In June this year, I completed my 250 hour Yoga Alliance Registered yoga teacher training with Nichi Green and Brian Cooper at the Yoga Space. The experience was a transformational one and thus perhaps my reflections of it might resonate with those considering a similar path.
I left a career in law following illness, but knew that I needed a new challenge. Yoga was instrumental in my physical and mental recovery and soon a integral part of my life. Teacher training seemed a natural progression, however the decision to actually commit to a course was more onerous I wrestled internally - was it the right time in my life? Could the time requirement work with family life? I remember feeling that I so enjoyed being a student, whether teacher training would shift the importance of my personal practice. After research, I decided on a 250 hour Ashtanga course at the Yoga Space for a multitude of factors. I attended the open introductory session, where it was gently intimated that this was not a programme to be entered into lightly.
So, I took stock, breathed, and applied anyway.
I didn’t regret it.The course was formulated around the Ashtanga vinyasa system. Ashtanga formed the majority of my personal practice, so I felt physically prepared. That said, during this year my asana practice deepened. However the course is not just about deepening your own practice – the emphasis is firmly based on teaching- we were here to learn to teach others which is an entirely different skill set than a journey toward Eka Pada Sirsasana.The homework was plentiful and varied. It was also challenging, but I used it as an opportunity to augment my understanding of the next unit of the course and really take my time to absorb and process the reading. The texts, ranging from the classical fifteenth century Sanskrit manual “Hatha Yoga Pradipika” – (don’t worry, it’s been translated) to more prosaic anatomy tomes offered a much wider perspective on Yoga than just asana practice.I reiterate there is, quite rightly, a strong emphasis on practising to teach as soon as possible.
During the compulsory weekends, friends and family were dragged to mats while I stumbled across cues, chaotically trying to simultaneously pronounce and explain Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana. Much of the course was spent honing (starting?) our teaching and adjusting skills on each other. The intensive weekends were exactly that, intense. On some days I was on a total high from training. I couldn’t get enough. I would come home all smiles and would talk for hours about everything we were learning and doing. Other days, I would find myself feeling a little down, introspective and on the verge of tears. It was very interesting to monitor my attitude and see how much it oscillated during the year.
Nine months into the course I was given the opportunity to start teaching in local gyms. I also had the pleasure of completing the children’s yoga qualification, which opened up more opportunities. I started almost immediately to teach children at the Yoga Space and also assisted Nichi in a block of lessons in a school setting during the course.
I knew from talking with friends who had completed teacher training, the sheer intensity of the physical and mental commitment required, it would be an emotional experience. Many in the group, myself included were going through personal difficulties. One wonderful benefit I wasn’t entirely prepared for was the strength of the bond I formed with the 12 other women in training and how vulnerable, open and honest everyone was with each other. There were so many intense discussions about a wide variety of subjects.For every intense, tearful and passionate conversation that we had there were at least 10 joyful, funny and happy moments. The friendship we formed was unlike anything I had ever experienced – they’re my “yoga family”.
Since qualifying, I have thrown myself headfirst into teaching as much as I can – I’ve been fortunate to be offered to teach Ashtanga classes at the Yoga Space and work and still study...(the learning really doesn’t end) as much as possible. Happily, I’ve made sufficient connections already to teach full time. The course content has facilitated me in being able to teach in studios, gyms, corporate classes, schools and the part that brings me the greatest joy is teaching adolescents in a high security unit with who have histories of extreme violence and hardship. Yoga brings the same benefits to them as did to me; discipline, relaxation and happiness.
The first few classes were hard. I struggled with being present and being myself. That’s getting easier week by week. As my yoga vocabulary becomes more natural, I am able to insert a little more of my personality into the class. The only down-side is that I’m experiencing a bit of a down swing in my personal practice. I’ve been missing the fire and the passion to be on my mat. This is common according to discussions with other yoga teachers, both new and experienced, I think the experience of teacher training was so intense that my mind and body just need a little distance to let everything soak in. I know that over time my practice will ebb and flow.
Yoga Teacher Training has changed my life perspective. I left training completely determined to achieve goals I’d have set for myself. Goals pushed aside for too long. I now believe in myself, in my ability to achieve these goals and to succeed. I am inspired to live a life full of passion, love and good.Second, I want to be a better person. Teacher training put me on the path to becoming a greater, more positive, more loving version of myself. Someone who doesn’t think negatively of myself and those around me but someone who sees the good and works for the good. Someone who has a purpose and for me that is helping those around me live healthier and happier lives.
Being a yoga teacher is so much more than just putting people into poses and curating a playlist. Your students entrust their bodies and often their minds for you to mood and shift as you please. This responsibility shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are certain ethical, physical and moral standards that you should uphold. These are important, but fundamentally the journey and destination should be one full of joy.Should you choose this journey - my best wishes. If you would like to contact me about your decision or if you are midway through your training , please feel free to contact me through my Facebook page ‘Yoga with Jen’, or the contact button on this site