Yoga Teacher Training = Done! What I Learned About Me, About Teaching & What’s Next
This weekend, I finished my 200 hour yoga teacher training at YogaSpace in Toronto. It’s been a long couple of months, and a ton of work between full weekends in the training plus all the homework, reading and classes. And it’s been awesome. It was nice to have a reason to stay in Ontario for most of March-May, and to actually spend more time in Toronto on the weekends, hanging out with people that we love and getting to check out cool new places to run and eat. And, of course, I’m SO stoked that I’ve gotten to start teaching yoga to a bunch of cool athletes up here in Collingwood now, since yoga is such a huge part of my athletic career… I never did it before I started training, and I think that over time, my practice has evolved a ton and now I can’t imagine a day without it! (And I mean that—for the last four years, I’ve done my short AM routine almost every. single. day.)
So, did I hit all of my goals in the training?
I realized after the first few weeks of the course that one of the biggest takeaways for me was going to be simply being a better teacher/speaker in general, not just on the yoga mat. When I had a few talks at bike shops (including the Rapha Cycle Club in NY with a pretty big audience!), I noticed that the one that happened before training started was choppier and I was hella nervous as usual. Three weeks in, I had the Rapha talk, and that felt a lot smoother. Four weeks in, I was at the Trek Store in Barrie, and felt even smoother. At the same time, I was covering spin classes at Active Life in Collingwood, and the first time, I was terrified. Like, blind panic. Now, even teaching the athlete stretch class that I designed, I feel SO much smoother as a teacher. My public speaking has improved. Whether that’s because we had to start presenting flows / learning how to speak / just speaking more consistently between the weekends and the classes and the talks, I suddenly can do a shop talk without shaking, and I’m actually having fun teaching, not panicking for the hour before and the first 10 minutes.
So yeah, for this shy kid who loathes public speaking, it’s been a positive. (They didn’t believe me about that in YTT, and most people I talk to don’t believe it either. But those of you who’ve spent much time with me in real life, you guys know that by nature, I’d rather be hiding under the covers with a good book.)
Physically, I definitely have gained a ton of mobility from more consistent practice, and learned a TON of cues and fixed a lot of mistakes I was making before. I mean, I can sort of almost do a reasonably good handstand and forearm balance now, which I admit was kind of my superficial reason for wanting to do the training.
I also understand a ton more about anatomy in general, since we spent a lot of time on it at the course—and I was intrigued enough that I think that’s the next education path I’m going to head down. It’s made it a lot easier for me to understand things like how if my foot is striking weird when I run, that might be why my knee is acting up, and why my glut med (ahem, side butt) isn’t engaging the way it should. It’s been a huge eye-opener to start being able to critically think through a lot of this stuff, and of course, that helps a ton with the athlete stretch classes I’ve started doing, where tight hips, hamstrings and shoulders are the norm.
Honest truth, though? I admit that I was hoping to be a little more… yoga-y by the end of this course. I sort of expected to find myself suddenly more spiritually inclined, my chakras a little more aligned, all that good stuff that would make me a calmer human. And hey—I’m not saying nothing changed. It definitely made me more aware of how I was letting certain anxieties run rampant, and the effect of all the time spent in yoga classes, meditations and doing breathwork definitely helped me cool my jets a little more. But am I ever going to be one of those yoga girls (you know what I mean)? Nope.
That’s, as it turns out, not my—ahem—satya (just sneaking a little yoga philosophy in here for a second!). I sort of got meta with the teacher when we were talking about this. In yoga philosophy, there’s the rules for living, and number two after doing no harm is to be truthful and authentic (that’s what satya means). My authentic self simply isn’t the person who can read from the Upanishads ahead of a class as the meditation. My energy isn’t super smooth and low/slow-talk-y. That more typical yogi “style” just isn’t my truth… Which leads to the meta part—if that isn’t my truth, but my truth is that I also am not subscribing to the dogma, then does it really matter? Answer: yes.
Basically, what I ended up learning was that I can still embrace a ton of what I learned, but I have to deliver it in a way that makes sense to me. That won’t involve chanting, or reading long passages to the class, or to myself in my own practice. And that’s OK.
So really, I guess it did help me hone in on the person that I actually am—and realize that there’s zero good reason to try to pretend to be this other style of person!
Anyway, it’s been a loooooong 200+ hours over the last three months. I’m super glad I did it, and I’m having a blast teaching a few athlete focused yoga classes and planning some more fun stuff these days. I love the athlete/yoga crossover, and I think that’s always going to be my focus, whether we’re talking about a more power-yoga-style flow for athletes hoping to cross-train, or a gentle stretch for athletes looking to mobilize. I’m excited!