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 the 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.
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!
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.
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!
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.