Spotlight On… Clarissa Ord

1. Tell us about your yoga journey?

I first started yoga (Bikram) as an antidote to the demands of my job.  I was working as an IT Consultant, working really long hours and it was beginning to get me very stressed.  I soon found I was enjoying the yoga a lot more than the work, so I took the plunge, quit my job and enrolled on the Bikram training course in Los Angeles.

After graduating I taught as many classes as I could, in as many different places as I could, from London to Singapore and a lot of places in between.  I did this for seven years, undertaking more training as I discovered new yoga styles that appealed to me, until I decided I was finally ready to open a studio.  Having spent a great deal of time in very different types of studio, in vastly different cultures, I was able to visualise exactly how I wanted my studio to run, taking the best I could find from the studios I’d taught in – and Red Hot Yoga was born!

Clarissa is teaching an accelerated Yoga Alliance Professionals 200 Hour Teacher Training Course at Red Hot Yoga – for further details for further details click here.
Our 2018/19 200 Hour Teacher Training Course is now underway – if you’d be interested in being a student on our 2019/20 course follow this link.

2. What motivated you to open your own yoga studio?

It was a goal of mine from quite early on in my teaching career, but I wanted to get as much teaching as possible, in as many studios as possible, before I even thought about opening a studio.  This proved sensible as I learned a huge amount about what I wanted RHY to be like – I knew I wanted to offer Hot Yoga, but not just Bikram.  I knew I wanted people to experience and benefit from the huge mental and spiritual benefits of a yoga practice, but I also knew most people coming through our doors would (mostly) be looking for a solid physical practice and only after time would begin to explore the psychological benefits.  I wanted to ensure that anyone who had any interest in yoga, for whatever reason, would be able to find a class that worked for them.  That remains the central ethos behind Red Hot Yoga.

3. Highs and lows of the last 8 years?

It’s certainly been a roller coaster!  My husband’s godfather told him, when we opened, that we had best be prepared to have a stomach like a rhino because every phone call is either the best news possible or the worst news possible, and that is absolutely true!  There have been some… challenging… moments – scooping boiling water out of a urinal into a bucket with my bare hands to stop the three inches of water already around my feet from getting any deeper, wasn’t the best day of life.  Neither was the day we shut down the whole of central Guildford when one of our showers spontaneously burst into flames (but we did make the front page of the Surrey Advertiser!).  But the lows always come along like that – with a large amount of drama.  The highs are much more subtle and, thankfully, much more common.  Having a student tell us how starting yoga has genuinely improved their life is absolutely priceless.  I take great stock in doing something for a living that is a genuinely ‘good thing’ and something that people want, rather than need, is very rewarding.  If anyone reading this is thinking about a career change, I can definitely recommend doing something that you can see makes people happier.  When students come out of class with a big ‘yoga high’ going on and you know you’ve played a part in making their day a little bit better, that’s a tough feeling to beat 😊.

4. Why did you want to offer Teacher Training at RHY?

I get a lot of CVs from teachers and I’ve done demo classes with more teachers than I can remember.  Something that struck me from doing these demos was how many freshly graduated teachers had the principles in their minds but couldn’t yet confidently walk into a room of strangers and teach them a class.  They needed more practice and they weren’t going to get that in a studio environment after graduating.  So, I got to thinking about what was missing from existing courses that I would want potential new teachers to have in order for them to be able to work at Red Hot Yoga.  Fast forward two years and we launched our first training course!  We have several unique elements to our training that I don’t think are included in many courses.  Firstly, because we have the luxury of several studios in the building, I included various ‘practise teaching’ opportunities – starting with family and friends and moving onto actual classes, attended by our proper, fee paying, students.  Whilst these are billed as Trainee Teacher classes, and all the students know the teacher is still in training, this gives our trainees an opportunity to teach a real class, to people who aren’t their friends, but within the safety of an educational environment.  It has proved a great success and has allowed our graduates to confidently teach any size group from the very day they graduate.

I also wanted to include content in the training course on the practical skills required to make a success out of teaching yoga – the business side of teaching; how to market yourself; the different ways and environments in which you can teach; and the legalities and tax implications of being self-employed.

Finally, I was never convinced that giving the group a single set class sequence for them to learn rote was the best way for them to learn.  I am a great believer that yoga is all about passion – you can tell the teachers who are teaching a class they really love from those who are going through the motions, and so can all the students attending the class.  I wanted our graduates to not only have the skills to develop their own class sequence (which is why we include sequencing in the course), but also to explore and discover their own teaching style and preferred class types.  Our students develop their own class sequence, over the course of the training, so that they not only know how creating a class works, but have one (usually more than one!) that they know back to front and have developed themselves to immediately begin teaching upon graduation.

Enjoying the different classes our students have devised over the years has been a real pleasure – some love a strong Yang class that really gets the blood pumping, whilst others have delivered truly mind nourishing restorative classes.  Watching someone go from having a love of yoga to having a love of teaching yoga, and go on to successfully create and sustain their own career as a teacher, is more satisfying than I have words for.

Clarissa is teaching an accelerated Yoga Alliance Professionals 200 Hour Teacher Training Course at Red Hot Yoga – for further details for further details click here.
Our 2018/19 200 Hour Teacher Training Course is now underway – if you’d be interested in being a student on our 2019/20 course follow this link.

5. What style of yoga is taught in Teacher Training?

As alluded to above, we explore many different types of yoga so each trainee can find their own niche.  We bring in a variety of teachers to talk the trainees through their own preferred style – be that flow, mindful, static, prop-based classes or a host of others.  The main bulk of the tuition is in Hatha yoga, but really we are teaching the trainees how to construct a class, the building blocks that the postures make up into sections of a class and how they do (and don’t) fit together.  I like to think of a yoga class as a being like a meal – you have the individual postures, which are the raw ingredients, and can be put together into dishes.  You need a starter, a main and a dessert (beginning, middle and end) and you need to know which postures work together and where in the ‘meal’ they should be served.  The students then use this knowledge to create their own sequences in whichever style of yoga they are most passionate about.

6. How do you support graduates of the Teacher Training course in their new careers?

I work with our graduates for some time after they graduate but, to be honest, they don’t really need much by that stage!  They’ve been teaching to classes of people for several months by the time they graduate so the support I give is mostly advice on which posture might work well within a sequence they are creating – the technical stuff.

With the introduction of the Intensive Course, I will be working with the trainees for three months after the month of face-to-face tuition. During this time, they will be teaching classes in the studio, just as the extended course trainees do, so that they can slowly transition from teaching friends, to teaching students who know they are in training, to teaching their own classes with their own students. All under my watchful eye 😊.

7. Do you need to be young, female and super bendy to be a good yoga teacher?  I can’t do all those poses…

Emphatically not.  Yoga classes have all sorts of students attending, varying in height, weight, nationality, colour, health issues and fitness levels so we need yoga teachers from all walks of life.  To teach, you need to be able to empathise with your students and understand why and when they are succeeding and/or struggling.  Sri Swami Satchidananda translating Yoga Sutra 2:9 “Without experience, we cannot understand or learn anything.”

Students also respond much better to a teacher who can share their knowledge in class in their own words and using their own experiences to help bring the yoga practice to life.

8. And finally, what’s your mantra for life?

Never give up.


Clarissa is teaching an accelerated Yoga Alliance Professionals 200 Hour Teacher Training Course at Red Hot Yoga – for further details for further details click here.
Our 2018/19 200 Hour Teacher Training Course is now underway – if you’d be interested in being a student on our 2019/20 course follow this link.




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