Yoga Stick Figures for your Yoga Class Planning

photo credit David Perkins

So……..are you a writer or a sketcher?  For me, as a yoga teacher sketch planning yoga classes using yoga stick figures is one of the most useful and fun things to do in preparation for a class.

Who Could Use Yoga Stick Figures 

But it’s not just for yoga teachers.  Teacher trainees & all yoga students can work with visuals to really help with understanding sequencing, asana mechanics and yoga practice flow.

I have always been a yoga class plan sketcher and my yoga stick figure has evolved over time.  It started with your typical kindergarten kinda look.  Disproportioned with straight limbs and a circle head but still illustrating the form of the pose and idea of the sequence.

Over time my yoga stick figure has evolved into more of a character with a round belly and pony tail.

The pony tail became a feature as I always wear a ponytail myself. The belly feature is getting there too 😉 

Eventually she became the inspiration for my blog logo.  

Creating your Yoga Stick Figure

You don’t need to be an amazing artist to create your yogi and classes with sketches.

I love the work of artist Eva Lotta Lam.  She has created a number of books about sketching and her book Yoga Notes: How to Sketch Yoga Postures & Sequences is an awesome resource for yogis.

Yoga Notes by Eva-Lotta Lam
Photo by Eva-Lotta Lam

Eva shows you how to sketch your own simple yoga stick figure and illustrates a bunch of yoga poses and sequences.

Her little yogi characters are so adorable that just flicking through them is inspiring enough on its own.

In my own sketches the orientation of the pose and gaze is shown by the position of the ponytail.  ie. if the ponytail is facing upwards then she is facing forward eg tadasana. Or to the left or the right if she is facing to the side eg virabhadrasana 2

Eva includes a nose on her yogi to demonstrate the position of the head and gaze.

Anatomical perfection is not critical as long as your sketches show the ‘essence of an asana’ Eva says. Simplicity is the best place to start and then you can embellish and make your yogi your own as you continue to sketch more.

How to Create your Sequence 

Whether you are planning classes or taking practice notes here’s how to start.

Grab paper and your favorite pen.  You can use index cards, a dedicated journal or  a yoga class planner that has been devised specifically for the sketching purpose of creating your own yoga class plans.

I devised a planner specifically to create an organized approach to my yoga class planning.  It’s an instantly downloadable 3 page PDF which you can see in my online store yogaskinnystudio here

You can sketch, create a written plan and list all of the details of your class such as class focus, props needed and blessing/reading.

How to take your notes

  1. Practice simple stick yoga figures. Approach with an open mind and no concern for artistic perfection! Take a look at Eva’s yoganotes blog for inspiration
  2. Start creating your sketch sequences with your stick figure.
  3. Add written notes as you go (if you need to)

Ta-da!  Enjoy sketching and have fun with your yoga character!

how to sketch a yoga avatar
Aren’t these just the cutest! Photo credit Eva-Lotta Lam

You can find out more about Eva’s adorable yoga sketches and her book yoganotes here

yoga sketch stick figures with class planner and sketching pens

Secondhand Yoga with #secondhandseptember

September is the month to stop buying new and try out secondhand. Check it out on Instagram – #secondhandseptember

So how can you embrace the challenge as a yogi. What can you do to embrace secondhand this month? Nobody needs more stuff and you will be helping the planet too!

  • First off. Don’t buy it whatever it is you’ve seen whether it be the cute yoga pants or the top of the range yoga mat that’s on sale. Take a breath, walk away and forget .
  • Do you really need yet another pair of yoga pants? Take a rummage through your closet. Declutter as you go and then you may discover that great pair of pants that you’d long forgotten about.
  • Get yourself to a thrift store or charity shop. I’ve found three branded yoga tops in thrift stores that I wear regularly. All of them lightly used but still in great condition and just a few dollars each (win-win!)
  • Try online secondhand markets for yoga clothes on Thredup or eBay.

Look out for secondhand before you commit to brand new.

  • I’ve always found that yoga is similar to camping. Meaning, newbies are raring to go and in their enthusiasm they buy every conceivable product available. When they realize yoga, or camping, is not for them they’re left with a pile of barely used stuff. Expensive mats, blocks, bolsters and meditation cushions are all redundant. Take a look at eBay and Craigslist to see what barely used (and sometimes never used) yoga props are available on the secondhand market.
  • The same applies to books. If you love to buy yoga books then go to the secondhand markets of Amazon and eBay. I can’t remember the last time I paid full price for a yoga book. Yoga teacher trainees buy a bunch of classic textbooks for trainings but may not go on to teach or study in more depth. Look out for secondhand before you commit to brand new.
  • If you are a yogi with lots of stuff then have a declutter session and try swapping out with other yogis.
  • If your yoga studio has a notice board it may be worth pinning a card to sell or donate those excess things you own.

So, take the challenge. Save money and reuse the stuff you have or give a second life to something secondhand. Save resources, rescue stuff from landfill and help to save our suffering planet.

Yoga Retreat Travel Tips for the Traveling Yogi

The time has come for those Summer yoga retreats. Whether your trip is by bus, train or plane there are a number of easy to pack items you need to include in your travel tote alongside that yoga mat.

Don’t forget…

  • Essential oil is a great way to ease headaches or tension. I love this calming aromatherapy rollerball oil in lavender to ease tension.
aromatherapy on the go
  • This Origins product packs a minty punch but a tiny amount rubbed in to the temples helps to soothe headaches and relieve travel grogginess.
headache & tension relief
  • Make your own tiny travel altar to transport some sage, meditation cards and crystals. This tiny tin is a great way of taking your yoga & meditation practice with you on the go. (or maybe a candle but buy your matches at your destination!)
travel yoga altar open tin
travel altar tin for your favorite items

Don’t Forget your Yoga Retreat Journal

  • Journal to note down your travel information as well as journal your yoga retreat. This handmade yoga retreat journal is made specifically for a retreat or yoga workshop trip. Dedicated pages for you to note down your itinerary, packing list, contacts and schedule as well as a bunch of separate pages for your notes and thoughts. Totally expandable using a disc system binding it also includes pockets for your receipts & tickets and dedicated envelopes to tuck away your favorite teabag and business cards. Also included is a coordinating bookmark, tags and clips for personal customization. Take a look at this one here on yogaskinny’s sister Etsy store – maycontainpaper.
handmade yoga retreat journal
don’t forget to journal your thoughts
  • A turkish towel makes a great, soft scarf/ blanket for traveling. Perfect for chilly planes and folds up super small for toting around! (It’s also very quick drying if used as a beach towel 😉
Soft turkish towel – perfect for traveling
  • As well as your digital gadgets, you’re going to need a great paperback to absorb you on your travels. Warrior Won by Meryl Davis Landau is a fiction novel with a spiritual edge. It centers around the main character, Lorna Crawford, facing challenges during pregancy when she learns that there may be something wrong with her baby. Filled with references to authors and practices that many a yogi will be familiar this is a captivating read. It ticks the box as a must read, Summer read for those of us looking for a mindful, contemporary womens novel.
Warrior Won – a mindful, contemporary womens novel
  • You’ll need to stay hydrated during the course of your trip. Water bottle or tea mug are critical.
Hydro flask are really good at keeping things hot or cold for a long time!
  • Throw in your favorite herbal teas. Choose ginger to settle your stomach and chamomile to aid with sleep (but only if you’re not driving!)
Pukka Teas make some great herbal teas and the packaging colors are awesome too!
  • Finally, don’t get so comfortable with your travel goodies that you forget to move! Do some simple twists in your chair, get up to stretch and find a moment to focus on some smooth & deep breathing.

Go gather up your goodies and get set for your yogi travels. Bon voyage!

Please know that I am an affiliate which means that I may make a small commission, at no extra cost to you, from any items you may buy through a link from my website 🙂

6 Great Iyengar Books for your Bookshelf

Open book image
photo credit jonas jacobsson

Whether you’re an Iyengar fanatic or not, if you love yoga then there are a few Iyengar books you need on your bookshelf. Now!

BKS Iyengar and his family have dedicated their lives to the study, practice & sharing of yoga. Take a dip in to these six books and get yourself some yoga learning.

Light on Yoga – BKS Iyengar

The yoga text book of the Gods! If this isn’t on your teaching training book list you probably need to find out why. This. Instant!

Amazing to think that it was first published in 1966 and yet it is still one of the most popular and relevant yoga texts. I bought my copy many years ago when I started teaching and refer to it regularly!

Filled with photographs of a young Mr Iyengar in the yoga poses. Each photographed pose is accompanied by a breakdown of the pose’s sanskrit meaning, a detailed, step by step description of the pose technique and a conclusion describing the effects of the pose.

There are also separate chapters discussing bandhas, pranayama & therapies along with other aspects of yoga. I review Light on Yoga in more detail here.


It’s amazing to think that Light on Yoga was first published in 1966

The Tree of Yoga – BKS Iyengar

If you are keen to understand yoga in all its depth then this is a book for you. Not an asana book but a study of the whole of yoga philosophy in the words of Mr Iyengar.

It is a small book of small chapters but it packs a punch with its meaning and insight. Yoga is a vast topic but this book manages to break down and explore those topics with clarity in just a few pages.

It’s the kind of book that you can dip in and out of and use as reference. I love those sort of books!

The Tree of Yoga is broken down into five parts exploring the following:

Part 1 – yoga & life. Covering aspects of love, family, faith & death

Part 2 – the tree of yoga. How the elements of the tree symbolize the eight limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

Part 3 – yoga & health. The health benefits we are all familiar with

Part 4 – self & its journey. Spiritual journey and the growth of the yoga student

Part 5 – yoga in the world – the art of yoga and the role of the teacher

Scattered Iyengar yoga books with cup of herbal tea

Light on Life – BKS Iyengar

 Mr Iyengar incorporates his yoga journey and personal anecdotes in the pages of this fascinating exploration of yoga.

Focusing on his own experiences and discussing the role of yoga and how it can improve our lives for the better. Delve in for a clearer understanding of the yoga journey.

I’ve also found this book to be a great help from a teaching perspective. Many of the quotes and passages are a great inspiration.

“Spirituality is not some external goal that one must seek but a part of the divine core of each of us, which we must reveal”

Iyengar books are great resources for the yoga practitioners and yoga teachers

YOGA – The Path to Holistic Health – BKS Iyengar

If you’re a yogi you’ll love this book. If you’re a yoga teacher you’ll need this book.

This is one Iyengar book that is more of a manual than a yoga text (although there is a section on yoga philosophy). This is a great book describing poses and sequences using the props that Iyengar yoga is synonymous with.

If you are a visual person like me you will find this book to be worth it’s weight in gold. (And that’s a lot because this book is heavy!)

Individual poses are broken down in to there sanskrit meanings, instructions on the one and necessary cautions.

There is a large chapter on the topic of ‘yoga for stress’ which also incorporates a number of restorative yoga poses.

The chapter ‘yoga for ailments’ incorporates pages of yoga sequences to address specific ailments and conditions.

Soooooo useful. Don’t underestimate its value for your class planning and yoga teaching career.

BKS Iyengar isn’t the only family member publishing books

Yoga, A Gem for Women – Geeta S. Iyengar

Ok, so not by BKS but, nevertheless, an invaluable book for practitioners and teachers alike which is why I’m including it in this list of Iyengar books.

Written by BKS Iyengar’s daughter, Geeta, this is the classic yoga book for women.

Wherever you are on your female journey, Geeta discusses the milestones in a woman’s life – menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. Separate chapters are dedicated to the poses, breathing techniques and meditation to support a woman through these milestones.

Another great book for teachers as there are lots of variations and special instructions for using props and adapting poses for all levels of practitioner.

Iyengar The Yoga Master – Kofi Busia

Although not strictly an Iyengar authored book, this is a collection of stories, anecdotes and essays about BKS Iyengar written by yoga practitioners.

I only recently came across this book and have loved reading the stories of the many yoga teachers and yogis who have contributed.

I always enjoy reading about the experiences of others. It is fascinating to learn from the different perspectives of other people.

This is not a complete list of all of the published Iyengar books available but if you haven’t yet got yourself a copy beg, buy or borrow a copy now for a dose of pure yogic wisdom.

……………..

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Great Yoga Business Resources for Yoga Teachers

Love the practice. Yep. Got the certification. Yep. All inspired to get started on teaching. Yep. Got the business side sorted. Hmmm……..

Yoga teachers are always bursting with enthusiasm and passion for teaching but sometimes the business side of it all goes a bit awry.

Every yoga teacher needs access to great yoga business resources as much as they need a classic yoga text. Take a look at these readily available and super useful resources to support your yoga teaching career.

Books

The Art & Business of Teaching Yoga by Amy Ippoliti & Taro Smith

A great business book to support your yoga teaching career

This book packs a punch and is presented in a down to earth and understandable way.  And like a good class, yoga themes are weaved in to the business advice.

These are the reasons I love it…

  • Written by a yoga teacher who walks the walk.  Personal experience of the whole ‘building a yoga business’ thing.
  • Lots of practical and realistic tips on the tedious but, nevertheless, important stuff.  You know the kind of thing.  Finances, insurances, liability issues etc
  • A great chapter on how to present yourself as a teacher.  You, after all, are the business
  • Useful and implementable social media marketing tips
  • Great yoga class planning and teaching tips too
  • Small paperback, throw in your bag, kind of format.  I love that this is not a hefty, intimidating textbook.
  • Overall, a ‘go to’ reference for any yogi building a yoga teaching career

The Yogi Entrepreneur – A Guide to Earning a Mindful Living by   Darren Main

Earning a mindful living for yoga teachers

Darren is a long term yoga teacher and his book shares many great tips for the entrepreneurial yoga teacher

Reasons to read

  • Lots of information presented in lists, bullet points and Q&A’s.  I find this kind of presentation much more readable.
  • A great chapter on website building.  Although a website isn’t an absolute must do initially it does have its benefits.
  • Comprehensive section on finances and taxes.
  • Very useful examples of how to figure out pricing for classes & workshops and bigger events such as retreats and trainings.
  • A big section with marketing suggestions that vary from simple & free to more complex & costly.

Darren also published a book in 2019 that focuses fully on Social Media for Teachers and Healers.  Although I haven’t read a copy I’m sure it is worth a look.

Organization Stationery

Keeping your business organized and efficient helps to manage your time and, in turn, keep your career on track.

yogaskinnystudio’s range of yoga stationery is a great way to keep your classes, time and finances in check.

Use a printable timesheet to track your classes, student numbers, invoicing and payments.

yoga timesheet filled in example
Numbers are just an example!! Yoga timesheets available for full time & part time yoga teachers

Podcasts

Yoga Teacher Resource with Mado Hesselink

I came across Mado’s podcast and haven’t stopped listening and re-listening since!

She posts every week and her podcasts are a mixture of interviews, advice pieces and business tips. She’s covered a spectrum of yoga related topics from beginner teaching nerves to joint health in poses.

I love her podcasts as they are just like Goldilocks’ porridge.  Not too long and not too short.  Just right.

There are several podcasts discussing marketing and making a living – one of the biggest challenges for any yoga teacher!

I encourage you to take a listen.  You won’t regret it.

Every yoga teacher needs some great business resources

J Brown

If you are interested in listening to some thought provoking yoga interviews covering business (among other great yoga topics) then J Brown’s podcast is the way to go.

Over time J Brown has interviewed many amazing and inspiring yoga teachers and practitioners covering all sorts of yoga related topics.

The length of the podcasts are quite long so more of a time commitment for this one but a great deal of interesting and useful content.

Websites

Yoga Journal

Yoga Journal has been around for some time now and is always to be found on Barnes & Noble shelves.  The online version of Yoga Journal has some great content for yoga teachers.  You can also subscribe to Yoga Journal to gain access to sequence builders, teaching insurance and teaching advice.

Yoga International

Yoga International is a great resource for teachers and practitioners alike.  It features a great amount of teaching and business related articles.  It is on a subscription basis but you can sign up for a 30 day trial if you want to take a commitment free peek.

teach.yoga

This website offers a really inspiring and eclectic selection of articles from yoga teachers and practitioners.  It has a very welcoming community vibe to it and appeals to me as it doesn’t have the corporate glossiness of some yoga websites. Curl up in your comfy yoga pants with a cup of tea for company and have a browse.

Mindbodygreen

There are a number of yoga related websites similar to mindbodygreen in that they publish articles across a range of health & self care topics.  They’re all great with something to offer but my go to website is mindbodygreen.

Take advantage of all of the many resources available to you and make your yoga teaching career shine!

Please know that I am an affiliate which means that I may make a small commission, at no extra cost to you, from any items you may buy through a link from my website 🙂