• Posted on October 23rd, 2013 Jason Crandell 7 comments

    The Practicing of Teaching Yoga

    As yoga students we’re committed to the process and concept of practicing. Even though we may slip here and there, we remember that we aren’t competing with anyone—including ourselves—when we’re on our mat. We remember that our practice is not the preparation for a scored event and we’re not on a timeline to develop postures or gain particular insights.

    And, yet, we’re committed to the spirit of practice and this means that we’re not simply resting on our laurels or going through motions. As practitioners, we’re honing our focus, deepening our self-awareness and developing our experience of embodiment. We’re repeating postures, sequences and elements of the spiritual practice in order to refine our skills. We’re also exploring our edge so that we discover what’s beyond our comfort zone.

    As yoga teachers it’s essential that we see ourselves in the same light: as teachers practicing the art of teaching. Too often, we’re overly critical of ability to convey information and inspire students. We ask our students not to be competitive or judgmental in our practice, but our inner-monologue about our own “performance” is often extremely harsh. As educators, we have to remember that we will always be honing our craft—which means we’re not always perfect and expecting as much creates unnecessary tension that causes more harm than good. We’ll continue to refine our awareness in key areas like anatomy, sequencing, manual adjustments, verbal cueing, and so on. We’ll continue to practice witnessing our students clearly and unconditionally. And, we’ll continue to develop our voice and clarify our sense of purpose—and, we’ll allow both to naturally change over time.

    As teachers, we should hold ourselves to an extremely high standard, while, at the same time, remembering that just like our students are practicing down-dog, we’re practicing the many, many layers of teaching during our classes. Even more, we need to make inner-room and allowances for the countless mistakes that we’ll inevitably make as we teach our classes—after all, we need to make mistakes and have confusion in order to grow.

    In my trainings, I encourage trainees to be proactive about the practice of teaching by listing several skills that they are currently developing. I hear teachers talk about what postures they’re working on—or see pictures and video clips—but I rarely hear what aspects of teaching and knowledge development teachers are currently working on. In order to be transparent and encourage everyone to do the same, I’ll end with my list of skills that I’m currently focused on deepening in my practice of teaching yoga. I’d love to hear what you’re working on.

    • Seeing my students’ shoulders with more clarity and accuracy.
    • Experimenting with sequencing structures that are unconventional for me.
    • Trusting that I can give less instruction from time to time and allow greater quietness.
    • Continuing to give simple, clear, accessible instructions without diluting the content.
    • Maintaining a steady tempo for longer durations in class.
    • Using my students names and giving personalized instruction in the middle of large classes.
    • Learning the names of new students more quickly.

    Jason is a contributing editor for Yoga Journal and has written over 13 articles for the magazine and website – many of which have been translated internationally (including Japan, China, Italy and Brazil). His integrative and accessible teachings support students of every background and lineage, helping them to find greater depth, awareness, and well-being in their practice – and in their lives. Follow Jason on Facebook and Twitter.


  • Posted on October 3rd, 2013 Jason Crandell 6 comments

    5 Poses I Love And Why

    Common wisdom tells you to work on the postures that bring up resistance and challenge you. Yoga apparel bags also tell you to do things that scare you each and every day. Personally, I’m okay with these sentiments—after all, there’s plenty of value in exploring the edges of your comfort zone. As a practitioner and teacher, though, I choose to emphasize the opposite—I choose to indulge the postures that I love with egregious frequency. I encourage the teachers that I train to do the exact same thing. We love the poses that we love for good reasons: they awaken us, they ground us, they soothe us, they challenge us, and they nurture our mind’s ability to focus and settle down. These 5 postures come up time and time again in my classes because I’m shamelessly enthusiastic about them.

    • URDHVA DHANURASANA – IT SOOTHES ME

    Yep, that’s right, I find urdhva dhanurasana deeply soothing. Yes, I’m aware that everyone and their cousin goes on and on about how uplifting and energizing backbends are. But, honestly, my experience is the opposite. A nice, strong urdhva dhanurasana (or 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6) actually cuts through whatever narrative my mind is engaged with, focuses my attention, and burns whatever anxiety I may be experiencing. Urdhva dhanurasana is never easy for me, but it’s always settling.

    • PASCHIMOTTANASANA – IT HUMBLES ME

    Paschimottanasana bums me out. I’m always prattling on about integrity of movement being more important than range of movement. Even though I firmly believe this, the first thought that runs through my head when I practice paschimottanasana is, “really, ugh, this is as far as I can go today?” This pose continues to reveal how judgmental I can be toward myself and provides me with the opportunity to let go.

    • PIGEON POSE – IT GROUNDS ME

    The bittersweet release of Pigeon is undeniable. While the big, tension-busting stretch in the outer hips steals the show, the posture has another component that helps produce a grounding effect: the vast majority of your body is laying on the floor when you do the posture. Sure, it’s intense for many, but the intensity is always local. The majority of the body has the opportunity to drop, release, and let go into the floor.

    • HANDSTAND – IT BALANCES ME

    There’s a saying in England that black tea wakes you up if you’re tired and quiets you if you’re unsettled. My experience of handstand is the exact same. If I need an uplifting boost of energy, practicing handstand does the trick. If, on the other hand, I’m over-stimulated 1-2 minutes in handstand grounds my energy and rebalances my mood.

    • PARIVRITTA JANU SIRSASANA – IT UNWINDS ME

    Oh, the poor side body. It can be challenging to access and rarely gets treated to elongation in day-to-day life. Even in asana practice the side-body rarely gets the TLC that the hips, shoulders, core and spine receive. Thankfully, parivritta janu sirsasana digs deeply into the side-body and wrings out tension. When I do this pose I literally have to will myself to get out of it. I want to stay there, nestle in, and take a nap.

    These are currently my top 5. How about you?

    Jason Crandell was recently named one of the next generation of teachers shaping yoga’s future by Yoga Journal for his skillful, unique approach to vinyasa yoga. Jason’s steady pace, creative sequencing, and attention to detail encourage students to move slowly, deeply, and mindfully into their bodies. Jason credits his primary teacher, Rodney Yee, teachers in the Iyengar Yoga tradition such as Ramanand Patel, and ongoing studies in Eastern and Western philosophy for inspiring to him bring greater alignment and mindfulness to Vinyasa Yoga.

    Jason is a contributing editor for Yoga Journal and has written over 13 articles for the magazine and website – many of which have been translated internationally (including Japan, China, Italy and Brazil). His integrative and accessible teachings support students of every background and lineage, helping them to find greater depth, awareness, and well-being in their practice – and in their lives. Follow Jason on Facebook and Twitter.


  • Posted on September 24th, 2013 Alice G. Walton No comments

    The Language of Yoga: Namaste

    To kick off a new series that will cover some of the more common terms we hear in our yoga practices, it seems fitting, if a little backwards, to begin with the term that most people hear at the end of every yoga class: Namaste. It’s actually become so much a part of everyday language, depending on whom you hang out with, that it’s not so uncommon to hear Namaste in everyday conversation or even to see it in an email signature or on a business card. But the term has a long and lovely history, and what’s especially important about the term is that when you look at its derivation, the three short syllables manage to encompass everything that yoga is about.

    Rolf Sovik, PsyD, the president and spiritual director of the Himalayan Institute, says that breaking down “namaste” into its parts yields a couple of different meanings, which is fairly common with Sanskrit words. “’Namaste’ is a word composed by joining two words,” he says, which are “namas and te, meaning ‘obeisance’ and ‘to you,’ respectively. The first of these two words, namas, originates from the verb root nam (pronounced “num”) which means to bow, to submit one’s self. This is a matter of heart and it implies a relationship characterized by humility and reverence.” He adds that Namas or Namah is often heard in mantras, where it encapsulates a feeling of devotion, and as such, “it helps a meditator acquire the sense of trustful surrender that is so essential to inner life.”

    The final syllable, “te,” Sovik says, translates as the pronoun “you,” but because of how the language is set up, the preposition “to you” is actually more accurate. Many mantras also bring this expression of deference to mind. “For example,” says Sovik, “in the familiar mantra ‘namah shivaya’ the sound shivaya ends with a dative case ending ‘aya’ meaning ‘to shiva.’ ‘I bow to the Infinite.’” So one way of thinking about the full translation of Namaste, says Sovik, is, beautifully, “I bow to you” or “I surrender to you.”

    The other way of conceptualizing Namaste, which is somewhat less common but also worth mentioning, is that you can also divide “namah” into “na” and “mah.” Sovik says, “the word ‘na’ has the meaning ‘not.’ ‘Mah’ means ‘me, or mine.’ In this derivation, the word namah (or namas) takes on an even more fundamental meaning—unselfishness.” This way of breaking it down is not at all at odds with the more common meaning mentioned above, and it is also extremely relevant, since yoga is so much about acknowledging the lack of separation between the self and the other.

    Sovik agrees that part of the beauty of Namaste’s meaning is that it “is suggestive of the most essential quality of spiritual life, love for the Infinite embodied in the world and people around us.” Even the physical gesture that often accompanies it underscores its intention, he points out. “It is usually uttered with palms joined at the heart and head bowed – a respectful union of action, devotion, and contemplation. As for its meaning, ‘I bow to the Divinity in you’ captures its essence.”

    Alice G. Walton, PhD is a health and science writer, and began practicing (and falling in love with) yoga last year. She is the Associate Editor at TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow.com and a Contributor at Forbes.com. Alice will be exploring yoga’s different styles, history, and philosophy, and sharing what she learns here on the YogaGlo blog. You can follow Alice on Twitter @AliceWalton and Facebook at Facebook.com/alicegwalton.


  • Posted on September 17th, 2013 Jason Crandell 11 comments

    How to Survive Teaching the Worst Class You've Ever Taught

    We’ve all had the same gut-wrenching, heart-breaking thought at some point while teaching a class: “This is not only the worst class that I’ve taught, this is the absolute worst class that has ever, ever been taught in the history of yoga.” In fact, by writing “at some point,” I’m being generous. We’ve all (yes, ALL) had this feeling more than a few times. Since you’re a consummate professional, highly trained in objectivity and managing your emotions, you probably finished class without burying your head in the bolsters or breaking into self-absorbed tears. But, honestly, what do you do with this voice—this feeling—of not quite being fully engaged or clear when you’re teaching? Well, let’s start with looking at the facts:

    • Class probably wasn’t as bad as you think

    Seriously, it probably wasn’t as bad as you think it was. Teaching yoga is a raw, vulnerable experience and sometimes you beat yourself up about it. People often talk about the importance of being authentic. What gets left out of this discussion is that being authentic means showing who you really are and expressing what you truly care about. Wearing your heart on your sleeve isn’t always easy or pleasant—especially if you feel that you aren’t communicating or engaging well. When this happens, your inner narrator may be telling you that class is much, much worse than it really is.

    • Even if class was as bad as you thought, well….

    You just taught the worst class in the history of yoga? Ok. It’s time to let it go and move on. This is what you’d tell someone else, right? If class was truly lousy, chalk it up to being human. You’re not a robot and even the most accomplished professionals have off days. If you don’t watch sports, it’s time to start in order to get some perspective. Not every top-notch pitcher throws and excellent game each outing. In fact, none of them do. And, thankfully, yoga students are infinitely more kind in the midst of an off night than football fanatics (especially if you live in Philadelphia).

    • Remember that students are having a different experience than the teacher

    Are you ready for some ego-busting news? Students are not hanging on your every word or emoted vibe. Yep, students are engaged with you but they’re also having their own experience. They are doing yoga, not just listening to you pontificate and DJ. Trust that even if you did not deliver what you feel was a million-dollar, soul-stirring class, your students got to breathe, move their bodies and have their own experience—and, they probably feel better after class than they did before.

    Here a few more things to remember when you bomb

    • You’re human and you’re teaching a live class. This means you’re going to trip over your words, feel energetically flat, forget the second side of a sequence, and mismanage your time on occasion.
    • You have the opportunity to learn and grow from your mistakes. Be as objective as possible about what didn’t work in your class and learn from it. As teachers we’re committed to growing and learning—which means that we’re not already perfect.
    • Breathe in the difficulty and emotion, then breathe it out and let go.
    • Be comforted by the fact that all teachers go through this including the most popular and most respected teachers. In fact, my advice is to get used to moments like this because they never stop—you just get better at contextualizing them and letting them go.

    Jason Crandell was recently named one of the next generation of teachers shaping yoga’s future by Yoga Journal for his skillful, unique approach to vinyasa yoga. Jason’s steady pace, creative sequencing, and attention to detail encourage students to move slowly, deeply, and mindfully into their bodies. Jason credits his primary teacher, Rodney Yee, teachers in the Iyengar Yoga tradition such as Ramanand Patel, and ongoing studies in Eastern and Western philosophy for inspiring to him bring greater alignment and mindfulness to Vinyasa Yoga.

    Jason is a contributing editor for Yoga Journal and has written over 13 articles for the magazine and website – many of which have been translated internationally (including Japan, China, Italy and Brazil). His integrative and accessible teachings support students of every background and lineage, helping them to find greater depth, awareness, and well-being in their practice – and in their lives. Follow Jason on Facebook and Twitter.


  • Posted on August 27th, 2013 Jason Crandell 15 comments

    In Praise of Flowing More Slowly

    Choosing to slow down is a radical decision. And, like most things, slowing down and paying attention takes practice. When it comes to yoga, I wholeheartedly believe that different people need different degrees of intensity and pace to feel grounded and content. That said, like every other aspect of modern culture, the trend over the past 15 years in asana practices has been to go faster and faster. Even in vinyasa-based practices the landscape has shifted so much that 5 deep breaths in a posture seems overly indulgent. The quickest moving vinyasa practices a decade ago are now the slowest. Here’s why going a touch more slowly—especially if you’re a vinyasa practitioner—will deepen your practice and benefit your students.

    • Moving slowly builds more strength than moving quickly

    Your muscles have to work intensely when you transition slowly and sustain postures. Your muscles work less when you rely on constant momentum. If you have any doubt about this try a simple experiment: Spend 5 slow breaths moving from plank to chatturanga; then, spend .5 breaths moving from plank to chatturanga. Observe which one is harder and more likely to build strength and power.

    • Moving slowly honors your breath

    Ask 100 vinyasa teachers what the most important aspect of the practice is and 100 of them will tell you it’s the breath. Yet, many classes move at a pace that rushes the breath. There’s a dissonance between what we may say is the most important thing and what the practice allows for. Flow, yes, flow, but flow at a pace where each inhalation and exhalation can be full, deep, and unrushed.

    • Moving slowly balances the nervous system and focuses the mind

    A strong, fluid, dynamic asana practice does not need to be rushed. In fact, most of us spend so much time rushing here to there and multi-tasking that moving more slowly and mindfully provides a much-needed rebalancing of the nervous system.

    • Moving slowly helps you savor the journey

    How many times have you driven for hours to arrive at a destination and realized that you can’t remember anything about the journey? There’s a pacing “sweet spot” where your body gets an intense workout and your mind fully engages with your experience. If you move too quickly, you may have a good, valuable practice, but your body and mind are less likely to learn and engage with the process along the way.

    • Moving slowly decreases the risk of injuries and deepens the practice

    The biggest set-back that most practitioners encounter is having an injury. To be fair, there are many ways to injure yourself on and off the mat. But, the quickest route to injury on the mat is moving at a pace that is too fast to pay attention to the sensations that are present and manage them with skillful alignment and modifications. Rushing to get somewhere in your practice invariably has the opposite affect.

    Jason Crandell was recently named one of the next generation of teachers shaping yoga’s future by Yoga Journal for his skillful, unique approach to vinyasa yoga. Jason’s steady pace, creative sequencing, and attention to detail encourage students to move slowly, deeply, and mindfully into their bodies. Jason credits his primary teacher, Rodney Yee, teachers in the Iyengar Yoga tradition such as Ramanand Patel, and ongoing studies in Eastern and Western philosophy for inspiring to him bring greater alignment and mindfulness to Vinyasa Yoga.

    Jason is a contributing editor for Yoga Journal and has written over 13 articles for the magazine and website – many of which have been translated internationally (including Japan, China, Italy and Brazil). His integrative and accessible teachings support students of every background and lineage, helping them to find greater depth, awareness, and well-being in their practice – and in their lives. Follow Jason on Facebook and Twitter.


  • Posted on July 31st, 2013 Jason Crandell 1 comment

    How to Teach Transitions

    Transitions in yoga—and life—can be choppy, unstable and erratic. As yoga practitioners this is good news because it gives us something to practice. Since I love the nuances of postures, I admit to getting swept away with the details of Virabhadrasana 2 and Ardha Chandrasana while rarely telling my students the finer points of moving from one to the other. But, after noticing the tumult that occurs in transitional movements, I know that they deserve more TLC than they receive in most of my classes. My guess is that you may feel the same.

    Here are some basic concepts to work with and a few transitions to explore.

    Basic concepts

    • Slow down

    Slowing the movement between postures helps you notice the subtleties involved. In particular, you’ll observe what muscles have to engage in order to maintain your balance as you make your transitions. I encourage you to take an extra 2 or 3 breaths in your transitions on occasion—especially in the more accessible transitions like those between your standing postures.

    • Pick transitions as your theme

    Focusing on transitions may change the pace of your class—especially if you mind the advice of slowing things down. A skillful way of doing this is to simply make it the theme of your class on occasion. You can even let your students know that transitions will be your theme and you’d like the to pay particular attention to these movements.

    • Focus on the transfer of your weight

    The key to making a skillful transition is to focus on the movement of your weight. This will help you counterbalance your body where its necessary. Essentially, you want to limit the weight of your body from moving too quickly in any one direction. Bringing your attention to your core (specifically, your pelvis and lower belly) is usually the most effective way to tune into your weight as it is transitioning.

    • Exhale

    Most—not all—transitions are done on the exhalation. Remember, your muscles are usually contracting more strongly between the postures (when moving slowly) than they are in the postures. It’s hard to take a decent inhalation when your body is more tensile. You can, however, take a nice, long exhalation through the course of most transitions. Exhaling during transitions may also help you settle and focus your attention.

    Transitions to explore in your practice & class

    • Warrior 2 to Half Moon Pose—and back

    This is such an important set of transitions because it’s common and accessible—and, even more, it lays the foundations for transitions between all of your standing postures. The key point when moving from Warrior 2 to Half Moon is to place your bottom hand on the floor or block and step your back foot much closer to your front foot before taking off. Once you do this, simply lean weight forward so is split between your bottom arm and standing leg. The key to transitioning back to warrior to is to slow your movement down by continuing to lean the weight of your upper-body into your standing leg and arm while you very slowly step your top leg back to the mat.

    • Jumping from Down Dog to Standing Forward Bend

    There are two keys to making this transition more graceful and effective. The first is to wait until the exhalation is nearly complete before jumping. The second is to engage your core. In fact, waiting for your exhalation to be nearly over will help you engage your core. This process allows you to control the weight of your pelvis as it shoots forward. To be fair, strong shoulders and flexible hamstrings also make this movement much easier.

    • Malasana to Bakasana

    This transition focuses on transitioning your weight from your feet to your hands. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. Students often make the mistake of trying to lift their feet up in the posture, but the real transition here is forward not up. From a deep squat with your hands on the floor, focus on shifting your weight from your feet forward into your hands. Instead of having your students do bakasana only once and stay as long as possible, have them practice moving in and out of the pose 5 or 6 times in a row while focusing on the transitions involved.


  • Posted on July 17th, 2013 Jason Crandell 6 comments

    Teaching Tips for Deeper, Healthier Twists

    Twists unwind the spine, awaken the core, and release tension from the outer hips and shoulders. They also tend to get less attention than their glamorous cousins—backbends and arm-balances—when it comes time for instructions. Here’s a step-by-step guide that will ensure you and your students maximize the benefits of these sublime postures.

    • Initiate the postures by rotating your pelvis

    It’s essential for your pelvis and spine to move congruously in all postures. Losing a balanced, integrated relationship between the pelvis and spine often leads to back strain. In order to keep your pelvis and spine synchronized in twists, initiate the rotation of your spine by first rotating your pelvis slightly in the direction of the twist. For example, if you’re doing revolved triangle pose with your right foot forward, it’s a good idea to slightly rotate the pelvis to the right before you encourage the spine to continue into the twist.

    • Lengthen your spine

    Lengthening your spine decompresses the intervertebral disks and provides you with greater range of motion. It also provides you with a good baseline postural position for your muscles to work efficiently. Remember that in seated twists, the pelvis needs to be positioned to allow for the lumbar to be in it’s natural curve in order to lengthen the spine. If you or your students have tighter hips and hamstrings, this may mean sitting on a block.

    • Engage your abdominals and lift from your navel (internal lever)

    Poses can be practiced different ways at different times for different reasons. And, in fact, you can choose to twist without engaging your abdominals. However, your default setting in twists should include engaging your abdominals. By gently recruiting the abdominal muscles you will help maintain the natural curves of the spine and gain greater leverage in the twist. In addition to facilitating stability and rotation, these actions help wring out tension from the abdominal region and may help stimulate digestion.

    • Broaden the back-body

    One of the great benefits of twisting is that it alleviates general back discomfort. Emphasizing the broadness of the back-body does just this by releasing deep-seated tension in the muscles of your back. For example, if you’re doing a seated twist to the right, bring your direct your awareness and breath into the left side of your back. The left side of your back will lengthen, widen, and receive an opening stretch. This will lead to greater depth in your twist and relief in your back.

    • Use your arms and legs

    The majority of the rotation that occurs in twists is produced from pressing your arm or hand against the opposite leg.

    You can think of this connection as your external lever. As with all force applied to the body, it is essential that this leverage is moderate and does not over-ride the reasonable twisting capacity of your spine. In short, remember that the connection between the arm and opposite leg has incredible potential and that you should use this leverage responsibly.

    • Rotate your spine congruously

    Each region of your spine has a different degree of potential rotation based on its anatomy. The neck has the greatest potential for rotation, while the thoracic spine has only a modest ability to turn and the lower-back has very little twisting capacity. However, the feeling of rotation in your spine should be congruous. Twists should feel like spiral staircases look—like there is a central plumb-line and each vertebrae is rotating the exact same degree. Of course, this is not anatomically accurate since the various vertebrae are rotating differently according to their structural disposition. But the sensation of rotation should be even from top to bottom.

    Jason Crandell was recently named one of the next generation of teachers shaping yoga’s future by Yoga Journal for his skillful, unique approach to vinyasa yoga. Jason’s steady pace, creative sequencing, and attention to detail encourage students to move slowly, deeply, and mindfully into their bodies. Jason credits his primary teacher, Rodney Yee, teachers in the Iyengar Yoga tradition such as Ramanand Patel, and ongoing studies in Eastern and Western philosophy for inspiring to him bring greater alignment and mindfulness to Vinyasa Yoga.

    Jason is a contributing editor for Yoga Journal and has written over 13 articles for the magazine and website – many of which have been translated internationally (including Japan, China, Italy and Brazil). His integrative and accessible teachings support students of every background and lineage, helping them to find greater depth, awareness, and well-being in their practice – and in their lives. Follow Jason on Facebook and Twitter.


  • Posted on July 2nd, 2013 Jason Crandell 6 comments

    What We're Teaching When We're Teaching Yoga

    I’ve left more classes than I can remember asking myself a big, broad cascade of questions that I’ve only recently been able to answer. All of the questions came from one that seemed simple: what—I would wonder—am I teaching students during class? The obvious answer is that I’m teaching them yoga, but, in a modern context, what does this really mean? I’d leave class, reflect on what transpired, and think to myself, “am I really just a group exercise instructor?” Am I a pop psychology guy trying to help people respond to their stuff with greater compassion and clarity? Am I scholar of yoga trying to teach and share my personal process? Am I some sort of life coach? Even more, I’d ask myself, “are any of these things really yoga as far as traditional definitions are concerned?”

    I’m certain that all teachers ask themselves similar questions. After all, the fundamental question that all yogis ask themselves is, “who am I.” Over the years, I’ve come to think that there are 3 buckets of content that we’re teaching when we’re teaching yoga. Of course, the way we interpret and teach aspects within these categories varies according to different styles and teachers.

    • The skill of self-awareness and embodiment

    As yoga teachers we help our students use their body more skillfully, breathe more efficiently, and witness their mind with greater clarity and objectivity. There are countless ways that we do this in each class—and students learn incrementally over time. So, whether you’re teaching down-dog, teaching a specific action in triangle pose, asking your students to witness their thinking mind, or helping your students orchestrate their breath and movement, you’re contributing to their ability to be self aware and embodied.

    • The skill of self-care

    The ability to observe the needs of your body, breath, mind and heart is a set of skills. And, like all skills, they can be improved upon, but improvement requires practice. Whether we acknowledge it or not, the bottom-line in our yoga practice is that we are taking care of ourselves. Whether you want to think in terms of “big Self,” “small Self,” “temporary self” or “permanent, transcendent Self,” we’re taking care of (the many layers) of self when we practice. We are taking care of our body and we are taking care of our psychological and spiritual well-being. Everything we do in our practice can be regarded in this light.

    • The subject matter of yoga

    The last bucket of content that we’re teaching when we’re teaching yoga is the subject of yoga. Yoga is an enormous body of work that includes various philosophical paradigms, ethical considerations, postures and techniques, breathing practices, meditation practices, spiritual teachings and allegories, linguistics and more. We are using the practice to facilitate embodiment, inquiry, and wellbeing (the buckets above), but we would be remiss to not also teach aspects of the subject itself. For some teachers this process is more overt. For example, they will give a basic talk about a philosophical component or ethical precept like ahimsa and weave it as a theme throughout class. For other teachers, the process of teaching the subject matter of yoga is more subtle and it may be as simple as including the Sanskrit names of postures when they teach. However we teach specific elements of the tradition of yoga, it’s essential to remember that yoga is a subject matter and we are helping students understand its components.

    Jason Crandell was recently named one of the next generation of teachers shaping yoga’s future by Yoga Journal for his skillful, unique approach to vinyasa yoga. Jason’s steady pace, creative sequencing, and attention to detail encourage students to move slowly, deeply, and mindfully into their bodies. Jason credits his primary teacher, Rodney Yee, teachers in the Iyengar Yoga tradition such as Ramanand Patel, and ongoing studies in Eastern and Western philosophy for inspiring to him bring greater alignment and mindfulness to Vinyasa Yoga.

    Jason is a contributing editor for Yoga Journal and has written over 13 articles for the magazine and website – many of which have been translated internationally (including Japan, China, Italy and Brazil). His integrative and accessible teachings support students of every background and lineage, helping them to find greater depth, awareness, and well-being in their practice – and in their lives. Follow Jason on Facebook and Twitter.


  • Posted on June 18th, 2013 Jason Crandell 3 comments

    5 Ways to (re)Inspire Your Practice and Teaching

    We all get stuck in a rut from time to time—even yoga teachers. In fact, the question that comes up most frequently in the group of teachers that I mentor is, “how do I keep my practice and teaching fresh?” After all, it’s hard to inspire and connect with your students when you’re feeling stale. The first thing to do is remember this: all relationships, vocations, and passions go through different phases, and, feeling a little lackluster from time to time doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you or your relationship to yoga. So, don’t go crazy if your practice and teaching feel stagnant—you probably just need to experiment a little and get back to what matters most.

    • Recommit to your practice

    If you sat down and listed all the variables that led you to you teaching yoga, you’d run out of ink before you ran out of reasons. One reason, however, would outshine the rest: you fell in love with your yoga practice and, even more than you wanted to share that love, you wanted to deepen and retain it for yourself. And, maybe, just maybe, you’ve gotten away from your practice. If you’ve strayed from your practice don’t think to yourself “I need to practice more.” Just go practice more! Maybe this means taking a different class, doing a different home practice at a different time, or exploring meditation and pranayama. Maybe it is as easy as it sounds: your practice is right there waiting for you—go enjoy it.

    • Change your pace

    One of the best elements of your practice to change from time to time is the pace. Changing the pace of your practice changes the rhythm of your breathing and the overall feeling tone of your experience. If you like a slower flow consider getting the lead out for a few days. If your practice resembles a spin class, consider applying the breaks and slowing things down for a little while. Changing your regular cadence tends to reveal different sensations and produce an experience that may be different enough to re-inspire you and your students.

    • Experiment with a different pose

    Pick up your worn and torn copy of Light on Yoga, flip around until you find a pose or two that you haven’t tried in a few years (if ever), and experiment with it. Deconstruct its’ elements and figure out how to create a sequence for you and your students.

    •  Take a break from your staples

    Honestly, there are days when I’d rather stab myself in the eye than teach chatturanga and upward-facing dog. As a vinyasa-based instructor this can be difficult, but, since I’m completely averse to losing an eye, I don’t teach those poses that day. Instead, I change my routine to exclude these postures and include different things like longer-held planks, locust variations and cobra. I’m always a little fearful to drop poses that are feeling overly rote for me, but leaving these poses off the menu for a day (or a week) varies my sequencing and always leads to something interesting that I hadn’t explored in a while. Even more, it tends to re-engage my students who are just as happy to have the occasional change of pace.

    •  Reconnect with your “big picture”

    If you could teach your students one thing, what would it be? If you don’t teach, what is the deepest, most valuable lesson or value that your practice has given you? Chances are that if you’re feeling stale you’ve gotten disconnected from your answer. We all get carried away from what matters most on occasion. Try spending 5 to 15 minutes in seated meditation with this question in mind and observe what comes up. My guess is that your answer will be a simple, deep guiding principle. Reconnecting and recommitting to this guiding principle will re-energize your practice and teaching right away.

    Jason Crandell was recently named one of the next generation of teachers shaping yoga’s future by Yoga Journal for his skillful, unique approach to vinyasa yoga. Jason’s steady pace, creative sequencing, and attention to detail encourage students to move slowly, deeply, and mindfully into their bodies. Jason credits his primary teacher, Rodney Yee, teachers in the Iyengar Yoga tradition such as Ramanand Patel, and ongoing studies in Eastern and Western philosophy for inspiring to him bring greater alignment and mindfulness to Vinyasa Yoga.

    Jason is a contributing editor for Yoga Journal and has written over 13 articles for the magazine and website – many of which have been translated internationally (including Japan, China, Italy and Brazil). His integrative and accessible teachings support students of every background and lineage, helping them to find greater depth, awareness, and well-being in their practice – and in their lives. Follow Jason on Facebook and Twitter.


  • Posted on June 4th, 2013 Jason Crandell No comments

    How to Feel at Home in Your Body When on the Road

    Summer travel is upon us. And, for some of you, this means a decrease in the in the quality and consistency of your practice. After all, travel shifts your routines and easily disrupts the rhythm of your practice. Yet, the value of practicing while we’re on the road can’t be over-stated. Maintaining your practice while you’re traveling—especially when you’re out of your time zones—can help reduce the physical stress of travel, improve the quality of your sleep and digestion, and help settle your body and mind into your new location. And, to be honest, it’s not very difficult. All you need to do is adjust your expectations and have a plan for practicing in your new environment. Here’s how to make yourself feel at home in your body when your away from home.

    • Adjust your expectations

    Whether you’re traveling for business, pleasure or both, travel changes your daily schedule. When your schedule changes you may be inclined to throw in the towel and skip practicing all together—especially if you’re used to a longer, more thorough practice. If this sounds like you, then it’s time to modify your expectations. Consider your practice while on the road to simply be maintenance. You don’t skip brushing your teeth while you’re traveling even though you may be using a lousy toothbrush. And, it’s still worth it, right? We’ll the same goes for your practice. 10-20 minutes at the very beginning or end of your day may be enough to keep your body in basic balance.

    • Soothe your nervous system

    Some people are deeply grounded, even keel, unflappable specimens. The rest of us, need help staying grounded and focused when the environment changes—especially if you’re in a new, stimulating place. One of the most essential things to orient your practice around when you’re on the road is keeping your nervous system from being over-stimulated. Practicing head-supported forward bends and inversions while lengthening your exhalations may help keep you more focused and calm.

    •  Unwind your tight spots

    If you’re traveling for business and you’re cooped up for hours in meetings, it may be wise to focus on shoulder, neck and upper-back opening. If you’re pounding the pavement from dawn to dusk while you tour a city, practice hip, hamstring, quad, and calf openers. It stands to reason that there will be some distinct activity—or distinct lack of activity—that you’re engaged in while you’re away from home. Listen to your body and create a simple practice that focuses on whatever it needs to feel more comfortable at the end of the day.

    • Rearrange your room and improvise props

    Whether in a budget room or a decimate-the-budget room, I can rearrange my temporary quarters to resemble a halfway decent yoga studio in less than 10 minutes. Don’t travel with a bolster (no, of course you don’t because you’re not crazy)? That’s okay, you can remove the seat or couch cushion and cover them with a towel. Want a smaller bolster? Roll up 2 or 3 pillows in a towel. Forget your strap? Grab the belt from the robe in the bathroom. Didn’t bring your mat? Lay a towel on the floor and do seated postures. Is the couch, table and chair blocking your potential practice space? Move them! Setting up space in the majority of hotel rooms is easier then you think—and, I’ve travelled extensively in Japan, so trust me on this one. If you clear some space and unroll your mat, who knows, maybe you’ll have a killer practice in the middle of the night while in the throes of jet-lag.

    Jason Crandell was recently named one of the next generation of teachers shaping yoga’s future by Yoga Journal for his skillful, unique approach to vinyasa yoga. Jason’s steady pace, creative sequencing, and attention to detail encourage students to move slowly, deeply, and mindfully into their bodies. Jason credits his primary teacher, Rodney Yee, teachers in the Iyengar Yoga tradition such as Ramanand Patel, and ongoing studies in Eastern and Western philosophy for inspiring to him bring greater alignment and mindfulness to Vinyasa Yoga.

    Jason is a contributing editor for Yoga Journal and has written over 13 articles for the magazine and website – many of which have been translated internationally (including Japan, China, Italy and Brazil). His integrative and accessible teachings support students of every background and lineage, helping them to find greater depth, awareness, and well-being in their practice – and in their lives. Follow Jason on Facebook and Twitter.