By Dorrie Chase, RYT 200
Committing eight months and thousands of dollars for yoga teacher training was very daunting to me. Fears definitely had to be overcome. Could I afford this? How was I going to manage my time between classes, work, and personal obligations? Am I too big (a nice way of saying “Am I too fat and busty”)? Was I teachable? Will I follow through and complete it? Am I worthy of such a big investment on my part, or others? Yes, others. I wasn’t sure I wanted to expose such a personal part of my life to strangers. Too many folks, including myself, to disappoint!
Over the years my yoga mat became my “safe place.” I practiced my asanas. I prayed. I breathed. I meditated. My daily spiritual condition relied on my “hitting” the mat regularly. This was all well and good. Such a practice served my purposes then. Eventually I felt my practice was missing something. I was hungry. I was keen for like-minded people. I yearned to gather more tools to bring to my mat. I concluded I had to step out of my self-created comfort zone. My fears of not living up to my own expectations, let alone other’s expectations had to be challenged. I danced with this understanding for some time. I don’t believe in coincidences. A series of life’s lessons eventually came upon me. I was afraid of more fear and stress resting within me. I chose to be proactive. I wanted to prove something to myself. I did not want to create a regret to carry around, or leave behind.
My teacher training is coming to an end. What an odyssey it has been. I have learned many lessons. I have met some impressive yoginis. I have faced and worked through countless obstacles. There have been a couple of stark revelations too. The foremost revelation is what it takes to be a good yoga teacher.
My eight months of teacher training was a major eye opener into what makes a good yoga teacher. The skills involved in managing a yoga class are numerous. To watch a confident, seasoned instructor in action is impressive. The tone of their voice can relax, encourage, or stress a student.
A good instructor introduces themselves to the individual students, remembers their names, and any special physical considerations. I have seen instructors assist one student while directing the rest of the class into the next pose. Sometimes I think they have eyes in the back of their head! A good instructor can read their class, and adjust as required. Are they getting tired? Frustrated? Bored? While a good teacher is attending to their students, they are maintaining the infrastructure of the classroom. Do the lights need dimming? Does the air conditioning need to be lowered now? Is music called for? Juggling the different elements of a class smoothly is the result of knowledge of what they are teaching.
The knowledge a well-versed yoga instructor gifts to their students begins with their home practice. A teacher’s home practice is where they develop the sequence and cues to be used in class. “You can’t teach what you don’t practice yourself”. Sequencing and cueing is no small feat. There is a rhyme and reason for every pose and transition. Cueing is an art form unto itself. It amazes me how a teacher can verbally get a varied group of people into a pose. I should say, “It used to amaze me.” Now I know how it is done.
My training is far from over. My teachers have given me many gifts. Some I still need to perfect. Yoga is an ongoing practice. Gratefully I am learning how to take the lessons and security off the mat, and into the rest of my day.