The more I enjoy a yoga class or workshop, the more difficult it is for me to blog about it. To me, the energy that I experience from some teachers is so profound that I feel putting it into the public arena diminishes the experience. This being said, perhaps if it is so profound for me, perhaps it would be for you also.
Last weekend, I attended the Northwest Yoga Conference for the first time. This is one of the largest gatherings of yogis in the Seattle area that I am aware of. Four days of workshops, lectures, meditation, yoga practice and vendors from yoga-related fields are all in attendance.
My goal for this retreat was three-fold. First, to connect with my dear friend who is opening up her own studio in Seattle very soon. Second, was to experience teachers that are not generally available to me and to try new types of yoga. Finally, my goal was to network with other yoga teachers, learn marketing strategies and advertise my upcoming retreat in October, Nourish.
In the schedule, there were many wonderful options to choose from. Here are the highlights from my experience.
🕉 Business of Yoga 🕉
I attended a lecture by Lynn Politte from Yoni Speaks, titled “Take Your Teachings on the Road”. This was a basic overview of what a teacher needs to start reaching out and broadening their teaching opportunities through a strong online presence. Lynn was very knowledgable in producing and marketing yoga teachers. If you are looking for assistance in this area, I definitely recommend visiting her website and reaching out to her for advice.
My take-home advice from her discussion:
- I need to develop better marketing materials that specifically state what I offer as a teacher for my students that is unique.
- Start small. Leading larger and longer events takes time to develop.
- Pay yourself by charging fair prices. Don’t short-change your time and energy as a teacher.
🕉 Philosophy, or “How Dare I Not” 🕉
Around 2005, I bought a Seane Corn DVD. I practiced yoga to this DVD every week for a few years as I did not have money to attend yoga classes at the time. When I did the practice in the video, I felt a type of calm and relaxation that I had never experienced before in a fitness video. This video eventually led me to explore yoga in more detail.
After so many years, being able to attend her class in person was an experience I was nervously anticipating. I found her presence in real life to align with my expectations. At the start of both classes I attended (Radical Healing and Making Magic of Your Truth), Seane gathered us all around and discussed her intent for the class and her view of her responsibility to commit to the path of yoga and to humanitarian causes.
The most impactful statement she made, in my eyes, was when she discussed her own struggle. Some days, when she feels she doesn’t want to get up and do yoga or do self-inquiry, or political work, she asks herself ‘How Dare I Not?’. How Dare I Not do do the work when there are people around the world who would be punished or killed for practicing yoga or being involved in humanitarian causes. How Dare I Not, as a privileged, white American, not stand up and speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves. How Dare I Not reach out to people who are marginalized and risk their lives just for being the wrong color, the wrong religion or for having the wrong sexual orientation or gender identification.
Seane’s perspective resonates with my soul. I am committed to standing up for my beliefs, speaking my truth and standing up for anyone who is scared to stand up for themselves. (I will be blogging about my action plan in a future post).
Oh, and the yoga practice in Seane’s classes were AMAZING, nothing like trying to hold a pose for what seems like forever to make you sweat and dive inward to discover the physical and mental strength you weren’t sure you had.
Enough said…except, I got a hug from Seane Corn. Did you read that right? ✨ I got a hug…from Seane Corn ✨.
🕉 Anatomy 🕉
Eoinn Finn taught several workshops during the conference. His approach to yoga is based upon anatomy first, poses second: “Think of shapes. Let go of end points.” Keeping proper form in a pose is far more important than touching your foot to your head. His approach is similar to what I have learned from classes with Bryan Kest and my training with Baron Baptiste, although all three use different language and methodologies.
Eoinn’s approach of Yang bodies versus Yin bodies is interesting to reflect upon. Inflexible, yet strong, sthira body types that need to develop length versus, flexible, sukha bodies that need to develop strength.
In the workshop Sustainable Backbends, we explored the idea of spreading the mechanical stress across as many joints as possible to prevent injury during backbends.
A few take-aways from his class:
- Always cue “go up and back” not “go back” in any backbend
- Focus on lengthening the front of the torso, not bending the back of the body
- Inflexible students need adjustments that increase flexibility
- Flexible students need adjustments that increase strength.
🕉 Meditation 🕉
Every morning, the conference offered a mediation. Although I had good intentions, I learned that I am actually unwilling to get up at 7am to meditate (a flaw that I should work on). However, there were many classes and workshops later in the day that offered guided meditations.
The three that I attended were as follows:
- Sacred Sound Healing with Kristen Rubis
- Sweet and Slow Surrender with JL Chiemingo
- Yoga Nidra with Samantha Brown
Sound healing is something that I have written about before in Sound Bath Experience. I thought I would give it another try since it has been awhile. Turns out it is still not an experience that I enjoy, so I will move on to other topics.
JL’s class was a slow-flow vinyasa class with assists offered by Ginger from Hike Pretty. I found JL’s transitions to be unconventional and interesting. Her use of the Lotus Mudra in Sukhasana, her transitions and flow that had us all facing the back of our mats frequently, combined with the relaxing assists by Ginger all made this a powerful and thoughtful flow. I found JL’s voice to be soothing, yet powerful and her cues to be clear. The only part that did not resonate well for me, was her guided meditation. At first, it was immersed in where she was trying to lead us, but she became very detailed in her guiding and I found myself consciously ignoring her words to go where I needed to.
Yoga Nidra is essentially when you lie down comfortably on the floor and the teacher guides you into a state somewhere between wakefulness and sleeping. It is a powerful form of meditation that, literally, anyone can try. At first, I was unsure that Samantha would be a powerful nidra teacher as her presence is so bubbly and…just ‘less calm’ than one expects from a nidra teacher. However, once the practice started, I quickly realized her nidra voice was magical.
Unfortunately at this point in the program, I was having a great deal of sciatic pain and had to lay face down during nidra as I could not lay on my back. This was a bit disruptive to my practice as I frequently had to move, but even still, Samantha took me on an amazing journey to where I was able to have a conversation and query with my spirit animal, which is the bear spirit (which means I was really able to have a conversation with myself and get answers that I already knew, but just didn’t really yet connect with). This was truly a powerful experience for me, and if you ever have a chance to take a class with Samantha, definitely do it!
🕉 Further Resources 🕉
Several recommendations were made by various teachers throughout the conference. Here is a list of the resources that I recorded in my journal.
- Yogaanonymous: a website where teachers can list a free profile. Recommended during Lynn Politte’s workshop.
- Yoga Alliance: a resource for yoga teachers and students. They were a vendor at the conference.
- Yoga Trade: a website for yoga teachers to find opportunities outside of their normal teaching circle. This website was mentioned during Lynn Politte’s workshop.
- Anatomy Trains: a book by Thomas Myers. Recommended by Eoinn Finn.
- Invisible Warfare: a book by Mona Miller. Recommended by Seane Corn.
- The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras: a book by Nischala Joy Devi that interprets the Yoga Sutras from a female perspective. Recommended by JL Chiemengo.
- NoMiNoU: a Canadian clothing company that has really cool leggings. I just liked them and I purchase two of their bamboo shirts. They were a vendor at the conference.
🛎 I did not receive any money or product from any of the vendors or speakers that I cited above. I am simply recommending them as I truly felt inspired by them or connected to them.
Did you attend the conference? What did you learn? Please comment below!