Return to Ashtanga Modified Primary Series Yoga Teacher Training (YTT): through the coronacoaster

After starting a 9 month in person Ashtanga Modified Primary Series YTT with Jamie Yoga in Jan 2020, everything was put on hold in March as COVID-19 circulated & lockdown was implemented. It’s been a rollercoaster journey through the months in between & this weekend finally reinitiated training in a new way!

Diana Brook had adapted the studio for us to be able to virtually zoom into a live practice each morn & blended learning through multiple sessions with a mix of face-to-face & virtual connection to ensure safety with new ways of being.

I’d been dreading the physical practice, after such a long time out & had built a narrative in my head around the memories I’d had from back in Jan/Feb where I felt weak & not strong enough. When it came to it this weekend, I felt able (was still hot, sweaty & achy but limbs weren’t like jelly) & could see how my chitti vritti had been impacting perception & throughout this time, I have been practicing & strengthening in different ways. It brought home the importance of coming back to truth, a constant reminder of being & stilling the mind.

Jamie led all the teacher training through some of the Surya Namaskara A & B asanas including observations, modifications & adjustments with interactive elements to help integrate & initiate our abilities to teach. Jamie brought an incredible energy & sense of humour throughout & delivered in this blended way with professionalism & dedication. His in depth knowledge & experience of the ashtanga practice shone through & being back with the team of people that had started this journey & their shared enthusiasm, was truly uplifting.

We finished this afternoon with a session on pregnancy & post-natal yoga with Lindsay Gale & took away so many important messages around positive language & creating a welcoming inclusive space to help nourish & restore.

One take home was the consideration & importance of modifications, giving permission for the student to listen to their own body as a guide & only taking asanas/adaptations that feel comfortable for them – a potential valuable guide to all 🙏!

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My vinyasa practice (MVP): 200hrs final practicum experience & lessons learnt

Experience teaching the class
I enjoyed preparing the script & choosing asanas for a 1hr mindfulness flow Karma practice. Recording this final practice for the 200hr MVP YTT felt like a consolidation of many of the teachings I have observed over the years, particularly with Diana Brook & Jo Gardener, two phenomenally inspiring yoga practitioners. I tried to build in the lessons I have learnt this year about teaching others though the MVP teacher training course & the initial training I’ve started with Jamie Yoga. Trying to incorporate a more inclusive language through cues & applying a more adaptive style with modifications wherever possible.

From the start I gave the option for participants to listen to their own bodies & take the cues as a guide & coming to rest in child’s pose if needed at any time through the practice. I tried to draw in the feedback from my mentor, including metaphoric cues & linking the intention at the start through to the end of the practice with a focus throughout on coming back to the breath.

Rationale
I chose to do a gentle flow class, bringing in mindfulness through the practice & connection of mind, body & breath. Rationale for this based on the importance of pranayama as a tool to help still the mind & ground in the present moment to reflect the yogic philosophy. Asanas were chosen to flow through the typical structure of a yoga sequence building through a gentle warm up to the peak & then grounding back to the earth using seated asanas before integrating in savasana. I didn’t want to over complicate the practice & tried to keep the flow simple & easy to follow, choosing asanas that I have always enjoyed & have found helped with own mindfulness & connection with breath, hoping it too would help others.

Areas to Improve
Teaching to camera is very different to in person & sometimes forget I am recording & become absorbed in the moment. Without the presence of those around, aware of the constant check in I have to do to stay present. Also teaching virtually recognise the need for extra cues to help participants to be able to easily follow the practice. Conscious that at times I muddle words like hands & elbows or I’m thinking ahead to next pose & when that happened in this practice tried to recognise & slow down thinking & stay present.

I was using a microphone to help with sound & during the flows it had dislodged & at one point landed on me in bridge, which distracted me from the practice for a moment & went a little off focus in cueing & movement.

Doing the MVP course has helped me to acknowledge & embrace the challenges of virtual teachings & learning for next time to ensure I have microphone well fixed for the recording. Also have a lot of animals & have always enjoyed them interacting when I am doing my daily asanas but also aware that they may be a distraction for viewers of recordings.

Reviewing the video, I felt I could have given cues a little faster & built in more asanas or vinyasa flows, particularly in seated poses, where I was going to do vinyasa flows in between each pose. When it came to recording, the vinyasa flows felt too much in the moment & decided to leave them out & on reflection could have offered participants an option to take a vinyasa in between for extra movement.

I opted out of the vinyasa flows because I felt a little physically tired as I was working through & body was asking for gentleness & as that was in line with the intention for the session, decided to exclude the vinyasas. I also felt some of my own asanas weren’t quite in alignment & did consider re- recording. I have acknowledged through my personal self-reflections on daily yoga practice that this is part of my own chitti vritti & perception/verbalisations/limiting beliefs that practice is ‘not good enough’ & instead came back to truth ‘a divine being in a human experience’.

The fact that I felt physically tired may have also impacted chitti vritti & in the future will ensure I am prepared in my physical, emotional, intellectual & spiritual bodies to embrace the practice & delivery with more energy & that as a yoga teacher you need to be kind to yourself too in order to hold a safe supportive space for your students. At the end of the practice, choosing the asanas & flow I had, I personally felt more nourished & replenished & grateful for where I was at on this journey. It certainly has not been the expected path I anticipated travelling this year & more than anything have learnt adaptation & flowing with what presents, trying to not hold attachment or aversion & practice more discernment.. which I have also recognised is easier said than done!

As one chapter closes, another opens & looking forward to what arises through next stages of journey. With love & light 🙏

Practicing self praise through reflection

In the past I’d spent a lot of time thinking & reflecting back or forward on many many different things. Doing the @myvinyasapractice YTT from the start it recommended daily journaling around your physical, intellectual, emotional & spiritual bodies. Checking in on how each body felt & defining how through the day you would help to support. Then at the end of the day giving yourself self praise.

The morning check in felt quite straightforward to do.. with many common themes emerging from the Monday morning sluggishness to the weekend bounce.

What surprised me was how hard it is to give yourself self praise. At the start the best I could summon was ‘did good today’.. & trying to expand from that felt hard. Then sort of cheated by going back to the things I’d written to support each of the bodies in the morn & saying (mostly) ‘Did this, well done!’

This eve as reflect back decided to go one step further. Self praise from this wet & cold mid summers eve in South Wales is:

‘Glance back & see the path travelled. Even with the multiple range of hurdles the environment & human experience has presented, still in this physical body & ploughing through. Great job!’

Goodnight one & all – Monday embraced – enroute to upward roll of the week 🙏.

Route into yoga teacher training – during Covid-19

My route into yoga teacher training (YTT), didn’t quite go as planned.. I set out in Jan 2020 on an Ashtanga Primary Modified 200hr YTT course with @jamieyogatrainings & @dianabrook aimed for delivery over a 9 month period with one weekend a month of face to face training.

In March 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK & we entered lockdown & life as we all knew it changed dramatically. This started a new phase of life & being, socially distancing from loved ones, with fear & uncertainty about what the future would hold. I am not going to go into impact of that here.. that is a whole other story!

The yoga however was put on hold. The course was suspended until it would be possible to return to some new kind of norm & this is planned to restart in July 2020.

Initially I focused on trying to strengthen my yoga practice & improve alignment & flexibility. Eventually my motivation started to wane & I started to lose some of that initial drive I started the year with.

So.. I decided to try another (hopefully complementary) path & signed up for the @myvinyasapractice online 200hr YTT in June 2020. It was a whole different approach & self-directed with daily self-reflection coming back to truth ‘a divine being in a human experience’.

The last 5-6 weeks took a whole new turn. Through the course, I’ve learnt so much about how yoga is a part of daily life & beyond the asanas & how it touches on all aspects of being. Bringing back the importance of connection.

Today I submitted my final 3 mini classes on the teachable platform. I have 8 hours of zoom workshops left to watch & then planning for my final 1 hour karma yoga class followed by reflection & just maybe I’ll be one step closer to being able to teach & share the practice of yoga with others.

This eve, feeling gratitude. Gratitude for what was, what is & what will be. Remembering it is this present moment & stilling the mind that is precious on this journey of life.

Sending love & light 🙏

First experience of practicing Ashtanga Modified Primary Sequence in yoga teacher training

I have been doing yoga for many many years, which was what took me on this journey to teacher training. However, my previous practices, I soon came to realise were not full Ashtanga & had always been much slower & less physically intense.

Following my first physical practice of the full ashtanga modified primary series was like nothing I had ever experienced.

At one point it felt like never ending torture. My body felt like jelly & my mind was mush. Trying to coordinate my physical body with the instructions was almost impossible & I felt all movement became random & I was physically weak.

I felt relieved to get to the sit down poses, which in my head felt easier.. how wrong I was. The rolls back into vinyasa was something I was not ready for & seemed to be at least two moves behind the instructions.

From that first practice, I learnt more about myself than I had in any other practice. I enjoyed the twists, folds & holds, whilst the rapid movement felt alien to me.

I knew this was going to be a very sharp learning curve…

On the bright side, I did it, which was the biggest adrenaline rush! I got to the end & my watch informed me I’d burnt 333 calories, which is an angel sign & concluded this was all good.