Teacher training is a journey for the students. There are a lot of (positive) personal, physical and attitude/outlook changes in store for anyone joining the course. In this blog, I’d like to give you an insight into the other side of the equation – namely, what it’s like for me as course leader.
Preparations start some months before the course itself starts. There’s a lot to do: for instance, we have lots of guest speakers, so all of that has to be arranged. There are course updates too: I’m always deeply inspired by the people who attend the course, so I’m fired up to refresh and improve the content continually. And then, of course, there’s the inevitable efforts to market the course. It’s a great feeling when we receive our first sign up, as it means we’re on our way. The best remedy for these concerns (I have found) is to keep up preparations. Invariably our course gets filled with eager and dedicated students, perhaps because the preparations are thorough and it’s clear to people that course is going to be great value for money.
I want to pick up on the point I made about how inspiring the teacher trainees are. It’s always a diverse group. There are people from all walks of life, and all levels of Yoga ability. Everyone is slightly nervous at the start, but by lunchtime of the first day, everyone is comfortably chatting to everyone else. As the weeks go by, firm friendships develop – and it’s fascinating, because it’s often very different people – people that would not otherwise have come to be so close. Love of Yoga knits the group together across all sorts of political or lifestyle differences.
The work and the practice can be demanding, there’s no doubt about it. I’m always on hand to help – and I know that other members of the group will also often step in to help if someone is struggling. Some people have a natural tendency to under-estimate themselves, and can even be very self-critical. This can appear during the course, or near the end as the assessments begin to loom large. With some help and encouragement (from me and the other attendees), they find the courage to keep going. Invariably, courage wins the day and they emerge with not just a qualification, but a new self-confidence as well.
And of course, this is exactly what I mean when I say that teacher trainees inspire me. These people join as strangers, leave as friends and in the mean-time rebuild their bodies and minds through extended Yoga practice and study.
We take great efforts to make the first weekend a special experience. To that end, Kirtan goes down very well, and is a great way to introduce people to other non-physical styles of Yoga practice (in this case, Bhakti Yoga). It’s a great ice-breaker as well – most people have never done anything like that before – it’s an experience to share and talk about in the months ahead on the course.
Finally, even though each course weekend requires me to work 12 hour days, I find them extremely energising. There’s nothing quite like a whole weekend of Yoga study (practical and technical). I’m bouncing by the end of it, and that will continue for several days. The teacher trainees report that they are tired by the end of it (which is understandable), but I must say I have the opposite experience. It really is the most enlivening thing I can do with my work time, and I always leave the weekend very much looking forward to the next.