A couple of people have asked me about my Yoga Teacher Training Experience, and I thought it might be good to reflect on my overall experience.
Going back to the start when I started yoga 4 years ago. Every week was such an amazing experience for me. I admire my teacher who just has so much talent, kindness and spirituality. Being an actual teacher isn’t something that I ever thought about originally, I was quite content in going every week and enjoying the moment. I remember my teacher saying to my mum “Your daughter would make an amazing teacher, I see something special in her”. At the time I didn’t think anything of it. I took it as a major complement for a teacher to praise someone like me who was only a beginner at the time.
As my life moved on and after the experience of leaving university early I really had the urge to find a new passion. I went through a few jobs and didn’t enjoy them and in the back of my mind I kept thinking maybe teaching yoga is something that would change my life. It’s something that I enjoy doing and lots of people talk about making their hobby their job. To be honest, I was skeptical and thought about it a lot and had lots of chat with family & my boyfriend Greg.
So for 2019, A new year, a new start. I don’t normally make new years resolutions.. as I feel guilty if I don’t stick to them. But the start of this year I felt ready. I really wanted to teach yoga. I had done a tonne of research into the different types of courses for me it was a toss up between 2. There is the YTT 200 Hours that you would do somewhere exotic like India & have a magical spiritual experience where you go for 5 weeks and learn everything yoga. Or there was the online course where you could fit this in around your everyday life but this sounded like hard work to me. But nothing worth having is easy.
At the time, We were saving for a house & I couldn’t afford the money for the 200HR YTT. I admire people who drop their lives for 5 weeks for something like YTT but with the situation I was in it wasn’t something that was on the cards for me. So I decided to go for an online course/at home study. That way it would work around my day to day life & I could still work towards fulfilling my dream of becoming a teacher.
I went for a company called HFE. They send you all your reading materials ( 1 x Level 3 Anatomy book 1 x Level 2 Anatomy book 1 x Level 3 Yoga Manual 1 x Yoga Journal) and provide and online portal. On your online portal there as lots of video’s to watch to help increase your understanding. Some sections you work through worksheets and others you have online tests. Towards the end of the course you then attend 3 training weekends. The last weekend you have 2 theory exams (biology based so your level 2 & 3 manuals) and 2 practical exams (1 x teaching a sun salutation 1 x teaching a 45 minute group class). The yoga/spiritual side of the course is based on work sheets and reading. Also as part of the course you need to complete 60 Hours of Yoga Practice to get your qualification. But as I love doing yoga, I probably ended up doing my 200 hours, however this wasn’t a 200 HR qualification.. but it was nice to know I had actually done that much!
If you are thinking of signing up to YTT, please be aware that it is totally different to attending a class. There is so much more to think about. I didn’t realise how much effort and time that goes into this for you as a teacher to get the best out of the course. I would strongly advise signing up to the course at least 4/5 months prior to you attending a training weekend. This is what I did and even though I was really nervous about going, at least I didn’t sign up last minute and try to cram it in.
The course itself was easy to follow and you have a tutor who you can call and email whenever you like to discuss anything you are finding difficult and just give support and “you can do it’s”. The great thing about the online course is that you couldn’t fail as such. If you submitted a worksheet and you had got a question incorrect, then your tutor sends it back to you with notes for you to work on. This was great as the word fail makes me panic. The only part of the course where you would pass or fail is on your theory tests and practicals. Which you would have to pay and resit just like any other exam.
I can only speak for this course, but I wish I had known about the biology side of the course and how complicated it was to begin with and overwhelming. This took me months of solid revision to begin to understand and this is something that I got a U in at A level so as you can imagine I was extremely anxious about the theory exams. So I was glad I signed up months before the training weekends & exams so I could actually get my head around it. The yoga part of the course is simple. You have a yoga manual you read through & then work on worksheets to increase your understanding. The actual teaching side you learn on the training weekends. My teacher training’s were held at a gym about an hour away from me, so it was definitely a big commitment & had to plan my life around the dates they give. It’s so important you attend every session of the weekend and not miss one as you learn so much in a short space of time.
So after revising at home for 4-5 months while working full time the 1st training weekend arrived. I was very nervous. On a scale of 1-10 it was a 9/10. I had been working really hard on this for months and really wanted to do well. Everyone on the course was amazing, we were all in the same boat & we all made such good friends (so good we have a Whatsapp Group now).
Ok so, the 1st weekend consisted our teacher laying out everything we needed for the exams. What the exams consisted of, what they expected from us etc. We also practiced the main asana’s like warrior 2 for example and different variations for different levels. This weekend I really enjoyed, I learn’t so much about teaching in such a short amount of time & I honestly couldn’t wait to attend the other weekends to see what else I could learn to make me the best teacher possible & ways to help others. Just how my teacher helped me.
You then have a weekend off where the next 2 weeks you continue to learn & grow with the tools they have given you. Then weekend 2 comes along and this was a very different experience. I felt panicked as I wanted to do well and to make matters worse I had a virus so lost my voice which is perfect when you need to teach your first class.. NOT! We had to teach our first class and I felt that mine didn’t go every well even though I had practiced so much at home. In the 2nd weekend you teach the lesson plan you had been working on. The teachers are very supportive and give lots of feedback on your lesson to work on in the next couple of weeks before the exam. So then you can go away and work on the points they have given. You are also still revising all your biology too at this point so there is lots to do in a fairly short amount of time. In those 2 weeks, you do so much practice of everything that you feel you are about to burst.
Weekend 3 comes around so quickly & this is the last weekend. On the Saturday you have your biology exams and your sun salutation practical exam. This is a very hectic day. Stress levels are high & I managed to cope under the pressure I put myself under. On the Sunday is the main event, the practical exam. You have to bring 2 students minimum with you as part of the exam. I chose to bring 3, Greg, Mum and my Dad. You teach a group of 6 in total so chose 3 of my lovely new friends that I had made on the course.
You get the result of the practical exams on the day’s you do them. The result of the biology exam you find out a couple of weeks later. I was shocked I had passed everything, it was so much hard work and it all paid off. When you think the work is over, it isn’t quite yet. You then have to complete a progressive yoga plan. This plan is something you create for a beginner who has never practiced yoga before. This isn’t a case study. The programme is based on 12 weeks, and expecting the participant to practice a couple of times per week. Gradually you may increase and decrease certain elements. But this was a really helpful tool for the future. Then you are done & breathe a sign of relief.
Looking back, the overall experience was amazing, definitely very stressful and hard work but that is what it is like when you are doing something you care about. HFE not only provided you with tools throughout the course, you leave with tools for the future. The biology side even though I found it really challenging, it’s so helpful in knowing which movements help/effect which muscle so that was really worth it. It’s now 100 times more enjoyable to be a teacher and a student. By no means do I know it all, still learning and growing everyday. I am glad I planned ahead & put the work in and I hope in turn this helps make me a better teacher. There were 2 goals, to be able to help others and to get people trying yoga, yoga suitable for any gender, size and body type. 2nd goal was to make myself proud, which after many years of finding this hard to say.. I am very proud of myself.
I would definitely recommend HFE, especially if you can’t afford the course or the time taken for the 200 HR YTT. It worked around my life and was a life changing experience. If you have read all of this.. you’re amazing & thank you for reading. I hope this helps with your decision if it is something you are considering.
I wish you all the luck in the world on this YTT journey, it is one you will never forget. Work hard, be kind, be patient & try to enjoy it. Do lots of research on that works well for you and your life. There is never a correct way. You do you!
Love & Light as Always,