Yoga Teacher Training: Week 5
We just completed week 5 of yoga teacher training and get a week break from training classes so we can stuff ourselves silly and indulge in beverages to celebrate Thanksgiving! I specify training classes because we’ll still be practicing yoga by taking classes towards our 60 class requirement and maybe using this week to catch up or get ahead.
That’s exactly what I did yesterday on my day off from work – I took 3 yoga classes almost back to back. I needed to catch up from missing a couple days over the weekend and I thought, why not? Well, today my body is telling me why not! My shoulders, back and legs are definitely feeling it, but in a good way. I’m pretty sure that new muscle I learned about in anatomy – psoas – isn’t happy with me right now. While I was taking the classes, I didn’t think they were particularly challenging and two of them were unheated C1 beginner classes – the sequence we are learning in training. It reminds me that yoga is an actual work out whether you realize it or not.
We had a chance to teach this week and I seem to be more comfortable each time we teach. We started with partner teaching and ended class with a round robin of the entire sequence. I’m beginning to master the sequence in my mind, follow the breath, posture, cue formula for all poses and have the order of each series straight in my head. The deepening cues are becoming easier, but I also taught a beginner this week and you soon realize that the deepening cues that work on experienced yogis don’t resonate the same way with beginners - more on this in my “aha” section below.
The real challenge for me is adding hands on assists to everything else. Memorizing the sequence, mastering breath, posture, cue, increasing my bank of deepening cues, AND remembering to provide hands on assists. All of these things on their own are manageable, but adding the action of providing hands on assists while trying to remember the sequence and verbalize cues – it becomes a little challenging! However, round robin went well and I felt all of my fellow yogis rocked their parts and collectively, we did really well!
The last class of the week focused on using props such as blocks and straps, common physical challenges for students related to outside injuries and contraindications such as pregnancy. We simulated pregnancy by placing a block under our shirts and performing poses, which was pretty difficult! I’m certain I kicked my block baby into my chest on more than one occasion. Who knew attempting low lunge from downward facing dog could be so challenging with a block baby in your belly! Some poses like downward facing dog or wide leg forward fold weren’t as challenging because there is plenty of space for block baby. We also learned that expectant mothers can’t perform twisting poses after their first trimester and definitely shouldn’t lie face down on their baby bellies. There are several modifications for expectant mothers so they can still get all the benefits from yoga that will actually help them during childbirth!
Teaching yoga comes with a responsibility to instruct poses in a safe manner and provide modifications to students that are injured or have contraindications. Yoga may help rehabilitate people with injuries, but some poses can actually aggravate those injuries and we are responsible for having a general understanding of this when asked for direction from students. Our first question is always whether or not they have consulted their doctor about performing yoga, but understanding these injuries will make us better teachers.
My other takeaway this week is just how hard it is to be pregnant and practice yoga! I have a new appreciation for pregnant mommas taking yoga and if you come to my class while you are pregnant, you are allowed to do whatever feels good. The entire block baby simulation was so helpful in understanding exactly what poses are difficult for pregnant students. It was enlightening to learn about all the benefits yoga can have on childbirth, too, like opening the hips and rhythmic breathing.
As a student….
As part of our 60 class requirement for certification, we are required to take 3 classes outside of CorePower to expose ourselves to other types of yoga. There are so many different types of yoga – hatha, kundalini, bikram, ashtanga and many more. My goal this week is to participate in one outside class. I’m excited to experience other studios and ways of practicing yoga!
I’ve also been a little obsessed with anatomy and identifying the strengths and weaknesses in my body. I found this really cool interactive website when I was trying to identify the exact muscles that were screaming at me after I decided to attempt 3 classes in one day. Now that I have a better understanding of the anatomy affected by each yoga pose, I’m fascinated!
My aha moment….
Teaching a beginner is very different than teaching a class full of teacher training students that already know the sequence. When you are teaching experienced yogis, you cue a posture and they perform the posture. We give each other deepening cues, but everyone is generally established in their poses by then. When you teach a beginner, it’s a completely different story. They are relying on your deepening cues to get them into the posture or guide them as to what they need to do with their body.
For example, when I cue Eagle Pose to experienced yogis, they are already swinging their right arm under their left and taking a bind to place their palms to touch. When I cued this to a beginner – it went a little different. They were in a great chair pose position and I cued Eagle Pose – bring your right arm under your left and wrap your arms to bring your palms to touch. They did exactly what I said and brought their right arm down and placed it under their left - at their arm pit and then looked at me a little confused. Oops, my fault! I didn’t explain properly how to bind their arms in order to bring their palms to touch and then I was lost for words on how to instruct this in a different way. Practicing on beginners is really what I need at this point - it will help me be more precise and creative with my cues.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to express my gratitude for all my fellow teacher training students and my instructors – I feel lucky to have such a great yoga family! I’d also like to thank all my family and friends that have been reading my blog posts and following along in this journey!
Happy Thanksgiving – relax, enjoy family and eat a ton while indulging in your beverage of choice.