the 'Ytt' acronym unwraps to mean 'yoga teacher training' and last week i had my first very own ytt experience. this time i stood up at the front of the class instead of sitting cross-legged on the floor gaping at the trainer. although the idea of fronting to a group of beaming and open-faced yogis, sharing some of the goodness i've learned over the past few years is a daunting prospect, it's also something i've been waiting for and wanting to do since i took my first training as a student.
being posted to a training position was unplanned. PRAGYADHARA IS the wonderful lead trainer and yoga co-ordinator at kawai purapura retreat center in albany, auckland. she invited me to a job interview late last year and i thought we were meeting for a chat about teaching hatha classes but!... it turned out she was on the hunt for an 'applied anatomy' trainer. she somehow thought i had the goods to pull off teaching this module on her 200hr course and she wasn't phased by the idea that this would be my first ytt rodeo. a week later, i ran an audition lecture and she gave me the gig. Hooray! time to freak out now!
and so i did mildly freak out. but of course, deeply, i knew that i could pull this one off with the grace and integrity required. so i got down to preparing myself for six lectures. a total of nine hours teaching time, covering the musculoskeletal, respiratory, nervous and endocrine systems studied through the lens of yoga. i needed to distil the information that i have found most useful in my teaching career and figure out how best to pass that on. EASY. (?)
Now that the experience is in my rear-view mirror, i've had time to reflect and i'd like to share a few thoughts for anyone about to, or planning to, eventually head off down the same path.
advice numero uno:
believe it or not, my first reflection is to do less! or to be more precise, take less prepared notes with you.
i went on a mad overkill bent by writing all of my lectures up as powerpoint presentations. i TAPPED OUT every concept, down to the word, in my notes. a script, almost. this helped to build the shape of the lectures i presented and to massage everything into place mentally for me - order, pace and delivery of all the points i wanted to cover in each subject. now, while the writing part of this exercise was invaluable for putting everything into mental order, once it came to dishing out the goods in class, i found my notes were so detailed that they were too hard to read while presenting.
After my first lecture, i stripped back my notes to very basic bullet points. i know these subjects well, so really, preparation is more about deciding what and what-not to teach and the order of each lecture, rather than scripting the entire delivery. bullet points are fine for this. keep it simple and sweet.
this leads on nicely to my second observation.
leave space around each important point for discussion. students are students and they are likely hearing this particular set of knowledge for the first time in their lives. (OK, there are always students who already have an understanding of your subject but many are super-fresh to this game!) something that i will do differently in the future will be to time out my lectures with about 25% of the time left spare for discussion.
i learned that while you can explain a concept in full - even giving multiple examples and explanations to define it cleanly - people need to take on new knowledge from within the framework of their own experience and mindset.
you just. can't. predict. the angles from which people come at you asking you to re-define a concept further. because you're not them. different people, different perspectives, different ways of learning. it takes a bit of discussion sometimes, to do away with misconceptions and to clarify the true shape of something. to focus the lens, get it right and make sure all of your students have absorbed the correct definition of what you teaching there, teach.
so leave space for that.
finally, a piece of wisdom that applies specifically to somatic trainings. this one might seem obvious, but it almost caught me out.
when you teach an experiential subject, make space to allow for your students to have that experience themselves.
theorise! yes, of course! but then follow that up with some practice so that they get the real juice. every time.
a moment came about while we were riffing on some discussion and we detoured into a topic i hadn't planned on covering. yet here we were! and i was explaining what it feels like when you do this...... the smart thing to do here, even if it's off-the-cuff teaching, is to take your students into the experience and let them understand it somatically. especially with practices like yoga and meditation. especially!
my "last-last" brainwave is..... when you learn from ya own experiences, reflect and write it down so you don't forget for next time. hashtag, journallingontheblog. hashtag, lol.
if you're a trainer reading this, and you'd like to expand on any of these thoughts, please, speak! or if you have a separate little nugget of advice you'd like to share, please... please do! spread love!
check out the 200hr course at kawai purapura here, and this is the page of pure yoga with pragyadhara, a fully legit yogi, who is always running fantastic courses, if you wanna get yours :)xx
Also, Kawai purapura retreat center are hosting nz's first international yoga festival in february, so check em out!
THAT'S ALL FOLKS <3