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San Diego Yoga Festival Presents! Yoga for Recovery: Meditation and Talk with Carrie Schell

We all know someone who has been directly or indirectly impacted by addictions and alcoholism.  Yoga Recovery explores how yoga and meditation are effective in treating addictions, and in many cases, more effective than traditional therapies and medications.  Yoga Recovery takes the journey of wellness beyond the mat and guides us gently to the heart.  Join us for an engaging and interactive session of discussion and meditation. Please note there is no movement or yoga postures on this class.  

Carrie has been immersed in health and wellness since beginning her career as a licensed midwife twenty-five years ago. Her career has evolved over the years with her doctorate studies, work as a health consultant, physical activity practitioner and yogi. Carrie’s involvement in addiction recovery spans decades. Her passion for recovery, physical activity, nature and yoga merged in her role as Director of Health and Wellness at a residential addiction recovery facility where she developed a unique and highly successful recovery program rooted in yoga, physical activity and meditation. Carrie has been invited to speak at addiction conferences around the world, sharing the evidence and research supporting her approach to recovery. Carrie is the author of Mind, Body, Spirit: a journey to wellness, and has a yoga dvd and guided meditation cd. An innovator in her field, she has developed physical literacy programs for schools to help improve the physical and mental wellness of children and youth. She is presently launching Moral Compass Therapy, for veterans suffering from PTSD. Carrie believes in a mind, body, spirit approach to wellness and recovery as evidenced in both her personal and professional life, seeking to reconnect others to the Divine source of love in the Universe.

Follow Carrie on Facebook and see what she has going at her website Wellness Inc Consulting.

Be sure to use the code YogiTones for a discount to the Festival!!

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Yogi Tones Podcast Episode 59 With Lara Falberg – Does It Make Sense

Today on the show is the return of Lara Falberg, a yoga teacher, novelist, and founder of iworkbarefoot a yoga teaching resource offering verbal cues, mini sequences, class themes, and advice if you want some.

Here are some bullets for what Lara and I touch on in this episode.

  • How to build classes
  • How to teach to your audience
  • How to find your unique teaching style and voice
  • How to become a solid sequencer
  • How to effectively weave in a class theme without beating students over the head with it. (I haven’t written an article about this, but it’s a big part of what my website offers.
  • How you practice informs how you teach.
  • You’re always interviewing. 

Lara has been teaching since 2006, and is constantly struck by how our lens of the practice and the teaching of it changes so constantly. Read her novel about the yoga teacher training experience, Yoga Train, or if that’s too big of a commitment, and articles are more your jam, she’s written a fair amount of those too. Such a pleasure to have Lara back on! Enjoy the show and your day! 

Check Lara on Instagram @iworkbarefoot or Facebook Lara Falberg

Also go to her site iworkbarefoot to stay up on all the goodies Lara offers!




Check out Lara’s Book

Yoga Train




To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

Special thanks to Lara for joining me this week. Until next time!

The Voice of a Yoga Teacher: how to make your voice your best teaching tool


Yoga teachers can use many different tools to lead their students through a class, such as visual demonstrations and hands-on adjustments. Arguably, most important tool is verbal cues. During more than two thirds of a yoga class, students listen to their teacher’s voice.

Every voice is different and you cannot make everyone love your voice, but you can work with your voice effectively. You can avoid sounding like a jarring horror film actor, a sultry sex hotline employee or a screaming heavy-metal musician. You can sound like you in a comfortable, loud and clear way. Furthermore, yoga teachers should rest their voices and use them in the correct way so that they may be able to teach two 90-minute classes in a row or more than two classes a day without feeling pain in the throat.

The quality of your voice will have a direct influence on your students. Researchers have found that there is an influence of a voice’s sound on the listeners’ well-being and, in turn, their own voice. The mere act of listening to a hoarse voice causes the listener’s larynx muscles to become tense and their voice to become rough. Consequently, a yoga teacher’s voice can support or prevent the students’ relaxation during a class.

There are six aspects of the voice I would like to focus on to demonstrate how to use your voice properly: breath, posture, pitch, enunciation, resonance and inflection.

vocal cords

Vocal Cords

1. Breath:

The breath is the engine of the voice. By flowing through the trachea, the larynx and the glottis, it causes the vocal cords to move and generates sound waves. (see picture 1 and 2) The more efficiently our breath works, the easier our voice comes and the better it sounds. As yogis we are familiar with different ways of breathing, so it’s easier to tell a yogi to direct the breath into a soft and completely relaxed belly: this is the so-called abdominal breath. In this way you can move your diaphragm the most and take in a larger volume of air, making it easier to articulate and to make your voice/breath last longer without taking another inhalation.



It isn’t recommended to use the full thoracic breath for speaking because breathing up high into the rip cage and the shoulders creates tension in the muscles around the neck and in the larynx muscles which influence voice generation. When people are nervous (e.g. a young and inexperienced yoga teacher teaching a big class) they tend to breath too high into their shoulders without using their diaphragm properly, so they get tension in their throat. This causes the voice to suddenly sound much higher and thinner.


a) “Abdominal Breath”:

Relax your whole body and while you’re sitting, standing or lying close your eyes, put your hands on your belly and try to breath into them. Intensify the movement of your diaphragm. In doing so focus on the exhalation and your belly moving inwards. The inhalation happens automatically.


Extrinsic muscles of larynx.

b) “Yawning”:

To relax your larynx muscles (see picture 3) and your vocal cords, yawn deeply – with or without sound! Your larynx will get into the lowest and most relaxed position.


For yoga teachers who know the feeling of stage fright: the only remedy (besides experience and good preparation) is the breath. Breath slowly and deeply into your belly if you feel really nervous!

2. Posture:

Our body posture has important effects on how our voice sounds. When you stand or sit upright, your voice can unfold much more than in a position in which your body is collapsed or in a difficult asana. You should be aware that almost every movement can be heard in your voice (for example, when everything is silent in Savasana and you are speaking while moving, people will notice). You should also consider that you have to speak louder if your face is directed away from your students or downwards when you are showing a movement.


“Warm up” Before you start to teach you should warm up your body to release all the tension, especially in your neck, your shoulders, chest and belly.

3. Pitch:

Every voice has a so-called “perfect pitch”. When you speak in this pitch your vocal cords swing in a perfect way, you need only minimum power to generate sound waves and therefore it is less exhausting for you to speak for several hours. It is not only one note but more a scale of several tones like a kind of third; in this pitch you can speak with a softer breath and less tension in the vocal cords, even if you have to speak loudly. In many cases, people don’t use the right pitch, especially when they are emotional and angry or when they try to speak louder. Their voice gets higher but not really louder. By finding the right pitch and using the abdominal breath you can avoid that.

EXERCISE “Chewing”:

There are different exercises to find your perfect pitch. The most common one is the “chewing” exercise. Try to chew with your mouth closed. Imagine you are eating something really delicious. After 20 seconds start to open your mouth and create a sound like “myom”. Keep on “myoming” and try to figure out which pitch you are chewing and using the most in this relaxed way of generation a sound.

4. Enunciation:

To be understood as well as possible you should try to speak very clearly. I personally had some experiences of yoga teachers lowering down their voice in restorative postures or for Savasana, but by whispering gently they forgot to enunciate clearly. The consequence was that you couldn’t understand them hardly.

To avoid this, raise your awareness by warming up your active articulators before the class, i.e. the lips and the tongue. (see picture 1)By doing this, you can improve the clarity and the resonance of your voice.


cork exercise

a) “Cork-Exercise”:

This is a typical actor’s exercise: Put a cork or your index finger between your front teeth and try to speak a few words or sentences as clear as possible. Then release your finger or the cork and you will realize a big difference in your enunciation and the movements of your articulators.

b) “Mouth-Yoga”:

flap those lips!

flap those lips!

You could also do so-called “mouth yoga” as a preparation for yoga classes: 1) Wiggle your jaw. 2)Touch all your teeth with the tip of your tongue – first on the a outside then on the inside. 3) Stretch your lips by forming circles. 4) Flap your lips. 5) Push on the inside of your cheeks and your palate with your tongue. 6) Smoothe out your masticatory muscles with your palms from your ears to your chin – your mouth is a little bit open while doing that.

Watch this video to see all the exercises.

5. Resonance:

Resonance is when many parts of your body vibrate while you are speaking – your voice seems more space-filling and sustainable without being really louder. We have several resonance chambers in our bodies to work with in voice production. When you open your mouth while you are speaking you already make use of one of them. There are more resonance chambers in your face (e.g. in your nose and your upper skull) (see picture 1/ nasal and oral cavities), in your chest and in your back. It’s not easy to find them, but if you try humming or chanting “om” and put your palms on different parts of your body and try to direct the sound into those parts. You should be able to feel a vibration, e.g. in your lips, your chest, your back and your head. If so, it proves the use of these resonance chambers.

6. Inflection:

Finally there’s an aspect called “inflection” which includes the melody and the emphases you use. As a yoga teacher you shouldn’t speak monotonously. You also shouldn’t speak with this typical hyper-friendly-sing-song yoga voice. Stay true to your own voice, your own way of speaking and your own personality. Speak in a rhythmic, authentic and confident way. You will sound even more confident if you lower your voice down at the end of the sentences. It gives your words more weight and importance. If you aren’t sure whether to employ this tactic not, record your speech with a mobile phone or a computer and listen to it.

Finally, I’d like to give you some general advice to help you to use your voice perfectly and protect your voice as a yoga teacher. Drink enough water during the classes for keeping your vocal cords moistened! Pause between your instructions in order not to become too fast! Finally, give your students and yourself some silence in their postures; during this time you can relax your breathing muscles, your vocal cords and your articulators ¬– and the students can stop listening to you and focus on their “inner voice” instead.

(These explanations can be only small reviews – if you want to work more properly and intensely with your voice, read a book about voice training, e.g. “Freeing your natural voice” by Kristin Linklater, or even better: find a voice coach for some personal lessons)

mi_bio2Miriam Bauer is a Brahmani-inspired Vinyasa Flow yoga teacher (RYT-200) and voice coach (univ.). She teaches yoga classes and voice workshops in Regensburg, in other parts of Germany.

More information on her work: www.mibauer.de

Yogi Tones Podcast Episode 29 With JoAnn Jaffe – Original Greatness

Happy Monday everyone!! Today is all about service with OG Yoga and my special guest JoAnn Jaffe, founder of OG Yoga. JoAnn created OG Yoga in 2013 with the mission to make healing yoga accessible to vulnerable communities. The focus  of OG Yoga is on at-risk youth and adults, and those individuals facing poverty, incarceration and transitioning back into community. 

Because of the complex needs of the communities served, she felt it crucial to recruit, vet, train and compensate highly experienced certified yoga instructors to deliver yoga in non-traditional settings and provide a safe and brave space for practitioners.

My favorite part of the show is when JoAnn talked about how everyone has their own OG (original greatness) rooted within. Great episode!!

Be sure to follow OG Yoga on Facebook and Instagram.

OG Yoga has a benefit going on during summer. Hope to see you there!

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To help out the show:

Special thanks to JoAnn for joining me this week. Until next time!

Yoga Teachers: 9 Essential Items to Keep in Your Toolbox

This article was written by Michelle Fondin.

As a new yoga teacher, you’ll likely have classes at several different locations, which can be challenging. Each location, whether it’s a gym, studio, or client’s home, might require a different set of items. Keeping everything straight can frazzle someone new to yoga instruction.

Preparation, and a handy checklist, will help you avoid stress and allow you to focus on your students. Store each of these items in your yoga bag and you’ll always have what you need—on hand and ready to go.

1. Yoga mat wipes or antibacterial hand wipes

Depending on where you teach, you may be using a studio mat in a pinch or have to wipe pet hair off your personal mat if teaching in someone’s home. While yoga mat wipes are nicer, they tend to be more expensive. A standard hand wipe should do the trick.

2. Two yoga blocks, a yoga strap, and a blanket

I’ve been at gyms where the yoga props I needed for a demonstration were filthy. I’ve also needed the props during private lessons. These props can come in handy, even during chair yoga classes.

3. Music: CDs, an iPod, or a music list on your smartphone

Soothing music is great for ambiance during class. Not every place you teach will have a sound system. Always be prepared with music. If you’re using Pandora or Spotify, make sure you have a subscription so you don’t hear advertising in the middle of class. And if you’re using a playlist on your smart phone, remember to put it in airplane mode to avoid incoming calls.

4. A small hand towel and hand sanitizer

When assisting clients in poses, you will likely get their sweat on your hands. This is where your small towel will come in handy. If you sneeze or wipe your nose during class, the hand sanitizer will be helpful to use before you assist anyone else during class.

5. A change of yoga pants, panties, and feminine hygiene products

This is for the ladies. My menstrual cycle has started a few times while teaching and I had no other pants. I learned this lesson the hard way.

6. Two notecards

It’s easy to get nervous as a new teacher and forget part of your lesson. Or maybe you’re a planner and need to have everything written out.

Keep the notecards to a minimum. If you have any more than a couple, it can appear unprofessional or cause clients to think that you don’t know what you’re doing. Keep your notecards as concealed as possible, either at the edge of your yoga mat or underneath as a quick reference.

As a yoga studio owner, I’ve heard from clients who complain about teachers who have loads of paper, notes, and even books that they refer to constantly throughout class. It’s better to have an easy lesson planned until you get familiar with class flow.

7. Inspirational quotes, a poem, or a guided meditation

After my lecture about no paper, you may be wondering why I’ve included this one. You can add your inspirational quote to your two notecards. You can read a poem or guided meditation from a book. The idea is to have something inspirational to leave your students with as they go back into their daily lives. Most often you’ll be reading this when they have their eyes closed in meditation or Savasana.

8. Tissue, breath mints, deodorant, cough drops

You would be surprised how many places don’t have tissue handy. If you need to blow your nose, or clear out a wandering six or eight-legged critter, you’ll be happy you have them. If you don’t have the opportunity to brush your teeth after your tuna sandwich or latte, you may need a breath mint before teaching.

Another unforeseen event that can happen, is sudden, uncontrollable coughing while giving instruction. And if you teach two or more classes in a row, you may need to freshen up with some deodorant.

9. Business cards

If you’re in a position to promote yourself, carry business cards with you at all times. Your business card should include a phone number and email address as well as any social media links.

Students who love your class may ask for your info for a private lesson, and building a clientele can be tough. Put all chances on your side and be ready to create those business relationships. That’s how you get them coming back for more.

Finally, keep a list of what you carry and replenish whenever necessary. You’ll want to keep your bag prepared at all times, so you can focus on teaching.


Michelle S. Fondin, author of The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda: An Easy Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle (New World Library, 2015), Help! I Think My Loved One Is an Alcoholic: A Survival Guide for Lovers, Family, & Friends (2016), and the upcoming books, 7 Days to Chakra Healing (New World Library, 2018), Enlightened Medicine (Fall 2017).