I may have an impressive resume that includes advanced degrees and multiple certificates, includes being a best-selling author, 40+ years of teaching many things (including French, Linguistics, Methods of Teaching, yoga, meditation, ayurveda), includes 20 years of guiding transformational retreats and living abroad, Life Coach, and being the 1st-ever US woman to complete the Mt. Everest Marathon in 1989… What I MOST want you to know about me is that I care deeply for you. Just as you are. I cheer for you with unmatched enthusiasm. I am the staunchest supporter you’ll ever have, the most loving mirror you’ll ever look into, the most transparent, unflinchingly authentic voice you’ll ever hear whispering (and shouting as necessary) in your ear how great you are. You can join my email community at www.YourVoicesYourTruths.com
Introduce yoga to kids by making it fun. Create stories with poses, have themed practices, and act out poses with your kids. Transcript: "How can parents introduce yoga to their kids at a young age? With fun and only with fun. Yoga is not serious business for kids. In fact, we would do well to learn from our children how to bring a spirit of fun to our yoga practice. But children don't need to align their knees in the warrior poses. They need simply to express themselves. They can create their own poses. You can have themed practices, if you will. But it's mostly fun. Fun with you, fun with their friends, fun with siblings. You can write stories that integrate some of the poses. Read the stories aloud and act out the poses with your kids. I have resources on my YouTube channel that you can use to enjoy yoga with your son or daughter. Have fun, have fun, have fun."
In order to assess individual needs, I ask students questions and observe their practice. I then offer options so they can maximize their practice and make it as accessible as possible to them. Transcript: "How do you assess the individual needs of students with injuries or limitations and adjust your teaching accordingly? My whole premise is to make all of yoga as accessible as possible to the people, the bodies that are in front of me. So I've taken to saying over the years that I don't really teach yoga, I teach people. I ask questions, I ask students to share their information with me. If it's one-on-one, I have a whole questionnaire of things for them to let me know about. In a class, I ask people to raise their hand to answer the question, are you taking care of your ankle or your foot or your toes or your lower back or your shoulder or your hands? And I look at them and I can see if they're out of balance, not all the time, but if something is really obvious. And I watch as they're doing the poses so that I can make recommendations for how they might approach it differently. Or I can bring a prop to them and offer it to them, never making anybody do anything because it's their practice, it's their body, and I'm offering options so that they can maximize the practice and make it as accessible as possible to them and they can then enjoy it because isn't that what it's for?"
The most common challenge for new students is feeling fearful and uncertain about their ability level. To help them overcome this, I create a safe and welcoming environment by encouraging a beginner's mindset, offering modifications, and providing alternative poses to make the practice accessible for everyone. Transcript: "What is the most common challenge that students face when starting yoga and how do you help them overcome it? I remember, and I still feel this way when I go to a class that I've never been to, this feeling of fear and certainty that I was going to be the only person in the class who couldn't do anything. And did I really belong there? And all those doubts that come up. And I try to make my yoga classes as safe a place as I possibly can and as welcoming a place. So one of the things I do at the beginning of most of my classes is to invite people to bring their beginner's mind and I tell the beginners that they have a bit of an advantage because they have no expectations of what their body should be able to do in pose X, Y, or Z. And since I teach the people who are there, and I don't teach yoga, I teach the people, I make it all accessible for everyone who's there and I give all kinds of modifications for poses and I give them alternative poses so that they find something where they feel successful and they walk away feeling welcomed and safe and looking forward to a lifetime of practicing yoga."
Parents should observe their children when doing yoga, honor any signs that their body is tired and ask them about how they feel. They should also keep communication channels open in order to ensure that their kids are not pushing themselves too far with yoga. Transcript: "How can parents ensure that their kids are practicing yoga safely and not pushing their bodies too far? It's easier with little ones. They are very honest and up front in saying, I'm tired or they become disinterested and they walk away or they just don't participate. As our kids get older, like with so many things, we have to pay attention to the signs. And 15 minutes for one person is not enough and 15 minutes for someone else on any given day can be more than enough. So we just have to keep those channels of communication open. We have to observe, we have to honor our observations and we have to ask. We have to ask them and listen to what they say and what they're not saying."
My coaching approach is centered around each individual and what they want, taking into account their age, background, and preferences. I strive to provide a personalized experience that empowers and celebrates the client in order to help them achieve their goals. Transcript: "How do you tailor your coaching approach to work with individuals of different ages and backgrounds? My life as a teacher and a coach has always been centering on you, the client. You, no matter how old or young you are, no matter where you're from, you are the expert of your body, of your health, of your dreams, and I honor and I respect that about you. It's not what I want for you. It's not how I think you should do something. It's you. It's what do you want. It's how do you feel comfortable or uncomfortable. I'm not for everybody, it's true, but mainly I have been, and when we work together, we are unstoppable, and you live the life you love."
Some of my most memorable moments in teaching and leading retreats include hearing from a student who's never done yoga before that they feel much better than when they came in, hearing from a long-time student that they appreciate how I lead and teach the poses so they can do them at home, a widow who had lost her husband to cancer finding healing at a retreat, and an individual finding a job they love after being inspired at a retreat. Transcript: "What have been some of my most memorable moments while teaching and leading retreats? I've been teaching for 40 years and so that question is both hard and easy to answer. I've been able to serve and help a lot of people over the years and what I enjoy hearing at the end of a yoga class from someone who's never done yoga before was, I feel so much better than when I came in. No one's been able to help me with my lower back discomfort or pain even. Or when a student who's been going to yoga for a long time comes to my class for the first time and says, wow, this has been great. I really appreciate how you actually lead us and teach us the poses so we can do them at home. Because I love that. I want you to do your yoga practice at home. More recently at a retreat, a woman, a widow, who had lost her husband to cancer about a year before the retreat, shared with me that this retreat helped her give herself permission to begin dating again and to be healing. I was moved to tears. As was I when another woman said that she left her job she'd hated and soon after found something that she really loved because we inspired her at the retreat. Here she comes."