Sometime in 2017, I made the decision that I really fancied training as a Yoga Teacher. I'm still not 100% sure why; but I was curious, wanted to know more about something I dearly loved.
I consider myself really lucky that the core of my practice has always been Hot Yoga and my favourite Hot Yoga Studio, Sweat Studios has it's own training in conjunction with Kathy Ran of The Yoga University. I've been a regular student at Sweat since the studio opened and it is where I first experienced Yoga; I love the ethos of making Yoga accessible and trying to make people as comfortable as possible. So, in Autumn 2017 I applied for Teacher Training and was accepted!
Firstly, this felt like such a profound moment and a real turning point. I remember having my interview with Kathy and the wave of emotion walking out of the studio and I felt like I was making a change for the better.
Ahead of the first session, I was really excited to get started but also a little anxious - who would I be training with? What are they like? Would we get on? Would I enjoy the course as much as I hoped?
I am so, so lucky to say that the 11 ladies I met on my Teacher Training are now some of my closest friends. I have never experienced anything like it. They're all totally my kind of people; thoughtful, kind, smart, funny, cheerleaders, supportive, beautiful and strong. If someone didn't fancy doing something, that was totally okay. Someone having a meltdown over work, they were all there. We all chat constantly on our group WhatsApp, go out for dinner and go to each others classes. Truly friends for life, and I'd have never got to know them if it wasn't for Teacher Training.
In terms of the course, the schedule was pretty much every other weekend Friday night, Saturday and all day Sunday. This is a huge commitment when you have a full time job, learning all the dialogue, writing papers, doing homework, practice teaching and physical practice. I was constantly exhausted; but I was totally aware what I was getting myself in for because I really wanted to do it and give it my all.
Your first 200hr course really feels like learning to pass your driving test; there is so much content covered and so many areas you want to explore and learn about once you've been introduced. The beautiful thing about Yoga is it is a lifelong journey of learning.
It's not just physically getting people into and out of poses; there is so much more to learning to be a teacher. We covered Pranayama (Breathing), Anatomy & Physiology, History of Yoga, Philosophy, First Aid, Sequencing, Adjustments and Modifications, Chakras, Mudras plus lots about different schools of Yoga such as Ashtanga, Anusara and of course the different challenges teaching in a heated environment brings... the list goes on!
One of my favourite elements was exploring Anatomy and how that is applied in Yoga. This proved to be the source of one of my burning areas of interest... why different bodies look different in the same pose. I'm still utterly fascinated by this. Every one of the ladies looked quite different in the same pose due to knock knees, tight lower backs, tight hip flexors but all doing the same pose; just their version. I'm definitely up for taking further training on Anatomy in Yoga.
I also loved exploring my own practice; after all, I didn't sign up with the objective of teaching. I have found a new love for all kinds of different Yoga, I particularly love the regimented style of Ashtanga and also totally love the creativity of Vinyasa. I'm going to be doing another weekend with Kathy on Vinyasa in October as it is an area I'd like to explore more. Actually; I surprised myself with what my body is capable of and the level of my practice. I didn't ever think a Headstand would be an option and discovered it was.
I think one of the areas that surprised me most was the change in myself. Kathy said at the start of the course; this process will change you and you will find out who you truly are. Profound, right?
I was like "reeaaaally??" but actually she was totally right.
I originally wasn't thinking of teaching. But I changed my mind because I genuinely found that I love it... and have changed my career to suit! It is so rewarding helping people to move, be healthier and happier.
I'm so much more considerate. Of other people, the environment (my hatred for plastic has appeared from nowhere, I always have a reusable cup, I don't buy bottled water anymore). If I'm annoyed I see it from the other person's side more easily. I always check I've left space for others in the car park. Small things, but they make a huge difference.
I'm also a lot more open and honest - I speak my truth a lot more. But I've had to learn that some people do not appreciate honesty, and would prefer not to hear it, especially in some work environments. I'm more honest about what my priorities are; and have made changes to make sure those priorities are balanced correctly and I'm working with people who share a similar mindset.
At the end of our course, I was so proud of all of the ladies. On our first weekend we were cacking ourselves reading dialogue from a book one-by-one. Our final two weekends were our teaching practicums and every single one of us stood up, taught a fifty-odd posture sequence from memory, with no visual aids, with everyone's personality shining through.
It was a tough journey, soaring highs, some lows, a wedding, an engagement, a few tears caused by not getting dialogue down or reading done, exhaustion. It was honestly the most rewarding thing I have ever done; and I am so proud of all of us.
It felt like the end; but it's really just the beginning. Of an awesome friendship but also our teaching careers.