CategoryOn Yoga Teaching

Interview: Molly Elsdon on Why Doing the 200-Hour YTT was the BEST Experience of Her Life

Interview: Molly Elsdon on Why Doing the 200-Hour YTT was the BEST Experience of Her Life

Molly Elsdon is a recent YogaLondon 200-hour teacher training graduate who’s currently living and teaching out in Mexico. She tells us how doing the 1-month intensive changed her life and why her least favourite yoga pose is a handstand because she can’t (yet) do one, but with her track-record of getting things done, we doubt it’ll be long before she conquers handstands too.

1. How long had you been thinking about becoming a yoga teacher for?

For quite a few years before I did it. It had always been in the back of my mind and I had just finished Uni and I thought, ‘Do you know what? I’m just going to do it.’ I’d been thinking about it to Interview: Molly Elsdon on Why Doing the 200-Hour YTT was the BEST Experience of Her Lifethe extent that I’d bought the best-reviewed yoga teaching textbook on Amazon and had it ready and waiting on my bookshelf.

In fact, I’d planned to go to India in that time, but then Covid happened…because I had a short window, I chose to do the 1-month intensive course and do it all in one go, as I had started applying for jobs at that point. It was meant to start in January of this year, but then it was pushed back to April due to the third lockdown. I finished the course in May 2021.

2. And why did you choose YogaLondon for your Yoga Teacher Training?

I only realised this after I’d decided to do the course, but I already had a YogaLondon prospectus on my bookshelf from a few years earlier. I chose YogaLondon because there are so many yoga studios that have teacher training courses on the side, but I felt YogaLondon had the most professional feel and the best reviews out there. Plus, the courses were at the perfect time for me.

In the end it was delayed by four months, but because of the delay we were offered a complimentary Foundations Course as well as free online classes on Saturdays and Sundays, which meant we felt we’d started our yoga teacher training before we’d even started the course.

3. What was the hardest thing about the 1-month intensive?

The hardest thing about it was the intensive nature of the intensive! I was working part-time in a pub, so I had very little spare time.

It was also a huge amount of information to take in. I imagine if you attended a longer course, you’d have more time to absorb the information. In fact, I’m going back over my course notes now that I’ve started teaching. Having said that the course is structured really well, and you revisit things that you learnt at the very beginning, so that by the time you sit down to revise, it’s definitely bedded in.

Interview: Molly Elsdon on Why Doing the 200-Hour YTT was the BEST Experience of Her Life

4. How did doing the YTT affect your yoga practice?

Physically my practice improved greatly. There was a girl who was injured who observed us all, and said, ‘Wow, by the end, you’d all improved so much’.

However, for me it was more of a mental journey. Before I started the course, I thought that yoga was 90% physical and 10% everything else. Now I think it’s the other way round. Since doing the course yoga has become a lifestyle rather than something I do on the side.

5. And what’s your yoga practice like now?

My practice is way more consistent, a lot more varied and not just doing the asanas. I now practice pranayama, meditation or just sit and read the Yoga Sutras – it’s all yoga practice. In fact I would say that I now have a yoga mindset in my daily life.

6. What are your plans post-qualification?

At the moment I’m teaching here in Mexico, where I’m currently living with my boyfriend. But I’m so excited to get back to the UK to do some more courses! I thought that once I’d done the 200-hour teacher training I’d be content to just go out there and teach, but in reality there’s so much more to learn, with so many extra modules such as Ayurveda and meditation – the YTT has really just opened the doors. The problem is that I’m interested in doing ALL the courses!Interview: Molly Elsdon on Why Doing the 200-Hour YTT was the BEST Experience of Her Life

7. Hmm, my next question might be hard then – if you had to specialise what would it be in?

Out of everything I think it might be Jivamukti yoga actually. We did some Jivamukti sun salutations on the course and it sparked my interest in the method. Jivamukti yoga is about the principle of ahimsa (non-violence), so they espouse veganism and animal rights, both of which are things I’m already passionate about.

I’d love to explore how yoga and veganism are linked together. Yoga should be about living your life aligned to your morals.

8. How did you feel when you taught your first public class?

I started teaching my boyfriend and friends before I even started the course, so I thought I’d be confident, but I was so nervous before my first public class. I spent ages planning and overthinking everything. I’ve now gotten so much more comfortable teaching classes. I meditate for three minutes before the class and it makes such a difference – all my nerves seem to go away.

In fact now I’ve found that the less I plan it the better because then it becomes about being in the moment – and if I don’t know what to say or do I can just have a pause.

Interview: Molly Elsdon on Why Doing the 200-Hour YTT was the BEST Experience of Her Life

9. Are you teaching online or in-person?

I do both online and in-person classes at the moment. When I first moved to Mexico we lived in Campeche. My boyfriend and I found this beautiful old government building and eventually got permission to teach yoga there. Then I handed out fliers and put up a few posts on Facebook and I got my first students. Now we’ve moved to Playa del Carmen and those first students come to my online classes. I also teach on the rooftop of a local hotel, as well as running Kirtan sessions with my partner.

10. As well as living out in Mexico you’re also working for YogaLondon!

I came to Mexico planning to get a job when I got back, but then lockdown happened. While I was out here I saw on social media that YogaLondon were hiring and I thought, ‘I could do this!’ I loved my time there so much and found the teachers so inspiring  – it’s such a family. And I just thought ‘Oh my gosh, I want to be part of it again.’ And talking about yoga just sounded like the dream. I was supposed to start in person in August, but with the Covid-19 travel restrictions they kindly let me start working from here.

11. Is there anything you’re afraid of (in life and yoga)?

The thing I’m most afraid of is that I’m not achieving everything I want to in life. I’m worried I’ll get to the end of my life and I’ll look back and feel that I didn’t do enough.

In terms of yoga it’s inversions, especially handstands, I’m really tall (5’ 10”) and I have a fear of falling – it’s a long way down! I can do headstands, but I haven’t plucked up the courage to get up into handstand. I might just need to go to one of those places that have pits full of foam cubes so that I can throw myself into it!Interview: Molly Elsdon on Why Doing the 200-Hour YTT was the BEST Experience of Her Life

12. Do you have any advice for someone who might be unsure about whether to go for the Yoga Teacher Training?

Just do it! There are so many reasons not to do it – not feeling ready, the financial investment and so on. But as soon as you start you forget about all that and just think, ‘this is amazing’. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t teach afterwards, just the experience itself with a like-minded group of people and such inspirational teachers is such a journey of growth.

Do it for yourself. It’s a truly amazing experience – one of the best experiences of my life – and one that I’ll never forget.

Poppy Pickles

What to Consider Before Opening your own Yoga Studio

What to Consider Before Opening your own Yoga Studio

With in-person classes allowed to start up again from Monday 17th of May, yoga studios in the UK can finally open their doors to real-life students again.

If you’re a yoga teacher who has dreamt of opening up your own yoga studio, you might feel that it’s time to get those dreams out and dust them off again.

But before you launch into anything, there are a few things worth thinking about.

What are the Options?

A Room of one’s Own

If you’d love to run your own yoga studio but that seems like a step too far, there are other ways to have your own studio.

You can start with converting a room in your house into a small yoga studio. Keep it clear and clutter-free and (if possible) solely devoted to yoga. This can be for your own personal practice, or you can open it up to students for 1:1s or bespoke small classes. That way you can have the benefits of being able to teach in-person classes in a space that’s yours, but without the financial risk that comes with a full-scale yoga studio business.

Many yoga teachers have already had to fashion their own yoga studios over the past year from which to stream their online yoga classes, so this should be fairly easily achievable.

Just make sure that your insurance will cover you if you have paying students in the house.

Self-Build

If you have a big enough garden you can build your very own bespoke yoga studio. As a rough guide, the size of a standard yoga studio is around 20 square feet, which would accommodate around 15 – 18 people (without social distancing).

There is a myriad of options you can go for, from a glorified shed to a high-end studio, depending on your budget. If you’re a dab hand at DIY (or someone you live with is) then you can always convert a summerhouse into a studio. Companies such as Green Retreats specialises in building purpose-built yoga studios in the garden, although prices start from £16, 745.

If you plan on having students in the space you’ll need to think about toilet facilities, heating, lighting, access, and insurance. You’ll also need to invest in equipment for students (and storage space).

Studio Business

If your yoga studio dream is to create a community hub, then you might want to set your sights on a yoga studio business. This would be set in a building with one or more rooms that could be used as studios and with a weekly schedule of classes and workshops delivered by a range of teachers.

The first thing to remember is that your yoga studio is a business first and foremost. Your passion for yoga won’t pay the bills. If you haven’t got a head for business then it will be worth paying others who do.

How Do I Set About Opening a Yoga Studio?

You’ll Need Premises

The first thing you will want to do is find the location of your yoga studio. Perhaps you have a local building in mind already. It will ideally have a large space suitable as a studio, with even floors, ventilation, light, and plenty of wall space. You’ll need a reception area, changing area, toilet facilities, storage facilities (or space for bags and coats), and storage space for yoga equipment.

This can either be rented from a landlord or bought outright. Either way, you’ll need to offset the initial and ongoing expense of buying or renting the space, as well as any renovations you’ll need to do, with the projected income from the studio once it’s up and running.

Plan to Succeed

So how do you work out projected income? Speaking as a yoga teacher myself, it’s surprising how much time is needed to be spent on yoga admin. If you become a yoga studio owner, you’ll be upping your yoga admin about a hundred times.

Before you secure your venue it will be worth having a business plan already in place, so that you can approach banks for a business loan.

You will need to be ahead of the game if you want to keep on top of your schedule, payroll, taxes, health and safety and so on.

You will need to have proper bookkeeping – tracking every single transaction, expense, etc. If this isn’t your thing then hire someone for whom it is.

With all of this, if it’s not your area, then get advice and pay for help. We can’t all be good at everything.

Marketing

This is important if you’re a solo yoga teacher, but if you’re thinking of opening up a yoga studio, and employing other teachers, they’re relying on you to get new students through the door. You need to plan your marketing approach carefully and be consistent.

Try not to go down the route of free or discounted classes as this will devalue your product.

Hiring Teachers

This is incredibly important. Your teachers are what will make your studio a success or not. Make sure you interview them first and perhaps get them to do a micro-teach so you can see them in action. Make sure their philosophy and style fit in with the ethos of what you want for your studio.

Vision

This may sound wishy-washy, but it’s the core of your yoga studio. Be clear about what you want your yoga studio to be. Will it specialise in one form of yoga? Will it focus on community links? Will there be a holistic and wellness aspect to your studio? Will you have yoga philosophy talks?

Write everything down, make a vision board, have a folder of photos, quotes, and businesses that you admire. Then when things get real, you’ll have your vision to return to and keep you going!


What to Consider Before Opening your own Yoga Studio

Poppy Pickles

The Cheeky Yogi and the Daemon

The Cheeky Yogi and the Daemon

I have 2 things I need to do. 1. Hand in some assignments for a course 2. Write this Cheeky Yogi. My first option is so brain numbingly boring that every time my finger hovers over the link to open the ‘tab of tedium’, my finger falls off. In fact, I currently only have 4 fingers. But being a yogi with special siddhis they will grow back by this evening, so I am not too bothered. The second option is just as difficult, I stare at my blank computer screen with my 4 fingers poised over the keyboard, but zilch, zip, nothing comes to mind.

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