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Yoga Teacher Training – Half Way to the Finish Line

Yoga Teacher pic by Unsplash

As I am now halfway through my 10-month 200-hour vinyasa yoga teacher training journey, I thought it would a good time to review and reflect on the journey so far. If you are new to following me or have come across this blog post randomly and are interested in yoga teacher training,  then I have made it easy for you to catch up. I have been lucky enough to share this journey with readers of both The Irish Times and Evoke.ie and I have put everything together here in chronological order, for easy reading.

In July, two months before I started teacher training, I wrote about it for the Irish Times, read it here. In this piece I explained a little about the qualification and about intensive courses v longer courses.

In October, I reflected up on my own personal reasons for signing up with this piece again for the Irish Times, read it here. In it, we have some major 90s throwbacks as I discuss how I first got into yoga!

In my ongoing yoga diary for Evoke “The Yoga Diaries” I take you through each month, hour by hour and break down what teacher training involves and how I felt about each step.

Month 1: “I signed myself up for yoga teacher training” – I had a lot of school days flashbacks!

Month 2: “All about the journey” – I was trying not to project and reflect on how I will handle teaching, was just taking it step by step, doing my homework and preparing myself for the next phase.

Month 3: “Let the joy be in your journey, and not in some distant goal” – I had a lot going on personally and was in tears driving to teacher training.

Month 4: “Brought a bump in the road” – I will ill for this one and eventually had to admit defeat and head home.

Month 5: “The halfway mark” – it’s all coming together!

Or is it?

Monthly Moods – February

I have been so inspired by a regular feature in The Gloss magazine called “this month’s moodboard” that I decided to start writing my own version, with a wellness slant of course. Thankfully January is behind us, it was a tough one. I am ready for February. Here is what I am buying, doing and loving this month.

I’m reading How to Make it Happen: Turning Failure into Success by Maria Hatzistefanis. I loved Maria’s first book and her podcast; I have been looking forward to her second book for ages. Maria is the founder of Rodial and Nip n Fab.

I’m embracing working from different places including hotels, hot desks, and coworking spaces. Sadly, my much-loved dog passed away in January and there is really nothing keeping me chained to my home office anymore. Luckily, I have M Space practically on my doorstep. M-Space is a co-working and flexible office space, located on the top floor of the Marine Court Centre in Malahide, with beautiful views over the marina.

I’m adding more and more greens to my diet, it’s the only thing that keeps my problematic skin acne-free. As well as spinach daily, I have added in green powders containing spirulina which has to be the disgusting-tasting substance on our planet? Correct me if I am wrong here.

I’m following lots more sea swimming accounts on Instagram. I know I put my intention to start this hobby in last month’s post, but it didn’t happen. I did buy a wetsuit, so I am ready to go. It will happen in February!

I’m becoming more and more aware of the negative effect of single-use plastic and it’s really irritating me how many straws are used daily. I finally got myself some rose gold metal reusable straws and I will be popping one in my bag for on-the-go use. I picked them up in New Look – check them out here, not an affiliate link, just sharing.

I’m revamping my attic room to become a yoga studio. This is where I am having my practice classes as I continue on my yoga teacher training journey. It’s working out so well if my clients almost falling into a coma during savasana is any indication! Here is the link to book in and see for yourself.

I’m feeding my fashion addiction by binging on the new fashion show on Netflix – Next in Fashion. They had me at Alexa Chung. If you like Project Runway, you would love it.

I’m sticking to my spring resolution of not drinking. I drank at Xmas and new year after 16 months of abstinence and I did not enjoy the ensuing headaches. Back to 0% beer for me.

I’m buying tickets to Thrive Festival, acelebration of healthy living and wellbeing happening 29 February to 1 March 2020 in The Convention Centre Dublin. Looking forward to some yoga classes with some of my old favourites, doing some Zumba and getting some talks and demonstrations in.

I’m celebrating the imminent arrival of Spring by refusing to purchase any more winter clothes, no matter how discounted they are in the sales. I am awaiting Spring with open arms.

Monthly Moods – January

I have been so inspired by a regular feature in The Gloss magazine called “this month’s moodboard” that I decided to start writing my own version, with a wellness slant of course. Let’s kick off with January…What am I doing, loving and planning this month.

·  I’m curating my work out wardrobe with sustainability in mind. No more cheap n cheerful, wear them a few times, and leave in a drawer. I am going for better quality, more exclusive but classic designs and buying less. My first step was the Ali leggings from Trendy and Bendy. Soft, warm, secure, squat proof, yoga proof, everything proof! And nice enough for brunch out.

·  I’m following the big wellness brands like Neom and Welleco to see what new and innovative products they have coming down the line. Sleep sprays are a big hit with me, so I am always looking for new ones to try, and love researching what other wellness products I might love.

·  I’m playing the field when it comes to yoga studios. I have my three favorites that are all close to home, but I want to venture forth and visit some studios further afield that I have been following online, even if it’s only once. 

·  I’m pointing out the obvious here, but January can be a hard month financially and psychologically for many people. So, I’m taking my own advice from my ‘staying mentally and physically fit in winter” blog post, and getting out and about in nature, in between rain showers.

·  I’m pumping up the volume on my Alexa to listen to any podcast that features Sophie Grace Holmes. Sophie is a PT, endurance athlete and adventurer who just happens to have Cystic Fibrosis. The one to watch for motivation in sports and in life.

·  I’m reading Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson. This thriller has been keeping me up late at night. Just one more chapter…Better than late night screen time.

·  I’m shaking with the cold just thinking about sea swimming, but I really want to take it up this spring. I have followed some accounts on Instagram like Sea Gals Gang Sligo and Swimrise Meetup, to get me in the mood.

·  I’m trend watching via my favorite fashion bloggers,most of whom are based in Germany, like Annie Jaffrey and Livia Auer. Unashamedly stealing their style!  

·  I’m tiptoeing around the subject of summer holidays, as it’s still only January. I don’t want to wish my life away. However, I have my eye on a yoga teacher training trip to Goa with NamasteHouse.ie!

·  I’m throwing out all the leftover xmas goodies or rather, I am putting them in the attic out of my sight, out of mind.  I have replaced daily biscuit binges with ashwagandha shakes. No, they don’t taste the same.

Creating a yoga space at home

As much as you might like going out to classes, it is a real luxury and some cases also a necessity to have a yoga space at home. A little pre-planning will make sure you have everything you need and can concentrate on the practice with contentment and ease. Start with a quiet, uncluttered space. It only needs to be a little bigger than the size of your mat, the standard size for a mat is 24 inches wide and 68 inches long. You don’t want to be near a door so there is a chance of you getting hit. You might not be comfortable close to a radiator or window. Choose your spot in the house, and then elect how and where to store your mat and accessories so they are in easy reach and you can get “in the zone” quickly.

  • Mat and accessories

The mat is the most important thing, for your own safety. You cannot practice yoga safely on an “exercise mat” which is made from completely different materials. Choosing a yoga mat and the different types of mats deserve their own full blog post but, in the meantime, just know that really, it’s the only thing you need to practice at home.  Other accessories may include a strap, a block, and a bolster but I would not invest in these unless you are sure you will use them. Storing your mat in the same place after each use reduces the stress of looking all over the house for it (guilty!)

  • What to wear

As you are at home you can wear what you are comfortable in, but remember the guidelines for yoga clothing in general. While there are many overlaps between yoga clothing and other fitness clothing, and many items that you can wear for both, there are some specific requirements for yoga. You don’t want to wear anything loose as the fabric can get in your way and cover your face in inversions.  You don’t want any fabrics that are too slippy as it may interfere in your hand placements. You want a sports bra that does not have traditional bra fasteners on the back (ouch!). The softer the better but the support required will depend on your breast size. I find some yoga bras a little on the skimpy side and in a public class, it does get distracting when I’m worrying about falling out. Please do not wear socks as they reduce your ability to grip the mat and in most poses, your feet position is your first consideration, so they need to be “rooted”.

Creating a yoga space at home
Margaret Young
Wild Soul yoga and wellness
photo credit unsplash
  • Finishing touches

You can set the scene with lighting, candles, sounds, and scents. A full length or half-length mirror is ideal if it’s possible for you, as it’s helpful to check your form. As you are not in a class, you don’t have the benefit of a teacher or other students to check your form or compare form. Some people set up their home yoga area like a mini studio with wall hangings, statues, etc. It is entirely down to personal choice and what else the space/room is used for. Unless you have a huge property, chances are your room is also a bedroom, sitting room etc.

  • Your practice

You have lots of choice between YouTube, online classes, asana cards, books or your own knowledge to plan your practice. Try to assess what your body needs today. Are you looking for a stretch session, a vigorous workout, to balance out a lot of desk time or to calm anxiety and stress?

  • Soundtrack

You are spoiled for choice on Spotify with the sheer number of tracks available. However, I think music is very personal. Some people like very traditional Indian sounds, and some like to listen to health spa style sounds like the sea or rain. If you are just starting yoga at home, look for some playlists that have already been curated and when you hear a song you particularly like, start marking them as “liked” so the Spotify algorithm can get to know your taste, and make suggestions. Maybe then start building your own playlists. Feel free to give my yoga playlist a  listen here. It’s an hour long. I like to download and then put my phone on airplane mode for an hour and just escape.

Creating a yoga space at home
Atmosphere
Margaret Young
Wild Soul yoga and wellness
photo credit unsplash
creating atmosphere for at home yoga practice

Yoga on a budget

Whether you are a brand-new yogi or a seasoned practitioner, we all have times when our finances aren’t as healthy as we would like. In an effort to budget, pay bills or save for a holiday or family events, some activities get cut back on. Often, rightly or wrongly, exercise, keep fit and our wellness in general, is considered non-compulsory expenditure and come in last in our priorities.

Luckily, if yoga is your wellness activity of choice, there are lots of ways to participate on the cheap or even completely free.

  • At home practice

Firstly, and most obviously, you can practice yoga at home. Once you have your yoga mat and suitable clothing (they don’t even have to match, no one will see!) you are good to go. You can set the scene if you wish with lighting, candles, scents. The disadvantage is that you don’t have a real live person with you to check your form. So be very mindful of this and very conscious of your own safety. A large or full-length mirror is very helpful here.

When I started doing yoga many moons ago, I used VHS videos and later DVDs. It was years before I even went to a class. Now we have YouTube and a whole world of yoga at our fingertips. If you are like me and can spend so long scrolling and trying to decide on what one to do, that you run out of time to practice, then here are three of my personal recommendations.

Ekhart Yoga

Tone it up

Boho Beautiful

I would also mention using YouTube as a search engine to find what you want, to fit the time you have e.g. Yoga for sleep 20 minutes for example or yoga abs 30 minutes.

Another really nice idea is to use a book (from the library is a no-cost option) or yoga asana cards. Top of my list for my wellness purchases this month is the 108 asana cards from Yogaru. The 108 Asana cards (pictured) are designed as a sequencing guide, for all levels of experience, to make your practice more accessible at home (or when traveling – great idea!). Each card has alignment cues, levels guide, anatomy coding, and Sanskrit/English asana names. The cards also come with an easy to follow sequencing guide, sample sequences, and an extensive list of asana benefits to help you tailor to your needs. They are 32 euro which is the cost of around 2 studio classes.

108 asana cards from Yogaru
  • Free classes

Look out for free classes that are usually organized/sponsored by large companies. In Dublin during the summer, Thai restaurant and take away Camile Thai offer free outdoor yoga classes in various parks around the greater Dublin area. I went to this weekly class in St Anne’s Park in Raheny last summer. All year round, Lululemon offers free Sunday morning classes in Brown Thomas, Dublin. With these two options alone, there is really no excuse! Follow these companies on Eventbrite and you will be emailed as events go live. During 2020 I will be keeping an eye out for free classes countrywide and when I find them, I will share them on my Wild Soul Facebook page, so do follow me here.

  • Intro offers

Most yoga studios offer discounted or even free introductory offers. My tip here is to download the MINDBODY app. This is a fitness, wellness and beauty app that you can use to book classes and also find classes. It can search by location and let you know what offers are available. I am finding new studios and classes all the time that I didn’t know existed, and because of that I have tried out reformer Pilates and done yoga workshops that I would not have known about.

  • Lunchtime classes and multi-class passes

Lunchtime classes tend to be 40-45 minutes long and are generally cheaper than their hour-long counterparts. One that I go to is 11 euro compared to 19 euro for the normal class. With the money you save, you could go for pancakes after, or is that just me! They usually have mat rental included so if you are out and about or on your work lunch break, you don’t have to lug your mat around. Multi-class or monthly passes are another way to save as they prove significantly cheaper than pay as you go or drop-in classes.

  • Corporate classes

Yoga classes held in your place of work tend to be subsidized and so are a good inexpensive option. I believe that if your employer is putting an emphasis on corporate wellness by providing these classes, then you should support them if you can. They are obviously conveniently located, and the style and the timetable will be arranged to suit you, the employee. Take advantage! From Summer 2020 I will be available for corporate yoga and I am so looking forward to spreading the yoga glow to workers in Dublin.

  • Sample class with me

As a trainee yoga teacher, I am looking for people to practice teaching on between now and the summer. If you are willing to travel to me (North county Dublin) do get in touch. Not only is this a very economical option for 1 to 1 yoga, but you will be doing something kind-hearted for me by helping me out. Drop me a line at magsfyoung@hotmail.com.

Staying fit, mentally and physically, over Winter

Do you find yourself in hibernation mode over winter? But by the same token sometimes feel a bit claustrophobic staying indoors all the time? Me too. The streets, beaches, parks and the forests are still open, but they are a little less appealing in cold and dark weather. Even driving to an indoor gym becomes a struggle when all around you are in sloth mode. No one is pretending it’s easy in winter to stay physically and mentally fit but it’s worth the effort. Getting outside when possible is an important element. It has taken me a few years, but I have definitely now found a few tricks that I am happy to share. I really struggle in winter so believe me, I have put the time and effort in!

Set a goal

In 2018 my goal was to run for 7 consecutive days over Christmas. This was unusual for me as I normally run a few times a week but rarely on successive days. Most of these runs I did outside and while they were challenging, I enjoyed them, and somehow my pace improved a bit. When you’re in the house all day you can get stagnant. Coming back from a run or walk in the freezing cold gives you a new appreciation for your warm house, hot shower and settling back on the couch.

This year, all going well, I will be running my 100th parkrun on December 28th, so that is my goal for 2019. It means I can’t miss a parkrun, including the one on Christmas Day. That will be my motivation to keep going. 2018 was the first year my local parkrun (Malahide) had a Christmas day event. It was great and 334 people ran.

Continue your normal fitness  routine

Go to the gym on Christmas eve if that floats your boat and don’t let anyone else’s opinion sway you. If cycling is your thing, or whatever your sport or activity is, head out as normal if it suits your schedule and your other commitments and get it done. If your Zumba or yoga class is cancelled get onto YouTube.

You might get called obsessed or fanatical, let it go over your head. Sometimes people around you get resentful that they don’t have your motivation or discipline and you are actually making them feel bad about themselves, and that’s why they criticize and judge you. Ignore them. If you need your endorphins to feel good like I do, then why stop. My gym was packed last Christmas eve so there are always like-minded people out there.

Add in something different

One way to make the holidays and indeed winter itself more bearable is to do something season specific that you can’t do in spring or summer. For me, it’s ice skating. I was terrible at it as a child and I’m terrible at it now! But it’s so fun and a great quadricep (front of upper leg) workout. I literally can’t walk the next day! The ice-skating rinks near where I live are pop-ups, so I can’t go in summer even if I wanted to. Maybe for you, it’s winter sea swimming, hot yoga or you go on a winter holiday to ski or snowboard.

Get out of the house

In case you didn’t know, being outside in nature is a proven way to lift your mood. So, if you are not already a regular exerciser and reading this so far has made you want to go for a lie down, commit to walking instead. Get a pedometer or app on your phone and pledge to do 10,000 steps every day no matter what. Just get outside every day. Which bring me on nicely to my last tip.

Vitamin D supplements

According to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, between November and March, there is insufficient quality and quantity of sunlight in Ireland to enable the required level of vitamin D to be produced by the body. So, it’s definitely worth getting some supplements. I take them year round now to be honest, its just part of my morning routine.

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