The first weekend of our 200hr teacher training is always fun. It is an introduction to all of the different topics we will cover over the 9 weekends we spend together - asana, teaching practices, anatomy, and philosophy. We are lucky to always have a group of students with a wide range of life experiences and interests. This year is our first year offering a scholarship to teacher training and we are excited to have Elisha join us on the scholarship. To read more about Elisha’s journey and support her scholarship, please click here.
The first evening of the training, we practiced an active listening exercise. The students got to know each other in pairs and then introduced their new friend to the group. We talked a little bit about the history of yoga and the modern lineage with a focus on Krishnamacharya’s lineage. Because this is a teaching course, students stood up the first night and led their classmates through sun salutations with the help of a script. Their homework over the next couple of weeks is to memorize sun salutations and practice teaching them.
Each weekend of teacher training, we focus on a different element of class. This weekend the focus was on introducing the theme of a class (philosophical, anatomical, or mindfulness-centered), warm-up vinyasa and sun salutations. We worked on tadasana and downward dog as foundational poses. The understanding of correct action and alignment in these poses carries over into many other poses. This allows students to work with broad themes and concepts. The students also learned and practiced hands-on assists for all of the poses we reviewed. Hands-on teaching is an important part of the yoga class experience and something we try to get comfortable with right away.
The philosophical focus for the weekend was on the background of the Yoga Sutras, including the story of Patanjali, the Samkhya tradition, purusha and prakriti, the gunas and the organization of the 4 books of the Yoga Sutras. Yoga is an ancient practice that did not initially involve extensive, varied asana practice. Yoga, as Srivatsa Ramaswami teaches, literally means ‘peace of mind’, and is a practice of finding stillness. The Yoga Sutras are a systematic process to understanding and practicing yoga as peace of mind.
Our first pranayama practice was ujjayi breath. But before that, we used kappalabhati, which is a kriya, or cleansing practice, to prepare the body, especially the nasal passages, for breath exercises. Kappalabhati (also known as skull-shining breath) is a difficult practice of stilling the diaphragm through forceful exhale and relaxed inhale. We practiced several rounds of 36 before learning ujjayi breathing.
To end the weekend, the students each planned and taught a short warm-up vinyasa. These movements are focused primarily on moving the spine in all directions and preparing the body for the physical focus of an asana class. Here’s a picture of one of the students leading the class in her warm-up vinyasa.
Our next teacher training weekend is coming up soon!