The name comes from the Sanskrit words chatur meaning “four”, anga meaning “limb”, danda meaning “staff” (refers to the spine, the central “staff” or support of the body), and asana meaning “posture” or “seat”. Here are pictures showing utthitha (extended) chatturanga dandasana and chatturanga dandasana:
As you can see, four limbs really are supporting the staff of the spine! In one of the pictures, you can see that we have body-painted a teacher so that we can demonstrate more about the anatomical structure of the pose. You can learn more too – see below for details.
How can the study of anatomy deepen your Yoga and Hot Yoga practice? Well for one thing it can provide scientific guidelines to help you keep your body safe. For example, did you know that the discs that stack between and cushion your vertebrae get rehydrated whilst you sleep, so your spine is literally longer after a nights sleep. Pretty cool fact but how can this apply to a Yoga and Hot Yoga practice. Well, because your spine is longer in the morning this means all the ligaments and tendons that hold the spine together are tighter in the morning than in the evening. And tight ligaments feel stiff and are easier to pull. So, if you are practicing in the morning you should expect the body to feel stiffer in backbends than later in the day, and perhaps you might warm the back up more or go lighter in backbending postures then you would in an evening practice.
Right now is the time when teacher trainees earn our respect the most, at the half-way point of the program. They’ve already learned a great deal: they can plan and hold safe classes, and they can discuss Yoga and anatomy in ways they never anticipated. But most of all they understand how little we all really know, and that’s a sobering realisation.
Training is also difficult because our relationship to practice changes. Yoga was always there for us in the past: the one refuge from all that modern-day madness was the little temple of the Yoga mat. But now in Yoga and Hot Yoga classes, we find ourselves analysing the sequence, checking our alignment – sometimes with self-criticism – and assessing how the teacher is delivering the practice. Naturally, people ask: “Will I ever get MY Yoga back again?”
The short answer is: Yes, you will, and it’ll happen with a new richness of knowledge and depth of understanding about what you’re doing. There’ll be a feeling of new magic in your practice once you integrate your course experiences. But first, something equally magical but very different has to happen. It’s a kind of re-birth, and like all beautiful birth events, it comes with its measure of difficulty.
When Siân decided to take the Yoga & Hot Yoga Teacher Training course at Yogafurie, she had never taught and wasn’t sure if she would ever be able to. But less than two months after finishing the course last October she opened her own studio near her home in Cornwall, where she now teaches four lessons a week.
The ten-month course has given her a whole new career, and brought hot yoga to her area of Cornwall. ‘I absolutely love teaching so much,’ she says. ‘I couldn’t have predicted it as it seemed very daunting, and I have never taught before. I just knew I wanted to find out more and see where it would lead me.’
Each morning, my three-year-old son and I squeeze some citrus fruits for our morning drinks. He has an orange and usually a couple of satsumas as well. I have a lemon and a lime. I cut them in half and we smell the different fruits. For the orange, he says “Yum!”. For the lemon and lime, he says “Yuk!”. Then we put them down and look at the segmented patterns in each, how they all have lots of pockets of juice built around the pith inside. I like doing this, because it shows him that things can be the same, but different. I think that’s a great way for little ones to realise that people can also be treated with the same respect, even though they’re different.
Being a Yoga or Hot Yoga teacher (or both) really is a great lifestyle. You get to do work that you love and truly believe in. Your work directly helps other people. They feel good and they let you know. You’re surrounded by others who also love their work with a passion. This is all really rare in much of today’s employment.
But it’s still work. And because you care deeply, it can be hard work. So, are you ready? Here are four questions to ask yourself to help find out.
If you’re even considering training, then Yoga has already had a big impact in your life. Yoga has come to you through teachers: imagine being the channel bringing big life shifts to others. Teaching Yoga is a big responsibility.
Anahata means sound produced without touching parts together. An unplayed musical instrument is capable of producing any melody. Anahata is a reference to the pure potential that is the force behind any creative act. Love is seen as the most creative thing of all, because it limits negativity and destruction.
We do creative things out of desire. It’s not always out of love. What’s the difference, and what’s the relationship between love and desire? The difference is that doing something out of love is doing it for the benefit of all. Recognising interdependence is an Anahata experience. For instance, with 7 billion or so people alive now, it’s no longer possible to treat the natural world as a set of resources. It’s becoming essential to participate in the life-supporting processes of the Earth, instead of just assuming they function regardless of what we do.
But desire is the access point. Through practice, we create the space to be with desires, rather than act them out. We get to understand our motives and the issues (real or imagined) that we’re trying to address. Acting out the desire is just one response: pausing for a moment means we might find a different response, such as a root-cause fix. In other words, we get beneath the wants to the real needs, we get from the mind’s desire to the heart’s desire.
Ultimately, love is usually the heart’s desire, and the actions borne out of love usually lead to the greater good.
People say that love is vulnerable. I tend to feel that love is courageous. It’s even possible that love doesn’t give a damn about anything except love! So, we can’t talk about love without talking about fear. Fear is the opposite of love in a lot of ways, because love includes and embraces, whereas fear excludes and repels.
When I completed my teacher training as a yoga for cancer teacher in 2011, I had not previously worked with cancer survivors and I had never had a cancer patient in my class. My grandmother had had breast cancer and had overcome it in her 60s, and then again in her 70s, but I was living many hundreds of miles away and was too young to realise the gravity of her illness.
So, there I was, in front of my first group feeling very excited about what was about to ensue. Despite my inexperience and naivety I was 100% committed to the practice and absolutely sure that yoga can help anyone to overcome their difficulty and come to terms with their situation. I was on a quest to share the power of yoga with people who were suffering, and that quest had led me to Penny Brohn Cancer Care in Bristol as their resident teacher.
Something that has always bugged me when I try to convince people to come to a yoga class with me is when they say, “I’d be no good at yoga, I’m not very flexible.” To which I’d reply, “neither am I!” I’ve always had short hamstrings (probably not helped by my historic love for outdoor running and lack of enthusiasm for a cool down). I also have tight hips (can’t think of a good reason for this – too much TV watching perhaps?) I also have a slight anterior pelvic tilt which basically means my bum sticks out a bit, probably caused by too much sitting.
Ten months ago, I decided to train to become a yoga teacher. I’ve always loved how yoga keeps me physically fit and calms my mind down, so I thought ‘why not?!’ So day one of yoga teacher training arrives: as you can probably imagine, I was bottom of the class in the flexibility ratings. Surrounded by a sea of bendy Wendy’s, I was facing a tough uphill struggle to be able to keep up with the others and do all the poses ‘correctly’. Luckily Ed, our wise trainer, told us, “There is no correct pose. It’s not about touching your toes. That may come with practice, but it’s about staying with your breath and being in the present moment.” Well, this was music to my ears! I didn’t need to look like all those super bendy girls on Instagram; where I got to in each pose was perfect for me (even if it was on top of a mountain of
blocks!) I also learnt that it’s incredibly unhelpful to compare yourself to others. So I stopped worrying and just tried my best.
So, you’ve graduated…well done! Your teacher training was probably a roller-coaster ride, and the most rewarding thing you ever did. Now it’s time to knuckle down, teach some classes and find your feet as a teacher. Where do you start? In this blog, Ed (Yogafurie teacher and owner) gives you some useful information about what you can do and what you can expect to find.
Start by thinking about what you want to achieve, in the short term and for the future. Is it enough to just cover your costs, or do you want/ need an income from your classes?
A diligent new teacher will probably spend an hour or two planning each class, and might even practice it a couple of times themselves before delivering it. You can easily put 4 hours work into a single class. This kind of effort will pay off – the quality of your classes will be high, and people will appreciate that. Of course, you might (or might not) feel you need some financial benefit from all the work. It’s important to think about this.
Lots of people are teaching really just for the experience, and to maintain the momentum they built up in teacher training. If this is your goal then you might be willing to compromise on the financial reward for a while. Do be clear about what you want, as it will also affect how you market yourself.
And marketing is important. Your teacher training course hopefully made you a confident and knowledgeable teacher. There is more you need to know if you hope to attract and engage a population of students.
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