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.
Here it is in a nutshell: all these years, Yoga has freely given and we have willingly received, like a thirsty traveller finding a well of clear spring water. Yoga has been there for us when we needed it most, by our sides. All this has been brought through the actions of our teachers who have held the space while Yoga did its unravelling work on us.
Now, Yoga is asking for our help. Yoga is asking us to be the teachers holding the space for lots of others who also desperately need its invigorating touch. And if you’re going to take that space – well, here at Yogafurie, we believe you need to know your stuff. In fact, we’ll make sure you do.
The stormy middle gives way to calmer waters as the course draws to a close and you step up to teach on a more regular basis. This is the space to integrate your new learning with your teaching, and to decide where you are going to go next with your practice. Before training, we are a little blind in some respects – we go to the classes we like and we get all the blessings of peaceful self-development. But after training, armed with new knowledge, we become our own best students. It’s important to go to classes and learn from others, but more than ever you will be developing and holding your own self-practice. You’ll reclaim your Yoga, and it will be richer for you than ever before. In being born as a teacher, you are reborn as a student – not just of other teachers, but a student of yourself and your life also.
Most teacher training programs ask students to read a commentary of the Bhagavad Gita. It’s a beautiful story that documents one man’s struggle to do the work he finds most difficult. It charts his realisation that there’s a bigger picture, that there’s more at stake than his own wants and needs. Of course, in the process he gains more than he could ever have imagined, but first he has to let go of his own treasured view of how things ought to be. These are really important ideas for teachers for two reasons.
Firstly, there are times when it is tough: on the training course, juggling work with practice and teaching, and later dealing with difficult people. Secondly because every Yoga class you teach is an invitation to students to let go just a little. It comes across as physically letting go of tight body areas. In truth, there’s a much more fundamental release of the grip on how we think things are supposed to be.
This gradual release happens at a very subtle level: time on the mat as a student slowly eases our grip on day-to-day life. Eventually, we feel a calling to train as a teacher. The conclusion? Yoga really is alive: self-managing, self-propelling, carrying us, helping us, working through us to bring more and more magic to our lives and the lives of our students. If you learn that on your teacher training program, you’ve done very well.
Personally, I am in awe every time a group pulls together and pulls through to get to the end of their course. We certainly ask a lot of them on the Yogafurie Yoga and Hot Yoga teacher training program, because Yoga deserves nothing less than our very best efforts. Let’s face it, Yoga (or Hot Yoga) always shows up for us when we step on the mat – the least we can do is give the same commitment to Yoga and Hot Yoga in return.