Gratitude for constructive feedback

2:53 PM 0 Comments A+ a-


I've been working on leveling up my yoga teaching skills recently. I would say it started with Leandra's "Lizard Tail" class, but I didn't start putting concept into creation until I received constructive feedback from my friend Julie Bergfeld after she took my class via Zoom on 8/25/2020. Essentially her feedback was that I should use student's names and be specific on who I am speaking to, it would be helpful if I had a specific theme, and what I spoke to was good, but was enough for two classes worth and I should leave more space (less instructing, more holding space). Her feedback was accurate and helped me get real with how I was holding the container for the students to have a yoga practice. I'd been winging it, waiting for inspiration to hit me with what I could/should speak to during the class. I began deconstructing Leandra's Lizard class, looking for a pattern to work from in order to lead more powerfully.

Julie took my class again on 9/26/2020 and by then I'd themed twelve classes in Leandra's styling & the theme for the class that night was "using resistance as a catalyst for growth". Julie's feedback for me after this class was she wanted to hear more from my share (I'd cut it short) and I say 'good' without directing the encouragement to a specific person.

Luca Richards held a Grow Tips Live webinar on  9/9 on the "The Shape of Sharing" which was all about theming a yoga class powerfully. It took me a while to digest what Luca covered in his webinar, but I began to put it into action in the class on 10/7. Simplifying the theme of the class to a single concept or single word has been my biggest challenge. I started out with "unconditional self-acceptance" and have whittled class themes down to justice, love, connection and gratitude.

This is a mountain with no top. As with everything in life, the only constant is change and as I grow and change how I hold the container of a yoga class, I'm able to look back at the classes I've recorded (especially the videos classes) and see pivotal points in the work that I've been doing to grow as a Baptiste yoga teacher. I'm grateful that video recording your classes was required at the time I was seeking Baptiste certification. I have mile markers that show me messy, hiding and awkward. The first video I made was way back in December of 2016, four months after attending Level One.

In 2017 I was recording classes to apply for Baptiste certification and receive feedback for how my teaching was landing. Messy, awkward, all the cues. First attempt, second attempt and a full class of YTT students I led the same day as the second attempt video. 

Fast forward to June of 2018, I had the opportunity to lead Sunday yoga at the Tampa Lululemon store and I setup the camera to record the 10/31 class at All Y'All Yoga because C. S. Hoback commented on one of my audio classes on YouTube and asked for a new video class. 

Luca says that leading yoga classes is not about you the teacher, it is about the students. Holding the container of the studio space (in person or over Zoom) is all about the students' experience. I'm able to hold the container more clearly as I leave more space, less teaching, more sharing from the space of "I" in a way that creates connection and triumph for everyone listening.

What does all of this mean? It means I'm committed to showing up fully for you. I am committed to honoring and respecting your practice and I am committed to putting my attention on creating more connection.

If you are a yoga teacher and are interested in one-on-one coaching, reach out to Julie or Luca. You'll be glad you did.

Theming a Baptiste Journey Into Power Yoga Class - How do they do it?

5:02 PM 1 Comments A+ a-

A masterfully themed yoga class is a beautiful thing to behold and to experience. I recently had that experience in a class led by Leandra Antonutti where she wove the concept of a lizard losing or shedding its tail into the class theme. She linked a lizard losing its tail into our practice by having us do lots of lizard-based poses but she also spoke to where a lizard doesn't make losing its tail right or wrong and it doesn't try to fix it. She then spoke to how people often get caught up in experiencing a loss of some kind and we go into trying to fix it rather than seeing the loss as an opportunity to regenerate, rebirth and begin again. I had the experience of "HOW DID SHE DO THAT?" while I was practicing.

I like to break things down and try to figure them out, so once her website went live, I took the time to dive into the pacing of what she said, when she said it, how often she gave us silence and when she spoke to the physical cues of the yoga practice of Journey Into Power.

I know this is WAY overboard behavior. I was hoping to find a magical pattern in her lovingly themed classes so I compared the theme in "Give Up The Small Fights" with "Shed Your Tail", but I did not find an obvious A+B+C=D pattern. What I did find gave me enough of a structure to play with creating themes for my classes.

First there's the theme - clearly stated - "The theme of today's class is X". For this I called it the concept. Where I saw a clear link to Baptiste Methodology, I simply called that methodology. Any phrases that supported the action tied to the concept, I called those action/access. Anytime a phrase was used to describe something counter to the action/access, I called those constraints. 

From here I started color coding and underlining the types of phrases throughout the class. I made notes on when she was speaking to anything OTHER than the physical yoga practice. Making notes with timestamps of when she was speaking, when she was quiet and what pose we were in when this was happening. I then used the Journey Into Power outline (which she didn't teach strictly from) and color coded the sections where she spoke to THEME, METHODOLOGY, ACTION/ACCESS or CONSTRAINT. I was looking for a pattern, but none was obvious even after comparing the lizard class with the small fights class.

Luca Richards is holding a Grow Tips Live - How to Deliver an Impactful Theme In Your Classes on September 9th. I'm excited to learn about how Luca themes classes, now that I've dissected two of Leandra's powerfully themed classes and come up with a hypothesis of sorts.

Until then, I used the CONCEPT, METHODOLOGY, ACTION/ACCESS, CONSTRAINT quadrant to theme two classes so far. The feedback I received on the first class was that I should not use the word 'maybe' when offering modifications for poses as the word 'maybe' is disempowering, and that I should speak to my experiences around the theme of the class. Here is the worksheet I used for the second class I themed with the quadrant method so you can see my thought processes.

With time and practice, it will get easier to speak to themes, action/access concepts and constraints without needing notes. For now while we're teaching from a standing desk in the yoga studio, I don't think that having notes with me is such a terrible thing while I'm trying on this new way of teaching.

Leave me a message about how you theme classes? I'm curious!

Black Lives Matter - Black Baptiste Yoga Teachers

6:07 PM 7 Comments A+ a-

Like a great many other people right now, I've been reading Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad. One takeaway from her book is for me to do more to uplift, center, pay and elevate Black leaders and teachers.

As I am a Baptiste yogi, it seemed an obvious task for me to put together the most comprehensive list possible of every Black Baptiste Yoga Teacher I could find online. This list is not complete (obviously), but I will continue to update it as I get more information.

Finding the North America based Black yogis was challenging and I know there are a lot more than those I found online. Do you know someone who isn't represented here? Tell me!

Baptiste Yoga has a huge presence (practiced in over 22 countries) in Africa via the Africa Yoga Project. I reached out to Danielle Cosgrove and she put me in touch with Catherine Njeri (Director of Teachers for the Africa Yoga Project). Catherine kindly provided me with the list of names of the AYP Academy and Alumni teachers. I did some googling and Facebook searching to find an online presence for as many AYP teachers as I could, and Catherine helped me with some errors I'd made in identifying people (thanks!!).

The list of teachers is in THIS google spreadsheet. I've put links to studios, instagram accounts or Facebook profiles so that you can get out there and uplift, center, pay and elevate Black Baptiste yoga teachers.

If you know of someone that is not in this list, please let me know so that I can add them!

I am pleased to have Catherine Njeri's help to put 218 faces to the list of 238 names! More names and faces will being added as I get them. πŸ–€#blacklivesmatter #whybaptisteyoga #baptisteyoga

Ericka Jones is a Baptiste Yoga Leader, works in diversity & inclusion and has created the Minnesota Yoga Coalition (MNYC) I recommend getting on the email list so that you can keep up on the advancements Ericka and her team are making.

The MN Yoga Coalition (MNYC) is a diverse community of yoga studio owners, teachers, students and supporters working together to create and sustain a more inclusive, equitable and diverse model for yoga spaces in our home communities.
This practice is a philosophy of being. It is a practice to promote physical and psychological well-being. It is devised as a means to end all suffering; however, it has become segregated, privileged and has marginalized people in many communities. 
Our vision is a yoga community that is accessible for people of all colors, ages, identities, abilities, and socioeconomic statuses from all walks of life in order to cultivate Sattva and spiritual healing. 
Flickr Photo Album:

Black Baptiste Yoga Teachers

You Want Baptiste Yoga? You've Got Baptiste Yoga!

11:29 AM 0 Comments A+ a-

These are the days of choice. Choosing to get on your mat, choosing to show up for yourself, for your community.

There are many studios or teachers who are offering free or donation based live Zoom yoga classes online any given day of the week. This list is by no means complete and will certainly change from week to week, but this is a pin in the bulletin board of now.

These studios and teachers teach from the Baptiste methodology and the practice may resemble the Journey Into Power sequence (or maybe not!).

All Y'All Yoga
Sat 12-1:30 EST Donation/Beginners

Leandra Antonutti - Free
Fri 9-9:30a EST
Sun 11-12p EST
Mon 11:30-12p EST
Thur 5-5:30 EST 

Bethany Lyons - Donation Based/Free LYONS DEN NYC
M-F 5-6p EST
Sun 12-1:30p EST 

Baptiste Power Yoga with Austin Kapetanakis - Donation Based/Free
Tues. 8:00 PM EST - 30 Min Meditation Session
Wed 12:00 PM EST - 45 Min Power Flow
Thur 7:15 PM EST - 75 Min Power Flow
Fri 9:00 AM EST - 60 Min Power Flow

Brandon Sommers - Free
Daily 10:30a EST (zoom link) 30 min

Alisa Van Cleef - Free
Tues & Thur 2pm EST (zoom link) 30 min

Warrior One -  Orlando - Free Zoom classes
So many daily free options! Check the schedule

Power Yoga Canada - Free
Sun 11-12p EST - Kinndli McCollum

Baptiste Power Yoga Indianapolis - Donation Based
Sun 9:30-10:45a EST - Donation Power + Meditation 75

Baptiste Power Yoga Capitol District
Sat 4-5p EST - Free

Baptiste Power Yoga St. Louis - Free
Thur 11:30a EST (starts June 25th)

NYC Yoga Project - Donation Based
Several classes a day, 7 days a week

5 Boro Power Yoga - Free
Mon 7-8:30pm EST Beginners
Tues 5:30-6:30p EST
Thur 5:30-6:30p EST
Sat 7:15-8:15p EST Yoga for Recovery
Sun 9-10a EST

Anjali Power Yoga Philly - Free
Sun 12-1pm EST

I'm putting the classes I'm taking on my Jen Tech Yoga calendar & you can see them in the calendar widget at the top of every page. Look for [TAKING] in big letters. See you on the mat! <3 p="">

6 Ways to Connect with Your Students in a Zoom Yoga Class

11:50 AM 0 Comments A+ a-

^^ These are all engaged, attentive, powerful Baptiste Yoga teachers! ^^

What makes an extraordinary Zoom yoga experience for your yoga students?

I've been taking LOTS of yoga classes over Zoom since the US went into Coronavirus quarantine. My first Zoom class was with Austin Kapetenakis, and I'd basically been waiting years to be able to take his class (since we met at Level One in 2016).

The most powerful Zoom classes I've taken are the ones where the teacher has seen me and spoken to me by name during the practice. If I can see the teacher's face and they look engaged, happy or interested - I'm engaged more as a student. If I can see them looking off screen at something else, that is a way for me to check out (the teacher isn't interested). My least powerful classes have been the ones where the teacher is doing all the yoga and is not engaging with us students in any meaningful or specific way. If I wanted to watch a fitness video to do yoga, I would do that. I want the engagement that comes from a live yoga class. I want to know that the instructor can SEE me and is holding space for me for my practice. I want to know that the instructor is OUT HERE with us the students and not in their head or their body because they're doing the yoga. I want to be called out, encouraged, supported and this happens by being seen and by being acknowledged by the instructor.

First off, I know that it is hard as crap to lead a Journey Into Power when you're doing the asana. You can't breathe when you are cueing breath. You can't see your students when you teach from the mat and the most powerful thing that rises from leading Journey Into Power is seeing your students and letting your students see you. This fact hasn't changed just because we are using Zoom and aren't in a physical yoga studio.

I wrote about my experience and takaways from the Baptiste Power Yoga Instructor's Course I took (led by Luca Richards) and all these things STILL APPLY even in virtual yoga classes.

Foundational Elements to Leading a Extraordinary Baptiste Power Yoga Class:

  • Look, listen and give tools
  • Speak into each and every
  • Look for what's needed in the moment
  • Have a clear purpose for playing music if you do play music
  • Build in active rest and recovery into a beginners class
  • Keep beginner students in the vinyasa, allow them to have their experience (whatever that is)
  • Use essential language. Movement > body part > direction
  • Teach to the middle-strongest students and up. Their energy will empower newer students in the room.
  • Offer a challenge to your students by giving them space to take themselves to their edge (whatever that looks like for them from moment to moment)
  • Teach from Journey Into Power as written
  • During Integration, get the students moving
  • Be with the students in the room and keep the energy moving forward.
  • Allow for flow in Awakening by removing obstructions to movement
  • Reestablish drishti, ujjayi and foundation in the Grounding sequence
  • Establish trust with your students by giving them a clear measure of how many repetitions or breaths will occur for each pose.
  • Count sequentially with the end number first, then count up 1, 2, 3, 4.
  • Switch sides on the second to last number as the transition between sides
  • Keep your delivery strong through Opening sequence
  • Leave people in the experience of themselves

What is different and needed when teaching virtual yoga with Zoom

  • Have good lighting on your face so the students can see YOU as they might look up at their screen during their practice.
  • If you are leading class from a position close to your laptop microphone, the laptop microphone will be sufficient for your speaking audio.
  • Do. Not. Multitask.
      • No texting
      • No typing
      • Turn on do not disturb if you use a Mac laptop, mute system sounds if you're using a Windows laptop. This will keep students from hearing your message or email notifications through your laptop microphone
  • If you demonstrate the poses while you're teaching
    • Use Bluetooth earbuds with built-in microphones so your speaking will be audible when you are far away from your laptop.
    • Make sure your body is well lit if you are demonstrating for your students
  • If you know you have beginners in your class, work with one of your more experienced students in class and "Spotlight" them in Zoom so the newer students can learn by creating shapes with their bodies.
  • It is not necessary or required for YOU to do the yoga with your students simply because you are teaching from a video platform like Zoom.
    • See your students as they are practicing. 
    • Speak to your students by name and speak to what is needed.
  • When sealing the practice, unmute all participants, acknowledge your students after the three OMs are complete and all the students' eyes are open. 
    • This is an opportunity for connectedness, acknowledge them and make eye contact and have their microphones ON so they can contribute to the closing of class.

Zoom meeting settings best practices

  • Mute participants upon entry ON - Automatically mute all participants when they join the meeting. The host controls whether participants can unmute themselves.
  • Participants video ON - Start meetings with participant video on. Participants can change this during the meeting.
  • Join before host ON - Allow participants to join the meeting before the host arrives
  • Screen sharing - Host Only
  • Annotation - OFF
  • Whiteboard - OFF
  • Remote Control - OFF
  • Enable waiting room - optional
    • If the waiting room feature is enabled, attendees will see a customizable "Please standby" sort of message, letting them know class will begin soon. The meeting owner admits each participant into the meeting one at a time.

Teaching with music over Zoom

  • Screen Sharing to share audio over Zoom
    • I've had a couple classes where the instructor was using screen sharing and I've found that the bluetooth earbuds/mic audio gets compromised in favor of the clarity of the music at my end of the Zoom call. The teacher's audio was a little "tinny" and "thin" sounding but the music was clear. The exception to this has been when the teacher is wearing a wireless mic headset for their speaking audio. I believe this is because the wireless headset mic is not bluetooth audio.
    • The instructors who teach with this style of wireless mic headset are Bethany Lyons (Lyon's Den NYC), Paige Elenson (Healthy Happy Hour Nairobi Kenya) and the instructors at Indigo Yoga Studio (Fort Worth TX). Go take a class with one or all of them so you can hear the difference in the wireless mic audio compared to laptop audio or bluetooth earbuds.
I dropped into a Zoom yoga class recently to check out a teacher I'd been curious about (not a Baptiste yoga teacher) and came to find that the first 10 minutes of the Zoom call was filled with the participants doing the following:
  • trying to tell everyone else to mute themselves
  • trying to tell the instructor they couldn't hear her (she wasn't using a mic and was very far away from the video and mic source)
  • trying to tell the instructor they couldn't see her because she was so far away and not well lit
  • trying to tell the other participants to stop sharing their screens

The teacher never saw any of these chat messages because once she started the Zoom call, she walked away to the front of the room and got on her mat and started talking (although nobody could hear her). Once everyone finally muted themselves, she was still hard to hear. It was a follow-along-and-watch-the-instructor-do-the-yoga yoga class which means that as a student, you had to constantly be looking over at your screen to see what was being done by the teacher. This became potentially dangerous (IMO) as the teacher moved her body into a shoulder stand. I could see other students on the screen try to mimic her shape, while twisting their necks around to see their screens. Several other students were sitting on camera, texting on their phones, not engaged in the class at all. 

The class was an excellent example of how sideways a Zoom yoga class can go when simple guidelines like muting all participants on entry, disabling screen sharing, using a microphone and good lighting aren't followed. 

In conclusion: when I take a Baptiste Yoga class online, I expect a similar experience to being in a Baptiste yoga studio - having the instructor see me and teach from the methodology. If the teacher is teaching from the yoga mat, doing the practice, they can't see me or anyone else and I might as well be working out to a YouTube video. 

I'm proud of you

3:02 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

I'm proud of you. Yes you, and you. In the past two weeks I've watched as my global Baptiste Yoga community has pivoted 180ΒΊ in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Studios who have never recorded video, never put any digital content online, teachers who have never made audio recordings of their classes - have all shifted, pivoted, reimagined, reinvented and transformed their brick and mortar spaces into digital spaces where anyone, anywhere can join in from where they are and have the experience of Baptiste Yoga.

As I sit at home, under a Safer At Home order I marvel at the plethora of choice I have for yoga classes via Zoom, Facebook Live, Instagram TV, YouTube Live and the list goes on and on! I've found myself cross referencing studio locations and time zones so that I can make an accurate list of the options I have for who's class I want to take! Even Baron and his son Malachai will be co-leading a fundraising yoga class for the Baptiste Institute Sunday April 4th!

I was thrilled to be able to finally take a class led by Austin Kapetanakis at Real Hot Yoga in Hoboken, NJ. Austin and I were at the same Level 1 & Level 2 Baptiste Programs and were also on team together,  apprenticing the Level 1 Baptiste Program at Menla in 2018. I'd been bugging him to record his class audio as far back as 2016 when he started teaching at 5 Boro Power Yoga. I have plans to take classes with my friends and teachers in Austin, NYC, Cupertino, Santa Barbara, Alberta and Toronto Canada, Boston, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Columbus!!

So many teachers have written about overcoming fears of recording themselves, putting themselves online, having their way of being that the magic is in the room with the people who are there instead of putting it online. Everyone has had their status quo disrupted by forces outside their control and I'm so impressed with how everyone has reacted. Many have created their online virtual yoga offering in less than 48 hours. It is extremely impressive.

Kudos to you for embracing the change, moving with the shift and being up to something bigger than yourself. You have brought Baptiste Yoga to the people who maybe have never done yoga before through free or inexpensive virtual offerings and you continue to keep your local yoga communities alive by connecting through virtual platforms when we are not connecting in person (to slow the Covid-19 contagion)

Thank you. πŸ™


Here is a link to my home studio - ❤️ All Y'All Yoga in Tampa, FL! ❤️

Yoga In The Time of COVID-19 (online yoga classes)

4:06 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

Wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, self-isolate during these uncertain times.

Stay connected to your yoga practice with these internet streamed classes.

Online yoga classes available from all over the globe:

200+ classes with me on YouTube (audio)

Video classes with me on YouTube

Baptiste Yoga Classes on YouTube

Power Yoga Canada

Baptiste Yoga

OM Practice - Heart and Grit

B-1 Yoga - Iowa

Yoga Nidra with Carly Columbres

The Hot Room - Hot Yoga Indianapolis

Anjali Power Yoga

Hot Yoga Plus

Baptiste Power Yoga St. Louis

Bright Heart Yoga Studio

True North Yoga

Down Under School of Yoga

Minnesota Power Yoga YOD Videos

Minnesota Power Yoga Yoga and Meditation Videos

Minnesota Power Yoga March 6 2020

Baptiste Power Yoga Colorado Springs

Vibe Yoga Lounge

Baptiste Power Yoga Pittsburgh

Adrienne Smith Power of Your OM 75 min class

Dancing Dogs Yoga (7 days free access)

Heart & Grit Power Yoga

Cleveland Yoga & Cleveland Yoga Little Italy

Sun State Yoga St. Petersburg FL

502 Power Yoga

Practice Yoga Naples

Chelle Swierz

Fran Ciaccio

Big Power Yoga

Half Moon Power Yoga

Flux Power Yoga

Move. Nourish. Heal.

My personal recommendations:

Bethany Lyons - Lyon's Den NYC
Happy Hour M-F 5-6pm EST
Sunday Service 12:00-1:30pm EST
(choose Online Streaming as class type from Den Tribeca to sign up)
All online streaming classes are free to stream, $20 to purchase link to recording, donations are accepted to support Lyon's Den.

Desirae Pierce - Breath and Body Austin TX
4/1 9:15-10:15a EST
4/5 11-12:15p EST

Sami Lea Konczewski - Down Under School of Yoga Boston
4/1 3-4p EST
4/3 3-4p EST
4/5 9:15-10:30a EST

Austin Kapetanakis - Real Hot Yoga Hoboken NJ
3/30 6-7pm EST

Karen Torrone - 5 Boro Power Yoga
3/30 7:30-8:30pm EST
3/31 7:30-8:30pm EST
4/1 6:15-7:00am EST
4/2 11:45-12:30pm EST
4/4 9:45-10:45am EST
4/5 12:15-1:00pm EST

Pam Rader - SHIFT Power Yoga Sylvan Lake, Alberta, Canada
3/31 9-10pm EST
4/2 2-3pm EST
4/3 12-1pm EST
4/4 2-3pm EST

Brandon Compagnone - Baptiste Power Yoga Boston
9:15-10:15am EST M-F
9:!5-10:30am EST Sat/Sun

Lauren Brown - BFREE Yoga Austin TX
3/31 5-6:15 EST

G'Nell Price - Practice Yoga Austin
4/1 7-8pm EST

Jen - Breath and Body Austin TX
4/3 7-8am EST
4/4 8:30-9:30am EST

Wed 4/1 5:30p EST

Mary Lyn Jenkins - Big Fish Power Yoga
4/3 9:15-10:15am EST
4/3 12-1pm EST
4/5 4-5pm EST

Darin Fulks - Give Yoga Columbus, OH
4/4 4-5pm EST