Ten 10 Minute Screen Free Self Care Activities

I know, I know. You’re reading a blog so you are on a screen right now. But this is a list of ten 10 minute screen free self care activities you can do for your own wellbeing.

I realize that during these surreal times of Covid 19, technology and screens have been an absolute necessity for reasons of work, communication, education, entertainment and online shopping & finance.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for technology but I have to admit I’m beginning to get screen weary.

So fight the urge, just once a day, to ignore the phone and do something else that doesn’t involve a screen….for just ten minutes. Once you create the habit you may find ten minutes just isn’t enough.

Ten 10 Minute Screen Free Self Care Activities

1 Read just one chapter or a handful of pages. There is that book in your possession that you have always meant to read. Take the opportunity to start now. If you’re looking for suggestions, check out yogaskinny’s book reviews for great self care reads, Iyengar classics or yoga anatomy books.

2 Browse a Magazine. Select a magazine that inspires you. Stampington & Company publish a great range of creative magazines. Try Bella Grace – a beautifully photographed and written magazine. It’s a combination of magazine and journal and is sure to inspire and uplift.

Bella Grace is a beautifully written & photographed magazine

Crafted Yoga Flash Cards

mixed media yoga pose tags in a swatch

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.

Practicing yoga and spending time on creative projects are two great self care strategies to help manage these challenges.

Yoga pose mixed media tag swatch
Fun and colorful yoga pose flash card swatch

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.

downward facing dog flash card tag

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