training, yoga

Anatomy Sets Us Apart

Erin here with some “bone-afide” info as Halloween is right around the corner.

One thing that sets Pure Yoga Institue part from all other trainings is our Functional Anatomy course.  You don’t have to be an anatomy expert to be a good yoga teacher.  But you do have to speak with confidence and know basic posture mechanics like the back of your hand.  And for hot yoga, you should also understand the physiological aspects of exercising in a hot/humid environment for the safety of your students.

It is for all these reasons, and more, that we incorporate anatomy instruction from start to finish.  That is right: 8 weeks of anatomy courses!  Not only do we provide the most number of hours on this category (well above the minimum requirements of OHYA), but we tailor them specifically to the postures.  On top of this, Functional Anatomy lessons synch with Dialogue and Posture clinics for optimal relevancy.

As the lead instructor for the Functional Anatomy course and a student of Doctor of Physical Therapy, I am passionate about the most up-to-date research on the human body.*  In contributing to the core values of a yoga teacher, it is my goal to find out what trainees are already interested in with respect to anatomy, and build from there.  We all have stories within our physical form that are a launch pad for discovery and connection with others.  And from there we can be amazed at the efforts & transformations our students purchase on their yoga journey.

*My interests include the vast research being performed on the role of the nervous system (your Brain!) in recovering from short-term and long-term pain.  And on that topic, you should definitely check out the Yoga Research Conference next moth in Austin, Texas (aka the home of Pure Yoga Texas)!  Scientists are discovering incredible things about how the mindful practice of yoga sheds light on the complexities of recovery in all shapes and forms.

Stay tuned for more on how our Functional Anatomy course sets us apart!

Uncategorized, yoga

Water Temp Debate

Having practiced the 26+2 method for over a decade, I’ve heard a number of times over the years from yoga teachers that one should not drink cold water during class.  The explanation for this was that drinking cold water actually increases core temperature because your body has to work harder to cool it down and absorb it.  The cold water is even sometimes referred to as an “ice bomb” as if were an assault to the system.

The conclusions from research in exercise physiology show otherwise: drinking cold fluids during exercise do lower core body temperature.  The effect of water consumption on the body during exercise is studied in various ways.  In one design, the subject drinks fluid, has a tube inserted into their stomach before they exercise. The researchers then suction contents to see how fast it was absorbed or not.  Studies show that cold fluid not lowers the individual’s core temp, but is also absorbed faster by the body.

Further studies show that during exercise lasting longer than one hour sodium, chloride and carbohydrates should be added to water and that, in contrast to popular beliefs, caffeine consumption does not cause water-electrolyte imbalance or reduce exercise-heat tolerance.


alumni, training, yoga

Teacher Spotlight: Cindy Lemus

I interviewed Cindy at her one-year anniversary of teaching yoga full-time!  Read on for some insights into her teaching life. 

Q: What made you want to become a teacher?

A: Within a few weeks of practicing I knew this would be part of my life forever.  I found this practice and it made me feel phenomenal— I wanted everyone to try it. I loved going to class. I had such admiration for all of my teachers. I wanted to be a part of class in a bigger way. Being on the podium is such an honor. Like all good things in life when you know, you know and I knew I wanted teach.


Q: What is your favorite “teaching moment”?

A: My favorite teaching moment thus far has been anytime I have family take my class it’s always so special, I love having them in the room. 

I also love when I have those breakthrough classes when I feel extremely connected to everyone in class. I can see everyone is super focused and working their hardest; it’s when I feel most like a teacher after a strong class – where we all gave it our ALL.


Q: What is your most embarrassing “teaching moment”?

A: I’m sometimes slightly embarrassed if a student catches me checking myself out on the podium during savasana, but that’s not too bad. I can live with that.


Q: At your one-year teaching anniversary: how has teaching affected your personal life?

A: My one major insight has been that my energy and attitude plays an immense role in the room. Learning to be self-aware of the energy I’m putting out and the mindset I want to have has helped me slow down and look at life through a more positive perspective.


Q: How has teaching affected your yoga practice?

A: “You are your own best teacher” has never rung truer to me at this moment. Before training I liked relying on the teacher to give me a certain correction even if I had already heard it. I relied on my teachers to push me and help me find my maximum. Although I still love a tough class and a tough instructor very much, I’m finding my own drive.


Q: After four years of practicing, are there things you still struggle with?

A: Yes! A real struggle of mine has always been getting to the hot room. I battle with choosing between hanging out with friends in the evenings or taking class, staying up late or practicing early in the morning. Taking  90+ minutes in a 105f degree room plays with my conscience. My struggle is getting to class, but my struggles inside the room changes every class.


Q: What was your favorite part about training?  Least favorite?

A: I have many favorites; being a 2 min walk away from class, practicing twice a day, talking yoga all day everyday, learning about the human body, learning different things about myself, practicing different styles of yoga, living in downtown Austin for 9 weeks, being a 10 min walk from Whole Foods, and fully immersing myself into a passion of mine -all favs.

My least favorite was leaving Austin – it is such a cool city. And leaving Pure Yoga Texas in Austin – it’s the most passionate and inspiring yoga community out there. I also miss not bonding with my yoga sisters. We had a rough start, but ended up being supportive friends whom I think highly of. I shared a special experience with them and I’ll always cherish our time together.


Q: What is your advice for future trainees?

A: It helps to study the dialogue before training but don’t stress it too much. If you apply yourself during the 9 weeks you will learn it. Stay present during training, enjoy the daily doubles, and invaluable lectures. 9 weeks of Pure yoga is mind-blowing. Most importantly every day counts towards the end goal of graduating and your outcome as a teacher, so give it your all everyday.

Check out Cindy’s bio and find where she’s teaching at

training, yoga

Calcutta Yoga by Jerome Armstrong

Calcutta Yoga: Buddha Bose and the Yoga Family of Bishnu Ghosh and Yogananda is a 596 page [easy read] book of needle-in-the-haystack research by Jerome Armstrong. This is a must read for every Original Hot Yoga teacher and studio owner to understand the history of our unique system of yoga.

Mardy and I first met Jerome Armstrong in October 2015 at Ghosh’s Yoga College, along with Scott Lamps and Ida Jo Pajunen (see Jerome led us to all corners of Calcutta, including the homes of Yogananda (Autobiography of a Yogi) and Vivekananda (Raja Yoga). We immersed ourselves at the school of Bikram and Rajashree Choudhury, with pictures of the latter all over the women’s yoga room at the college. We experienced the conditions they practiced yoga in –noisy streets and sweltering heat — and imagined what it must’ve been like to practice yoga 50 years ago.

Even if you don’t attend the Ghosh’s Yoga College Teacher Training, it is still worth a visit to Calcutta to visit the school and other places to see for yourself the origins of hot yoga. And if you can’t get to that, try reading “Calcutta Yoga!”

-Jeff Chen




training, yoga

Moonwalking with Yogis

How memorization in learning contributes to teaching a dialogue-based yoga class.

The last blog post mentioned “rote memorization” as part of a teacher training.  There is a negative stigma of rote memorization. It conjures up images of index cards and late nights.  It is often met with the visceral sense that one is sacrificing personal agency & one’s own voice for sterile, cookie-cutter consistency.

This is of course a possibility.  Strict adherence to a teaching script for the duration of one’s career takes this methodology to an extreme.  But for a new teacher, the heuristic of dialogue-based teaching provides a means by which you develop a working understanding of how to effectively & confidently instruct groups of people using only words.

Moonwalking with Yogis

“A memory, at the most fundamental physiological level, is a pattern of connections between neurons.  Every sensation that we remember, every thought that we think, transforms our brains by altering the connections within that vast network.  By the time you get to the end of this sentence, your brain will have physically changed.”

In Moonwalking With Einstein Joshua Foer investigates the work of mental athletes, or “memory champions.” This look at a very unique niche of people speaks to three aspects of the evolution of teaching a dialogue-based class:

  1. The methodology of memorization in learning
  2. The role memory plays in creativity
  3. The transition from mediocre to expert

Strangeness without worthiness

You can’t learn without memorizing, and if done right, you can’t memorize without learning.“

It is very possible to memorize information and not be able to analyze or solve problems. Think “book smart.” However the marriage between memory and analysis gives way ingenuity.

Mental athletes can memorize 100 faces and names in 30 minutes, a deck of cards in under forty seconds, an unpublished poem in ten minutes, just to name a few.  And the usefulness of these feats is, to quote Francis Bacon, a “matter of strangeness without worthiness.”  With the invention of the printing press and more recently the internet, the usefulness of memorizing may seem even more trite.  We now have external memories.

But, Foer also speaks with teachers and scientists that find extreme value in the art of memorization.

“… education is the ability to retrieve information at will and analyze it. But you can’t have higher-level learning – you can’t analyze – without retrieving information.”  … The dichotomy between “learning” and “memorizing” is false.”  

As a new teacher, you do not have experience to guide you. The teaching dialogue is set-up in a way to provide the safest and most effective ways of teaching the postures to the public. And once this basic knowledge is established, informed analysis can come: Why is the set-up so long? Why is this breathing cue here?

“Memory needs to be taught as a skill in exactly the same way that flexibility and strength and stamina are taught to build up a person’s physical health and well being.  Students need to learn how to learn, then you teach them what to learn.”

Creativity as future memory

Memory, imagination, creativity: All of these things give way to dynamism. As a Bikram yoga teacher, I am not trying to invent a new class, but I am trying to teach a dynamic class.  I am interested in how every class is different and how my teaching may or may not contribute to that uniqueness.  Sometimes it’s about offering a fresh perspective and sometimes it is about holding space.

“The Latin root inventio is the basis of two words in our modern English vocabulary: inventory and invention.  And to a mind trained in the art of memory, those two ideas were closely linked… In order to invent, one first needed a proper inventory, a bank of existing ideas to draw on.”

“…the art and science of memory is about developing the capacity to quickly create images that link disparate ideas.  Creativity is the ability to form similar connections between disparate images and to create something new and hurl it into the future so it becomes a poem, or a building, or a dance, or a novel.  Creativity is, in a sense, future memory.”

From your teaching foundations you can hurl your knowledge, experience, and passion into the future and lead informative, connected, and dynamic classes.

Deliberate practice: taking the Leap from the “OK plateau”

My favorite part of “Moonwalking with Einstein” is a section on what distinguishes mid-level professionals from experts.  And it is all about deliberate practice. Continuous effort.

Before I went to teacher training, I thought I would come back after nine grueling weeks having acquired enough “yoga credit” that I wouldn’t have the desire or need to practice as often.  I was definitely wrong. And just like practicing, being an effective teacher means continuous effort. That effort may be in continued education, prompt feedback on classes, and time spent on new delivery.  And the quality of the effort is key. Deliberate practice is:

  1. Focused, concentrated, structured
  2. Challenging.

“[top achievers] tend to engage in a very directed, highly focused routine. … They develop strategies for staying in a “cognitive phase” using three things:  focusing on their technique, staying goal-oriented, and getting constant and immediate feedback on their performance.”

Deliberate practice, by its nature, must be hard.

“Once upon a time, there was nothing to do with thoughts except remember them.  There was no alphabet to transcribe them in, no paper to set them down upon. Anything that had to be preserved had to be preserved in memory.  Any story that would be retold, any idea that would be transmitted, any piece of information that would be conveyed, first had to be remembered.”

Today it often seems we remember very little. [Various] technologies of storing information outside our minds have helped make our modern world possible, but they’ve also changed how we think and how we use our brains.”

In yoga, whether as a practitioner or teacher, there is no end point or destination at which we arrive.  It is an infinite journey of discovery. Parts of this journey may involve something simple or lackluster, such as memorization. Other parts are fueled by creativity and ingenuity. Other parts seem impossibly distant, such as experience. But the pathway to continued success involves all of it. The goal of authentic yoga is liberation. And for liberation to occur, we must remember who we’ve been and how we’ve felt so that we might be free in where we are right now. In an age of excessive external memory, yoga can help us remember how to remember.