• To Teach or Not To Teach Yoga at a Nursing Home

    I quickly realized that in order to survive, let alone be successful, as a yoga teacher, I needed to expand my horizons. This meant that only teaching at a studio was not going to cut it. So, I got creative.

    I looked into what it would be like to teach Chair Yoga at a Nursing Home. After calling and emailing a number of different places in my local area and offering some free demos, I landed a few gigs.

    I had never taught Chair Yoga before. So, I looked up Youtube videos and read articles about what to do. I discovered that it would be easy enough.

    Here are 5 things that I noticed about what makes teaching yoga at a nursing home different than any other setting and what I learned:

    Not everyone will participate.

    Most of the time, I felt like I was an entertainer instead of a yoga teacher because no one really participated. I had one or two people out of twenty who would try and follow along with me, but most of the people in the room were sleeping, telling me to stop, trying to leave the room, or too confused and/or sedated to do anything.

    I also volunteer at a non-profit Adult Day Care facility as well and it is a small group of participants (about 8 people) and they all participate. This facility is much more organized and chooses to bring people in the room who actually want to do yoga. Sometimes, it depends where you are teaching at.

    Find ways to get them engaged.

    Since I was having difficulty getting everyone to participate, I tried adding in fun little extras to get them engaged. I started bringing in my speakers to play music. I tried so many types of music, from relaxing to rock music, and found that if the music was calming yet upbeat, it created a nice energy in the room.

    I also utilized my essential oils. This worked the best! I would put a drop of oil in my palms and go to each person and have them take a breath. One time at the beginning and another at the end. They all really seemed to enjoy this.

    I also experimented with the lights and closing the door to the rec room, so that it felt more like an experience. Nevertheless, people were always in and out whether it was nurses or visiting family members, it was difficult to avoid a disruption.

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  • How to Accept Yourself – S P I R I T U A L L Y

    A personal story about how I learned (still always learning) to accept myself, my experience in Thailand, and stay connected with my spirituality. 

    My spirituality sprouted from the roots of my soul while I was in college. I had ended an abusive relationship with an alcoholic and it wrecked me. My university offered free yoga classes at the gym and I started going to them every day.

    Yoga class was not just an exercise, it was also about spiritual growth and coping with trauma. During meditation at the end of class, the instructor would come around and massage our temples with lavender essential oil. They would read us quotes and excerpts about letting go of anger, being in the present, finding yourself, etc. It validated that I was lost, that I needed to get back on the path, and build a fulfilling life. Back then, I was learning about all these ideas for the first time and so they begun to change me.

    I became so intrigued with yoga that I minored in Asian Studies. The philosophy, religion, history, and art of Southeast Asia and India fascinated me. I read excerpts from the Bhagavad Gita, Daodejing, and other Buddhist and Hindu texts in my philosophy and history courses. The texts put my abstract, unorganized thoughts into eloquent ideas. It explained things that I felt I had always known deep down in simple ways.

    While in college, I volunteered in Ghana and taught yoga to pregnant women. I worked with them one on one, with a translator, and taught them poses to help relieve pain and release tension. The women and the nurses in the clinic were very receptive and excited about what I taught.

    All I wanted was to travel, see new places, experience new cultures. I had a longing to go to Asia that I knew I would never let go of. Eventually, timing and opportunity aligned and I packed up and moved to Thailand.

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