Teacher Talk: From Students to Teachers
Hi, y’all! This is the fifth in a series of articles featuring “letters” (ok, emails) between two of our regular contributors, Chuck and Kaitlin. Chuck and Kaitlin are both starting yoga teacher training this summer, and they’ll be writing back and forth about the process. We’ll just be over here, spyin’ on their emails and getting an awesome insight into their journeys to become yoga teachers. Read the last installment here!
How have you been? Are you teaching lots of classes?
Guess what … I’m done with Yoga Teacher Training! I promised to let you know how my graduation went, so here’s the scoop!
The last day of our training, the seven of us were required to team-teach a free community class at our studio (discovermantra.com). In addition to the usual Sunday-at-noon crowd, lots of friends and family were in attendance, so it was packed. Seeing all these people waiting for us did NOT alleviate my nervousness.
Once we got going, though, it was great to see my fellow trainees teaching, and when it was my turn, I actually was able to relax and enjoy it. I taught Eagle and Tree pose; my teacher had challenged me, because I’m a “writer,” to come up with something lyrical about Tree pose. This had me stumped for a while, but that morning I thought of how being a tree means you get to be strong AND flexible … deeply rooted in the earth AND free to sway in the breeze. (What do you think? It seemed to go over pretty well!)
After class, we gathered with our teacher and our family and friends in the community center of the studio. We’d been joking a lot that week about what we all should wear: All in white? In rainbow colors? As our favorite chakra? (We ended up staying in our yoga wear from teaching, and that was fine.)
Our teacher said some wonderful things about each of us as she handed us our certificates. After the ceremony, I thanked my wife for being so supportive of me, and my fellow trainees (who now call themselves my “moon sisters” and me their “sun brother”) for being there for me. Truth be told, my last couple of practice-teaching attempts had been pretty awful in my estimation. But my moon sisters (and my teacher) sent me lots of love and positive energy, throughout the training … and especially on the last day, when I needed it most.
Oh, one more thing I was going to follow up on with you … our final exam! When I heard it would be a take-home test, I figured it would be relatively easy. I changed my mind after spending about six hours recalling, researching, and writing the answers to 14 pages’ worth of questions (on Sanskrit, anatomy, yoga philosophy, and more).
So what’s next? Am I prepared to proclaim, “I’m a yoga teacher!” as confidently as you did? I’m not quite there yet; I still have some more class observations, and hands-on adjustment practice (not to mention some more actual teaching!) to go before I can really feel it. What I CAN say, with total confidence, is: “I went through 200-hour yoga teacher training in nine weeks … and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”
CONGRATULATIONS! I love this. It looks like a super intimate, loving group. I love your metaphor about tree. Tree’s my favorite pose (or should I say vrkasana?!!) and it’s totally because I feel strong and flexible and my arms can blow in the wind (too much, did I take it too far?!).
I totally hear you on the “I completed it and I’ve got a long way to go” thought. I haven’t taught any classes since I graduated (I teach high school, school started almost immediately after training and it’s been bonkers ever since, and starting in two weeks I’ll be teaching my students). This has left me feeling on the outs from the yoga bubble. I think what’s been most helpful in trying to reconcile this is my home practice. It was hard going from an intensive yoga training to not-an-intensive yoga training. I’ve been trying to take it in stride and listen to my body. It’s fun to do free-flowing practices at home, knowing I can align and correct myself much more confidently than before, but I’ve been terrible about prioritizing them. My other biggest commitments from the training have been my eating practices and and evening gratitude. My husband and I are “vegan at home” now and so far it’s going really well. I have found myself not missing animal products as much as I thought, but I am still up for a chocolate chip cookie when I’m not home! I have also found it helpful to pause before dinner and say “grace”- not in the traditional, Christian sense, but in a reflective, “I am so blessed this is my life” sense. Aside from these moments, it’s hard to find that time to do yoga “justice” sometimes when work is busy. I’m curious to see what practices you adopt into your daily routine.
I too want to do some more hands-on practice, which I can’t do with high school students, so once school settles down, I need to cultivate some time for myself and find a space to do it. It’s intimidating though! It’s such an intimate experience, and I don’t know about you, but I definitely want to do it justice. I love getting adjusted and I want others to feel that bliss! Does your studio offer you the option to practice adjustments there? The best things I’ve done so far are register with Yoga Alliance and make a website. I think it’s definitely worth it to register with Yoga Alliance for some of the amazing things they offer members (discounts, continuing education, a platform to market yourself). I used SquareSpace for my website and I found it really user-friendly, but I totally need to take yoga pictures… ugh, so awkward though!
I can’t wait to hear about your post- YTT adventures. Congratulations! Let’s keep in touch!
Kaitlin is a high school History and ESL teacher in Boston, MA. She first found yoga in college and is earning her 200-hour certification this summer. A huge foodie, Kaitlin and her husband are always exploring new restaurants or cooking (and drinking wine!) at home with their cat, Three.