Sunday, October 28, 2012

Yoga Alignment: Experience and Mission

I'm being considered for an affiliate faculty position with the School of Management teaching business and marketing courses at Regis University and with that there's an online preparation course. I have a couple writing assignments for the course, so I decided to have a little fun with them...and take the opportunity to throw in a little yoga.

The purpose of this essay is to assess fit between Regis and me. With the background info I provided in the essay, I hope you're able to appreciate these connections:

  1. how two seemly unrelated disciplines--yoga and the Jesuit mission--share parallel concepts
  2. how I would align my experience (i.e., work, school and yoga!) with the Regis mission as an affiliate faculty member


After Ignatius of Loyola (a.k.a. Iggy) recovered from a cannon ball injury in the Battle of Pamplona, he spent the next several years in deep meditation and wrote about his reflections on God and relationships. As a raised/practicing Catholic that is a yoga practitioner and certified yoga instructor, I have to ask—was Iggy a yogi, too?

In today’s modern society, the masses generally view yoga as a form of exercise or a workout. In Patanjali’s historical “Yoga Sutras,” the collection of aphorisms that define yoga, yoga postures are meant to be preparation for meditation. I believe Iggy practiced his own brand of yoga. He went through the “postures” or the steps that it took for him to be able to meditate deeply and ultimately act on founding the Society of Jesus (the Jesuit religious order of the Roman Catholic Church).

In the faculty preparation course content, Dr. Marie Friedemann talks about alignment. As a prospective faculty member, my discipline and philosophy of teaching adults should align with the goals and educational mission of Regis University. As it turns out, the concept of alignment runs deep in yoga. If my physical alignment is off while practicing yoga, I could potentially injure myself. If my mental alignment is off during practice, I could possibly miss the cognitive benefits of meditation. Likewise, if my philosophical alignment of teaching and mission is off while facilitating a Regis course, my class and I could miss out on realizing the characteristics that make learning/teaching at Regis unique.

I believe I can contribute to and accomplish the Jesuit Catholic mission of Regis University by integrating my professional experience and education into my teaching of adult learners in the College for Professional Studies. From my understanding, the overall purpose of Jesuit education is to form men and women for others. From my life experience, I could guide my students by example and share how this purpose has become more central in the way I perceive, think and function.

By my academic experience, I am Ivy-league educated and have obtained two Master’s degrees while working full-time. My Ivy undergraduate experience was humbling, as I lived and learned amongst “the cream of the crop” and sometimes wondered if I was at the “bottom of the barrel” when it came to understanding physical science and solving mathematical proofs--even if it was a really good barrel. My graduate experience as a two-time adult student inspires my respect for anyone willing to accept the challenge of identifying more than one priority in life and commit to learning, growing, eradicating assumptions/limitations and redefining values. Through my own academic trials, I believe I have developed the compassion to promote an atmosphere of personal concern for another adult student.

In my 12+ years of professional experience, between several great jobs I have experienced four layoffs through no fault of my own, as two companies were closed and two positions were eliminated. Each layoff made me take a step back to consider what is important in the bigger picture of my life and rethink the overall direction of my career. Because of the disruptions/layoffs, I have been given the opportunity to take an industry-agnostic approach to my marketing career and gain both b2b and b2c experience. I have also had the good fortune to work in a variety of environments—from in-house marketing teams at private companies and entrepreneurial start-ups to public corporations and marketing agencies with Fortune 500 clients. With each new job came a different team culture, varied tools/resources and a variety of logistical or technical challenges, and this helped me develop my ability to think critically and never lose sight of the bigger picture. With each role as a supervisor and team leader, I identified strengths/talents and weaknesses/opportunities for growth of my team members and guided their professional development in this context. I have been in the field long enough to realize the practical application of the theory learned from my education. I believe this professional experience would help me create for my students an awareness of career alternatives and personal adaptability to new situations throughout life.

In summary, I think Iggy was a yogi in his own right. Like him, I have had to go through the “postures” and motions of my life as a Christian, a marketer and yoga practitioner/instructor to realize a deeper purpose in my life for others. That said, I realize that it is my responsibility as a teacher—whether in yoga or in academia—to support alignment. And as a Regis affiliate faculty member in particular, the onus is on me to support and grow the alignment between the teaching/learning happening in each of my classes and the mission of Regis University.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Denver Yoga Studio Tour

To all that recently moved to Denver, I highly recommend you recruit a local yoga buddy to give you a yoga studio tour.

To all that have only seen the inside of just one yoga studio or even just one yoga style, I highly encourage you to branch out and give yourself the gift of a yoga studio tour.

My new friend Melissa D. just moved from Tampa to Denver. I took the opportunity to be her guide to yoga in Denver. Our tour of studios, instructors and styles reawakened my appreciation of the variety of yoga in my community.

Melissa isn't a complete newbie to yoga. When I met her, she had already experienced hot yoga at CorePower in Florida. I really wanted her to experience all that the Denver yoga scene has to offer.

Last week, my plan was three-fold. Melissa would check out my no-frills gym (24 Hour Fitness on Alameda Ave), take another yoga class with me and meet one of my yoga teacher training friends, Tracy M. As Tracy encouraged Melissa to explore the yoga in Denver, I smiled and Melissa explained that we were already on a yoga tour of Denver.

Locations we've hit on the tour so far:

Local studios that Tracy recommended we add to the tour:

Other studios that I'm curious about:

I could use to get back to Bikram, the yoga style I started with in 2005. This is a great time of year to do hot yoga, too. It's so refreshing to walk out of the heated studio and into the crisp autumn air. Hope Melissa's game for more touring!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Yoga Transcends Disciplines

I appreciate how writers are able to create parallels between seemingly unrelated concepts. I love and live yoga and business/marketing, so this piece easily caught my attention on my morning commute to work.

Here, a Fast Company writer was able to bridge yoga and business in her article, "Namaste! 5 Hot Leadership Lessons From The Moksha Yoga Studio." The five lessons are:

  1. Don't ask "If?"--ask "When?" and "How?"
  2. Recognize obstacles and strategically overcome them
  3. Create a solid foundation, then add finesse
  4. Don't lose sight of how far you've come
  5. Ignore those around you, they won't make your practice better
I encourage you to read the article for the major takeaway.

The writer's tag is "150 classes, 102 degrees, 1 business writer." These are numbers I can relate to after a 200-hour yoga teacher training certification, more heat and humidity than I want to measure...and the number one.

The concept of oneness resonates through the practice of yoga. After all, the Sanskrit word yoga means to join or to unite. In a yoga class, you can think of it as the joining together of spirits in the studio to form one community. In individual practice, you might think of it as the one [you] on your mat in this one present moment.

In business, I think of many parts working toward one goal. And as related to my work at Regis University on the brand marketing team, it made me think of our "One Regis Branding Together" blog about the brand study that the university embarked on in April 2012.

So that's how I've come to the conclusion that yoga and oneness can transcend disciplines.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Yoga Teaching Inspiration @ 24 Hour Fitness

Unemployment in the wintertime has lead me to snowboard a lot this week. Snowboarding has lead my body to ache a lot more than usual this week. You know where I'm going with this: snowboarding >> body aching >> hello, YOGA!

There is something casual and comfortable about practicing yoga at a gym that I really appreciate. I like the balanced mix of people wearing simply comfy-looking generic clothing and people wearing lululemon. Gym yoga classes seem to be more diverse, by demographic and by skill level. The desire to learn in these gym classes is very high. I dig that. It's good energy, don't you think?

The teacher dimmed the lights and introduced herself. What a coincidence! It was Tracy, one of my fellow CorePower teacher trainees. I had spent hours with Tracy practicing teaching and assisting during training. I liked her as a person and I liked her yoga teaching style. She always had a nurturing, motherly aura about her. Before she announced it to the class, I noticed that she is pregnant. Ah, how fitting.

Okay, confession time. Yes, I completed yoga teacher training in the summer/fall of 2008. Yes, it is 2010 and I am still not "officially" teaching anywhere. Yes, I admit, I am chicken. I should have tested out with CorePower long ago. I spend three hours a week volunteering at the studio, for goodness sake. My intention is there. My confidence has not matched that intention...yet.

Okay, Universe, I hear you, again. Of course, I spoke to Tracy after class to catch up. Tracy encouraged me to move forward with teaching. With warm words, she reminded me of the progress that I made as we practiced during teacher training. Without words, she reminded me why I joined teacher training in the first place. I know I have it in me to be a good yoga teacher. I also know that I have it in me to grow as yogi through my teaching experience, just as I have through my training experience.

And so, one of my New Years resolutions was born, to find the courage to pursue teaching yoga in 2010. Thanks, Tracy! Thanks, Universe.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Change in Yoga Trade @ CorePower Broadway Studio

Mid-summer, Lisa moved on to a new and exciting opportunity with CorePower in the northwest region. This left me without a mentor to report to for my yoga trade. I emailed Lisa for a referral, and a bit later, I was in contact with the new Broadway studio manager, Julie G.

I wrote to my non-yogi friend in excitement: "I met with the new yoga studio manager this morning! She's energetic and enthusiastic and just getting started reorganizing the workforce at the studio. I'm excited because it sounds like she plans on using me for her marketing efforts and other less-menial work. Could turn out to be a more meaningful volunteer experience than I anticipated!"

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Yoga Trade @ CorePower Broadway Studio

After Extensions, Meghan B, the studio manager at the Grant Studio, presented a yoga trade opportunity to the alumni--volunteer work at the studio for a free yoga membership.

During the busy season the studio needed support to greet and check-in students to classes. It was an opportunity to be present at the studios and learn the computer system. In January, I started volunteering once a week at the Broadway Studio under Lisa S, the studio manager.

I have to admit--at first it was completely nerve-wracking, the exact opposite of yoga! There were forty-plus people checking in for classes. Week after week, without fail, there was a challenging combination of new student registrations, complex split payments, drop-in payments and retail sales. For the first three weeks, I dreaded going in for my volunteer shift. I feared the chaos. I assumed there would be one type of transaction that I did not know how to perform in the MindBody business management system...yet, of course.

I should have remembered from training that doing things out of fear rather than love can be a painful experience! At first, my yoga trade experience was ten times more stressful than my full-time job or teaching yoga to newbies, computer programmers. Eventually, I made amends with the non-intuitive MindBody system. In addition, I got acquainted with various yoga teachers at the Broadway studio. I let go, and finally, yoga trade was able to become a positive experience for me.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Teaching Yoga @ Useful Networks

In August, I met Genie at a mutual friend's birthday party in downtown Denver. She was friendly and energetic. We met while I was deep in yoga teacher training mode. Genie is all about creating opportunity. She encouraged me to teach lunchtime yoga at her workplace, Useful Networks, once a week. The programmers could use a yoga break and I could use the teaching practice. Of course, I accepted the generous offer!

Thirty-minute classes were challenging. I needed to take these programmers away from their world of code and move them into a relaxing place for them to really experience yoga. Most of the participants were completely new to yoga. Some had practiced yoga regularly for some time. Each week, there would be some familiar faces and some new faces. Overall, I could see a general improvement and increased enjoyment over time--in my students and in myself. Over time, I felt more comfortable to play with the sequence, the music and the theme.

One of my favorite classes was my 'memories of Costa Rica' theme. To celebrate my thirtieth birthday, I traveled to Costa Rica with my family. My theme covered rainforest animals. I had my class flying like birds (in prayer twists) and swinging like a monkeys (in gorilla pose). My goals were to bring awareness to spinal movement and lengthening, and to present modifications, such as flying during revolving crescent lunge, in a playful way. The theme for this class came from a genuine place, and it felt great!