This is an article posted on Practise Wellness:
Modern Yogis – Clara Roberts-Oss
By Krys Hansen
I may be a yoga teacher but there are days when I just want to follow someone’s else’s lead for my yoga practice… Which is why I love online yoga studios such as My Yoga Online, and Be More Yogic.
It was using My Yoga Online that I discovered Clara’s classes and I just fell in love with the strong and playful sequencing. Her classes are challenging, and the transitions are often creative. It wasn’t too long before her classes were the only ones I had saved to my watch list. I am so excited to be featuring her as a Modern Yogi as I believe her playful and yet spiritual approach to the practice is the perfect approach in our society.
How long have you practiced yoga, and how did you start?
I studied dance in school but didn’t appreciate the competitive nature of the dance community. I’ve always felt that dance was my way of communing with the Divine. A good friend found the Jivamukti Yoga studio in NYC and thought I would love it, which I did. It was all the aspects of dance that I loved minus the competition. That was 13 years ago.
Share three lessons yoga has taught you.
Just three? The practice has taught me so much!
Be kind to yourself. Let go of judgements because it doesn’t serve or make it any easier.
Less is more. This has been a big one for me. On a physical level, learning to move from my energetic body versus my physical body has been transformational. Exert less energy and all of a sudden you’re more grounded, feel less fatigued and the practice is much more meditative. Off the mat, when you exert less you are able to observe more. You’re able to step back and see the bigger picture easier–so that means being less reactive and more responsive. It’s been a game changer! Mind you, it’s always a work in progress.
Stay inspired. Do things on/off the mat that truly uplift you because guess what? It’s all yoga. All things can give you a deeper connection to the yourself and Self, if your intention is clear. I used to think it was just what happened when I was on my mat but not anymore.
How often do you practise?
Asana? Four times a week depending upon how much I’m teaching. If I have a full schedule (16-20 classes a week) then I practice asana less, to conserve energy. I do more pranayama and meditation to even it out. I try to do something daily to connect to myself and Self.
Do you meditate?
Yup! One of my favorite things to do. Gets me grounded and clear.
What do you find most challenging about yoga or meditation?
Making the time when I’m traveling. It’s harder to maintain the routine when you’re in transit.
Your favourite yoga pose and why.
Ooooh, this changes every 3-6 months. Right now, it would be halasana/ plough. It’s been great for taking my awareness inside. My back body has also been asking for a lot more opening lately.
Name one book that changed your perspective.
Hmmm… again a tough one. There have been so many. What I’m rereading right now and LOVING is Paths to God by Ram Das. It’s his lectures on the Gita at the Naropa Centre. A ton of gems in there.
The other book that comes to mind is, Tantric Quest by Daniel Odier. I found this to be the most comprehensive book on Tantra. After reading it, I was able to go back to the other books on Tantra and have a better grasp of them.
Best piece of advice?
Stay open, let go of preconceived notions of yourself, what the practice is suppose to be about and life, in general. The surprises and the ‘ah has’ come when you let go of expectations. The hard part, it’s easier said then done.
During my vinyasa trainings, people have asked me for advice. I thought I would share it with you too
A few things to chew on as a new vinyasa yoga teacher….
1)Keep it simple.
Keep everything you do while you teach as simple as possible, your sequence, your language, your music. You are learning a new language, learn the nouns, verbs and such before you jump into conversational yoga. You will appear more confident with your students and they are more likely to trust you.
Speak even slower than you think you should. New teachers are excited about sharing what they’ve learned and that excitement tends to make them nervous and that nervousness tends to speed up the cuing, the breathing and soon enough people are moving so quickly there’s no way they can be breathing with integration. Breathe with your students, speak painfully slow—usually that makes you speak normally, versus very quickly. Schylar Grant offered using a metronome at home to practice speaking slowly. Carolyn Budgell recommends recording your voice and listening to it. I recommend taping your foot quietly or using the beats in the song to give you a sense of timing. The important thing is, be conscious of your speaking speed, it is a large part of what creates the Bhavana (mood) of the class.
2) Have patience and compassion towards yourself.
The first few years are hard. You are going to make mistakes and people are going to give you attitude. Try not to be hard on yourself or your students. Learn from your mistakes and trust in the process and know that it gets easier.
3) Get off your mat as soon as possible.
As a new teacher, it’s fine to practice the sequence with your students but ween yourself off the mat as soon as possible. You are more useful to your students if you’re watching them. This is why I encourage new teachers to have simple sequences, so that they don’t need to be doing it with the class in order to remember it. Elaborate sequences may seem cool but does it ultimately serve the students if their teachers are paying more attention to remembering the sequence than watching them?
4)Own the space.
Be loving yet hold your ground. This is your classroom, be confident in the choices you make with lighting, temperature, music. This one was especially hard for me to learn. I started teaching very young. Older women liked to give me hard time by complaining about the music, the temperature and talking in class. They were some of my greatest teachers. They taught me how to stand my ground, believe in my choices as a teacher or change them if need be. Which leads me to…
5)Your students can be your greatest teachers.
Observe who triggers you in class. They are usually either echoing something about yourself that you don’t like or are not proud of. For me, those women where echoing my own feelings of self worth. Who was I to teach people? What did I have to offer? Observe what arises with those students and silently thank them for the lesson. Try and stay compassionate towards them and yourself while in the room. Then work with the triggers by meditating or talking to a therapist/friend about it.
6)Develop a consistent home practice.
This is going to feed you, especially during times of stagnation in your teaching. Your home practice is not a time when you’re developing your class sequences, I like to think of it as my upkeep. I do the poses and pranayama that my body really needs for the day. It doesn’t look like a vinyasa practice, it’s more therapeutic. It changes daily depending upon what I need and how I’m doing.
7)If you do nothing else in your own time, MEDITATE.
This was a game changer for me. I was initiated into a few years back into Neelakantha Meditation practice and had to pledge to sit 20 min every day for a year and it hooked me. This will feed you as a human and a teacher on many levels. You will be able to access compassion, strength and remain grounded in most situations. Please start today! Start by sitting for just 10 min daily and begin to increase it when you feel ready.
8)Practice the sequence in your own body prior to teaching it.
You should know how the sequence feels before you share it. If you make it up on the spot, you are more likely to forget it. I tell new teachers to teach the same sequence for a week or two so that they can focus on watching their students instead of remembering the sequence.
9)Practice different styles of Yoga
There is so much to be learned from different lineages of Yoga. It’s important to experience other ways of moving and to remember what it’s like being new at something. I find it helps me understand my students more. Two of my most influential teachers, Shiva Rea and Constantine Darling, incorporate different lineages into their teaching, giving me as the practitioner, a richer experience.
10)Create a Teacher’s Practice.
This was another game changer for me. When I moved to Vancouver eight years ago, I was invited to a teacher’s practice. I had never seen that before. We sat around in a circle and co-taught (round robin style). We picked a peak pose and created the flow together. It was an informal space where we asked each other questions, gave each other feedback on our asanas and execution. I grew as a teacher like I never had prior. It also builds a stronger kula/community amongst teachers which fed our student kula exponentially. Invite any and all teachers, no matter what style or what studio they’re from, there is always something to learn.
11)Don’t stop being a student.
Take other people’s classes. Attend teacher trainings. Continue to learn. We are students first and foremost. I look at teaching as a way of sharing things that excite me. Continue to feed yourself so you can continue to share.
and my last one for today….
12)Don’t take yourself too seriously.
As my father says so beautifully, We are all bozos on this bus. I try to think of myself as a facilitator. I am here to facilitate my students journey into themselves. I try and create a space that is safe for them to explore their inner landscapes. Teaching is not about me, it’s about them. It’s an important one to remember. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how cool your sequence is, whether a ton of people told you how great you are or if your playlist worked. Instead ask yourself, did people leave feeling more connected to themselves, more quiet, more introspective? To me that’s the sign of a good class. And if it didn’t happen, so be it. I’ll try again next time.
The autumn equinox, this year September 22nd, is my favorite time. We begin to move out of high energy output (summer) into a more introspective period. We begin our descent into our spiritual cave/basement and reflect on what we’ve seen, heard, and shared with the world. This is when we can internalize our experiences and make them our own. In the coming months, as nature goes back underground, we do the same. We spend more time indoors and under the blankets.
I love setting intentions to help harness and focus my energy in a given direction. So I put it out to you, What do you want to explore and delve deeper into in the coming months? What part of your internal landscape do you want to discover? Uncover?
Write them down and put them on your altar. On the winter solstice, read them again and see where your intentions have taken you.
The image that comes to mind during this time of year is someone in a cloak with a lantern descending into a cave. I imagine myself sitting in a cramped basement surrounded by shelves and shelves of mason jars with mysterious contents within them. I’m choosing which jars to open and which to mix together. This is the time to tinker with what we believe, what we feel and how we want to contribute. This is the time to ask the big questions. It also the time to be patient. We plant the questions in our hearts and wait for them to germinate.
One of my favorite quotes of all time:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
The point is, ask the questions, continue to explore the internal landscape and see what sprouts in spring.
I love coming across beautiful and simple ways to describe…well…just about anything. I found this in Donna Farhi’s awesome book “The Breathing Book” and wanted to share.
I think it’s really important NOT to repress or ignore those emotions and thoughts we aren’t proud of. It is vital to get to know them intimately as only then will our relationship to them truly change. We are whole…a whole lotta things and if we don’t get intimate with ALL aspects of ourselves, how do we expect to change/find peace/be better people?
Some simple and oh-so true words….
I hope they inspire you to breathe
“Breathing affects your respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, muscular, and psychic systems and also has a general effect on your sleep, memory, energy level and concentration. Everything you do, the pace you keep, the feelings you have, and the choices you make are influenced by the rhythmic metronome of your breath.
As you are challenged with the increasing levels of psychological, physical, and biological stress, the internal metronome that determines the quality and state of your breathing and health may be set at faster and faster speeds. You may have the feeling that your life has become like that of a hamster–endlessy running on a little wheel, with no way to stop an get off. You say you feel “stressed out” or “burned out”, and the tension and anxiety that accompanies that all-too-familiar state of over-load seems to be undermining your genuine desire to take care of yourself. You may remember a time when you were full of energy, and wonder where that time whent and how you can recover it. In looking for a solution it is wasy to get caught up in details, in theories, and in complicated strategies, for we very seldom explore the easiest and most fundamental concepts. The process of breathing lies at the center every action and reaction we make or have and so by returning to it we go to the core of the stress response. By refining and improving the quality of our breathing we can feel its positive impact on all aspects of our being.”
–Donna Farhi, The Breathing Book
This program is for teachers who are looking to fine tune their teaching skills.
I found when I was first starting out as a teacher, I had so many doubts and questions about teaching that I could have really used someone to talk to. I have created this program for just that.
This program has been happening locally for years. Now I have decided to take it to the global community.
The program comprises of monthly hour long calls which will include:
-constructive feedback on classes you record and send
-help with creating and bringing to fruition goals you’d like to set
Most of all, someone to hold you accountable as a teacher, student and practioner.
You will also be given the Hands On Adjustment Manual from the 300 Hour Lila Vinyasa Teacher Training.
There is a 3, 6 and 1 year prgram.
Payment plans are available.
This program can be used for CE (Continuing Education) credits with Yoga Alliance.
I am only taking 3 people for each program.
For more information or if you’d like to register, please email:
What will make my load lighter?
What am I clinging to?
May I set it free.
What do I want to welcome into my life?
What will create more space and lightness?
What will make my heart sing?
May I recognize it as it flows towards me.
Hari Om Tat Sat
May you step out of your cave/spiritual basement and enjoy the coming light.
May we remember all the internal work we’ve done in the last 6 months as we shift from our internal worlds to the external world.
Happy Spring Equinox!
Here’s the chant we did today:
Om sreem hreem kleem kamale kamalalaye prasida prasida sreem hreem kleem sri maha lakshmyi namaha.
Underlying Vibration of all creation, abundance please, cherishing your lotus feet, be pleased Great Lakshmi Goddess, I bow to You.
Om gam ganapataye namaha!
Lord Ganesh is the master of wisdom and knowledge. He is the remover of obstacles, and guardian of beauty, prosperity, grace and compassion. Lord Ganesh is the first deity to be reverenced in Hindu rites. He is a guardian of doors of houses and temples. He is the God that removes the internal and external obstacles of our success, and he is the one that grants the opening of your spiritual gifts. He is also the protector of all beings.
Lord Ganesha is known as the Guardian of Knowledge, representing the sage, or a state of consciousness where a man reaches self-realization and plenitude of gifts.Source: http://humanityhealing.net/2012/01/om-gam-ganapataye-namaha/