my yoga teacher training

I’m not going to lie I was terrified once that first weekend of my training came around. I felt like that new girl at school with a new notebook, a collection of new pens and an apprehensive look on her face. I thought I would stick out like a sore thumb as a meat eating, alcohol drinking, size 12, unable to handstand yogi. How wrong I was, the other yogi’s on the course where all completely different. Different ages, different sizes, different backgrounds and there was even a man! Everyone was most definitely not walking around on their hands, drinking a green juice, omming and wearing Lululemon!

Our first weekend was intense, we hit the ground running with learning about the chakras and as someone that had only dipped into the philosophy of yoga this was a baptism of fire. I left after our first vinyasa practice though with the most amazing feeling in my body. This decision felt right, I was on the right path. The next couple of weekends we had were even more affirming, I found the anatomy challenging and it was full on picking apart asanas and learning how to modify for various different ailments but it was so amazing to use my brain in a different way again and to learn.

Each week was different but equally intense and I was knackered by every Sunday evening! I’ve given a brief overview on what was covered below in order to give an idea what was covered on the course. All registered 200 hour trainings have to cover the same basic curriculum but I really do think it is worth deciding what you want to focus on and finding a course that incorporates this. I really wanted to focus on anatomy and alignment which Sally’s course is very focused on.

Weekend One – Introduction to Yoga Philosophy and Alignment, Sequencing and an Introduction to the Bandhas
Weekend Two – Asanas, Alignment and Sequencing and Mentoring
Weekend Three – The Skeletal and Muscular System, Yoga for Back Care and Mentoring
Weekend Four – The Nervous System, The Energy Systems, Component of Fitness and PNF Stretching and Restorative Yoga
Intensive Week – Entire week focusing on asanas, sequencing, meditation, pre and post natal advice
Weekend Five – Cardio-respiratory System and the Lymphatic and Endocrine System and Basics of Ayuverda and the Business of Yoga

One of my main worries when I signed up for my training was how much additional work there would be outside the contact hours. I can only talk for myself and this particular training as obviously they are all structured differently but found the workload ok. I was working full time and don’t have a family or any other responsibilities but I found the amount of work manageable. It was strange getting back into that coming home from work and doing homework frame of mind but the majority of the work was additional reading and writing little essays on it. I love reading and finding out new things so this was right up my street. All I can say though is thank god Instagram didn’t exist while I was doing my A-Level’s as it’s such a distraction!

As the course went on I found myself practicing in class differently. I was listening to how the teacher was describing things more and was definitely more aware of what was going on around me within the class. I began to realise that my main anxiety of not being a clear teacher was unfounded as every teacher had their strong and weak points and they all got their lefts and rights muddled up sometimes too! Sally’s course incorporates a lot of teaching practice right from the first weekend on this course which was great and through having all our visiting tutors being yoga teachers too and all teaching us classes it was a great way to experience different styles of teaching.

Our main tutor and yoga teacher throughout the course was Sally Parkes course but Dawn Morse was our Anatomy and Physiology Teacher, Paula Hines taught us restorative and yoga for back care, Chris Thompson was our subtle anatomy and philosophy guru throughout the course and in Spain and Tracy Johnson covered some of the ethics and guidelines of teaching yoga while also being our mentor. The breadth of knowledge from all the teaching staff was great and having all their inputs on how, where and when to teach was great. If you can ever catch classes by any of them do! Paula is the queen of restorative yoga and I think I floated out of her class after being strapped up in reclined baddha konasana. In particular it was amazing to have Tracy as a mentor throughout the course. This is included within the course and means you have free business mentoring throughout the duration, which was great for all those little questions on the business of yoga, marketing, ethics or just teaching that you might have. I found this invaluable as I really didn’t want to finish the course knowing all the yoga stuff but not knowing what to do with it!

As the course hurtled towards our weeks intensive I was so excited. I’d never been on a yoga retreat before but I couldn’t wait to dedicate a whole week purely to yoga and learning in the gorgeous location of The Hacienda in Montefrio. The course was going so quickly and we had been given so much information but I was beginning to fill that ‘yoga toolbox’ in my brain. By this point we had had to do some teaching practice homework, teaching our own sequence to three different people and getting their feedback. This was such a good exercise and one I continued throughout my training and will continue to now I’m qualified too. This gave me the confidence that I could teach and that all I was learning was actually sticking.

Our weeks residential in Spain was incredible and I wish it happened earlier in the course! We had all got to know each other a bit on the course but spending a week together was amazing for forging bonds I think all of us will keep for life. It was a great week to completely immerse ourselves in yoga, starting practice on our mats at 6:45 as the sun came up, focusing a lot on meditation, lots of teaching practice and afternoon workshops with Chris on various asanas or subtle anatomy followed by a gorgeous dinner and free time to study and practice in the evening. It was on one of these evenings that one of the most transformative events of my life happened. The energy had been a bit weird in the group all day, it was mid-week and we put this down to us all just being tired and overwhelmed with the week we had had so far. It was also the end of a moon cycle though so someone mentioned having a new moon ceremony to see out the old and welcome in the new. A couple of the yogi’s had done this before but it was completely new to me. We lit a fire, all sat in a circle around it and each wrote down what we wanted to send away from our lives with the old moon, starting afresh with a new mantra and the new moon. As we all shared what we were throwing into the fire we realised we were all saying pretty much the same thing. The fear of not being enough and not having the self confidence to start this new chapter in our lives. Outwardly we probably all look like a group of confident people but it was refreshing to realise we all had exactly the same fears, however misguided they were. We all pledged to move on not putting ourselves down, beating ourselves up or not trusting our path. Hugs and tears sealed this pledge as we watched the fire begin to burn itself out, wandered back to the Hacienda for a much needed tea and discovered the most amazing sunset, shining new light on our new mantras.

When the world throws problems at you, don’t start to question why, face them straight on, it’s not a representation of you, you are enough and you will conquer them

It was little moments of self discovery like this that I found the most rewarding part of my journey through the teacher training. Yes I learnt lots through the weekends, feel like I have the tools I need to start my teacher life but it has also taught me so much about myself.

Our final weekend was a really strange one, starting with the anxiety of our theory exam. It’s been a long time since I’ve done an exam and I was immediately transported back to lining up outside the gymnasium and that feeling of knowing nothing even though you’ve lived with your flashcards for weeks! It went well for us all though and theory exam passed and adrenaline calming down we had our last bit of Anatomy and Physiology to learn. It felt so strange that it was our last weekend all together learning but great that we were almost finished too! For our final day we focused on elements we wouldn’t be assessed in but were of interest, Ayuverda and the Business and Marketing of Yoga. This day was symptomatic of Sally’s entire course, giving us just a little more knowledge than is required and dropping in other topics that you want to go out and do more research on. I was a complete beginner to the idea of Ayuverda and after that little taster (including shots!) I’m itching to learn more.

Following that weekend all that remained was our anatomy and physiology exam, some coursework and our video exam. This I found really nerve wracking but it was such a great way to assess how my teaching has improved, not only for the course but for me as well. Having a video to look back on is a bit cringe worthy but it is a great way of looking at how you teach and how you can improve. It was so weird being in a proper studio, at the front with people moving when you tell them to, but such a brilliant final task to do for the course. I really felt such a sense of achievement, not getting my lefts and rights muddled up, knowing where I was going and being able to safely adjust my students.

The course was such a whirlwind but in a really good way. I’m not going to lie there is a lot to take in but the pace of one weekend a month meant I had enough time to process what I had learnt that weekend and take on the homework set. This was the perfect pace for me and I really don’t think I would have got as much out of a more intensive course. I loved the week we had in Spain which helped me develop my knowledge, my personal practice and myself as well as make some friends for life. I would urge everyone wanting to do their YTT to try and find one that has some sort of residential element. I am so glad that I have done this course and have such a good grounding in all aspects of yoga and I can’t wait to start teaching and continue learning!

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