I am currently settling back into daily life after an amazing time at La Hacienda in Andalucia, Spain, as part of my Laxmi yoga teacher training course. It proved to be a life-changing and invaluable learning experience and my mind is still buzzing with everything that I learned during my time out there.
My teacher training journey began last year when I embarked upon a yoga foundation course with the British Wheel of Yoga. This gave me the opportunity to explore yoga in a lot more depth and I enjoyed the course so much that once it was finished I knew that I wanted to teach and signed up straightaway for my teacher training course. The first task was to start ploughing through the reading list which comprised both ancient and modern yoga texts as well as books on anatomy and physiology. I was lucky enough to have started studying some of the books on the reading list on my BWY Foundation course so that made things a little easier but to be honest buying yoga books has become something of a pastime in recent years anyway and my shelves are fit to bursting!
Once I had completed the reading list, I was ready for the anatomy and physiology (A&P) section of the course led by Dawn Morse, which was held at the beautifully serene Jamyang Buddhist Centre in London. This was the part of the course that I was most apprehensive about initially given that Biology wasn’t my favourite subject at school but actually I now find the movement of the body and understanding bones and muscles and their interplay so interesting and I find it really enhances my yoga practice to know which muscles are being worked and to be honest it just seems like something we should all know really. Seems pretty important, when you think about it, to have an understanding of our own bodies!
After the first part of A&P in London, and having already completed assignments on spirituality, class observations, chakras and movements of the spine, the next stage was the intensive part of the training out in Spain where our practical assessments were also due to take place. We had a full daily schedule including a strong vinyasa flow yoga class each morning with the amazing Sally Parkes at 7.30am and another yoga class in the afternoons with the wonderful Chris Thompson which had Hatha, Iyengar and Kundalini influences. There was also sometimes another class led by the silken-voiced Paula Hines whose focus was on backcare and restorative yoga. (Best night’s sleep I had during the training was after Paula’s restorative class. My bolster is my new best friend!!). Sally’s vinyasa classes were very physically challenging (especially that early in the morning as I’m not a naturally early riser!!) but were a wonderful opportunity to try some less familiar asanas in a supportive environment and push myself. I definitely feel that my own personal practice benefited from this daily challenge and improved too- not to mention my core strength and general fitness level! (If anyone ever questions the ability of yoga to keep you cardio fit- just send them over to one of Sally’s vinyasa flow classes!!). There were also lessons on yoga theory covering topics such as the eight limbs of yoga, subtle anatomy, chakras, chanting, meditation, pranayama, kriyas, etc. as well as time to break down the asanas and their technical points and to learn how to teach them properly and provide adjustments, modifications, etc. Basically everything you need to know in order to begin to teach. The days were long and full and I definitely believe this intensive way of learning made retaining the information so much easier. The other students on the course were so warm-hearted and so much fun and everyone had something valuable to contribute which made the learning experience so much more enjoyable.
While we were out there we had to undertake a practical assessment teaching a beginners to intermediate class to our peers that we had to sequence ourselves using a number of guidelines from Sally and there was also an assessment on all the theory elements of the course. We had ample opportunity to work on our teaching skills either in pairs or in small groups so that by the time assessment day arrived I felt well prepared. Prior to starting the intensive part of the course I have to admit I did wonder how on earth I would be able to put together a class and take a teaching assessment in a relatively short space of time, but what I realised when I was out there was that we were all teachers already in a sense. The very fact that we chose to participate in a teacher training course already showed we’d had the “calling” and in addition everyone on the course had been practicing yoga for a long time and so already had an in-depth knowledge of the asanas and an idea about correct alignment, etc. For myself I’ve been practising and interested in yoga since my teens so a good two decades already! The point of the course is to help you to teach yoga safely and effectively and to reinforce correct alignment within each asana as well as how to modify these asanas for various injuries, health conditions, etc. We also discussed how to gently adjust students while holding the postures. I have taken away an invaluable amount of information from the course and do in fact feel ready to start teaching. It made me realise how much I already knew and gave me the tools to bring together the knowledge I already had with the new aspects I learned and then to put all this together to convey this safely and effectively to a class. More than anything, though, I actually really enjoyed the teaching. Despite being nervous and a little apprehensive, especially in case I forgot something or went blank, I loved standing in front of the class teaching one of the things I love to do most in the world. It felt like a privilege being up there and guiding people through their practice.
I still have another section on A&P next month, including an assessment, then we have to do a First Aid course and finally put together a 6-week class plan but I’m hoping to be qualified by the end of the year and I can’t wait to start spreading the yoga love to all those local to me here in Kent! Of course, though, this will only be the beginning of my teacher training journey because I naturally intend to keep learning at every available opportunity and then pass on the benefit of my learning and training to my students. This will be a life-long journey for me and one I am so excited to be embarking upon…