What are the core skills you need on your teacher training course? By Claire Rodgers and Anthea Simpson
Becoming a yoga teacher is not the end but rather the beginning of your immersion into the world of yoga. For most of us this becomes a lifelong process of learning; a journey filled with passion and curiosity as we impart and deepen our knowledge and skills to help others discover the benefits of the practice and the joy it brings. There is so much to learn and so much to teach that your YTT course is really a springboard into this deeper understanding of yoga, so you can begin your journey and step out to teach with confidence and from a strong foundation.
What makes yoga so unique is the use of the breath, to bring mind and body together; so a really good understanding of not only the mind and the body, but also the physiology of the breath and the many different ways you can teach the basics of breathing is essential. Practice and teaching of pranayama follows from the basics and is often overlooked yet is vitally important in supporting your future students physically, mentally and emotionally on their own journey.
Learning how the body and mind works is essential; this will help your own teaching style come alive. From a core knowledge of neuroscience, anatomy and physiology, you will intuitively understand the benefits and contra-indications of asana, pranayama and other yoga practices; this means you’ll be able to ensure your student’s safety in your classes, through alignment and sequencing and also be confident in creating safe and effective classes that you will be able to adapt for different students with common health issues.
In addition to these vital skills, learning about the different yoga philosophies will give your teaching a greater breadth of experience and meaning and will enhance not only your skillset but your imagination tenfold. Finding a course that allows you to explore and journey through yoga philosophy such as Patanjali’s Eight Limbs, the Chakras, the Koshas, the Prana Vayus, the Gunas and Ayurveda will widen your vision and help you create different themed classes beyond the mind and body. These will help you find your personal voice as a teacher, bringing a deeper experience to your students from your teachings.
How to teach (i.e. the skills needed to communicate with confidence, the use of language to centre, ground, focus, and de-stress, knowledge of different learning and teaching styles and how and when to use them, as well as safe hands-on and verbal adjustment) is also an integral component, which will bring all your core skills together. And finally, how to promote yourself and how to recognise and develop your strengths and abilities is important. A good course will also include space, support and care for your own emotional wellbeing, consideration of your learning style, individual areas of interest and expertise and help you develop as a teacher in your own unique way, ready and prepared for the exciting journey ahead, and mentor you along the way.
Claire Rodgers and Anthea Simpson are current trainers on the Yoga Healing Institute YTT course (yogahealinginstitute.com)