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 🙏

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.