The phrase, “teachers learn from their students,” is even more salient when your students are seasoned teachers themselves. Recently, my Advanced Teacher Training module in London was drawing to a close, and I asked the more experienced members of the group–many of whom have been teaching for years–to share one piece of advice to the aspiring teachers in the room. As the trainees started answering, I realized that we needed to document and post the conversation. For some of you, this advice for yoga teachers will be new pieces of wisdom that you can apply to your teaching. For others, they will be a nice confirmation and reminder of what you already know. Either way, I truly believe that these insights will help make you a more skillful, successful, and satisfied teacher.
If you’d like to join this brilliant group of students to deepen your practice and advance your teaching, there are a few spots in my next two 100-hour modules in London! I had a great time teaching the first module — there’s nothing I enjoy more than engaging with bright, inquisitive students. I always learn so much and it’s a thrill to see people grow into themselves. I would love to see you there. (Dates are August 5th-18th, 2015 and January 15th-28th, 2016) Click here for all the details.
Advice for Yoga Teachers from Those Who Have Been There
On being true to yourself:
1. “Learn what you need to do hold the space energetically and vocally. It’s a disservice to yourself if you are meek, too quiet, or apologetic about perceived failings. Be a conductor of that symphony of bodies. Move around the room and let students hear and feel your presence.”
—Michael Hoyer, USA
It’s a mantra I find myself repeating over and over again: If you study with me, I want to help you find your own voice. This takes time, and devotion, and practice. My job in the yoga teacher training room is to provide a safe space for you to explore who you are and to provide valuable, compassionate feedback.
When you commit to training with me, you’re really committing to yourself, to your practice, to your personal growth. I’m thrilled to be able to offer a 300-hour yoga teacher training in London this year that’s split into 100-hour modules. You can come to all three or choose to attend them individually.
Each module will help you shore up areas that need your attention — whether it’s your understanding of yoga anatomy, your verbal communication, your sequencing, or your ability to express yourself effectively.
I put this video together to help capture what it is I hope to offer with these trainings. I hope you enjoy it and hope to see you soon!
On the last day of my 200-hour teacher training last August, I woke up early to reflect and write about the experience. For an entire month, I’d worked with an intelligent, skillful, engaged group of 40 students at triyoga in central London. While sitting at Fernandez and Wells—my favorite provider of superb dark roasts in Soho—I jotted down some of the themes that came up during the month. I think they’re helpful for anyone considering a teacher training.
(To learn more details about my upcoming teacher training programs, you can click here for my trainings in Europe and here for my training in the U.S.)
YOUR TEACHER WILL WITNESS YOU AND YOU WILL WITNESS YOUR TEACHER
Part of a yoga teacher’s job is to see you clearly. Your teacher doesn’t just see your body and how you move—they witness your personality, your comfort level in groups, your moods, and more. This isn’t to say that teachers are omniscient or perfect diagnosticians, but like photographers know light and chefs know flavor profiles, good yoga teachers know the human condition. And, guess what? Students also witness their teachers. Students are smart and intuitive. They’re capable of seeing the whole range of your personality pretty quickly. Since teachers and students will “see” each other during trainings—especially intensive, month-long trainings—it’s essential to embrace transparency, communication and, honesty, since your essence will already be visible to you and everyone else.
YOU WILL FEEL RAW—THAT’S HOW YOGA WORKS
I called the yoga room at triyoga “the incubator.” The month-long training was like an experiment in yoga, the human condition, and group dynamics. It was beautiful and powerful. Sure, everyone had their moments—including yours truly—where they wanted to escape, binge-watch anything on television, and inhale a box of chocolate. After all, transformation is not always easy, pretty, or convenient. Intensive trainings are intense. They make people feel raw, vulnerable, and exposed because that’s exactly what the process of transformation requires.
YOGA IS A SUBJECT MATTER AND YOU’RE AT THE CENTER OF IT
I love writing curriculum for teacher trainings. I’m content when I’m structuring content so that all the elements of the training are clearly defined and cohesively presented. Full disclosure: I’m a Virgo. But, the subject matter of yoga is much more than the teaching methodology, practice technique, philosophical contextualization, and teaching methodology that the syllabus suggests. The real subject is you. You are studying yourself when you’re studying yoga—even more so when you’re in training to teach. Yoga is clearly defined, but the experience of yoga is deeply personal and subjective.
TEACHING YOGA IS A PRACTICE
There’s always a moment of gravity in my teacher training programs when students realize that teaching yoga is going to be difficult. Executing all the layers of class—from sequencing and pacing to verbal cueing and adjusting—takes practice. In fact, teaching yoga is perpetual practice. We don’t just need beginner’s mind when we’re doing physical and spiritual practices, we need to cultivate beginner’s mind when we’re teaching these practices. This means that students should be given teaching exercises from the very beginning of the program. Even more, trainees need to be reminded that there is no reason to fear the countless mistakes that they will inevitably create as they practice teaching yoga.
STUDENTS NEED TO BE ASKED THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
Trainings are filled with information. Students are taught the elements of class construction, practice technique, teaching methodology, and more. Trainings also need to inspire students’ self-inquiry by asking them the right reflection questions. Trainees connect to the deepest reasons they’re in the training by answering questions like, “if you could teach your students one thing through yoga about, what would it be?” Questions like, “What are the strengths and challenges of your personality as it relates to teaching yoga?” are also helpful sources of contemplation and trigger important conversations. Good trainings don’t just tell the student what to teach, they inspire the student to find what they are called to teach.
Hope you are enjoying your summer. To help you enjoy it a bit more, the lovely Chrissy Carter (my guest on this episode) is sharing her lovely Lemonade Recipe, which you can find right here. You could even mix up a batch for yourself while you’re listening to this podcast.
Chrissy (@yogachrissy) is an alignment-based flow teacher who teaches in New York City. She’s been teaching for YogaWorks for 10 years and has 25 teacher trainings under her belt! Yes, 25. You read that correctly. Given that, and given the attentive, caring way Chrissy has about her, we talked about:
* Her former job as a Wall Street trader
* Why she loves a great Iyengar Yoga class and how it helps her see things with fresh eyes
* Why it’s important for teachers to study Iyengar (even if you’re not an Iyengar teacher)
* What it feels like to be an experienced yoga teacher vs. being a newbie
* How cooking is her yoga put into practice
* Her feelings about whether or not students and teachers should be friends
“A skilled yoga teacher has the ability to take one pose and introduce it to you many different ways so that when you come to the pose it’s almost as if you’re seeing it and experiencing it for the very first time.”— Chrissy Carter
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