I hope you can join me for the third annual Santa Fe Yoga Festival next weekend August 26-28th, 2016. If you haven’t already bought your tickets, this is the time to do it. I’ll be teaching Saturday and Sunday, with at least one class accompanied by the amazing DJ’s Mental Physix. I hope to see you there!
5 reasons everyone should take a Yoga Teacher Training and they have nothing to do with becoming a teacher
For most people when they hear about a teacher training, they think that it’s not for them. Trainings can bring doubt about your skill level and age, whether you’d like to teach or not. But teacher training is more than that; it’s an investment in you. Here are a few reasons why.
- To ask questions
Have you ever been in class and had questions for the teacher? Most of the time it’s not appropriate to ask while they’re teaching and you may not always have a chance to chat with the teacher after class. This can be frustrating, and even cause injury if you’re doing something wrong.
During teacher training, students are encouraged to ask questions to further discussions about the physical postures or philosophy. Oftentimes other students will have the same questions, which can be comforting to know that you weren’t the only one who wondered that! Essentially, it’s like having several private sessions, but with other students which may give you different perspectives.
- To learn the proper alignment
Even advanced students can benefit from learning about alignment. Many students that end up in higher level classes may have only taken a few of the basics classes and then jumped into a 2/3. These classes are faster with fewer instructions and not always a lot of opportunities for adjustments. This is an injury waiting to happen.
In teacher training, we learn the anatomy of the body so we understand how bones should align and what muscles to consciously engage. We also look at different body types and address injuries so that we see that a “correct” pose for one person, does not work for another. These modifications can help avoid injuries, as well as teach you how to take your pose deeper when you’re ready. This can be especially gratifying for advanced students; just like when you reread a book and see something new, your practice will begin to become fine tuned with your new information and understanding.
- To learn the terminology
Have you ever been to a class where the teacher only used the Sanskrit name for pose? Half the time you were looking around to see what you should do. This can be very distracting and draws your attention away from the meditative aspects of your practice.
Once you understand the root meaning of the Sanskrit words, class becomes much easier. No longer do you need to crank your head around to see what pose your teacher is calling out. Being more comfortable with this new language allows you to relax and turn inward, putting your attention onto being more present.
- To understand the philosophy
It’s common for a yoga teacher to spout out some philosophy tid bits during class. Have you ever wanted to learn more than that? What book did that quote come from? What do the chants mean? How do you meditate? Does any of this conflict with your religious beliefs?
These are common questions that students have and a typical group class won’t be able to fully address. Through class discussions and further reading, you can begin to develop a better understanding of the history and philosophy of yoga. You will quickly learn that this will be just the beginning of your personal journey with these concepts.
- To build a community
Most of the time we run into class and plop our mat down and the second it’s over we run out the door. Unfortunately, this has to do with our busy lifestyles. But what is the point of practicing in a group instead of by yourself, if you’re not going to connect with those around you? With everyone in their own world anyway, you may feel intimidated trying to begin conversations or make new friends.
During the training you have the opportunity to meet your fellow students. You can get to know them better when we break into discussions, work in partners, or study groups. This is a great way to meet like minded people, and often these become lasting friendships.
Teacher trainings are really for all levels of students. Yoga is about meeting yourself where you are and moving forward from that point. It’s a lifelong journey, an investment in yourself and a stepping stone to the life you want to live!
Every teacher has their “story” of how they got into yoga. Here are just a few questions to get to know mine.
How did you get into yoga? I was attending college and my English professor suggested that I write my paper on Yoga and Meditation. I didn’t really know what that was, so she gave me about 15 books on the subject and sent me to my first yoga class. I was only 17 and had no idea what was going on! It sparked my interest though and I began taking classes. Thinking back, I love to sequence, I was always making up dance routines for my friends since I was 5.
For most people a New Year’s resolution is a time to start a new exercise regiment, just take a look at the gyms in January. But what tools do other fitness practices offer to keep you on track? Here are a few of the benefits that your regular yoga practice will give you.
- Setting an Intention
The problem with a New Year’s resolution is that it can feel overwhelming when you think about it for a whole year. Many of us are great at starting a new exercise regiment in January, but by February or March our original resolution may be forgotten. To be more successful at sticking with your goals, it’s helpful to break them down into smaller, more achievable parts.
At the beginning of each yoga class you are asked to “set an intention”. This is an opportunity each class to re-affirm your goals. You may have a goal that is just for the duration of the class time or possibly for the day or week. If you take class 2-3x a week this is a consistent way to stay on your original course.
- Discipline or Self-Restraint
Staying disciplined to achieve your resolution can be difficult. In the philosophy of yoga, there is an 8 limbed path to enlightenment. The second limb is called the Niyamas or Self-Restraints. Of the 5 Niyamas, Saucha (cleanliness of body and mind) and Tapas (perseverance and austerity), guide you to be more disciplined.
You can use these 2 self-restraints to create a resolution that encourages you to keep your body and mind clean from toxins while creating the vehicle to change habits through your tenacity. You may hear your yoga teacher mention these themes throughout class which will remind you to stay on course.
- Motivated by friends
When left to our own devices to work out we can often lose motivation. Even though yoga is an individual practice, we choose to do so within the settings of a community or group class. Friends can influence you to accomplish your goals by encouraging you to meet up with them for class which holds you more accountable. Also, you are more likely to continue your fitness routine if its fun and doesn’t feel like work. Connecting with like minded people will make your practice more enjoyable and motivating.
- Eating Less
Many of our resolutions have to do with dieting in some way. A regular yoga practice makes this goal easy to accomplish. Anyone who has gone to yoga too close to eating knows what I mean. Even a light meal in the stomach can make you nauseous and miserable during practice. The best is to eat about 2 or more hours before you’re attending class. This gives you motivation to eat smaller portions with more time in between.
After a consistent practice, you will feel more connected to your body and what foods make you feel better in general. Without setting restrictions on your diet, you still may find that you won’t have as many cravings for the foods that make you feel heavy and bloated. This makes your “diet” resolution more achievable and less confining.
- Stress reduction
Most of us have high levels of stress in our life. Physiologically this slows down our digestion and metabolism and can weaken the immune system. Any time the body feels threatened, real or imaginary, it prepares us to “fight or flight”. Our blood is moved away from digestion and to the limbs where it is needed to act. Over time this survival mode becomes our new normal making it hard for the body to heal and recover.
Yoga is a great tool to channel that nervous energy through the physical practice. A good teacher can also create a meditation in movement which can help to eliminate mental stress. Yoga was designed to keep the body and mind fit and free from distraction so that it was possible to sit in meditation. Meditation, or even just resting (Savasana), after activity, will prompt the body to go into healing mode. This “rest and digest” will reset your body to digest and your mind will be more clear and calm.