It’s already been a year since I qualified with my 200-hour yoga teacher training (with YogaLondon!). By the end of the course I had learned so much and my brain was truly full to the brim. I could not imagine ever needing (or wanting) to learn any more about teaching yoga. But I could not have been more wrong. A mere six months after qualifying I had developed a raging thirst for more knowledge. As I started to take students, lead classes and develop as a yoga teacher I realised that I had really only scratched the surface with the basic course.
The More I Learned, The Less I Knew
My 200-hour course had given me a thorough grounding in the eight limbs of yoga, some of which was completely new to me. I was applying all of this new knowledge in my own practice and with my students to great effect but I felt that I was capable of giving so much more if I only had a deeper understanding of yoga. There was a world of yoga knowledge out there that I just needed to go out and get. I wanted it all, and I wanted it now!
So to no one’s surprise, I found myself on a 100-hour advanced teacher training module — this one in case anyone’s interested — feeling nothing like an advanced teacher I might add. I had chosen a module which, I hoped, would add to my understanding of the application of yoga in a therapeutic and rehabilitation settings. As a physiotherapist, I could see the possibilities in these areas but was really only making tentative steps to applying my yoga knowledge clinically.
I was also very keen (and daunted) to explore those second series poses — the backbends and hand balances — which all looked impossible to me. I really felt that I wasn’t a ‘real yogi’ if I couldn’t do, or at least teach, some of those advanced poses and this was my opportunity to try them.
Therapy Is Good
I was delighted that I came away with a plethora of pose modifications suitable for students/patients with problems like back pain, foot pain, poor balance and respiratory problems. So many of these were simple adaptations that I might have found with experience but learning it in a classroom setting really sped up that process. My feeling that yoga could be adapted to suit any level of ability or disability was confirmed and my aspiration to develop yoga as rehabilitation was well and truly boosted. Learning Goal 1: achieved!
You Want Me To Do What?
As someone who came to yoga later in life, my body regularly reminds me of its limitations. Browsing the second series poses at the start of the course gave me something of a crisis — what was I doing here? There was no way I could manage any of these… or so I thought. We were led gently (and pragmatically) through the poses one by one. They were broken down into very manageable steps as we learned how to work towards the full expressions of each pose. We were taught how to teach them safely to our students; made aware of the pitfalls and dangers of each pose and, more importantly, how to avoid them.
It was a voyage of discovery for me. To my amazement, I found that, when I applied all that I had learned, I could actually achieve some of the poses (or elements of them). So maybe I could be an advanced yogi one day after all.
Hand Balances And Floating
And then to the hand balances. Well, it is probably a good 30 years since I did handstands so I was pretty nervous as the first session started. I know I never had the poise and control of the instructor we had for these sessions — he was a joy to watch! But more importantly, he was teaching us all the tips and tricks to teach how to achieve safe and stable hand balances. With seriously effective homework, exercises drawn from gymnastics and training tips we were armed with the skills and knowledge to develop our own practice and our students.
Did you know that you train for handstands on the floor? Yes, really. And it makes them so much less daunting. So, like the second series poses, the hand balances suddenly seemed much more achievable (even at my time of life!) which is wonderful. Learning Goal 2: fully achieved!
I’m afraid the floating still eludes me though — I marvel at those who effortlessly transition through their vinyasas – but, sadly I have yet to join their ranks. However, I am now armed with an amazing series of exercises that I can practice and, maybe one day, I’ll be floating light as a feather in my practice too.
The Moral Of The Story
Have I finished learning yet? Oh no, I’m only just beginning, but I now know that there is potential for me to grow in every aspect of my yoga knowledge if I choose to commit the time. It has been a great few months of learning for me, and I’ve gained so much from it.
If you’re feeling a bit stale in your teaching, or if you’re like me and just crave knowledge, it may be time to start looking at our weekend yoga workshops! In the space of two days, you can exponetially increase your skill set!