7 surprising things I learnt at yoga teacher training
Thursdays have become my favourite day of the week (and not just because Bachie is on). I’m currently completing my 5 month Yoga Teacher Training at Sukha Mukha, and by golly gosh it is so much more rewarding and soul nourishing than I could have ever imagined.
Admittedly I walked in with a whole lot of expectations of who I would meet, what I would learn and how it would make me feel, but what I discovered is that there is so much more to YTT that I just didn’t see coming…
1. Most YTT students don’t ever want to be teachers (well that’s what they think on day one).
Day one at YTT is like most inductions into a new school, new job or new knitting club, you all sit around and introduce yourself and share what brought you there. I was shocked at how many people (myself included) professed that they doubted they’d actually teach yoga. I’d say the majority of people were there to advance their own practice and just ‘explore’ the idea of teaching… Fast forward to a couple of months in and more than half of us have changed our tune. I call it the YTT effect.
2. I’ve been doing a bunch of poses all wrong.
There’ s nothing quite like hopping into downward dog and having 15 YTT students point out how misaligned you are. “Your shoulders are hunched” “Your hands are uneven” “Your legs aren’t switched on” “Your back is too swayed” and the list went on an on (no jokes).
How had no teacher ever in the history of my 15 year yoga practice ever corrected my downward dog? Well, what you soon learn is that it’s very hard as a teacher to make little adjustments on every student in a busy class. But after a few mild adjustments to correct my alignment (which to me felt so unbalanced) I can now work to get my body back where it’s meant to be. If I take nothing else from my YTT (which I highly doubt) at least I’ll walk away with a better downward dog. Think of it as 200hrs of personalised self correction.
3. You can’t stereotype a yogi.
I had this wild idea of what my fellow YTT classmates would look/be like, but it is near impossible these days to stereotype a yogi. In a group of 15 we have at least 7 different ethnic backgrounds, and 6 people who consider English a second language. Some people have practiced for decades, some just a few months. Most of us can’t do headstand (myself included) and pretty much everyone’s heart flutters when they have to get up and teach a round of sun salutes. If you’re worried you’re not good enough, advanced enough, strong enough or bendy enough for YTT, I urge you to consider the fact that you are just the right amount of enough (as is everyone else who takes the leap).
4. Turns out I’m really skilled at touching people inappropriately.
There’s nothing quite like a good adjustment in a yoga class, but apparently there’s a very fine line between a nourishing adjustment and an inappropriate groping of your students… turns out I’m better at the latter. If you’re the touchy, feely, lightly stroking type like me, you’ve got a bunch of stuff to learn in the adjustment modules of the YTT about what NOT to do to your students! #awkward.
5. It’s bloody terrifying teaching a 5 minute class (let alone a 75 minute one).
I’m used to holding space for large groups of people (it’s part of my job), and I’ve been to A LOT of yoga classes in my time (and once or twice have thought ‘hey I could do this’), but let me tell you something for nothing; until you’re up ‘there’ you’ve got no idea what it feels like. Lucky Sukha Mukha eases you into it right from the start. By our third class we were already taking turns to teach sun salutes, pranayama and chanting to the class. So after awhile it starts to feel natural and normal and not so terrifying #promise.
6. Sanskrit doesn’t just roll off the tongue (like i thought it would). I knew Sanskrit was going to be a yoga hurdle. I had floundered in both French and Italian in high school and I still struggle with Millennial slang, but with the way it just slides off the tongue of my teachers in class was I a fool to have thought that Sanskrit might just come naturally to me? Turns out the answer is a big resounding YES. It’s one thing memorising Sanskrit, it’s quite another to verbalise it. What sounds correct in your head and looks pretty good on paper, can come out very different when you open your mouth. But once you get there, (and you will), you start to wish Sanskrit could be spoken in complete sentences. If I can learn Sanskrit, YOU can learn Sanskrit.
7. There is SO much more to yoga than what you learn in a yoga class…
...and I’m not talking about an extra set of secret asanas that only teachers know about. I’m talking about EVERYTHING off the mat. Philosophies, chakras, vayus, nadis, yamas, niyamas, pranayama, chanting the list just goes on an on. An asana class could never expose you to everything that yoga has to offer us, and a 200Hr YTT just scrapes the surface I’m sure, but what a bountiful and fulfilling surface it is. If you don’t think you want to be a teacher but you love yoga, you will gain so much insight from this training that you’ll never be able to get from class (no matter how many classes you can squeeze into a week).
If you’ve been umming and ahhing about YTT, but you’re not sure if it’s for you. I urge you to ask yourself one question… How does yoga make you feel? There is no right or wrong answer here.
You see how ever it makes you feel is worth a little more exploration, don’t you think? Check out Sukha Mukha’s current Yoga Teacher Training for 2017 & 2018 here.
And if you want to ask me some questions about the course (or how to make the perfect dosa) feel free to check me out at www.jordannalevin.com and send me an email or facebook message.