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My Journey to Becoming a Yoga Teacher: Yoga Teacher Training Weekend 6

journey to becoming a yoga teacher- Jessica LawlorI’m fulfilling my goal and dream of becoming a yoga teacher. As promised, I plan to document my yoga teacher training journey here on the blog, mostly for myself, but also because many of you have expressed interest in learning about the process.

Have any questions about yoga or teacher training? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll be sure to answer them in an upcoming post!

Before teacher training began // Weekend 1 // Weekend 2 // Weekend 3 // Weekend 4 // Weekend 5

 

Yoga Teacher Training Weekend 6 Recap

Saturday:

This weekend was a little different than most teacher training weekends. Instead of meeting as one big class of 16 people, we split into two groups and went to two different studios for an intense weekend of flow practice. Since our full class flows had been due a few weeks prior, Weekend 6 was a designated 10 hours of each teacher trainee getting the time to practice their flow on the rest of the class.

On Saturday, we focused on the meaty part of our flows- what my teacher calls, “the protein.” This is the section of class after the warmup and sun salutations, often the 30-minute or so challenging period of class before the cooldown and Savasana.

But before we got started with our flows, we had to get warmed up! To give us another chance to practice our sun salutations, our teacher randomly called out our names and gave us a sun salutation to teach (i.e. classical, Sun A or Sun B). Our teacher called this “sun salutations popcorn style.” It was a little nervewracking to not know when it was my turn or what I’d be teaching, but this was a great way to teach us how to think on our feet and put what we know into practice. After we were sufficiently warmed up, (eight people teaching various sun salutations will do that for ya!) we jumped into flow practice.

The way flow practice worked was that each of us had 25 full minutes to teach the protein section of our flow. Our teacher set a timer and when it dinged, our time was up. One person would teach and another would assist, walking around the room giving hands-on adjustments. The six remaining people acted as students, practicing the teacher’s flow as she cued it.

Prior to this day, I had only practiced my class in full on another person one time, so I was really nervous for my turn in the spotlight. I didn’t have my flow memorized yet, so I did rely on my notes, but it felt good to get comfortable with my poses and cues…and to see if they made sense when I said them out loud and watched students actually do what I said. More than that, it was just plain fun. Teaching is fun! I was so happy to discover that I really do loving teaching yoga as much as I love practicing.

After each person’s turn teaching their 25 minutes, we spent about five minutes debriefing and giving them feedback and hearing feedback from our teacher. This part was probably the most useful because this is when I picked up so many gems of knowledge about teaching (see takeaways section below). I received positive feedback on my flow and got some advice to work on bringing my personality into my class a bit more.

One of the reasons this day was so intense was because in the end, we each practiced for about three full hours- and not only did we practice, we often did the most intense part of each person’s class! It was a physically grueling weekend, but in the end, it was also incredibly rewarding. It was so fun to get small glimpses of my fellow teacher trainee’s classes and to see everyone start to come into their own teaching.

I left teacher training a little bit sore, tired, but happy. The timing worked out perfectly as this was the same night I completed my night of silence as part of teacher training homework (read more about that experience here).

Sunday:

When I came to class on Sunday, I was still completing my 18 hours of silence, so I didn’t speak to anyone as I arrived at the studio and settled in. Once we opened the day with an Om, I broke my silence and had the chance to share a little bit about my experience.

Again, we had a full day of flow practice ahead of us, but this time was a little less physically grueling, as we each took turns practicing 10 minutes of either our warmup or cooldown.

But first, we got started again by warming up our bodies with sun salutations. This time, we divided into three rows in the room and the first row taught classical, the second row taught Sun A’s and the third row taught Sun B’s. I was in the first row, so I opened the class by teaching a classical sun salutation, which was great because this is the one I have the most trouble remembering how to cue.

After that, we got started with flow practice and I went first teaching my warmup! Again, our teacher put music on and a timer and when the timer dinged, our time was up. My warmup ended up being almost exactly 10 minutes and I felt much more confident on this day as I taught. I am starting to get more comfortable with my flow. After my turn, the class alternated teaching warmup and cooldown until we went through all eight students.

This weekend was incredibly useful. I learned SO much from not only my amazing teacher Lisa, but also all of my fellow teacher trainees.

Major Takeaways/Lessons Learned From Weekend 6

Many of this weekend’s takeaways and lessons learned were very tactical and hands-on tips for teaching a yoga class.

  • Let students know when a pose is going to end. Ever been in a yoga class holding a challenging pose wondering if the teacher forgot for a minute that she or he had you there? Let students know when the pose is going to end by saying something like “Take three more breaths in this pose” or “We’ll be here for a few more breaths, find your fullest expression of the pose.” Giving students an idea of when the pose is going to end will often help them try a little harder and maybe gather the energy to take the pose just a little deeper before releasing.
  • Remove all filler words. This is going to be SO challenging for me to do. Our teachers continue to remind us to remove all ‘ing’s’ from words, so instead of saying, “coming to Downward Facing Dog” instead phrase it as more of a directive, “come to Down Dog.” Ing’s are considered filler words, as are things like the word ‘So” or “we’re going to.” Simple is best when it comes to teaching yoga, although as humans, we tend to use filler words often.
  • Make your personality a part of class! Again, I think this is something that is going to come with time and more experience teaching, but all of the people I’ve practiced on have encouraged me to bring a little more of myself and my personality into my class. It’s challenging to do, especially when I’m so focused on just making sure I’m saying the correct thing and not forgetting any poses, but I definitely don’t want to sound like a robot and want to create true connections with those I teach through my personality.
  • Move purposefully around the room. I think I mentioned before, but in the style of yoga I am becoming certified to teach, the teacher does not practice along with the students. Instead, the teacher walks around the room giving adjustments and paying attention to the energy in the room. However, there’s a difference between walking around the room with purpose and full-on pacing. This is another thing I think will come as I get more comfortable teaching. Plus, I’m still working on not knocking anyone over or throwing off their balance as I weave between mats 🙂
  • Call the pose first. I’ve mentioned this one before, but it’s so important to say the name of the pose first before giving all the cues for the pose. I realized this even more once I started teaching. When you say the name of the pose first, people who know what the pose is go right to the pose and others in the room who aren’t sure can watch them and then listen to the teacher’s cues to find it themselves.
  • Breathe (loudly) to help your students remember to breathe. For example, if students are holding a tough pose, as you walk around the room, take deep inhales and exhales to help remind them to breathe, too.
  • Be sensitive in how you speak. One of the things I love about yoga is that there are options for everyone. Every pose has several modifications, as well as advancements to make the pose more challenging. It’s great to share those options, but in a way that is sensitive. For example, instead of saying, “If you can’t touch your toes, do this” you could say something like “If your hamstrings are feeling tight and your toes don’t feel accessible today, consider bending your knees.” It’s good to help students understand what they are working toward, while not making them feel bad about where they are.

Number of Yoga Classes Taken Since Weekend 6:

As part of my teacher training certification, I need to complete 60 classes by the end of June.

I’ve taken 6 classes since the end of teacher training weekend 5, bringing me to 48 total classes since the beginning of teacher training. 12 classes to go!

Teacher Training Weekend 7 is this weekend! Can’t wait to continue learning and exploring. Have any questions? Leave them below!

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Meet Jessica

I live by the saying “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” and help others do the same to reach their biggest, brightest goals. Read my story here.

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