In February 2020, PANDEMIC was smeared on the front page of the news. Prior to that, headlines like “Wuhan Lock-down” were catching my attention, but I was distracted, like all Canadians, by railroad blockades, the Wetsuweten Hereditary Chiefs and the unimportant discourse about JLo’s outfit at Super Bowl. The Facebook militia was rioting about these polarizing issues, but the Wetsuweten Blockades and JLo’s crotch were ignored by many. There was still diversity in the media – sports, movies, celebrity gossip, travel – and our individual interests trumped any unifying issue.
That was the Before Times. Before everyone was sent home from work and our collective interests were aligned by the impact of Covid. Before my inbox was bursting with trivial emails from every business I’d ever patronized. Thank you, HeadKandi Hair Salon for letting me know you’ve made the “difficult but necessary” decision to close. And hello, Scotiabank, I send well-wishes to your family too.
Everywhere and Nowhere.
At first, Covid was everywhere and nowhere. It was in my emails and front of mind, but I didn’t know anyone with Covid. Then it was somewhere: a sign on the door of my yoga studio: CLOSED due to Covid. The lively yoga studio I co-own and where I teach yoga teacher training was abruptly silenced on March 17.
In this together.
Loneliness punctuated the early days of Covid. Scotiabank underscored the concept of community with their well-wishes and “we’re all in this together” digital platitude, but the mass emails did little to acquiesce my gloom. Our studio was empty, and I passed the lonely hours swiffering the floor and tinkering with my website. I often just sat at the desk, listlessly refreshing my email. Another unread message at the top, this one from the Yoga Alliance. Oh great, another instruction to “stay safe in these troubled times.” I rolled my eyes in anticipation of more insipid platitudes.
Real problems. Real solutions.
But the Yoga Alliance email was different. It had real solutions to my real problem: online yoga teacher training was approved! For the first time. Change. I’d advocated before for approval of online yoga teacher training, but was always met with reluctance. Maybe the administration to implement online yoga training had been too daunting. Whatever their former reason for disallowing online training, the abrupt global disruption prompted the Yoga Alliance to adapt. For the first time in weeks, I felt inspired by change.
Along with loneliness, a frustrating feeling of inertia had been my constant companion. Stay Home was the online rally cry. Being alone coupled with the uncertain future for my business was wearing on me. So following the Yoga Alliance’s approval for online yoga training, I was eager for action.With no regard for the daunting logistics or for my sanity, I resolved to get my 200-hour yoga-training curriculum online in two weeks. Step one: get a learning management system. I host my website through WordPress, so I chose LearnDash, a learning management plugin. I trusted WordPress because their reliable online support solved many frustrations over the past decade.
Community support. Virtually.
Part of learning online and mitigating the accompanying loneliness is knowing there’s a like-minded support community. Immediately after installing the LearnDash plugin, all my custom formatting disappeared. I gasped. Audibly. The sound reverberated around my empty studio. My website took ten years to mould to my satisfaction. I clicked around in the now-barren shell of a website. Anguish. Despair. Acute helplessness. But WordPress has a live chat with Happiness Engineers. I pounded into my keyboard,
“Please help. I just installed a new plugin and all my formatting disappeared!!!!”
“Oh no! (Hi!) I’ve seen that error before, I think I know what we need to do,” came the reply from WordPress Live Chat. The faceless Happiness Engineer solved the problem for me with a few keystokes (my website had inadvertently migrated to a new server).
“THANK you. Are you a real person? Where are you?” I typed.
“I think I’m a real person! Hard to tell these days 🙂 I’m in the Eastern US,” came the response. And my anguish dissolved. Here was a real person, a Happiness Engineer, solving a problem for me. We were alone, but together. The transition from the Before Times to the unknowns of Covid was abrupt and jarring, but for the first time since Covid barged into my life, I felt supported by another individual.
Alone. Together. Reading emails and chatting virtually. I considered the possibilities of life after Covid. Driven by innovation, infrastructure like live chat with a trained WordPress agent was already in place. I brainstormed about how online yoga teacher training could be meaningful. It needed to be more than a one-sided broadcast like email and blog content. It needed to be a two-sided discussion. It needed to mimic a community. Students needed to feel like we were together while they were alone.
Covid is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pivot and try something new. I had the approval from the Yoga Alliance, I persevered through the frustration of installing a learning management system, now I had to get interactive with video. The textbook and written content was done, but how would I replicate the spontaneous interactive group learning that is central to yoga teacher training? How would I promote community in an online medium?
4K video. Mirrorless cameras.
My self-imposed frenetic schedule was filled with spontaneous interactive learning. Online forums and chats educated me on sufficient RAM for 4K video; mirrorless and full frame cameras; lavalier microphones and colour rendering index for lighting. Even the vocabulary was new to me. But every panicky problem with bandwidth, choppy video and shadowy lighting was calmly answered in online support groups. I was acquiring a new skill set, and the difficulty of getting my yoga modules online was mitigated by online community support. My sanity was compromised by my frenzied work pace and the volume of unfamiliar tasks, but I felt supported by an online community.
Community is what keeps us sane. Community is about aligning feelings through shared objectives and mutual understanding. I thought about the idea of community as I set up a corner for filming video in my studio. Lights. Camera. Action. I was teaching yoga to a tripod. It didn’t feel like community. Can online learning really replicate the real life experience of being part of a yoga training cohort?
Yoga teacher training is about community and about belonging. As I learned to make videos, I asked the forums if I should film in 24 or 30 frames per second; I asked how to backlight my set. No matter the question, there was an online community to support the process of making yoga videos. Martin Luther King Jr described community as a web of mutuality. Community is a shared responsibility to take care of each other. Making videos was rewarding for me because I was supported by online people: mutual support was available through shared objectives.
Dynamic shared learning.
I paced around the studio and pondered how to create a web of mutuality for online yoga teacher trainees. Students needed to track and share their learning progress. Teaching yoga is dynamic because of the community of yoga students. Learning how to teach yoga is rewarding because it’s a shared experience with a cohort. Online Yoga Teacher Training will be dynamic if students chronicle the process through an ePortfolio. There. Midway through the second frenetic week of filming, I typed in the instructions for the mainstay of the program. Dynamic shared learning. Represented in an ePortfolio that students would work on during the program. Alone but together students would document the journey in an ePortfolio.
I’m so glad you’re here.
As March passed and April blossomed, the Covid isolation orders eased. People emerged into spring. I emerged into the brand new world of online yoga teacher training. Buoyed by the opportunity to innovate and reimagine yoga teacher training, I overcame the inertia and loneliness of Covid. I negotiated with my computer’s RAM, set up appropriate lighting and taught myself how to teach to a camera. I advertised a powerful brand of yoga that emphasizes dynamic and interactive learning. And five students signed up. After the hustle of changing the studio around; after the frustration of organizing a learning management system; after acquiring the vocabulary to understand audio/visual setups; five students bravely showed up on the first day of Land and Heart Online Yoga Teacher Training. “Welcome yogis…” I calmly smiled at the webcam. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
Adapt and innovate.
Covid’s disruption was swift and universal. There was a pause. But community and possibility propelled us to think of new ways to do old things. New yoga teacher training is about dynamic shared online learning. A yoga studio is more than cork floors and soft lighting. A studio is a community sanctuary for the dynamic practice of yoga. Covid is more than a health crisis. It’s an opportunity to adapt and innovate after disruption.
Our yoga studio was once a sanctuary with pleasant ambiance and quiet music. The soft lighting is disrupted now by glaring set lights; the quiet music competes with humming cameras. The process of teaching yoga used to be one step of unrolling a yoga mat but now includes sound checks and battery charges. The ambiance of the studio is disrupted by the piles of audio/visual equipment, but the community sanctuary has been replicated in the virtual world.
Kate Covello created Land and Heart Yoga Teacher Training in 2019. It’s a yoga school founded on examining personal reasons for teaching yoga. Students develop their own voices in the dynamic art of describing yoga. Online Yoga Teacher Training launched on April 25, 2020 with five students. Online learning is productive when there are opportunities for lively interaction and shared understanding.
Attention all my pregnant friends, new and old. I’m teaching prenatal yoga on Wednesday nights at Taiga Yoga. The yoga part will be scaled to your experience level and current mobility. Every pose will have options. There will be a flowing sequence based on the ashtanga chandra namaskar (moon salutation). There will be time to get to know the other preggos and also time for meditation, pranayama and savasana. There will be music.
My intention is to create a joyful retreat on your yoga mat where you can practice the yoga that suits you and get to know some moms-to-be.
The second round of Yoga Teacher Training is happening this fall.
For the autumn, I’ve created a part-time evening and weekend program that will fit into your busy life. Here’s the deal:
You get an unlimited membership at Taiga Yoga (valid until December) to do your practice, and then three evenings per week, we meet as a group to discuss the history, philosophy and modern application of yoga. We’ll also practice teach, examine how to teach different populations and practice seva (community service) and kirtan (chanting).
Yellowknife Yoga Teachers. This Yoga Teacher Training has evolved into a yoga festival! Being part of the Yellowknife yoga community is such a privilege and I’m so grateful for the contributions from these passionate guest teachers.
Enthusiastic students and current teachers are invited to sign up for any of the following guest workshops.
Norma Heslep: Mental Health and the Practice of Yoga
Norma French-Heslep is an intuitive and compassionate teacher who understands the power of yoga for managing mental health. Walk into this workshop and hear a personal narrative about where yoga fits with mental health. Walk out of this workshop armed with insight about your own relationship with mental health and yoga.
Danielle McPhail: Yoga, Movement and Emotional Healing
Danielle McPhail is a mental health and addictions counsellor and is also a nurturing teacher of yoga and pilates. She presents yoga as therapy through movement. Her therapeutic classes emphasize self-observation to promote healing. Expect to finish this workshop with a feeling of mastery of your movement and of your emotions.
Jennifer Skelton: Restorative Yoga and Integrated Movement
Jennifer Skelton is a yoga therapist with a passion for integrating movement science research into practice. Her considerable knowledge of anatomy and movement will guide you towards ease and comfort in your own body. Her workshop will include a fully-supported restorative yoga class. You’ll finish this session informed about your body’s movement and simultaneously relaxed and confident in your own skin.
Melissa Chung: Diversity in the Yoga Studio: adaptive teaching strategies
Melissa Chung is a highly experienced yoga teacher and is also certified in several fitness modalities. She is able to seamlessly adapt her teaching for advanced yoga students and complete beginners and everyone in between. Teaching to a diverse group of students requires honed power of observation. After this workshop, you’ll have an arsenal of strategies for teaching to different abilities.
Tyler Rentmeister: Sivananda and the Modern Yogi
Tyler Rentmeister is a lifelong learner and yoga enthusiast. He is adaptive and skilled at incorporating many different styles of yoga into his teachings. He completed 200 hours of Sivananda teacher training, and will be discussing the contribution of sivananda to yoga’s lineage.
Johanna Tiemessen: Nia Technique
Johanna Tiemessen is a teacher and practitioner of the Nia Technique. She believes in connecting to the self through movement and meditation. Her charismatic teachings of the Nia Technique leave students feeling powerful, invigorated and happy. Count on a vivid introduction to Nia in this workshop. If you’re already familiar with Nia Technique, you know you’ll blissfully lose yourself in the practice.
Bronwyn Rorke: Meditation and Mantra
Bronwyn Rorke is an inspiring teacher who can teach vigorous power classes or contemplative meditation classes with equal aplomb. She has spent a lot of time examining buddhist teachings and will be leading a workshop on meditation and mantra. Expect a captivating and transformative perspective on meditation.
Brittany Heriott: Acroyoga and the Power of Community
Brittany Heriot is a beautiful practitioner and teacher of yoga who understands the value of community. The practice of acro is beautiful because it’s very obviously about a connection with another person. Yoga constantly emphasizes that we are all connected in this world – acroyoga actually embodies that concept! Learn some basic acro techniques, discuss the power of compassion in our community and then start flying.
Register for guest workshops by etransfer to: email@example.com
Telling vs. Selling: 200hour Yoga Teacher Training to tell your story.
I started my own 200hour Yoga Teacher Training program. It’s exciting and I believe in the product, but I have to figure out how sell my product without being pushy or obnoxious. I have to describe the product in meaningful terms. Using vocabulary that is easily misconstrued as industry jargon, I have to relate a story that describes my yoga practice and my product.
recharge, rejuvenate, inspire
Have these words become meaningless industry jargon?
Self-promotion has to be loud enough to be heard over the noise of Instagram, Twitter and fourteen other platforms. But it can’t be so loud to the point of obnoxious arrogance. Furthermore, tweets and posts must have meaning attached to the jargon.
Instagram allows up to 2,200 characters, but optimal posts have no more than 150 characters. The allowable characters have become industry buzzword. And those buzzwords saturate the market and compromise the reliability of the products.
“Join me at yoga teacher training and #recharge your practice. Learn to teach #authentic yoga classes. Discover your #holistic approach to well-being.”
That statement has fewer than 150 characters and contains the right words. But the vocabulary barely registers. There is so much scrolling through so much content that it’s at risk of becoming meaningless jargon.
So how do I attach value to my yoga teacher training? How do I give meaning to my product? Authenticity comes from the story behind the service.
And to do this, I have to be truthful about my own yoga story. Not because I have anything to hide, but because it’s the difference between telling and selling that adds value to my product.
The days of market trickery are over because everyone is selling themselves online. Everyone has curated an online persona and whether or not they’re selling a product, they all know that Instagram isn’t real. And that’s why telling the story behind the product is crucial.
The authenticity and the meaning in my yoga teacher training comes from a flawed and vulnerable existence.
Behind the promotional jargon is real experience. I constantly #recharge my yoga practice by being true to what I believe in. Pulling fish out of the lake and wearing locally-sourced fur is more important to me than importing lentils for a vegan diet or shivering in synthetic fabrics.
I don’t discuss veganism when I know most of my students have moose meat in their freezer. Instead I’ll reference the value of taking only what’s necessary from the land.
Yoga Teacher Training will be #authentic because you’ll discern your personal reasons for practicing and learn to teach only what you know. If you’re an expert on knee anatomy because you’ve had three knee surgeries, you’ll incorporate that. If you have personal experience with vegan lifestyle and you believe in in, you’ll incorporate that.
Yoga is a #holistic approach to well-being because the practice insists that you listen to your emotions and body and understand yourself. Extract what’s relevant from the philosophy of yoga and learn to teach what you know. The honest story behind the promotion will shine through and the jargon will be rightfully redeemed as useful vocabulary.
Yoga is for everyone, regardless of lifestyle choices.
The vocabulary, just like the yoga itself, can be tuned to fit every iteration of practice. Tune out the jargon, but tune into the meaning behind the vocabulary. The stories are what makes the promotion believable.
Book a call!
Is 200hour Yoga Teacher Training online right for you? Book a 30-minute call to answer your questions and get more information
(featured picture from the very first yoga class I ever taught. Thank you to supportive friends and family who stumbled along with me in that first practice)
Why am I teaching a yoga teacher training?
Simply – because I want to share the experience of yoga. Yoga can’t be captured in images of lithe women doing poses;
it can’t be captured in swirling platitudes set against backgrounds apropos of nothing;
Yoga can barely be described. But it can be experienced. It can be felt in a visceral way that defies description. I practiced for five years before I started teaching and then I decided to teach because I believed in the power of the practice.
And now, in my tenth year of teaching, I’ve amassed some experience and curated my personal practice into a 200-hour perspective.
Am I ready to share what I know about the practice? Yes.
Am I intimidated at the prospect of inviting students into my weird little yogic world? Yes.
Do I believe that I can make a difference by describing my version of yoga? Yes.
Truthfully, the amount of knowledge I have about yoga (or life) is laughably little. I don’t know what life feels like for anyone but myself. But I do know about the positive effect of yoga on my life.
So if I know next to nothing about yoga, what the heck are we going to talk about in teacher training?
I have a well-researched curriculum that I’m ready to share. But prior to writing the curriculum, the first step was to experience it. I’ve practiced in dozens of countries, I’ve practiced every lineage I could find, I’ve practiced through the thrill of falling in love and the subsequent crush of breakup. I’ve practiced as a teenager and as a 35-year-old.
I’ve practiced with and without anti-depressants, I’ve practiced with back pain and, most recently, I’ve practiced in the days and weeks following knee surgery.
And of course, there have been times when I didn’t practice at all. But through it all; the pain, the joy, the ecstasy and the ignorance, yoga has always saved me from suffering. And that’s why I believe in it.
Across the lineages and through the centuries, yoga is about surviving without suffering. Pain is mandatory; suffering is optional. Yoga takes you by the scruff of the neck and helps you survive maladies and disease. It forces you to look within and ask the tough questions about what you really need. Relationships, jobs, injury, medical intervention…it all comes and goes, but yoga is constant.
Yoga is the foundation for knowing yourself in spite of the tragedies and triumphs.
The point is that nothing makes the journey easy. Even with yoga, it’s still up to you to get up, get dressed and show up – to everything. But your yoga practice will ease the way. And that’s what we’ll examine. This teacher training isn’t about my practice, but it is about the practice. And it’s about what the practice means to you. There isn’t a correct way to do yoga, only that you do it.
Along the way, I’ve practiced at countless studios and with hundreds of teachers. Each teacher had an original interpretation of yoga. But all the teachers are unified in their unwavering belief in the practice. Whatever they say, wherever they were, whether I agree with their instruction or not, every single teacher presented an unshakeable opinion that the practice is worth it.
So if you believe in this elaborate practice, join me to examine your yoga and refine your ability to describe its value.
That’s what we’ll be doing in teacher training: figuring out how to articulate this exquisite practice. We’ll examine its history, lineage and philosophy and we’ll discuss descriptive techniques. You already believe in the power of the practice. Yoga teacher training will provide the tools to inspire that same belief in your future students. You know the potency of the practice. Now come and learn how to convey that power and pass it forward.
Ready to sign up for teacher training this summer?
Weight issues are epidemic in our culture. Obesity as a medical problem is widespread, and overweight patients are often prescribed “weight loss” as a solution to any medical problem. People with the particular physical characteristic of excessive body fat are given only one prescription for health. They feel constant pressure to conform, change and shrink. They’re barely given much more advice than “exercise more. eat less.” This “solution” does nothing to depict health as a psychological and physiological system. Yoga can help patients reframe their sense of self with compassion and acceptance.
Recently, a student dropped out of my beginner yoga class because she was doing too many “exercise classes” and didn’t have time for all of them. She said her doctor had prescribed exercise as a weight loss strategy, but she was tired and didn’t want to attend all the classes she’d signed up for. In spite of my best effort, I couldn’t convince her that yoga is more than exercise and is actually a complete system for health. She said she felt frustrated in exercise classes, conspicuously different from everyone else and “fat.” She had been told too many times to “just get more exercise” and she viewed classes as evil and unwelcoming and yet another domain for the “thin” people.
People with weight issues often apply a reductionist attitude to their health. “If I go to HIIT/ yoga/ crossfit, then I’ll be fitter.” “If I eat less, then I’ll lose weight.” These statements are true, but they don’t do an adequate job of framing health as a physiological and psychological system. It’s possible that exercise and calorie reduction will result in better health and weight loss, but there are much larger systems at play. Yoga offers a perspective beyond the “if/then” approach to improving health.
Obesity is such a prevalent problem in society and there is a lot of literature devoted to how the medical system treats obese individuals. Anecdotally, it appears that the system can be dismissive of obese patients and even go so far as to blame any ailment on their weight. For example, the New York Times refers to stories of overweight patients with non-weight related conditions like scoliosis or Crohn’s disease being prescribed weight loss in lieu of further examination. Patients who feel discredited by the medical system experience stress, shame and frustration. Yoga can be part of the prescription, but the power of the practice might surprise obese patients.
These patients know the basics of getting and staying healthy; they know that processed food is bad, eating fruit and vegetables is good, regular exercise is imperative and that it’s critical to keep stress at bay. But the medical system sometimes confuses habits and lifestyle and instructs patients to “better” their habits, “get” healthier and “change” something with the expectation of “improvement.” Paradoxically, this desire to improve creates stress. As an alternative to the desire to improve, yoga is a strategy to observe what’s happening with health and wellness. By doing a regular yoga practice, students are able to check in with their own physical and emotional self and understand their constitution from a point of view of acceptance rather than change.
By accepting themselves for who they are and not constantly being prescribed change and improvement, obese patients may be able to find wellness on the yoga mat – from a different perspective than they’re used to.
Obese students face many challenges in society, the worst of which is feeling the constant pressure to change their habits, overhaul their lifestyle and shrink. The pressure to change a physical characteristic is overwhelming but with weight loss being the only prescription, if they don’t succeed, obese patients are left feeling they’ve failed.
Yoga can give patients a new perspective on their health. By focusing on a meditation, they find acceptance and appreciation for who they are and remove themselves from the pass/fail outcome of results-oriented weight loss. Obese patients suffer from extreme attachment to a particular outcome. They are striving to lose weight and if they don’t succeed, they suffer because they are so attached to the outcome of their actions. The yogic perspective of non-attachment to outcome is a refreshing new perspective for a demographic who is being coerced by society to make changes to their appearance.
Yoga, meditation and a new perspective on “results” may help obese students love themselves in the face of society constantly telling them to change. From this love, a sense of wellbeing will start to bloom. Yoga teaches everyone to be compassionate to themselves. Obese students who struggle against society’s prescription of weight loss for health will find compassion towards themselves particularly useful. Weight loss is not the only prescription for health. Practicing yoga offers a consistent and steady approach to health that is not based on results. It’s a healthy lifestyle that is predicated on compassion.