200-hour teacher training done! Now on to the next thing…

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The lovely women affiliated with yoga teacher training at SunMoon Yoga Studios. I will miss them! 

I finished my 200-hour RYT (registered yoga teacher) training! Starting last September, I devoted one weekend a month for eight months to this training. This was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and 2017 was finally the right time to do it. I was nearly finished with a Ph.D. program, I was settling into my job, and I thought I could clear my schedule enough to fit in the weekend training at SunMoon Yoga Studios.

Obviously I have learned things that will help me with teaching yoga — things like sequencing, how to modify poses, learning about fascia and connective tissue, setting up a welcoming environment for class, different styles of yoga, etc.

But what I didn’t expect going into this was how much I would learn about myself. This was absolutely a self-development program. You can’t teach yoga as a purely physical act (well, I suppose you could, but that’s not the intent). So if yoga requires attention to thought and emotion and inner harmony in order to achieve a rewarding physical practice, a yoga teacher will have to be attuned to that in his/her own life before teaching.

Yoga is an eight-limbed path (“ashtanga”). The physical practice, asana, is just one of the eight limbs. The first two are yama and niyama — things to avoid in your life and things to embrace. Avoid violence, untruth, and greediness. Embrace purity, contentment, and self-discipline. Only then can you begin to work on the physical practice.

My other major takeaways from training:

* Keep an open mind. In September, I was all like, “I love Ashtanga! I only want to practice and teach Ashtanga! Ashtanga is the best! I dislike other styles of yoga!” But had I ever tried other styles of yoga? In small doses here and there, but I had no experience with yin, Bikram, restorative, etc. And what did I discover? I like those styles, too! Will I become a devotee of those styles? Probably not, because I still feel called toward Ashtanga. But I had the exposure to different styles and learned to appreciate them for what they are and how they serve the body and mind.

* “Let the sweat drip.” Wow, this was a mind-changer. I think of this all the time now. When I regularly practiced Ashtanga, I wanted to be cool. I thought if I got warm that I would feel sick or pass out. But heat and sweat are a necessary component of the detoxifying process and I was trying to avoid that because I wasn’t “comfortable.” Well, is life always comfortable? Those uncomfortable moments are the ones we need to get us to where we’re going.

* I now see yoga as a holistic practice. Up until teacher training, it was purely a physical practice for me. That served me well for what I was using it for. I basically used it as cross-training for my other activities like cycling and running. Yoga kept me flexible and for the most part injury-free. But this is like using a car only because it has a nice stereo system. You’re ignoring all the other things the car can do, especially the major things, like getting you from Point A to Point B. The other seven limbs besides asana have opened new possibilities for me.

I highly recommend a yoga teacher training program even if you’re not planning to become a teacher. Several women in my group do not have plans to teach. And even if think you want to teach someday, begin the training knowing that is only going to be a small aspect of what you learn.

I’m excited to continue this journey of yoga education. I have a couple of things planned for the summer that I’m excited about!

In order to write, read. In order to teach, watch.

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/grahamking/.

In yoga teacher training we are learning all the things that you would expect you’d learn in a teacher training specific to yoga. We learn poses, how to cater to all levels, how to modify poses, the different styles of yoga, as well as things like energy fields and chakras and essential oils.

But what was the very first thing I encountered in the very first class I taught?

Oh, there’s someone walking in the door! Oh, I’m so excited! Oh, what do I do now?

Obviously they just walked in the door. I knew how to teach poses and cue music. But what was going to set the stage immediately?

Thankfully I had been attending yoga classes as a student for about 17 years. I quickly thought to myself: “What does Mona do when I come into a room? What does Melanie do?” Every teacher I’ve had greeted me with a big smile, welcomed me into the space, called me by my name. So that’s what I did. I introduced myself, welcomed them into the space, shook their hands, asked their names and mentally noted the names for next time.

You learn by doing, of course. But you also learn by observing.

I tell my writing students that the most important thing they need to do to become better writers is not to write, but to read. Read EVERYTHING. Read every day. Read books, magazines, anthologies, web articles. Read fiction, read poetry, read plays. Listen to podcasts, watch vlogs, watch documentaries. The only way to write a good story is to read or listen to good stories. See how the masters have done it. Identify what you love and work on replicating that.

It struck me over this last teacher training weekend is that in order to become a good yoga teacher, you have to watch other good yoga teachers. What do they do, what do they say? How do they create a welcoming space? How do they cultivate the type of energy that you want to be around?

I try to expose myself to as many good yoga teachers as possible. I have my roster of teachers I enjoy in Mankato. When I travel, I like going to yoga studios. I’m always watching and observing the style of the teacher, noting what I like and don’t like.

Is there someone you consider your yoga teacher mentor, whether you are teaching now or whether you hope to teach someday?

Taking the plunge: Yoga teacher training (Part II)

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Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs Flickr via Compfight cc

On Monday, I wrote about the perceived barriers I had before going into yoga teacher training. In this post, I will address how I solved each issue.

Perceived barrier #1: The cost

Yoga teacher training is not inexpensive. I chose to see it as an investment, both in my personal growth and future professional career as a yoga teacher. In the long run, I figured I could make money by teaching yoga at a studio or fitness center, doing private one-on-one yoga teaching, and developing my own writing/yoga workshops.

But in the short term, I had to come up with extra money. Because yoga teacher training was important to me, I did what I always do when I want something “extra” — I pursued additional work. I took on an extra class and duties at my job and I also completed a freelance writing assignment.  Though that caused a little conundrum for…

Perceived barrier #2: The time commitment

The first level of yoga teacher training is 200 hours. At Sun Moon Yoga Studios, that is completed through one weekend over the course of eight months. My weekends are generally pretty packed with work, family, exercise, running errands, cleaning, etc. But I knew with some focused scheduling and more attention to organization, I could make it work. The schedule for the weekend intensives is planned out the year in advance, so I just blocked those weekends off on my calendar. I have learned to plan around them. For the first half of training, I only had to miss two hours (which I will be making up this weekend). I look forward to those weekends. They do not feel like an obligation–they are a blessing in the form of having a weekend to focus on yoga, and only yoga.

Perceived barrier #3: Self-doubt

I had a lot of questions going into yoga teacher training.What lies ahead? Will I like it? How will I face challenges that are sure to arise? And one question that plagues me often: Who am I to think that I (fill in the blank)? Who am I to think I can be a yoga teacher? I have done a lot of work in the past couple of years to grow personally and am learning to let questions like these just slide by and not affect me.

Have you completed a yoga teacher training? What obstacles did you have to overcome? If you are contemplating a training program, what perceived barriers do you face?

Taking the plunge: Yoga teacher training (Part I)

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Photo Credit: Prayitno / Thank you for (12 millions +) view Flickr via Compfight cc

After years of putting yoga teacher training on my “wish list,” I finally committed in September 2017.

The commitment made me a little nervous for a variety of reasons:

  • It’s not cheap. You’re not going to find an inexpensive yoga teacher training program anywhere. Where would I get the money?
  • It requires a lot of time. The first level of training is 200 hours. At Sun Moon Yoga Studios, where I’m doing the training, we meet for one weekend a month over eight months. Weekends are my time to spend with family, go on long runs when I’m training for a half-marathon or marathon, catch up on work, write, do housework, etc. In other words, weekends are already packed.
  • Am I good enough? Is this going to be a right fit for me? In a long program like this there will always be some challenges, either physical or mental. Am I prepared to face roadblocks?

Have you thought about a yoga teacher training program? Or even a week/weekend intensive workshop? If so, do the issues I outlined above sound familiar? What else is a stumbling block for you?

In Part II, I will address how I overcame those perceived barriers.