On Prenatal Yoga

Right livelihood…

In our 200-hr trainings, and anytime we’re teaching teachers, we always share the notion that over time it’s good to find your niche.

What makes you you? What do you offer as an instructor that is unique?

We don’t shy away from the fact that we share, study and practice an ancient and sacred method, AND…we believe in being compensated for this soul work.

We believe in helping our teachers become commercially viable and want to see them thrive and not struggle. Money is just another form of energy, and it’s also another form of relationship.

I have been teaching prenatal yoga as long as I’ve been teaching yoga…ten years and counting. I am so grateful to have found this niche for myself. It’s led to connections and opportunities, knowledge and student relationships that are still thriving today from many years ago.


Right transmission…

As students, there’s a feeling we can’t quite explain that transmits through the practice of yoga. It’s one of the reasons we keep going back.

As teachers, we begin to learn that there is a method to delivering that feeling, that it’s not just an accident. We also learn that as teachers we can get in the way of that feeling and often unconsciously sabotage it.

Imagine teaching a prenatal yoga class, and how potent that feeling must be to both student and teacher. Women creating a life, looking to yoga during a scared and powerful time, supported by the community of other women on the exact same path reminding each other that they’re not alone. It takes a strong instructor to hold space for this, and we are all strong instructors with the right training.

I partner with Forrest Yoga teacher, Shaman and doula Bridget Boland for our Prenatal Yoga and Energetics of Birthing Teacher Training as she is a master in the art of energetics. All the stuff that isn’t anatomy and postures and sequencing…she shares the methods that give richness and depth to make your class offering great and memorable, and provide support beyond the postures to your Mamas. 


 Right seeing…

Raise your hand if you’re a yoga instructor, and when a pregnant woman walks into your regular group class you have a tiny internal freak-out.

Or, you don’t freak out, but you just tell her to “listen to her body” and then ignore her for the rest of class.

What if instead you were equipped to see her, to hold space for her as the powerful yogi she is and include her fully as part of the group instead of exclude her? It’s absolutely doable, it just takes knowledge and practice.

It’s these exact skills Bridget and I share in Prenatal Yoga + Energetics of Birth Teacher Training.

Even if you never plan to teach prenatal yoga exclusively, this training will deepen your teacher toolbox for your group classes and private sessions. As yoga instructors, although it feels like we share so little of the full depth of our knowledge, a seasoned instructor knows regardless that our toolbox must be deep.

Training starts in September.

Five Ways to Calm the Mind Before a Big Meeting

Five Ways to Calm the Mind Before a Big Meeting As featured in Conscious Company.

An important meeting can produce stress-induced anxiety for days or even weeks in advance. When we are in an active state of stress, the part of the brain that reacts to danger is activated and the part that helps us rationalize is suppressed. The part of the brain responsible for memory is also greatly suppressed. All of this means that while we may be able to exert high levels of physical strength for a very short period of time, we also experience brain fog, fatigue, lower concentration, and an inability to communicate clearly.

Other than taking time to be prepared with your content, knowing it forward and backward, here are five ways to calm your mind before a big meeting. This list can also be employed in the days leading up to the meeting to keep stress at bay.

  1. Long Exhale

The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body, and its branches run through all organs. Stimulating the vagus nerve activates your body’s relaxation response. With a few minutes of conscious breathing, you can activate the vagus nerve and take yourself out of fight-or-flight mode, which is common when anxiety is high.

Take two or three quiet minutes with your eyes closed, seated in a chair, and focus on your breath. Inhale as fully yet softly as you can, and then take twice as long to exhale. The lengthened-out exhale is key in calming your heart rate, thus calming your nerves.

2. Feel your feet

When we feel the ground, we feel stability throughout the entire body. Elevated expectations and the thought of getting up in front of a group can make anybody weak in the knees with that “outer-body” feeling. Whether standing or sitting, wiggle your toes and feel the weight of your feet on the ground (keep your knees soft if standing).

3. soft eyes

When we feel tense, our eyes strain, our brow furrows, and next comes the all-too-familiar stress headache. When you soften your eyes, your face and jaw relax and your brows and shoulders soften. Low and behold, your mind starts to relax, too!

4. soft eyes

Nourish your body through hydration in the days leading up to the meeting. We need water to maintain optimum function of every system in the body, including heart, brain, and lung capacity. And keep water with you at the meeting! Dehydration can set your heart racing and induce a feeling of lightheadedness and dizziness.

5. active listening

In a big meeting, being a great listener is just as important as being a good presenter. Instead of thinking of the next thing you’re going to say while someone else is talking, which is anxiety-producing behavior, turn your body toward the person, feel your feet on the ground, and breathe evenly while you take in what they’re saying. Your mind will remain clear and steady, rather than scattered and unfocused.

Top Five Health Tips from a Mindfulness Perspective

See feature in the April 2019 issue of Fort Worth Magazine.

Typically, a “Top 5” list for health tips would include eating guidelines and encouragement to exercise. While those are both crucial pieces to the puzzle, what if I told you that true health starts in the brain? Here are my current, non-negotiable, daily health tips that help me stay clear, focused and productive: 


1.    Good sleep = a great day. When we’re rested we are more resilient, more even in our emotional state, and more receptive to friends, co-workers and family. To calm an overactive mind while lying in bed wishing for sleep to come, make a mental list of 10 things you’re grateful for. This will pull your mind away from the constant stream of thoughts and allow everything to settle inside. 


2.    Take a moment to breathe. Before replying to an email or beginning a meeting, before going in to pick up children from school or greeting family at the end of a long day, take three deep breaths. Encourage the exhale to be twice as long as the inhale. This breathing pattern gives your nervous system the signal that all is well and quiets reactivity. 


3.    Slow your roll. Do you ever find yourself rushing around home or office like something is chasing you? We often create a false sense of urgency simply by the speed with which we move through the day. Slow your pace, notice your breath as you walk, and arrive to your next destination more present and clear-minded. 


4.    Schedule tech-free time every day. While our brains continue to adapt to the use of modern technology, we also need a break. Schedule an hour or two a day where the phone is off or commit to no computer time after 7 pm. Resist checking social media until 8 am each day or commit to yourself that you won’t take your phone with you on your lunch break. Make it a habit and get into the same tech-free routine each day. Rest your eyes on nature or sky instead. Your brain will thank you.  


5.    Commit to a mindfulness meditation practice. A major finding in modern neuroscience is that the architecture of our brains is not static. The architecture can change.  What we practice and think about grows stronger in the brain, for better or worse. Develop a formal mindfulness practice to help manage the incessant stream of thoughts and create a more healthy relationship with your mind. 


What Makes Our Yoga Teacher Training Unique

What Makes Our 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Unique

In a sea of yoga instructor certification trainings in Fort Worth, it can be challenging to pick the right one for you. 

We accept no more than 20 trainees and offer instruction in ratios of 1:10, 1:5, and 1:3 over the course of 5 months, allowing ample time to absorb the information and practice applying the knowledge. We meet for six weekends as a whole group and twice monthly in more intimate small group settings to offer live feedback and encouragement. We utilize weekly conference calls to remain connected and ensure that our live time together is maximized.  

We understand that yoga instructor trainings vary in how they address the history of yoga and yoga philosophy. The sutras offer us a wealth of instruction about how to grow even in our modern world. Therefore, we weave a sutra into the theme of each weekend. Additionally, in weekly conference calls, we discuss the yamas and niyamas and how they relate to our ethics as teachers, students, and humans. 

We teach functional anatomy and explicit alignment of yoga poses as well as philosophies for sequencing these poses. While we do not teach you to teach a brand of yoga, we do teach you to remain so grounded and embodied that you’re able to teach the student(s) in front of you exactly what they need. Many have questioned how this is possible. Philosopher Eugene Gendlin found that in therapy, the most important factor was a therapist who was grounded. We can apply this research to yoga - to everything, really. A grounded parent...a grounded husband...a grounded listener...a grounded leader - a grounded yoga teacher is more important than any single style of yoga. We share how teach a yoga sequence in which the instructor remains present to what’s occurring inside his or her body, while observing what’s happening in students’ bodies, too. 

In addition to the technical alignment of yoga postures and how to sequence classes safely, within the scope of each module, we emphasize how to adapt sequences to meet the vast needs of diverse student populations Having practiced yoga during pregnancy and conducted prenatal yoga trainings, Lauren teaches trainees how to adapt classes to meet the needs of pregnant students. Additionally, Amber teaches how to adapt yoga to people beyond the studio, specifically to those who have experienced unresolved trauma and/or whose mobility is limited. We believe that as we reframe the idea that if you have a body, it is in actuality a yoga body, and make yoga accessible to a wider audience, our community will become more mindful. 

Together, we are a solid team. At least once a weekend, we look at each other and say, “I’m so glad we’re doing this together.” We have tremendous respect for each other. Our shared trust in one another creates a safe container for the training to unfold. Lauren’s longtime meditation practice and work with Mindful Schools as well as Amber’s background in counseling and Somatic Experiencing influence our ability to hold and share sacred space. 

The Practice : a 200 hour Yoga Alliance Teacher Training is appropriate if you're a yoga practitioner seeking to deepen your understanding of the practice. Additionally, the training is thorough and unique enough that even registered yoga teachers will find it enriching. 

Additional things you learn in this yoga teacher training:

• an understanding of the connection between the physical body and subtle body
• ways to utilize sound to promote healing
• communication strategies which honor both nonviolence and truth
• formulas for speaking which encourage people to listen, promoting deeper intimacy and connection
• the science of the enneagram as it relates to work and life
• practices for improving mindfulness
• somatic techniques to reduce stress and down-regulate the nervous system
• exercises to find your niche audience and bolster your online presence and business

If you have reservations about whether you are “good enough” (whatever that means), click here.

You are, by the way, good enough. 
You are unique. 
Never will there be another soul exactly like you. 
And, our world needs what you have to offer. 


 Author : Amber Shumake

Yoga Teacher Training in Fort Worth : is this path for me?

This yoga instructor training is designed for people aged 20 - 80. For the people who when asked - What do you do for fun - you stare at your shoes or the ceiling and question whether it’s safe to say “yoga poses?”

This training is for you folks who have hobbies, even if you aren’t quite sure what they are. You sing or dance or paint. 

You do, indeed, find yoga to be fun and empowering...an absolute necessity in your life. 

You plan your schedule around your favorite yoga classes with your favorite teachers. You drive over bridges and through tunnels to get to the studio when necessary. 

You’d rather eat on a budget and spend the saved income on yoga. 

You like cheeseburgers and aren’t sure if this is ok in the yoga community. And you’ve not jumped on the nondairy bandwagon. You like cream in your coffee and, well, cheese on your burgers. 

You drink a little too much coffee.  And you like a glass of wine; or, conversely, you used to like wine a little too much and now you’re embracing a sober life. 

You’re a serious dog or cat lover...or both. You love all beings. Except for a handful who’ve hurt you. And you’re trying to love them, too. Bless their hearts, you say if you’re from the South. And if not, you’ve got a few other choice words. 

You prefer the Iphone > Android but you’d still like not to spend so much time staring at your phone. You’d like to meditate more but you think you don’t know how.  

You are likely to unroll your mat in the back or in the corner because you’re humble or insecure depending on the day. 

Sure, you’re partial to a teacher or two, but you practice at a few studios and also at home. You appreciate the variety and ask yourself - even in a “bad” class - “What can I learn from this soul who’s teaching? What’s here for me?” 

You aren’t really sure what it is that you love about your favorite teachers’ classes, which is what has intrigued you to learn more. 

You’re a true student of the practice: your own practice. 

And, people around you recognize the many gifts that a regular yoga practice affords you. These “toe-dipping” yoga humans want to know what they can do to heal their ailing back or aching heart or angry rage. And you’re a helper. You want to help.

You have a day job, which takes precedence over your hobbies. You long to do something solely for your own soul. And you keep convincing yourself the timing isn’t right or you don’t have the money or shouldn’t spend it or shouldn’t want this. And you are tempted to stop should-ing on yourself and put the bill on a credit card with airline miles because you love to travel but you’re also either raising young souls or having already raised them, you’re putting them through college. 

You’re not sure you’ll ever love backbends. Your mid-back is so stiff and your low back so hypermobile and your shoulders round because the stiffness juxtaposed with the hypermobility is confusing to your chest. 

Your inversion practice is touch and go. Love and hate. It’s just the way it is. 

And still you unroll your mat. Often. 

Because yoga is the practice which paves the clear path for you to live peacefully. 

And you’re inspired to share it with others.

Of course, you are. 

 Author : Amber Shumake

What Meditation Has Taught Me


 The quiet bliss, the flash of total contentment, hoping it soaked in, knowing a part of it will always be there, will it last? And then…there it goes.  

 The next day, the ping-pong mind, fluttering around to someone I knew 25 years ago and then straight to anxiety about future lack of money. This anxious energy wants to stick around. 

 These things seem so solid, but like the flash of total contentment the day before, are completely transient. Why do the worries and anxieties and heartbreaks feel so much more powerful than the actual moments of peace?

 There is an element of dedication to mindfulness practice. It’s not designed to be a one-year thing, a random act. It’s a showing up as often as I can over a lifetime so the quiet moments have caliber and start to layer. It’s a recognition that my mind may trick me into thinking life should be bigger, louder, brighter, when really, I have already arrived. Self-help media may tell me that a breakthrough is around every corner waiting to happen, and once it does it may be earth-shattering and profoundly life-altering.  When really, the practice that actually effects lasting change is subtle, gentle, slow, sensitive, easily missed, and quiet. 

 The loud things that stick in my mind and then lodge in my body are one-time events, conversations gone awry or a string of encounters in a relationship. The balm for this strong energy is my daily ongoing dedication to meditation. Hundreds of sittings may soothe one loud thing. Thousands of sittings may help me transmute a toxic relationship. And such is the practice of meditation. Quiet dedication. 


Refining Yoga Classes

Nine years ago, I began to feel a deep ache in my left inner hip that felt more painful after yoga classes. I knew what it was then, and an MRI last summer confirmed it: interior anterior labral tear, with left gluteus minimus tendinopathy. My yoga injury. You can think of the labrum like the rubber seal on a Ball jar, essentially sealing the head of the femur into the joint. When this tissue gets torn or damaged, range of motion is restricted and pain presents eventually. Some say it’s permanent, some say physical therapy or PRP therapy can help, and some say only surgery is a true fix.

The heart of yoga is timeless and gorgeous. What we consider asana, or yoga poses, today isn’t ancient at all but really a new discipline in the long history of yoga as a whole. As with anything new, it needs to continue to be refined as we learn more about the mechanics of the body and as we have more data of more bodies over longer periods of time in this discipline.

The ever-growing population of long-time yoga practitioners with both shoulder and hip labrum tears, neck pain, SI joint injuries, hamstring attachment injuries, and knee injuries needs attention. The more extreme range of motion postures are, well, extreme. Fine, do them once in a while and don’t hurt yourself. Most of the practitioners who can do them were born with a structure that supports larger range of motion or some other proportion that makes the shape more accessible. Couple that with a few months of work and you’ve got a gorgeous Instagram photo.

This writing isn’t about that. This writing is about how we can maintain a full lifetime of yoga, steadiness, and equilibrium with a body that feels each posture from center and throughout all limbs. It’s about how we can practice asana in a way where intensity isn’t concentrating stress in one part of the body, but rather how close we can stay to ourselves while yoga pressurizes us as a whole from the inside, and while in the midst of that pressure we can mind equanimity.

The end game of yoga is that we are not separate. Applying this to our asana practice, if a feeling is so much more intense in one part of the body that there is no awareness in the rest of the body, it’s time to retreat. Take a breath, go more deeply into where you are with attention, awareness, a sense of wholeness and the capacity to feel all of it. Not only are we not separate from each other according to the teachings, no part of our body is separate. The body is one whole thing. And the body is part of everything.

Our body is profoundly resilient and adaptable and is always moving toward equilibrium. I know that not using my body as a result of this tear in my hip is not a great strategy. I don’t need to be afraid to use my body, and I would so much rather have an issue from overuse than underuse. Today, I work harder than I ever have in my practice, and at the same time…my practice looks totally different. For my body, working hard and advancing isn’t being so flexible that I can get my leg behind my head, because for my body that is fairly easy. For my body, working hard and advancing is countering my flexibility, being able to contract a muscle I didn’t think I could, and feeling my body as a whole unit instead of random parts and pieces. To me, that is more challenging than anything else and is a maturation of my practice.

Advanced is also a daily practice of gratitude so that I don’t turn against my body. Yoga has allowed me to have this injury and yoga has supported me in staying interested in my body even with this perceived limitation. Keeping an internal environment of friendship is crucial in making sure it’s not just the loud kid that gets the attention…but the quiet ones receive care and attention too.

I say “listen to your body.” I’ve said it for years. Teachers say it to me while I’m a student in class. Doctors say it. Colleagues say it. Parents say it. It’s really important to listen to your body and we can hear so much in doing so. Body does know best and in yoga it’s a really significant instruction.

However, the thing about “listening to your body” in yoga asana is that if your body has been practicing for many years doing the same postures the same way hundreds of times, resulting repetitive stress injuries usually don’t present with pain until the injury has already settled in. Even if you are truly consciously listening to your body, the nature of modern yoga creates an environment of vulnerability in some bodies that isn’t even felt until long after it happens. In a practice where we have much repetition over time, we’re beginning to see hard evidence that the things that we are repeating need some refining.

As teachers, we can do better than “listen to your body.” As teachers we can start to learn about the imbalances in yoga sequencing (why do we forward fold so much and why have I now officially done 9 million chatturangas in my lifetime?). We can know which joints in the body are continually stressed over and over and figure out how to cue a posture in a way that lessens the pressure on an area. We can approach our teaching as a skill that is always evolving and constantly being cleaned up as we change what doesn’t work and default back to the basic biomechanics of how we were born to move.

My 200 hour yoga teacher training teacher, Kim, was always going against the grain in this arena, long before anyone wanted to hear it. And today, 10 years later, my 300-hr teacher Jason Crandell has been going against the grain in his intelligent and intuitive way, and is helping me wake up, again, to this practice of yoga and all the ways it continues to challenge me to expand.