Yoga Teacher Training: It’s not just about Yoga!
It’s now October 2018 and around 6 weeks since I passed my part-time 200 hours Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training, which I started in January this year. In my previous post, “You’re doing a Teacher Training Course… But you don’t want to teach…??”, I explained why I decided to do the TT and gave my top 5 pieces of advice for others who were thinking of doing the same; that post also focussed on the knowledge I gained regarding both the physical and metaphysical sides of yoga.
But, apart from the “yoga stuff”, what else did I learn?
|| Confidence WILL come || As I mentioned in my first post, I am not a confident person when it comes to standing up in front of people and talking; in fact, it’s something I’ve avoided like the plague since as long as I can remember. As you can imagine, a yoga teacher training course involves a considerable amount of time spent doing the very thing I have been avoiding my whole life! After some careful consideration though, I decided I wasn’t going to let this fear stop me from pursuing my goal, and instead I looked at it as an opportunity to try and overcome it.
It was only February when we were first asked to stand up and teach the whole group; I was overcome with a sense of dread and anxiety, and throughout those painstakingly slow 5 minutes, I could barely bring myself to look at any of my fellow students, or move from my spot at the front of class. I tried my best not to panic while I nervously tried to get words to come out of my mouth that facilitated a Surya Namaskar A practice. Well, that’s how I remember it anyway!
Fast forward 7 months to a sunny Sunday in September, where I found myself standing in the We are Wellness studio, in front of three of my fellow students ready to teach a full 60 minute Modified Primary Series practice for my practical exam. That 60 minute experience was VERY DIFFERENT to those 5 minutes in February. Yes, of course I was still nervous, and I still felt vulnerable and had some self-doubt – I’d be lying if I said otherwise – but this time the minutes flew by, I walked around the room observing and adjusting students where I could, and I didn’t have to search for each word or instruction I needed because my knowledge and confidence had grown during the 9 months on the TT. No, it wasn’t perfect, and yes, I am still nervous about the thought of standing in front of a room full of people but, I DID IT and guess what: I SURVIVED.
|| If your instructions aren’t followed correctly – It’s probably because they are WRONG! || Ok, so this isn’t necessarily true ALL the time – some people just don’t listen or choose to ignore what they have heard – but this is a point that was emphasised throughout the course and it is certainly something that rang true with me while I was writing and practicing my teaching “script” on my completely non-yogi partner.
Sometimes we think we’ve described or explained something (i.e. an action in a yoga practice) in a perfectly reasonable and clear way, but then the actions of the person we’re instructing tell a different story. My instinctive reaction in this scenario was to shout (to someone who was trying to help me!) “NO! That’s not right – you’re doing it wrong!” but then when I stopped and thought about it, I realised my partner had in fact done EXACTLY what I had said to him. Because I was familiar with the practice and I already knew how to do the pose I was trying to describe, what I THOUGHT were clear instructions, actually weren’t very clear at all. So I had to completely re-evaluate what I was saying, and although it wasn’t easy, the outcome was I came up with much clearer instructions for not only that pose, but for most other poses too.
Why am I telling you this? Well, because I think this is a lesson that we can all take into our everyday lives; we’ve probably all been in situations where someone hasn’t done something we’ve asked – or thought we’d asked – them to do. And instead of being so quick to get frustrated and blame others, we should actually take a step back and question whether it was in fact the way we presented the information in the first place that was wrong, rather than the response to the information. As the person giving the instruction, we already know ourselves what we want to happen, but the person receiving the information doesn’t know and (I’m fairly certain) can’t mind-read! I also learnt that this is a skill that needs continual development, as everyone is different: it’s about observing, reacting and learning with each experience.
|| Don’t judge by your own standards – STOP and THINK || Without getting too deep, this point follows from discussions we had during the TT regarding the way people act in, or react to, different situations. In short, we are all different people, everyone has different priorities and goals – some of which we may never understand or agree with – and so (similarly to the previous point), we shouldn’t be so quick to react and judge people based upon our own beliefs and priorities in life. I think I am a decent person and I think I have good self-awareness, but I have also come to realise that sometimes, in the moment, I judge people in some way – often without being immediately conscious of the fact I am doing it. And I think no matter how decent a person we are, it’s something that we all do, often without realising.
The discussions we had during the course were a key part in learning about and understanding some yogic values, but they also enabled me to understand and learn more about myself, and gave me the opportunity to stop, think and understand more about – what I think – are also key values in life. Part way through the course I found myself being more conscious of thoughts and reactions I was having to people or everyday situations – questioning and thinking about why I was having that reaction and if it was reasonable. As a result of the discussions we had, I now have greater self-awareness and I am (hopefully) a more understanding and less judgemental person, although again, it’s all about continual learning and development.
|| There’s an inner teacher in all of us! || And finally, despite being adamant that I was never going to be a teacher, I find myself thinking about the fact that in less than 2 weeks’ time, I will be teaching my first ever “proper” yoga class, as I stand in for one of the regular teachers at the studio. As I said in my previous post, teaching is about sharing information and enabling people to benefit from your knowledge, so although teaching is not something that has come naturally to me, I think it’s human nature to want to pass on knowledge and help others. So, if I’ve got the opportunity to do that, I’m going to grab it with both hands with my new found confidence and see where it takes me, because you never know what the future will bring.