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All posts by Jason Crandell

20 Insights to Set You Up as a Successful, Skillful, Happy(!) Yoga Teacher

Before we get to the post, a quick, shameless plug for my upcoming trainings. You can join me live at my 500-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in San Francisco, London, or Hong Kong. I also have three separate online teacher trainings, focusing on arm balances & inversions, sequencing, or anatomy.

The phrase, “teachers learn from their students,” is even more salient when your students are seasoned teachers themselves. Recently, my Advanced Teacher Training module in London was drawing to a close, and I asked the more experienced members of the group–many of whom have been teaching for years–to share one piece of advice to the aspiring teachers in the room. As the trainees started answering, I realized that we needed to document and post the conversation. For some of you, this advice for yoga teachers will be new pieces of wisdom that you can apply to your teaching. For others, they will be a nice confirmation and reminder of what you already know. Either way, I truly believe that these insights will help make you a more skillful, successful, and satisfied teacher.

If you’d like to join this brilliant group of students to deepen your practice and advance your teaching, there are a few spots in my next two 100-hour modules in London! I had a great time teaching the first module — there’s nothing I enjoy more than engaging with bright, inquisitive students. I always learn so much and it’s a thrill to see people grow into themselves. I would love to see you there. (Dates are August 5th-18th, 2015 and January 15th-28th, 2016) Click here for all the details.

Advice for Yoga Teachers from Those Who Have Been There

On being true to yourself:
Michael Hoyer
1. “Learn what you need to do hold the space energetically and vocally. It’s a disservice to yourself if you are meek, too quiet, or apologetic about perceived failings. Be a conductor of that symphony of bodies. Move around the room and let students hear and feel your presence.”
Michael Hoyer, USA

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Essential Sequence: Quick Hip Openers

This sequence focuses on stretching the muscles around the whole circumference of the hip joint. It’s great for relieving tension that can accumulate from long periods of sitting or standing and it’s also incredibly grounding. I like to do it after traveling or just at the end of a long, intense day. Spend 5-10 breaths in each pose (or longer if you’d like) and do both sides before moving to the next pose.

You’ll notice that the sequence ends with Lotus Pose. Lotus is a beautiful pose and one that many of us pine for. But I promise you that doing Lotus does not make you a better person or a better yogi and, if you force your way into the pose, you will feel physically terrible afterward. Surely this is not your goal after asana practice! My point is, if you are naturally very open or are familiar with the pose, feel free to finish with Lotus. If not, then it’s just as valuable to end in Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus) or with your legs crossed in Sukhasana (Easy Pose) and your attention drawn inward. (And for more hip opening, here’s a full sequence that specifically focuses on building up to Lotus.)

Yoga for Hips Sequence

quick hip opening yoga sequence | Yoga for Hips Sequence | Jason Crandell Vinyasa Yoga Method

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{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}

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Essential Sequence: Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar B)

After a few rounds of Surya Namaskar A (here’s your refresher on that sequence if you’re unfamiliar), you’ll be warmed up and ready to move through the sequence below, Surya Namaskar B. For the B variation, you’ll fire up your legs in Utkatasana AKA Chair or Fierce Pose and you’ll add the strong standing pose, Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I).

Once you establish a rhythm and familiarity with this sequence, you can start to create targeted sequences by adding poses after Warrior I. If you want more specific guidance about how to best sequence for peak poses and how to stretch and strengthen your body safely and effectively, check out the online sequencing course that I offer through YogaGlo.

For all Sun Salutations, it’s essential that you breathe in and out through your nose and elongate your breath. Try to imagine that your breath leads the movement; it’s what compels you to move through each pose. Follow the breath cues below, staying for five full breaths in your third Downward Dog before you jump forward to Uttanasana. Build up to 5 rounds of Surya Namaskar B, dropping your knees to the ground if you need to in Chaturanga.

Surya Namaskar B | Sun Salutation B | Jason Crandell Yoga Method

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{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}

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Essential Sequence: 30-Minute Whole Body Sequence

There are days when we want to work toward a peak pose, and there are other days when we’re not sure what to do with our bodies. On those days, I always find it’s most helpful to do an all-around balanced, whole body yoga sequence: One that stretches and strengthens all the different regions of the body, that works the front body, back, and side body, and that allows me to turn upside down, even if only for a 5-10 breaths.

Not only are these types of whole body yoga sequences physically balancing, they are often incredibly soothing to the nervous system.

To encourage this effect, I invite you to spread your attention evenly throughout your whole body as you do each pose in the yoga sequence below. Instead of focusing on the part of your body that feels the biggest sensation or stretch — which, by the way, can be a very valuable technique for focusing attention during asana practice — try to give all the different parts and pieces of the pose the same amount of attention. Let the shapes of the poses spark genuine curiosity in you — check in to what the back leg is doing in Warrior II or what the fingers are doing in Triangle Pose. By cultivating this type of attention, you’ll create a wonderful sense of soothing equanimity in your attention, in your nervous system, and in your poses.

Whole Body Yoga Sequence

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{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}

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Essential Sequence: Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar A)

Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutations, are the quintessential yoga warm-up sequence. They combine deep breathing with flowing movement, they stretch the entire front and back of the body, and they build strength, too.

There are several variations of Sun Salutations; we thought we’d start with the most basic, which is version “A” in the yoga canon, or Sun Salutation A.

See also Essential Sequence: Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar B)

Sun Salutation A: How To

Before you begin, spend a few breaths in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Notice how your feet feel in contact with the earth — is there more weight on one foot than other? On the front of the foot or the back? Continue to scan your attention all the way up the body, observing the sensations that arise.

Let this inward drawn attention help you start to deepen your breath. Do a total of five rounds of Sun Salutations, synching each movement to your breath and staying in Downward-Dog for five breaths.

On days when you don’t have time for a long practice, this powerful package of poses can quiet your mind while boosting your energy and give you just the amount of stretch and activation you need to have a calm, productive day.

Sun Salutation A Sequence | Surya Namaskar A | Jason Crandell Yoga Method

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{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}

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