idea that a practitioner should try seated meditation in addition to practicing postures.

Here are some easy posture names to start practicing, and look for our next Sanskrit basics article coming soon! Trikonasana, a.k.a. Triangle Pose Uttanasana, a.k.a. Standing Forward Fold Dhanurasana, a.k.a. Bow Pose

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Root Chakra: The Base and Security Within

If you ever feel unstable in life, it may be that one of the chakras in your body is not completely in balance. Chakras, or energy wheels, are centers of energy within the subtle body, overlaying the physical body. It is through these chakras that energy flows within our body, and to feel healthy and fit, it is good to spend some time to review how in balance each of your chakras is.

What are chakras exactly?

The chakras were first mentioned in the Vedas, ancient Hindu texts, and later on in the Yoga Upanishads and  Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. They are centers of energy, each represented by a different color, sound and function. They vitalize the physical body, and draw in universal life force energy to keep the body in balance physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

There are altogether seven main chakras. If energy is blocked and cannot run through a certain chakra, it can lead to disturbances in the mind and body.

Muladhara - Red root chakra of safety

The root chakra is located at the base of the spine, symbolized by a red lotus with four petals. This first chakra relates to our foundation and base in life. The Sanskrit word Muladhara comes from two separate words, Mula meaning root, and Adhara meaning support or base. As the first chakra, this is an important starting point when beginning a journey to balancing these energy wheels in our bodies.

The root chakra connects us to our physical world. It relates to the physical energies, and it provides us with a sense of security and safety. Whatever makes you feel stable in life, elements such as food, water, shelter and even finances are governed by the root chakra. Also emotional needs relating to safety are based in the first chakra.

The color of the root chakra is red, which relates to self awareness. It is the area of survival and stability and your place on this earth.  The color red provides the power from the earth and gives vital energy on all levels.

When your root chakra is balanced, you feel stable and you are not doubting your place in this world. You are in good health, you feel safe and grounded.  The positive qualities of a balanced root chakra is a sense of stability, vitality, loyalty, prosperity and patience.

Imbalances in the Root Chakra

The possible imbalances in the root chakra are not necessarily relating to what we have in our lives at this very moment. Early childhood developments and the feeling of security once had, has a great impact on the development of the root chakra. The family wounds as well as cultural beliefs can also be stored here.

If you feel unsafe in any area of your life, whether in relationships, in your job or financially, you may have imbalances in the root chakra. And as energy flows upwards, blockages in the root chakra affect the energy flow towards the other chakras.

The imbalances in the root chakra can show themselves physically or emotionally. Physically this can show as constipation, having lower back or leg issues, prostate problems or even eating disorders. Emotionally the imbalances can show as increased feelings of fear or anxiety disorder.

If a chakra is not functioning optimally, it can be either overactive, or deficient.

Overactive root chakra

Those having an overactive root chakra may experience excessive feelings of anger and aggression towards others, and towards life. One can become greedy, materialistic and overly controlling. When the root chakra is overactive, the sense of security is found mainly from outside, resulting into inflexibility towards external factors in life.

Deficient root chakra

People with a deficient root chakra may feel disconnected from the world around them. One can have lack of focus and increased feelings of fear when dealing with others. Financial security can also be affected, and finding balance in this area of life is challenging.

Balancing comes from within

Connecting back with the feeling of trust is an inside job. The outer world may not know what we need, and if we hold it responsible for our happiness and feeling of safety, we may be waiting a lifetime. Therefore to find balance we need to find a way back to our deepest selves.

There are several ways in order to increase the balance of the root chakra. Meditation is a good way to connect again with the inner self, and to find a place where we are connected to the source.

The root chakra is connected with the sense of smell, and the element associated with it is earth. By being in nature, feeling the supportive earth beneath us and using the sense of smell to connect to the element of earth can have a positive effect on the root chakra.

Sound can also be healing. Hindu beliefs state that everything in the universe is made of sound. There are distinct sounds, or mantras, related to each chakra. Each chakra has a one syllable seed sound, Bija Mantra, which, when performed, activates the energy patterns of the chakra in order to purify the body and mind. The sound of the root chakra is LAM.

Yoga asana practice provides also a great tool to connect to the inner layers of ourselves, and to find the base of security and comfort within. In the next article we will provide asanas which are helpful in balancing the root chakra.

How is your Muladhara chakra?

To check if you may have blockages in the root chakra, you can ask yourself if there are areas in your life where you do not feel safe. Are there areas where you do not seem to be in control? As an affirmation, try waking up in the morning and before tuning into the world, tell yourself: I am part of this world, I am safe and grounded. I am stable, healthy and strong.

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Best Yoga Books: Top Picks from 10 Amazing Yoga Teachers

With a plethora of astute literature by a gazillion teachers, gurus and yogis out there on the shelves, it can be daunting to know where to start your education into the language and intellectual depth of yoga. Here, I have collected a list of favorites from some of my yoga teacher peers from all over the world for you to peruse and enjoy! [wp_ad_camp_1]  

1. Ely Ruales

Instructor of Hatha and Therapy teacher training programs in Varkala, Kerala, India recommends, A systematic course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya published by the Bihar School of Yoga. She says it is “suited for those looking to deepen their spiritual journey and prepare the five bodies and pranas for the experience.” A couple of her favorites for meditation are The art of meditation by Joel Goldsmith and The Book of Secrets by Osho. On the topic of Ayurveda, she likes Ayurveda: A Life of Balance by Maya Tiwari and Pharmacy for the Soul, also by Osho.

2. Mahesh Chandra

YTT instructor at Ashtanga and Hatha Yoga Mysore Kerala in India specializes in Ashtanga Yoga and recommends Ashtanga Yoga: the Practice Manual by David Swenson. On the topic of Pranayama, he suggests Prana and Pranayama by Swami Niranjananda Saraswati. For Anatomy, Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff, and for more advanced practices of yoga, he likes The path of fire and light volume I & II by Swami Rama.

3. Joe Kara

Teacher and YTT instructor in Los Angeles, CA at InYoga Center in Sherman Oaks, CA and studio instructor at Yogaworks in Larchmont and West Hollywood, CA recommends Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice by T.K.V. Desikachar. Another favorite is Light on Yoga  by B.K.S. Iyengar

4. Angkana Srikasem

The founder at SAMsara Yoga and teacher of many disciplines including therapy and prenatal yoga at My Peace Yoga in Bangkok, Thailand. She keeps several books close at hand, including Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health by B.K.S. Iyengar,  Yoga for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond by Francoise Barbira Freedman,  The Yoga of Pregnancy Week by Week: Connect with Your Unborn Child Through the Mind, Body and Breath by Mel Campbell. She also frequently references The Power of Ashtanga Yoga by Kino MacGregor.

5. Jenny Yoczik

Yoga teacher in Los Angeles, CA recommends The Yogi Entrepreneur: A Guide to Earning a Mindful Living Through Yoga by Darren Main. Jenny says, “It talks about everything from how to get a job teaching at a studio to how to create your own workshops, retreats & open your own studio. She also suggests Yoga Adjustments: Philosophy, Principles, and Techniques and Yoga Sequencing: Designing Transformative Yoga Classes, both by Mark Stephens. Jenny says Mark Stephens’ books help her continue to grow as a student & teacher.

6. Helena Mercera

Teacher at Endless Summer Beachhouse in Cape Town, Africa recommends Teaching yoga: Adjusting Asana by Melanie Cooper. She also recommends the Ashtanga Yoga Book – The Yoga of Breath by Lino Miele.

7. Nicole Tiska

Teacher in Wenzhou, China recommends Ashtanga Yoga: a Practice Guide  by Larry Schultz, one she "mainly uses with students and for quick review.” For more spiritual introspection, she suggests Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh which she finds greatly inspiring, especially on “tricky” days.

8. Lisa Jennings

Restorative teacher in Los Angeles, CA at Mission Chiropractic frequently references Judith Lasater’s book, Relax and Renew. For her favorite translation of the Sutras, she loves Liberating Isolation  by Frans Moors.

9. Maria Weber

Teacher at Seaside Yoga in Seaside, Oregon goes back over and over again to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and the Bagavad Gita. She especially loves The Living Gita: The Complete Bhagavad Gita - A commentary for Modern Readers. For the Sutras, she likes the beautiful text and illustrations in Gary Kissah's The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Illuminations Through Image, Commentary and Design.

10. Kristin Daemon

Owner at Seaside Yoga Studio in Seaside, Oregon (that's me) gets so much from the books her teachers, Ely Ruales, Mahesh Chandra and Joe Kara introduced her to, including Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swami Muktibodhananda, Asana Pranayama Mudra Banda by Swami Stayananda Saraswati and a now worn copy of the Pocket Edition of Integral Yoga - The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Sri Swami Satchitananda, a great one to travel and journal with.

Several of these books were cross-referenced by multiple teachers on this list. It is a compilation purposefully gathered from teachers all over the world to give you a well-rounded (and yet small) sense of what is out there and a place to start.

 

Image via: Abhi Sharma

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Finding the Perfect Yoga Teacher Training

  I thought about pursuing a yoga teacher training for about 7 years before I actually decided to do it.  There always seemed to be other priorities (or excuses) that got in the way.  When I finally decided that the time seemed right, I was still scared to take the first step.  When I met with the director of the yoga teacher training I was interested in, she told me that if I had come that far, I was ready.  It’s now been almost a year since the first day of my yoga teacher training, and I know she was right. Chances are if you are reading this article and beginning to research teacher trainings, you are ready too.  Now, what next?

 

Reflect on your goals

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What do you want out of the experience?  If you aren’t sure, take some time to reflect or meditate on what you want.  Writing it down can help as well.

Generally, most teaching positions will require at least a 200-hour training. Some may also require Yoga Alliance Certification.  If you complete a 200-hour training that is registered with Yoga Alliance, you can become a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT).  Although this is the gold standard in yoga teaching, the credential may or may not be important to you.  If your goal is to teach at a gym or recreation center, the requirements to teach might be less strict, and maybe a weekend course is the way to go.

You may be willing to invest more time and money into a program that will train you not only how to teach but also how to market yourself as a yoga teacher if you’re contemplating a career change. On the other hand, if you want to deepen your practice or test out a teacher training before committing, training programs such as YogaWorks and YogaFit offer shortened trainings of 12 to 20 hours to give you a glimpse into a teacher training. If you decide to go for the full training later, those hours won’t be lost.

 

Know what you’re getting into

The program I chose was the self-proclaimed “Harvard” of teacher trainings.  I didn’t know that I when I signed up.  Was that necessary for my goals?  Maybe not.

Here is where research really is important.  Your regular studio may offer a teacher training, and it’s an easy choice, but you may need to visit other studios, talk with directors of the programs, and attend classes to get an idea of what the program is really like.  Ask to talk to former students if possible.  Take the time needed to research your options before diving in. The process to finding a teacher training is different for everyone.  My search began with Google, but that was truly only the beginning.

Consider various styles of yoga and whether you need specialized training to teach that style. If you know for sure you want to teach Bikram yoga, then it makes sense to complete a Bikram-style training.  Regardless, be familiar with the content of the trainings you’re researching.  Are you more interested in asana and anatomy, or do you want to learn about yoga history, philosophy and the other 7 limbs of yoga?

 

Go for it, but be realistic

Immersion courses are appealing because they allow you to complete the training in a short time period, and you can truly devote your time and energy to the task at hand without too many distractions.  My dream teacher training was a month-long intensive program, but I would have had to pay for housing and take time off of work.  In the end, the sacrifices did not outweigh the benefits for me, so I kept looking. I ultimately chose a weekend course so I could continue my full-time job while completing the training.  It worked great for my schedule, but with classes, homework, and daily yoga practice, it was still a huge time commitment. Be realistic with how the teacher training can best fit into your life.  What works for you?

Online trainings can be a great option. When I began contemplating doing a yoga teacher training, I asked my favorite yoga teacher at the time where she completed her training.  She enthusiastically told me that she completed hers online. At the following week’s class she brought me tons of materials about her program and a coupon!  It ended up not being the right fit for me, but great yoga teachers have diverse backgrounds and experiences.

You will most certainly consider the financial commitment you are making.  Teacher trainings can vary from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand (or more).

 

Trust yourself

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Trust whatever is leading you to this journey, and don’t be afraid to take that final step toward pursuing a yoga teacher training.

Remember to approach the journey to becoming a teacher in the same way you approach your yoga practice: with acceptance, openness, and self-compassion.  If you are getting stressed out, take a step back and reassess.  Is now the right time?  What is causing your stress and what, if anything, can you do about it?

Regardless of what you think you’ll get out of the experience, expect to be surprised with how you will grow and change.  I knew it would deepen my practice, but I did not expect to what depth it would go.  I thought it would be physically challenging, but did not anticipate the spiritual challenges that came with self-study.  Everyone will experience different gifts from yoga teacher training, so open your heart and mind to what may come.

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Jannan Poppen currently lives in Tempe, Arizona where she advises university students who are preparing to study abroad.  She has lived and studied in Latin America and Europe, and she first discovered yoga while studying in France.  Jannan believes in the transformational power of both travel and yoga.  She also loves to hike, bake and eat local food. 

 

Bonus Pics! 

A few fun pictures from Yoga Travel Tree team member Sarah's yoga teacher training in 2011.

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sarahs yoga teacher training viniyoga yogatraveltree

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Images via: Flickr, Flickr, Flickr, Old Town Yoga