Some of you might not know this, but I started a yoga teacher training course in January with Yoga London. I’ve just completed my first month of training with them and…I don’t really know where to begin to describe everything.
You may even ask why I decided to do a teacher training in the first place and, while that’s a different post for another time, the short answer is: I didn’t know how else to progress in yoga.
My first month of yoga teacher training has already provided me with SO much information and take away that it is slightly overwhelming. There is such a VAST amount of knowledge on yoga that it can feel overwhelming at times to wonder how you’ll ever learn it all and be confident in your ability to teach what you learn to other people. I’ve tried to break this post down into different sections as a way to firstly organize my own thoughts and to secondly make it easier for you to read.
Learning My Body
I thought I knew my body. After all, I’ve been the one living in it for the past 25 years. I was wrong. The entire first month of my teacher training has been a huge struggle in relearning my body and everything I thought I knew about my yoga practice. I was never a dancer or a gymnast (as those are the two things most people ask about my background after seeing me practice). The reason I’m asked this is that I am very flexible. I never had to work for my flexibility like a lot of people, I was just born with it–I have hyper mobility in pretty much all of my joints. Hyper mobile joints essentially move beyond the range of motion that most people have, but this can cause pain in those joints. In my case, in particular, knee pain. Before starting my yoga teacher training with Yoga London, I never really engaged during my practice. I didn’t really use my muscles to get me into poses, I relied on the hyper mobility of my joints. This reliance can cause me a lot of future pain. Even after just the first weekend of training, I could feel that pain. I had to change the way I practiced. Even my yoga teacher from back in the States, Jana, always told me that I didn’t engage, that I was naturally flexible, but that this would hurt me in the long run. It wasn’t until after doing yoga from about 9am to 6pm two days in a row that I could really feel it and understand. So, the first month has been one big experiment trying to find my range of motion that is safe.
Learning Different Bodies
While trying to relearn my own body, I’m also spending a significant amount of time on the course loving and appreciating everyone else’s bodies. It’s kind of crazy to think how we’re all the same, yet so different. For the most part, we have all the same bones, organs, muscles, and bodily functions. Yet, the way we carry ourselves or the way our bodies move can be incredibly different. The way I look in Trikonasana may be very different from the way you look in Trikonasana, but they are both correct for our individual bodies.
While I initially thought 26 people in our training group was A LOT, I’m slowly coming to appreciate it because it gives us the chance to practice with a bigger variety of bodies. It’s great to be able to experiment teaching people who are the same height or taller than you. (Let’s face it–not many people are shorter than me.) People who have big muscles, average muscles, and little muscles. Flexible people and not flexible people. The ability to adapt any yoga pose to any body fascinates me, though it’s proving to be a bigger challenge to learn how other people’s bodies work as I’ve been focusing on my own body for so long. I welcome the challenge, though and hope to be able to learn how to adapt all yoga poses to the individual.
A Range of Perspective
As I mentioned, we have 26 people in our group training to be yoga teachers. Not all of them necessarily want to teach yoga as everyone is there for their own reasons. Some of them want to deepen their practice and learn more while others do want to teach or at least have the ability to teach should they decide to later. Since we have such a big group from many different countries, there’s a lot of diverse perspectives. It’s something I fully appreciate about living in Europe, now. On our course, we have people who are already trained as aerial yoga teachers and meditation teachers. We have PhD students, neuroscience students, and other students. We have a physiotherapist and an anatomist. We have people coming from other schools of yoga, such as Ashtanga or Iyengar. We have mothers and full time workers. There is just so much variety. All of us are so different, but we’ve all come together because we all share a similar passion. When we have lectures and all of these voices piping up to express their opinions, it’s truly rewarding to hear what everyone has to say. Half of the time I would never even have thought of something in one way, but then someone with experience in that area speaks and you sort of just sit there thinking: wow, how did I get so lucky to be in a group with all of these different people?
Yoga Teacher Training is a mixture of emotions. One minute I’m full of energy, elated to be there and to see everyone, while the next minute I’m exhausted and worn out. One minute I’m absorbing everything I can, happy to be learning so much about a topic I love, while the next I’m in tears because I feel overwhelmed. It’s a challenge, but one I’m grateful for.
54 hours. Three weekends. One Month. I’m ready for the next one.