This post is quite hard for me to write. I meant to do it yesterday, but when I sat down to write it, my thoughts were absolutely spinning around in my head. The best word I can use to describe this past week, the first week of my 4 week long teacher training program, is overwhelmed. Not in a bad way at all, in a totally amazing, incredible way. I am overwhelmed with excitement – for all that I am learning and for the idea of being able to share something I love so much with others. Overwhelmed with gratitude – for being able to take part in this incredible program and for our amazing teacher, James, who is so knowledgable and excited about the practice, himself. And yes, if I am being totally honest, I am even overwhelmed by all of the stuff I am learning. There is just so much to learn and know.
One of the many reasons I chose the yoga teacher training program at American Yoga School, over the countless other programs offered here in Southern California, was the fact that the program was a month-long intensive. Monday through Friday for 4 weeks straight. Many yoga teacher training programs are offered on weekends, every other, once a month, etc – usually over a 6 month period. I think this type of program is obviously especially beneficial to hopeful yoga teachers who work full time jobs during the week, have kids or have other types of limitations that keep them from being able to do it Monday through Friday. I decided for me that I wanted to be completely immersed into a program. I hoped to be totally submerged in the content and to really dig deep into it all, being the only major thing I had to be focused on in that time. I wanted it to be all at once, I wanted to be able to give it my full and undivided attention so that I could get the most out of it. That said, it is a lot of information in a small amount of time. It is 8 to 9 hours of learning, every day. Plus, I have also been relistening to many of the lectures on my hour + drive to and from Venice Beach each day. Just before my day ends I go over my notes from the day and I journal before bed. I literally lay my head down on my pillow each night with body parts, muscle groups and Indian sanskrit words swimming around in my brain. It is intense!
In this first week we covered a lot of ground, I already feel like I have learned so much, not just about the practice of yoga on and off of my mat, but I really feel like I have learned so much about myself as a practitioner and really, even just as a person (as broad of a statement as that is). It has been a powerful experience really digging deep into the practice of yoga and studying the philosophies behind it, as well as the science and anatomy. It has been so wonderful to learn things about these movements I have been doing for nearly 7 years now, some without much thought as to why or even how. I have already seen drastic changes in my practice with just even a little more understanding of what is happening throughout my body and my mind when I am engaged in a regular asana practice.
I am so excited to continue digging deep into the practice of yoga, studying the details of the practice at great length and eventually being able to transfer that knowledge and excitement to my own students, one day. Something amazing that I learned from James this week, is the idea that as yoga teachers we have this beautiful opportunity to share a unique experience with every single student in our classes. No matter what the reason that brought them to their mats in our class, we can guide them through what is hopefully a very meaningful and beneficial experience. Whether it only be in those 60 or 90 minutes in your class, or if it is something that they carry into other areas of their life, consciously or unconsciously. A yoga practice isn’t this static thing, it really can be different things to different people. There is something so profound in all those ideas.
On a more basic level, as we go through the anatomy and alignment lessons, which there is a very strong focus on in this program, I am realizing how much I am already doing correctly, because of the wonderful alignment-focused, well-educated teachers at East Meets West Yoga where I got my start. Having that be my experiences as a student has made it equally as important for this to be a large part of my approach to teaching, as well. I am also realizing areas of my practice that needed a slight tweak or correction for whatever reason and in better understanding the body through this program, the movement of the body and the how and why things are happening, I have already found myself able to get into poses that I have previously struggled with, just from a single instruction or correction from James, that I was unaware of. That in itself is some powerful stuff.
As we go further into this program, we are strongly encouraged to find our own voice as teachers, rather than just mimicking and repeating those that have come before us, our own teachers or a scripted program. I am really excited by this and I was drawn to this teacher training program because of this concept. I am happy that with each day I am in this program, I am learning to more and more how to communicate about and teach yoga in a clear and confident way. I am really looking forward to week 2 and all that this week will bring.
I wanted to leave you guys with this quick video from my teacher James Brown: What is Yoga Practice?