Success is on the other side of fear
Our penultimate weekend came around quickly as we neared the end of the course. I was excited to share with my coursemates that I had a potential teaching opportunity with a trial booked a few weeks from now – I couldn’t believe it! Until then, my focus would be on savoring the remainder of the course which would be quite exam heavy – this evening would be our anatomy exam…!
Ian from the 500-hr teacher training programme led this morning’s practice, themed around the shoulders. The asanas felt completely different and the focus added a lot more depth to them. After asana practice, we revisited the business of yoga with Course Leader Jonathan. It was great having an honest conversation around the practicalities of being a yoga teacher, from insurance and cash flow to support networks and business plans.
We then had the opportunity to practice two 15-minute sections of the exam sequence we felt least comfortable with. I partnered with fellow course mate Shareen and chose Standing and Seated. One takeaway from the session was to work on coming off the mat and adjusting the student more, which is a fine art!
Abi on the 500HR course treated us to Vinyasa and Yoga Nidra for this morning’s class, themed around beginnings and endings. As soon as she uttered those words and said this was our last morning practice together, it set me off! I let the tears flow and thought how much I’d miss these weekends. After break time we had a fun pop quiz revising content for our theory exam – it was great having an opportunity to see where I needed to brush up.
Before the weekend ended, we had our final teaching practice. I partnered up and tried adjusting more. I finished just before the hour and felt confident thinking that if I do exactly the same thing for my exam I’ll be laughing!
Unfortunately for exam weekend, I’d sustained a neck injury earlier in the week. I wish it was something more exciting than sleeping on my pillow funny, but needless to say it wasn’t ideal! I was worried how I’d fare with tomorrow’s practical exam, so I took this evening’s Modified Primary slow. I’d been partnered with Alex for the exam, so we practised the sequence, mirroring each other’s movements and breath for the whole hour. Then it was time for our theory exam.
When the practical exam arrived, I was rested and ready. Luckily I’d been allocated the 12pm slot so I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, accompanied by Alesso’s 2018 set from Tomorrowland. I was pumped!
Alex was first to be assessed and, as her student, I just focused on enjoying her class. Yoga London Course Leader Anaïs was our examiner in addition to a 500HR student, Ian. It was nice having a familiar face to put us at ease. I felt so ZEN after Alex’s class thinking how amazing she was at teaching even under exam situations!
After a deep breath and quick bite of a Nakd bar, it was now my turn to take Alex one last time through our beloved exam sequence. Anaïs started the time with a bell and we were off! It felt, natural…’Hi, my name is Imogen and welcome to yoga’. I just did the same thing as I’d done in teaching practice and really enjoyed it! I kept to time, remembered all the poses and finished just as Anaïs sounded the bell to close the exam. It was a huge relief and, and quite emotional realising that I’d come to the end of my 200HR teacher training. Anaïs was quick to confirm I’d passed and said how my personality really shone through with lovely language. I felt amazing!
The Tree of Yoga
In October, I’d looked at the upturned earth in London’s future Design District, contemplating how my foundations were resetting. On my journey home this time, daffodils were shooting up from the surrounding landscape. They reminded me of my growth as a yogi and now here I was, a qualified yoga teacher. In our lectures, we learnt about the tree of yoga and how we are to think of ourselves as new buds responsible for guiding and shaping the future of yoga. My bud has certainly blossomed so much; it feels odd thinking back to what it felt like before the course – right now I feel immensely proud.
Excitement filled the room when Jonathan said our group had passed with flying colours. We received our long-awaited Yoga London vests and Jonathan joked that if we’re lucky, the artwork would last at least two washes…!
Jonathan then invited us to form a circle, as we’d done the first time we met. He asked us to share how we’d found the past six months and where we hoped to take our teaching. It was like déjà vu, however, instead of sharing our true selves with complete strangers, we did so as friends. We all whooped and cheered after each person and, by the time it got to me, I was completely lost for words. I shared my original intention to let go and explore, my plans to lead a donation-based class in my local community and, if things work out, teach at an Ayurveda café*. I also felt proud to have invested in my own emotional and physical wellbeing and felt humbled to be in a position to help other people with theirs.
Words of Wisdom
Having mentored quite a few yoga teachers, it was only fitting Jonathan left us with a few words of wisdom:
Keep something for yourself
It’s easy to give too much of yourself away soon after you qualify. Whether you decide to teach or not, maintain a special practice for yourself.
For(get) the Gram
Be mindful of the image you portray online and consider whether this is harming people’s view of yoga.
Be that Spark
Be authentic in your teaching and consider how you might be that SPARK that sets something alight in your students to change for the better.
In my case, my most recent yoga teacher Guzel was that spark, coming into my life when I needed it most and inspiring me to go for teacher training. The path was clear, all I needed to do was walk it.
After that, well, you’re going to have to do the course to find out what happened next! Needless to say, party poppers, super hero outfits and Whitney Houston were involved…before saying our goodbyes, we shared a well-deserved lunch with Jonathan, and 500HR students Ian and Abi. I thanked Jonathan immensely and said I’d no doubt see him on the 500-hr course soon.
The same afternoon, I went to surprise my Mum with a visit, as it was also her birthday, so an extra special time. It was important for me to be with her today, for she is where my journey began.
That evening I spent time taking it all in, thankful that I’d booked a holiday to Thailand two days after completing the course.
Step 1: Get some sun and digest what has been the most amazing 6 months, which I’ll cherish forever.
Step 2: Worship the sun in a bikini and forever more in my Sun Salutations! Namaste.
*Since the time of writing I’m pleased to say I passed the trial and now teach yoga at Ayurveda Pura.