Staying fresh and unique with both my teaching and personal practice is a daily dedication. I love to explore new shapes and movement patterns; which is not only great for the physical body, but also the brain loves to be challenged.
Before I dive into where I gain inspiration, I wanted to briefly describe my teaching style, which mirrors my personal practice.
What is yoga to me? It is something I enjoy doing alone in my comfy home yoga space. It is an escape, an oasis from the everyday “to do” list and outside distractions. I practice with a video recording, a group class via Zoom, or on my own. Yoga is about moving the body in different planes of motion and also playing around with different relationships with gravity. Getting my body moving in all directions, because “motion is lotion for the joints”! My goal is to feel good in my physical body with my yoga practice. Not just to decrease aches and pains, but also to have ease in my breath cycle. I also like silent time during class so I can focus on what I am doing. Along with a dash of humor since we really cannot smile enough in life. The types of yoga would include a slow Hatha style along with Yin longer holds.
Fun fact time…Yoga in the context of Patanjali’s Sutras during the Classical Yoga time period, around 300 CE, did not see yoga as “yoking” or “union”. This is often quoted when folks think they need to be in a class setting with others to practice. In this historical map, it was actually the exact opposite. It was a divorce, a rejection. It was based on a dualism viewpoint called Samkhya. They saw the way to being enlightened as detaching from Prakriti (our personality, memories, etc) to get to Purusha (pure consciousness). Only in the Hatha later viewpoint (around 1450 CE) was yoga seen as meaning “union”.
What is NOT yoga to me? It is NOT a workout. I am not looking for a fast Vinyasa flow, several sun salutations, holding a plank for a long duration or doing a handstand. I don’t want to feel tired after my practice. I want to feel refreshed. Which means I tend to look for slower-paced classes and even ones that use multiple props. I teach this way as well, I am creative with my movements/shapes and make them as reasonable and accessible as possible.
What do I do for workouts? Spin bike, rebounder (aka mini trampoline), and weights/resistance bands. Basically I do things for heart health and to strengthen the large muscles of the body. Which is why I have a separate category in my video library for just functional movements which includes strength conditioning based on everyday movements (pull, push, squat, lunge, hinge, rotate and gait/walking).
What about pranayama/breath work, relaxation and meditation? Those are separate from my physical yoga practice and workouts. I may do them at the end of my yoga practice, but they so important that they deserve to have their own place in my day. Daily I do “Deep Meditation” for 20 minutes. When I can, I do a pranayama practice which includes moving the body to release around the rib cage to allow for a smooth inhalation, and then I follow it up with a breath practice. Relaxation is also critical for me since I tend to be a stress-bug. This involves a restorative pose which might be savasana (head in line with the heart) or another shape with props to support the body. This is always at least 15 minutes in length.
Another fun fact time…Not sure who started the “5 minute savasana guideline” but that short of a duration can be shocking to your nerve system, like tossing ice cold water on it! (Thank you to my restorative teacher Judith Hanson Lasater and anatomy teacher Mary Richards for this info) Your body is quick to move into an alert/awake/arousal state or dialing up the sympathetic nervous system (so we can run away from the lion or answer a stressful text msg). But your body takes a longer duration to turn up the parasympathetic side which is your rest/digest/recover nervous system. Note this is not turning one “off” and the other “on”; they are always both active. It is getting to more of a balanced state which is leaning more towards relaxation that literally takes the body at least 15 minutes. So if you are short on time, try a 5 minute seated conscious breathing practice instead.
Where do I gain inspiration to keep my teaching fresh and continue learning?
- Anatomy workshops with Mary Richards = She has past ones that you can purchase. I learn so much from her “Adventures in Asana” series. She is both practical and very knowledgeable. Each time I take a class with her, I am immediately inspired and often adjust how I teach a pose or movement, based on an improved anatomy understanding.
- I attend Baxter Bell’s back health class via Zoom as often as possible. I find that he is very creative and also has that splash of humor that I enjoy.
- I continue to read anatomy books, currently I am enjoying the series from Bernie Clark “Your Spine, Your Yoga” (he has one for upper and the overall body as well) I also love anything by Judith Hanson Lasater.
- I also continue to gain certifications. Most recently in Yoga for Healthy Aging (Baxter Bell), Restorative Yoga (Judith Hanson Lasater) and Yin Yoga (Bernie Clark).
- Last, but not least, I play around on my mat and see what works and feels good. I am not the most flexible person. This is actually a gift because I figure out imaginative ideas on how to do a pose or move that naturally flexible persons might not discover.
Want to try my style of yoga?
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Questions? Email me at CarolBaileyYoga@gmail.com