You’re doing a Teacher Training Course… But you don’t want to teach…??
Hi, I’m Karen; I work full-time in an office, and I LOVE practicing yoga. Inspired by a friend, my yoga journey started in 2014 with a 6-week beginner’s course, following which I did my first ever Ashtanga class. I’ve always tried to incorporate other types of yoga into my practice, but Ashtanga has always been my primary practice. It’s now July 2018 and I’m quickly coming towards the end of a part-time 2oo hour Ashtanga Teacher Training in Leeds. But no, I don’t want to be a yoga teacher… or so I thought, anyway.
The idea of doing a TT had never really entered my mind, mainly because I had no intention of becoming a yoga teacher (the thought of standing up in front of people to speak and everyone staring at me is quite frankly, petrifying) but also because usually, TT’s are delivered as “intensive” 3-4 week courses, and with a full time job, that just wasn’t viable for me.
Although there are eight limbs to the traditional Ashtanga practice, my personal motivation and reward for practicing are mainly the physical benefits. Last year during an alignment workshop, we studied Trikonasana, and it suddenly dawned on me that after nearly 3 years of regular Ashtanga practice, I had NO IDEA (a) what the true purpose of the pose was, or (b) if I was even doing it correctly. While these things may not be important to some, for me, they got me thinking about my whole yoga practice. A few weeks later, I saw the part-time Ashtanga TT advertised: one weekend per month, from January 2018 through to September 2018. And this is how I ended up where I am now, nearly three quarters of my way through the course, thinking about my experience so far, my advice for anyone who is thinking of doing the course in future and whether I made the right decision.
Before I go any further, my conclusion is that I ONE HUNDRED PERCENT made the right decision. Yes sometimes it’s been (very) tough, and I’ve wondered what the hell I’m doing, but I would go so far as to say it’s probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I don’t regret it for a single second.
So, what are my top 5 pieces of advice?
1. You think there’s a lot to learn about yoga? You’re wrong – there’s so much more! As expected, the amount of knowledge I have gained from the training so far is immeasurable, from the scientific side of anatomy and how our bodies function to the more metaphysical side of yoga principles and practices. But what I didn’t anticipate, was just HOW MUCH information and detail there actually is to learn about each individual asana, and how we, as students, can practice each pose safely and effectively ourselves, but also how, as teachers, we can ensure that others do the same.
2. Know what you want to get out of the course – and be willing and open to get more. My motivation for doing the TT was my desire to learn about why we do each pose (i.e. the physical benefits) and how to do them correctly and effectively, in order that I could improve and get the best out of my own personal practice. I didn’t have much interest in the philosophical side of yoga, and I certainly had no intention of becoming a teacher. However, although it is still not of huge interest to me, it has been beneficial to learn about the metaphysical aspects of yoga, and it was also a challenge for me to open my mind in order to try and understand these things, which can only be a good thing. Also, while it is still not my intention right now to become a yoga teacher, the thought of teaching is considerably less frightening, and actually (dare I say it) slightly appealing! I think I now understand why a lot of yoga teachers say they love what they do: I’ve learnt so many interesting and beneficial things about a subject that I love and am passionate about; why would I not want to share it with others so they can benefit too?
3. Discuss it with your loved ones – it is a big commitment and you may have to make sacrifices. My main responsibilities in life involve my partner, my cat, my house and my job, so it has been relatively easy for me to plan my life around it, although there still have been times when I’ve had to say no to things (mainly social events!) or where I’ve had to give up things in order to accommodate the training. It’s also tiring around training weekends, as it’s very physically and mentally draining, so starting another week of work on a Monday morning without a proper break is tough. So before you enrol, consider how it will fit into and affect your lifestyle during that period of time, and discuss it with those who it will also directly impact upon, and make sure you have their full support.
4. Think of it as an investment. Whether you’re thinking of doing a TT for personal or professional reasons, in my opinion it is an incomparable investment; the knowledge you will gain throughout the course is invaluable, for yourself and for others. As well as having a regular yoga practice, I also love running and going to the gym to do cardio, classes and lift weights, all of which I do on a regular basis. So much of what I have learnt during the TT I have been able to transfer and apply in my other physical activities, so not only has my yoga practice developed and improved over the past 7 months, but so has my other training. Everything I have learnt and will learn on the course will be with me for the rest of my life, which I can continue to apply to myself as well as help and advise others if required.
5. Ask for advice from someone you respect and who knows you and your yoga practice. And be prepared for them to say, “I told you so!” When I first started thinking about enrolling, one of the first people I went to for advice was one of my regular teachers, who has seen my practice develop over the years and knows my capabilities. I can’t remember exactly how the conversation went, but her advice was basically, “DO IT. You will LOVE IT; you WON’T REGRET IT.” She was right. She also told me that even though I said I didn’t want to teach, she bet that one day I would, as that was exactly how she felt when she did her TT many years ago. I was adamant that she would be wrong on this one, but it turns out she may be right about that as well after all…
And what’s the main thing I have learnt so far? Teaching yoga is HARD! By the second weekend we were up teaching each other (or trying to!) and this experience has given me a whole new level of appreciation and respect for yoga teachers. Clear instructions. Breath. Observations. Adjustments. Sanskrit. Being able to think on your feet… the list goes on!
I couldn’t end this piece without saying a huge thanks to my trainer, Jamie, who is so knowledgeable, supportive, patient, enthusiastic, encouraging and inspiring, and has made my training such an enjoyable and fascinating experience. But what I love most about him is his attention to detail, the fact he pushes me further, and the fact that he wants me, and everyone he teaches, to be the best they can be. I feel very lucky to have been able to do my TT under the guidance of someone with his experience and passion. Thank you, Jamie! Also thanks to all my yoga teachers over the past 3.5 years for helping me along my journey, and finally, thank you for reading this, I hope you found it useful in your own yoga journey.