Yoga Teacher Training in 2015? GoFundMe!

Jenny's YTT GoFundMe | Living Consciously Blog

I have a big announcement today: I have finally decided on my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT)!

It’s not at all what I would have thought.

When I first approached the idea of doing YTT, it was as an extension of my part time job teaching Pilates the past several years. I have enjoyed teaching so much, and have grown so much in my yoga practice since I’ve been doing Lagree fitness (the workout that I teach). However, my heart has always been with yoga. You can read more about my fitness journey in this post and this one.

Beginning in September of 2014, I dedicated Mondays while my children were in school to visiting yoga studios, meditating, reading, and listening. I was listening to see where I would be guided when it came to YTT. Was it something I should do at all? If so, when — now? Or when both children are in kindergarten (2016)? In what program should I enroll: fitness-centric, full out Sanskrit, a hybrid of the two?

In my exploration of the different types of yoga training, I stumbled across Holy Yoga. As I mentioned in my intro to Amanda’s guest post about Holy Yoga, the first time I heard of it, I literally laughed. And I know that a lot of my yoga friends and current clients might be laughing now (please see the FAQs, below). But I found that it was not much different than the yoga I’ve always done, except that before savasana, there is Scripture read instead of reading from the Bhagavad Gita or the teacher sharing personal thoughts. In Holy Yoga, the teacher may pray over the students in lieu of OMing, a practice which is beautifully explained by Holy Yoga founder Brooke Boon in this video. For me, this is just a natural extension of the faith that I already have. I already do these things in my mind during yoga.

200 Hours is a lot of hours to do anything. As I meditated on the potential directions my YTT could take, I was more and more lead to believe that what is right for me is to be trained in a manner that is an extension of how I already live and think, because I have to be fully fulfilled in my own spirit to be able to pass that peace and joy on to my students, regardless of their personal faith (or lack thereof). In other words, even if I do not end up teaching in the Holy Yoga format all the time, I want to attend a training in which I feel that I can be fully invested. I simply would not feel the same connection to a Hindu-based program, as I am not Hindu.

It has been difficult for me to accept something so “Christianized” sometimes. I am not so far removed from my years railing against the church that I can’t remember some of the fear, some of the exclusivity that I experienced. The last thing I want to do is exclude people, to become what I hated so much all of those years. So please know that I am choosing this training for me, to develop my own love and compassion for all in a manner consistent with my beliefs, the ones that you hopefully know me to have already. If I can grow more in love and knowledge through this training, I can bring that experience to each of my yoga participants. This journey should be the opposite of judgement or exclusivity.

There has been a shift in what I thought that I was looking for: in looking for a part time job, I actually found a ministry. What had started out as a way to earn extra money in a one-income family has become what some might label “a calling”.

I made this decision in the way that we are so often encouraged to dream: “What would you do if money was no object?”

It’s a great exercise, but once the decision has been made, we have to return to reality. Money IS an object. And YTT is not free.

I thought long and hard about the ways to go about this, and I’ve decided to share this opportunity with you. With everyone. Despite how scared I am of what you will think.

I worry that you will think “this is not really yoga” or that you might think “you are not really a ‘Christian’ if you’re going to teach yoga”. For a wonderful answer to both of those concerns, see the FAQs below and please take a moment to read this piece from Stephanie Moor on Mind Full Collective about caring what people think.

If this is truly a ministry, I will have to rely on others. I will have to trust. It will not be about my timing. So difficult for someone who has control issues! But nothing is impossible. To this end, I have set up a GoFundMe web site where I can collect the necessary funds for my Holy Yoga training.

On the GoFundMe site (the URL to Share is http://www.gofundme.com/JennyYTT), there is a breakout of all the costs associated with Holy Yoga YTT, including textbooks, flight to the immersion week, and childcare. There is also a shorter version of the background that I just shared with you.

I encourage you to do your version of praying, meditating, and asking questions to see if donating to my ministry is something you might feel led to do. I know that you might have questions, and you can email me any time at jenny{at}living-consciously{dot}com. But first, please check my FAQs below.

Namasté

Frequently Asked Questions

When do you plan to do this training?

I will not even enroll in the program fully until I have at least half of the entire amount needed. I would prefer to be fully funded before enrolling. Here is the schedule of trainings in 2015. I would do a 9-week session online followed by one of the week-long immersions. There is no timeline, since I am not yet enrolled. If I do not have the funds in 2015, it will be 2016…or even later.

I have wanted to take yoga from you, but I do not share your religious beliefs! If you get certified through Holy Yoga, does this mean you will only teach classes with a religious angle, effectively excluding me?

Absolutely not! I have practiced religion-neutral yoga for 11 years and taught Pilates (which is also philosophy-free) for 2.5 years. I can teach yoga with or without the Holy Yoga format. Yoga is a wonderful way to challenge the body and still the mind, regardless of your personal beliefs. It is beneficial for healing and promoting flexibility. I hope to eventually teach in mainstream studios as well as in the Holy Yoga format, you should have the ability to select which classes you would like. If you hire me to teach at a specific location, you can specify what format of class you would like me to teach.

If you’re spending all your time in Holy Yoga on bible study, is it a less intense anatomy and asana training?

Not at all. The Holy Yoga training program fully meets & exceeds the requirements of the Yoga Alliance as a Registered Yoga School (RYS), although they are NOT actually a certified RYS (more about why here). Holy Yoga training provides all of the comprehensive anatomy, safety, and asana training that is received by any other Registered Yoga Teacher 200 Hour course. The Holy Yoga certification is actually a 225 hour program, the bible study is added on in addition to the 200 hours of yoga instruction (not taking away from the 200 hours). Watch a testimonial from an instructor who has also experienced traditional trainings.

I DO believe in God and I’ve heard that yoga is from the devil!!

Personally, I began doing yoga when I was not following God or involved in a church. It was in the silence of yoga that I found God’s presence, despite my own running away. That does not seem like the devil to me. But people more eloquent than me have addressed this issue. Here is an excerpt from the Holy Yoga Training introduction manual:

Most Christians do not dislike yoga because they are educated about it, but because they are un-educated. We seek to educate in the light of the three modalities of yoga; the breath, meditation, and physical expression. While the word “yoga” does not appear in the Bible, if you look at those three modalities of yoga through the filter of the Word, you can see what the Lord says about the importance of them. The “yoking” comes together in Mark 12:30 where it says to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength’. It is the bringing together of all He has created us to be for a full immersion into worship. We tend to approach God as we do the rest of our lives, compartmentalized and fragmented. Holy Yoga is about being fully immersed in the worship of our Lord and Savior. Our training does, indeed, teach the history of yoga and its principles. However, the intent of doing so is to educate you so that if you are challenged, you have the knowledge to answer potentially difficult questions.

I also have another, much longer PDF document that goes into some theology and reasoning that I can email to you if you would like to contact me personally (email below).

What other questions do you have about my training? Please feel free to email me at jenny{at}living-consciously{dot}com or leave in the comments below.

Guest Post: A Holy Yoga Instructor’s Journey

A Holy Yoga Instructor's Journey | Living Consciously Blog As you may know, I have been meditating upon the next step in my yoga journey for the past 6 months or so. Within the last 2 months, I think I have found the right path for me, but it is something I really never expected. Honestly, I laughed when I first heard the words “Holy Yoga”. I thought, “Is this like Testamints or Christian waffle mix?” (Christian waffle mix is really a thing, as insane as it sounds — I deeply regret not taking a picture of it when I saw it in the Lifeway holiday catalogue last fall. OMG. Literally.).

But it is not as weird as it sounds, not at all. I’ve been attending classes sporadically, as my schedule allows, connecting with current Holy Yoga instructors in my area, and following Holy Yoga on Instagram. I stumbled across the blog of Amanda Dean, a Holy Yoga instructor right here in Richardson. She is such a gifted writer that I reached out to her, even though we had never met, to ask her if she would use her gift of words to describe how she felt when she first discovered Holy Yoga. I thought perhaps she could describe to you how I have been feeling about this endeavor more eloquently than I could. AND SHE DID. I teared up when I read this post in my Inbox, because it so accurately describes what I have felt over the years but not been able to put into words. I will let her speak now, please post any questions that you have for me or for Amanda in the comments. I will be following this post with a post next week about my own journey and some FAQ’s.

~~~

About ten years ago, I stepped through studio doors, feeling anxious yet excited.  My first yoga class was about to begin and I had little knowledge of what to expect.  As a former gymnast and dancer, I was familiar with all things pointed toes.  Yoga was a foreign language.

I unrolled my borrowed yoga mat and listened as our instructor walked us through the deep breath.  The “yoga breath” was new and strange.  I noticed right away it was hard to sit still.  (Stillness has a way of inviting all kinds of mental noise doesn’t it?)  As I focused more and more on my breath, the inner clamor began to quiet.  She spoke words I had never before heard.  Sanskrit” she called it.   I watched and did my best to move my body into each asana (posture).  Some felt natural…some not so much. 

I walked out of class feeling lighter and just better.  I can’t tell you I fell in love right away, but I found myself back on my borrowed mat the following week.   I explored different styles and instructors, some filling the space with sounds of chanting and Tibetan singing bowls.  Some with the sounds of Sheryl Crow.  Over time, my body began to crave this breath and movement and I settled in with my favorite teachers.

I have loved Jesus for as long as I can remember; I practically grew up on a church pew.  That’s where I met my Savior and have known him ever since.  Truthfully, I wasn’t familiar with the controversy surrounding yoga and Christianity.   I wasn’t afraid to walk into a class because I knew He walked with me.  In fact, it made sense to me, this yoking together of the breath and movement and rest. 

Yoga classes begin with setting an intention.  Some teachers talk about the energy around or within us.  Some speak of the “third eye.”  From the very beginning, Truth rose and resonated from within.  I started dedicating my practice to my Abba early on, trying to breathe Him in with each inhale.  There was never an emptying of the mind as far as I was concerned.  It was actually the opposite.

I remember the first time my practice felt like worship.  I closed my eyes in Warrior 1 and lifted my hands high.  Prayer and praise come from the heart right?  Since my heart was already there, my body simply followed.

When I set out to become a yoga instructor, I tried to find a Christ-centered program.  With little luck, I settled for a secular teacher training called YogaFit and completed my Level One Certification.  I started teaching right away and tried to incorporate scripture and praise music.  It wasn’t until I discovered Holy Yoga almost two years later, and I knew this was what I had been searching for all along.

Holy Yoga is “100% Yoga and 100% Jesus.”  Training culminates in an intensive immersion retreat and that was where I attended my first Holy Yoga class.  It felt like coming home.  Tears poured down my cheeks as I truly experienced the presence of Jesus on my yoga mat.   It was yoga, but it was so much more.  It was grace and freedom in bare feet and yoga pants. 

In Holy Yoga, we invite God into our practice-whatever that looks like.  Whether the practice is gentle or sweaty, we ask Him to meet us where we are.   And my friend, He is always faithful to show up.  I honestly feel that Holy Yoga is a vehicle for more of Him…more of His healing.  More joy.  More peace.  More presence.  And the physical benefits of yoga are just an added bonus. 

Brooke Boon, founder of Holy Yoga says, “It’s not about the yoga.”  She’s right.  It may start out that way, but finding Jesus on your mat leaves your practice forever changed. 

For more about Holy Yoga, please visit www.holyyoga.net

Amanda Dean is a lover of Jesus, yoga, dessert and words.  She is a Registered Holy Yoga Instructor in Richardson, TX.  Amanda has also completed training in Holy Yoga Touch Therapy and is currently enrolled in her Master’s training.  She is a contributing writer to Mindfull Collective and Cedar and Soul  Find her at www.mandajoy.com and www.mandajoyblog.wordpress.com

2015 To Do List

As explained in previous years, I don’t make resolutions. I make “to do” lists, to help inspire me to complete tasks that I would otherwise skip. Sometimes it’s something around the house, sometimes it’s learning something new, and sometimes it’s actually self-care (last year: go to the dentist after 3 years). I have the entire year to get these things done…or not. At the end of the year, I give an update on how I’ve done (see the 2014 How Did I Do? post).

I’ve noticed that as I’ve looked toward 2015 with the changes in my approach to life that I gained in 2014, my “To Do” items got a little more long-term oriented. Perhaps a little less measurable than before. I’ll try to create some kind of measurement for each one, if I can.

2015 To Do List | Living Consciously Blog

1. Keep track of the money I make (or lose) in essential oils. If you know me in real life, or even just casually read the blog, you know that I don’t actively SELL oils. I mean, I am a distributor for essential oils and I buy them myself. I always have a link at the top of my blog if you want to buy from me online at retail prices (“Product List” in the navigation), or sign up under me to buy wholesale (“Sign Up Here” in the navigation). But I don’t push them. I don’t mention that I sell them very often. I do allow my local friends to order oils through me when I put in my monthly order and I only charge them what I pay. I pay the ($10-$11) shipping myself and don’t charge them for that. Unfortunately, I just realized last month that some of the oils I order for others are also taxed — and with some of the more expensive blends this can be as much as $6 — but I’ve never charged anyone tax. I often have someone tell me on Facebook that they want me to order an oil for them, I order it, and when I attempt to contact them to drop it off and collect payment, they never respond. Likewise, it is not unusual for me to deliver an order and not be repaid for as many as 4 weeks.

Basically, I am a terrible business person. I am horrible at math, bad at conducting business, and I don’t like to ask people to pay me.

I think the first step in the process of figuring out if I am even breaking even (probably not) is to open a separate checking account for the EO purchases. That way I can track the cash going in and out. I have avoided doing this since my husband and I have all joint accounts and having a separate account feels dishonest to me, somehow. But unless I want to keep losing our joint money, I have to separate these expenses.

Measurement: I should be able to at least give a rough guess as to whether I am losing money or gaining money, even if it’s not an exact number.

2. #handstandby40  If you follow me on Instagram, you know that in January 2014 I took a yoga arm balance workshop and almost immediately became obsessed with arm balances and yoga challenges. I vowed in 2014 that I would learn to handstand (a straight yoga handstand, which is done in complete stillness, no “walking” on the hands to maintain stability) by the time I turn 40. And by that, I mean be able to arrive in handstand reliably without falling and stay for as long as I want to, without falling due to instability. I literally practiced handstanding every single day from January to August, 8 straight months. If I was tired, if I was sick, if I hadn’t done a full yoga practice that day: handstand. 

In August, through practicing the yogic yama satya — truthfulness, including truthfulness to self — I realized that my body needed a rest to reach the next level. So I backed off of the handstand part of my practice. I actually saw an improvement for a few months! Less intensity was beneficial.

And then I got lazy about handstanding. At this point, I’ve lost the ability to arrive in handstand reliably, and cannot seem to maintain stability for as long anymore. I need to pick it up again with the handstand practice. I only have 3 years!

Measurement: Obviously, I’ll still have a little more than 2 years left until 40 at the end of 2015, so not having nailed handstands is OK. Let’s say that I hope to be able to arrive in handstand reliably. I shouldn’t have to fall over 5 times before I catch some air.

3. A less intense cleanse. I learned this year from my macrobiotic cleanse and my shorter liver detox, that cleanses are do-able. I was on the fence about cleanses until 2014. Now that I know I can do it, and that a short term cleanse (like the 2 week liver detox) does make me feel better, I’d like to investigate doing something more simple and short term a few times a year. Maybe something I even make up myself. Nothing expensive, and no more of these 30-day things. Just 3-5 days of very clean eating and lots of veggies in the Vitamix, perhaps?

Measurement: One cleanse, of any type. Bonus: 2 cleanses.

4. Learn to wear jewelry. Let’s not get crazy here. I am not a flashy person. I have worn the same silver hoops in all 6 of my ear holes 24/7 for the past 5 years at least. I am going to say that Hot Jewels count as jewelry here. And diffuser necklaces count too. But I really need to work on at least changing my earrings once a month. I think I might start documenting my success on Instagram. Maybe with the hashtag #learntowearjewelry?

Measurement: A few pictures on my Instagram this year showing that I wore jewelry of some kind without being forced (i.e., by a special occasion that requires jewelry).

5. Morning Time. Another practice I developed in the latter half of 2014 was getting up before my family is up and reading scripture and meditating. When it was warmer and I got up early enough, I also did some yoga. Since the weather turned cold, like a lizard I cannot maintain enough body heat to leave the blanket in the chair where I’m reading to do yoga in the morning, but I digress. The morning time has been good for my patience as a mom and my overall view of the ebb and flow of life throughout the day. I even feel like catching up on social media that early in the day is profitable because it keeps me from having to check my phone constantly while getting the kids ready in the morning.

Measurement: I’d like to be able to say at the end of 2015 that I maintained my morning time as a regular habit. That I committed to morning time more often than not.

2014 To Do List – How Did I Do?

Every year I make a To Do List instead of resolutions. This is the time of the year where I check in on my 2014 list to see how I did!

2014 To Do List - how did I do? | Living Consciously Blog

2014 To Do list

1. Go to the dentist.

Did it with a Groupon! Yay! They said they found 1 cavity for sure and maybe another one but I didn’t have the funds to fix it and it doesn’t hurt. I have been oil pulling in hopes that it will help delay any issues. The list didn’t say I had to fix anything!

2. Fix the paint in the half bath downstairs.

I did not do this. I did locate the paint but it is in this huge container that I cannot figure out how to open.

I think the only way to open it is to put it in the car (VERY HEAVY) and drive to the paint store where we bought it more than 3 years ago and ask them to open it with some kind of special tool. That is a lot of effort. Every time I thought about it, I had to go take a nap.

3. Eliminate the part time jobs that do not generate income.

I feel like I have done a really good job of this, even when it hurt. I am not teaching Kids Yoga anymore. Which made me sad and made some of my little yogis sad, but it was the best for my life balance and for my own children. At one point I was devoting around 8 hours a week to Kids Yoga and making less than $2 an hour when it came down to doing the math. There was also the stress of shuffling my own children to childcare and rushing to pick them up on time, etc. Letting go of that has been very beneficial overall.

I involuntarily lost many of my weekly Pilates classes when my studio cancelled morning classes. Which was painful, but necessary. I have been using the extra time in the mornings to have mindful reading and prayer. It’s actually be really great.

4. Try to blog at least 3 times a week.

Hahaha…. NO. I am down to about once a week, or every 10 days. However, I participated in a conversation with a few other bloggers last month about how our frequency has decreased but we all feel that we produce higher quality and our traffic has not suffered. So: thank you! Thank you for reading even when I post sporadically!

5. Address my health issues.

I really feel like I gave this my best shot. Things I did:

30 day macrobiotic cleanse (other posts here, here, here, and here)
natural skin care
naturopathic treatment
liver detox

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen much change. I had several months of severe flare-ups in digestion and skin issues after each attempt. Not the kind where the body is flushing out toxins, because I “waited it out” for 2 months each time and it did not get better. I am not sure what the next steps are, but I will keep you posted.

6. Keep up or even expand my personal yoga practice.

My favorite part of 2014 was getting back into a regular studio practice! I have seen huge growth by putting myself under the instruction of teachers whom I admire and by allowing my mind into the stillness that a dedicated practice demands. I have really loved the instructors at The Yoga Factory. I also visited Nama Shivaya in Dallas and enjoyed it as well. Something new that I tried in 2014 was Holy Yoga. I know, I totally laughed when I first heard about that, too. I will have a guest post coming in the next month explaining more about what it is and why I stopped laughing.

The summary of this year is really one of slowing down, listening for direction rather than blazing ahead, and growing inwardly. Waiting, accepting, and listening. In this listening, I have clearly heard that my path lies in completing my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). I have spent the last few months exploring the various local options that would fit with my SAHM schedule and not take time away from my children. I will have more posts about my path in this direction and I hope that you will join me in my journey and give me feedback as I go!

Looking back in gratefulness to 2014 and forward in anticipation of 2015!

How We Cultivate Thankfulness in our family

If the month of November snuck up on you, you’re not alone! It sneaks up on me every year, with my son’s birthday toward the end and then Halloween. Then I wake up and, BAM!, it’s November! So we aren’t terribly timely with our thankfulness crafts around here. But, it is important to me to cultivate thankfulness in our family. Obviously, November is not the only time we want to be thankful, but it’s a good time to really focus.

There are 100 Pins on Pinterest of great Thanksgiving gratefulness projects. However, I am not a super crafty person. I do not own all the pipe cleaners, tempera paint, and precut turkey foam stickers that most of you people seem to have in your homes at all times. We sort of fell into this tradition of creating a thankfulness list out of things already around our house. Well, I feel like it is a tradition now, even though this is our second year. I do hope to keep it up (no pressure!).

Here is last year’s thankfulness chart and family list. My children were 2 years old and 5 years old, so it was too much to expect that they would each be able to come up with 30 individual things to be thankful for. So we had only one item per day on our list, and some items might have been suggested by Mom and Dad.

Thankfulness List 2013 | Living Consciously Blog

Thankfulness List 2013 | Living Consciously Blog

Supplies used:

packing paper from Amazon packages, flattened out
leaves we found on the sidewalk, pressed for a few days inside books to flatten
construction paper
pieces of coloring book that my kids cut up (their idea!)
sharpie marker
glue

This year, I was actually so far behind that there was no time to press leaves. We didn’t even get these set up until November 10. But this year, my children are 3 years old and 5 years old, and are able to think of their own lists (and also, to disagree and fight if they were forced to agree on just one thing each day!). So we each have our own turkey this year!

Thankfulness List 2014 | Living Consciously Blog

Supplies used:

large white paper, one for each family member
sharpie marker
yellow, red, orange, and brown construction paper
googly eyes (optional – I had these left over from kids yoga crafts)
glue stick

With this sticking-on-feathers-every-day model, we have to keep a baggie of precut feathers, a sharpie, and a glue stick at the table so that we can write our thankful items each day. If you want to get all crunchy, you can put these items in an aluminum box, GOOD FOR YOU!

The next step is, of course, to cultivate this kind of thankfulness throughout the rest of the year. Hopefully that would help with attitudes, right?

How has your family been cultivating thankfulness this season?