Yoga Teacher Training: 6 Realisations One Year On…
It’s been one year since I completed my yoga teacher training in Bali. It is fair to say that a lot has happened since then. Short hair is now my thing, and I’ve even maintained a beard of some sort. That’s just on the outside.
‘Transformation’ is a bit of a cliche when it comes to doing yoga teacher training. It’s almost a given, but it’s true. Something happens internally that brings out a new side of you. It’s to do with the new found freedom, the pure joy of teaching (whatever form that may take) and the opportunity to begin a life long journey of learning.
Yoga is a subject for which there appear to be no boundaries. There is no beginning, and there is no ending on the yoga journey. It just happens to you. That said, 1 year on, now is an opportunity to reflect upon what I’ve realised since completing my yoga teacher training in Bali, October 2017.
1. There’s No Right or Wrong
In yoga teacher training, there is a specific way of teaching. There is a syllabus approved by Yoga Alliance and the method is quite prescriptive. It tends to be strongly alignment focused and quite strict: placement of the feet, positioning of the hips and the movement of the shoulders etc… The key girdles are the focus for teaching a safe, practical class. Of course this is all true, until you take a class or workshop with other teachers, some of them living legends in the yoga scene, and you get told the complete opposite, or everything you’ve been taught is wrong.
So what is one to believe? That is the challenge it seems. For to discount one teacher because another teacher says the opposite is not fair. Who is right, and who is wrong? Without a certification that is evidence-based and grounded in authority, there can simply be no right or wrong. The good teachers know this and will acknowledge that what one teacher teaches may be the complete opposite of what they have to say. Listen to them and see what you think. See how it feels, and if resonates with you. If not, ignore it and carry on. There is no simple right or wrong when it comes to yoga teaching. Everyone is different, after all. That’s probably the only one certainty in the whole practice.
2. Find Your Own Way
The completion of a yoga teacher training is just the beginning. Hopefully the right course and teacher will enable students to comfortably start teaching from day 1. From that point on though, it is time to start spreading your wings, exploring other styles, teachers, as well as your own practice to see what works for you. Your style will come; and it may be different to what you have been originally taught. Embrace that change and let the feeling of your style start to emerge from within you. If we all stuck to a rigid style of yoga traditionally taught in India, then we wouldn’t have all the beautiful practices that we have today. Find your own teaching path, and let it blossom.
3. Teaching is Pure Joy
To teach is to pass on what you have learnt to others. It is a means by which you can help people heal, find new space or share profound knowledge. The pleasure of teaching is a means by which one can fully express themselves. It is satvic whereas the pursuit of money is rajasic, meaning that teaching is light, pure and brings endless joy. Money on the other hand is merely a medium of exchange and a store of value.
When teaching becomes just about the money, it loses its value. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with making money from teaching, but I have realised in my journey that having made little money from teaching so far, the pleasure I experience is so great, that it cannot possibly be in relation to the financial compensation I receive. The ‘exchange’ I have is the students attending. The return I get is their commitment. From this perspective, my ‘return on investment’ is extremely high.
I’ve even found joy in teaching my colleagues complex banking regulation. Teaching, some would say, is my calling.
4. Learning about Injuries is Vital
If one were to take the average human being, then out of a group of 10 people, I would say at least 1/3 would have some niggling injuries, whether it be back pain, shoulder impingement or a knee injury for example. Since I’ve started teaching, I’ve come across many actual and potential students with such common complaints. Knowing how to modify the practice or deal with these injuries is vital. You’ll be a better teacher, and feel more comfortable offering classes to a wider audience. Take a specific training, with Dr Yogi, for example. The confidence you will gain will only make you a better teacher.
5. You Just Got to ‘ROO’
Starting out at the beginning of your teaching career can be daunting and frustrating. Most large and established yoga studios won’t take you, so where is one to begin? Put it simply, you’ve got to get out there and find a space which you can offer to the public. I call it ‘ROO‘. Rent It. Own It. Offer It.
Renting a space is the first step to beginning your public teaching career (unless of course you want to just offer privates). I found my space through Hire Space, a platform dedicated to finding rooms to hire in London. Once you find the right space to hire, then it becomes ‘your’ space. You own that space for the duration of the class. You can play whatever music, bring whatever props, do whatever you want in that room, with your students. It’s your opportunity to bring all that hard earned training together. At that point, its time to ‘offer’ the classes to the public. Start by creating a flyer (through Canva for example), a MeetUp group, or get the word out through social media. If you are fortunate like me that your potential students are your colleagues, spread the word through email. They will come.
6. It’s all about the Teacher/Student Relationship
Yoga is the relationship between teachers and students. Being a yoga teacher can almost be like a rock star or DJ. People gravitate towards you like a hawk. I see the ones who come to my class are the ones who I have got to know personally. Making those connections is so important. After all, at the end of the day it’s all about trust. Why should a person take a class with a relatively unknown person when there are thousands of others out there?
That makes it that much harder starting out as a yoga teacher fresh from training. However, with dedication, meeting new people, turning up to your local yoga studio on a regular basis and having an active presence on social media, can all help shape an identity which people will gravitate towards.
Yoga teacher training has changed the course of my life. Perhaps forever. What I learnt at the time, I have cherished. What I have since realised has nourished me. Let it be said that the more I practice, the more I teach, the more the journey to self-realisation will become ever closer.