What makes a teacher (training) great?

Last year I taught a workshop for recent teacher training grads called, “The Soul of the Teacher.”   The two hour course was part Q and A, and mostly a place for new teachers to sit, relax and be listened to. After a several long weekends of being talked to, told how, directed and lectured to —all I wanted to do was create a space to hear them. 


We sat in a circle and they shared their hopes and their apprehensions about teaching Yoga. I asked them to reflect on the best teachers throughout their lives. They spoke about elementary school teachers, a high school science teacher, a college art professor, a poetry teacher and of course some of their most influential yoga instructors. They described memories that influenced a lot of their respective career paths, artistic pursuits, and much of their sense of self worth — Many of these memories told the story of why they felt called to teach yoga now.

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Tracy Bleier
Observing Holy Days: Reflections of a Jewish Yogi

By Tracy Bleier

I am writing this from a hotel room at a Hyatt Regency in Indianapolis. Today is Rosh Hashanah. Ten or more  years ago I might have been sitting in synagogue.

I can’t remember the last time I observed the high holy days. Though, I still get that tug. That voice that says, we should be doing something. But over the years that voice has been barely heard much less has been listened to over the other demands of my life.

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On Filling Time

By Tracy Bleier

I am writing this from my kitchen table where for over an hour I swing between being a mom and learning how to be better at  “doing” business. I fail at finishing the email, the copy, and the blog I set out to do. My son called. He needs me which makes getting any work done an impossibility.  When I am not helping my son, I am fending off my tendency to be hard on myself for not getting my work done. 

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A Yoga Dad on Fatherhood: Part 1 — Learning to Surrender

By Mitchel Bleier

As a father, I hope that my kids feel like they’re allowed to be themselves and feel celebrated and accepted. That doesn’t mean that every choice they make or behavior they do is ideal, and trust me they’re not, but I ask myself, “Are mine?” Do I want to be yelled at or shamed when I do something that is the eyes of someone else is “wrong?” No. I don’t.

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To Just Listen

My son called me the other day agitated about something.

I was glad it was over FaceTime. I could see him as he paced around his room, as he waved his hands, as he put his head down or closed his eyes. We live 300 miles away from each other.

I was glad for FaceTime

By Tracy Bleier

I felt my urge to want to fix things, to reassure him, to make his pain go away. There would have been a time when I went beyond the urge—When I  stopped everything to rescue him from a  hurt; dropped off the homework he forgot so he could avoid the consequences, and later it was protecting him from other potential tribulations. 


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Do You Try Too Hard?

By Mitchel Bleier

Do I try too hard? Okay, the answer is yes. I mean no matter how much I thought I was soft or relaxed, the fact was, I was doing way too much. But that’s been changing. 

My favorite answer within a yoga context that I think is applicable to everything comes from Lorin Roche’s book Meditation Made Easy. On page 25, he asks in the context of meditating, “What Can I Do Wrong?” Such an overplayed question in my mind

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How to Recover from a Day of Donuts & Pizza in 1 Hour Without Going to a Yoga Class or the Gym

By Mitchel Bleier

Hopefully y’all understand how necessary it is to detox the body due to our environment today. EMF’s, acid rain, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, chem trails everywhere, and the list goes on. Our environment is tougher on our system than any other time. So I’ve got all sorts of things I do to stay as clean as I can, but then there’s the times when you just say screw it and have a little fun. These are the days when donuts and pizza dominate, and a little wine too! In all fairness it’s not just about having a “cheat day,” which I don’t paxticuary like calling it, since I don’t really feel like I’m cheating. This day I was celebrating.

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Why I am not an Arrogant Teacher Anymore

By Mitchel Bleier

A lot has happened to me. I guess anyone can say that since its true for all of us. Perhaps it is the act of paying attention that allows you to notice how much is happening in every moment. I know I am much clearer, cleaner, more alert and sensitive. I’m kinder, softer, and a better listener. I am more devoted and faithful. I have learned to surrender. I feel more connected to Source, the Divine, God, Nature, my Body - biology, chemistry, mystery, and miracles. My transformation, which is no more special or unique than anyone else’s transformation, brought me to my knees, humbled me, thrashed me about, tossed me, spun me, ripped at me. It was dark and then it was not. It doesn’t matter what happened to me, what matters is what it made me. Whole.

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A 'Big Easy' Change

By Mitchel Bleier

We just finished our seventh Soul School training. My dearest friend, Sean Johnson and I co-learn (as he has taught me) this 200-hour teacher training every year. It is hard to put into words what Soul School really is. Yes, it is a yoga teacher training, but it is infused with a spirit and creativity that I am not sure exists anywhere else. Partly it is New Orleans and the students who make it home. Definitely it is Sean and the brilliant ways he brings ritual, art, dance, storytelling, and of course music and yoga together. He is so spacious, loving, smart, considerate, and real. I admire him as a contemporary and as a friend. He holds together all the “sides” one might think about in yoga: the masculine/feminine, the emotional/rational, the arts/sciences, the strong/soft, the quiet/comedian, and those are just a few. I learn how to be a better person just by listening and watching him. Soul School has helped shaped the way I teach, as I’ve come to integrate the soulfulness of both New Orleans and Sean into my yoga.

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The Bio-Alchemy of Water and Yoga

By Mitchel Bleier

My yoga practice is transformed. I still get on a mat and do yoga poses, but not as much as I used to and not with the same zealous. I breathe differently. I have a new relationship with breathing then I did before. I value the power of the breath to heal. I meditate more. I am more connected to the universe energetically. In these last few years as I appeared to move “away” from yoga (teaching and practicing), I realize that I was actually moving closer to yoga. Just a different yoga then what I did and taught, and with that, the yoga the West has created. My yoga is with me, stronger than ever, and that’s how I feel on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level — stronger than ever.

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2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Here’s our Holiday Gift guide that combines the self-reflective — getting ready for New Year’s resolutions (gotta get healthy) — with the generous gift giving — can’t buy enough things thanks to Black Friday, cyber every day, green Monday, and whatever tomorrow is — mass holiday consumption. If you’re not sure what to get your yogi, biohacking, health freak husband, wife, parent, or friend, or you want to help one of them if they travel a lot or need a not so subtle hint to start making some healthy life changes then this list has got you covered. What better kind of gift is there then to upgrade someone's life? And while you’re at it but these for yourself too!

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Role Modeling

By: Mitchel Bleier

     I was watching the original Karate Kid with my 8-year old nephew the other day. Mr. Miyagi said, “There are no bad students, just bad teachers.” Woah, it made me pause and think just how important taking the seat of the teacher really is, and how little I could understand that until these last few years when I took time away from teaching. What did I know when I started teaching at 19? In some way that was a gift - my ignorance protected me from thinking I knew more or better — or worse, that I knew it all. But as I gained more knowledge and experience over the next 5, 10, even 15 years as a teacher, then that little knowledge — and let’s face it, that’s barely enough time to scratch the surface of knowing yoga/life — ended up requiring more care and caution than I knew. I’ve realized how many mistakes I made as a teacher.

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Living Is Learning (& Trying Something New)

 By: Mitchel Bleier

 If I’m not learning and doing something new, then I’m not living. It’s not like I set out each day with some goal that I’ll read a new book or develop some new skill, learn a new recipe, or anything like that. I have no plans to learn. It just happens. It’s food for me. Since I started yoga when I was 18 I have been this way. I loved learning it all, whether it was learning to meditate, learning a pose, Pali or Sanskrit, myths, starting a magazine, making a website, learning to make herbal tinctures, starting a video production company, studying biology, neurology, nutrition, somatics, Vedic astrology, Reiki - I can keep going

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It's This and That

 Years ago, I used to teach yoga in exchange for a spot in a coveted writers retreat led by my favorite writing teacher. The retreats were intimate—only six to eight writers. They were private, held at a gorgeous inn with plush beds and multiple hearths and delicious coffee. I never left those days without having some aspect of my life renewed — whether it was about my writing or how I was seeing the world. I loved that my teacher included yoga and meditation as part of her retreats. It was nice to remind other writers how much of a resource our bodies are when we remember that we live inside of one.

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Sharing The Road: Reflections on Practice, Devotion & Dedication

   Tracy sent me a blog by Eddie Stern to read. It was a beautiful blog about the purity of a tradition, in this case, the Ashtanga Yoga tradition of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, but he spoke so much more universally and with such wisdom just about the purity of a yoga practice and what that is. It’s been many years since I’ve read or thought of Eddie or what’s happening in the Ashtanga world, but throughout all my years as a practitioner, I have always admired, even idolized, what Eddie has done. He is smart, humble, a visionary, and he has dedicated himself to one thing with such devotion.

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On What Goes Noticed

I feel particularly grateful right now. I just finished teaching a stunning five days with my husband. Everything about teaching with Mitchel inspires me. It always has. I suspect that feeling is the one I speak about in class — that knowing, that underlying unmistakable message that reads I am exactly where I should be. So for the past few days, ever since I learned we would be reuniting to teach again in this new city, with new information, and with new students, I was nearly floating on gratitude. Thank you for this I think I said out loud to nobody. Thank you for this feeling.

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Why You Should Question How You Breathe

“Yoga begins with a question,” as one of my teachers said to me to begin a ten-year long mentorship. Tracy reminded me the other day that my style of teaching has always been to teach by asking students questions instead of just telling them what to do or think. She pointed this out to me after I was sharing with her things I've been learning while in my sabbatical. I've been in the mode of questioning myself versus doing what I've always done, whether that's related to the body, breathing, meditating, or eating, parenting, and sleeping.

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Yoga Poses: Old, New, or Both?

BY: MITCHEL BLEIER

     There is no definitive way to view the body’s alignment in hatha yoga. There seem to be agreements based on years of tradition, beliefs, the access to information we have, and innumerable other variables, such as our goals and expectations within the asana practice. However, all truth is dynamic, and as we discover more through the years of practicing yoga, what we end up with are new truths that weren’t available when we first began or even present.

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