Top 10 Ways Teaching Yoga is like Social Media

I’ve been having a blast helping Innerstellar Pilates and Yoga studio out with their social media. It’s a wonderful marriage of my two careers and two things I love: yoga and social media. Maybe it’s just my tendency to see parallels to yoga in everything, but I find a ton of commonality between teaching yoga and working in social media.

Top 10 Ways Teaching Yoga is like Social Media

10. You get to touch the lives of others, be it a juicy yoga class or a helpful response to a user on Facebook.

9. Just as your yoga practice changes and evolves over time, social media is always changing. You have to adapt and progress forward.

8. There’s no shortage of workshops on both subjects and so many people to learn from.

Image courtesy of Master isolated images FreeDigitalPhotos.net

7. You get the opportunity to share information and information with others whether it’s through teaching or tweeting or a Facebook update.

6. There’s no “right way” to do social media or yoga. There are guidelines and best practices, but ultimately you have to be the one to discover what works.

5. In both practices, you give, but you can be overwhelmed with how much you get back from others.

4. Opportunities to be creative abound!

3. As you do them more and more, you begin to find your own voice.

2. You must be willing to experiment. If something falls flat, problem-solve, try something else, and change direction as you need to.

1. The best part of all is the personal connection with others.

Social media and yoga. It’s a damn good combination.

The Meaning of Community: Guest post by Kristin “Kiki” Lovelace

I’ve been thinking a lot this past month about the meaning of community, and specifically our growing Forrest Yoga community at my new studio, Innerstellar Pilates & Yoga, in Berkeley, California.

When I was dreaming up this studio (and it cooked for a LONG time in my head before it came into being), my mentor, Pilates Educator and Life Coach Tom McCook once asked me to come up with an intention for my studio. I said, “I want a place where we all co-create our success and aliveness and abundance.” That is a wild thing to say if you are a very independent-minded Aries like myself. I spent the first quarter of my life trying to prove to myself and to everyone else that I didn’t need any help whatsoever. But as I got older, I really longed for a work place where I could be the leader of a group of many co-conspirators, with their various superhero skills and creative ideas.

One of the highlights of my week is our Wednesday afternoon “Forrest Yoga Playdate,” a weekly practice at Innerstellar, where all Forrest Yoga Teachers (aka Co-Conspirator Superheroes) are invited to come and do a really strong, sweaty practice in a room full of other thrill seekers and energy weavers. One of the advanced asanas I’ve been working with lately is practicing Forearm Balance in the middle of the room (i.e. no wall-crutch), which puts me directly into what I like to call “the squeal zone.”

About a month ago, Innerstellar Teacher and Forrest Yogini, Marisha Doan and I made a commitment that we would spot each other in this pose every week until we can do it by ourselves. Today, Marisha was sick and I could feel myself going into nervous chatter in my head as we neared the inversion section of our practice. “Well, I could just skip it today,” I thought to myself. But I took a deep Ujjayi breath, looked up from my mat and spotted Michelle Cordero (a Senior Forrest Yoga Teacher at Innerstellar and one of my best friends), in front of me. I asked her, “Will you spot me in Forearm Balance?” She did, of course. I felt totally supported by her.

This was an opportunity to grow into a feeling of being held up (literally) by the people around me, rather than shrinking away into my old hiding hole with my old story: “If I can’t do it by myself, I can’t do it at all.” As I’ve grown (thanks in HUGE part to years of therapy and Forrest Yoga), I’ve come to realize that my true gift as a leader is my vulnerability:  my ability to feel and emote (even in public), my ability to say “I don’t know,” and my willingness to take in feedback from my students, colleagues and teachers to process and digest it to see if it rings true to me.

These were some of the very things I absolutely loathed about myself growing up. But I’ve noticed that as the voice of my Inner Critic has receded into background noise, I’ve been better able to receive feedback from the people I care about with grace and dignity. More so now that ever, I am able to see and be seen in deeply authentic ways, to be comfortable in relationship with others even when it’s uncomfortable. I often think of something my therapist once told me: “Bickering is a sign of intimacy.” I remind myself of that when I’m in a tight spot with a loved one or colleague or student.

I’m inspired by this quote by Dr. Robert Butler in his book The Longevity Prescription:
“One of the best strategies to a long and healthy life is connectivity. Numerous studies have led to wide-ranging conclusions about the importance of social relationships to individual good health. Having caring people around you–or even just making meaning from contact with them by phone, via the Internet, or other means–amounts to a special kind of health insurance. So, a surefire way to longevity is greater interactivity in a social sense. We humans are social creatures: interdependent, adaptable, and flexible.”

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about another social creature: the wolf. I love wolves and am inspired by their ancient wisdom, affection, playfulness and joy. I find it fascinating that they hunt and play and run and sleep in a pack –in community with each other. I wrote my teacher, Ana Forrest, an email a few days ago about the Wolf Medicine I’ve been working with and she responded, and I quote: “Oooohhhhhhaaaaa.” That’s Ana-speak for a good old-fashioned howl. We have a slightly weird tradition in Forrest Yoga of howling when we get together to do our yoga practice. Wolves howl just for the joy of it. You should hear it when group of Forrest Yogis howl together – it lights up the room. It is absurd and funny and tender and joyful.

Wolves also howl as a call out to their pack when they are alone. It is a call for support: throat and jaw wide open and vulnerable. It is a sound of Beauty.

Are YOU willing to be vulnerable today? To call out to your tribe with throat and jaw wide open? When you need help sorting things out, I invite you to lean on your friends or loved ones or teachers or colleagues or fellow students. It’s strangely relaxing and satisfying. Your community will invariably come up with an inspiring, creative solution to the very thing that made you fell stuck. Or they will be still and listen, a true gift to you and your healing process. Either way, they will love to be of service to you. Don’t rob them of the opportunity.

Ask questions of others; be willing to say, “I don’t know.” Doing everything by yourself is so 2011. It’s 2012, y’all, and there are a lot of wise and talented people out there!

As Dr. Butler says, “As a species, we have evolved in a world in which we must rely upon one another and, as individuals, the more we can contribute to bettering that world, the better it will be.”

A-ho and Oooohhhhhhaaaaa!

Kristin “Kiki” Lovelace is  a Certified Forrest Yoga Teacher, Certified Pilates Instructor, and Owner and Director of Education at Innerstellar Pilates & Yoga. She howls with the best of them.

Ana Forrest’s Comin’ to Town

My wonderful yoga teacher, Ana Forrest, is coming to the SF bay area, not once, not twice, but three times in January 2012! She’ll be at the SF Yoga Journal conference Jan. 12th-16th (if you don’t sign up for whole conference, you can drop-in to one of her workshops for $60). The wonderful Kristin (Kiki) Lovelace’s wonderful new studio in Berkeley, Innerstellar Yoga, will be hosting Ana’s workshop and book signing event on Thurs. Jan. 19th. Then from Jan. 23rd-27th, Ana will be at Namaste Yoga Grand Lake in Oakland for a continuing education training (you can sign up for just the morning intensives that are open to the public if you are not doing the full training).

While I was getting excited about getting to see Ana again, I got to thinking about her amazing seeing powers. She has this incredible way of seeing and feeling energy. Ana can be in the back corner of a room during class and still see someone towards the front not relaxing their neck. My awe and appreciation of Ana inspired the below song. Enjoy!

Ana Forrest’s Comin’ to Town (sung to the tune of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”)

You better watch out
You better not bail
Better not pout
I’m teling you why
Ana Forrest’s comin’ to town

She’s teaching some abs
And doin’ ’em twice
Gonna find out who’s [not] breathing or tight
Ana Forrest’s comin’ to town

With little foam blocks
And firmly rolled mats
Sweaty sweat sweat and poses with straps
Ana Forrest’s comin’ to town

With passion and strength
No coddle nor coo
Chanting and touch
Fierce medicine too
Ana Forrest’s comin’ to town

She sees you when you’re spacing
She knows when you’re not awake
She knows if you’re in struggle mode
So sparkle up for goodness sake!

SO…

You better watch out
You better not bail
Better not pout
I’m teling you why
Ana Forrest’s comin’ to town