Specialty teaching in yoga school

Photo: a woman places hands on back of a supine yogini to help stretch out the spine.
An intense round of backbends needs to be counteracted with a release of muscular tension.

This is our last week at the Thrive Yoga teacher training July intensive. Actually, only four days. Our final activities are on Thursday and then the six students will go there separate ways after having shared yoga for 26 days.

I wanted to mention two teachers to highlight. who gave a two two-day intensives.  I guess you’d call specialists because no yoga studio is going to have the necessary expertise on staff  to present a well-rounded program. Thrive YTT also provides introductions to other specialties (chanting, pre-natal yoga, restorative yoga and Yoga Nidra), but they tend to be for a couple of hours or part of hands-on practice. We had a three-hour video conference with Zoe Morae on vibrational energy.

Kristen Leal

Kristen Leal has us feel for where the collarbone meets the shoulder blade.

The two-day course on human anatomy was our first weekend of the July intensive so we were still fresh and eager. Based in New York, Kristen came in with her 3:1 scale skeleton,  model joints and other teaching aides.  It is a real challenge to fit into two days the requisite knowledge of the human body as it pertains to yoga. Kristen boils it down to a neat package that focuses on the type of knowledge we need to know to avoid doing harm to a yoga student. She has a funky delivery that draws on her dance experience and exposure to cadavers. To sit through 14 hours of lecture, you need to spark some laughter and shake some bones. She taken the dissection course of Gil Hedley, Integral Anatomy, whose somanautic workshops are now available on DVD for those who cannot take the smell of formaldehyde and also on YouTube.  Cadaver dissection gives you an hands-on feel for the human body, only rivaled by sitting in on surgeries, which Kristen has also done.

Two days barely scratches the surface. For anyone serious about yoga anatomy, they should probably take Lesley Kaminoff’s online course. In any case, Kristen makes a convincing case for any yoga teacher to update their knowledge constantly. She has another module that goes into diagnosing anatomical problems with regards to yoga.

Pierre Couvillon

Photo: profile view of Pierre Couvillon
A member of the Thrive Yoga team

Pierre is another long-standing contributor to the Thrive YTT, and gave us a two-day crash course on Sanskrit (the language of yoga and ancient India) and Ayurveda (what Pierre calls “home garden medicine”). Just as valuable as his knowledge of these two topics is his long journey through bodywork, acupuncture, Tai Chi, yoga and related disciplines, covering more than two decades. He has taught thousands of yoga classes. He is currently setting up his own yoga school and ayurvedic health, Santosha School, in Indianapolis, IN. Pierre brings passion and compassion to his classes. There is something hypnotic about intoning Sanskrit  sounds for hours as we learned the alphabet and a few words. More importantly, he provided a framework that understands yoga, Ayurveda and Sanskrit as a single phenomenon.


This entry got released prematurely due to incomplete information. I was probably working late and meant to save, but pressed the publish button. In any case, I am in the process of polishing the content.