I thought I’d reached that stage in the yoga teacher training learning curve where it would be upwards from now on. Last month was training weekend eight of eleven so we’re getting scarily close to our final assessment. So, I thought, surely now it will just be about refining what we’ve already learnt and growing our confidence? How foolish of me!
To re-cap the YTT journey so far: we started by realising how little we actually knew about yoga, deconstructing all the asanas and going back to basics. Then we began building our knowledge back up again, this time with a deeper appreciation for anatomy and subtle energies, feeling the internal connections in our bodies and getting into some uncomfortable and emotional places of release and questioning. Next up was to communicate all this to other people by practicing our teaching on some willing Guinea pigs and finding our own paths as teachers. Surely now we must be on an upwards trajectory?
Well as you’ve guessed, the answer, at least for me, is no. At the last training weekend we had a day with a guest teacher who had a different style compared to some of the other teaching on our course. This is purposeful – Elena likes to expose us to different teaching styles where she can. But there was something about the timing of this session that had a big effect on me, leaving me feeling completely wiped out. We have spent so much time delving into the precise alignment of each asana, feeling the power of micromovements that take our practice to another level of body awareness and energy flow. And our teaching style has developed to be very detailed and precise, reflecting our learning. But this teacher reminded us that we now need to translate all this in a way that our students will connect with.
The fact is that most people have a very low level of body awareness, because of all the time we tend to spend in our minds rather than our bodies. I’ve been practicing yoga for more than a decade and up until about 18 months ago my body awareness was much lower than I’d like to admit! In this context, too much attention to anatomical precision can lead to anxiety if people can’t feel what you’re talking about. And anxiety leads to tension and rigidity, which is the last thing you want yoga to do to people. So my next challenge in this journey is to bring some softness and simplicity to my teaching. Honouring the need for good alignment and encouraging body awareness while not letting this take away from the experience itself. I have so much still to learn.
Bringing our attention to subtle connections in our own self-practice is important so we keep developing as yogis and teachers but we need to meet our students where they are, not where we are.
It’s time to take what I’ve been learning on the inside and take it out to the big wide world.