Introducing… A Yoga Teacher

For those of you considering offering beginner yoga classes, and have not made that commitment yet, our conversation with Lisa Willcock will surely stir your interest about what a yoga teacher might be like and what motivates them to teach.

I had the pleasure of lunching with a lovely woman on International Women’s Day. Lisa Willcock is a wife and mother foremost,  and she also works as a nurse in the Integrated Medicine department of a local hospital. Through her many years and experiences of surgical and I.C.U. nursing in hospitals, she has come to appreciate the importance of the connection of the mind and body in regard to health and wellness. It is this appreciation that drew her to explore a yoga class at her gym. Initially, like many people, she thought yoga was mostly about stretching and is “what you would do after a real workout”. However, as her practice continued, she discovered just how thoroughly yoga can work the body and serve to link it to and center the mind as well. Pleased and intrigued with the benefits of yoga, Lisa eventually completed a yoga teacher training program. Today, though she has sufficient work to do in nursing as well as mothering, she also teaches a weekly yoga class for beginners.  

“ I like it more than I ever imagined”, Lisa remarked, in describing the joy of sharing yoga with first-timers.  She went on to describe that people who assumed they were not flexible enough, or perhaps too out-of-shape to attempt Yoga are now learning that Yoga is adaptable to every body type and age group, and can leave you feeling energized as well as exercised. Lisa has also held a

few private classes at a friend’s house and an after-school class for middle school girls, which I personally appreciate.  Though at first, a teenager may disregard Yoga as an older person’s activity, actually, adolescence is a great time in life to become in-tune with your body and learn to direct your energy in productive ways, while also adopting techniques for bringing peace and calm  to your mind.

Lisa is a hard-working and busy woman, but she makes time in her schedule to practice yoga, preferentially, over other types of exercise, and to introduce and guide others into a life- giving yoga practice.  What a breath of fresh air, to meet a medical professional who recognizes the interconnectedness of our body, mind, and spirit, and in who in light of that is dedicated to serving others.

If you would like to start offering the gift of yoga to others, and not sure where to start, consider posting your offerings on our website,  Choose the time and location that are most convenient for you.  Our website helps connect you with others in your community who are looking for someone just like you!



Things to Consider Before Your First Yoga Class



Leave Comparison at the Door-  Unlike so many exercise events, Yoga isn’t about competition.  Yes, there will be others around you with less body fat, more muscle and flexibility, doing things that you may have only seen at a circus.  However, remember that those people are not living your life in your body. Your life is your journey and consequently; your yoga practice belongs to you alone. In practicing, you learn to notice your strengths and weaknesses, and that they are always changing according to the time and will  applied to them. That is a beautiful thing- no matter what the person next to you is doing. So, focus on your own path.


Yoga Gear is a thing, not the thing- Make sure you have comfortable clothing that won’t shift and fall as you move through different postures, causing an embarrassing moment.  A yoga mat should have just enough stickiness so that you don’t slip when in a wide-leg posture or ‘downward dog’. That being said, there are scads of very expensive yoga gear options, none of which will help you go deeper into your own practice- owing to the dollars spent.  Opting to purchase quality, affordable items, while adhering to a consistent and mindful practice would most likely keep you in greater graces with Yoga’s original intent, which leads us to the next point.


What’s this all about anyway?-  Are you trying Yoga to get a certain body shape or to arrive at ‘the splits’?  Yoga’s original intent was to cultivate discernment, awareness, self-regulation and higher consciousness in the individual.  Some instructors may teach with the former goal in mind, but most will guide on the original foundation.  Embracing that mindset will allow you to enjoy and understand yourself more, as well as the yoga session for which you signed up. You may hear yogis talking about Yoga as their practice and their lifestyle.  This is where other forms of exercise differ. You may be interested in Yoga only as a weekly class and that’s ok, but the larger context for your class is that a person gains greater benefits when they practice Yoga daily.  When you make space and time in your home for Yoga- even if it is only meditation on an intention for each day- you’re “hitting a homerun” for what it means to “do Yoga”. Our website, shows many unique yoga experiences offered in your area.


When it is all said and done, I’m pretty sure you’ll be glad you tried Yoga.  The great thing about it is that as much as you are willing to try, you’ll be rewarded with physical and mental gain.  You’re taking time out to refill your tank, so to speak. Try your best to maintain a positive attitude and look for the good.  In this way, it’s a win-win situation.


Expanding Your Reach


You’re a Yoga Teacher.  Congratulations! You have practiced and worked hard to gather strength and knowledge about the body and all that yoga can do to bring balance and harmony to it.  The work you have done is, in itself, a personal reward and you are so happy to be able to aid others in the same kind of beneficial journey. Have you formulated a compelling response to those who ask about yoga and why they should participate? Here’s a few ideas:

Physicality – Yoga brings students of many different physical levels together and allows learning from each other’s different body types and strengths.   We all know of certain poses we’d rather avoid.  As you learn more about those poses and the different modifications for them, you may very well be able to approach them from a different angle and ultimately embrace them and the new strength they encourage.

Community – Delving deep into your own spiritual and physical practice allows you to support  the journey of those around you and create a support network of yogis.

Spirituality – Many people who deepen their yoga practice leave with a spiritual practice rooted in the understanding that we as people are all very connected even if we share different beliefs.  Yoga serves to help quiet the mind and attune to ourselves. This awareness provides a means to live a more conscious lifestyle and focus on what matters most.

Peace– The body awareness that is involved with yoga also teaches yogis to constantly breathe.  Because breathing is a somewhat involuntary activity, most people underestimate the power that lies in purposeful deep breathing, especially in times of stress and turmoil.  You can prevent knotted muscles and pain, as well as unfortunate actions/words towards others by simply taking that deep breath.

Focus- It’s a common topic but so true, the chaos in which  our efficient, technology-driven lives can become entangled. We attend to many different tasks within a matter of minutes and what is neglected is our ability to give full attention to one thing for many moments.  Yoga is absolutely a viable solution to re-sharpen our skill of focus and attention.

Anchor- Whether you ascribe to a certain religion or not, all people need something they recognize and commit to that is larger than themselves and that is a constant in life’s ups and downs. The practice of Yoga and the community that can be formed around it serves as a brilliant way to help people cope with life.

In conversation with your next prospective yogi, you may reflect on these talking points, or they may lead you to share your own unique experiences with yoga and the beautiful reasons why you teach it.   We need more dialogue that is focused on helping ourselves and each other.  What a gift you have to offer to those around you who notice your vibrance and peace!  May you go gently into those shared moments.  Invite more people to your practice and all its benefits with membership in the new, online marketplace of  Find those who are looking for what you can offer at today!

Yoga to Enliven Winter

Autumn and Winter are wonderful seasons! Relationships strengthen with fireside moments as friends and family converge. We hardly need a reason to be thankful at Thanksgiving as these aesthetics please and nourish our souls.  We rejoice to see the beauty in zillions of different snowflakes and anticipate loving memories made around a holiday table. For many people, especially in northern climes, these things are all true; and yet there is another side to the coin.  After the buzz of the holidays and the dawn of the New Year, cold weather can creep into your body in a way that threatens to chill your joy.  Seeing less of the sun in these months can bring on a truly scientific kind of depression and each day can begin to be more of a drudgery than a gift.  

There are several ways to aid seasonal affective disorder.  Vitamin supplements, light therapy, aromatherapy and relational activities are among them.  Another important aspect of overall health, specifically in the Winter months, is physical exercise.  Of course the options are vast for exercise indoors as well as outdoors.  We’d like to focus on one form of exercise, and that is Yoga.  

Yoga is especially suited for facing cold weather and “Winter Blues” as it can be modified on the spot for a huge range of physical capabilities within a large group of people indoors, and for those who need particular solace, it can be practiced alone with the help of an instructor on video.  Yoga allows the person to dial down thoughts and tensions, to deepen and focus on breath control, and possibly gain greater mental peace in the midst of a heavy season.  Yoga brings warmth to the body with the option of challenging poses while because of its more stationary structure, minimizing the opportunity for injury.  Most yoga practices begin slow, with a built-in warm-up and end gradually allowing the body to “soak” in the energy and circulation that was generated.

Dana Flynn, a yoga teacher at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in New York City, relishes helping her students feel “fresh, inspired and alive.” She had a part in creating the studio which features brightly colored ceiling-to-floor curtains, glitter sealed into the floor, and a disco ball for the end of class.  So, not only does the activity of Yoga work towards a lifting of emotions, but the look and feel of the place in which you practice, plays a large role.

Melissa Vance, a student and teacher of Yoga, says “I’ve come to rely on the therapeutic benefits of my daily practice to help me shift my viewpoint while energizing my body that seems to want to hibernate for a few months in the Winter… When Winter blues have you feeling down, think about the importance of the time spent in Savasana (corpse pose) and remember that you’ll soon be moving around- enjoying the warmth and growth of Spring once again.” She recommends this yoga sequence that exemplifies the convergence of strength through the feet with the flow of melting snow: Downward Dog, Warrior 1, Warrior 2, Triangle, Half Moon.

Whatever form of Yoga you choose in seeking emotional balance during the Winter, whether it be relaxing Yin, an energizing flow, or a meditation sequence, simply the act of getting on your mat can begin to tip the scales in favor of a healthier, happy “you” this season.  

Explore the offerings on and find just the right yoga experience to meet your physical and emotional needs.

Can you practice Yoga & Stay True to Your Spiritual Beliefs?

      Yoga is a practice that generates much curiosity and interest in the Western world.  In fact, a survey published in the Huffington Post says that in 2012 there was estimated to be over 20.5 million people practicing yoga in the U.S. alone.  A more recent survey says that over 15% of Americans have done yoga in the last 6 months.  Still, there remains a large sector of people who are hesitant to try yoga.  There are several reasons for this; among them are: misconception of required (high) fitness level, the idea that yoga is only for the young, and also that yoga is meant for those who follow an Eastern religion.

    Certainly, there are certain populations who are devout in their religion to the point of preclusion for practicing yoga.  But, what exactly does yoga include that would possibly interfere with a person’s religious beliefs?  Let’s consider the practice of yoga to discern whether one can participate without being a Hindu, Buddhist, or the like, and without somehow being untrue to a religion.  First, is Yoga a religion?  If it is, then it might possibly clash with a different religious belief.  Most people think of religion as being a belief in and worship of a superhuman power, especially a personal God. The definition of yoga found on Google is:

a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.

This is a broad definition that seems to focus on the practical benefits of yoga as optimizing health and managing stress, and it categorizes yoga as a discipline.  Most people who have had no specific education on Yoga would probably agree with this definition.

     Coming from a traditional, Western perspective, it is doubtful that Yoga would be considered a true religion.  However, once one delves into the history and practices of Yoga, many ancient individuals and writings emerge, having had great influence in the practices of Yoga as it is  known today.  Here are a couple of terms the typical American who takes a yoga class may not know.  

Bhakti Yoga: Generally called the yoga of devotion. From the Sanskrit bhaj, which means “to partake of,” bhakti yoga is one of several yogic paths said to lead to enlightenment. Bhakti emphasizes practices like chanting, devotional meditation, and prayer as a path toward union with the Divine.

Classical Yoga: Also known as eight (ashta)-limbed (anga) practice. Classical yoga typically refers to the yogic path that was set forth by Patanjali. The eight limbs are restraint, observance, posture, breath control, sense withdrawal, concentration, meditative absorption, and samadhi.

    Some Yoga practitioners may be familiar with these terms and even some of the yogic text (of Patanjali) that can be used to give yogis an “intention” or focus during their yoga practice.  They may also use Sanskrit words during yoga instruction such as pranayama (extended breath), drishti (gaze), savasana (corpse pose), and uddiyana bandha (abdominal lock).  An uninformed person could hear these terms and think the instructor is guiding their students into an undesired, spiritual context, and depending on the focus of a yogic text; it could happen. This topic seems to be one which could be discussed and examined without end. However, in short ; what emerges most vividly is : Whether Yoga as a religion or not is most decidedly dependent on the intention of the one practicing.  

     Materially, to a Yoga newcomer, observing the practice of Classical Yoga could lead them to believe there is significant religious devotion occurring.  Nonetheless, the observer’s initial assessment could dramatically change after conversing with the yogi about their intentions throughout the yoga practice.  One could focus on the beliefs present in Hinduism while in standing bow pose.  Alternately, another could just as easily breathe through that same challenging pose, while thanking God (the God of Christianity, Judaism, or Islam) for the ability to do so.  In both cases, the individuals are engaging belief, power, discipline, and pursuit of their own specific spirituality.  

     They are using Yoga as a tool within their own religions, and it seems that most Yoga philosophers would applaud such situations.  They would assert that Yoga is meant to serve the yogi; rather than the yogi serving Yoga. Alternately, there are yoga philosophers who maintain that separating Yoga from the ancient Vedic philosophies renders the practice of its true worth and identity as null.  This thought would  find resistance in the testimonies of thousands of people who have practiced Yoga without chanting or delving into Yogic tradition, and yet have found greater peace, physical health, and self-awareness.  Sometimes, as they say, “the proof is in the pudding.”

We at encourage you to  participate in a yoga offering, without fear of spiritual conflict, found on our website today.  Take advantage of the free membership and of the many offerings we feature on!



Other definitions of interest:

Dharma: Has many different meanings depending on how it is used. Dharma is often referred to as “righteousness” or “virtue.” In this article, dharma is used to describe the belief that the universe contains one consciousness, which is different from a specific God.

  1. Krishnamacharya: Often called the father of modern yoga. Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya attended the Royal College of Mysore before devoting himself to esoteric yoga studies. He later became the yoga teacher to a royal family in Mysore, where he taught a unique blend of asana, pranayama, meditation, devotional practices, and philosophy. His students included Iyengar Yoga founder B. K. S. Iyengar; Ashtanga Yoga founder K. Pattabhi Jois; and his son T. K. V. Desikachar, renowned in his own right as a teacher of therapeutic yoga and yogic scriptures and philosophy.

Patanjali: The man credited with compiling, systematizing, and putting into written form the yoga philosophy now known as classical yoga. While virtually nothing is known about him (or if he was, indeed, even a single individual), Patanjali is thought to have created the Yoga Sutra, an important yogic text, about 2,500 years ago.

Sanatana Dharma: The original name of what is now popularly called Hinduism. The word sanatana means “perpetual” or “continuous,” and dharma is often interpreted as “virtue” or “righteousness.”

Vedas/Vedic/Vedantic: The Vedas are the oldest scriptures of the sacred canon of Hinduism. Veda means “knowledge.” Vedic means “pertaining to the Vedas.” Vedantic refers to a system of philosophy that is based on the Vedas.

works cited:

Yoga + Sports = Wins


In most fitness circles of the West, Yoga has been thought of as a purely Eastern activity mostly about stretching and moaning and getting tied up in strange “body knots”.  Would it surprise you to learn that 73% of respondents to a recent poll at said they do not practice yoga?  It may not be surprising, but we think it should be.  We believe that yoga has great benefits for the Western as well as the Eastern athlete.


“Why?” you ask.  Studies have shown that yoga dispels stress, helps with weight loss, comforts pain, helps consistency with an exercise routine, and even improves a runner’s time. The strength and flexibility you develop in Yoga–namely in the core, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors–can help you run more efficiently and stay injury-free, says Adam St. Pierre, a coach, biomechanist, and exercise physiologist for the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. Additionally, holding challenging yoga poses builds strength and determination that will come back to you on the running track. Lauren Fleshman, a two-time national outdoor 5000-meter champion, began practicing yoga after breaking her foot in 2008. But the poses strengthened more than just her foot: “Yoga helps me control my emotions while I’m in discomfort on the road,” she says. “Enduring an intense pose is a lot like enduring a long run or tempo run.”


Yoga is not only a boon to runners, but to gymnasts as well.  You would think that  gymnasts acquire all the stretching they need on their own, but not so.  Certain yoga stances demand a level of flexibility and as they are practiced; loosening occurs.  Poses such as Monkey, Plow, and Full Wheel complement the motions and movements of a gymnast.  Holding these positions in combination with deep breathing brings great benefit. Also, since  yoga emphasizes correct spinal alignment, it can help one work towards better posture. Several poses stretch the muscles in the back and shoulders, and help lengthen the spine. A few poses that may be particularly helpful for gymnasts are Twists such as Sage pose and Half-Lord of the Fishes pose, which helps bring balance to the spine. Backbends like Cobra and Bridge pose open the back and encourage strength that lifts the shoulders. The traditional Lotus pose builds up the spine to keep proper posture. Lotus pose begins on the floor in a comfortable cross-legged position. If your body allows, pull both feet up onto the thighs. Allow the chin to lower slightly, keeping your gaze in front of you. With relaxed shoulders, rest your hands on your lap.


Make balance a priority. When your workouts in running or in your chosen sport are most demanding, stick with yoga that is more relaxing and more focused on breath and meditation.  Conversely, in the off-season of your sport, you can attempt more challenging yoga flows that will work towards greater strength, thus optimizing and supporting your body’s needs.

    There are as many yoga offerings out there as there are people practicing.  What is important is that you find an atmosphere and an instructor that allows you to feel most at ease so that you will be consistent in your practice.  It can take years to become an expert at yoga poses, so don’t expect that at your first class no matter how great of an athlete you are. So often, people who excel in a given sport become hyper-focused on achieving greater accomplishments than “the next guy”.  In Yoga, you are encouraged to pay attention to your own body and respond lovingly to it.  Taking small steps to greater strength and flexibility over time is more important that “striking that pose” and holding it to eternity. Initially, the goal for competitive athletes in practicing yoga may just be to avoid injury. In 2011, the ultrarunner, St. Pierre,  got too aggressive in pigeon pose, trying to stretch his glutes and piriformis, and missed three months of running as a result.  Yoga instructors should be able to offer advice on targeting overly tight muscles with pose modifications.

Hopefully, the Western world as a whole is beginning to abandon outdated ideas about Yoga and is actively allowing Yoga to come alongside other forms of fitness to receive greater health.

Tips for Outdoor Yoga Practice


“Indoor yoga is a pretty recent phenomenon,” says Eoin Finn, an internationally renowned yoga instructor who spends up to 15 hours a day outdoors. “Yogis originally did yoga outside in beautiful places.”

Practicing yoga in the outdoors can be revitalizing—and brings you a little closer to the original purpose of yoga: achieving unity. “A yoga studio is such a controlled environment,” says Finn. “But when you do yoga outside, you’re forced to interact with all these other forces—you’re honoring your interconnection with all life.” Here are some helpful things to remember as you head outside to practice yoga.

Pack a Sweatshirt

No, not to wear—but for  savasana—the final resting phase of your session—Finn suggests placing part of a sweatshirt over your eyes to block out sunlight and help you relax. “Relaxation is tricky when there are people’s dogs around or you feel self-conscious about lying in the middle of a park,” he says. Covering your eyes is simple way to tune out the world.

Bring a Book

The initial moments after any yoga class—especially indoor ones—can be disappointing: You’ve been lying  still in lovely rest after the challenge of your practice, only to be jarred by bright lights and the rush of life. What happened to the relaxation you worked so hard to achieve? But in the park, you can stay—and relish the hard-won, relaxed state, says Finn. “Fight that habit—that you’re done so you have to pack up and go,” he says. “Allow yourself to stay and read a book or have a smoothie.”

Leave your yoga mat at home

Yoga mats, especially thick mats, are meant to provide some cushion and friction when placed on solid surfaces. When your yoga mat meets  the sand or grass, though, you will find it bunches, folds, and makes a softer surface even harder to navigate.

Mexican yoga blankets or  beach towels are better options for practicing outdoors. They will cling to the Earth, forming to the natural surface without making it softer. As an added benefit, any dirt that clings to your towel can be dealt with by simply tossing it in the washing machine after practice.

Be conscious of your wrists

The wrists are more vulnerable to pain and injury when practicing on a soft surface. The heels of the hands  tend to sink into the ground, collapsing the wrist and putting pressure on the ulna bone where it connects to the outer hand.

To relieve the wrists, avoid too many down dog holds or vinyasa flows. Choose  salutations to warm the body if desired, and after your initial warm up, simply  step back into postures from tadasana (mountain pose).
Forego the Music

Music can definitely enhance a yoga practice and even encourage you to persist in a challenging pose. But, studies show human happiness is greater when we connect with nature. Without music, we can appreciate more fully the aesthetics of nature when we’re outside. Listen for the waves on the beach, the call of birds, breeze in the trees and even  “disturbances” like people talking or planes above you. Turning your senses outward during practice- tuning into nature, you exhaust the senses and are prepared to turn them inward at savasana.

Practice Balance Poses

Practicing yoga on an uneven surface does make your wrists more vulnerable, but it can also offer beneficial challenges for muscles in the ankles and feet.  A greater level of balance can be achieved through the tree, eagle, or dancer pose when practiced outside.
Try Inversions

One exception that can be made  to standing on the wrists too much while on soft surfaces is the handstand. Main benefits of handstanding outside:

  1. Falling on sand or grass is more forgiving than a hardwood floor. This fact alone makes many people who normally rely on the wall when hand-standing much bolder outside.
  2. The soft surface of the ground  forces you to activate  your fingers and grip into the Earth. This is great practice for when you return to the studio, as active fingers enhance balance.

Stay hydrated

Sweating isn’t the only way to get dehydrated. Our bodies lose water when we exhale, and in particularly dry summer air, your body loses water even faster. Remember to stay extra-hydrated in the summer, even if you haven’t been sweating.

Drink a glass of water upon waking. Your body loses water while exhaling throughout the night. Make sure to replenish that water before you partake of any morning caffeine, which will further dehydrate you.

Keep a water bottle with you during the day.  We are accustomed to being careful not to eat certain things for our own health.  Water is something you can always say “yes” to. In fact, make it a point to drink water before and after your yoga practice.
Being mindful of your hydration, testing your inversion boundaries, embracing nature’s sounds, protecting your body’s vulnerabilities, and preparing for savasana are key points worth thinking through as you move your practice outdoors.  As you consider this, what emerges is that changing the atmosphere of your practice, and thus adjusting to the change;  can produce depth and strength for your Yoga journey.  Life is a series of changes and our response to them, this particular change, can be of your choosing.


Sources: to-remember- when-doing- yoga-outdoors/ for-practicing- yoga-outside