I’m not a big fan of yoga teacher trainings. I pretty much hated my 200 hour end to end — which (I hasten to emphasise) says much more about me than about my patient teachers. I think they did a good job in 200 hours to set us up to be safe, competent enough, rooky teachers.
The problem is that I have a lot of emotional baggage from pre-yoga learning experiences that I haul with me anytime I get anywhere near something that feels like a classroom. Even if it’s heavily disguised as a yoga studio and the teacher’s in Lycra not an academic gown! I am caught between current experiences which are opening my eyes to all the beautiful possibilities available to me and the trauma of past experiences which closed my heart and closed my mind and all but snubbed out my desire to learn and be curious.
I put this baggage aside recently just long enough to sign up for two online trainings. I reckoned the safety of training from home in a virtual environment would be reassuring and might get me over some of my learning hangups. First up I did a 16 hour training on vinyasa style sequencing, which was a mixture of recorded videos and live streamed sessions (discussion and practical) led by the teacher. The teacher was charismatic and knowledgable, the content level well within my grasp but without enough new ideas to keep me really engaged.
With the thrill of surviving that I then did a 30 hour training in restorative yoga, which was a mixture of live streamed lectures and demos combined with practical partner work in online breakout rooms. The atmosphere was nurturing and inclusive, whilst also taking care with technical information and checking in on our learning and attention. The teachers included practices for us to consider how to embrace the ideas of restorative yoga more fully in our lives, so that the week felt like an immersion in the practice as well as a technical training.
I was really impressed by how immersive both these experiences were. Yoga teachers have many awesome skills including the flexibility and willingness to adapt to circumstances. That whole ‘holding space’ thing, creating the right environment and nurturing everyone through… who knew that could be so potent in an online space also!
But I still found these trainings really hard. They were both intensive format and, to be fair to myself, I was fitting them in around my day job and other demands. During the course of each of them I observed the ebb and flow of my emotions as my energy levels dropped over time and panicky feelings of not keeping up, not absorbing enough, not being perfect threatened to overwhelm me. I coaxed myself through though, noticing how I was feeling and trying to stay with the present challenges rather than rummaging through the emotional baggage of the past too much.
Like any training, I came away having learned much more than the actual content of the courses: ideas for my teaching, new things to weave into my own practice, lots of resources to draw on, as well as a greater sense of my own needs, limitations and talents. I don’t think I could or would have done either of these trainings in an ordinary year. So in the list of covid-related opportunities vs deprivations, these experiences fit firmly on the positive side.