I’m so pleased to say that I qualified as a yoga teacher last week! And I have my 200 Hours RYS certificate to prove it! But what I’ve come to realise is that this is just the start of my yoga journey…
My month with Chandra Yoga was incredibly demanding, with 12-hour days at yoga school plus philosophy assignments and class plans. Make no mistake in thinking that a 200-hour yoga teacher-training course is like a retreat: my month was rarely relaxing (except for shavasana- corpse pose!) but it was incredibly rewarding and has gifted me with some vital life lessons. It was certainly an immersive experience providing me with a solid foundation in the basics of yoga. But it has also made me realise how vast the subject of yoga is and how much more I have to learn. Some people argue that month-long intensives are too short to qualify someone as a teacher and favour the same training spread across several months (or years). I can completely understand this argument because a yearlong training would allow for more self-study time outside of the 200-hours. However, studying in India allowed me to completely immerse myself in a yogic lifestyle, which would have been very difficult to replicate had I studied in London. A world away from temptation (and Saturday night take-aways), I was able to absorb myself fully in the yogic timetable without the worry of work, a social schedule or people pleasing. So in many ways the experience felt much longer than a month purely because I was living, breathing (and eating) yoga 24/7! Cut-off from the constant connectivity of the Western World I found I was able to deepen my practice and focus my energy on self-discovery, enabling me to understand the language of yoga at a literal and spiritual level. Whilst the 28-day training might just be the start of my yoga journey, it has fired up a passion in me to share my love of yoga, so that other people can find contentment and calm in an often crazy and uncertain world.
Chandra Yoga’s mission is to create yoga teachers not yoga instructors: people who embody yoga and create an experience for their students. It’s not just about repeating postures but understanding the implication of the practice at a physical, mental and spiritual level and passing on these life-changing effects. At a very simple level this might mean listening to your body and eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full. I am so glad that the school focused on yoga ‘teaching’ because anyone can be an instructor: anyone can read an online tutorial and repeat this to a class. So in addition to the yoga basics- which includes alignments, benefits, adjustments, breath control and contra-indicators- we were also encouraged to teach from the heart, personalising our classes with our passion for the practice. Whilst some people focused their classes on backbends due to way yoga had alleviated their lower back pain, others introduced meditative techniques, which had helped them overcome their personal battles with depression. Consequently, there was no 'text-book teaching' because everyone crafted their class with character, instructing from their own unique experience with yoga. This is testament to the high-level of teaching at Chandra Yoga and the diversity of training, which encouraged students to find their own personal path into yoga teaching.
The people were a hugely important part of my experience and I believe this is due to Chandra Yoga’s simple, non-commercial approach to yoga training. It attracts people who want to experience yoga in its fundamental form. So if you are expecting juice bars and shiny studios then this is probably not the training for you. In fact, training in India in general might not be your best bet if you aren’t willing to compromise on your home comforts because power cuts and water shortages can be a common occurrence (particularly in monsoon season!) The living arrangements were somewhat simple but provided every basic essential: a shower, a toilet and a bed (and I must admit, I quite enjoyed the absence of a mirror for a month!) And whilst the course was arguably over subscribed- sometimes making meals and classes a little hectic- I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. This is because I learnt as much from my fellow students as I did from the course curriculum itself and was touched by the kindness and generosity I experienced throughout the month. Not only did my peers take care of me when I was ill but they helped me to prep for my classes, gave me hugs when I was homesick and shared their almonds when I was hungry! In just a month we became so much more than class mates: we were a community, helping one another to develop and grow. I’ve truly made friends for life and will never forget the feeling of family that was created at Chandra Yoga.
Thank you to everyone who made this experience possible. It has been an incredible month and one I will never forget.
PS. Whilst we are on the subject of yoga teaching, I am leading my first class on Friday! Wish me luck! (For those of you who live nearby, please see the flyer below for details).
-Chandra Yoga: https://www.sushilyoga.com/
-Active Letchworth: https://www.facebook.com/activeletchworth/?fref=ts
-Yoga Alliance: https://www.yogaalliance.org/