Teaching Students to Become Yoga Teachers

Yoga Mutt Grads
Yoga Mutt Grads

This particular post has been attempted to be written 3 times unsuccessfully in the past 6 days.  It's been 6 days since Greensboro Down Town Yoga's Yoga Mutts Foundations workshop ended.  6 days ago my life was changed for the better.  For the first time in my 32 year and 2 months on this planet it's apparent to me that I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing.  Hallelujah!    I've been searching for the right words to share with all of you, but these words still seem inadequate, so I'm posting anyway.

Finally I've caught up on sleep and had enough time to reflect on what exactly took place during our workshop last weekend.  Personally I've been to many many yoga workshops in the last 7 years.  I've also been to enough workshops to know that these yoga weekends will change the lives of the students taking them.  Yes, if you are looking for a sign to take a workshop, retreat or finally pull the plug on a yoga teacher training program this is your sign.  Do it now, don't wait, it will change your life.

Belly Photo
Belly Photo

Retreat, workshop, 200 hour YTT they will rock your world.  You might not even notice the change as it's happening, but I guarantee you will start to think differently.  I've experienced this first hand, I've taught it and now I can say I've watched it happen.  What I was utterly unprepared for was having my life change powerfully by teaching our Yoga Mutts Vinyasa Foundations weekend workshop.  When I think about the students who are embarking upon the journey of becoming teachers, I know they don't have the slightest clue where this path is going to lead them.  I sure didn't know where my YTT would lead me.  I also didn't know that teaching students to become teachers was going to be one of the most moving experiences of my life.

It's humbling to have the privilege of watching someone stand in front of their peers and attempt something scary like teaching a sun salutation for the first time.  It's astounding to watch personal transformations and personal epiphanies happen right in front of your face.  It's also wonderful to know that the stars are aligning and you as a teacher are doing a good job and no one needs to tell you "good job, or thank you" for you to know that you did it well.  There are few experiences in my adult life where I've utterly known in the core of my being that I nailed it.  With the help of my incredibly insightful and brilliant co-director Andra LeBauer (who also nailed it) we taught in a way that gave the students space to learn, question, shine and grow which is what it's ALL about.

I'm surprised to find that teaching teachers is my calling, but it is.  This is exactly what I'm supposed to be doing.  Have you ever had that feeling before?  Truth be told these days all of the pieces are all falling into place.  The days are incredibly long, but they are abundant with the right stuff.  Greensboro Downtown Yoga is so much more than simply a yoga studio to me, it's a place for community, discussion, connection, and transformation not just for the students coming to class but for me as well.  It's my passion to share yoga with my community.  For the first time in my life I know that I'm definitively in the right place, at the right time, teaching something that is bigger than me and it turns out I'm good at it.

IMG_5201
IMG_5201

The Reluctant Teacher

Feet
Feet

We are thick in the planning for our upcoming 2015 spring teacher training program at Greensboro Downtown Yoga.  It's our first one, and we are reflecting on all of the information incoming students will need not only to take their own practice deeper, but to also teach safely, knowledgeably, and confidently.  It's a mountain of information and any 200 hour program can only scrap the surface of what there is to learn in the world of yoga.

The most important thing students need is a spark.  One tiny light inside themselves that says "I want to try, this yoga thing feels right and I want to explore it further", or "this is something everyone needs and I have a desire to share it".

Personally this path of becoming a yoga teacher was not something I thought I wanted.  Actually I deferred my first teacher training by over 6 months after I put down my initial deposit.  Reasons to not do it kept creeping around my head.  9 weekends is a lot of time, how would I be able to completely disconnect from my life for that amount of time?  Not to mention how was I going to pay for the program let alone fund 9 weekends in Asheville in one year.  I'm honestly still not entirely sure how I was able to devote 9 solid weekends to teacher training, and I'm not sure how I produced the money to pay for everything. What I can say is that there was a spark, it felt right, and somewhere deep down I knew I needed to be there and do it.

Bike Shop yoga
Bike Shop yoga

"Leap, and the net will appear." -John Burroughs

There is a lot to be said about just taking the first step or jump.  Put one foot in front of the other and follow the road where it takes you.

In my teacher training program on our first weekend together I told my fellow students that I was just there to deepen my own practice, "I don't think I want to teach".  Maybe in that proclamation I was challenging fate or daring myself because in fact I started teaching before my 200 hour program was completed.  I was the first person in my program to start teaching a formal class at a studio.  Was fate laughing at me?

2 years ago when I signed the lease to open Greensboro Downtown Yoga I thought back to how I proclaimed "I don't think I want to teach".  Ha. It seems very funny to me now.

We can push against what is happening, we can kick and we can scream, but it's not going to change the path we are drawn to travel.

I've resisted.

I've kicked.

Screamed.

Cried and pushed hard in the opposite direction of where I was being drawn.  I'm not good at going with the flow, but I've gotten better the more I've practiced my yoga.

Often I wonder what would happen if I just give in.  Surrender to my passions, desires? Would it be easier?  I liked doing things the hard way, but I've learned through yoga there are better ways.

Do you have a spark?  Do you have an inclination to deepen your own practice or share the yoga that has given you so much?

If so I've got just the thing...

Vision and goal setting prep
Vision and goal setting prep

The Yoga Sutras: a weekend workshop

Sutra 1
Sutra 1

Some of you may know that I'm working on completing my 500 hour yoga teacher training.  If all goes well it will be done by the end of this year.  Hopefully sooner if the module I need is offered sooner than December of 2014 (fingers Crossed).  I only have one module left.  I'm doing this advanced training for 3 reasons, a) I love studying yoga b) workshops refresh my teaching c) once my 500 hours is completed GCY can have a teacher training program of its own.    Of course I wouldn't let my learning stop there.  I have plans for taking more workshops on the classics of yoga.

This weekend I was studying the yoga sutra's.  Have you ever heard the expression "The more I learn the less I know"?  That is how I feel.  Any time I study a sacred text like the yoga sutras I always feel like I'm just skimming the surface.  Maybe that's why yoga never gets boring to me.  There is too much to learn.  I remember completing my first 200 hour teacher training program and feeling like I knew less than when I'd started.  That wasn't true of course and the ACY had thoroughly prepared me for teaching, but I learned just how much there is to learn in the world of yoga.  We are all truly always students.

Sutra 2
Sutra 2

Yoga is not just asana, postures.

Yoga is according to Michael Johnson's translation of sutra 1.2 ...

"Wholeness is experienced by restraining consciousness from mental separation".

I've also heard this by Chip Hartant of sutra 1.2 ...

"Yoga is to still the patterning of consciousness"

yoga in all of its various forms is designed to help us still the mind junk and experience wholeness, union, yoking, oneness.  This is what yoga does at it's very best.  This is what I try to share with my students.

Luckily for my yogi's I learned a lot this weekend, not just about the sutra's, but also about teaching, and about teaching a slightly harder class.

My main take aways from this weekend - My knowledge of the classical text of yoga is only a sliver and I have so much more to learn (always good to be reminded) - I'm re-committing to my personal yoga and meditation practice with a new zeal - I really should take more workshops like this, they fill me up with inspiration

Sutra 3
Sutra 3