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!

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

5 Life Inspiring Books to Read in your New Year

Embrace creativity and inspiration

The start of a New Year often brings with it new intentions and decisions for change.  What better than some life inspiring books to help you as you embark upon your 2019 journey.  Here are 5 inspiring books well worth a peek.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic - creative living beyond fear
Explore the possibilities of your own creativity

Well, who hasn’t heard of Elizabeth Gilbert?  Launched to success with her classic ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ (I bet you’ve read it.  If you haven’t, then get to it)  Big Magic is her uplifting exploration of the role of creativity in life and why we should just go for it.  

Creativity is within each and every one of us.   We just need to face and overcome our fears and embrace the creativity that is buried within each one of us (regardless of whether we feel we are creative )

Whether you are making art, writing books, crafting dreams or living each day with more creativity, inspiration is there for the taking.  We just need to be curious and willing to embrace our hidden creativity.  

 ‘forget about perfect.  We don’t have time for perfect’

Elizabeth Gilbert

In a world caught up in the perfect Instagram photo,  Big Magic explores all of the possibilities that are open to us.   There is no better time to start your creative journey than right now.  It is time to quit waiting for everything to be just right.   As Elizabeth says in the book,  ‘forget about perfect.  We don’t have time for perfect’

Thrive by Arianna Huffington

Thrive by Arianna Huffington
How to Thrive in life…and its not just money & success

Arianna Huffington wrote Thrive following a personal experience when her own health scare forced her to put her life in balance.  

Thrive came about following her collapse brought on by exhaustion and the subsequent questions she began to ask herself.  She was successful and wealthy but her health was paying the price.

Her conclusion was that money and power alone as evidence of success are out of balance with life.  Life needs a third facet, or ‘third leg to the stool’.  That ‘third leg’ she describes as well being and the need to reconnect with ourselves and those around us.  When this balance is in place we then have the opportunity to truly thrive.

Bringing Yoga to Life by Donna Farhi

Bringing yoga to life
Donna Farhi’s classic yoga book

Donna is a globally recognized yoga teacher and author, well respected and loved in the yoga community. Bringing Yoga to Life is a must have for anyone interested in the practice of yoga in all its forms – not just the physical.  If you’re  looking to study and understand yogic philosophy in daily life, this is an inspiring read.

a yoga practice is a life practice and not just a physical workout at the gym

Donna Farhi

In the book she discusses the teachings of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali’s classic yoga text.  She describes how a yoga practice is a life practice and not just a physical workout at the gym.  With several decades of teaching experience, she shares her wisdom and spiritual practice.

This is a book well worthy of shelf space for any yoga student or yoga teacher wishing to understand yoga philosophy in as much depth and detail as physical yoga poses.

May I Be Happy by Cyndi Lee

Cyndi Lee's personal memoir, May I Be Happy
May I Be Happy – the personal memoir of Cyndi Lee

Cyndi Lee is another well respected teacher of the yoga world who incorporates the teachings of Buddhism into her practice.  May I Be Happy  is Cyndi’s personal memoir exploring her lifelong cycle of self judgement and her journey to self acceptance.

As with any journey, it is the experiences and people she spends time with  that shape her way.  It is a memoir well worth reading for its honesty and humor.

Living Your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lasater

Judith Hanson Lasater's classic yoga book
Living your Yoga

This is one of the most dipped into books I’ve ever owned. My copy has more notes, highlights and underlining scribbles than a kids coloring book.

If you want to explore ‘living your yoga’,  then this one’s a keeper.  It is a very useful and easy to understand read that discusses the concept of ‘living’ your yoga.  The book is broken up into three parts discussing yoga within yourself, yoga & relationships and yoga in the world.  

Judith writes about everything from discipline and faith to compassion and suffering through to service and love.  She discusses topics with lots of reference to Patanjali’s wisdom.   This is a perfect addition to any yoga teacher’s box of learning tools as well as for those interested in the spiritual life.  

Invest some time and pennies in some inspiring books for your 2019.  Which book will you choose?

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Bullet Journal Page for your Yoga Practice

If you haven’t ventured in to the world of the bullet journal, or BuJo as it’s also known, then it is well worth a little Pinterest investigation.  It was created by digital designer Ryder Carroll as an ‘evolving, adaptable practice meant to be self curated as you determine what works best for you’.  Essentially, a creative, personal life planning & organization tool tailored to your own personal needs.

Bullet Journaling for Yogis

As a yoga teacher and student, a bullet journal functions as one dedicated location for time planning, class notes, to do’s, book lists, self care and yoga practice tracking. (for a great article about self care and bullet journaling take a look here!)    The beauty of BuJo as a system is that it is totally personal to you!

Yoga practice tracker for bullet journal
A simple yoga tracker

Here is a simple yoga practice tracker to log asana practice and meditation.  A simple grid that is easy to complete and helping to  make you accountable and build up a routine to reinforce  your yoga and meditation habit.

a bullet journal functions as one dedicated location for time planning, class notes, to do’s, book lists, self care and yoga practice tracking

Yoga tracker for bullet journal
Yoga tracker using a simple color coding system

Get Creative with your Bullet Journal Practice Tracker

There are lots of great notebooks and pens available that work really well for bullet journaling purposes but, for me, the best notebook I’ve found is one of your BuJo fan’s favorites, a Leuchtturm, accompanied by fine liner felt pens by Staedtler.  The Leuchtturm works well as it lays flat when open and the pages are lightly dotted in a grid system making it easier to draw simple charts.  Staedtler fineline felt pens are a good felt pen match at a reasonable investment.

a creative, personal life planning & organization tool tailored to your own personal needs.

The beauty of a bullet journal is that you can embellish and decorate it exactly as you like it so get creative with your colors and copy or create your own headings and borders.  Just a doodle works well.  Here are a handful of simple examples for doodle inspiration!  If you are looking for a fun felt pen for more creative work try another bujo planner’s favorite, the  Tombow range of double ended markers that combine a sweeping stroke brush with a fineliner.

Bullet journal doodles for yoga tracker
Simple hand drawn doodles to personalize your yoga tracker

Enjoy getting creative as you track your progress and be sure to share your yoga trackers with us!


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