Yoga Asana Life Drawing

Quick sketches of yoga poses showing the form of the pose and observing bodies.  Useful for yoga instructors

I had an opportunity to do some yoga asana life drawing.  What better way to combine yoga & creativity!

Life drawing is a wonderful way to fulfill your creativity but also, as a study of the human form, it is very helpful to yoga instructors. In fact, I recently came across a website dedicated to this creative practice!

Observing bodies is part of the job of a skilled yoga teacher.  When we teach a class we are confronted with a group of people all with different anatomical make up, physical challenges and experience.

yoga asana life drawing trikonasana
Observe the student. Sketch credit – yogaskinny

Teach people, not poses

We are all unique and our muscles, joints and posture all work together to give us our own personal, physical blueprint.  As a yoga teacher we need to identify and work with these differences adjusting asana and using props to serve our students best. 

As I’ve heard many an experienced yoga teacher say  – ‘teach people, not poses’.

So, if you have an opportunity to do some yoga asana life drawing take it!

Keep your sketching loose. Use a soft pencil or pastels to keep the marks you make fluid and not too precious.

You already know the form of the poses but when you look at the student from a sketching perspective you really observe the position of the hand in relation to the shin in trikonasana. Or the length of the spine in a forward fold.

yoga asana life drawing - ardha uttanasana with chair and strap
Notice the spine lengthening. Sketch credit – yogaskinny

As you sketch you’ll notice how differently the over flexible students form the pose in contrast to the new student or the yogi working with injuries or limitations. All useful visual information to help you in your asana and anatomy understanding.

Yoga asana life drawing - inversions
Sketch credit – yogaskinny

Use sketching as a way to keep learning and understanding more about the human body. Use it as a tool alongside other ways of constant learning about the art of yoga.

Asana Life Drawing – the Perfect ‘Pop up’ Class

Sketching in this way is much like yoga class planning. Using your knowledge and experience of yoga to create a flow sequence of poses that work together like pencil marks to form the bigger picture.

See if your local studio is offering a yoga life drawing class, and if they’re not, suggest it. They’re the perfect idea for a ‘pop up’ class and lots of fun to do!

Use your creativity to inspire your teaching and class planning.

Ways to Simplify your Life this New Year

Photo by Sarah Ball on Unsplash

New Year. A time for a fresh start and new resolutions. Simplicity and streamlining are two popular resolutions people are making. Here’s some pointers on how to review and simplify your life in your new year.

1 Define The Life You Want

Define what you actually want for your year. Doesn’t need to be an extensive essay just a simple list of priorities and things you want to spend your time on in the coming twelve months. Get creative and spend an afternoon creating a vision board to give you visual reference. Fun to look at and fun to do too.

2 Simplify Schedules

Sometimes it’s our schedules and commitments that clutter our lives. If you really can’t fit four running sessions in to your week simply drop back to two. As your schedule becomes leaner you may find time to fit in that extra run later in the year and then it becomes a real treat!

If you’re a yoga teacher this may mean reviewing your classes. If a class you’re teaching is struggling to build in that time slot after six months hard work maybe take a while to analyze the timing and theme of the class. The time slot may be too inconvenient for students or the clientele may not be wanting hot flow at 11am.

Step back from your teaching and try to define what isn’t working. Remember, it may just mean that that timeslot just may not work for any teacher, not just you. Removing classes like this will free up some time for you to focus on building your other classes and organize your yoga business.

3 Enjoy ‘You’ Time

Make time reading the books you’ve bought but never opened. Spend an extra fifteen minutes meditating by waking up just fifteen minutes earlier. Go walking outside at lunch time or after school drop off or for that trip to the post office. Ignore Netflix for an hour in the evening. Pick up an inspiring magazine like Bella Grace and spend an hour reading, note taking, journaling and doodling.

4 Streamline Your Yoga Practice

Get to class when you can but if fighting traffic to get to that 6pm class adds more stress than necessary consider an extra home practice. If you are a teacher then your home practice is critical to your teaching but, now and again, practice for practice sake instead of constantly class planning. Yoga class planning is critical to your yoga business but so is self care. A stressed yoga teacher will not offer their best in class.

5 Declutter

The classic and one of the most popular resolutions! Declutter! Sort all that stuff that is clogging up your life and your mind to create physical and mental space and clarity.

Start small to avoid overwhelm. Focus on one corner of your kitchen, the hanging clothes section of your closet, your yoga space. Work on decluttering as you go and question any new items you buy or bring in to your home.

Increase the simplicity in your life by reducing the stuff and avoiding consumption. This is challenging in a world of marketing, selling and ‘you must have this’ mentality. When the urge to shop comes over you try to replace it with a moment of stepping on the mat, grab a pencil and notepad to sketch or journal, create something to absorb your thoughts – knitting, cooking, gardening, writing – whatever inspires you to create!

Simplifying life isn’t easy. We all have family, work and life commitments that we need to fulfill. Taking a few moments to observe what is filling your life and deciding what fits in to your personal vision helps you prioritize and perhaps delete a few details to ensure that you are working to simplify your life!

Handmade & Unusual Holiday Gifts for Yogis

List of handmade & unusual gifts for yogis
photo credit markus spiske unsplash

There is something about a handmade gift that is extra special. Unique, thoughtful and creative gifts are always winners. With Christmas holidays fast approaching check out these handmade & unusual gifts for yogis.

Whether you are a crafter yourself or you just love to support crafting communities, this selection of gifts are perfect for your yoga loving friend or family member.

Colorful Yoga Straps

colorful yoga strap used in a forward fold
photo credit ReneeSoulie on Etsy

Why does a yoga strap need to be one color? These straps in funky color combos are strong and functional and sure to brighten any yogi’s practice and yoga space! Take a look at all of the wonderful colors.

Funky Upcycled Yoga Skirts

Upcycled yoga skirt
photo credit mojowear on Etsy

Yogi’s love easy to wear and comfortable yoga clothes. Check out this Etsy crafter who makes these wonderful skirts – perfect for layering over yoga leggings on the way to and from class.

There is something about a handmade gift that is extra special. Check out these handmade & unusual gifts for yogis

Handcrafted Wooden Yoga Blocks

Pile of handmade yoga blocks & props
photo credit burmanwoodcraft on Etsy

Popular with the Iyengar yoga community, the wooden block is a yoga practice must have. These blocks are available in the standard size along with other sizes for every yogic application. Made from reclaimed lumber, these beautifully crafted props are a gift to the environment too.

Super Roomy Yoga Tote Bags

Open tote bag containing yoga mat and towel
photo credit LoveMyMat on Etsy

Roomy and full of useful pockets and zippers for all the class essentials. Phone, keys, wallet, towel and yoga mat all fit in this soft, reversible oversized tote bag. Fabrics are sourced from items such as tablecloths and curtains and upcycled in to these unique bags. Win – Win!!

Upcycled Braided Baskets

handmade, braided basket
photo credit Sewvasana on Etsy

These colorful, hand woven baskets are perfect for storing a yoga strap, eye pillow and incense in a yogi’s yoga space. Made from the leftover fabric scraps from other projects. How awesome is that?!

Sari Silk Bookmarks

three sari silk bookmarks in an open book
Make your own sari silk bookmark gifts

And if you are a crafter yourself, these beautiful sari silk bookmarks are a quick craft I like to make and give myself.

Easy to create using sari silk, thread and upcycled beads this is a unique gift for any avid yoga reader! For details on how to make your own, check out yogaskinny’s sister website maycontainpaper here.

All of these gift ideas are perfect for the dedicated yogi on your gift list and all crafted from upcycled materials too.

Please know that, as a member of the Etsy crafting community myself, I am an Etsy affiliate and will make a small commission from any purchase you make via yogaskinny.

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

secondhand yoga.  What can you do as a yogi to support the #secondhandseptember movement?

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.