Pacing Yoga Classes: How to Deal with Too Much or Too Little Time

I recently wrote about strategies for timing and pacing your group classes accurately. In a perfect world, these would work every time and you would never need to consider “damage control.”  In our wonderfully imperfect reality, you’ll find yourself derailed from time to time. AdobeStock_108582251.jpeg

So what do you do when you realize your timing is off?

In case you’re reading this thinking – well this doesn’t apply to me; I plan my classes and prepare enough that once I start teaching, I know my rhythm and trust my routine.

For you skeptics, here are some examples:

  • A student might come in late and distract you or disrupt the flow of class
  • You might need to spend extra time breaking down postures if you have a class including people newer to yoga in general
  • A student might have a question, or an emergency that requires attention
  • You might get nervous and talk/cue faster than you plan to (or slower!)

In sum, sh*t happens, and you can prepare yourself for it now, or panic in the moment.  These are some of my preferred strategies for managing the two forms of time interference.


Scenario 1: Ending Too Soon/Needing to Fill Time

I’ve found that running through class too quickly is most common for new teachers.  In developing our “voices” – and our general comfort levels in front of a room – many of us, as new teachers, move through class sequences more quickly than we plan to.  Sometimes this stems from nerves – speaking faster than we intend to; other times it relates to a fear of pauses (which can, importantly, give students time to settle into a posture or connect to their minds, breaths, intentions); or it can just be a function of learning how to plan and sequence classes appropriately for your given class time.

My absolute number one suggestion to any teacher struggling with “extra” class time is to not conceptualize this issue as a need to “run out the clock.” More time means more opportunity to provide value to your students! Teaching yoga is such a gift – and extra time means more opportunities to share your well-earned knowledge and value with others.

The appropriate strategies for handling your extra time will depend on the type of class you are teaching.

If your class is intended to be an energetic/fast-paced class, you will not want to sacrifice these unintended 10, 15 (or sometimes even more!) extra minutes with postures that slow down your class too quickly.

Given a class that prioritizes movement, here’s what I’d suggest:

  • Your students should be very warmed up by now.  You can use this time to introduce more advanced postures (if you are comfortable doing so).
  • You can also repeat part of class that you practiced earlier, but cue your students to pay attention to how their bodies might experience these postures differently now.
  • A technique that combines the previous two might include revisiting a posture, but adding options for more advanced interpretations.  As an example: half pigeon.  Half pigeon has a lot of variations! You can guide students into a “mermaid” variation, bending one knee and possibly grasping the raised foot with a hand, or finding the elbow and reaching for a bind in your hands.  You can also cue a spine-strengthening variation, inviting students to bring weight out of their hands, maybe floating their arms and using their spine strength to keep their upper body raised.  Another go-to of mine involves cueing students to bring their front shin closer to parallel to the front of the mat.  Most students bring their front foot to the hip crease in half pigeon – but guiding that foot forward helps to open the muscles necessary for hanumasana, or front splits. All of these are ways to level-up a pose you might have previously included in class, and fill your extra time with extra value.

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If you are teaching a class that is more focused on meditation, or otherwise more slowly-paced, you can use your spare time in other valuable ways:

  • Add a yin or restorative posture.  Some of my favorites are supta baddha konasana, supported fish pose, supported bridge, or Figure-4.  You can use the time they are in these postures to lead your students through breathwork, discuss the importance of balancing physical movement with awareness of the mind and breath, or any other guided meditation.
  • Extra long savasana.  Note: my characterization of “extra long” is completely subjective.  You might teach a style of class that asks for a 2-minute savasana; others require 10+ minutes.  Either way, by extending your usual savasana segment of class, you have the chance to bring guided meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, or just extra time for the body to absorb the benefits of the preceding physical movement.
  • You can also give a few minutes for “play time.” I love having the time in a class to tell students they can use a minute or two to find any movements, poses, or stretches their bodies feel like they need to complete their physical practice.  Some students will move immediately to savasana, but others welcome the time to find their own physical expressions before their final resting pose.
  • If you have the foresight to know that you might end too soon, there are strategies you can use throughout the earlier parts of your class.
    • Add a child’s pose between any and all class segments! Child’s pose is an amazing posture you can do a lot with.  Cue students to pay attention to different parts of their bodies in this pose – their feet, the back of their rib cages, the connections various parts of their bodies form with the earth.  You can cue different arm variations – reaching the arms to one direction, then the other; bringing the arms down along the side of the body (where the hands are close to the hips for seashell or embryo pose); or bending the elbows and bringing the palms together for prayer pose behind the head for a nice tricep stretch.
    • Add extra time to postures you might normally find movement in.  Encourage students to close their eyes and fully inhabit downward facing dog, mountain pose, halfway lift from forward fold, etc.  Take this time to add in some extra anatomical knowledge, breathwork, or meditation.  You learned a LOT in your training – these are awesome, extra spaces to gift that knowledge to your students!

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Scenario 2: Ending Late/Going Over Time

Going over time is a problem many teachers struggle with – both those who have just started, and those who have been teaching for many, many years.  Some (though not all) students are very sensitive to classes not ending on time, either because they have busy schedules, or have strong feelings about their time being respected.  As a teacher, you definitely do not want that very avoidable factor to be the reason that students leave a class unhappy.

Here are some strategies I’ve picked up along the way for offering a full, complete class, but being respectful of your students’ time:

If you start late:

  • Let people know ahead of time! If your class is small enough that you feel comfortable giving this note, you might mention something like – “we’re starting a couple minutes late – is everyone ok if I keep you a couple minutes late?” The vast majority of the time, this question will not be met with resistance. But, students will appreciate that you’ve acknowledged that you both want to provide them with the duration of the class time they expected, and that you respect their time.
  • If anyone indicates that they need to leave immediately when class was scheduled to end, make sure they are sitting close to the exit and let them know that you will take care of cleaning up their props so they can leave quickly and quietly.

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If you realize during class that you will go over time:

  • Similarly, give the class a heads-up! Be sure to tell the class you will let them know when the scheduled end of class time is approaching. You could say something like “We will probably be going about 10 minutes over class time. I will let you know when we are close to __ (the scheduled end of class), in case you need to leave.
  •  If possible, it is best to move into a cool-down section of class before the scheduled class end time.  This allows the students who need to leave to still transition safely from, depending on the style of your class, a more active portion to their post-class activities.  Think about it like any other physical exercise – warm-ups and cool-downs are incredibly important for safety, recovery, and maximum benefits of your physical activity.

As with most aspects of teaching yoga, pacing and structuring classes becomes easier with time, practice, and experience.  Managing extra or too little time in your classes with eventually feel less like a need for “damage control” and more like an opportunity to practice flexibility and adaptation as a teacher.

In the meantime, I hope these suggestions are helpful as you find the reactions and strategies that feel most natural to you.

Please share your thoughts and ideas with me below – and, as always, thank you for reading!

-JW

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A 4-Step Guide to Pacing Yoga Classes

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One of the most sacred aspects of taking a yoga class is the opportunity to surrender.

  • Surrendering concern about past occurrences or future possibilities.
  • Embracing the present.
  • Allowing your instructor to hold space for you in every way: guiding your mind, guiding your body, guiding your breath…

…and

  • Trusting your instructor to pace and time your class both safely and accurately.

Purely in terms of customer service, there are two reasons to time your class accurately:

  1. Your students are paying for a guided experience lasting a specific amount of time. If you end unreasonably early, you aren’t providing them the full experience they were promised.  Think about how you would feel if you paid for, say, an hour with a therapist, an attorney, an accountant, or a massage therapist- and the practitioner ended the session after only 45 minutes? A yoga class should be viewed no differently.
  2. Your students are trusting you to respect their time by ending the session when it is scheduled to end. People are busy, and finding the time for self care isn’t always easy.  If you end a class far beyond its scheduled time, you run the risk of – albeit ironically and unintentionally – adding stress to a student’s day rather than relieving stress.  Say a student schedules an important appointment for half an hour after a yoga class ends.  If you run a class over by even 10 minutes, you reduce their time between activities by 30%.  This could lead them to, worst case scenario be late to their appointment – or, best case scenario, still be more rushed than they had planned.

Aside from these important customer service considerations, there are even more vital concerns about your students’ bodies.

  • Portions of your class should be timed to prepare the body to move through your sequence safely.  If you do not spend enough time warming up or cooling down the body, your students might experience injuries.
  • On a more optimistic note, your students will receive more benefits from their practice if their bodies are adequately warmed up! Whether you are working toward a peak posture or attempting to positively impact overall strength, balance, and flexibility, an ample warmup will help your students reach these goals.

And finally, YOU will benefit from time management!

  • By pacing and timing classes your classes accurately, you’ll find that teaching is easier, less stressful, and more enjoyable.

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Hopefully I’ve convinced you that pacing and timing is important.  Easier said than done, right? Well, actually, it is pretty easy if you use the following four strategies:

  1. What Matters Most? First and foremost, think about the structural ratio of your class. You don’t need to be a natural mathematician to understand this concept – AdobeStock_111257985.jpegbasically, it’s what you spend more or less time doing within your class time. Think about it like this: If you’re teaching a vinyasa flow or power yoga class, you’ll be actively moving much more than in a gentler or restorative class. Understanding this seemingly basic concept is integral to timing your class. Will you be spending most of your time on breathwork? Balancing postures? Emphasizing physical stillness? Physical movement? Mindfulness? Though many yoga classes integrate concepts, you’ll find that most classes have a central theme to them, and you want to structure your class appropriately to honor that primary concept.

  2. The Method’s in the Music. Music will become your best friend for pacing, if you work in a space that allows music (in Western culture, most do). Yes, you may need to spend some personal time figuring out what songs pair well with which movements, but it is SO, so worth it in the long run. If you put in the work and planning, you will determine which song pairs with which movements and sections of class.  Hearing a certain song end will cue you to transition to your next portion of class. Another song might give you an indication of having just 10 minutes left, so you know to move toward your cool down. This will allow you to lead the room through a practice without the reliance – or perception of reliance – on a clock.Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 19.23.14

  3.  Clockwork Organization. Set time markers for yourself. This is a strategy I use a LOT, both from when I started teaching, and to this day. Whether it’s a clock in the studio, or my personal watch, I think about my class in segments. Depending on the AdobeStock_126836354.jpegstyle I teach, there will be a set time I spend on the introduction to the class, a warm-up, a central segment, cool-down, and savasana – followed by the closing of the class.  As an example, I might think of a 1-hour vinyasa flow like this: by 10-15 minutes in, I want to be done with warm-up, by 20-30 minutes time I want to be in the most physically intense part of the practice, by 50 minutes I want to be cooling down, etc. (note: this is just an example, so timing will vary depending on your personal style, the studio’s expectations, and type/level of practice). As you teach more, you’ll probably find yourself relying less and less on a clock or watch, since the balance of class will start to come naturally.  Nevertheless, it’s a fantastic tool to help guide you through your structure and pacing.

  4.  Beginnings and Endings Matter. Don’t underestimate your start/stop time! I’ve practiced many different styles of yoga, and respect that various traditions have various “best practices.” That said, in most styles of yoga, it goes without saying that you’ll spend some time 1) introducing the class and 2) closing the session. If you are intent on starting and ending your class on time, you will want to factor this time into your overall class structure. One of the best ways to do this is by practicing at home – yes, out loud, and maybe even in front of a friend/friendly audience (sometimes scary, sometimes awkward, I know – but SO, so useful). Some questions to keep in mind: “How will I start class?” “Introduce myself?” “What instructions are important/relevant?” “What do I want to say to close and end the class?” Also keep in mind that you might have announcements to include at the end of your session. Whether it’s mentioning an upcoming event or workshop, a limited time pricing deal, or any other studio announcements, as long as you are expecting people to stay on their mats, they are in your class, where you are holding space.  So all of these instructions, introductions, and closings should be factored into your overall class time.AdobeStock_124312457.jpeg

Wherever you are in your teaching journey, I hope these four tips make pacing and timing your classes easier, and more enjoyable! Keep in mind that as with all things, accurate and effective pacing takes practice.  Be patient with yourself, keep learning, and allow yourself to evolve.

  • What are some strategies you use for pacing your classes?
  • Is there anything I missed above?
  • As a student, how do you feel about classes going over or under time?

 

Thanks for reading,

JW

The Top 3 Things to Do (and Don’t) after Yoga Teacher Training

So you’ve finished yoga teacher training… now what?


You’ve invested time, money, and energy into a yoga teacher training program. You’ve met new people, honed new skills, and likely learned more than a few things about yourself on the way.

So now what?

This question is all too familiar to new graduates of yoga teacher training. While you may now be certified to teach, actually securing a teaching position is its own journey.

As someone who embarked on this journey, herself, and has witnessed many others navigate the transition from training to teaching, I can attest there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Still, there are several strategies everyone should employ – and avoid – to ensure future success.  Here are my top 3 do’s and don’t’s:


DO:

  1. DO Keep Using Your Skills

The number one issue that I was both warned about as a student, and have later witnessed as a teacher & mentor, is that people complete their training… and wait…and wait… and wait. Don’t let your skills atrophy.  Think of your knowledge as a muscle – use it!

AdobeStock_69654837.jpegIf you don’t have the opportunity to start teaching your own “formal” classes or work with private clients, then reach out to your friends.  Ask people in your social circles to let you practice-teach using them as students.  If you feel ready, ask local yoga studios if they offer (or are willing to explore) community/donation-based classes that you can teach either free of charge, or at a significantly discounted rate. Think of this as playing the long game – as with any industry, you need experience to be hired.  So even if you find yourself initially teaching for free, you can leverage this experience when applying and auditioning for paid positions.

  1. DO Stay Open to More Learning

A good teacher in any field always remains a student. Even if you left your teacher training feeling ready to take on the world and a class of your own, there is always more to know.

Also recognize that everything there is to know about yoga cannot possibly be covered in 200 hours (or 500, or 1000, or 10,000). Think of your 200-hour certification as a Bachelor’s Degree, and your post-RYT200 time actually working with students as your advanced degree.

AdobeStock_65718528.jpegThis doesn’t mean that you aren’t ready to teach after earning your certification. But the best teachers are open to recognizing areas of improvement or gaps of knowledge they want to address. This is part of your yoga, and part of your yoga teaching!

Continue to take classes as a student. Look for specialized workshops led by master teachers, or in areas you think could use more training.

  1. DO Confidently Chase Opportunities

As with everything in yoga, self-awareness is a balancing act. While you want to be honest with yourself and others about the areas you might want to improve, maintain the self-confidence to embrace and communicate your strengths!

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Think of it this way- the worst thing someone can do is say no. Very rarely will someone come to you asking you to teach. To successfully secure employment, you WILL need to become comfortable reaching out to people and pursuing opportunities. Register your information in as many online directories of local yoga teachers as possible. When you attend classes at yoga studios, mention you are a yoga teacher and, using your judgment,  ask about employment opportunities. Consider making a website and building a social media presence around your offerings as a yoga instructor.


Of course, in the yogic spirit of balance, there are several behaviors to always avoid when making the transition from yoga student to teacher.

DON’T:

  1. DON’T Market Yourself Dishonestly

In my opinion, this is the most important “don’t” – which is why I place it first. Think of satya, the yama representing truthfulness. In recognizing and communicating our true abilities, there is a marriage of confidence and humility that the self-aware and honest yoga teacher learns to hone.

This is such an important principle, but one that I believe can be difficult for people – even with the best intentions – to visualize. So here are a couple examples:

Example 1:  A prospective private client approaches you to ask for a restorative session, but you have little to no experience in this area.

Response: Be honest! There are ways to do this without entirely dismissing the possibility of securing the client.

You might say something like:

“My specialty is ____. I am happy to do some research on restorative yoga and lead you through a session, or refer you to someone with more extensive experience in that area.”

If the client opts for a teacher with more experience, she will know that you act with integrity, and might either seek you out in the future or recommend you to other prospective clients. If the client chooses to move forward with you, your candor provides you with a landing pad that will cushion any growing pains you might experience as a teacher while navigating the session.

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Let’s look at a more high-stakes example.

Example 2: A prospective client is interested in advanced-level private sessions, perhaps focusing on inversions and arm balances.  You do not have much experience with these postures, either in your own practice or as an instructor. 

Response: If you have little to no experience teaching these postures, faking your way through a private session risks consequences much more dire than embarrassment or your reputation. Your client could face serious injuries if you do not lead him safely in, through, and out of these poses. If you find yourself in this situation, always opt to refer the client out to a different instructor, but provide your reasoning so she doesn’t feel rejected.

You might say:

“I don’t feel comfortable enough teaching those groups of poses to offer you a safe and constructive learning environment. I am happy to refer you to ____, who I trust can provide you with a safer experience.  If you are ever interested in [insert your area of training/knowledge], I would love to work with you!”

As with our first example, even in losing a prospective client, you gain their trust – and potential future clients because of it.

  1. DON’T Instruct Without Insurance & Documentation (boring but so, so important)AdobeStock_91387298.jpeg

You hopefully covered the importance of liability insurance in your “Business of Yoga” section of training, but it is worth emphasizing here. Even in seemingly casual settings, you always want to ensure you are legally protected. Buy yoga teacher insurance, and design a liability waiver for private sessions or classes. There are numerous free templates you can find online and personalize for your needs. Even if you’re teaching a free class in a park, or working with a group of people you know, think of it this way:

  • Worst-case scenario, anything can happen. Injuries – or even freak accidents – are rare, but you want to be protected. You also have an obligation to your students to inform them of any potential risks associated with your classes or sessions.
  • Presenting these materials speaks to your professionalism. Many yoga studios require teachers to possess their own individual insurance – especially if you are hired as an independent contractor. By having these materials prepared, you will present yourself as an organized, professional candidate for open positions. Similarly, you will reinforce your legitimacy to new clients by showing up with organized, prepared materials.
  • It’s good practice! We often focus preparation around what we perceive as more complex, and ignore the basics until necessary. You’ve probably spent more time thinking about teaching postures and sequencing classes than the process of introducing yourself, beginning and concluding sessions, and explaining consent forms and waivers. The more experience you have practicing these conversations, the more smoothly your classes and private sessions will run – allowing you to focus your energy on the actual content you are providing.
  1. DON’T Jump Without Research

This final tip is less high-stakes than the first two, but very important. After achieving your RYT-200 goal, you might feel ready to take on the world and tempted to chase other dreams. This is all well and good – but do your research! Resist the urge to jump into business ventures just because they have “yoga” in the name.

One of the most common tendencies I see in students going through teacher training is a desire to open their own studios.

Remember that a yoga studio is, first and foremost, a business. You can be a top-notch instructor, but a shoddy business owner. Conversely, successful studio owners might not have any experience teaching yoga.

AdobeStock_60769071.jpegIf you are serious about wanting to open your own studio, I highly recommend working for a period of time in an administrative role at an existing studio. Behind-the-scenes experience is invaluable, and can help you determine whether you truly wish to embark on a journey that, while rewarding, is also very time-consuming and challenging.


In conclusion,

I first and foremost want to congratulate you on embarking on this new chapter of your life! Teaching yoga is such a rewarding experience on many levels. The best part – it is a dynamic experience of constant exploration, empathy, and self study. You will rarely be bored and frequently be challenged.


Your thoughts?

In that spirit – I want to hear from you!

Yoga teachers – or teachers in training – what would you add to my lists of do’s or don’ts?

How would you advise people who are just finishing their teacher trainings?

The Life-Changing Power of Printer Cords

Plugging in a printer made me better at yoga, and a better person.

Yep, you read that right.

There aren’t a lot of transformations in my life I can pinpoint to the second, but this is one of them.

About eight years ago, I was fresh out of college and working an office job. After a few years of dappling in yoga, I had started a regular practice of 1-2 classes a week.

It was when I bent down one day to adjust a printer cord that I first consciously took yoga off of my mat. I accidentally maintained awareness – in real time- as I transitioned from standing to kneeling – recognizing how my hips, knees, and feet were aligned.

This was the first time I acknowledged that the physical asanas (poses) we practice on our mats translate to “real life.” It took another year or two until I had embraced my practice enough to implement the benefits of meditation and mindfulness off of my mat.

Everybody is different, and every body is different. Some people have their “a-ha” yoga moments way before I did, and for other people it takes longer.

I have a-ha yoga moments to this day – literally as of tonight, when I stretched toward my toes while taking a bath, and realized (literally laughing at myself) that I was approaching this subconscious stretch with paschimottanasana mindfulness.

At the risk of sounding overly academic and pedantic, yoga is totally super cool. As you develop body awareness on your mat, you discover body awareness off of your mat. This awareness helps us navigate our lives with balance, grace, and health – whether these benefits are manifested through our personal relationships, our physical endurance, or our ability to plug printers into the wall.

And at the end of the day, that awareness is worth more than any down dog, chaturanga,  or handstand.

As always, thanks for reading.

xx,

JW

 

DIY Succulent Frame

Inspiration.

As only the best cat ladies, chronic crafters, and aspiring introverts can, I recently found myself catapulting down the quicksand-lined rabbit hole Pinterest becomes when paired with a Saturday night and wine.

My newest aspiration was to tackle the enviable framed succulent wall art with which any desert-chic enthusiast worth her salt drought-parched sand should be acquainted by now.

There are lots of other posts (like this one) circulating the web with great step-by-step process photos.   I drew inspiration by looking at several different approaches, which I recommend if you plan to engage in your own succulent project.

In addition to outlining the process, one of my goals in this post is to provide money-saving ideas and general tips born from my struggles in the trenches to help others proceed more smoothly :).


Materials.

Essential:

  • Photo frame (just the front) or materials to make your own
  • Shadow box/open-faced box that fits behind the photo frame
  • Chicken wire/mesh/hardware cloth: I’d recommend ___ size
  • Shears/wire cutters
  • Photo hanging supplies
  • Craft glue
  • Staple gun (+staples)
  • Selection of succulent cuttings, moss, and any other fillers you choose

Optional:

  • Paint
  • Ribbon
  • Glue gun

Penny-pinching tips:

  • Instead of investing in a shadow box, consider getting a cheaper, unfinished version at a craft/hobby store. I actually found the most cost-effective option to be a craft chest.  Unscrewing the hinges and clasps is quick and easy, then voila – you have two shadow boxes for the price of one. I purchased mine at Michael’s, but there are similar ones at Joann’s and any other craft store. 

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  • Rather than discarding chicken wire scraps, you can use them for other crafts like these mason jar flower lids.
  • If you live in an arid climate, you can forage for succulents rather than spend money buying them at a store.  If you need to purchase them, avoid buying ones that are pre-arranged in decorative containers, as those tend to be pricier

Process.

Step 1: Using shears, cut the wire mesh slightly wider than the opening of your photo frame.

  • If you don’t have a pair of heavy-duty shears, it is definitely worth it to invest in one for this project (especially if you plan to use chicken wire for other crafts). I started off using a pair of industrial scissors, and ended up only dulling the blades, hurting my hand, and wasting a lot of time. 
  • Consider wearing heavy gloves when handling the mesh, or at least operating with caution as your cuttings will have very sharp edges.  This is probably a good time to mention that this project (at least the first part) is not a good one for kids – though they might enjoy helping to fill the frame at the end!

Step 2: Use a staple gun to attach the mesh cutting to the side of the frame that will not be exposed.

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  • Make sure your frame is a material you are able to staple-gun. I loved this silver frame – even more so since I purchased it on sale – but realized once I was home that it was entirely made of metal.  If this happens to you, the situation isn’t hopeless – I simply glued it on top of a wooden frame I could staple the mesh on, but that adds an extra step.
***If you want to paint any part of your frame or shadow box, do so now or before you begin Step 1***

Step 3: Attach your picture hangers to the back of the shadow box.  I used these metal “teeth,” but you can also use wire or hooks.

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  • Make sure your method of hanging is appropriate for the final weight of your project.  When you pack the shadow box with dirt and add your succulents, you’ll add at least a pound or two depending on the size of your frame. 
  • If you don’t want to hang your frame, you can also place it on a shelf to lean against the wall

Step 4: Tightly pack your shadow box with slightly damp dirt.

Step 5: Glue the mesh-filled frame on top of your shadow box.

  • I originally planned to use a glue gun to attach the frame to the shadow box, but I discovered I wasn’t able glue fast enough before some of it started drying. I ended up using craft glue, which worked fine.  
  • After gluing the frame on top of the shadow box, I noticed several areas of space (Depending how you staple it, the chicken wire might prevent the frame and box from sealing perfectly). I added more glue around the edges of the “seam” to make sure there weren’t any cracks where dirt could fall out once I hung the frame on the wall.

Step 6: After glue dries, arrange the succulent cuttings, moss, and other fillings inside the wire mesh.  These were my results with 4×6 and 8×10 frames:

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  • After filling my frame with succulents, I realized the edges were pretty messy with a variety of dried glues.  I created a more polished look by gluing ribbon around the edges.  Even if your process reveals a cleaner final product than mine, you might want to dress the sides of your new-and-improved succulent frame with decorative fabric, ribbons, additional paint, or other decorations of your choice.

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Ideas.

The primary “work” in this process resides in the first few steps.  If you prepare a series of frames up to Step 6, selecting succulents and filling the frames makes a really fun activity for a wine night, birthday party – really any gathering!  The best part – you have a group activity and party favor all in one.

These also make great gifts – they’re personal, creative, and very easy to care for.  Depending on your climate, you’ll simply spray the succulents with water every few days (drier climates will need more spritzing, humid climates can handle less).


Do you have experience making succulent frames? What other suggestions would you add?

As always, thanks for reading.

-JW

Propogating Legacies

The 7.5 billion people who comprise today’s global population communicate in over 6500 languages. Amazingly, these thousands of dialects can all be traced back to one of only three root languages: Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan, or Afro-Asiatic.

FullSizeRender-3.jpgThe languages that stemmed from these roots germinated with the influence of environment, politics, religion, culture – nourished and cultivated by the countless nuances of social interaction. To this day, changes continue to occur as societies grow in an increasingly dynamic global environment, but enough remnants of original roots prevail for linguists to trace a dialect’s specific lineage.

FullSizeRender-1.jpgMuch like language, nature has amazing capabilities of adaptability. As the daughter of a horticulturalist/botanist, I grew up surrounded by plants. When I left for college in 2006, my mother lovingly transplanted a cutting from a houseplant to send a little piece of home with me to the dorms. Some years later, the tradition continued as I moved across the country for graduate school.

I dressed my West Coast apartment with one solidary plant – a pothos, which is very similar to the philodendrons I had long since grown to love for their durability and resilience in the face of what I term my “yellow thumb.”

As the vines of a pothos grow, one can cut the stem below a joint (where a leaf or additional stem branches off), and place the cutting in water. The cutting will adapt to this new environment, and once it grows roots, can be transplanted back into soil.

Five years later, my apartment is wreathed with “floating” cuttings, fully transplanted reproductions, and the same original pothos that birthed them all.

FullSizeRender-2.jpgNestled in my indoor jungle, I am reminded daily of the myriad of ways we can adapt to both sudden and steady change, regrow even after being cut down, and thrive in new environments. One plant can produce twenty, three languages can yield thousands, and one life can impact countless others.

What legacy will you propogate?

 

3 Ways to Make Your New Habit Stick

 

By the time May rolls around, we’re well past the point of New Years resolutions and on the cusp of summer. With thoughts of sundresses, shorts, and bikinis, many people embrace a second wave of health and fitness motivation. But while the desire to start a new habit may come easily, establishing that routine is far more difficult for most of us.

Research has shown that a staggering 92% of people do NOT achieve their goals. This blog will offer strategies for making the transition from goal to action. While I focus on the fitness/wellness industries, you can apply these principles to any field, any time!


1- Pair with an Existing Habit

It is far easier to link a new behavior with one you’ve already established than to start with a blank slate.

Here’s an example: Let’s say your goal is to do 10 push-ups each morning. If you already make coffee each morning, you can set your coffee maker and spend the brewing time doing your push-ups.  In this way, you’re not creating something from scratch, but drawing on your existing routine.

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2- Set Reasonable, Evolving Goals

There are two major points to consider here:

a- If you aim too high too fast, you’ll discourage yourself

b- if you aim too low, you’ll end up getting bored or making excuses (e.g. since I can do __ easily now, i can afford to skip a morning) 

I recommend setting goals in stages. Let’s say your goal is to run a certain distance. Maybe you start by planning to run 10 minutes each morning for one week. Week 2, you add 5 more minutes; Week 3, you add 10 more minutes- and so on. This way you start small so you don’t get discouraged, but iteratively add more layers of challenge to stay motivated – and avoid a plateau.

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3- Create Your Own Carrot and Stick

For those unfamiliar with this terminology, it draws from the psychology of operant conditioning. Basically we reward behavior we want to continue (carrot), and “punish” behavior we want to stop (stick).

How does this apply to new exercise regimens?  This is kind of a choose-your-own-adventure area- which is why it works!

Think of a way to treat yourself before or after (I’d recommend after) your desired behavior. Let’s say your goal is to go for a 10-minute run each morning. Each day you accomplish that goal, maybe you treat yourself to something special. It can be a particularly delicious breakfast, Starbucks, Happy Hour – your choice!  In contrast, when you do not meet your goal, find something you can reasonably withhold from your routine (maybe the flipside of your “reward”).

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In sum, if you have the goal, you’ve completed the hardest part.  The next step – taking the plunge – but strategically.  Follow my 3 steps, and you’ll find yourself soaring to success in no time!

-JW

 

Author Bio:
I am an eRYT-200 yoga teacher and NASM-CPT personal trainer with a Masters of Arts in Social Ecology.  My goal is to educate busy individuals on ways to comfortably fit health & wellness into their schedules.  Contact me by email at jennyswanyoga@gmail.com or through any of my social media channels (@jennyswanyoga).