I've decided to take a training course to learn to be a yoga teacher. It was never in my goals to teach yoga, but the opportunity came across my path spontaneously, as perhaps the best things in life do.
I'm going to detail the series in a blog, but run it all together in retrospect, so that you as a reader will have more continuity.
This begins the first blog from April 2015:
I have a yoga teacher who I really like, Amanda Webster, whose occasional retreats I try to attend. She's popular and has a large and loyal following.
Amanda Webster. Courtesy: Amanda Webster.
I can see why; she has an excellent and accessible teaching style that accommodates all levels of experience, and she's well-versed in not just yoga, but the lifestyle and science that it's derived from. Her passion and wisdom comes through in her teaching.
After one retreat, she invited the class to sign up for her one year training program. "I don't want to be a teacher," I declined.
Me, Amanda, and Julie Arigo at a retreat.
"It will transform you. You should think about it," she countered.
And so it was. I do whatever Amanda says, so I signed up. Amanda can tell me to handstand, and I will ask, How long? LOL.
She crafted it as a one year course that exceeds the minimum 200 hour teacher requirement. It can be done in a much shorter time frame, but she styled it this way purposely, to give the students time to absorb the lessons and let yoga grow into a regular part of our lives. I like how thoughtful she is about that.
Her course is comprised of intense, all day Saturday-Sunday clinics, on one weekend a month, over the course of a year. I'm think I'm going for the teacher certification.
If I'm going to do all the work, I might as well go all the way. For this, I'll have to do all the homework and meet some other qualifications like a teaching practicum. I'm just going to take it on faith that I'll "transform" as she said.
We completed the first month, and it both was and wasn't what I expected. The classes are structured as such: Discussion, two hours of yoga, lecture, wrap up.
Here in the first month, we learned about the history of yoga (key figures, different styles, key dates, common Sanskrit terms), got an overview of the science of Ayurveda, and discussed our intentions and goals for the class.
Amanda also deconstructed the basics of teaching, which we would all probably do intuitively, but it was nice to see it analyzed and spelled out. I've been a ski instructor and have very occasionally assisted at the jujitsu dojo with the lower levels (I was a brown belt when I was active in jujitsu), and I have never been taught how to be a teacher.
She has background as a behavioral therapist, so this attention to detail and thoroughness didn't surprise me; I appreciated her attention to that.
During the yoga sessions, it was part-exercise, part-learning. We've all come to the clinic with moderate to high levels of experience in yoga, but - in my experience - nobody has ever stopped to detail all the aspects of how to do a pose correctly, and what it's for.
For instance, we started with the most basic pose- Mountain- which looks like you're just standing there. She fine-tuned our posture, but to reinforce the lesson, she had us try a few incorrect postures, just to experience the difference between right and wrong.
I guess you could say I expected all this, because it's all outlined in the course description (at http://shivatreeyoga.com/wellness/).
What I didn't expect, however, was how tired my brain would be. I had a small headache both nights after I went home. I've done several weekend retreats now and I have never left feeling tired.
I really liked the lessons, and feel my eyes are opened to a whole new area of life that I would otherwise not have considered studying more about. It was just really intense.
I was also pleasantly surprised by how buoyant my spirit felt after the weekend: lighter, happier, joyful. It's what yoga does for me, but still - the feeling was more expansive than before, and it is always so lovely to encounter.