My YTT, Yoga on The Farm

Flexibility required, but not for asanas

Teaching yoga on a farm poses a unique set of challenges. Are the chickens cooped? Can’t set up there because of ants. The cat is under me in DFD, or he’s eating fresh kill (usually a bird) three feet from a student’s head during savasana. You’ve got to assess the surroundings before setting up, and let go of expectations. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This morning I taught my fifth class on the Farm at Rush Creek. Aside from my Bluetooth speaker not working (I thought it was charged!) it was another fantastic practice. What began as a toe dip in teaching yoga outdoors has grown into a passion. I am so grateful for my friends who have joined me to practice teaching, despite the heat, humidity, and early start time. We even practiced in the rain once, and only had to cancel class due to thunderstorms and soggy ground once.

I’m eager to continue teaching on the farm as the seasons change. We’ve got classes for September and October on the books. Contact me if you’re interested in joining us!

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My YTT, Yoga on The Farm

Learning to stand

I taught my first public yoga class this past weekend, on the farm! It was early, not too hot, and just the right amount of “roughing it.” I had six attendees, including my friend J (a fellow student in my yoga teacher training program) who helped me set up and break down.

If reading about yoga bores you to tears, I will only say this: It was awesome! We had a ton of fun. My nerves melted away once we got started, and the environment was delightful and inspiring, and I can’t wait until the next class! If you would compare the concept of sea legs to “yoga legs,” I think I’m developing my yoga teaching legs. I’m learning to stand!

If you’re at all interested in yoga…

We started with a seated warm-up, then a slow puppy pose to a safely aligned Downward Facing Dog, then up to Tadasana (aka Mountain Pose). We learned a sequence I’d call the Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) “spin.” When we peaked at a squat, aka Malasana, I talked about how we have unlearned the squat in daily life. If you’ve spent any time around developing cultures, you have seen a lot of squatting. People squat to eat, to play cards, to complete their bodily functions (aka number II). Here I realized the focus of the class was not really to learn to get to that peak pose, to squat. The focus of the practice was to learn to stand. Have you ever heard of the four corners of the feet? In yoga we use the four corners to ground ourselves, to anchor ourselves for balance in life and in asanas/poses. Early in the class I \ talked about the four corners, and continued to reference them and rely on them throughout the sequence of asanas.

We build our poses, our bodies, from the ground up. I’m starting my yoga teaching career from the ground up. Four corners of the feet. Grounding. Mountain Pose. Malasana. Learning to stand.

My YTT, Pondering

Early summer

We are in that sweet spot of summer here in Texas, where it is hot but not too hot; in fact, mornings are downright gorgeous. Everything is green and happy, kids are out of school… it feels so fresh. Early summer. I am starting to think of this as an entirely different season than the deep, scorching summers we endure in our part of the south.

I am deep in yoga teacher training and, as hippie dippy as this sounds, it feels like I am in early summer in terms of the seasons in life. I am green and happy, soaking it all in, just growing and starting to really root in.

I am teaching my first real yoga class this coming Saturday, and I am but a seedling.

Home yoga practice, Music and yoga, My YTT

Singing can be yoga

We had our May YTT intensive this past weekend. We sang a lot. We learned a ton. So, so much.

Just this morning, while doing laundry, I found myself singing while meditatively folding my family’s clothing into stacked bundles. I decided to go with it, and after singing / folding for about ten minutes, I found I’d worked up quite a bit of heat.

When I finished, I drank a glass of water and my two year-old and I shared a pear. These simple things felt like a full, gratifying morning.

Sometimes yoga is something other than a “workout.” Sometimes it is sitting with friends and and connecting by singing. Sometimes it is doing something for you, even while conducting the most commonplace tasks in life. Whistling while you work, so to speak.

“Don’t worry about how well you carry a tune or whether you know all the words… Come. Sing along. You’ll have the time of your life.” Melody Beattie,”Journey to the Heart,” page 147.

My YTT, Yoga on The Farm

Starting small, planning, growing

A force that pushed me to yoga teacher training, and drives me to write about yoga, is the desire to share yoga with “non yoga people.” To clarify, yoga is for everyone! But it isn’t obvious to everyone how to find class or teacher that fits their needs and style, and booking a class in a traditional yoga studio can be intimidating. As with so many things, “fit” matters.

Within days of sharing my mission, a member of my local community offered space on their developing farm for me to teach yoga while I am in training. We have become friends, and I have been visiting the farm to get a feel for the space. There are chickens, cats, and a Labrador named Scout. There is a pond, relatively flat and clean grass, and a barn with a fridge, sink, and bathroom. It’s perfect.

Growing up in Maine, I spent my fair share of time on farms, and countless glorious hours outdoors. I treasure my connection with the land, and am thrilled to have this opportunity to teach plein air, to borrow the artist’s term.

Starting small and familiar feels right to me, because connecting to the land, to my students, matters. I am developing a five class summer series for the farm, and inviting a few friends to join me. Yoga is about practice, and I am grateful for this space and the support of my friends on this journey. Who knows where this will lead?

My YTT

About sitting and teacher training, after the first weekend intensive

You are prepared to learn a lot during yoga training. You bring your mat and you are ready to go! But now you bring an additional bag. Your books. Your paper (which I forgot. Twice. Thanks, B, for sharing). A screaming yellow highlighter. Pens, etc., and so on.

You know there will be a lot of sitting. But in the beginning, even though you set up for practice with your mats on the floor, the sitting is not about Sukhasana, or “easy sitting pose,” aka, sitting up straight, criss-cross applesauce. It is taking notes. Sitting lecture/seminar style with a yoga practitioner/expert instructor at the helm, along with a life-sized, plastic anatomically correct skeleton with rubber ligaments. Intermittent discussion, legal talk, teaching methodology, lecture, snack time, and Asana /exercise practice, and breathing. 

Now I understand that when I asked my mentor what I need to bring or prepare, she didn’t mention planks or fasting. Her response was along the lines of, “a highlighter and some index cards.” She meant that literally.

It is really cool to tap back into the student part of my brain, and also be handwriting again! When was the last time you spent about 8 hours in one day, sitting in class and taking notes by hand? It had been a while for me. And still, we have hardly even cracked the books out yet. There is so much to learn.

My YTT, On Aging

Things change, things stay the same


This weekend I was at a junior high school where Dove was competing in an academic competition (aside: she placed 3rd, so proud of her!). I was struck by how little schools, the actual structures, have changed. Take a look at the girls restroom, pictured. This could just as well been my middle school washroom, back in coastal Maine, back in 1986. Yet this is Texas, 2018. Is it possible that they have not made any changes to school restrooms in thirty+ years, or longer? Why?

I have had similar thoughts about mens wallets, toilet paper, mailboxes, envelopes, thermometers… things that have not really changed in my lifetime. Sure there probably could be improvements. And sometimes “new” versions pop up, like those neon velcro wallets, or the mood-ring-like forehead thermometers… (Maybe I’m dating myself?). Sure some men use money clips and some moms use temporal thermometers now,  but the old standards persist over time. 

Why? Because they work.

Yesterday, I began my 200 hour yoga teacher training program. I was so nervous, had butterflies in my stomach, which is coincidentally a feeling I haven’t actually had since I was back in middle school.

The basis of study for the first day was an overview of the human body, the fundamental physical principles of yoga as a healing science. The skeptical, modern, researcher in me wondered: can I reconcile my doubts about the spiritual world and metaphysical concepts of yoga (and related healing practices) with my academic nature? And my inner voice kept answering, yes. Yes. YES!

Why? Because it works.

Yoga is an ancient practice. An ancient science. Some of the terminology, some of the concepts, much of them really, predate modern research and Western medicine. But they are the same. The intention of both is to heal. Yoga looks at a person holistically. How can we make adjustments, or exercise this part of the person (literally and/or metaphorically), to be the best, healthiest, happiest, most whole person this person can be? Western medicine is evolving to appreciate that we cannot just treat symptoms or single ailments, we must look at the whole body, the brain, the psychology and the physical, to heal. Because that works. 

I am thrilled to have come to this epiphany. And I can’t wait for day two of my 200 YTT… two hours from now!