A ReInvention of Sorts

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
A ReInvention of Sorts
A ReInvention of Sorts

This time last year I had one of those pivotal moments where I hit a wall and was faced with the reality of my life and the choices that lay before me.  Things were going relatively well. A third teacher-training group was about to graduate from my Yoga Birds program and the studio was chugging along offering valuable services to the community.  I had a nice house, great husband, awesome dogs, and loving family all around me.

My practices of daily asana and meditation were steady, life at home was good…but something was missing or just not right with me. I prayed and I meditated and finally realized that I was not where I wanted to be or doing what I truly wanted to be doing.

It was one of those God-moments when I realized in full force the finite nature of my time on earth, the importance and impact of every choice I make, and the preciousness of every moment that has been given to me.

I started making plans to close my beloved little yoga studio and to get back into film acting which I had left  in 2008 when I moved to Fairhope from New Orleans.  So, in case you were wondering, that’s where I have been all year…. In acting classes in New Orleans. More on that later…

I have not abandoned yoga.  Or, more accurately,  yoga has not abandoned me.  I have taken a massive break and rest from daily vigorous asana (poses) practice. It was not intentional and happened naturally as I stopped teaching so much. I am still a firm believer and advocate that asana yoga teachers should be practicing what they are asking of their students. I asked a lot of my students ergo I spent a lot of time on the mat in my own personal practice doing sun salutations and warrior poses, etc.

This break from the physical yoga for me has been utterly healing and informative…which is essentially what our practices should be about. So yes, my chaturanga and my pinca mayurasana probably SUCK right about now, but really…. I don’t care. And this is cOMpletely LIBERATING for me!

What I do practice regularly is Restorative Yoga. Apparently my nervous system needs a daily re-set to truth, consciousness, and joy.  My husband Burke who is a brilliant wordsmith dubbed Restorative Yoga a practice of ‘pillows and gravity’.  It is  absolute heaven and gives back to me ten-fold in the currency of connection to Spirit, relaxed groundedness, breath awareness, clarity, patience, kindness, happiness, contentment, and vibrant energy.  All it asks of me is to stop, become still, and hang out there for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. And BTW… it’s not nearly as easy as it sounds.

In these past several months I have explored different neighborhoods –literal and figurative.  I miss my friends and family and community of yogis in Alabama and further east. I have made some incredible new friends in the acting and film and fitness communities of New Orleans. Life is a constant paradox.  But it is certainly wonderful.

I am ready to start teaching again with a fresh new perspective on how yoga can support day to day life and courageous choices that foster the manifestation of the sparkling, healthy, vibrant  lives that are our birthright.

Next month I will be in Fairhope at Prana Health and Wellness Sunday, November 24th. Becky Ardrey and I are co-hosting an open house and discussion about the collaborative 2014 Yoga Birds Teacher Training being held at Prana. Stay tuned for more details about the open house and about the training.

Also in the works in New Orleans is a yoga class in conjunction with the indoor cycling classes (called RIDE) I have been teaching  at Romney Pilates Center on Magazine Street.  More details TBA.

On Sunday morning, November 17th   I am presenting a Restorative Yoga Session at the Mahabhuta Yoga Festival. I can’t wait to immerse in yoga for the whole weekend with so many friends and teachers! I hope that you can join me there for my class or to attend some of the fantastic classes of other teachers with me.

That’s all I have for now. Please be in touch with a comment below or drop me a line or a ‘like’ on my personal profiles at  Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. And if you’re interested, check out my new acting website at www.melaniebuffett.com. Hope to see y’all soon in a festive and joyful place!

Much Love and Peace,

Melanie Buffett

 

Best Friend Yoga

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Last week I spent 5 days studying Anusara Yoga with John Friend in Cambridge, MA—a 3-day teacher’s intensive and two days of observing and practicing asana classes. I arrived in Boston admittedly depleted from several months of non-stop teaching, definitely needing to ‘receive’ teachings for my own benefit and restoration as well as to further advance in my understanding of the Anusara method to continue to be a good teacher to my students. The 36 hours of training were all that I was expecting and more. Being surrounded by 150-160 yoga students every day, practicing and learning the high arts of asana, pranayama, meditation, and philosophy- mat to mat under the guidance and watchful eye of a masterful teacher is the kind of stuff I live for. John Friend is truly wonderful. In the sea of students in front of him, from 30 feet away, he gave me a verbal adjustment cue of ¼” hand placement movement which opened up an easeful channel of breath and energy in my whole body and pose. This was just one of the many of his simply amazing gestures of guidance over the week. His presentation of the teachings of the Shiva Shakti Tantra was simultaneously playful and serious. The language of which is foreign to me, but the concepts universally and intuitively insightful. I feel lit up, ultimately balanced, and so excited about living life to the fullest!

I spent the week in Boston without an internet connection (that at first caused me panic, then became a liberating situation) practicing hours of asana everyday. My body/mind loves and needed that. I do not take for granted that it was SUCH a luxury. It has been a slow re-entry back into the routine of householder and small business owner. There is a lot of ‘catch-up’ and work to tend to. And I am figuring out how to take the teachings out of the Masonic Hall in ‘The People’s Republic of Cambridge’ (home of Harvard and MIT among other brainiac institutes) and into my Yoga Birds world in Fairhope, Alabama.

I have come away from the week with heightened awareness of what is meaningful in my life—love and relationships topping the list– and how to cultivate more sensitivity in all of my friendships…at home, at work, and most importantly in myself. I reconnected with my BFF and look forward to practicing with more self-sensitivity, which will reflect in and support all of my actions off the mat. ‘Cuz that’s the way it’s always been with me and my friend, yoga.

Seeing Each Other

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Yesterday the Teacher Training group spent the last 40 minutes leading each other through Sun Salutations. It is the third time we have broken into small groups to practice teach. For some this is new territory, for others a familiar place, although a bit out of their comfort zone, as they apply new insights and teaching techniques to their current methods. I posted a photo album entitled “Seeing Each Other” on my facebook page of the transformational hour. Already there is a positive evolution of the state of affairs of yoga teachers in Lower Alabama. Please join me in an uplifting Hallelujah!

Back to the TT…as I observed everyone in the room practice teaching and as I listened to their words, I was touched most deeply by the obvious care everyone shares for their fellow student-friends. Our studies in the training continue to imprint the importance of ‘SEEING who is in front of you’ in a yoga class—I mean, like in the AVATAR kind of SEEING. And this is what I mean by a “student-oriented… “ yoga class in the Teacher Training Mission Statement:

Yoga Birds Teacher Training mission is to offer a course for serious students and aspiring professional teachers of yoga to deepen their knowledge in the areas of yoga history, philosophy, asana and pranayama technique, meditation, ethics, teaching methodology, and the business of yoga. Yoga Birds teaching style is a synthesis of the teachings of BKS Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, TKV Desikachar, Judith Lasater, John Friend, Donna Farhi, and Leslie Kaminoff. Graduates of the program will gain new insights of Self through heightened studentship, find their unique voices as teachers, and have sufficient training and practice to impart a safe, student-oriented, appropriate, practical, skillful yet artfully sequenced, beneficial, and inspiring Western-style asana- yoga class. Ultimately in service to the improvement of health and well-being of the citizens of Lower Alabama.

For the skilled yoga teacher, this kind of observation of a person / yoga student means looking through eyes of compassion and ultimately reading the energy moment by moment from beginning to end of what is first and foremost SAFE, then appropriate, practical, skillfully/artfully sequenced and inspiring. And making that observation of EVERY class participant.

This is no small task! This kind of skillful observation of the the yoga student requires, an uninterrupted, full application of embodying your intention as a teacher, razor focused attention to details of the bodies and attitudinal qualities of your students, and a sustained connection to your mindful flow of skillful breath and language ( that would be intention, attention, and mindful breath which are by no coincidence, the hallmarks of a skillful asana yoga practice). Hence the importance of teachers to maintain a substantial yoga practice. That is the topic for a different post.

Back to the TT…what is becoming very clear to everyone in the training is that skillfully practicing asana and skillfully teaching asana are two completely different arenas. My method of teaching yoga teachers seeks to break the teacher’s habit of (or warding of the tendency to start) needing to do the asana practice alongside the students so as to know ‘what to say (or do) next”. If a teacher is doing the practice alongside the students he is not able to SEE his students. I think what I see happening in the group is that they are discovering how much easier the ‘right’ words come if they just address what they are SEEING instead of relying on a script of how they ‘think’ the situation should flow. What is amazing to watch is that once the trainees begin observing and SEEING while simultaneously teaching, they tap into a wellspring of infinite cueing details. And in the same manner that our asana practices ‘train’ us for skillfully living off the mat, I believe this first Yoga Teacher Training is helping us all SEE each other, our loved ones, and all our brothers and sisters outside of the yoga studio with a new skill… freshly awakened eyes of compassion.

I am just high on life as I think about what an amazing, dedicated, enthusiastic, open, and courageous group I have the honor of teaching! JAI! YES! RIGHT ON!

Adventure Of A Lifetime

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Insomnia is so weird. It set the tone for my energy all day yesterday. When I awoke at 3:20 and discovered that my alarm was not just about to go off, rather I needed to sleep for two more hours…I knew I was up. That quality of wakefulness is unique and it’s like you know you’re in for it. I went downstairs to the couch and tried to catch a few more minutes of the deep peace, but Bear who is such a good boy came and nuzzled right at the foot of the couch and was so comforted by my being there in the den with him that he fell into a deep loud snoring doggie sleep. And I knew it was hopeless for me. So I gave in to it, got up and started my day. I sat for meditation, made coffee, and decided to redeem an Amazon birthday gift certificate I’ve been holding since May. It was the perfect time for my shopping spree. It seems the more choices there are the more time I need to make a decision on what I want.

Of course the three books I purchased were yoga books. One is a brand newly published modern history of yoga in America. One is a commentary of the Shiva Sutras by Swami Laksmanjoo which completes my library for the required book list for Anusara Certification, and the third a relatively new book that parallels the ancient art of Indian theatre acting and dance performance with 20th century acting technique. I can’t wait for my new treasures to arrive.

Last night one of the trainees asked me if I have ever just ‘had enough’ of yoga or have felt ‘over it’. I had to stop and think. I do think there have been times when I have been tired and frustrated or injured when practicing active asana just agitated me even further. But over these last 15 years yoga has become more than just the practice of the poses. It has become the Way that I live, not a thing or activity that I do. It has been a process of sustaining attention in the present moment. It has become living with intention. It has become patiently sitting with challenging situations and deciphering the most graceful course of action to proceed. It has become a slowing down to listen and be guided by the inner wisdom of my breath and heartbeat. So the more I ponder the question, “Have you ever felt just over it?”, the clearer it becomes that I have just begun the journey and that Yoga gives me the opportunity to embark on the the adventurous path, fresh everyday, moment by moment. Even in the glaring light of insomnia.

Yoga Teacher Training in 2011

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

March 11 – October 2, 2011

Yoga Birds is a Registered Yoga School with Yoga Alliance (RYS 200). Students who successfully fulfill the requirements of the Yoga Birds Teacher Training program will receive a Graduation Certificate from Yoga Birds and may submit that to Yoga Alliance to become a Registered Yoga Teacher at the 200 Hour Level (RYT 200).

Go To Application

Mission of Yoga Birds Teacher Training

Yoga Birds Teacher Training mission is to offer a course for serious students and aspiring professional teachers of yoga to deepen their knowledge in the areas of yoga history, philosophy, asana and pranayama technique, meditation, ethics, teaching methodology, and the business of yoga. Yoga Birds teaching style is a synthesis of the teachings of BKS Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, TKV Desikachar, Judith Lasater, John Friend, Donna Farhi, and Leslie Kaminoff. Graduates of the program will gain new insights of Self through heightened studentship, find their unique voices as teachers, and have sufficient training and practice to impart a safe, student-oriented, appropriate, practical, artfully sequenced, beneficial, and inspiring Western-style asana- yoga class, ultimately in service to the greater good of the community.

Course Topics Include:

  • Philosophy, History, Lifestyle, and Ethics of Yoga
  • Techniques of Asana Training and Practice
  • Physical Anatomy and Physiology
  • Eastern Subtle Body Anatomy
  • The Art of Teaching Western Style Yoga Classes
  • Special Topics (such as Teaching Sun Salutations, Yoga For Pregnancy, Injury Prevention in the Classroom, Importance of Sanskrit, Yoga and Nutrition, Yoga and Religion, Yoga Class Etiquette, The Business of Yoga, Yoga Documentary Screening and More)

2011 Teacher Training Dates

Fridays 6-9pm

Saturdays 1- 6 pm

Sundays 10am-4pm

March 11, 12, 13
April 1, 2, 3
April 15, 16, 17
May 20, 21, 22
June 3, 4, 5
June 17, 18, 19
July 8, 9, 10
July 22, 23, 24
Aug 5, 6, 7
Aug 19, 20, 21
Sept 9, 10, 11
Sept 23, 24, 25
Sept/Oct 30, 1, 2
Graduation October 2, 2011, 4:30 – 6:30pm
  • Applicants to the program should have a year of regular yoga practice of asana to participate.
  • Applicants must attend at least one class or workshop with Melanie prior to being accepted into the program.
  • Included in the price of tuition of the program, all trainees will receive two 8-class packages ($216 Value) to be used within the duration of the course and a Yoga Birds Teacher Training Manual.
  • The course is a big commitment. Attendance to all Teacher Training weekends is expected. Before receiving a Graduation Certificate, any missed sessions must be made up, at the student’s expense, through a combination of attending other RYT teacher training sessions, Yoga Birds workshops (approved by Melanie), or private sessions with Melanie, additional homework, and meeting with other YBTT participants to go over missed material. Students have 1 year to make up missed course work. Thereafter, students must reapply and repeat the entire course at full cost.
  • Participants must attend at least two and observe a minimum of one Foundations of Yoga Class.
  • Participants must attend at least two and observe a minimum of one Restorative Yoga Class.  Participation in as many classes and workshops as possible is recommended.
  • Participants are expected to have or begin home study practice from the start of the program.  Three hours of home practice asana per week and 10 minutes meditation per day is required throughout the duration (and hopefully beyond) the training.
  • Each participant must attend 20 public RYT-led classes during the duration of the program (in addition to home study).
  • Each participant must keep a notebook of required written assignments, self-inquiry journal entries, classroom exercises, and lecture notes, and a log (with Teacher Name, Date, and class style) of the 20 public classes attended.
  • Each participant will teach at least three complete yoga classes before completion of program (either in the public forum in a 60-minute Yoga Birds Apprentice Class or in the context of a 15, 30, or 60 minute Practice Teaching Session in the context of the training course. These classes will be assessed by currently teaching RYT’s and constructive, useful feedback will be given in service to heightened teaching skills of the teacher in training.
  • Every meeting weekend will include discussion of reading assignments, written homework assignments, quizzes on Sanskrit, and practice teaching skills in ‘student oriented teaching’.
  • There will be three exams administered throughout the session in service to the trainees processing and retaining as much of the vast amount of reading and coursework that is covered.

The texts for required reading are not included in the price of the program. All texts must be acquired before the start of the program. Please read the Introductions to all of the texts before the first Training Meeting.

Required Reading List (hover over titles for details):

The Heart of Yoga, T. K. V. Desikachar

Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar

Yoga Mala, K.Pattabhi Jois

30 Essential Yoga Poses, Judith Lasater

The Yoga Tradition, Georg Feurestein

Yoga Anatomy, Leslie Kaminoff

The Breathing Book, Donna Farhi

Hatha Yoga Illustrated, Martin Kirk, Brooke Boon, Daniel DiTuro

TUITION 
for the Yoga Birds Teacher Training Program is $2000. Payment Plans available. We accept Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and Debit Cards, Checks, and Cash.

Class Capacity is 16 students.

Click Here To Apply

Yoga Teacher Training in 2010

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

For 2011 Teacher Training schedule go to: http://www.yogabirds.com/2010/07/yoga-teacher-training-in-2011/

Yoga Birds is offering 200-hour yoga teacher training in 2010. Students who successfully fulfill the requirements of the YBTT will receive a Certificate of Completion from Yoga Birds. This training program meets RYT-200 standards and students may contact the Yoga Alliance for registry at the RYT-200 level at the completion of the program.

Go To Application

Overview of Logistics, Required Texts, Pre-Requisites, and Tuition

Meeting Weekends

June 4, 5, 6
June 18, 19, 20
July 9, 10, 11
July 23, 24, 25
August 6, 7, 8
August 20, 21, 22
September 17, 18, 19
October 1, 2, 3
October 15, 16, 17
November 5, 6, 7
November 19, 20, 21
December 3, 4, 5
December 10, 11, 12 (storm date)
December 17 Graduation

Fridays 6-9pm
Saturdays 1-6pm
Sundays 10-4pm

  • Applicants to the program must have at least six months of regular (at least 2x/week) yoga practice of asana to participate.
  • Applicants must attend at least one class or workshop with Melanie prior to being accepted into the program.
  • Attendance to all Teacher Training weekends is expected. All missed sessions must be made up, at the student’s expense, through a combination of attending other RYT teacher training sessions and/or workshops (approved by Melanie), additional homework, and meeting with other YBTT participants to go over missed material.
  • Attendance to one Yoga Birds, RYT-led public class per week is required and included in the price of the program.
  • Participants must attend at least two and observe a minimum of one Foundations of Yoga Class.
  • Participants must attend at least two and observe a minimum of one Restorative Yoga Class.  Participation in as many classes and workshops as possible is recommended.
  • Participants are expected to have or begin home study practice from the start of the program.  A minimum of 3 hours asana per week and 10 minutes meditation per day is required throughout the duration (and hopefully beyond) the training. .
  • Each participant will submit a log of attendance to public classes, observation of public classes or special topics, and home practice reflecting the course requirements before completion of program.
  • Each participant must keep a notebook of required written assignments, self-inquiry journal entries, classroom exercises, and lecture notes.
  • Each participant will teach or co-teach one Yoga Birds Community Class before completion of program.
  • Every meeting weekend will include written homework assignments, quizzes on Sanskrit, readings from assigned texts, and practice teaching skills in ‘student oriented teaching’.
  • A section of the program will include an audio taping of each participant  while practice teaching. There will be an assessment of the recording with feedback from the participant and the Director of Teacher Training.
  • The texts for required reading are not included in the price of the program. All texts must be acquired before the start of the program. Please read the Introductions to all of the texts before the first Training Meeting.

Required Reading List (hover over titles for details):
The Heart of Yoga, T. K. V. Desikachar
Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar
Yoga Mala, K.Pattabhi Jois
30 Essential Yoga Poses, Judith Lasater
The Yoga Tradition, Georg Feurestein
Yoga Anatomy, Leslie Kaminoff
The Breathing Book, Donna Farhi
Hatha Yoga Illustrated, Martin Kirk, Brooke Boon, Daniel DiTuro

TUITION
The tuition for the Yoga Birds Teacher Training Program is $2000.

There are a few different payment methods:

A $400 deposit is required to reserve your space. (Pay Now)

Final payment of $1600 is due on May 31, 2010. (Pay Now)

An optional payment plan is a contract in 5 payments with a monthly credit card auto-draft: $400 deposit to register and 4 subsequent payments of $425 on June 1, July 1, Aug 1, and Sept 1, respectively.  The deposit is refundable through May 31, 2010 minus a $100 administrative fee. No refunds are given after May 31, 2010 unless your space can be filled from a waiting list. (Pay Deposit Now).  After paying your $400 deposit, please use the contact form to let us know you would like to set up this option.

*Included in the Tuition:
Yoga Birds Teacher Training Manual
1 class / week at Yoga Birds for the duration of the Training Dates.

Go To Application