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Breathing with Sharon Harvey Alexander
2:50 Sharon “loses” her breath at 15 and begins to find it again
in her late twenties when she begins yoga. The connection of breath and
movement unites all of the pieces of an individual.

5:54: Breathing, autonomic nervous system, vagus nerve definitions and

11:00 Yoga Nidra – centering activity in the class. Relax and integrate the movement
and breath of the rest of the class.

14:00 Types of breathing, what they do,and how they connect with the
vagus nerve, nervous system and the brain.

16:50 Vagus Nerve can bring about relaxation through the right kind of breath.
Fight, Flight, Freeze or rest and relax determined by either sympathetic or parasympathetic
nervous system.

22:30 Learning to Breathe, Learning to Live by Sharon Harvey Alexander. Simple tools to relieve stress
and invigorate your life. 6 Breathing techniques to stimulate the relaxation response. Includes guided
meditation. A 5 week plan to implement stress reduction activities.

25:55 Koshas – ancient model to consider all of the aspects of who we are.

Twitter: @SharonHA
FB: Sharon.H.Alexander
Sharon’s Book: Learning to Live, Larning to Breathe, and type Sharon’s name or
the name of the book to find it on the publisher’s website.

Restorative Yoga with Leslie Kazadi

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Restorative Yoga with Leslie Kazadi
2:40 Definition of Restorative Yoga vis a vis gentle yoga. Blanket term from
the Iyengar lineage of long hold but not very passive. Yin Yoga -long holds
relaxing into gravity. Restorative – invokes relaxation response Go into
parasympathetic system. Relaxation response – rhythmic device (i.e., breathing)
& non-attachment to intrusive thoughts. Body supported, relax easier.
Prop Wizard- use props to support body to relax.Look for places where
tension is held. Lots of poses in restorative; different for different teachers.

12:53 End goal of restorative: relaxation response and embodiment.
Many people are estranged from their body and our
senses. Listen to our senses.

16:10 Seniors live with pain and may ignore body sensations. Their senses diminish,
Strong external focus or internal focus ignoring body sensations.
Yoga designed to enliven sensory experiences.

19:27 “structural situations” sounds less permanent than problem. Choose language carefully as words
can invoke unexpected reactions. Using or not using Sanskrit in class and why.

29:56 Contact Details:
Twitter: @leslielovesyoga
Instagram: #leslielovesyoga
FB: lesliekazakiyogatherapy – search for Leslie Kazadi for video classes

How Yoga has Changed

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How Yoga Has Changed with Beth Spindler

3:45: Questioning among yoga teachers and students about how yoga has evolved and what it should be. It’s not just doing poses – it is acknowledging that people have different bodies, nervous systems. etc. Advertising presents a very different face of yoga. Beth is seeing a shift to addressing yoga for different ages and abilities.

8:20 Senior Yoga: a few years ago, Beth saw mature students wanting to take her training for the first time. A yoga teacher must understand therapeutics in regard to aging to teach this group. Beth’s approach is to alleviate pain. Yoga is general is moving forward to include everyone. However there is a misconception that yoga is generally therapeutic but its not. For the aging population, a teacher has to be knowledgeable about modifications for poses, etc. Look to the intelligence of applying poses to individual humans. Takes applying this concept to ask students to; “notice”, “pay attention”, “is this too much or too little”. Having people notice “Can I breathe in this posture. If not, then I am out of my range of appropriate practice.”

33:40 I am moving away from poses and more toward appropriate movement. Approximating the shapes of poses is wrong.





Yoga Teacher Training Part 4

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Yoga Teacher Training

Part 4 – Reflection

1:54 Introduction of series guests: Maria Kirsten of Yoga for Grownups, Flo Fenton of In Touch Yoga Byron Bay, and Kristine Koverii Weber of Subtle Yoga.

2:40 All guests thought that the basic yoga training was inadequate as a stand alone system for producing yoga teachers. Maria Kirsten believes that to fully understand a subject one needs  to acquire the knowledge, apply that knowledge and then reflect on the application to know what additional knowledge is needed. This is a lifelong requirement as knowledge changes often and new ways of thinking and doing are always available. Flo is concerned by the business model used by many teacher training courses, the lack of time to practice teaching the public, and the little face-to-face time with experienced teachers. Kristine talked about her experience of being a mentor and mentee and the benefits of both.

6:55 Flo discussed Yoga Australia’s proposed policy on auditing certified teacher training courses. Most will have a desk audit (responding to a set of questions developed by Yoga Australia) and one will have a site audit by Yoga Australia personnel. Although a good start on policy, it needs to have more thought into the implementation of policy.

11:00 Kristine suggests that the 200 level become a lifestyle course while the 500 level become the basic teacher training course.

16:53 How to choose a 200 level course: Flo Fenton suggests that potential students of a yoga teacher training course (after finding some courses that meet their personal goals) ask these questions:

  1. Does the course require that trainees have experience taking yoga classes and if so for how long?
  2. Is the content up-to-date?
  3. Do students have the opportunity for ongoing support after graduation?
  4. Are graduates confident in their ability to teach – have they had the opportunity to practice teaching the public several times during the course?
  5. What is the teacher/student ratio?

She also suggests that the perfect teacher training course have the following elements or results which is another way that a potential teacher could choose a training:

  1. More time
  2. Requires commitment and discipline
  3. Minimum of one year of contact
  4. Lots of time for students to practice and practice teaching.
  5. Know how to differentiate themselves from other teachers
  6. Must have attended yoga classes for at least a year.
  7. How to maintain student clientele and conduct a business

Kristine has provided a PDF  on how to choose a basic training course which includes first deciding what is the person’s goals for training and then researching and asking questions of potential training courses.

21:00 Perception of the professionalism of yoga teachers. Yoga research shows more and more benefits of yoga for people’s wellness levels. Yoga teachers and therapists could become part of a team of wellness professionals to assist those with certain issues. To be considered for that kind of collaboration, yoga teachers and yoga therapists have to be considered professionals. Does the basic 200 hour training provide that professionalism?


Maria Kirsten:

Flo Fenton:

Kristine Koverii Weber:

PDF on how to choose a basic yoga teacher training:

Go to, sign up for Kristine’s newsletter and they will send you the PDF.

Mentoring: teacher training series -3

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Mentoring as part of Teacher Training 

1:16 Introduction to our guest Kristine Koverii Weber

3:45 Mentoring – choosing a student to mentor. Student has a specific goal often about teaching a special population (given the therapeutic nature of Kristine’s work). It is  one or two hours/month. Usually on Skype.

6:40 Benefits of Mentoring – basic yoga teacher training is very basic and tends to deprofessionalise the industry. It has been watered down over the years and devalues what yoga teachers have to offer. Neuroscience research shows that 10,000 hours of training are needed to achieve mastery in an area.

9:22 Mentoring is valuable but teacher training needs to change to professionise the industry. Perhaps 200 hour training could be a lifestyle training for one’s own use and not for teaching. Making the 500 hour training the basic training would be a good first step. The 200 hour training is giving people the false assumption of expertise.

12:35 Benefits of mentoring for the mentor. Opportunity to engage with new, enthusiastic teachers. I find the gaps in my own teacher training in theory and practice. It is a useful reflection process for the mentor and reminds Kristine to access the knowledge of her mentors.

14:30 Students’ benefits from mentoring. Having a relationship with an experienced teacher and help you problem solve. How does a new teacher skillfully evaluate new ideas, research or practice in yoga with little experience and basic training. The mentor can help the new teacher navigate these issues. Have a personal relationship with a teacher. Isolation can be a problem with yoga teachers and mentoring can help to build a community.

19:45 History of teacher training and what it should be. All acquisition of knowledge is based on three ways to obtaining that knowledge: inference (scientific), perception (own experience), and authority (teachers). Need a balance between these three ways of knowing. Yoga teacher training in the future has:

  • 500 hours minimum
  • Schools  being more transparent about what they teach(e.g., fitness vs. philosophy)
  • Acknowledged that social credentialing is suspect (testimonials from newly minted teachers)
  • Audits to ensure that teacher training schools are teaching as they proposed when approved.
  • community standards

29:37 Downloads: Kristine is offering E-Books on how to choose a teacher training course. Go to her website (, sign up for her newsletter and download the E book for thoughts on choosing a teacher training course.

31:00 Contact:

Resource : NOTE: Kristine meant to say Dr. Richard Davidson ( instead of Dan Siegal for information on his study of meditation.




Flo Fenton – Teacher Training Series

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Flo Fenton – Teacher Training Series 2

How to find a good Teacher Training Course.

2:38 Two types of teacher training:

  1. Maximising profit
  2. Maximising teacher contact

Flo discusses her teacher training experience where she had over 3500 hours of training in 9 months. Most well-known teachers have had similar types of training.

Is the credibility of yoga teachers and teacher training decreased because of the short term nature of teacher training now?

What are some areas to explore when deciding on a teacher training course?

  1. Does the course require that trainees have experience taking yoga classes?
  2. Is the content up-to-date?
  3. Do students have the opportunity for ongoing support after graduation?
  4. Are graduates confident in their ability to teach – have they had the opportunity to practice teaching the public several times during the course?
  5. What is the teacher/student ratio?

19:00 How do you extend the time (and  the cost) of teacher training when most yoga teachers now cannot support themselves with yoga alone?  Yoga needs to become more professional, with specific qualifications, and programs must be accredited sufficiently to assure the public that yoga teachers are qualified.

20:36 Mentoring: Yoga Australia requires that any student  from a yoga teacher training course that is under a year must have mentoring to have a full year of training. Provides insight into teaching and the business of yoga.

25:00 Yoga Australia is changing their oversight of yoga teacher training courses. A training working group has developed a process to evaluate yoga teacher training courses. Every course will have a desktop audit annually, one course will have a face-to-face audit, and a grievance process has been developed for both trainees and graduates of teacher training courses as well as the public. There are currently approximately 100 teacher training organisations under the aegis of Yoga Australia.

28:50 Perfect teacher training

  1. Much more lengthy
  2. Requires commitment and discipline
  3. Minimum of one year of contact
  4. Lots of time for students to practice and practice teaching.
  5. Know how to differentiate themselves from other teachers
  6. Must have attended yoga classes for at least a year.
  7. How to maintain students and conduct a business.




Anatomy in Teacher Training

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Anatomy in Teacher Training

5:35 Maria Kirsten’s method of teaching anatomy: knowing the family around a movement. Donna Farhi notices that in teacher training, students are taught to mimic a shape.

15:30 Spiral of training, teaching, questions, back to training, etc. Especially for short-term teacher training, make a commitment to life-long learning. Driver’s Licence analogy: P, L and full licence. Integration is critical and takes time.

21:09 Maria’s story of her training cycles. Moved towards functional movement (e.g., forward folds, hinge or roll up).

29:00 References: Anatomy courses to explore after finishing teacher training –

Digital courses:

Simon Borg-Olivier, Leslie Kaminoff, Tiffany Kruikshank, Amy Mathews

Workshops: Judith Lassiter, Donna Farhi, Judy Krupp, Libbie Nelson

Yoga Journal articles

Lifelong learning is critical to a yoga teacher. They will need anatomy training at the beginning and will come back for refreshers in anatomy. Going outside your own field can be helpful (Qi Cong, Tai Chi).   But after a while, other aspects of yoga may become more important.

38:21 Yoga and Public Health

Integration of yoga and yoga therapy into the public health system. Maria’s next project is developing a series of trainings for yoga teachers to become health promotion officers. These trainings will empower people to manage their own health and how to collaborate with other yoga and health professionals.


Instagram: @yogaforgrownups

Facebook: MariaKirstenYogaTherapy



DVD: Applying anatomy learning as Maria videos a class she teaches. Can get the DVD by contacting Maria through the website.


Trauma Care

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Trauma Care with Katie Overcash

2:20 What causes stress -natural disasters, medical interventions, abuse, neglect, military related, grief and loss.

3:00 What can traumatic stress look like in a yoga class – Trauma comes in through the senses, can become stuck in the body. People with trauma stress can be hyper-aroused or hypo-aroused with little time in between. Non-traumatised people can go between these states and self regulate themselves. People with trauma cannot and can become stuck.

9:20 – What can yoga teachers/therapists do in a class with someone show trauma stress – Support them, bring them to the present, making sure they have support outside of class.

17:30 – What do yoga teachers need to know – people with trauma stress don’t feel safe or in control. Yoga class can provide predictable, safe, environment where they have choices.

21:15 – Have a referral who deals with trauma

24:30 Where do yoga instructors and yoga therapists fit in the healing cycle for traumatic stress: bottom up model where yoga bookends the talk therapy.

29:50 Contacts and references

Katie Overcash on Facebook and Instagram: overcashtherapy

Bessel Van Der Kolk – The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, Body in the Healing of Trauma

When is Touch Appropriate?

When is Touch Appropriate?
I had one of my Teaching Senior Yoga trainees ask me a question today. She brought up some issues about when is touch appropriate. Her question was some older students may not receive much human touch if their partner, friends, and family are not available. So how much and what kind of touch may be appropriate in classes with this student group?
I give minimal adjustments for this population (or any population actually). Older people have used their bodies for decades and their body reflects that use. Older students have the most diverse bodies of any age group. They also may be feeling the changes in their bodies due to age which leads to even more diversity. Older students will have more problems doing a standardised pose because of this body diversity .
Older students’:
  • hips may be tight from sitting a lot,
  • shoulder and arm muscles and joints unequal from a lifetime of tennis or golf,
  • back may be sore from damage to the discs or vertebrae from work.
    Expecting them all to do a standardised pose won’t be successful.
So what do I do when an adjustment would be helpful? At most, I may put one finger gently on a spot (with permission) to call attention to that area if a student is having trouble focusing on that part of the body. I do give verbal adjustment cues. I focus the students on getting to know their body through very slow movements and holding the asanas for a few breaths. Giving them lots of modifications for most asanas allows them to explore and find the modification best for their body. I give them permission to say no; my body does not feel good doing that asana. I emphasise that yoga is not about pain but gaining knowledge about yourself.
But in the situation where students may be hungering for human touch, I have done a few different things. I have guided self-massages before savasana where the person massages their own neck, face, arms, hands, lower back and knees. As one student said, I would like someone to touch me but this self-massage is better than nothing. (Not a ringing endorsement, I agree but many learned a bit more about their bodies doing it. Most liked rubbing their knees best.)
Another possibility is offering head and neck massages during savasana. People who wanted the head and neck massages placed their heads towards the centre of the room. Those that didn’t placed their feet towards the centre of the room. This allowed people to choose privately whether they wanted a massage. Students looked forward to a massage each week.
So touch is a difficult area. I have a minimal adjustment rule: I only do adjustments to stop someone from hurting themselves. I reject the idea that everyone has to look the same doing a pose. First of all it is not possible and secondly it is nonsense. But the question about wanting human touch is a human need. Each teacher will have to decide if and how they want to meet that need in an ethical way.