We’re living at a surreal and stressful time. With the arrival of coronavirus, a stay at home advisory is affecting much of the world’s population and we’re learning to cope with the changes to our day to day routines.
Alongside yoga my favorite creative thing to spend free time doing is working with collage, mixed media and upcycling projects. (I share my mixed media craft on Instagram @maycontainpaper)
I came across a bunch of crafted yoga flash cards I had made for myself during a teacher training. They were simple line drawings and text on index cards but I wanted to make better use of them for home practice. I decided to embellish them in to something more upbeat, fun and colorful.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
Start creating your sketch sequences with your stick figure.
Add written notes as you go (if you need to)
Ta-da! Enjoy sketching and have fun with your yoga character!
You can find out more about Eva’s adorable yoga sketches and her book yoganotes here