Warrior Breath: Embodying Archetypes

By Shala Worsley

How I learned about 'Warrior Breath'

A short time after I moved to Asheville, NC in 1996 I stumbled upon a little yoga practice room above an antique shop downtown. There was no sign outside advertising it as a studio or practice space. At the top of a narrow and creaking staircase there was simply a wooden bowl for donations. The room was dimly lit and I have a vague recollection of the floor being covered in shag carpeting. There were no yoga props. I don’t remember yoga mats; I think we were offered carpet remnant squares to sit on. When I entered the room, it was at full capacity with about 12-15 people already there waiting for the 2-hour practice to begin. The person leading the classes described his style as Hatha Yoga. I don’t remember that teacher’s name and haven’t crossed paths with him in over two decades. But his practices were potent and effective. If I met him today, I’d thank him for creating and holding a strong sacred space. And then I’d thank him for teaching me Warrior Breath.

What is Warrior Breath?

Warrior Breath is a method for embodying the archetype of Mars. When Mars is present in our lives, we feel full of vigor and courage. We’re ready to take action or stand up and fight for something important to us. Warrior Breath can be a supportive practice when we have the need to be forthright, bold, and assertive. In that little practice space above the antique shop we’d practice 108 rounds of Warrior Breath together, and then we’d sit quietly steeping in the collective power that filled the room.

How to use Warrior Breath

Warrior breath involves three simple parts:

 1. The use of Tse mudra from the Taoist Yoga tradition. The name translates as the Dispeller of All Darkness, as it is meant to cut through despair, depression, and anxiety. It’s done by curling the hands into fists in a particular way. 

2. Pulling the arms down from overhead on the exhalation in order to stimulate an energetic region on the side of the ribs which stimulates the Fire element. 

3. The empowering use of the sound “HA!” on each exhalation. The sound is meant to clear mental stagnation, fear, indecisiveness and replace it with confidence and courage to make a change or defend a boundary.

Want to Learn More? Check Out My Upcoming Workshop!

If you’re interested in more ways to fill yourself with the energy of Mars (The Sun, the Moon, Mercury, and Venus as well), then please join me for the upcoming workshop Astrological Archetypes & Yoga at AYC January 20-22, 2023. It will be a total pleasure to practice together.

Join us in January for Astrological Archetypes & Yoga with Shala Worsley

Understanding Bhakti Vinyāsa Yoga

By Michael Johnson

What is Bhakti?

Bhakti means devotion, a deep yearning to experience love in its purest form. According to Dr. Shyam Ranganathan, Bhakti is identical to Yoga as a basic ethical theory that originated in South Asia. Although it is often confused with Theism, a decolonized view of Yoga or Bhakti does not require any beliefs. By contrast, Bhakti Yoga is simply devoting ourselves to the universal ideal of Īśvara (being in control of the activities of our mind rather than being controlled by them). It is practiced with Svādhyāya (owning our own choices) and Tapas (the willingness to make better choices rather than be governed by our past). This is how Yoga is defined in the Yogasūtra 2.1, the root text for Yoga Philosophy. 

What is Vinyāsa?

In Yoga, vinyāsa is a transformative way of moving from where we are now toward where we want to be, while focusing on the process rather than grasping to specific outcomes. The word vinyāsa can be broken down into vi ≈ special, transformative and nyāsa ≈ ritual, practice. The physical practice of vinyāsa today is often associated with “flow yoga,” a technique that aims to align the movement and breath in a smooth, fluid way. 

Although people tend to fixate on the external specifics of practices such as the postures or Sun Salutations, they have little to do with Yoga. Genuine Yoga only uses such practices as a means to control the mental activities to be free of afflictions. For those of us who are unable to sit comfortably enough to practice Yoga in stillness, such meditative movements can offer an upāya (skillful means) to eventually be able to sit still with the impulse control to practice the inner limbs of aṣṭāṅgayoga.

Image Source: Le Minh Phuong via Unsplash.com

The Flow of Devotion

Bhakti Vinyāsa is a set of principles that can help us accept where we all are now and move with integrity from one posture to the next in a flowing yoga sequence toward optimal well-being. 

A Bhakti Vinyāsa class integrates mantra (resolution), prāṇāyāma (conscious breathing), pratyāhāra (somatic awareness), dhāraṇā (concentration) and dhyāna (the flow state) while moving through sequences carefully designed for all bodies that prepare us to be still for daily samādhi (profound meditation) practice. 

There are nine kinds of Bhakti mentioned in Nārada’s Bhaktisūtra. Come join my Bhakti Vinyāsa 5-day Intensive if you would like to learn them with me, September 5-9th (in-person or virtual). 

Want to Learn More? Check Out My Upcoming Workshop!

Visit Asheville Yoga Center this fall for an opportunity to join students and teachers of yoga who are ready to transform their understanding of yoga with practices of Bhakti, the flow of devotion.

This yoga teacher training, offered both virtually and in-person, will inspire the fundamentals of vinyasa flow yoga with a devotional aspect that will awaken the heart to compassion, love, and peace. All levels are welcome.

Join us beginning September 5th for Bhakti Vinyasa Flow with Michael Johnson. 

Self-Care Tips for Yoga Teachers

Despite the therapeutic nature of yoga, being an instructor does not come without its challenges. With hours spent teaching multiple yoga classes at different yoga studios and events – in addition to taking time to prepare for workshops – it can be challenging to make time for your personal practice. However, maintaining your practice and continuing your education are two of the best things you can do for yourself and your career.

Fuel Your Passion for Yoga

You cannot be an effective teacher and help your students if you do not feel inspired or connected to your own practice. Your students show up for YOU and want to learn from YOU, so being able to relate to them is essential. If you find yourself feeling disengaged, take some time to think back to what drew you to yoga and inspired you to become a teacher in the first place. Creating space for reflection will once again ignite your passion and rekindle your love for yoga.

Create a Home Practice

We all know life can get incredibly busy, but even if you can only make time for a daily 30-minute practice, that is a great place to start! Here are a few tips to make it easier:

Prepare your space the night before: Set up your mat and props that you want to use so you do not have to think about it in the morning. Everything you need is right there waiting for you.

Commit to a time to practice and make it consistent: This can be one of the most challenging things to schedule, but if you stick to a specific time each day, it will become an easy routine.

Remove distractions: Make this time about you. Leave electronic devices behind and relish in the peace and quiet of your own practice.

Keep a notebook close by: After your practice, jot down the sequence you did and any enlightening thoughts you had. Personal notes are great bits of information to share in your classes.

Put on Your Student Hat

Do you aspire to be a better teacher? The answer is easy: become a student. There are so many areas of yoga to explore, and continuing your education will not only allow you to expand your horizons, but it will also give you an opportunity to practice with other experts in the field.

300-Hour Advanced Studies

Taking the next steps in your educational journey shows that you have made a commitment to both your personal growth and to your career. If you are feeling stuck in your teaching, the 300-Hour Teacher Training Program will give you a broader scope of knowledge and exposure. You can learn how to teach yoga to children, elderly adults or expand your expertise to include ashtanga, bhakti, restorative yoga and so much more. The 300-Hour Program is designed to provide the opportunity to make choices in the areas of yoga that inspire you most while creating flexibility with your schedule. Learn more about AYC’s 300-Hour Program here.

Find the Program Option to Fit Your Schedule

Are you ready to dive into 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training? This in-depth curriculum will give you the confidence and experience you need to start educating and sharing the love of yoga with others while providing a deeper understanding of yourself through the process!

We realize that life is busy, and it can be tough to set aside time to dedicate to training. To accommodate, we developed two different program options with the same curriculum to give you the flexibility to choose the training that best fits your schedule. Find the transformative experience you are looking for in either the 3-week or 9-weekend program and start the next phase of your yoga journey!

3-Week Program

The 3-week program is perfect if you want to be fully immersed in yoga and complete your training all at once. It gives you the time and space to step out of your day-to-day routine and focus exclusively on learning and practicing yoga. Come prepared to spend full days in training, study and practice in a group setting. Class sessions run six days a week from 7:30am until 5:30pm with an hour lunch break. This experience will lay the foundation for understanding and mastery of yoga while feeling your soul, and you will leave training with the tools to continue practicing and sharing what you have learned. If you are looking for a dynamic program and want a more intense experience of living and breathing yoga, while earning your Yoga Alliance certification, then this is the path for you!

9-Weekend Program

The 9-weekend program is ideal if you have commitments during the week, such as school, work or family obligations. This path will allow you to train for nine scheduled weekends, spread out between six or seven months, to earn your Yoga Alliance certification. Each weekend consists of a 5:30-9:00 session on Friday evening, a session on Saturday from 8:00am-6:00pm and a session on Sunday from 8:00am-3:30pm which will allow you to develop a strong bond with your training group. In terms of flexibility, this option will allow you to maintain your work schedule, let you focus on your family, and still give you time between weekend trainings to study and prepare. This program moves at a slower pace, giving you time to absorb information and bring lessons from the classroom into your normal daily life in between trainings. You’ll come back together with your classmates to discuss philosophy, the evolution of yoga and so much more. It will give you space to share how your life has been impacted by what you’ve studied and let you hear how your other classmates have been inspired.

It is extremely transformative to watch each other grow and change throughout 200-Hour Training. Whichever option you choose, you’ll come away from training with a deeper love for yoga, yourself and life. Embrace your journey and be a part of this life-changing experience!

Learn more about the 200-Hour Teacher Training programs here.

Consent in the Classroom

In a recent article written for the New York Times, journalist Katherine Rosman found herself face-to-face with the issue of consent and hands-on assists during Asheville Yoga Festival this past summer. During a four-hour workshop titled “Inversions and Adjustments” with Jonny Kest, she found herself in a unique situation. A woman in the workshop was practicing a pose, widely known as Triangle Pose, when Kest moved one leg around the student’s leg, wrapped his arm around her from behind and placed his palm between her collar bone and breast.

This particular instance has gained a lot of attention in the yoga community and begs the question, “how do you handle hands-on assists in class?” In light of this situation, it is imperative for yoga teachers to always ask for consent before giving any kind of hands-on adjustments. Yoga is meant to be a safe and healing space for people to come together and practice. However, when you are teaching to a group of students with diverse backgrounds unknown to you. Some people who have endured trauma in their lives can be triggered by touch, so it is vital to be mindful in your classes.

Use Consent Cards in Class

One way that you can show respect and understanding to your students is implementing a type of consent card. This is an easy and private way for students to let you know whether or not they are comfortable with hands-on assists during class, and it provides you with awareness of your students’ needs at a glance.

Establish Boundaries at the Beginning of Class

When class starts, share with your students that you intend to use hands-on adjustments, so they are clear on what to expect. If you do not want to use cards, you can also ask students to raise a hand while in child’s pose if they would prefer to not have hands-on assists.

Make Sure Students Know They Can Say No at Any Point

Some students may feel comfortable being adjusted in only certain poses. Some of your students may be more open to assists at the beginning of class rather than later on. You want them to feel comfortable throughout the duration of class. Make sure your students know that they can opt out of hands-on assists at any point during class by giving you some sort of indication whether that is with a verbal cue or with a card.

Be Aware of Resistance from Your Students

In some situations, you will be able to feel physical or energetic resistance to your hands-on assists. If you feel this type of energy, take a moment to reflect on whether or not the adjustment is necessary and act accordingly. Remember, it is always okay not to give an assist if it seems unnecessary or at all uncomfortable.

Mindful Assists 300-Hour Training – March 27-29

If you would like to better understand how to mindfully approach assists in your classes, this is the workshop for you! Instructor Shala Worsley will lead a fun and informative weekend to explore the art of hands-on adjusting. She will provide an introduction to marma points and instruction for giving hands-on adjustments that are marma specific. Click here to register!

Show Your Light

Take a minute to think about some of your most influential yoga teachers. How did they impact your life? What qualities did they possess that made you admire them?

Yoga teachers are some of the most nurturing, impactful people that you will meet in your life. Going through 200-Hour teacher training will equip you with the essential tools you need to share your love of yoga and start inspiring others in your own classes or out in your community. Just like your favorite yoga teachers, you too can be a light to others and help them grow.

The knowledge that you’ll learn in 200-Hour teacher training will stay with you for the rest of your life, and you’ll find that you start implementing practices and teachings from training in your everyday life and in your relationships. You’ll learn the spiritual aspects of yoga, breath work, ethical codes, meditation and more. These gems of wisdom will help you serve others in and out of the classroom and will grow your love and appreciation for yoga beyond your personal practice.

How You Can Be an Inspiring Yoga Teacher

Care About Your Students

Impactful teachers are the ones who check in with their students and form relationships with them. Take time to really get to know individuals who come to your classes and build relationships with the ones who are regulars. Going that extra mile will end up giving you and your students an even more fulfilling experience.

Live by What You Teach

Be a teacher devoted to your practice and someone who truly lives yogic values on and off the mat. Your students will be inspired by the love you share both in the classroom and beyond.

Be Present, Not Perfect

When you start teaching, you may feel pressure to make your classes flow perfectly like some of the classes you’ve taken from your favorite teachers. But yoga isn’t about fitting into a mold of perfection. Remember, you’re just starting out and things aren’t going to always go the way you want them to and that’s okay. Your students will admire you for trying and being humble as you embrace your career.

Serving others starts by implementing your own personal growth, and you will blossom beyond belief through training. You’ll learn so much and be ready to grow personally and inspire those around you with the goodness you find from yoga. This is your time to jump in!

AYC’s 200-Hour Teacher Training Program 

Asheville Yoga Centers offers 3-week immersions and 9-weekend course options for students to complete their Yoga Alliance RYT-200 yoga certification, but the curriculum is the same no matter which path you choose. Each day of yoga training will consist of about 50% asana and 50% lecture/discussion. You’ll cover multiple topics such as yoga poses, meditation, philosophy, pranayama, anatomy, sequencing, assists, and a variety of different styles of yoga. You’ll also get to learn from eight highly skilled and experienced instructors.

This month, receive free books when you register for your 200-Hour training! Prices are increasing in 2020!

Tips for Teaching a Low-Risk Class

Written by AYC Instructor, Rosie Mulford

As a yoga teacher, you will likely encounter a student who gets injured. If an injury arises during your class, it doesn’t necessarily mean you were the cause. Regardless, it is important to know how to be aware of potential injuries so that you don’t unknowingly contribute to one.

David Keil, an expert in the anatomy of yoga, says, “Our first responsibility as a yoga community is to acknowledge openly and honestly that yoga asana is a physical activity. It is not risk-free. From there we can look at the places where teachers can reduce the risk to yoga participants, as well as the ways that yoga students can take responsibility for their own experience in yoga practice and yoga classes.”

In accordance with the yogic philosophy, we must become a witness to the entire concept of yoga asana classes. In these classes, it is important to practice the yogic idea that truth is the only thing that exists. If a student is practicing in a way that is not truthful to his or her body, he or she will eventually suffer the consequences of living in that untruth and become injured.  That is where linking the breath to your innate and true self becomes imperative.  If the teacher guides the student in taking a breath before the action of moving into the pose, the student will then be given a brief moment in which to tap into his or her inner voice (truth) and know whether or not it is appropriate to go deeper, stay in the same position, or back out with each exhale. In this way, it is critical to always listen to the body.

There is a public opinion that yoga is a “cure-all,” and there is an underlying assumption that one may get injured in a Cross-Fit class or a gymnastics class but not in yoga. The first thing we need to do is change that misconception. Modern-day yoga is just like any other group class, in the physical sense, with the same risks.

Jeffrey Frick, CEO of the Fitness and Wellness Insurance Program at the Murria & Frick Insurance Agency located in Solana Beach, California says, “Compared with other forms of exercise, yoga generates fewer and less costly insurance claims. However, yoga continues to be one of the fastest-growing forms of exercise we insure.” Frick’s company specializes in coverage for fitness facilities including health clubs, yoga studios, and climbing gyms. The yoga liability program averages about 10 claims per year with the average paid claim amount being $6,000.

In contrast, the company averages about 200 claims per year from their other fitness programs, with the average paid claim amount being $20,000. The program’s largest yoga insurance claim, for more than $200,000 in 1994, involved a teacher overstepping ethical boundaries and injuring a student. More commonly, Frick notes, “Yoga claimants say the instructor pushed them too hard into positions that caused injury to them.” Frick echoes Leslie Kaminoff and Judith Hanson Lasater by saying that to prevent problems, teachers need to be sensitive to their students’ ability to do certain poses. In the fitness industry in general, Frick says, “Half of claims are customer induced; that is, they come not from our negligence, but from an over-zealous client. The lesson is that instructors should have protected these people from themselves.”

How do we move forward and combat the risk of injury for students? First, we need to evaluate what a student is looking to gain from yoga and whether or not they have any prior injuries.

Secondly, as a yoga community, we need to openly acknowledge that yoga asana is a physical activity.  It is not risk-free. At this point, both the teacher and the student can figure out ways to reduce risk.

Leslie Kaminoff, an internationally recognized specialist in yoga and breath anatomy, says, “Some people have such faith in yoga that it overcomes their critical thinking. They think yoga practice, or a yoga teacher, can’t hurt them, which isn’t true.”

Roger Cole, Ph. D., scientist and Iyengar Yoga teacher relays ways to minimize the risk of injury in a classroom: “Teachers and students need to understand where the body is most likely to get injured in yoga and know how to protect these areas.”

Cole names the lower back, knees, and neck as areas of the body most prone to injury, followed by the sacroiliac (SI) joint and the origin of the hamstring muscle (where it joins the sitting bone). He notes that back and SI injuries are often linked to forward bends because they can place strain on the disks and ligaments at the base of the spine.

The riskiest postures are any seated, straight-leg forward bends that also include a twist. Cole says, “In order to make these poses safer, tilt from the pelvis as far as you can before the back gets involved, elongate the spine, don’t flex it too far, and never force yourself into the pose.” He further cautions, “Tilting the pelvis has its own risk. It puts more stretch on the hamstrings, so if you push too hard, you can strain them, especially at the point where they connect to the sitting bones.”

To prevent knee injury, Cole emphasizes the importance of not forcing the knees, especially in Padmasana, Lotus Pose, and instead advises turning the thighbone outward from the hip joint. “Pulling up on the foot or ankle or pushing down on the knee in Lotus puts a tremendous crushing force on the cartilage of the inner knee,” he says.

The most common posture to cause injuries, especially in people over 40, is Salamba Sarvangasana or Shouldterstand, according to Larry Payne, Ph.D., a Los Angeles yoga teacher, therapist and coauthor of Yoga Rx. For beginners, he suggests practicing Half Shoulderstand, a variation of the full pose where the hands are placed on the lower back to support the weight of the hips, thereby removing most of the weight from the neck. Full Shoulderstand can be dangerous because of the excess weight many Americans carry, notes Payne, who avoids the posture for anyone who is more than 30 pounds overweight. He offers students a continuum of options, including Viparita Karani, Legs-up-the-Wall Pose, Ananda Balasana , Happy Baby Pose, and Half Shoulderstand. He finishes by saying, “The attitude of a teacher is very important in avoiding injury. Teachers who make the class feel intimidated or wimpy if they need a modification or want to come out of a pose are asking for trouble.”

The best thing you can do as a yoga teacher to reduce any risk of injury is to constantly be aware of your student’s needs and capabilities. Offer modifications of more advanced poses that might result in a student injury. Above all, be thoughtful, caring and educate your students on how to keep themselves safe and injury-free during class and in their own practice.

Believe in Yourself Through Your Journey

Have you thought about pursuing your love of yoga beyond the realm of your personal practice? Embarking on the journey through 200-Hour teacher training will make you grow immensely as you connect with your mind, body and spirit. You’ll dive into a life-changing educational experience where you’ll bond with like-minded yogis and explore the many pillars of yoga.

Even though teacher training is a very exciting time of life, there are also many questions and apprehensions that come along with starting something new and unknown. You might be thinking, “How am I going to be successful in a career when I’ll be so new compared to other yoga instructors?” Every yoga teacher has gone through the “new” phase in their career! It’s an invigorating time to learn, listen and spread your wings. Here are some tips to make you feel confident in your choice and continue towards a new career path.

Don’t Take Things Personally

As a novice instructor, you might find that some students are surprised by your inexperience when you first begin to teach. They can be skeptical of you all they want, but don’t for one second let them inflict self-doubt. If you find yourself in this situation, try to put yourself in their shoes and understand them instead. Maybe they’ve never had a recent graduate as an instructor before, or maybe they have some built-up negative energy that needs to be released in class. Whatever the reason may be, you will have something to offer them.

Have Confidence in What You Say

You will win the respect and admiration of your students by teaching with confidence. Your role is to be a soothing, comforting voice for your students for the hour or more class that you teach. Share your thoughts and wisdom confidently and proudly. Practice your sequence and pronunciation so that you feel prepared going into your class. And remember to be patient with yourself always. It will take time to master a powerful, confident voice, but you will get there!

It’s Okay to Not Have All the Answers

Remember, you’re just starting out, so you’re not going to know the answer to every question that comes at you. If this happens, the best way to approach the situation is to just be honest with your students. Help them if you can, but then give them the resources they need to get further answers.

Find a Mentor

Having someone you look up to and can confide in is one of the greatest ways you can support your career and grow in it. Find a mentor that you trust and respect that you can bounce ideas off of and learn from. Get coffee with them or take one of their classes to observe their teaching practices. Continue to wear that student hat and learn as much as you possibly can.

As a novice instructor, you’ll be faced with challenges just like every other instructor. The bottom line is to overcome those challenges and use them to step up your skills as a teacher. Have confidence and fearlessly take on your future!

Download Our Guide to Teacher Training

Deepen Your Knowledge of Yoga

Written by AYC Instructor, Tucker Shelton

Have you ever tried drinking from a firehose? That’s what it can feel like to jump into the 300-Hour yoga teacher training immersion at AYC. The incredible teachers, fascinating subjects and advanced modules are so powerful that it can feel daunting to take it all in. The truth is, you have to be ready to work, learn and transform your practice and your teaching.

Most students piece together their 300-Hour credits by taking workshops and trainings on the weekends. This process can take a long time and requires a lot of planning. For those who have to travel to the training site, that’s a lot of back and forth, not to mention the cost of flying or driving. I struggle with this type of learning because it makes me feel pushed and pulled between my home life and my studies. I am the kind of person who likes to dive headfirst into an experience. I barely achieved competency in three years of high school Spanish classes, but when I spent a month in Mexico, I was forced to learn quickly, and I did. For me, it’s all about the learning environment.

When I did my 300-Hour training at AYC, back in 2012, I spent a whole month in a mixture of potent self-reflection, complete bliss and utter rawness. My training cracked me open and pulled all the things I’d been hiding from right to the surface for me to confront. I learned even more about myself than I did about yoga during that time (which is remarkable because I cannot begin to tell you how much I learned about yoga).

Before my training, I had been out in the world teaching yoga for four years. During that time, I developed some solid classes, and I absolutely loved what I was doing. Still, something was missing. My first teacher training answered so many questions but being a teacher had brought on so many more. I had a few vague ideas about Ayurveda, Yin yoga, Prenatal modifications, etc., but I knew I was no expert. I had met a plateau in my teaching, and something needed to change. That’s when I got the email that AYC was putting together a one-time 300-Hour immersion program, and I jumped on it immediately.

The 300-Hour training dipped into subjects that fed my mind, body and spirit. I didn’t even know how hungry I was for the learning until I was swimming in it. We were immersed in knowledge about Ayurveda, Yin yoga, meditation, juicy assists, senior yoga, anatomy and therapeutics, Bhakti flow, chanting, slow flow, restorative, Ashtanga, Jivamukti, sequencing, philosophy, nutrition, pre and postnatal yoga, chakras, sacred texts and more. It was too much goodness in one place! To this day, I look back at my notes, and I learn something every time.

The charge of energy and knowledge that I received from this training is still with me seven years later. If you are 200-Hour certified instructor, and you are waiting for a sign to take the 300-Hour immersion program, let this be it.

The deeper learning that takes place in the 300-Hour program is essentially graduate school for yoga teaching. You will be asked to be your best self. You must ask difficult questions, hold multiple truths at once, open your mind to changing what you think you know and be willing to shine light on the things that scare you. This may sound frightening, but fear is always present when the ego is challenged to grow. If you choose to enroll in the 300-Hour program at AYC this summer, I guarantee you that you will not regret it.

Right now, you can save on AYC’s 300-Hour Immersion! Register by January 31 and receive $900 in savings with discounted tuition of $3395, free books (a $250 value), and a $50 gift card to the AYC Boutique! Classes begin on May 20 and only require 6 weeks to complete! Continue your journey, advance your knowledge of yoga, and immerse yourself in this unique experience. Learn more here.

Finding a Mentor

By AYC Instructor Richard Fabio

Yoga Teacher Training is the experience of a lifetime. You’ll find a deeper education of yoga than you thought possible. It will challenge you to discover more about yourself as a yogi and as an individual. Starting out, teacher training can seem intimidating, which is why having a mentor will elevate your experience and keep you on the path to becoming the yoga teacher you aspire to be.

A mentor helps you navigate through new terrain or unchartered waters.  Literally, the word mentor comes from Greek mythology where a young man joins a sailor named Mentor on his ship to learn the trade and skill of sailing first hand. Once you begin your yoga teaching, storms will roll through and the compass will become confusing to read. What do you do when you forget which side is starboard?  You consult your mentor.

At Asheville Yoga Center, we work hard to provide teacher trainees with a thorough background across many different styles, exposing students to various historical and technical resources.  The 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training program is designed with this in mind. It is like being handed a map of the world.  We also work to hone the foundational skills of yoga teaching so you will know how to set sail.  However, once you set out on the metaphorical sea of yoga teaching, where exactly on the map will you sail?

A mentor can help aid in the path. They will keep the course from becoming overwhelming, reinvigorating you with guidance and inspiration as you come across various trials. A yoga mentor can help you in several ways:

  • Providing feedback on your development as a teacher.
  • Networking with studios to help find a position for you.
  • Allowing you to sub their class.
  • Giving you additional areas to explore and deepen your study.
  • Be a great resource to go to for guidance and answers to the slue of questions you will have about teaching and yoga.

When you begin teaching, it is natural to encounter trials, and a mentor can provide both context and empathy as he or she has very likely been through something similar.

When looking for a mentor, look for someone whom you admire. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the person you are considering have a sense of character you respect?
  • Do you admire the way they teach?
  • Do you admire the way they carry themselves off the mat?
  • Do you like the type of personal practice they have?

Once you have an idea of who your mentor might be, reach out by asking questions after class or sending an email.  Try to say or write something where the person will have to give a thoughtful response related to yoga.  If you like the response keep building the relationship.  A mentorship can be as casual as just continuing to ask questions after class or through email. As the relationship develops, you may grab tea or share a meal sometime.  But word to the wise, grow the relationship around yoga, prioritize the development of you as a yogi.  A mentor is not a guru, and it is not just a friendship either.  A good mentor will relish the opportunity to pass along wisdom.

As you deepen the mentoring relationship, some teachers may ask for a more formal commitment.  Usually, there will be a fee for their time in these types of circumstances as you will be receiving much more focused attention on developing your teaching skills.  A good mentor puts a lot into mentoring and will invest their time and energy in their mentees’ success.  Continuously ask yourself throughout the mentoring process, “Is the time and/or money I am investing in this mentorship helping me grow as a yogi and a yoga teacher?” Personally, I have had a number of mentors throughout my career, some more casual and some formal.  They have all been worthwhile.

The breath of lessons that come with the personal attention of someone further along the path is priceless.  It was always readily apparent when the relationship was needed and when it was time to move on.  A good mentor will know when it is time for you to sail your own ship. Good luck and may you find your teaching voice and yogic message. Don’t wait to start your yoga teacher training journey!