I wanted to take a moment and share our Yoga Teacher Training Covid Response Plan.Thankfully, Colorado is reopening its doors and we hope it will not be an issue. While we are doing our best to be preventative, also recognize that there also factors that are beyond our control and may have to adopt an online format. Not my first preference, but possible necessary in full disclosure.

But here is the good news, we have a very robust yoga teacher training covid response plan in place:

  • Our rental space is separate from the rest of the building and is used minimally.
  • Regular cleanings before class.
  • Ample hand sanitizer, tissues, etc.
  • Personal prop kit (including blankets, blocks, a strap and bolster) for your personal use only.
  • Free immune boosting course prior to the start of the training.
  • Two cohorts of just (just nine people) to allow for ample space and maximize the chances of meeting in person. (Currently Colorado has a ten person cap on gatherings).
  • We have waived our payment plan fee to help those who may have been compromised economically by the virus.
  • Outside class sessions. Location TBA (weather permitting).
  • Spiritual practice for protection and healing including mantra and meditation.

After months of respite in the wake of Covid-19 the silence was broken, a cathartic cry for “Justice!” was heard around the world.  The bandaid was ripped off as they say, repealing a painful and bleeding wound that has been conveniently overlooked for centuries. Stephon Clark, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, George Floyd,  are just a few and most recent names of individuals to be unjustly killed in the hands of civil-servants.

Inevitable question arise, particularly as a white male: What’s my role in this? How can I contribute and be an ally? What if I get it wrong and say something stupid?  Each question invariable exposes a painful legacy and reveals even more painful answers followed by more questions. In no way is this convenient. Or comfortable. Or clearly laid out. But it is imperative.

Over the years, I’ve struggled with these questions, felt the collective sorrow, and tried to educate myself through trainings and conversations.  I consciously try to make DYU a welcoming space – failed many times – but hold true to the vision.

Or course yoga has been a major part of that journey – the leading force in many ways.  Yoga is a path of deep peace and healing at every step no matter how troubled the terrain. As our sensitivity increases, we can openly recognize the sorrow and joys of the human condition, including our own. Yoga is the means by which we can elevate our own condition and the collective welfare.

Then the questions start up again. For me, the answer looks like listening and taking action.  Listening means education.  Action looks like using my talents and resources in service of peace and healing (without spiritual bypass).

Specifically that looks like:

  • A video and interview series exploring how yoga practice and teachings can be a force for peace and healing on the individual and collective levels.
  • We will host a workshop/class in support of Satya Yoga Cooperative, a local school dedicated exclusively to providing yoga teacher training to communities of color.  Our goal is to raise 2K, enough to provide tuition for one student to complete their training.  It’s a modest but important beginning.  Further details coming soon.
  • And continue to explore ways that we can make this initiative sustainable.

In the immediate, here is a list of resources to educate ourself on this important and timely issue.  Admittedly, I’ve not cased all of these, but received them reliable sources. And added a few of my own discoveries.

Articles:

Documentaries:

Podcasts & Video To Check Out: 

 

Seven Strong Reasons To Do A Teacher Training

No matter what program you decide to go with (ours or another), a yoga teacher training costs a lot of money, takes a lot of time and asks a lot of you personally. There are many reasons to never take one up. There are also many seven compelling reasons to do a training if you want to go further with your practice. And it’s essential if you want to teach.

Reason #1: Adios Sporadic Practice. You’ve read my thoughts about the importance of having a consistent personal practice. I believe that the most potent way to develop one is to do a teacher training.  Maybe you had a real streak in your practice at one time and faintly remember the magic.

I’ve spoken with so many people who think that what they need is to improve on their downward facing dog and develop a positive attitude, when what they really need is a steadfast and safe container in which to be guided into practices that unravel years of accumulated tension and start to re-vision how they see themselves and the world in which they live. 

Reason #2: Exponential Momentum. A 60 minutes asana class will only take you so far. The content of classes more or less repeats itself week after week versus a teacher training that builds sequentially and continuously, like a staircase taking you to the top floor balcony where you can see the entire landscape of yoga and your life. 

Dedicated attention from a knowledgeable teacher and a committed circle of peers will exponentially increase your growth. You will receive the support of the class and give support in turn.

Reason #3: Who You Become. One of the biggest benefits of doing a yoga teacher training is who you become. You learn how to manage your mind, eliminate distractions and chart a new path of greater peace and fulfillment.

You don’t just read about these things, you do them for 3.5 months. Yoga teacher training will put yoga at the forefront of your life.  Practicing yoga on a consistent basis for 3.5 months will forever change how you see yourself and how you relate to the world.

Reason #4: Become More Self Reliant. At the end of the program you may discover that you’ve become the source of your own happiness, rather than projecting your sense of worth onto objects or individuals. You’ll probably find that you live in greater accord with what is most important.

Reason #5: Live a Life of Service. Contrary to a lot of motivational hype, you are not defined by your achievements.  However big or small your role may be, you are here to embody your unique destiny, no more or no less.  When you bring the spirit of yoga to everything that you do: as a parent, as a student, as a boss or employee, a school teacher, or a minister or you just might find that you have become a secret agent of good in the world.

Reason #6: Find and Live Your Dharma.
Living a dharmic life is a far greater measurement of one’s success at yoga than how long one can hold warrior III.  The word dharma means ‘greater law or order’, it is what gives a particular thing its unique qualities. The dharma of a pumpkin seed is to become a pumpkin, and the dharma of a swallow is to build nests from mud and migrate thousands of miles each year without getting lost.

Because of our capacity for higher reasoning and reflection, human dharma is more dynamic and complicated. Every thought, word, and action can express one’s highest dharma, or not.

Overstimulation, harboring resentment, fantasizing or neglecting one’s responsibilities undermine the ability to live in alignment with higher dharmic virtues. 

Yoga helps us to discover and live into our unique dharma.  Yoga allows us to get still and quiet enough to hear the voice of our conscience and make peace with shortcomings. Following the path of dharma gradually leads one down the path of greater fulfillment and meaningful contribution – something everyone wants at their core.

Reason #7: Learn to Teach.  At some point yoga becomes a lifestyle.  It shapes how you eat, who you hang out with, how you think and even how you breath.  Teaching can be a natural extension of your values and your personal relationship to yoga.  It feels good to live congruently.

I consider it to be a blessing for both you and the students.

Many people are searching for some way out of their current working life and feel the need to make a greater contribution. Yoga could potentially be that outlet.  I suggest easing your way into the transition to becoming a full time yoga teacher.

 

Four Steps to Deepen Your Personal Yoga Practice and Become a Yoga Teacher With Depth:

 

Step #1: Be Inquisitive & Expand Your Options

Mainstream yoga focuses on the postures.  However, the potential scope of yoga is far more encompassing. A individual yoga practice is essential to your success as a student and a teacher.

I suggest expanding your options and be open to learning about other yogic modalities. Personally, I feel drawn to personal yoga practice that is rooted in tradition and I offer students the full scope of methodologies.

After some exploration into the deeper, often ignored world of yoga, you might realize that what you really want is to be an ayurvedic practitioner and help people with nutrition and lifestyle rather than teach asana classes. You may find that you really resonate with bhakti yoga (the yoga of devotion), or want to emphasize meditation in your personal practice.  Yoga has so much more to offer beyond the poses. 

There are many possible ways you could ‘do yoga’ in the world.

Step #2: Find and Learn From a Teacher You Resonate With

You can read my in depth thoughts on the ethos of being a teacher, but I thought I would share some of the most essential aspects here as well.  Not all teachers are equally knowledgeable.  Some teachers will leave a much greater impression than others.

The teacher is there to guide the student on a journey from misperception to seeing themselves and life more fully.  They provide a living, embodied example of yogic principles and are also knowledgeable about the particular methodologies that best suit each student (including asana).  Of course the student is responsible for doing work, the teacher simply provides guidance.

In assessing a teacher see that they have a seasoned understanding of the various methods and also demonstrate a regard for the greater welfare as opposed to just themselves.  Personally, having a teacher who is deeply attuned to the spiritual aspects of yoga is essential.

 

What is it that you are looking for in a teacher?

 

Step #3: Be A Dedicated Student

We believe that effective teaching is rooted in being a dedicated student.  Teaching then becomes an organic extension of your committed practice.

To say it another way: if you aren’t a dedicated student you have no chance of becoming a teacher with depth. Your personal practice is the foundation for the house of your teaching. 

Of course this same line of thought also pertains to your personal relationship with yoga.  If you practice on a daily basis your mind and body will seamlessly adapt to a more complete version of yourself.  It will happen naturally.

Regularity is the key. Practicing a little each day, or on a regularly scheduled occasion is more effective than “stop and go.” Consistent practice builds momentum over time and eventually takes on a life of its own.

Developing a personal yoga practice is a little bit like growing a tree, at first you have to be very diligent to make sure it gets enough water, nutrients and sunlight.  You may also have to put some kind of barrier around it to prevent it from getting stepped on or eaten by insects. Eventually the tree comes into its own, is able to fend for itself, provides shade, fruit and intrinsic beauty.

Being a dedicated yoga student entails both regular practice and natural curiosity.  As you learn and apply new methods and self reflect on their effect, you discover how to shape your experience of life towards one of less fear and towards more joy.

I suggest that students build a dedicated practice and find delight in it also.

Step #4: Create a Strong, Deep, Personal Practice
Dedication is an attitude. Your personal practice is the laboratory in which to apply the attitude.  Like any craft, the more time you spend with it the further you progress.  If you want to master the violin, you need to practice.  If you want to get better at painting, then practice. The same applies to yoga. The only way to receive the benefit is by regular practice.  In order for the practices to work you have to do them.

 

These traits make for a good match: 

There are lots of yoga teacher trainings in Denver. Each with its own approach and clientele.  Here is a list of qualities that most resonate with us. And, in full disclosure, the qualities that don’t.

  • You don’t see yoga as a fad, are hell bent on nailing handstand, ‘getting a workout’ or obsess about getting the best yoga pants.
  • You want to teach yoga (formally or informally). You know that life can be impossibly overwhelming. People struggle to manage their emotions, feel trapped within their lives, and spiritually depleted.  Yoga helped you to address all of that and it can help others as well.
  • You are easy going, friendly, giving and supportive of one another. You can get on board with a culture of ‘service’ and ‘support’.
  • You value being punctual, and starting class on time out of respect for your peers. You participate in classes and workshops by asking questions and even challenging some of the ideas presented.
  • You have a home practice (in some capacity) and want the most of each class.

Other positive qualities… 

  • You are willing and able to complete assigned papers and readings.
  • You crave to know yourself more fully and to be inwardly resourced when facing the challenges of life. You stretch into new territory and the discomfort that may go along with that
  • You appreciate that there are many modern styles of postural yoga and have regard for the roots of the yoga tradition. You want classic teachings beyond common cliches such as “this practice is for you”.
  • You have a genuine interest and curiosity about yoga beyond simple asana. Asana is a means to a much greater end that includes stability, equanimity, and spiritual development.
  • You have been doing yoga for 2-10 years.

 

And we have a special place in our hearts for people who…

  • You desire conversations and philosophies with depth. You value wonder and mystery more than “knowing things”. 
  • You can be open, honest and self-reflective and are willing to be vulnerable.
  • You find them at Natural Grocers (Vitamin Cottage), at the Tattered Cover bookstore, outside, and at meditation and yoga classes.
  • You are dubious of excessive technology and excessive materialism.
  • You desire a richly supportive community of like-minded seekers
  • You care about the welfare of the underserved and may want to bring yoga to those communities. You resonate with underground movements that do a lot of good although they don’t get much recognition. 
  • You appreciate that we are a good-hearted and small business. Some administrative details will feel more like a drive through a scenic country road than mainlining on the interstate.
  • You continue to seek balance in your life between your own needs offering help to others.

 

The following kinds of people are not a good fit:

  • People who are just in it for the certification and the cool clothing.
  • Only interested in yoga postures and not the greater picture of the yoga tradition.
  • Tend to isolate themselves from and not interact with their peer group.
  • Have no interest in personal development.
  • Are exceedingly dependent upon mobile devices. They could not see themselves getting through a lecture, or even a 10-minute break without logging in.

Step #1: Be Inquisitive & Expand Your Options

Mainstream yoga focuses on the postures.  

However, the potential scope of yoga is far more encompassing.  

I suggest expanding your options and be open to learning about other yogic modalities. Personally, I feel drawn to yoga practice that is rooted in tradition and I offer my students a full scope of methodologies.

After some exploration into the deeper, often ignored world of yoga, you might realize that what you really want is to be an ayurvedic practitioner and help people with nutrition and lifestyle rather than teach asana classes. You may find that you really resonate with bhakti yoga (the yoga of devotion), or want to emphasize meditation in your personal practice.  Yoga has so much more to offer beyond the poses. 

There are many possible ways you could ‘do yoga’ in the world.  

Step #2: Find and Learn From a Teacher You Resonate With

Not all teachers are equally knowledgeable or emphasize the same points.  Some teachers will be much more impactful for you than others. An adept teacher will help you to see yourself in ways that you probably don’t perceive presently.  You may begin to recognize when you become reactive, finally see the underlying emotions, and now have the tools to address the deeper issues. A knowledgeable teacher can save you years of trial, error, and guesswork.

Yoga can be powerfully transformational. This process of transformation comes from both the student’s efforts, the depth of the teachings and the guidance they receive from their teachers.  A student-teacher relationship is built upon mutual trust and respect.

Degree of Transformation

A teacher is not necessarily a personal friend though they can be friendly.  Their job is to hold space for yoga

A teacher has positive regard for the student and guides them with patience and understanding. The sincere teacher does not try to convince the student, or make them “believers”. They are there to provide support, give direction when needed, and instruct by example.  

They point out the territory, they show the student(s) how to recognize and overcome troublesome friction in their lives and how to live more fully.  They offer practices to aid in the process.

In my view, teachers are ineffective when they operate out of self-interest, do not maintain their own practice or have insight into the things that they are teaching. When the teacher relies on giving platitudes to the students that they read in a book or offhandedly heard from somebody else, the presentation will lack potency, substance, and compassion.

I sometimes see teachers insincerely praise students. From my perspective, a teacher is there to help students discover their own capabilities rather than to artificially laud upon them.  On their best days, the teacher is an embodiment of and an empty conduit for transmitting yoga.  They translate and present complex, even bewildering teachings, in a way that the student can understand and grow into.  

The student then gets to apply the methods and reflect on the teachings. 

“In the beginning an aspirant seeks some support from outside.
That support comes from a teacher.
When the aspirant starts meditating honestly,
then their own Self is revealed in the form of a guru or teacher.”

Baba Hari Dass

Step #3: Be A Dedicated Student

We believe that effective teaching is rooted in being a dedicated student.  Teaching then becomes an organic extension of your committed practice.

To say it another way: if you aren’t a dedicated student you have no chance of becoming a teacher with depth. Your personal practice is the foundation for the house of your teaching. 

Of course this same line of thought also pertains to your personal relationship with yoga.  If you practice on a daily basis your mind and body will seamlessly adapt to a more complete version of yourself.  It will happen naturally.

Regularity is the key. Practicing a little each day, or on a regularly scheduled occasion is more effective than “stop and go.” Consistent practice builds momentum over time and eventually takes on a life of its own. Developing a personal practice is a little bit like growing a tree, at first you have to be very diligent to make sure it gets enough water, nutrients and sunlight.  You may also have to put some kind of barrier around it to prevent it from getting stepped on or eaten by insects. Eventually the tree comes into its own, is able to fend for itself, provides shade, fruit and intrinsic beauty.

Being a dedicated yoga student entails both regular practice and natural curiosity.  As you learn and apply new methods and self reflect on their effect, you discover how to shape your experience of life towards one of less fear and towards more joy.

I suggest that students build a dedicated practice and find delight in it also.

Step #4: Create a Strong, Deep, Personal Practice

Dedication is an attitude. Your personal practice is the laboratory in which to apply the attitude.

Like any craft, the more time you spend with it the further you progress.  If you want to master the violin, you need to practice.  If you want to get better at painting, then practice. The same applies to yoga. The only way to receive the benefit is by regular practice.

Denver's Ultimate Guide to Evaluating Yoga Teacher Training Programs with Studio Comparison Worksheet10 MUST-ASK Questions Before You Pick A Program in Denver

Some have called Colorado the mecca of yoga. And as the popularity of both yoga and Colorado have grown, the number of certified yoga teacher training programs have skyrocketed. A quick internet search will turn up dozens of training programs throughout the Denver-Metro area. But it can be challenging to determine which yoga teacher training program is right for you.

To help make this process easier, we have created a free guide to Evaluating Denver’s Yoga Teacher Training Programs that includes 10 must-ask questions and a bonus worksheet you can use to evaluate the programs you are considering.

The answers to these questions will not only narrow down your search, but will also help guide you to the training program that meets your specific needs as a yoga practitioner and future yoga teacher (if you choose to go that route).

A representative from the Denver program that you are considering should be available via email, phone or even face-to-face through open house events. If you are having difficulty getting your questions answered, this could be a sign that the program may not be a good fit.

Print and fill out the comparison worksheet at the end of this guide to help make narrowing down your selection easier. With the answers to these questions, you can find the Denver yoga teacher training program that best aligns with your values and aspirations.

Remember that the benefits of your training will feed you well for the rest of your life, far beyond the length of the program. I’m excited for you and the amazing journey you are about to embark upon. Namaste.

Click Here to Download Free Guide to Denver’s YTT Programs + Bonus Worksheet 

People find their way to Yoga through many avenues. Some through meditation. Some through breath work. Some through spiritual study. And many, like the student in this account, through a physical asana practice. The posts below describe an experiment to deepen a physical Yoga practice to include more of Pantajali’s eight limbs of Yoga.

In the West, most people equate “doing yoga” with asana practice.  However, yoga as a system encompasses much beyond this.   As Patanjali outlines in the Yoga Sutras, the Ashtanga-based system of yoga is comprised of eight limbs, with asana being one.   When combined together, these eight limbs are primarily designed not to enhance physical strength, flexibility and endurance, as many Westerners who “practice yoga” believe, but rather to provide a pathway to spiritual enlightenment by facilitating connection with the divine.

Prior to the teacher training, I like many in the West, experienced yoga primarily through studio-based asana classes.  Because such classes tend to focus on the physical aspects of yoga, and minimize, or many times completely ignore, yoga’s spiritual aspects, I was surprised to learn through the teacher training that “doing yoga” is actually mainly a spiritual venture.  You don’t even have to sweat!

As I have progressed through the Axis training, I have become more and more interested in the idea of teaching yoga to others.  I view the lack of emphasis on spirituality in studio-based classes a potential need in the local yoga community that would be satisfying as teacher to provide, and hopefully also useful to students.  Thus, one of my aspirations as a yoga teacher is find ways to bring the spiritual experience of yoga to people “doing yoga” in studio-type settings.  Similarly, as a yoga student I aspire to find ways to personally experience greater spiritual connectedness when participating in a studio-based yoga class, no matter how much or little the teacher emphasizes this aspect of yoga practice.

Given this, the goal of my experiment was to test the effect of introducing different actions, practices or thoughts during studio classes to see how they impacted my spiritual experience of yoga.

Hypothesis: Some actions, practices or thoughts will enhance my spiritual experience of yoga more than others during studio-based classes.

At the beginning of the experiment I brainstormed a list of different activities (see Table below) that I could try in order to enhance the spiritual connectedness I felt during a typical studio-based yoga class. My usual asana class schedule is three times a week (outside of Axis training times), split between Core Power Yoga and Advanced Asana classes at Samadhi. I systematically went through the activities listed in the Table during the asana classes I participated in throughout the weeks of the experiment (including both at Axis training and studio classes). Following each session I journaled about how the various activities affected me spiritually.