Bringing All Of Yourself To Your Teaching

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Recently a friend of mine attended a yoga class where the teacher said "Yoga is 3 parts, asana, meditation and inquiry. If you are not doing all 3 you are just working out."

I wholeheartedly agree with this. In fact, these are the practices & techniques of Baptiste Yoga.

1. Physical (Asana):  Journey Into Power as an access to vitality, power & freedom. 
2. Meditation (Dhyana): As an access to getting present & awakening. 
3. Inquiry (Niyama): As an access to discovery & new possibility.

These three tenets are present in every Baptiste Program I've attended. Baron says if a teacher is hiding something from his/her students - they can smell the inauthenticity. Inauthenticity can show up as the teacher pretending to be the "perfect yogi", always striving to say the exactly correct thing, speaking with a "yogic" sing-song intonation because that's what they think their students want to hear or a teacher who does yoga with the class from their mat. News flash: if you're teaching from your mat by doing the yoga - you're not connecting with your students. You can't see them and they can't see you.

When a yoga teacher brings their whole self (the good, the bad, the messy, the silly) to their teaching - it is immediately apparent and allows the students to connect with the teacher through the practice on a whole new level.

When you go to an eight day Baptiste Program like Level One, Two or Three - it is a full immersion in the practices of asana, meditation and inquiry. Throughout the course of the eight days you will experience new insights into you, your behavior, your thoughts and experience new breakthroughs in new ways of being. The time away from the regular routine of life allows for deeper exploration of self, removed from the day-to-day distractions of "getting things done". Being surrounded by 150+ other people who are also in the work of inquiry is extremely helpful when you need to talk about what you're experiencing. The other person is right there in the work with you and is ready to share from their experience of what is happening in the moment.

Outside of attending a Baptiste Program, there are many tools available to do this work of inquiry. It can come in the form of books, meetup groups or card games!

  • Asking for and put into action feedback on your teaching in the form of:
    • Keep (what's working)
    • Stop  (what's not working)
    • Start  (what's missing)
I highly recommend asking for and putting into practice feedback other yoga teachers in your community. Look for those people who will give you honest, constructive feedback and not just tell you that everything you do is amazing.

Take classes at other studios, listen for how the teachers' instructions land in your body. Record the audio of you teaching and take your own class and put yourself in the head space of your students to see how your own words land in your body.

When you teach from your whole self, the act of teaching becomes co-creating a shared experience of yoga. Leading asana in this way "dissapears" the teacher and the space where anything is possible is created. 

The Five Pillars of Baptiste Yoga

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The foundation of any solid structure begins with small, simple structures and builds upon them.

The first pillar of Baptiste yoga is DRISHTI.

Drishti is Sanskrit for sight. Where you rest your gaze can shift your balance. When you are focused on where you're gazing, all the distractions around you drop away and you become unmessable with. Set your sight on what you want to have happen and be for it. Seeing your future with your mind's eye is the first step to bringing that future into reality.

The second pillar of Baptiste yoga is UJJAYI.

Ujjayi is Sanskrit for breath. It is described as ocean breath, victorious breath or even Darth Vader breath (because that's also what he sounds like when he's breathing). It is done by inhaling through your nose and slightly constricting the back of your throat as you exhale through your nose. This audible breath allows your mind to quiet as you focus your attention on hearing the sound of your own breath. Yoga with Adrienne has a great video demonstrating ujjayi breathing.

Fun fact: Ujjayi breathing increases the levels of nitric oxide in your noses and sinuses. Higher nitric oxide levels, the less inflammation in your nasal cavity. This means fewer headaches, allergies, and colds. Another way to increase the level of nitric oxide in your sinuses is humming!

The third pillar of Baptiste yoga is BANDHAS

Bandhas is Sanskrit for body locks. Body locks refer to the areas of the body where we can pull in, or hug in the body to engage muscle energy. In Baptiste Yoga, this is often referred to as "Core, Hands and Feet". 
The Bandhas:
  • Hasta Bandha, contraction of the hands - pulling energy up into the body
  • Pada Bandha, contraction of the feet - pulling energy up into the body
  • Mula Bandha, contraction of the perineum - similar to stopping the flow of urine
  • Uddiyana bandha, contraction of the abdomen into the rib cage - pulling the belly button into the spine
  • Jalandhara Bandha, tucking the chin close to the chest - lengthens the back of the neck.

The fourth pillar of Baptiste yoga is TAPAS.

Tapas is derived from the root Sanskrit verb 'tap' which means 'to burn'. Baptiste Yoga is practiced in a heated room (90F/32.2C) to bring about tapas. The heat helps to melt away layers of resistance and get you out of your comfort zone. As your sweat becomes something you notice, the opportunity arises to use it as a way to stay centered and present in the moment. The skills you cultivate in your yoga practice help you to stay patient and present when your life heats up off the mat.

The fifth pillar of Baptiste yoga is VINYASA.

Vinyasa is derived from the Sanskrit term nyasa, which means "to place," and the prefix vi, "in a special way". Often Vinyasa is used as a shorthand reference to moving through the following poses: Chaturanga > Upward Facing Dog > Downward Facing Dog. Vinyasa is also the flow we move through as we make our way through the Journey Into Power sequence on our mats. We flow (vinyasa) and are also intentional about creating the physical foundation of the pose from one pose to the next.

When all of these pillars are combined, Baptiste Yoga begins a transformation of the mind, body and spirit - all within the space of one small yoga mat. Sight clears, breath calms, energy is cultivated, the fire cleanses and the vinyasa washes it all way presenting us with the opportunity for birth, death and rebirth each time we step onto our mats.

Body Mind Spirit Tampa Summer 2019 Expo - Yoga Curious?

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I am excited to say that I will be a speaker exhibitor at the Body Mind Spirit Tampa Summer 2019 Expo at the Florida State Fairgrounds. You're probably wondering why would I do such a thing, well hang in there and I'll explain.

I decided to buy a booth after attending the event twice in 2018 and coming away each time disappointed in the lack of scientifically supported mind-body interventions proven to improve health, happiness and mental well-being (but, boy were there lots of snake-oil and pseudoscientific products for sale!). I got angry at the outright dangerous medical claims several booth proprietors were making about their products/services and went to the Body Mind Spirit Expo website to see what it would cost to buy a booth and bring some truth and science to the event. The cost wasn't prohibitive (but I'm not going to make a habit out of it either) so I decided why the heck not?  It could be fun being the odd duck at the event.

As part of being a booth exhibitor, I will have an hour long speaking/presentation slot. My topic of choice is "The Science Behind Yoga and Meditation", and my presentation content draws from many scientific studies that have been done on the topics of yoga and meditation. When I give the presentation, I'll be recording it and posting it to YouTube afterwards.

My goal is to bring clinically proven, scientific evidence on the benefits of yoga and meditation to the attendees of this event simply because I can and want to.

In my booth I'll have my favorite books:

and my box set of Baptiste Yoga Flash Cards. I'll bring my BMAT yoga mat so people can try it out, I'll have a stack of FREE YOGA CLASS coupons, handouts on "What is Baptiste Yoga", and some JenTechYoga stickers. 

Planned activities for in the booth are:

In preparation for the event, I made a booth banner display stand to make a back "wall" for exhibitor space I've purchased (since the booth doesn't have walls). The backdrop is a banner I made via Redbubble of a NASA Hubble telescope image of the Carina Nebula. I found a DIY blogpost showing how to make the banner stand out of PVC piping (at a cost of about $12 in parts). I decided on the vague, yet intriguing banner title of "Yoga curious?" to hopefully catch people's attention at a distance and make them wonder what the heck that is all about, and come over to my booth and chat with me.

You can find me in the middle of the exhibit hall, back with the psychics (these are the smallest, least expensive booths for rent) and my presentation room is at the front of the hall in Lecture Room 2.

I don't know how my booth and content will be received, but I'm hopeful. This is an experiment in bringing science into a pseudo-scientific jumble sale of magnetsstones and resin paperweights.

Yoga Teacher Compensation - What Is A Typical Pay Rate?

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Photo via flickr @sescsp

Talking about money is often a taboo topic, especially when it comes to teaching yoga. I teach yoga because I know firsthand how powerful it is to get in touch with your body and breath. I don't teach yoga because I expect to make a lot of money at it. That being said, teaching yoga is a primary source of income for many yoga teachers, and as such; getting paid what you're worth is very important.

I was recently asked what I thought was a fair base pay + head count bonus for a yoga teacher and I really had no idea what was normal. I reached out to over twenty yoga teachers from a wide geographic area and asked them what they got paid. The results were very interesting.

There doesn't seem to be a single 'what's normal' pay structure for yoga teachers. This may be a surprise, it might not be. What I did find was that most teachers get paid a 'base pay' for teaching a class. This base pay is what you get paid even if no students show up for class. At some point, the size of the class will then lead to a 'per head' bonus for the teacher. Some studios have smaller class sizes and the bonus starts when the student count passes 10 students. Other studios are larger and have bigger class sizes, so the bonus starts when the class attendance surpasses 30 or 40 students.

If a studio is new and trying to build a clientele, the teacher might get paid more per class to teach, but there probably isn't a bonus based on attendance (because attendance is expected to be small as the business is getting established).

Most yoga teachers I spoke with also had a per class pay cap, or an upper limit on what they would get paid per class. As an example "$25 per class over 10 students bonus of $2 per head, with a $40 cap" would mean that if a class had 30 students, the teacher would have been paid $65 for the class, but their pay is capped at $40, so they get paid $40.

Not surprising was the wide swing in compensation from rural location to metropolitan city. Just as any line of work commands a larger salary in a big city, the same is true for yoga teachers.

The basic calculation is something like this: X number of dollars per class, over Y students bonus of $Z per head. The X values ranged from $10 to $50, the Y values ranged from 10 to 40 and the bonus ranged from $1 to $5 per head.

Comparing East Coast to West Coast went something like this:

East Coast
$15 per class, over 5 students bonus of $2 per head - capped at $50
$25 per class, over 5 students bonus of $2 per head
$25 flat fee

West Coast
$25 per class (for inexperienced teachers)
$45 per class, over 20 students bonus of $2 per head
$55 per class (for experienced teachers)

Bigger studios with higher student counts often pay more than smaller studios, simply because they can afford to do so. Teachers who can hold space for 40+ yogis are also less common, and get paid more as a result.

What it boils down to is your average yoga teacher is getting paid somewhere between $25 to $55 per class taught. Keep in mind that an hour long class often requires the teacher to be at the studio 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after class, so a 60 minute class is really a two hour time commitment from the teacher (not including commute time). This is to say nothing of the time spent planning the class and the time spent in training to be able to lead the class...

I created a SurveyMonkey survey so that anyone who teaches yoga can contribute to the Yoga Teacher Compensation analysis.

None of this information is intended to sway anyone away from or towards teaching yoga. Teaching yoga comes from the heart, from a place of giving, a place where how much money you make doing it, is not the point of the thing. This was an exercise born out of my curiosity for what was typical amongst yoga teachers.

Baptiste Yoga Tier 2 Certification - Dedication and Achievement

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It all happened so quickly, I didn't even write about it as I was applying to level up to Tier 2! I'd been checking the Baptiste Yoga website to see what the guidelines were going to be to apply for Tier Two certification and the guidelines had changed at least three times since I'd made notes about what was needed for me to do before I could apply. 

The website showed different requirements than the application form did. The website description said 102 hours of additional approved coursework is required to reach a total of 300 hours, but the three listed requirements total 398 hours already. Previously the website had listed 250 hours as the requirement for approved coursework (according to the notes I took about a month ago).

When I clicked into the application form, it says 500 additional hours of classroom teaching are required and the website description says 100 hours of classroom teaching are required. The application form also lists a prerequisite of a CPR certification, which the website description doesn't list as a requirement.

So with all that being said, at the time I applied for Tier 2 certification - I had attended/completed the following programs:

> Tier 1: 200 hour Certified Baptiste Teacher | 258 hours* 
> Level Three: Beyond Borders | 125 hours
> Advanced Art of Assisting | 15 hours
> + 102 hours of additional approved coursework to reach a total of 300 hours
> + 1 year or 100 hours of teaching as a Tier 1: 200 hour Certified Baptiste Teacher
> Apprentice A Week Long Program | 120 hours

My hour count was 518 hours plus 170 hours of teaching since achieving Tier One certification.

So I applied on February 1st and waited. On March 6th I received the email indicating my next steps. I was already current on my dues payment for Tier 1 so the only hurdle I had to clear was the new Certification Development Program Exam for 2019. The exam is online, 22 questions (fill in the blank, multiple choice and True/False) and a passing score is 80% or better. I passed with 81% missing 3 questions and getting a partial credit on one question. After taking the exam I updated my blog posts with the verbiage for 2019 as it was a little different than what I'd had in my notes from years past.

I'm happy to announce that I've successfully leveled-up to Tier 2 Certribution Status! This doesn't mean that my teaching has changed or anything like that - it simply means that I've gathered enough training hours with the Baptiste Institute to move into the next teaching tier and this also means that I'm now listed as a 500RYT with the Yoga Alliance. To level up into Tier 3, attending the Fit To Lead program is the prerequisite. Fit To Lead requires a pretty big time investment and it isn't something I can fit into my vacation schedule for 2019 or 2020, so I'll be looking towards 2021 as the year when I might enroll in Fit To Lead. We'll see how it goes... It seems like a long way away right now, but it's really a lot closer than I realize.

SuperBetter - 12 Part Yoga Book Study

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This 12 part yoga book study will delve into the chapters of SuperBetter by Jane McGonigal as the theme for each class.

Students are be encouraged to download the Superbetter app and play along at home!

Part 1 - Why Games Make Us Superbetter
1. You Are Stronger Than You Know - 2/9
2. You Are Surrounded By Potential Allies - 2/16
3. You Are the Hero of Your Own Story - 2/19
4. You Can Make the Leap From Games to Gameful - 2/23

Part 2 - How to be Gameful
5. Challenge Yourself - 3/2
6. Power-Ups - 3/5
7. Bad Guys - 3/9
8. Quests - 3/16
9. Allies - 3/19
10. Secret Identity - 3/23
11. Epic Wins - 3/26 <-this -class="" bad="" chose="" class="" cutting="" discard.="" during="" font="" for="" kept="" mic="" my="" out="" recording.="" recording="" suitable="" t="" the="" to="" upload.="" was="" wasn="">
12. Keeping Score - 3/30

My Journey as a Yoga Teacher

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Each of these links represents a major milestone in my progress towards becoming a yoga teacher, learning hands-on assisting, attending Baptiste Programs, receiving constructive feedback, putting feedback into action and becoming a Certified Baptiste Yoga Teacher. I'm now tracking my progress towards Tier Two Baptiste Certification in the upcoming year(s).

Introspection, Basic Truths and Transformation
Teaching Yoga is Unlike Anything I've Ever Done
The More You Sequence a Class, the Less You Rely on Pictograms (2016)

Journey Into Power Sequence - All Poses and Transitions
Baptiste Power Yoga Methodology
Baptiste Power Yoga - True North Alignment
Baptiste Power Yoga - Eight Universal Principles of Stepping Up to the Edge

Level One Program - Through the Eye of the Storm and Back Again
My teaching changed drastically after attending Level One Program! No more pictograms, no more wondering if the sequence was long enough. I began teaching from Journey Into Power off the mat.
Art of Assisting
What is Baptiste Yoga and Why Should I Care?
Level Two Program - Packing, Prepping
Level Two Program - One OF Many
Baptiste Certification Process Under Way
Baptiste Tier 1 Certification Feedback Process (as of 2017)
The Challenge to Reach Beyond Your Default Language
Certification Unlocked!

Apprenticing a Baptiste Program (Level One - Menla 2018)
Apprenticeship Complete!
Thoughts from Behind the Tech Desk
Level Three Program - Beyond Borders
Level Three Program - From ME to WE

- pursuing Tier Two Certification - 


Baptiste Yoga Tier 2 Certification - Dedication and Achievement 


Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being 7 Part Yoga Book Study

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I picked this book up on a whim, based on the author being Martin E.P. Seligman and it is a fantastic book. I've turned it into a seven part yoga book study for the month of January 2019.

Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being by Martin E.P. Seligman

"A compelling view of a positive human future, for individuals, corporations, and nations, brilliantly told." -- Tony Hsieh author of "Delivering Happiness" and CEO of, Inc.

1. What is Well Being?
2. Creating Your Happiness - Positive Psychology Exercises That Work
3. The Dirty Little Secret of Drugs and Therapy
4. Teaching Well-Being: The Magic of MAPP
5. GRIT, Character and Achievement: A New Theory of Intelligence
6. Positive Physical Health: The Biology of Optimism
7. The Politics and Economics of Well-Being  Ikigai

Each date we'll delve deeper into the components of this book as we move through asana.

8 Universal Principles of Stepping Up To The Edge

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Photo by Harry Burk on Unsplash

1. We are either now here or nowhere
2. Be in the now and you'll know how
3. Growth is the most important thing there is
4. Exceed yourself to find your exceeding self
5. In order to heal, you need to feel
6. Think less, be more
7. We are the sum total of our reactions
8. Don't try hard, try easy
      - From Journey Into Power by Baron Baptiste

Many years ago, I got my start as an IT consultant at a company called Coleman Technologies. I remember being impressed by their founder's father's lists of Rules and Laws that were printed on the back of everyone's business cards. Short, simple words to live by. I was reminded of this list of rules and laws when I recently re-reading  Journey Into Power. Jeff Coleman's Law 16: Grow or Die is akin to Baron Baptiste's principle #3: Growth is the most important thing there is.

Growth of any kind, regardless of the measure, is progress. Look for ways in which you can stretch yourself, be a little nervous and step forward into your own greatness. We each get one shot at this life, be up to something bigger than yourself while you are here, and have the opportunity.