5 Reasons Never Teach from the Back of the Room

Yoga’s popularity and growth knows no bound. With new studios constantly opening and yoga teacher training filling Fabebook ads.
One of the fastest growing markets of yoga is Hot Yoga classes. These classes showcase teachers who use their voice alone to guide the class. Compare this with other yoga classes where the teacher sets up their yoga mat at the front of the class and while some will teach by example the entire class, other will move from demonstrating to walking and talking, and return back the front where their mat is.

There are pros and cons to both style of teaching, however, many hot yoga teachers seem to stand at the back of the room, behind the students screaming their instructions.

Here are 5 reasons why this teaching style is not only disrespectful but also devoid of building connections with students:

1 – When someone goes to the back of the room it indicates that they are hesitant, timid, shy and insecure. Is that the feeling you wish to leave your students with?
Face your own fears and stand at the front of the room.

2 – Yoga teaching is interpersonal communication. Do you communicate with your friends by sanding behind them and talking to them? How would you feel if someone was talking to you from behind?
Standing behind someone denotes a sense of superiority and dominance. Do you wish to subconsciously communicate to your students that they are inferior to you?
By standing in front of someone you are presenting a sense of connection, interaction, and respect.

3 – teaching yoga allows both student and instructor to discover that there is something larger than their individual sense of separation. When you stand behind you only reinforce the sense of separation.  Be part of the experience of discovering that place of peace, light, love and joy and stand in front of someone facing your desire to run away.

4 – Be the mirror for your students rather than to rely their reflection in the mirror.
When you stand in front of students you are able to be a reflection for them as to their unconscious habits.

5 – What exactly are you looking at? – let’s take the downward facing dog pose for example. Standing behind someone gives you direct view of student’s ass. Compare this with standing in front of them where you have a direct viw of their shoulders. Considering that DFD pose tends to put undue strain in students shoulders, you want to quickly identify this part of the body, rather than day dreaming about something else.

This last point I find most shocking, especially since the majority of practitioners are women who wear very short clothing. I have noticed in more than one occasion that male teachers standing in the back of the room are gazing at the groin of their students in poses where the leg is raised to the sky. Considering that there are more women teaching yoga, these suggestions might never have crossed your mind, but as a male yoga teacher trainer I find that once you seat students down and show them what it looks like from an observation perspective it becomes immediately obvious to the serious disrespect that can follow with such behavior. Whether male or female you communicate more confidence, with greater respect and ability to verbally correct body positions when you stand in front of students.

Remember, you just finished yoga training, allow yourself the confidence and create a space for trust between you and your students.

Gabe Yoga is the founder of H3 Yoga, an international yoga teacher training school that empowers teachers with tools and information that inspire and build universal communities. His training method and Hot Flow (BikYasa) program have been implemented in studios all around the world, from Thailand to Europe and the USA. http://www.gabeyoga.com


Yin Yoga Training for Teachers, Students and Enthusiasts




Akasha Yoga Vacaville


Yin Yoga Training

What: Yin Yoga Training for Teachers, Students and Enthusiasts

Where: Akasha Yoga Vacaville
373 Merchant St.

When: May 17-19, May 24-26 Time: Fri 4-9pm, Sat & Sun 10-7pm

Topics: Yin Yoga history, philosophy, anatomy, insights, story telling and more…

$500—before April 1st, $600 After April 1st
$150 Individual Sat or Sun, $75 Individual Friday

Course Includes:

YinYasa E-Book, Yin Yoga Video Class, Yin Yoga Audio Class, YinYasa Flash Cards, YinYasa Poster, Osho jokes, Zen Koana, Meridian Theory & Organ function

H3 Yoga Alliance CE Certificate for YA Reg. teachers

YinYasa Yoga

The word ‘nYasa’ means:

to place together
Gabriel fused the words to
highlight how Yin Yoga poses go
together to achieve deeper
health, joint function and stability

For over 15 years, Gabriel Azoulay, an International Yoga developer, has lead trainings and workshops. His company H3 Yoga provides VinYasa, YinYasa, BikYasa teacher trainings around the world. His teachings are filled with humor, simplicity and depth from years of daily practice and enthusiastic studies. While Gabriel credits Pichet Boonthume as his major Thai Yoga influence, he credits, Tim Miller, Anthony ‘Prem’ Carlisi, Lisa Schrempp, David Deida, Vincenzo ‘Enzo’ Coribello for influencing his yoga practice, teaching and approaches to the mat. Read Gabriel’s full bio on his website http://www.gabrielazoulay.com/.


13 Primary Organs and their Meridians

Organ Gross Function Subtle Function
Kidneys They control the growth and development of bones and nourish the marrow. The body’s most important reservoir of essential energy.They are the seat of courage and willpower.
Pericardium Not Recognized in the west.It is the heart’s protective sack Protects the heart from damage and disruption by excessive emotional energies generated by the other organs, such as anger from the liver, fear from the kidneys, and grief from the lungs
Triple burner –
Not a single self–‐contained organ, but rather a functional energy system involved in regulating the activities of other organs.
Not recognized by the West.
The Upper Burner controls intake.
The Middle Burner controls transformation.
The Lower Burner controls elimination.
Regulates our consciousness.
As consciousness becomes stable our mind intent rests on being benevolent and kindhearted.
Gall bladder It secretes the pure and potent bile fluids required to digest and metabolize fats and oils.It provides muscular strength and vitality. ‘The gall bladder is daring, the heart is careful’Is responsible for making decisions and judgments, as well as providing courage and initiative.
Liver Responsible for filtering, detoxifying, nourishing, replenishing, and storing blood.Synthesizes the various forms of protein required for growth and repair of bodily tissues. Responsible for planning and creativity, as well as instantaneous solutions or sudden insights.
It is said that the Lungs are “the priest” or The Minister of Heaven and are responsible for establishing the foundation of Qi for the entire body.
The lungs are massive vessel-like organs in the chest cavity. They are the largest and most essential part of the respiration system The Lungs psycho‐emotional attributes positive are righteousness, dignity, integrity, and high self-esteem; negative attributes are disappointment, sadness, grief, despair, anxiety, shame, and sorrow.
The Lungs house the body’s are responsible for self-protection and self-preservation.
Large Intestine It controls the transformation of digestive wastes from liquid to solid state and transports the solids onwards and outwards for elimination through the rectum.It plays a major role in the balance and purity of bodily fluids and assists the Lungs in controlling the skin’s pores and perspiration. The Large Intestine relationship to the Lungs makes it equally affected by the emotions of sadness, grief, and worry.
Stomach Your stomach is a stretchy bag of muscle that is very important in digesting foodResponsible for extracting and balancing all Five Elemental Energies (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water) from foods and fluids ingested. The Stomach influences the mental state; an excess condition can agitate the mind and cause mental symptoms such as: mania or hypomania, confusion, severe anxiety, and hyperactivity.
Spleen Controls quantity and quality of blood in circulation and coordinate with the Kidneys to control fluid balance throughout the system.Directly influences and is reflected by the tone and condition of muscle tissue. Houses the body’s thoughts and intentions.Responsible for directing memories to the Kidneys for short‐term memory storage. 
The Kidneys will later transfer these memories to the Heart for long‐term memory storage.
Stomach Your stomach is a stretchy bag of muscle that is very important in digesting foodResponsible for extracting and balancing all Five Elemental Energies (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water) from foods and fluids ingested. The Stomach influences the mental state; an excess condition can agitate the mind and cause mental symptoms such as: mania or hypomania, confusion, severe anxiety, and hyperactivity.
Heart –
Houses the spirit, and controls the emotions.’
Commands all of the organs and viscera (the organs in the cavities of the body, especially those in the abdominal cavity)Dominates sleep; if the Heart is strong the practitioner will fall asleep easily and sleep soundly. Psycho-emotional attributes are love, joy, peace, contentment, propriety, insight, wisdom, orderliness, forgiveness, and courtesy.
• Its negative attributes are hate, guilt, shock, nervousness, excitement, longing, and craving.
Small Intestine Receives partially digested food from the stomach and further refines it, separating ‘the pure from the impure.’Influences the function of the pituitary gland, the ‘master gland’ whose secretions regulate growth, metabolism, immunity, sexuality, and the entire endocrine system. The ability to distinguish relevant issues with clarity before making a decision is attributed to the Small Intestine
Urinary Bladder Is responsible for storing and eliminating the urinary waste fluids passed down from the kidneys. As energy system the bladder is intimately related to the functions and balance of the autonomous nervous system.

1-2-3-2-1 – Insights into Thai and Ashtanga Yoga

In the Thai Yoga tradition there is a technique, a path toward understating.

It is not the Way, but a path to discover a direction in which the Way follows, a simple technique.

Technique is needed.

Even Van Gogh needed technique.

But the technique is not the message. It is only a tool for one to discover the Way.

The Thai technique I will describe is very simple. It has been taught for centuries, and the entire Thai Yoga Massage modality is gaining a huge popularity in the West because it is so simple, so effective. Almost like archery. Something so simple. An action so simple, yet also complex. But action that are simple, it creates many participants, many archers, individuals shooting at targets.

I must admit I am just like all other archers.

My teacher, Pichest, though is more like PO-HUN WU-JEN, the great Japanese Zen archery master. I will tell you the story of PO-HUN WU-JEN in a little bit. But first it is important to mention that I was no different than one of these archers. I sat next to my master for many days, sometimes months, but it was not until today that I understood. I always knew that ‘one, two, three, two, one’ was a great technique. I have had my insight on how it is an incredible technique to discover the beginning, the middle and the end. But today I realized that it was a return. It was a full circle remission, to the place where one begins, and where everything lies.

We make so much more of things. I made so much more of the technique.

But that is the nature of technique. You must practice it before you can surrender to it. Without practicing it, without moving into it there is no chance of discovering how to be in it without doing anything. Effortless effort one can say.

1-2-3-2-1 is how it is written in most Thai Massage manuals. When you look at it this way it is even easier to escape its subtle beauty.

That is the problem with the Way, It is so simple, so evident, it is so easy to miss it.

How else can one explain the elusiveness of experience?

Elusiveness, yes. Because if it was evident, we would be living in a different human existence, an existence of the kingdom of Heaven, to paraphrase the words of Buddha, of Jesus, of Mahavira, of Van Gogh.

1-2-3-2-1. Everything has a beginning, a middle and an end, and to return we must go through the middle before we get back to the beginning. We believe we traveled far, and yet we are back where we began.

The Zen tradition, where PO-HUN WU-JEN belongs to, is grounded in the Way. It is very simple, and yet very challenging. In Zen there is a saying: ‘before Zen, mountains were just mountains, rivers were just rivers. When one meets Zen suddenly Mountains seem more than mountains, rivers seem more than rivers. When one attains Zen, mountains return to mountains, rivers return to rivers.

Get it?

Things ARE always, and STAY always.


Let’s me share a story with PO-HUN WU-JEN. Maybe one day you will find the discourse Osho gave on this story. It will serve you while you empty your bowels. Did I say bowels?

Maybe I should say bowl.

Yeah, your bowl, your cup, it is so full, you can’t even see how full it is, yet you try and stuff it with more.

Yoga Interview II

1. How did you start on your journey to yoga?

In 1993, when I was 19 I had a conversation with my college roommate, who was older and had graduated from the University of Chicago about how Michael Schumacher, who just finished his first season as a Formula 1 driver does meditation to keep his heart rate at a low pace while driving.

That was the first time I had ever heard of meditation.

A few months later I read the book ‘Still Life with a Woodpecker’ by Tom Robins and in that book he presented a completely different perspective on meditation, one that went away from just controlling a rather complex part of our body to connecting with something larger than ourselves, and the world around us.

I wanted to know where he got that connection from just doing something physical to something almost philosophical but in a super realistic, understanding the world we live in, deeper way.

So I went to the campus library (this is 1994 now, there is no internet, no Google, no yahoo) and picked up some books on India and meditation and came home with a stack of maybe 8 books.

Most of them were thick, heavy words on the page kind of books, a few were small books with some meditation practices, and one was a purple book and the title was: Dreams of the Soul: The Yogi Sutras of Patanjali by Daniel R. Condron. It had hardly any words on each page, so I figured I might as well start with that one.

Lord knows the surprise I received.

I was always a lover of philosophy and the Sutras changed my world by making the idea of divinity an expression that is to be expienced and not something that one had to believe in the words of others.

God is not a belief but an experience. Like the sweetness of a dragonfruit, and if you have never eaten it, or seen it, you have to trust someone else.

Condron translated the first Sutra into “Yoga is finding God” which I found, at the age of 20 a challenging idea, but also so beautiful.

I finished the sutras in about an hour, and have been doing “Yoga” ever since.

Today’s ‘yoga’ is what we do on the mat, poses and such, but I did not do any poses for 3 months until I came home with the book “The Complete Yoga Book” by James Hewitt (which today I know is copy of Iyengar “Light on yoga” but with drawings rather than pictures), but it was the first time I saw Yoga Poses, and came across the idea of Meditation in Motion (which is Sun Salutations).

I had been doing meditation on the breath up until then, as described in Patanjali’s Sutras, and was excited to do Sun Salutations. I have been doing both ever since.

Today my primary practice is Ashtanga, and I sit for 20 minutes in the morning before I start my practice.
I still read the sutras every year and find new meaning in it, and I like finding new translations.


Yoga Interview

Where do you currently reside?

Wow, that is a hard question. I reside in the USA, though currently I am in between States. It is rather befitting the use of the word States, since we are all between States of awareness, and the only place to truly reside in is the Awakened State.

-As it stands I am writing these answer sitting on my mattress in the city of Leipzig, Germany where I am finishing an advanced Thai Yoga Massage course. Tomorrow I will be going to Berlin, Germany to teach a 10 day Bikyasa Yoga immersion. I was inspired to create Bikyasa Yoga through my Ashtanga and Hot Yoga practice, as well as Osho teaching and modern music inspiration.

What’s your favorite pose right now and why?

My favorite pose? Interesting. I always get my students to appreciate how they tend to have poses they like and poses they don’t like, and then to rephrase it in such a way that they realize that there is no pose we should “like” or “dislike.” Rather than moving between edges, discover the meaning behind Lao Tzu’s words: “rather than have edges, be soft, and those who find softness, find the highest place in the world.”

-None the less, since my primary practice is Ashtanga in the morning and Yin in the evening, I must admit I enjoy “saddle” tremendously right now, and maybe because I have a left ankle issue at the moment and it seems to help it.

Where is your favorite place to practice?

I love Tim Miller’s studio in CA. It is my favorite place to practice because of the respect and love I have for Tim as my teacher. I have yet to meet his equal, both in calmness, understanding, and the love his gives all his students.

-I love practicing outside as often as I can, and one of the most serene places I have practiced was over looking the waters in the Island of Iz in Croatia. Granted that is not the most accessible place for a daily morning practice, but in my traveling world, neither is Tim’s studio.

Thus I end up enjoying each morning and the sheer fact that I even get to practice. Sometimes it is in a spacious yoga room, sometimes it is in a rest stop in the USA, sometimes in a small hall way in a hotel room.


5 Poses to Increase Hip Range of Motion

by Gabriel Azoulay and Elina Sinisalo


When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” (~Lao Tzu)

What if you could let go of all the unnecessary tension in your body? The tension in your mind? The chaos in your heart? What could you become?

YinYasa Yoga teaches you to open up your body and open up your mind, expanding and transforming not just your Yoga practice but your entire life through the simple practice of letting go.  This article introduces YinYasa Yoga and a hip-opening practice inspired by Paul Grilley’s work and sequenced by Gabriel Azoulay. It is specifically aimed at improving range of motion, reducing pain, achieving postural balance, and discovering inner Stillness.

We carry so much tension in our bodies, both physically and mentally. From a biological perspective, without this tension we would not sustain life as we know it. Gravity, the major culprit to our structure, both aims to destroy us, yet allows us to enjoy the incredible experience we call life. With Gravity in mind we can appreciate how the human body is an amazing work of Art. It is made up of a strong yet mobile skeletal frame, muscles that enable movement and flexibility, and connective tissues such as ligaments and tendons, which provide stability at the joints and allow muscles to act. Naturally the make-up of our bodies extends far beyond that, but from a simple physiological standpoint, our goal is to enable optimal use and functioning of these parts.

Due to sedentary lifestyles, sleep patterns, injuries, or over-use, our bodies begin to take on less than-optimal postural habits. Today’s modern life means that some of us spend too much time sitting and working in front of computers or watching TV, and we counterbalance our inactivity with hardly any time spent moving our bodies through the full range of motion through stretching, strengthening, or actively releasing the built-up tension. Others of us take on so many sports and activities that our bodies simply can’t keep up with the demands placed on them.  The end result is an imbalance, with certain muscles getting stronger and tighter while counter muscles become weaker and underused. Repercussions echo throughout the entire body, many of which go unnoticed. Low back pain, for instance, can be a result of years of accepting minor strains and avoiding movements that challenge the spinal muscles. Consider that sitting on the floor or squatting to use the toilet engages a balance between our stomach muscles and our Spinalis group (the muscles of the spine); we enjoy the comforts of chairs and sofas and sitting toilets, but as a trade-off we lose the benefit from these natural balancing mechanisms.

Our self-restricted movements translate into a sense of inflexibility that can express itself as pain when we attempt to reach our toes. Backbends, which are literally moving away from Gravity, become a thing of the far past. We attribute our growing stiffness to the aging process, but this is just an excuse. What we really need to do is recapture our childhood and re-teach our bodies and minds the flexibility that we once knew and enjoyed. Pain-free flexibility and balance in body and mind can all be achieved through the practice of YinYasa Yoga.

YinYasa is an expression of Yin Yoga, a practice introduced to the Yoga world by Paul Grilley. The term YinYasa was coined by Gabriel Azoulay, who has spent the last 20 years communicating the physical and spiritual benefits of Yoga and its sister practices through classes, workshops, and publications. Paul Grilley’s work on the term Yin Yoga is well recognized, and a simple Google search will provide great details on both the term Yin and why it is used in reference to Yoga. We will address the quiet aspect of Yin Yoga, but first need to consider the term nYasa. Derived from the word VinYasa, which literally means “placing something on another,” VinYasa often refers to Yoga poses composed together based on the movement of the breath. It inspires us to understand that a house can only feel secure if the foundational stones are placed correctly. If even one stone is positioned incorrectly the whole structure will fall apart. Thus VinYasa refers to an intelligent sequencing of poses to achieve a greater whole. The great sage Vamana Rishi was the first to use the term in relation to the scientific work of Patanjali, who described a step-by-step path to spiritual awakening. Patanjali described an Eight-step path, which when followed in order, would enable the practitioner to arrive at their destination, much as a builder laying down stones in the right order would reap the benefits of a safe, warm, and foundationally-sound structure.

Following this simple understanding, Vamana Rishi said: “Vina VinYasa Yoga Asanadin NaKriyat” – ‘Without vinYasa, yoga poses should not be taken,’ which can be interpreted as: “Without the proper placement of poses, yoga practice should not be done.” YinYasa is the proper placement of Yin Yoga poses to achieve a greater whole, whether it is freedom in the hips, greater range of motion in the low back, or stronger knees.

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