The journey of becoming a yoga teacher.
On the first night of training, at the Stanyan studio, we got to see the sizable interest in this program, with more than 30 people participating. This is a testament to the breadth and depth of Yoga Tree, as there are trainees from the East Bay, North Bay and Peninsula, as well as San Francisco. The age range is diverse as well, as one of the trainees is in high school. So, kudos to her for carving out the time to learn how to teach yoga, while being involved with academics, extra-curricular activities, and getting ready for college. This particular program is on the weekends – Friday nights and Saturday/Sunday afternoons – so it’s perfect for those in school and/or working.
Many of the trainees have practiced yoga at one or more of the Yoga Tree locations for quite some time. Others, like me, just moved to the area. What we all have in common is a desire to learn from the wisdom of all the teachers who will be guiding us through the program. And, it is a diverse group of teachers, all with their own areas of expertise, many of whom also teach their own workshops and classes in the community-at-large. This is a huge draw to the program – the guidance and accessibility of so many renowned yoga teachers.
The reasons various trainees gave for why they are participating in this program are manifold, and a lot of them are synergistic:
- to deepen our spiritual practice
- to deepen our physical yoga practice
- to help our children engage in yoga and physical activity
- to teach adults
- to teach children
- to teach cancer patients
- to play
- to recover from injury
The focus of our first weekend was Anatomy. This provided a solid foundation of biomechanics, as a springboard for the rest of the training. Strategically, the program splits up the Anatomy lessons between the first two months, since there is so much info to absorb. This helps immensely in reducing feelings of overwhelm, especially for those of us who have never studied Anatomy before and don’t know our scaphoid from our talus.
The teacher, Harvey Deutch, is a seasoned physical therapist and yoga practitioner. He is a pro at explaining Anatomy. Instead of a straight lecture, Harvey demonstrated the correct Anatomy in various poses with some of the students, and then encouraged us to assist each other. This made us feel comfortable in becoming “hands-on”, as we helped each other with proper alignment and deepening of some of the asanas.
Poses that we might have become complacent in became new again, as we learned or re-learned to take our time and to focus on exactly what part of our body to move and what not to move. For example, spinal twist took on a whole new feel and pace as we first watched Harvey work with one student, assisting him in feeling the twist, vertebrae by vertebrae, starting at the bottom of the rib cage; in keeping his shoulders square and his gaze forward; and in opening his chest before twisting his shoulders. Then, we assisted each other in this process. When we finally did a spinal twist ourselves, we could feel such a difference in the degree of twist we were able to achieve.
Everything we are learning we can apply to our own practice now, even before we start teaching others. So, it’s already enhancing our yoga practice in fundamental ways. It is great to be part of this yoga teacher training community — the teachers foster a sense of safety, nurturing and collaboration.