Yoga Teacher Training: Week 1

The first week of yoga teacher training is complete and I survived.  After the first class, I felt excited, nervous and relieved.  By the end of the third class, I was still excited, but a little overwhelmed and most definitely exhausted from the week!   


On the first night, I decided to be ambitious and take a class before teacher training to start chipping away at the requirement to take 60 classes for certification.  I’ll continue to do this as much as possible, but it makes for a very long night!  I'm ahead of the game at 17 right now, but it will still be quite a challenge to complete all 60 in 8 weeks.

This week we learned about the expectations for class, homework assignments, and how to give and receive feedback.  We reviewed the yoga class essentials, which included postures, breath, flow, heat, gaze/focus, alignment, abdominal lock, rhythm and setting up students for success.  It’s only the first day and I’m realizing how much knowledge is needed to teach just one class of yoga!

The first day we were all asked to cue a peer into a posture.  The FIRST day!  I was the first to be called upon and asked to cue child’s pose.  Child’s pose is a very basic posture, this should be easy, right?  My mind went completely blank and I had no idea where to begin with instruction.  This was just a glimpse into how difficult it really is to teach yoga and use words to describe how to get into a posture.  Later in the week we would learn a basic formula that will serve as a template for teaching all postures.  Breath, posture, cue will be the starting point for each posture.  We learned about the cue formula and using verbs to instruct students where to go with their body parts resulting in correct alignment for each posture.  We learned about transition, setup and deepening cues to round out our instruction.

On the last day of class, we had our first posture clinic!  This teacher training is focused on learning the C1 class at CorePower.  C1 is a basic yoga sequence and consists of several series.  This posture clinic focused on the integration, intention and Sun A series.  The postures in these series are child's pose, downward facing dog, ragdoll, stand at attention, mountain pose, standing forward fold, halfway lift, high to low plank, upward facing dog and downward facing dog.  The postures are dissected by the instructors and we each took turns practicing our cues.  As you can see, it was A LOT of information! 

My Takeaways

When I was in nursing school, I thought I wanted to be a pediatric nurse and my clinical rotations confirmed that pediatrics was the right fit for me.  Everyone from the secretaries to the physicians were nice and very compassionate.  That's how I feel about everyone I've met in this yoga teacher training process.  The instructors are wonderful and everyone in class seems happy to be there.  .

Yoga can take on different meanings and is a deeply personal practice.  We made a list of what yoga means to us and the answers ranged from uniting the body and mind, providing balance both physically and emotionally, and an outlet to release emotions.  For one hour or so a day, we make time for self care by bringing ourselves to the mat.

Giving and receiving feedback in the right way can be very powerful in not only learning how to teach yoga, but can apply to every aspect of our daily lives.

Sanskrit is like a foreign language and there is even an entire class lecture devoted to Sanskrit!  I’m not sure how I’m going to learn how to say all these words correctly, but I’m up for the challenge.  

Breathing is another important aspect of effective teaching including how to cue breaths and knowing how to explain different types of breathing.  Breathing can take yogis deeper into postures and really enhance the benefits of yoga.

Alignment is so important in yoga and part of teaching a safe yoga class.  We build postures from the ground up and establish neutral alignment by stacking joints and forming right angles.  Yoga is all about balance and control and bones lead, muscles follow and then the mind relaxes.  What does it mean to lead with your bones?  It’s amazing how this shift in perspective can lead to deeper postures.

As a student....

As a student in class this week, I’ll be listening to cues given by the instructor and also observing what makes a yoga class enjoyable and what I enjoy about certain teachers.  I’ll observe the environment and tone of each class I take this week. 

In posture clinic, I discovered a few tweaks I need to make in my own practice.  I’ll be focusing on 90-degree arms in low plank and correct form in all my chaturangas.  

My aha moment....

We learned a ton of information this week and it all seems very overwhelming, but it’s already starting to come together and make sense.  This will be a long road, but I’m starting to gain confidence that it will all come together.