I asked the students to go out and take some classes out in the community and report upon their experiences, both positive and negative.  Here is one student’s reflections on an ineffective yoga class. Hopefully, this example will serve both yoga students and teachers alike:
An ineffective class can result in a broken heart

As part of this exercise, I attended a vinyasa flow class. Normally I am drawn to vinyasa classes however this class turned into a cautionary tale rather than a source of enrichment. To me, it seemed like an ineffective yoga class.

Observation number one. Upon retrospect, the teacher clearly overestimated the ability of the students, the first step of an ineffective class.  Almost everyone in the room was over fifty and new to yoga. The substitute teacher was young and looked pretty fit. I got the sense that he assumed everyone was more or less in the same shape as they were.  However, this was not to be the case. I’m glad everyone got out of there alive. 

Secondly, there really was no warm-up.  This was my next clue this would be an ineffective yoga class. He started us in a standing position and he had us in warrior three within the first five poses.  Personally, I need time to work up to a posture like that. Apparently, I was not the only one. I saw others struggling as well. Their version of warrior three resembled a very crude version of someone partially hunched over to lift up a wide box while standing on one leg.  It was not pretty.

“Warrior three resembled a very crude version of someone partially hunched over to lift up a wide box while standing on one leg.” 

Thirdly, the pace of the class was very fast.  I barely had time to finish half of an inhale before we were onto the next exhale or chaturanga.  Why are we in such a hurry? The class was 60 minutes long regardless of how many poses you can pack into it.  I think it is more important to spend quality time in each of the poses than racing to try and do as many as possible. Less is more.

Fourthly, the sequence was needlessly complicated.  At one point, we did 14 successive postures on one side before only doing 12 on the second side. (I counted). It’s not surprising that the teacher missed a few poses on the second side given how complex the sequence was.

Like going as fast as possible (point number three) I’m not sure what the advantage is of doing so many poses on one side? I thought it made for an ineffective class. As a student, it felt like trying to digest 14 (or 12) different kinds of food all at once. Lemons, bulger, ham, cream cheese…. You get the point.  I literally had a stomach ache. Choreography took precedence over quality.

“Choreography took precedence over quality.”

As a prospective teacher, I learned a lot from going to this class.  There are lots of ways to teach an ineffective yoga class. When it’s my turn to stand in front of the room, I will keep everyone safe with the following. Firstly, tune into the level and needs of the students. Secondly, make time for a sufficient warm-up. Thirdly, move at a manageable pace.  Finally, emphasize the quality of a sequence rather than its complexity.

This is my final letter of 2019 to share with you a commitment for 2020. I continue to expand the reach of my offerings and want to make yoga training available for everyone. As you know, yoga is beneficial in so many ways and it only seems reasonable to share it generously.

Yogis practicing yoga nidra

Yoga, as a traditional practice, is the skillful and earnest exploration of the personal and transpersonal human experience. Yoga as a practice of personal discipline and self-inquiry is and will always be “free” to explore, and the teachings are readily available in publications and on the internet. All of us long for peace on the deepest level.

And while weekend immersions and retreats are powerfully transformative,
not everyone can access or afford it.

I’m very excited to announce that my first two primary Colorado offerings in 2020 will be offered on either be donation or Pay What You Can basis.  I will teach my yoga nidra training collaboration with Axis Yoga/The Yoga Underground, and Erik Vienneau the founder of Awake, both of whom share a commitment to accessibility.  I list the events here in short form:

  • Pay-What-You-Can Yoga Nidra Immersion at Axis Yoga/The Yoga Underground Jan 31-Feb 2nd
  • Awake Meditation 1-Day Retreat, by donation, at The Gathering in Evergreen Feb 9th

Please spread the word, particularly to those typically may not be able to afford more advanced training.  There is limited at these events and early registration is recommended.

For complete details on these and many other offerings please visit my website.

I hope this holiday season brings you heart-felt connections with loved ones. And we can share in a desire to make yoga training available to everyone.

– Jeremy Wolf

It’s always fascinating to hear how people got into yoga.  For some the process was quite gradual. For others it was a more immediate and affirmative knowing.  “I did not even know it was possible to feel this way!?” For others the road to yoga may have been more rocky and could generally be classified into one of five ways.   Perhaps yoga pulled you through hard times:

  • A Traumatic Event: For some this was a difficult divorce, ending a significant relationship, or an accident. Something has changed their lives forever and they can’t go back to how it was before. Yoga has provided shelter, healing and renewed hope and they want to build on that foundation and perhaps teach others.
  • Burned Out: Whether it’s being a social worker who is continually exposed to the plight of so many, a parent or caregiver (or just an over-giver), many people come to us depleted.  The stress of “trying to keep it all together” has become too much. Maybe they are looking for a career change. They may also come to us in malaise or even depression. They are ready to fill their cup for a change (and not feel guilty about it).
  • Wound Up: Others have come to us with unwanted anxiety, a stressful job,  feeling trapped, questioning if they will ever “be enough”, or generally frustrated with life.  They want to know how to regulate their emotions.
  • Physical Situation: a persistent health issue, sports or dance related injury, body image concerns, or general bodily discomfort. While we won’t promise any miracles and we are here to support one in feeling greater ease and vitality in one’s own skin.
  • Conscious Life Shift: Some have felt lost and without a compass. Others have overcome an addiction, a career change, a recent move or some other big life shift.   The timing seems right and they are ready to mature spiritually and finally do that yoga teacher training that they have been waiting for.

Regardless of the issue, yoga has pulled you through hard times.  Perhaps it even healed you.

If it is, and you’re considering our Denver based yoga training, here’s some of what we’ve learned over the years about who is and is not best suited for the program.