Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Zen of a "No Buy" Challenge.

I am in a constant struggle to explain this to people "IT IS LITERALLY ALL YOGA" and what I mean by that is yoga  translates to "yoke" or to connect the mind and the body. How the mind thinks the human goes. Asana or postures is only one small part of yoga. If you don't think it you don't do it. The state of your mind and your perspective is often the state of your life. Now I am not saying that everything that happens to you is because of how you think, however much of the way our life looks and how we respond is because of how we think.
If I like a bohemian aesthetic and I'm a bit of minimalist about having to many possessions and I desire a simple life, I am probably not going to care to much if my cups match or if I have extra sets in the garage.If I value exercise and good health then I will likely make time for those in my schedule.

In a "No Buy" year you start off thinking "Well this will really save me money". This is why "No Buy's" often happen. For me the "No Buy" was more because I moved to a smaller home after raising four kids after a divorce in a big rambling 1930's house and I was sick of stuff. Even though not a collector or hoarder I had the stuff of six people (my new husband included) and tons of storage to not deal with it. It was a major pain to move and I wanted less, far less. So here comes the "No Buy".
I was already frugal, and good with money but I desired more and this is what I could think of. I decided no "new" clothes, no shoes, no purses, books or jewelry. I had some caveats to replace things. So not buying kept me from shopping and not shopping gave me time. And having time gave me time to read, workout, and spend time with family and friends. You don't realize how significant this is until you aren't doing it, even if you think you are not a shopper me on this one.
Here are 10 things I discovered on my "No Buy" year that gave me a new sense of simplicity and a feeling of peace (there is the mind body).
To see more on my No Buy Year you can look at the VLOG here.

Contentment, self care, discipline is all in the first limb of yoga.

1. When you don't shop online or at the stores you have more time to spend on exercise or yoga practice.
2. You have more time to spend on reading.
3. You have more time to spend on hobbies.
4. You have more time to meal plan and cook.
5. You desire less because you are not looking. *This right here is in the Yoga Sutras!
6. You realize how much you don't need to be happy.
7. You realize how much you don't need period and how stuff weighs you down.
8. You have to deal with not filling that void that shopping filled. You have to ask yourself the hard questions and getting through that is really enlightening. It makes you realize what really adds value to your life and what doesn't.
9. You become more resourceful. You find new and creative ways to do things, this strengthens your mind and creativity.
10. You become creative with what you have. I came up with all kinds of clothing combinations once I had less, I felt better dressed this year than any.
11. I realized my perceptions of what I thought I needed actually were only perceptions, on a daily basis I could get by on so much less and that felt amazingly freeing.

If you feel like you would like to try a "No Buy" then some guidelines might be to try a week or a month. You will need necessities but that depends on you. Maybe you buy the basic foods and toiletries you need for a week and get by on that budget.
Maybe you want to try to budget for a month. Set up a minimal budget for what you need, food, bills, and gas and if you know you have something coming up like a date night then set a budget for that or make a plan to do it free. You set the rules.

Monday, November 19, 2018

What I will be doing after I close the school.

So I have been announcing that I am retiring from owning the school after 10 years. To be honest that was my plan from the beginning. Own a school for ten years. Why 10 years...I'm just weird with numbers, I figured ten years was a nice round number, and 200 plus teachers was my goal, I'll end with 225. I've done the work, time to pass the torch.

I love the school, well I love the people and I love teaching. What I don't love is for 10 years I've worked two weekends a month plus taught about six workshops a year. That totals to over half the weekends of the year I'm gone plus working five days a week. I'm tired y'all.
But I'm not really going anywhere. Rena Wren will be taking over the school mission which is to bring this type of holistic classical yoga to everyone who wants it. My goals have always been to reach those who don't have access to yoga and also to make it available to everyone who wants to learn.

I will still teach full time at Saline Heart Clinic in the Ornish Reversal Clinic. I still need to work on marketing my book "The Mud & The Lotus: A Guide and Workbook for Students of Yoga", that never ends, you must work after the book is published. I have a couple of ebooks I need to get finished and published. I have some courses to publish and another book or two in the works to write. I'll assist Rena for at least two more years as well. On occasion you will see me teaching a workshop or at a conference.

If you want to work with me or you are interested in the work I am still doing here is what you can do or how you can reach me or study with me.
1. Ornish Clinic:
 If you need Intensive Cardiac Rehab call Saline Heart Group and ask for Tara. This will get you into the Ornish program if you qualify which will give you access to Stress Management Yoga with me.
2. The Book:  If you want to learn more about yoga for yourself or to teach it, or to open a school and use my curriculum you can buy the book for a bargain price of $29.95. You can use it for your own learning.
3. Book a workshop or have me present at your event: If you want me to ]'come teach a "Yoga for Health Care" workshop or present  then email me to set up a conversation 
4.  Book a consultation over the phone or in person: Need help with your yoga,  yoga therapy, consulting or coaching in your personal life or for your health, need help teaching yoga, opening a studio or school, need help with your yoga business or anything more? I do personal and financial consulting and coaching in the field of yoga therapy and personal finance.  Click the link or email

I appreciate your taking the time to read this. If I can be of service to you please contact me. I look forward to knowing you.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Critics

I would like to share a personal experience about "reviews", "critics" & "trolls" (as I understand them). Also I would like to discuss the bravery of putting yourself out there for rejection.
Today someone told me about a nasty comment on my Facebook page, while searching for it I found one on another page I am an admin on, the person was being hateful to someone who used to work for me. I promptly hid them both (they were of the crazy kind) and went on about my business not giving it to much thought.
I am reviewed on Facebook, have a public page on Instagram, have 3 meditations on Insight Timer, have a published book out there (most reviews on Amazon), and my work on Yoga Alliance (my business accreditation home) has a "Student Review" Page. So in the past 5 years I've been reviewed about 3000 or more times, mostly good but a few nasty ones, and a few with helpful feedback. The mean one's hurt but now a days I actually have become thicker skinned. Here is how I deal with it. This video by Brene Brown helped me greatly.
1. Putting yourself out there opens you up to critics. You can't ever and I mean ever please everyone. There is a saying that says "You can be the juiciest peach in all the world and someone won't like peaches". Truth.
2. People are often jealous. Often people will see you do something and it magnifies their insecurities. Who knows why or how but it does and there are those who by being happy for others they feel it takes away somehow from their own worth. That has nothing to do with you. Miserable people try to make others miserable.
3. What's the worst that can happen. I used to think "God blessed me with the ability to say "What's the worst that can happen? They aren't going to kill me". However the more I put myself out there, the more work I did, the more public I became, I found people more than willing to tell me how to do my job and it often really hurt. Sometimes it was helpful such as a dear friend and student who told me to quit apologizing. Actually several people told me this, it was very helpful. Was I a bit mortified? Yes, a little but I survived and it helped me over come it.
On several occasions people gave my business a bad rating based on a problem they had with one of my contractors, never giving me the option to fix it before they went public. *That happens a lot to business owners. I survived all of it and continued to thrive.
4. Consider the source and have some self compassion. A few years back I had a student who for whatever reason latched on to one of my teachers and decided the best way to handle that was to berate me. I was going through a horrible court battle with my ex that had been on in court for years, raising four kids by myself and my now husband (whom I was dating) had to have open heart surgery. I wasn't my chipper self. I was quite and did my job but charismatic I was not and somehow she wanted me to be charismatic like this other teacher and I'm just me and at that time "me" was struggling. Her hatefulness was like salt on an open wound.
5. The people in the cheap seats..ignore them. They aren't putting themselves out there like you are. They live in fear or laziness or whatever, but they don't know how brave you are. They don't realize the fear you face in putting your work out there and sharing it with the world. They aren't brave, they are weak and weak people hide behind a mask or a screen and try to bring those who are brave down.
6. Ask yourself the question "Is this true?". So I will often say "Is this feedback helpful and true?" If the answer is yes then I make a change. For instance on Insight Timer two people out of 600 reviews told me my audio could be improved so I purchased a new microphone and sound screen because I knew they were right.
When someone said on my Facebook page today "OMFG get lost"..well that's just a sour and miserable person. So I thought "Wow, what a miserable person" and got on with my life. Hide that stuff on your feed, get rid of the mean people if you can block them.
7. It only takes one yes. In some cases, not necessarily reviews but putting yourself out there to be published or to present you are going to be rejected. And I mean you are going to be rejected a lot! This is normal. Let me say it again this is normal. I have applied to countless events and was rejected and even asked "Who do you know associated with this event?". I got the picture right there. It was about who you knew. This year after 18 years in business I got a lot more of "YES". Please read this carefully, in 18 years I tried and tried and finally I got a book published, I spoke at a large and respected conference, I got the great job, I was interviewed on a well know podcast, I was featured on a well known app. Things started clicking but you know what? Just the other day I got rejected, one of my articles got rejected by a magazine. I was able to laugh about it because I know 90% of the time it's rejection and 10% acceptance on this end. Then when you get out there 90% of the time it's acceptance by your audience and 10 % rejection.
8. Find your people. Literally all of the people I am close to are business owners. They are publishers, writers, teachers, and own brick and mortar businesses and they are as human as you and I. We talk about the ups and downs, we share the mean thing someone says on our Facebook page and the rejections and we encourage each other. We say "Me too, but you know it only takes one person to say Yes." Find your people. Join a group of like minded people. Take someone in your field to lunch. Join online business groups to find support. Reach out and ask for help.
9. Keep being brave. Put yourself out there. If you feel passionate about something it is likely a God given gift. It is likely your purpose. That passion comes from somewhere. So keep being brave.
10. Ignore it. I used to want to respond to every comment good or bad and it's hard to do at a certain point. My recent Insight Timer meditation had over 600 reviews and a 4.5 rating which is great for this app. I read a few of the reviews and stopped. You don't have to read every single one, you can send out a general "Thank you" but you don't have to allow the negativity in. At some point when people are buying your work and you are making a living at it, it's okay to quit reading all the reviews. It's also okay to stop doing surveys. Yes you heard me right. I ask people to please share any positives they have with the world (whatever format is asking their opinion such as Facebook or Yoga Alliance) and please if you have a problem or need me to help send me an email or give me a call. I quit doing surveys because overall 1 our of 20 complained. Once you build a circle of friends and trusted business confidants you can trust they will tell you what you need to change or fix.
One of my dear teachers who is in the top of our field once told me (our group) in a training that he quit doing surveys because he was so sensitive to the negative ones. He was in his mid 70's and at the top of our field, he is very well respected. His openness and vulnerability gave me permission to accept myself more and to know that we are all human, even those of us who put ourselves in the public arena.

All my love and I wish you the very best. Courtney Butler Robinson

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Asking for Help & Getting It.

This information really could be for anyone, however I generally address yoga teachers and yoga business owners since this is the field I service. One thing that happens to me on a weekly basis is someone ask me for help. I actually love helping others and it makes me so happy when someone actually gets what they need and it improves their life and they tell me about it. It makes me feel useful.
On the other hand one thing that really frustrates me and it is becoming a real struggle is people calling and asking me for favors that create a lot of work for me.

Here are some tips (and examples I deal with) on how to promote yourself and your career that are actually more likely to get you what you want and be beneficial to the other person as well. Consider the fact that when you ask for help one of two things need to happen.
1. You need to also be benefiting the person you are requesting help from.
2. You need to benefiting someone else in the process and let it be known your goal to help someone else by being helped yourself.

See below for an explanation.

Examples of request I get and when and how I am willing to help.

  1. A call to put a link of my website. It generally goes like this "Did you know yoga is good for xyz, and we offer this service. Could you put our link on your website?" Well "No", I would have nothing but links clogging up my web page. What would work is this "Hello, my name is xyz and I offer this service ______. We see that you are a professional in your field and would love to work with you. Would you be interested in having us submit a blog post and if it meets your standards would you please post it on your blog page. We will then share it with our clients via email and social media. Hope to have the pleasure of working with you."
  2. People ask me to have meetings all the time and give me examples of their work then ask me to promote them. I simply do not have time to do this. I have a busy life and business and can barely keep up with my marketing plan. My goal is to support my family through my work so I need to promote my business, however if it's a win win I'm happy to help. Here is what does work. "Hello my name is ____________, I am a yoga teacher specializing in __________. I hear you are the go to person for yoga in this area and I am offering such and such. I would love to give you a free ticket to my event and if you will share it with your clients I will gladly share your events on my page as well with my clients." By the way it would be good if you attended the persons class, buy and read the book, read over the webpage etc... before you meet with them. I actually had a person ask me to promote them on a day of my big workshop in the same town. Had they read my webpage or looked at my social media they would have known this and probably thought better of it. 
  3. If someone is already my student and has spent countless hours training with me and spent money to work with me then I am going to promote their work because it is dear to my heart to help those people. I do not mind doing this. If someone calls me looking for a restorative yoga teacher and my student has a passion for this I am going to promote them. If you are my student and reading this know that I don't mind helping you, especially if your request takes me 15 minutes or less to handle. If you have not been a client of mine and you want to work with me please read my book, my blog, my web page or look at my You Tube Channel for the answers you are looking for and if you want to work with me give me a call or email me and we can book a consult. My rates are very reasonable. 
  4. Can you help me plan a retreat? Did you go to school with me or are you already a client of mine ? If so yes I can spend about 15 to 30 minutes giving you some pointers. No worry, no cost, I am happy to help you because you are already a client of mine and I appreciate you choosing to work with me. Do you need additional help? Then please book a call with me for a consult and I will give you a detailed plan. OR even better,  I wrote a book on the subject and you can buy it for $14.99. If you need more after that then book an appointment and we can build a detailed plan. I know the cost of my time will save the person more than they spend with me. I've spent a ton of time and money honing my skills and I love to help people be successful.
  5.  My student has severe pain in this area and I want to help them. Are you my student, client? Have you spent time working with me in the past and paid me to train you? Absolutely, you want to help someone else I will help you help them as long as we can figure it out in a reasonable time frame. Do you know me but are not my student? Is this going to take more than 10 minutes? If so then please book a phone call with me to do a consult. 
  6. Would you come talk to my group about xyz for free? I spent enough money on training to pay for 6 years of college and have worked countless hours to do what I do. If you want me to take time out of my day there is a fee, on the rare occasion that I can volunteer my time like this it is going to be for a cause I truly believe in and or I have no one else I can send you. I'm often going to send you one of my student teachers who is working in the field you are requesting because they are building a career and it would benefit them. I recently was asked to speak to a group that is likely not going to be able to afford even to pay me a small fee,  because it is a cause dear to my heart I said yes. 

The bottom line. When you are asking for help think about the other person. This is their career. They are making a living doing this. If you want to be on their podcast how are you going to promote them? If you want them to promote you how can you help them. If you want them to come speak to your group tell them what you have budgeted for this.  If you are are afraid you don't have the money to pay then ask them how much they charge. Be considerate of their time and consider if you were being asked to help someone what you would feel good about.

Hope this helps you be successful in asking for help.


Thursday, July 5, 2018

Hosting Yoga Events

Hosting Yoga Workshops, Retreats and Events

Are you a yoga teacher who wants to start offering workshops but you are not sure how? Would you like to offer a weekend retreat to your students but don't know where to begin?

I've spent countless hours on the phone over the years assisting others in doing just this. In 2007 I started with a series of small workshops on certain topics like yoga for sciatica and yoga for foot pain. These were quite successful. From there I grew organically opening a school, then gaining the knowledge to host larger events like retreats. At the same time as I was working on my career in the field of yoga I was also working about twenty hours a week in the field of sustainability. At that time I was Vice President of a group called the Beautification Commission. We had grant money to do work to clean up our environment in my local community. That work led to me helping and leading organization of large community events that often attracted upwards of 7000 people. We rented large spaces, found sponsors, made schedules, attended other events and generally did all the things you do with event planning. After about 5 years of doing this I gained enough skills to put on day events, then weekend retreats.

Why am I telling you this? Because I have spent a large part of my career hosting successful yoga events and have made many mistakes and had many successes which I have learned so much from. I love to help others be successful, being of service makes me happy.
I've published a 24 page e book that is in the form of a download. The e book contains links to assist you in your journey as well and a list of other resources.

To order this book for only $14.99  go to

5 Tips from the book
1. Start your search for a location a year to six months prior to your event if you can.
2. You will need to have the down money for a deposit. 
3. You will not be able to please every persons dietary needs.  Have a back up plan (I give tips for this in the book). 
4. Pick a place with plenty of room for all the yoga mats. Look at floor space carefully. 
5. Put in place a detailed financial policy and keep your options limited on pricing to avoid bookkeeping headaches. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Signing Non Competes, Competition, and Ethical Practices as a Yoga Teacher.

I am weary of this conversation and it's a constant topic of discussion in the yoga world. I keep hearing that some yoga teachers think that the studios are living in fear of competition and yoga studio owners (who were once teachers out there working often in many locations) are worried about their sub contractors teaching for the competition as they struggle to keep the doors open.

What if everyone started putting themselves in the shoes of the other person? How about the Golden Rule?

We have to get back to thinking about others. Even when it's not easy.

This is my current response to a FB group called  "Yoga Teachers" I am in.
Honestly this kind of negativity I am responding to in this post is one reason I am backing out of the public yoga world to some degree.

Full Disclosure: I owned a studio for 2 years (after many years of working as a teacher and yoga director) , closed it when my building was sold and decided not to move. I traveled and taught for a few years and came back to teach in a shared space I rented to offer classes where I made as much money teaching as when I had my studio without the headaches. I have no stake in my opinions as I now work in the corporate world as a contracted yoga therapist, I'm in charge of me and I like it. I still own a very successful school that has been in business for ten years and has trained over 205 teachers to date. I will retire from school ownership in 2019 by choice to focus on my work as a yoga therapist, writer and presenter. 

Courtney Robinson So I've been in the business nearly 20 years and I've been on all sides of this. I've been the teacher, I've been the administrator, and I've been the studio owner. Legally if you're an independent contractor then they do not have the right to tell you where you can and cannot teach. However, when I was working for the health clubs and a large nonprofit and hiring and firing people as employees, general practice that is not spoken about is to not hire people who work for competing businesses. This is in the corporate world where they aren't really concerned with your feelings, they see business as business.  We were instructed in both places where I was the administrator do not hire yoga teachers that work for the competing business unless we were desperate. When I opened my own studio I had been training teachers for some time so 90% of the teachers in town had been trained by me, and I had actually hired them in the nonprofit and the gym where I had worked. I simply asked them if they came to work for me to please not offer a competing class at the same time. I also talked to them about the circumstances in which I would be okay with, I had a right as a studio owner to run the studio as I felt was best practice for the business.  I requested that they make working for me a priority over taking jobs elsewhere if they decided to take the job. For example if they were already teaching at the local gym on Wednesday morning fine, but if they were looking for another class I requested that they ask me first and give me a chance to offer them something (at the same or better pay) before they go out and offer something down the street. Because I had been in charge at the other places I knew what they were paying and I offered competitive pay with benefits. As a Studio owner it is very difficult to keep the business afloat if the teachers that work for you are teaching for your competitor. There are often jobs in the studio where you're working if you get creative. You can do admin jobs for the studio or you could offer intensives or workshops or work privately with the clients. You simply would pay a percentage to the studio. This is how I became a "yoga director, then a fitness director" where I taught classes. *I have had teachers go out and open competing businesses with mine while working with me or within a short time of leaving and I've heard back that they had no idea how hard it was going to be. One told another teacher if she had to do it again she wouldn't. So think about both parties before you rush to decisions. What a lot of yoga teachers who don't own businesses don't understand is that the yoga studio is paying for marketing to get people into your classes, as well as insurance on the building which is huge (mine was $1250 for a year in a midsize town in  Arkansas), not to mention overhead that you're not seeing like bookkeeping, accounting, rent, toilet paper and supplies, the cost are endless. I am fanatical with numbers and tracked every dollar that came into our studio for two years and I can tell you that 73% on average that comes into a studio for a class goes to cover expenses. I was often paying double to my teachers over what I was taking out to pay myself. After paying all of the expenses and my teachers I was lucky to make $600 a month. My teachers on average where taking home more for classes than I was. I had low overhead with a family-owned building that I had no rent on. I also had built a clientele as I was one of the first teachers in my community. I write about this extensively in my book in the business section. You can find extensive information out there in my book and for free by putting Courtney Butler Robinson yoga in a Google search bar.
I think it's high time we all consider each other's position what the other party is going through. A lot of yoga teachers decide to open a studio and figure out the hard way how incredibly hard it is to compete when you're dealing with a lot of subcontractors. Yoga teachers often don't understand until they get out there and open a brick-and-mortar. It can be done ethically but it takes both parties considering the other person. 
Have conversations with each other. Talk it out. Think of all sides of the equation. 
One last example,  for years I worked in a gym, and I worked at a studio that I helped open, as well as working at a local college for 10 years for the health science division as their yoga teacher. The gym and the studio often shared students. I would not teach a class at the gym or vise versa that was in direct competition with the studio time. This may sound unrealistic but I felt that it was ethical. For instance if the gym had a 10 a.m. Monday morning class I would not teach at 10 a.m. class at the studio. I know this sounds crazy to some people but I always considered if that would cause the owners of both places a hardship if students had to choose between the two. I had a large following and I knew that it impacted both places.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Using Yoga Philosophy in Dealing with Tough Relationships

Today I was scrolling through Instagram and I came across a photo that spurred feelings of aversion, attachment and ego. When I thought through this a bit and ask myself "Why do I feel suffering?".I looked to the Kleshas for clarification (Yoga's Reasons for Suffering lined out in the Yoga Sutras) . Quickly I was able to see clearly what I was feeling. First I try to identify why I am suffering, then I will apply yoga as an application to understand and heal that suffering.

First: Identify the suffering. 
For me it is three of the 5 Kleshas: Asmita, Raga, & Dvesa

Asmita: Ego. My ego in comparison to this picture and how I had been hurt by this persons actions. For a moment I made it about me. How could I allow them to hurt me? Wasn't I smarter than this? Why did I continue to find myself in these destructive relationships? How could someone choose to do something so hurtful?

Raga: Attachment.  Sadness at the loss of my own faith in myself to choose to have relationships like this.  A pattern I've seen many times in my life. A person is very charming and kind and caring and then you start to notice a change such as distance, lying, anger, jealousy  (often when they lose interest or the gain for them from the relationship with you is gone). A pattern I repeat in my life from growing up with addiction in my family. There is a lot of manipulation with addiction and this often pulls you in, because drama is familiar.  This type of personality (addictive, self involved)  is often also drawn to a people pleaser or fix it person. That plays out in our relationships, as a child who grew up in addiction drama was just what we called "life". Adaptability is  our form of control and a way to gain love even though we aren't aware of it, until of course we are. These people we are drawn to are often charismatic and loved by many, but always at somewhat of a distance. They tend to run or change when they feel they have let their guard down or become vulnerable.  I am quite sure they are hurt people who do not know a healthy way of dealing with their hurt. Yet that does not mean we have to be a door mat for them to practice on.  I'm a person who tries (or used to, I'm getting better)  to keep peace at all cost because that was the control I once felt I had, hurt me, "Hey it's okay you are hurt so I'll protect you and your feelings even though I am hurt". This only turns inward and it's bad. It leads to being depleted & sick. I personally am in recovery now but it is a lifelong process to let go and heal from these tendencies. You may backslide now and again.

Dvesa: Aversion. I  felt sick when I saw this picture and the description because I felt it to be a false representation. Of course that is "my" perception alone.  I have to be big enough to own that someone else may see it very different.

So I went on over to the Yamas and NiYamas: Also in the Yoga Sutras, these are the guidelines for ethical living. Limbs 1 & 2 in  The 8 limbs of Raga Yoga.

I looked them over for a solution to my problem. Sometimes the solution is simply in the understanding.

A Yogic Application:

Ahimsa: Do no harm. By continuing to talk about this (I've already done that many times with my trusted confidants) I am feeding energy into it, only harming myself and potentially the other person. Not doing harm does not change even if the person is not what you presume to be a good person. Because it's not about them doing no harm, it's about your behavior.

Satya: Truth and Benevolence. The truth is this person was working from their own frame of reference no matter how distorted I think it to be. They have their truth and it is not mine. They may be acting out of fear or greed but I have to act in my truth and so the best thing is for me is to get away from them, detach.

Asteya: Non stealing. I can choose to allow or not allow someone to steal my joy.

Brachmacharya: Moderation and Unity. Keep my focus on thinking about the good not just the bad. Moderation in negative thinking. Being grateful for those good relationships in my life that have been lasting and don't involve drama.

Aparigraha: Simplicity. Keep it simple. Focus on my life. Don't over think it. Take care of Courtney.

Saucha: Clarity and Purity. What is true for me. I have clarity on what is true and good for me today. Be of a pure heart and be loving and focus on loving those who love me and treat me respectfully.

Santosha: Contentment. I have a gratitude practice. Again being content and looking around at all I have and the love in my life takes me away from the anger or sadness.

Tapas: Discipline. I discipline myself to my own self talk. To look at the situation as if I was coaching someone else. To focus on what I want my life to look like and how to achieve it. Such as I don't want this to hurt me and it does,  so I need to focus my mind in a different direction, one towards love and abundance.

Svadyaya : Self Study. Choose to practice my breathing, asana (postures) and meditations and positive thinking. Go to my Alanon meetings and read my literature that supports my recovery from abusive relationships.

Ishvara Pranidhana : Surrender to my God, my higher power. I am not in control. There is only so much I can control and I know God has my back.

Thank you for seeing into my world for today. Thank you for reading this. I hope this also can help you or someone you know.

Take care of you. Self care. Love yourself and be kind to yourself. Now I'm going to the gym!


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Clearing Confusion about Yoga Teachers and Yoga Therapist.

Hello Dear Yogi's, As yoga explodes in the West and around the globe the confusion grows. One administrator at Yoga Alliance once told me "It's the Wild West of Yoga these days!". That it is.

As with anything, especially in the West, if it becomes popular then it will become capitalized on for people to make money. Money is not evil but often brings out the worst in us. Even ethical people have a hard time keeping up and being competitive when they have made yoga their living.

Yoga is vast and varies greatly from lineage to lineage. The National Institute on Health now recognizes yoga as a healing modality. So how does one determine what type of yoga to take or who to see?  Is a hot vinyasa yoga class as healing as a private yoga therapy session with a certified yoga therapist? It depends on who you are and what you need.

Here I will try to clear up a bit about the difference in a yoga teacher and a yoga therapist.

In the U.S. yoga is not regulated. In some states yoga schools are regulated but yoga teachers are not. That means anyone can teach yoga, with or without training. Most reputable providers now recognize at minimum a 200 hour Registration with Yoga Alliance as the minimum to teach yoga. This means the teacher has had a basic teacher training with two hundred hours of training. A 500 hour registration means the teacher has had 500 total hours of training. A certified yoga therapist (C-IAYT) has at minimum one thousand hours of training.
A yoga teacher can provide yoga that is therapeutic in nature. Many styles and types of yoga can be therapeutic as they can be mentally, physically and emotionally balancing. A yoga teacher can provide private yoga classes and small group yoga that has a goal of providing a better quality of life for the student.

Then what is a Yoga Therapist?

Some two hundred and three hundred (three hundred was once called five hundred because you add the hours together) schools are training people and saying they will be yoga therapist but they are not accredited with the International Association of Yoga Therapist or IAYT so they cannot apply for the C-IAYT credential.  There is a big difference in being a member school and an accredited school. Accreditation means the school went through a rigorous process to achieve accreditation and was approved by IAYT. A member school simply pays a fee to be affiliated with IAYT.

However, teachers who graduate from those 200 or 300 hour schools may have training with a yoga therapy emphasis. I myself have a 500 hour program that is holistic in nature and teaches yoga teachers to work one on one and with individuals and in small groups in way that promotes safety and health and overall quality of life. I train many medical professionals to utilize yoga in their practice from doctors, social workers, psychologist, nurses, occupational therapist and more. I do train people to assess, work and provide private individualized instruction to address the needs of the client.  However, Yoga Alliance will not allow me or anyone else to call a 300/500 hour program a Yoga Therapy school under YA accreditation. There is a lot of confusion on this because a 500 hour program just a few years ago was the highest credential in our field (though there were some programs out there offering yoga therapy until a few years ago there was no accreditation program).
IAYT is the credentialing source for Yoga Therapy Schools that want to offer an accredited program as a yoga therapist, this requires a total of 1000 hours of training, with at least 800 hours in the field of yoga therapy.

So what to do and how to know what credentials you need if you are wanting to provide yoga therapy and what if you want to be the recipient of yoga therapy?

If you are a yoga teacher and you want to work with people in a way that provides overall health and quality of life lets talk about how to do that ethically. Get training in the area you want to work. Lets say you want to work one one with students and keep them safe providing physical and mental balance. Then I would recommend saying something like "Jane Doe: 200 hour teacher providing classes and individual yoga sessions in the are of Trauma Informed Yoga" , assuming you had training in that area, or you might say "I work one on one with individuals to improve the quality of their life using yoga as a therapeutic modality".
How would that differ in what a Certified Yoga Therapist might say? "Courtney Butler: Certified Yoga Therapist working one on one with students offering yoga therapy." I could go on to say what specific areas I work with or put a link to my bio which gives my overall training and credentials.

Simply put as a yoga teacher or therapist only advertise what you are capable of and what you have been trained to do. Always be honest and ethical with a clear intent.

If you are a student wanting yoga therapy then you need to determine your needs. If you have run of the mill stress, anxiety and need to get in better shape but you are not limited by what you can do then you would be fine to find a "well trained" yoga teacher to take classes in a group or one on one. You should ask questions to find out their experience and what the class will look like. Let's say you are suffering from depression and want counseling but also would like someone to incorporate yoga. Many social workers are now being trained to incorporate yoga into their counseling practices.

If you are a person who has illness and has been limited by your doctor on what you can and cannot do then I would suggest you see a C-IAYT or someone with a medical background specific to your needs and yoga training. The International Association of Yoga Therapist has strict guidelines for what C-IAYT's must know and how much experience they have to have. For instance I was grandfathered in but had to provide at minimum ten years of documented experience in my field working one on one. I had to provide documentation of my training in the field of yoga therapy (I had over the 1000 hours) as well and had to be a registered yoga teacher (actively working) for over ten years (for me it was seventeen). Each grandfathered in teacher (only before summer of 2018, this is no longer available) had to prove competency. From this point out each C-IAYT needs to take an additional 800 hours of training on top of a 200 hour RYT to become a Certified Yoga Therapist with an accredited school.

As the field of yoga therapy grows IAYT leads the way in providing the highest standards. It is very likely in the near future yoga therapy will be much like chiropractic care and acupuncture and you will see yoga therapy offices that accept insurance. Those yoga therapist will likely be regulated in the future and will all hold a C-IAYT credential.

In closing, a yoga teacher with proper training can offer a class or a private session to help with many of life's challenges. If you have any type of disease, illness, bone weakness, neurological issues and your doctor or medical provide has recommended you try yoga therapy it would be good to look into someone who either has specific training in yoga and a related medical background or holds the C-IAYT credential. For instance I often train social workers, these folks are more than capable of helping using yoga and meditation techniques to deal with depression and anxiety. I am often sent clients though psychiatrist or neurologist with neurological issues they have not been able to resolve, I work daily with diabetics, cardiovascular patients, and those with cancer. If I am not available to work one on one with someone I will often find a qualified yoga teacher with a complimentary background or specialized training to help them or recommend another yoga therapist.

At the end of the day the responsibility lies on the student or client to do their research and homework and find the person they feel comfortable working with. 

Courtney Butler Robinson
Stress Managment Specialist with the Dr. Dean Ornish Reversal Program
RYS 200, RYS 300/500
Author of "The Mud & The Lotus: A Guide and Workbook for Students of Yoga"

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Dealing with lack of support, distractions in the classroom and encouraging diversity.

So I put out on the Internet to yoga teachers, students and yoga business folks to please share with me your biggest struggle and frustrations as well as what motivates you. A dear teacher friend sent me her answers. 
What was frustrating and a bit of a struggle came in two areas.

1. Feeling frustrated when people treat your work like a hobby or a luxury. 

As yoga teachers we know that most of us have gone to school for quite some time, worked and studied really hard to get to where we are and when we get out of school it's just the beginning. Then we have to figure out how to get students to our classes. Some people have had to make the choice to live a simpler life and give up some of life's extravagances in order to teach. We often run to and from job to job just to have enough clients. We sometimes open up our homes and invite people in to give back what has helped us. It is only natural that it would hurt when people make comments that it must be nice to "be able to just teach yoga". Ugh.. 

What I have found is that there will always be those who are either ignorant to what it takes to be good at our craft or maybe they are jealous or sometimes just down right nasty. Most of the time what I have found is it's best to try not to engage, it never is worth it anyway. I have found these things help. 

1. Rather than try to defend, be yourself, do your thing, and when you are with people who don't understand you try to talk about something else. I know this can sometimes be people we are close to and they ask about your life and you don't want to go there. It's also hard when you want people to be supportive and they think you are wasting time or money. Just keep doing you and try to not go down that road. We have to make ourselves happy and not live for other people. 

2. Find people you support you. Talk to other yoga students, teachers, and friends who get you. It's important to have this support so you don't feel alone. When you feel alone or lonely or wonder if you are wasting your time (been there) call your supporters. 

2. Struggles with people who disrupt class. 
Set the tone before class by getting the room the way you want it. Do you want a quieter style class, have soft music, low lights (maybe twinkle lights) and a calming atmosphere and speak in a quite calm voice. If you want a more upbeat class, have the lights at a comfortable level for the practice, or low is fine, however your beats per minute on the music or your play list  may need to be a bit more upbeat. If you want a calm class but the ability to feel like a person can ask questions then give permission language before and after class. Such as "If you have a question please raise your hand or simply ask me to come over".

1. Hand out a sheet with "What to expect or yoga etiquette to new students". They would appreciate it and it will save you some headaches, cover distractions like when it's okay to talk, coming in late, leaving early, body odor, phones etc.. A little planning saves a lot of headaches. 

2. One of my teachers always says "relax your lips" to those that feel they need to be chatty during class while others are trying to focus. This one always works. 

3. When nothing works have a gentle talk with the person and explain your issues as kindly as possible. Sometime they will understand and other times they won't and they won't come back but that may be best. 

3. Motivated to get a diverse group of people or a certain population to class. 
This teacher I was referring to was motivated because she reached out to size 14 and over women to get them to yoga. I need to ask her how she did that, so "L' if you are reading this please give me that info. I
f you want to attract a certain group of people here is what I suggest.

1. In your marketing material reflect pictures of the type of people you want to attract. If you want to reach out to curvy full figured women then put pictures of those type of women in class. 

2. If you want to offer classes that are not intimidating to beginners post pictures of all shapes and sizes doing common postures that are easily accessible to a wide group of people. 

3. People need to see people that look like them to some degree. If you are African American and you want to reach that population put pictures of yourself on the material and or other people of color doing yoga. Also find those populations and start offering those classes in places you will be able to easily reach those populations. 

Thank you "L" for your comments. I so appreciate them!

Love and Light,

Friday, February 2, 2018

Research to help yoga students, teachers, business owners.

Hi friends. I'm doing some research and would appreciate your help. Yoga students, yoga business owners, teachers, school owners, studio owners, would you please share with me by emailing me at Please let me know if you don't want me to share your name.
I'll answer those questions in my blog/vlog and get back to you. Thank you so much!

Please answer these questions: 
What is your biggest frustration? 

What is your biggest struggle?
What is your motivation for practicing, teaching, owning a business etc...?

Thank you all!
Courtney Butler Robinson

Certified Solution Focused Coach

Stress Management Specialist