Kate Howe for ten years was the author of the popular travel ski and inspiration blog SkiingInTheShower, as well as publishing numerous articles in Telemark Skier, Ski Racing, 32 Degrees, and Ski Magazine. She has had her poetry published in the Saturday Afternoon Journal #13 (98) and #17 (00). She was the winner in 1988 of the Windhauser Award for Creative Writing from Stony Brook School and took first in the 1989 All New England creative writing competition. Kate is a cancer survivor, a yoga and ski instructor, a body worker, a painter, and the mother of two beautiful teenage boys who she likes to tell stories with.
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All the yoga, None of the bullshit
Kate Howe dropped in on hundreds of yoga classes in towns across the globe, kept notes, and then wrote a non-sentimental hilarious anecdotal how-to for students and studio owners alike.Share Tweet LinkedIn Embed pszr.co/JBCQQ 1538 views
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The Drop-In Yogi is a brutally honest, funny, quirky, and well-written examination of the people who practice in, teach for, and run yoga studios. The Drop-In Yogi examines their habits, devotion to lineages and the fundamental raison d’erte of studios - from the passive-aggressive power grab of would-be gurus, to the generous giving of teachers offering wellness classes at the local community center, and everything in between, all over the globe.
This book springs from a journey of yogic exploration by the author, Kate Howe. Kate is a certified yoga teacher and has worked as an assistant to Saraswathi Jois, the daughter of the founder of Ashtanga Yoga, a lineage which began in 1870 in Mysore, India. Kate traveled the globe for a decade, and rather than practicing only within her own lineage, she became curious about how yoga was growing, spreading, and why people loved or hated the practice. Kate set the following rules for herself as she traveled, which became the research for this book:
1. Check studios close to wherever you are, and go to the class you have time for.
2. No reading up on the type of class, or choosing a class based on its description or teacher.
3. Attend as an anonymous student – no revelation you are a teacher.
The global yoga industry is continuing to explode (in the U.S., according to Statista.com, (https://www.statista.com/statistics/605355/us-yoga-participation/) there were 36.7 million yoga participants in 2015) as people, facing skyrocketing rates of chronic anxiety and depression, seek a quick fix from the “mindfulness” industry (the yoga segment was a $9.09B in 2015 and growing about 20% annually in the U.S. alone).
The Drop-In Yogi explores hundreds of studios through the author’s experiences as a chronic, obsessive, anonymous drop-in student over a decade’s travel through North and South America, Europe, India, and Asia.
The book is both a funny true-life memoir, including anecdotes, takeaways and personal experiences, and a cautionary tale about the discovery of best practices, nightmare scenarios, the epidemic of “Guru-ality” and “Spiritual Bypass.” It is also a tale of self-deprecating transparency from a dedicated yoga practitioner and teacher who went off the reservation to become a social researcher in the guise of a yogi. This account includes excerpts from over thirty hours of rarely granted interviews from the first female yoga instructor in India, the author’s teacher, Saraswathi Jois.
The Drop-In Yogi tackles this issue by framing an understanding of best practices, etiquette, philosophy, history, and commitment to the integrity of certification standards that will not only help the first-time student recognize the hallmarks of a healthy studio, but will also help established teachers recognize when they are working in a toxic environment. This book also invites current studio owners to up their game and revitalize their existing studios, as well as shining a light on the current state of teacher training, which in turn, helps would-be studio owners understand what goes into opening a healthy, vibrant studio.
Unlike most books about yoga, The Drop-In Yogi is not meant to turn the author into a guru. It is not meant to gather a following for the author as a teacher, or to convince people that any one method of yoga is the right method. This book is an overview of the current state of modern yoga as discovered by the author in her personal travels and research, alongside historically accurate, well-researched facts about the origins and evolution of yoga. There is no agenda other than to offer an objective, factual, research-based look at the practice and business of modern yoga and how the fundamental philosophies behind yoga are sometimes corrupted by its popularity. This book arms yoga students, instructors, and studio owners with a bullshit-free look at what constitutes a healthy, drama-free practice and environment.
Kate Howe wrote The Drop-in Yogi because, in her ten year world-wide yoga research project, she found that many people were teaching patent falsehoods which they believed to be true. Kate wondered if this information was useful to students, even if it was inaccurate. Can yoga change and evolve and still be yoga? Can it be based on falsehoods claimed as truths and still be valid? When does “yoga” become “exercise” and when does it become ritualistic placebo? Does that matter? If so, should modern yoga be called something else? As the author was requested more and more often as an anatomy, history, philosophy, adjustment and Pranayama instructor for Teacher Trainings, she became ever more acutely aware of the struggles of studio owners, and the teachers they were training, and the ripple effect on the students taking class from these new teachers.
The author began to use the lessons learned from her experiences in her own teacher trainings around the globe. She added a section to each training called “Best Practices and Cautionary Tales,” which often helped the studio owner overhaul not only their training courses, but their vision for their yoga studio, management style, and etiquette. This in turn helped students, teachers, and studio owners to practice in a drama-free environment with greater awareness, safety, and more truly qualified teachers.
Three clear takeaways from this book:
First, readers can simply enjoy the ridiculous stories. Yes, Kate really did go to a class in Los Angeles where the 27 year old blonde haired, blue-eyed-mala-bead-wearing teacher added to her ensemble with an enormous turban and asked students to gaze lovingly at their pituitary glands for ninety minutes.
Second, readers will learn the ins and outs of generally accepted studio etiquette and emotional intelligence in the yoga environment which can be used by students, teachers, or studio owners to help create a healthy place for everyone.
Lastly, this well-researched, relevant, and timely book can help yoga students decide if they are ready to attend teacher training, understand how to choose a great training course, can help studio owners overhaul their existing teacher training system, and can help new and established students of yoga understand what a healthy studio feels like, so they can choose a great place to practice.
This book is a fun read for anyone who has ever been interested in yoga, whether that’s from the perspective of a skeptic or a lifelong teacher.
This Drop-In Yogi offers a no-nonsense, no-bullshit, straight up examination of common sense and the healthy application of a yoga practice, how to know when you are being taken for a ride, how to know when you are in a toxic environment, how to help right the ship, how to leave your yoga community, how to re-boot a practice, how to regain faith when a purported guru has shaken yours. Essentially, how to be a strong, confident adult in a world full of unsubstantiated crap.
Section One: Introduction
“I guess we’re staying in India”
Wherein, out of the blue, Kate is asked to assist her 76 year-old guru in the ancestral home of Ashtanga Yoga for six months, and she and her 10 and 12 year old sons agree to stay and work.
This section includes some background of the author, how this journey began, scope of journey and inquiry, “A funny thing happened on the way to the shala…” as well as an invitational disclaimer… “Even if you’ve been teaching and practicing for years, a read of this compelling and honestly written book will help you build the practice, the community, and the studio you’ve always wanted.” (testimonial quote)
“Ms. Manners Goes to Yoga”
Wherein we re-examine the basic and most common etiquette of both teachers and students at yoga studios, and what happens when these basic niceties are expected, followed, taught by example, and gently enforced, and what happens when they go by the wayside. This chapter is an introduction to emotional intelligence and how it can be utilized by both teachers and students to increase awareness of the impact we have on each other.
“First, the Yoga.”
What is yoga? A brief, clear history of what has become the biggest health movement of our time, researched exhaustively and told with clarity, annotated for further reading.
“I just need the sequence so I can go home and open a studio. What’s next?”
Wherein we jump on the Yoga bandwagon, playing “Yoga telephone”.
What happens when a person takes a few yoga classes, goes to a “pocket 200 hour training” on weekends (led by someone who just received a similar training) and then opens a studio? How to do your due diligence as a student and a potential teacher, how to shore up your own studio reputation to comply with and exceed Teacher Training minimums, why this is important, what happens to our students, our teachers, our community and the long term health of our studio when we skip this step.
“I drank ALL the Kool-aid.”
Wherein we practice total devotion to Guru and lineage
Total devotion, one lineage after another, in order to understand “cult” mentality, the myths and truths of “guru” and the burning desire to be elevated as a teacher, a leader, a healer, or a yoga celebrity.
Cautionary Tales: Broken bodies trying to heal quickly on the massage table so they can get back in the shala.
Interpretations: Learning to respect your teacher while listening to your body.
“Love and Light” and other bullshit Yoga teachers say (The dreaded “Spiritual Bypass”)
We are all students, always.
Anyone who is trying to vault themselves to guru-ism has a less than pure agenda. You create a following when you have charisma and something to say. In yoga, a true guru is someone who is in service to the student, not in service to the elevation of themselves. Tales of teachers locking the door and ranting about their divorce during class and more...
“Check the Source”
How to think for yourself when the bullshit storm is thick and persuasive
Healthy skepticism in the age of healing mindfulness. Anecdotes include patent falsehood and self-aggrandizing stories, as well as innocently uneducated “truths” sliding from the teacher’s mouth to the willing student’s ears.
“What did I sign up for?”
What kind of yoga are you practicing? For what purpose?
How is that working for you? Why do you like it, believe in it, want to do it? Did you drink the Kool-aid or are you thinking for yourself? How do you get the information you need to understand the choice you’ve made? Includes a brief history of several kinds of yoga commonly practiced today and a lineage back to each type of yoga’s source, and a brief report on the guru of that lineage’s mentality and purpose, with annotation for further reading.
“The Yoga Wars”
Infighting within lineage is inevitable, and healthy for the yoga industry to a certain extent. All yoga comes from various understandings and beliefs about the first codification of asana posture. This reference to the “source” should continue, but not everyone agrees with this. Who should develop new yoga lineages, why do they happen, when are they valid and valuable and when are they a power grab?
“Grow a pair: ‘Yoga Niceness’ and other toxic behaviors”
Wherein we examine personal boundaries
An examination of pervasive passive-aggressive behaviors in the yoga industry, uncommunicative studio owners, celebrity teachers, mini-gurus, and more. These monikers and behaviors are commonly passed down from guru to student. Those students then become studio owners, modeling toxic and unhealthy behaviors back to both their students and the teachers working in the studios in a continually degrading cycle of false security and narcissism. How to avoid this trap. Hint: honest confrontation is key.
What to look for, what is out there, what to avoid, how to choose, how to re-examine your own Teacher Trainings and motivations for holding them, how to hire qualified teachers for your training, why NEVER to do a training by yourself, help for students who need to understand THEIR motivation for attending trainings, what they should come away with, where to go after as a student, a new teacher, a studio owner.
“Sangha is everything - so weed your friend garden”
Wherein we examine our Sangha - the community into which we take refuge.
Have we surrendered our personal boundaries in search of belonging? What is healthy about the place you practice, and what don’t you enjoy, how to examine these things and weigh them appropriately. Healthy confrontation, healthy removal of self, healthy distance from guru, healthy pursuit of deep and meaningful practice and teaching.
“Back to Basics”
A simple checklist for anyone who practices yoga in any capacity to keep their practice and themselves open, humble, whole, connected to purpose, a constant beginner, and a good citizen of any Yoga Sangha they chose to practice with.
“An Abject Apology”
“If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.”
And a thank you and acknowledgement of all of the teachers I learned from, many of whom I disliked intensely, some of whom I loved intensely, but all of whom shaped my experiences in the yoga world in a profound and meaningful way.
The target reader for The Drop-In Yogi is anyone who is curious about the state of modern yoga in the US and beyond, and anyone who is considering trying yoga as a means of managing their health, mental and physical.
The unique breadth of audience for the Drop-In Yogi – the “yoga curious” to the established studio owner - may at first seem overly broad. However, the concept for the book was conceived, investigated and tested through the author’s first-hand experience in her other field: working as an instructor in the ski industry. Upon becoming a national credentialing organization (PSIA) Examiner - an instructor who certifies ski instructors before they work with the public, Kate noticed that information purposefully left out of the early development of new instructors caused confusion and frustration as they developed into more accomplished skiers and instructors later in their careers. This same issue occurs with students who choose a yoga studio without really knowing what to base that choice on other than proximity or a friend’s recommendation.
Due to the booming growth of the wellness, mindfulness, and yoga sectors, the training of yoga instructors and students has become a game of “telephone,” where falsehoods are easily spread as truth. The author’s research began at the seat of modern Yoga in the Sanskrit College, Mysore, India, where yoga was first codified in the late 1800s under Guru Krishnamacharya. The author’s journey sought to examine modern cultural appropriation, misunderstandings and common myths, clarify essential historical and philosophical truths, and create a road map for the curious and the experienced alike.
The yoga, wellness, and mindfulness industries, as mentioned, are in record setting growth and are on track to continue on this trend as diagnoses of anxiety and depression are on the rise, and yoga is now seen as a mainstream, accepted method of the management of these issues.
Often, yoga and other wellness associated activities are now recommended by physicians and psychiatrists as methods for managing everything from Fibromyalgia to anxiety to managing overall mental health when dealing with a life-threatening issue such as cancer.
While we know from numerous studies that a good yoga practice can be beneficial for long-term mental and physical health, we have no guidance for what constitutes a “good” practice or a “great” studio. This book seeks to lay out some common sense methods for helping anyone who is interested in yoga be a discerning consumer and a relevant and helpful educator.
These readers face problems such as: should I start a yoga practice, do I know how to choose a studio, what is a good studio, who is a good teacher, will I be good at yoga, is this a fad, does it work, will I get sexually harassed in this class, will I look like Madonna or Gwyneth Paltrow, do I have to be skinny and flexible to start, how do I become a teacher, can I take a course without becoming a teacher, what even is yoga, as well as questions such as: I trusted my teacher and they’ve been exposed as a fraud, now what do I do? Can I keep practicing, teaching, and sharing this practice with others? Is my studio healthy, or is it an extension of my own drama? How do I make my studio a healthy place for everyone, how do I manage the ego of teachers, how do I make sure I’m not serving my own ego as a teacher, how do I confront teachers when I’m supposed to be Yogic, how long is it polite to be in the shower, and why do we say Namaste like that?
Stats and studies that support the creation of and the need for this book are:
According to Medical News Today, (found at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322877.php)
The American Psychiatric Association ran a poll on 1,000 U.S. residents in 2017, and they found that nearly two thirds were "extremely or somewhat anxious about health and safety for themselves and their families and more than a third are more anxious overall than last year."
They also noted that millennials were the most anxious generation. In 2018, the same poll was repeated. Anxiety was shown to have risen again by another 5 percent. Millennials were revealed to still be the most anxious generation.
In August 2018, Barnes & Noble — who are the largest book retailer in the United States — announced a huge surge in the sales of books about anxiety; a 25 percent jump on June 2017. "[W]e may be living in an anxious nation," one press release dryly notes.
A study by Harvard Medical Health states as it’s conclusion: for many patients dealing with depression, anxiety, or stress, yoga may be a very appealing way to better manage symptoms. Indeed, the scientific study of yoga demonstrates that mental and physical health are not just closely allied, but are essentially equivalent. The evidence is growing that yoga practice is a relatively low-risk, high-yield approach to improving overall health. (For the full article, visit: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression)
The audience for this book is huge, because it not only encompasses those who are already interested in yoga, but those who are curious about changing their health habits, those who would like to try yoga but are scared off by the multitude of types and the claims made by the various disciplines.
The US Yoga industry was a $9.09B industry in 2015 and has a growth of approximately 20% annually. It is because of this explosive growth that we have access to charlatans and false gurus, hurtful and dangerous misinformation, and simple unconscious incompetence due to the rapid manufacturing of poorly educated but well-meaning teachers.
From Harvard Medical Yoga Article New survey reveals the rapid rise of yoga — and why some people still haven’t tried it by Marlynn Wei, MD, JD, Contributing Editor, found here: Harvard Medical) Yoga, ...”a modern practice rooted in over 5000 years of ancient Indian texts and traditions, continues to gain popularity in the United States. A new survey conducted by Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal reports that the number of Americans doing yoga has grown by over 50% in the last four years to over 36 million as of 2016, up from 20.4 million in 2012. In addition, nine out of 10 Americans have heard of yoga, one in three Americans has tried yoga at least once, and more than 15% of Americans have done yoga in the last 6 months.
More than a third of Americans say they are very likely to try yoga in the next year. While the majority of yoga practitioners are women (70%), the number of American men doing yoga has more than doubled, going from 4 million in 2012 to 10 million in 2016. The number of American adults over 50 doing yoga has tripled over the last four years to reach 14 million.
The Drop-In Yogi will be useful to this base because it is the result of an extensive survey of yogic teachings all around the globe, and offers a “best and worst of.” Kate Howe does not own a yoga studio, is not advocating for one form of yoga over another, but is simply making her research and personal experiences available to the wider audience of yoga practitioners, offering these experiences as a litmus test for the environment they practice in, or one they hope to create for others.
Readers of this book are anywhere from 17 to 70 years old, they may be just considering a yoga practice, they may have an established practice, they may be considering taking a training, becoming a teacher, working at a studio, or opening their own studio. They may be considering how to make their studio more profitable, and how to raise their membership numbers.
Readers of The Drop-In Yogi may be dedicated fitness fans, hardcore yoga students, weekend warriors, they may attend aqua-robics at the YMCA, or they may just be curious about the sometimes salacious stories which come from the “wellness” world.
Kate Howe began to use the lessons learned from her experiences in her own teacher trainings as she traveled around the globe helping lead Teacher Trainings in studios from Hong Kong to Aspen, Colorado.
Kate added a section to each training called “Best Practices and Cautionary Tales,” which often helped the studio owner overhaul not only their training courses, but their vision for their yoga studio, management style, and etiquette. This in turn helped students, teachers, and studio owners to practice in a drama-free environment with greater awareness, safety, and more truly qualified teachers.
This section is now both a 30 minute e-learning course and a one hour e-learning course which Kate is authorized to offer CEU's to qualified students. Studio owners all over the world can use Kate's "Best Practices and Cautionary Tales" e-learning course on line, which of course is an excellent way to promote the greater learning in the book. Kate plans to expand her e-learning platform and continue to produce books which help streamline and improve yoga teacher trainings, no matter what lineage the studio owner is training their potential new teachers in.
This gives Kate's publisher an established and continual relationship with individual studios globally.
Kate wrote a blog, “Skiing in the Shower” for about ten years from 2006-2016 which at its peak had 10,000 readers a month. Kate currently has an email list of 300 opt-in people with an 80% open rate and 0 complaint rate for her ski and yoga travel business “Transformational Adventures” through her website, katehowe.com. Kate plans to vigorously grow this list as she focuses on expanding the larger e-learning component which will accompany her book.
Kate does most of her promotion through FaceBook, where she has over 3000 friends, and her Instagram Account, where she has had up to 54,000 likes on a promotional image. Kate is also on Twitter, but uses Instagram as her main source of social media. Kate has strong ties to corporate sponsors in the ski world largely because of her influence, and as she leaves skiing and focuses her attention on writing and helping create more uniform, effective learning systems for yoga studios, she expects that number to grow quickly.
Video marketing views or subscribers
Kate has active YouTube and Vimeo accounts, both of which she uses to host ski tips and ski related content. Kate’s most popular video on YouTube has 42,000 views. Kate recently began a Patreon Account, where she is creating a video library about stress management strategies and personal coaching tips gleaned from her years as a ski coach, personal coach, yoga instructor, body worker and student of Buddhism. You can see more about this aspect of Kate’s life at http://katehowe.com/personal-coaching and scroll down to “Where does our coaching philosophy come from?”
Professional website plus pageviews.
Kate has two websites, one called katehowe.com which is the home of her ski travel and personal coaching business, as well as containing information on yoga and art. Kate currently has 10,800 pageviews for this website from the 17/18 season (November 2018 – April 2018). Skiingintheshower.com, the blog Kate wrote for ten years, which still exists as an archive, has over a million page views.
Speaking engagements scheduled; past and future
Kate is a professional coach and a trainer for the Ski and Snowboard Schools of Aspen Snowmass. She is an accomplished presenter, teacher and speaker, leading training for the 3,400 instructors and co-workers at the Aspen Skiing Company every season. She has given countless talks to ski schools all over the country, some of which you can find on her YouTube and Vimeo channels.
For example, see:
Tips and Tricks to Improve your Skiing and Performance Under Pressure: http://www.katehowe.com/fundamentals, Building the Bridge of Trust: https://vimeo.com/53380496. Kate also participates in live storytelling and performance events to sold out crowds. Some examples: The Piano Does Not Lie: https://vimeo.com/276465109,
Endorsers and corporate sponsors:
Kate has been featured in MisAdventures Magazine in an article on personal boundaries and growth in sport called “10,000 hours on Powder” in February 2018, and was the subject of a feature story in POC magazine in Winter 2010 called “Total Potential”. She is sponsored in the ski world by POC, Fischer, Marker, LEKI, Strafe Outerwear, Kulkea, and Costa. Kate is also an ambassador for Ghost Flower Yoga Wear.
Kate has offers for reviews and recommendations for The Drop-In Yogi from over a dozen well respected members of the yoga community all over the world.
Links to regular publication, media contributions, or your blog
Kate has written for numerous magazines and periodicals, published in Telemark Magazine, 32 Degrees, Ski Racing, Ski, The Saturday Afternoon Journal (2x), and more.
Kate plans to use the book as suggested reading for studio owners, and to utilize it in any yoga studios where she assists in teacher trainings.
What is your video strategy?
Kate plan to drive sales to the book through her newly developing Patreon Chanel which offers no-bullshit advice about how to deal with anxiety, depression, trauma, shame, guilt, chronic or life-threatening illness, how to change your plan, your path, your goals, how to forgive yourself, get out of your own way, cultivate critical thinking skills and build a support network.
Kate is also developing CEU-granting e-learning courses for studios to use in yoga teacher trainings which tie in with The Drop-In Yogi.
Kate is an accomplished and passionate speaker who is comfortable on camera and speaking in front of crowds.
Selected Current Speaking Engagements include:
2009 - present: Annual Pro Fair for Aspen Skiing Company. Kate gives a 50 minute presentation every year to kick off company wide training. Topics range from "Building the Bridge of Trust for Repeat Business" to "GO Time: Preparing for competition and certification under pressure" Room size: 300-450 people
2014 - 2017 Kate has participated in the live storytelling event at the Wheeler Opera house and at the Temporary in Basalt, CO to sold out audiences as a member of Writ Large. Kate has shared experiences such as trying to cross the Nepali/India border with improper paper and a nine year old child to caring for a friend when he thought he was dying of colon cancer, to discovering her own breast cancer diagnosis. While the topics are often serious, the stories are always funny, leaving the audience with the strange mixture of a face that hurts from laughter and the need for a kleenex.
Go With A Pro:
Kate has filmed segments for PSIA's "Go With A Pro" ski tips for PSIA National's ski-tips website in 2008 and 2009.
Kate is moving away from time on the mountain and towards speaking engagements, potential engagements, aside from large teacher training sessions (40 or more students) could potentially include Ted X talks and motivational talks for companies working to better understand what it means to embody an idea rather than parrot the company line.
A promotional book tour would be an exciting and comfortable way for Kate to increase sales of her book.
So far, much of the book selection is not aimed closely at yoga as a whole and provides an anecdotal, objective road map for any and all yoga practitioners, regardless of their affiliation. This book and its contents are a rare breath of fresh air in the overcrowded and self-appreciative flood of self-help books.
Relevant Related Books:
Hell-Bent. Obsession, Pain and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Bikram Yoga by Benjamin Loor Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing 2012
This book is a must read for any “hot yoga” practitioner. It is well written from an entertainment, informational, and critical thinking standpoint. It is well researched, contains citations, interviews and personal revelations about the world of competitive yoga under Bikram Chaudry.
Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah Macdonald Publisher: Broadway 2004
This wonderfully funny book is the reason I decided to take notes while I did my experiment. Ms. Macdonald manages to share her own experiences and take-aways without telling us what choices we should make. We get to use her research to form our own decisions. This is the vein The Drop-In Yogi follows.
Exposing Yoga Myths V1 by Ariana Rabinovitch (Author), Kim-Lien Kendall (Contributor), Melissa Gutierrez (Contributor) Self-Published 2016
This is a poorly researched, poorly cited self-published book about yoga which is pretty standard for the industry, and the existence of which is actually another reason why I chose to write The Drop-In Yogi. There is a lot of repetitive information in the yoga world, often parroted back without confirmation of source, validity or surrounding research. There are an abundance of these poorly written books in the yoga world, most of which are for sale next to the mala beads at your local yoga studio.
The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga: The Yoga Professional's Guide to a Fulfilling Career by Amy Ippoliti (Author), Taro Smith (Author) Publisher: New World Library 2016
This well-meaning guide is a straightforward business book around how to run a studio. This book is a bit like “Running a Yoga Studio for Dummies”, a practical how-to which skims the surface of profitable business practices in the wellness industry, and touches on the basics of class structure.
Light on Yoga: The Bible of Modern Yoga by B. K. S. Iyengar (Author), Yehudi Menuhin (Foreword). Light on Yoga was first published by George Allen and Unwin in 1966, with a foreword by his pupil, the violinist Yehudi Menuhin. Revised editions were brought out in 1968 and 1976. A paperback edition was published by The Aquarian Press in 1991 under the Thorsons imprint. The book became an international best-seller; it has been translated into at least 23 languages including Chinese, Czech, and Russian, and has sold over three million copies.
This wonderful book is required reading for most excellent yoga teacher training courses. It is well written, well thought out, and well respected in the industry. Many yoga teachers own it, few have actually read it. This book is listed in The Drop-In Yogi’s suggested Further Reading section. This book is written by a regarded guru who trained alongside Sri K. Paathabi Jois (the founder of Ashtanga Yoga) under Krishnamacharia in Mysore, India in the early 1900s.
Kate Howe dropped in on hundreds of yoga classes in towns across the globe, kept notes, and then wrote a non-sentimental hilarious anecdotal how-to for students and studio owners alike.
Kate Howe is a guerilla social anthropologist who enjoys immersing herself into a culture (skiing, surfing, climbing, philosophy, bodywork, yoga, nutrition, childbirth, lactation, feminism, hedonism, underwater basket weaving…), studying it from its source, observing the cultural norms of the group and watching how the absorption and embodiment of the culture she is assimilating into changes her.
She then takes these experiences and turns them into articles, blog posts, books, paintings, plays, short videos, novels, love affairs and spoken word performances. In possession of her AA in Technical Theater, Kate is currently finishing her BA in Art History and Sociology with a minor in Psychology while working as an Examiner for PSIA-RM and a trainer for the Aspen Skiing Company.
Kate is a licensed massage therapist and Anatomy teacher, a dedicated Ashtangi and is a certified yoga instructor and teacher trainer in anatomy, physiology, philosophy, history adjusting and pranayama. She was trained by Paul Dallagan, Dylan Bernstien and Prem. She eventually went on to assist Saraswathi Jois in Mysore, India, where she also ran a research project on the intersection of yoga, massage therapy, injury and mindset and their effects on healing. The result of this research project was the continuing education module for Yoga Alliance: Yoga Bodywork Adjustments, written and conceived by Kate.
Kate Howe has studied with and taken Teacher Trainings from five “gurus” over the course of her development, and then became an assistant to a prominent teacher in India after working at a well-respected yoga institute in Thailand. Kate has led teacher trainings in India, Hong Kong, Thailand, Bali, and all over the US, and has taken classes in hundreds of studios and shalas all over the world.
As a bodyworker, (Kate is a licensed massage therapist) she ran a research project (read it here: http://katehowe.com/injury-and-recovery-ashtanga-study) which lasted for two years on dedicated Ashtanga practitioners, and was able to record almost a hundred hours of interviews with practitioners as well as teachers of many different lineages. Kate studied from the source, remained objective, and always took notes.
Kate lives in a teeny tiny little cabin in the woods outside of Aspen, Colorado with her two teenage sons, their two cats, and her incredibly tolerant partner, Tom. Kate’s boys are into art, theater, writing, physics and math, and Tom does all the proofreading for all of us. Twice. In her spare time, Kate enjoys riding her ancient CBR600, recovering from breast cancer, and dreaming about the PhD she has next on her list of fun cultures to immerse into. This is Kate’s first non-fiction book. She is the author of the blog SkiingInTheShower.com, three volumes of poetry, three novels, an opera, a play, two children’s books and she has an idea for a documentary and several other things, but that will have to do for now.
Twenty two years ago, looking at my required courses at Art Center College of Design and trying to find the discipline to get some general ed out of the way, I filled in the spot for our required Sciences course with "Yoga 101".
Class would be held in the faculty cafe, with the tables folded against the wall and the chairs stacked. It was, to be fair, a beautifl building with an incredible view, which they did their best to turn into a yoga studio once a day.
The teacher, Petrula Verontkis, a tall, exotically glamorous woman who was known as one of the toughest most exacting teachers in the Graphic Design track, warned us at the beginning of the semester that certain postures could unlock memories or "unattached emotions" which could break free during class.
"Don't be surprised if you find yourself crying for no reason. It's okay. Try to stay in the room and just let it move through you." I rolled my eyes. I was in no way interested in new-age woo-woo nonsense.
Five weeks later, in a restorative class, she put us into a posture called "supported child's pose". She had us build a little nest out of bolsters, blankets and blocks as we curled into the fetal position on our knees.
The bolster, when positioned properly, allowed us to put our arms forward around the ends of the pillow, to lay our heads turned gently to one side on it. It supported the chest, but left a little hollow cave where our belly was.
Petrula walked around and gently covered each of us with a blanket. It was cozy and relaxing, I'll give her that. I've always been interested in being a good student, and I believe a good student holds healthy skepticism while buying in. So I listened. I followed instructions, but I wasn't interested in lighting smudge pots or chanting over crystals. To me, it was just another religion, another way for humans to escape the trap of our sentience: we are aware we are mortal, and we can not face that thought.
Petrula walked slowly through the room. "Exhale. Let your belly droop, round, and fill the space between your knees."
Do what now? I had been a competitive athlete my whole life, as a young figure skater, we had done everything we could to keep that tummy tight, tucked, and hidden. Now we were being told to let it go?
Petrula seemed to understand the reluctance from her 22 face down blanket covered turtles.
"It's okay, no one can see your belly. We keep our bellies tight almost all the time, because they are vulnerable. The belly is the viscera, the gut, the intuition center of the body. If you are always holding it tight, you can never..."
As I exhaled I decided to follow her instructions. Her voice faded. I was struggling to let it out. My belly released it's vice grip on my spine in spurts and spasms as though it had never been allowed to be soft before. Because it hadn't.
Petrula's voice came back to me: "Let your belly droop onto your thighs, let it be soft, like bread dough, full of possibility full of emotion, let it go."
Suddenly, with no warning, I was sobbing. Literally choking on my tears as snot ran out of my nose. I was horrible whole-body crying in a yoga class in the staff cafeteria with 21 other art students who I had to go to head painting class with after this.
And I couldn't stop it. I cried as silently as I could. Petrula stopped in front of me, leaned over and put her warm hand in the middle of my back, gently.
"Whatever is happening, don't try to name it, just let it happen, learn from it later," she said.
Thank god, I didn't have to name it. If I had to name it at that moment, I would have named it "Kate has gone completely mental and obviously the strain of mid-terms is getting to her because she's crying on a floor that she can see potato chip crumbs ground into the carpet..."
I started laughing, which caused hiccoughing. "Lost the plot pose" floated across my mind. I wondered what the yoga protocol was for laundering snot covered bolsters.
I left that class feeling a fool, had I really just had an "experience"? This proves nothing, I thought. Well, it proves one thing. I want to know more. I want to know what that was, why it happened, and if it means anything at all, or if I was just stressed and it was awful nice to have a blanket and a pillow from a stranger.
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