DIY Shamanic Inspired Drum from a Whiskey Barrel Hoop and Rip Stop Nylon

11:49 PM 0 Comments A+ a-


I've been wanting a big a** drum head for a while now, but not wanting to spend the sometimes upwards of $400+ to just buy a big drum head to bang on during the occasional sound bath. Granted there are less expensive options but I got obsessed with the idea of making my own out of (mostly) found items.

After daydreaming on a great many things that might be possible to use as the hoop/frame I got the idea of using a whiskey barrel hoop as the frame. I found a local person on Craigslist who sells hoops, barrels and all manner of furniture made out of whiskey barrels. Hoops were $5 each but were fairly rusty.

I used three grades of grit to remove the majority of the rust. Starting with 40, then 80 and finally a 120 grit. That was good enough to smooth out the hoop so it wouldn't put a snag into whatever I was going to use to make the drum skin. I used some leftover light blue spray paint that had primer built into it just to smooth over the metal and keep it from rusting.

For the first prototype drum head I used a tarp that we had stored in the shed. It was older than I realized and the silver and brown sides began to flake apart. I cut it down to size and serged the edges of it in preparation for inserting grommets. I used fabric glue on the spots where I cut holes to add the grommets, but the glue didn't really hold it together very well. It was quite tricky to pull the cording tight evenly and I quickly had grommets bursting from the tarp fabric. 

I found a lacing pattern online and I used this as my guide. Once I got it laced up as tight as I could manage, I realized that I had some thin spots in the tarp that I hadn't noticed. I thought it might be a good idea to put some Mod Podge over the drum head itself to keep it from flaking or degrading any further. Well that turned out to be a bad idea because the Mod Podge just ended up dulling the sound of the drum. Ugh, well it was just the first prototype.

My second attempt used some leftover red rip stop nylon that I had leftover from making the Kraftwerk Skydancer. This time I cut little squares and reinforced the areas where I was going to put in each grommet and I made a much smaller hole in the rip stop nylon as the opening for the grommet. I had more success with this method and none of the grommets has torn free from the rip stop nylon. The drum has a nice sound for what it is and I love that I have only $5 invested in it for the cost of the hoop. Everything else I already had from other projects. 

Yes you can make a decent sounding drum with rip stop nylon, grommets, nylon cording and a whiskey barrel hoop, in case you were wondering (like I was)!

Shit Yoga Teachers Say

11:21 AM 2 Comments A+ a-


Why do yoga teachers say all the shit they do that doesn't make any sense? Most likely because they heard another teacher somewhere say it and it sounded like something they should repeat to their classes. I know I've parrotted quite a few teachers I've had since I started teaching yoga. The skill of leading a powerful yoga class doesn't come to a teacher overnight (not typically). I have had to unlearn many ambiguous cues and remove filler phrases from my speech. My teaching is definitely a work in progress. 

On my teaching journey, I took the audio recording of a powerful class another teacher had taught (with which she achieved Tier One certification with the Baptiste Institute!) and put the audio track through an online speech to text machine transcription service called Cielo24. Using Cielo24 allowed me to turn her audible words into a written document. I used this transcript to take notes on what poses we'd done, how many breaths we'd held them for and what she had said while she was leading the class. This was way before I even knew what "Journey Into Power" was.

Fast forward to 2019/2020, where Covid 19 has had the unexpected positive outcome of yoga training happening online. I've taken several workshops on theming yoga classes and using essential language when teaching. All signs point back to - listen to the words that are coming out of your mouth. I thought I could hear what I was saying as I led yoga classes. Turns out, I can't hear what I'm saying when I'm saying it.

I put a couple of my audio classes through an app called Descript. New users of Descript can transcribe up to 3 hours worth of audio recordings (which is awesome). Descript is super fast to turn audio to text, provides you with a read-a-long timeline view and does so much more than this. The accuracy of the transcription was pretty high, but I did make some minor edits to the final documents so they read more smoothly.

Turns out in a class from 3/3/2021, where I'd said the physical theme was tadasana - I used the full phrase "downward facing dog" 28 times. I also clearly have a habit of saying "so good"(26), "yes" (88) and "yeah" (20). I know exactly where I picked up saying "so good" from - I loved taking Kate Campbell's classes at Breath and Body. She'd say "so good" and it was soothing to hear her say that while I was putting forth a lot of effort, sweat running into my eyes. 

Seeing my words in writing was helpful for me to see where I can allow for more space (silence) for students to practice.

Looking back to an earlier class from 10/03/2018, it is also illuminating to see how what I say has evolved. I used to say all. the. things. all. the. time. every. time. My goodness. No wonder I didn't have enough time to hit all the sequences in Journey Into Power! To be clear, I'm not making myself right or wrong or bad or good - it is just worth noting and noticing. As Luca Richards says "weed your word garden."

If you are a yoga teacher and you haven't gone through this process of reading what you're saying. Stop right now, get an audio recording of your class and put it through Descript. See what you are saying. Why are you saying it? Does it make sense? Is it useful? Is it actionable? Can you say less? Probably.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

What kind of a teacher are you when you can't respect the history of Yoga

12:45 PM 0 Comments A+ a-


I remember my first yoga class vividly. The teacher used a lot of words that were not in English and I didn't understand what was being said. I followed along as best I could by doing what everyone else was doing. The more I came to class, the more I picked up some Sanskrit terms phonetically.

To my Western ears, Sanskrit sounds weird, strange, hard to pronounce and harder yet to spell properly. I rarely use Sanskrit terms when I'm leading class, because I found it distracting as a new student. In my opinion, using Sanskrit names for physical yoga poses is unnecessary and can over-complicate the physical practice. We heard the word "ujjayi" a lot in yoga but rarely does anyone explain WHY nostril breathing changes our body and our mind. Recently I read "Breath" by James Nestor which delves into the scientific evidence supporting the positive physical results from nostril breathing. Now I'm making nostril breathing a primary focus with the why to support it.

What this comment is in actuality is an attempt to shame me because I used the word weird with regard to the word ujjayi. Perhaps I should have chosen another word - strange? unusual? unfamiliar? These are all synonyms of the word "weird." I won't be shamed. I won't accept the judgement of this comment. I will get a little angry and write this blog post though...

What kind of yoga teacher am I? The kind that strives to simplify the practice for students to experience themselves. The kind that puts their classes online for free, unmonetized, just because. The kind that blogs about the journey from student to teacher. The kind that will research  the history of yoga to educate myself on the spiritual or secular origins of the physical practice. The kind that brings scientifically based evidence into the physical practice. The kind that resists deleting comments full of judgement and shame and instead uses them as educating moments (for me and for others).

Let's talk for a bit about the history of yoga. The yoga limb that I lead is one of but eight of the limbs of yoga as inscribed by Patanjali. The first record of asana (the physical practice of yoga) appears in the 15th century (1401-1500) in the book Hatha Yoga Pradipika. According to this article on ElephantJournal, "the earliest asana from the three major treatises of Hatha Yoga. More than half are seated. Tree is the only standing pose. There is no mention of sun salutations or inversions." We can trace the physical asana practice that we know today (Sun Salutations, Warrior poses and Headstand) to T. Krishnamacharya. This YogaJournal article reads:

"Thus began one of Krishnamacharya’s most fertile periods, during which he developed what is now known as Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. As Krishnamacharya’s pupils were primarily active young boys, he drew on many disciplines—including yoga, gymnastics, and Indian wrestling—to develop dynamically-performed asana sequences aimed at building physical fitness. This vinyasa style uses the movements of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) to lead into each asana and then out again. Each movement is coordinated with prescribed breathing and drishti, “gaze points” that focus the eyes and instill meditative concentration. Eventually, Krishnamacharya standardized the pose sequences into three series consisting of primary, intermediate, and advanced asanas. Students were grouped in order of experience and ability, memorizing and mastering each sequence before advancing to the next.

Though Krishnamacharya developed this manner of performing yoga during the 1930s, it remained virtually unknown in the West for almost 40 years. Recently, it’s become one of the most popular styles of yoga, mostly due to the work of one of Krishnamacharya’s most faithful and famous students, K. Pattabhi Jois."

Mark Singleton's book "Yoga Body" refers to the 1925 book "Primary Gymnastics" by the famed Danish Olympian coach Niel Bukh includes "at least 28 of the exercises in the first edition of Bukh’s manual are strikingly similar (often identical) to yoga postures occurring in Pattabhi Jois’ Ashtanga sequence or in Iyengar’s Light on Yoga.” So where did the physical practice of asana begin? Is it Scandinavian or Hindu? Matthew Anderson writes in this article:

"If nothing else, the question of what yoga is and where it came from is far more complex than people realize.  In fact, it’s so complex that yoga proponents haven’t quite figured it out.  The possibility of a “secularized” yoga simply for the purposes of health has some proponents decrying its commercialization and yearning for a return to its more spiritual roots.  Yet if Singleton’s thesis has any weight at all, then the “return” may not be as far back as advocates suggest, and yoga may have more to do with the secular west than they realize."

So best case scenario here: I received a shaming comment from an anonymous person on the Internet, I got steamed, did some research on the reverence required for the history of yoga and will probably never use the word "weird" in a yoga class again - but I can't promise that. I did learn about Mark Singleton and Niel Bukh and for that I'm grateful.

Making Baptiste Yoga Stickers for Instagram Stories with GIPHY

1:08 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

I haven't played around with Instagram Stories very much, but when I was posting an IG story from Wax Wednesdays at Ella's and found a "rickroll' sticker - my first thought was "How the heck do stickers get into IG?"

I did some googling and found a few great "this is how you do it" posts:

The short version is: Create a Giphy account and get "brand" verified. If you're branding your account for your yoga studio, use a an email address that tied to your studio domain name - not a gmail or yahoo account (as an example).

Once you're approved as a brand account, you can make and upload stickers to GIPHY. When you upload your animated gif (sticker), you have the option to tag the image with words that will help it be found when people are searching on IG. 

It takes a while for your new sticker (gif) to be visible in an IG search, so be patient.

GIPHY has very clear guidelines posted for stickers: Requirements for Sticker Approval.

Knowing that the Baptiste community is global, utilizes IG quite a bit - I made stickers of each section of the Journey Into Power sequence, the Baptiste logo, one for Sara Page, Mike Murdoch, Leandra, Baron and Luca (so far). The search phrase is 'Baptiste Yoga' to find all of them!

Making an animated gif on a transparent background can be done several ways. 
I'll leave it at that - there are so many different ways to make animated gifs with transparent backgrounds. There's no one way to do it. I have a copy of Photoshop, but using works pretty well if your clip is short. I've used Camtasia to record video snippets off my laptop screen and then turned those video snippets into gifs. If you're handy with using software to record video/edit images - making your own stickers (animated gifs with transparent backgrounds) will come naturally. If you've never worked with images or video in this manner, you'll find the online tools that do the work for you to be the easiest way to make your own IG stickers.