A Podcast with Yoga Student Handbook Contributors

L-R: Alison Leighton, Tarik Dervish, Sian O’Neill, Wendy Teasdill, Graham Burns

We recently met with contributors to the new Yoga Student Handbook, including Sian O’Neill, editor of the book and host of the discussion, as well as Tarik Dervish, Alison Leighton, Wendy Teasdill and Graham Burns. In this podcast, they share ideas and tips for the budding yoga student as well as seasoned yogis and yoga professionals.

In their discussion, the contributors touched on the history and philosophy of yoga, where to begin your yoga practice if you’re a beginner yogi, how to develop your home practice and when to consider teacher training. Although they’ve all contributed to the book, some of them have never met in person. This was a great opportunity for them to meet, get to know each other and exchange ideas.

Click below to listen to the discussion.

 

Continue reading

Yoga Student Handbook: Yoga Journeys – Liz Lark

Believing in its transformational power, Sian O’Neill has been practising yoga for over 15 years. The first book she edited for Singing Dragon, Yoga Teaching Handbook (Singing Dragon, 2017), was a great success – and with the publication of Yoga Student Handbook, Sian and the contributors share their tips and advice for yoga students and teacher trainees. In the second of three instalments about yoga journeys, Sian talks with Liz Lark, who has been teaching yoga for almost 25 years and has been a Board Member of Yogacampus since its inception in 2003.

We meet in Liz’s garden in Sussex. The garden is characterful and charming, with Turkish tiles above a pond, plentiful plants and artistic touches. Liz is as generous with her time as she is in her yoga classes, interspersing our conversation with many anecdotes and inspiring quotes (Liz’s memory for quotes from all sources is amazing).

How did you become interested in yoga?

A naturally sporty person, Liz Lark attended a yoga class as a teenager, where a teacher remarked (favourably) on how slowly she performed a simple movement of raising arms overhead – she was in the flow and enjoyed the coordination of movement and breath. Liz regularly returns to basics, although clearly an extremely proficient yoga practitioner, having taught yoga for over 20 years – ‘can I live in the present?’ She sees yoga ‘as a vehicle to explore creative expression, connect with the transcendent function with curiosity, without dogma, enjoying creative expression through ritual, singing, scent’. Continue reading

Yoga Student Handbook: Yoga Journeys – Katy Appleton

Believing in its transformational power, Sian O’Neill has been practising yoga for over 15 years. The first book she edited for Singing Dragon, Yoga Teaching Handbook (Singing Dragon, 2017), was a great success – and with the publication of Yoga Student Handbook, Sian and the contributors share their tips and advice for yoga students and teacher trainees. 

In the first of three instalments about yoga journeys, Sian talks with Katy Appleton, founder of appleyoga.

appleyoga is probably one of the better known brands in the yoga world in the UK today. Founder Katy Appleton, self-described as a ‘lover of life’ and ‘recovering control freak’, was a former professional ballet dancer with the English National Ballet. Running in the family, Katy’s mum practised yoga while pregnant, and Katy remembers being a new student and attending yoga classes with her mum as a very little girl. Yoga arrived in her life as an adult to counterbalance the extremities of performance while a professional dancer, and she would practise breath work and tools to help her rebalance and sleep after a performance.

As a student, Katy’s first teacher training was in Ibiza in the Sivananda tradition. Other key yoga influences in her life include well-known yoga teacher, Shiva Rea, whom Katy credits with broadening her understanding of yoga and in particular, vinyāsa krama (which can be interpreted as meaning ‘step by step progresion’). Katy became Shiva’s assistant, travelling with her and then becoming a mentor on Shiva’s teacher training. She has also dabbled with Ashtanga with David Swenson, and mentions other yoga friends/influences including Annie Carpenter and Tiffany Cruikshank.

Why did you decide to teach?

Katy describes her decision to teach as a calling. Indeed, that is a common theme in the chapter by Katy and co-author Natasha Moutran on building a yoga business in Yoga Teaching Handbook that it is important to know the ‘why’ behind starting your yoga business. Katy has clear values underlying appleyoga including honesty and humility. She believes in holding a safe space for people and quotes Maya Angelou: ‘People remember how you make them feel’. For Katy, yoga offers a space that is ‘tangible and palpable that is touched when practising yoga’. She describes yoga as a ‘homecoming’ which offers a chance for the nervous system to relax, a place beyond the internet and understanding from books. She believes yoga can offer an anchor from which to move around in life. Continue reading

Thank you for attending our Virtual Yoga Summit!

The team at Singing Dragon would like to thank everyone who signed up, read, watched, listened or interacted with our first ever Virtual Yoga Summit. We believe that yoga really is for every body and we hope we managed to embrace that in this summit, putting a strong focus on accessibility, body positivity, empowerment and on yoga’s ‘whole person’ approach. Continue reading

Georgia Keal: Guided Meditation for Reducing Anxiety – Day Two

This guided meditation helps with reducing anxiety by releasing deep held tension that is created when we get anxious and our body tenses. It does this by shifting the energy from a anxious state to a relaxed one, using guided imagery of the chakras with a compassionate attention, using a focus of loving kindness towards the self. This meditation creates a deep sense of relaxation and reduces held tension to bring about a sense of inner peace and calm.


The Guided Meditation Handbook
Advice, Meditation Scripts and Hasta Mudra for Yoga Teachers
Georgia Keal

Help yoga students to access a deep state of relaxation with this guided meditation handbook. Offering yoga teachers scripts for guided meditations, students can learn how to cultivate positive emotions and let go of negative ones. Including practical information on how to set the scene for meditation in a yoga class, using music, lighting and props, the book also advises on how to introduce a meditation practice to yoga students. It explores the benefits of meditation for people from all walks of life, including sleep-deprived parents and those suffering from post-traumatic stress. Read more

 

Marlysa Sullivan: A meditation practice of inner well-being

Marlysa Sullivan is an assistant professor of Yoga Therapy and Integrative Health Sciences at Maryland University of Integrative Health. She is also adjunct faculty at Emory University in the doctor of physical therapy where she teaches an elective on integrating yoga into physical therapy care. Her research interests have focused on developing an explanatory model of yoga therapy based on philosophical and neurophysiological principles. She is the co-editor of the book Yoga and Science in Pain Care: Treating the Person in Pain (Singing Dragon, 2019).

In this video, Marlysa guides viewers through a meditation practice for inner well-being.

 


 Yoga and Science in Pain Care
Treating the Person in Pain
Edited by Neil Pearson, Shelly Prosko and Marlysa Sullivan. Foreword by Timothy McCall.

This is an integrated approach to pain rehabilitation that combines pain science, rehabilitation and yoga with evidence-based approaches from respected contributors. The book shows how to integrate the practices of yoga and pain science, and promotes the movement to a patient-valued, partnership-based biopsychosocial-spiritual model of healthcare. Read more

Neil Pearson: Informing the Language of Yoga Teachers with Pain Science

Language is powerful, as is pain. Both can be forceful motivators of behavioural change. Spoken language can be interpreted in many ways. Sometimes we even question whether words mean what we think they mean. Pain can be the same. We wonder whether pain really is intended to “get us to stop or change our behaviour”. We might also wonder “exactly what is it that I am supposed to change? Maybe the change I need to make is to stop responding this way to my pain!”

As a yoga teacher, leading groups in asana requires instructions that will keep your students safe. As such, cognitive contemplations such as the above are not well-suited as part of an asana practice dialogue. We use language that guides our students to be aware of what is happening in the present moment. We guide them to find the right challenge so they can explore preconceived notions, all the while staying present with, and not ignoring what’s happening now. We use language that provides options for change. “What would happen if you changed the way you are breathing right now?” “Or what you are thinking?” “Or if you let go of some of the aversion to the emotions or tension that you are feeling in your body right now?” In other words, we use language that encourages awareness and language that encourages self-regulation – often of body, breath, thoughts and emotions. Note that this language of awareness is not the same as asking a student to be aware “as the first step to change”. This is language that focuses on awareness as important in and of itself. Continue reading

Aggie Stewart: The Essence of Self

We are very sorry that our last live contributor, Aggie Stewart, won’t be able to share her live session with you today. We wish her the very best and hope she feels better soon! To ensure that she is still part of the Summit, we share a short extract from Aggie’s new book, ‘Yoga as Self-Care for Healthcare Practitioners‘. We do hope you enjoy it.

 

Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer

 

This is a challenging time to be a healthcare professional. Whether in education and clinical training or in professional practice, major aspects of the healthcare education and delivery landscape present inherent and well‑documented risks to the health and well-being of students and practitioners.

Currently, the effects of the epidemic of burnout and self-harm, blunted empathy, compassion fatigue, absenteeism, and attrition are being felt across the health professions. Research into the factors underlying the current state of practitioner wellness indicates that, for many, signs of burnout and its related consequences emerge during the education and training period and go unattended as graduates step into professional life.

As the healthcare professions grapple with the range of environmental and cultural issues that contribute to the current state of practitioner wellness, self-care has emerged as a pressing need for both students and practitioners. Broadly defined, self-care encompasses the ability to recognize and respond in an appropriate and positive manner to one’s needs on all levels: physical, energetic, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Increasingly, health professional schools, healthcare settings, and health professional associations are providing education on the importance of self‑care on all these levels along with training on specific aspects of selfcare, such as diet, exercise, finances, and activities that support self-care, such as yoga and other mind–body–spirit practices. Continue reading

Lana Skrypnyk: Creating a Safe Space for the LGBTQ+Community

As I write this, hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community are at their highest. A poll indicates that two-thirds of people identifying as LGBTQ+ are afraid for their safety when holding hands or displaying affection for their partners in public. 59% of all of those identifying as LGBTQ+ and 81% of those who are transgender report being called a slur in reference to their sexual and/or gender identity in the past year.

As I write this, I myself stand at a cross-roads of intersectionality. As a naturalized citizen immigrant, queer-identifying individual with several invisible disabilities, I have been afraid and anxious since 2016. I am also someone who suffers from mental health issues, including complex PTSD, and someone occupying a larger body than society deems “acceptable”. I have not always had the means to access healing spaces – such as the one that yoga can provide – for a variety of reasons, with cost and lack of representation by people looking like me at the top of the list. Unfortunately, with the Westernization of yoga and its cooptation by the fitness industry, high-end studio fees, expensive athletic clothing and equipment, and traditionally attractive, young, flexible white women on Instagram have become the norm associated with yoga. By sheer luck, I was able to get a Groupon deal to a local yoga studio that provided both diversity and a space where I felt safe enough to explore. I fell in love with yoga and decided I wanted to become a teacher in that very first class. For the first time in weeks, if not in my entire life, I was able to get out of my head for an hour, drop the persona so many of us who identify as LGBTQ+ or are “other” in some way have to keep up during the day, and just be. I wanted to provide the same experience to others like me. Continue reading

Sian O’Neill: An Inclusive Live Class – Head to our Facebook Page Now!

Believing in its transformational power, Sian has been practising yoga for over 15 years. She completed the British Wheel of Yoga (BWY) accredited teacher training diploma with Yogacampus and also the BWY Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy module with Tarik Dervish, the Scaravelli Immersion course with Catherine Annis and the Qigong for Yoga Teachers Immersion with Mimi Kuo-Deemer.

Sian teaches a flowing hatha yoga class incorporating alignment, a mindful flow and breath awareness, aiming to help students on their own path of yoga. She is a regular contributor of yoga-related articles, including to Spectrum magazine, the official magazine of the BWY. She is the editor of the Yoga Teaching Handbook (Singing Dragon, 2017) and the new Yoga Student Handbook (Singing Dragon, 2019).

CLICK HERE TO JOIN A LIVE CLASS WITH SIAN NOW

Please note that while our summit is open to absolutely everyone from all corners of the world, despite our best efforts we won’t be able to ensure safe, comfortable practice for every attendee nor take responsibility for your own practice. If you have any injuries or are dealing with any conditions that you would normally flag to your yoga teacher or therapist, please seek advice before taking part or following along with any of our classes or sequences.


 Yoga Student Handbook
Develop Your Knowledge of Yoga Principles and Practice
Edited by Sian O’Neill. Foreword by Lizzie Lasater

This practical companion for yoga students and teacher trainees shows how to deepen your knowledge of yoga and where to go next in your training, whether you are thinking of developing your own practice or considering becoming a yoga teacher. It covers the history, philosophy, different styles of yoga, and more. Read more