The perfect balance
Blended learning: the benefits of combining in-person and online YTT in the pandemic era. By Natasza Biernacka, Jess Elliott, Carlotta Faggian and Lauren Feltham
Eighteen months ago, the idea of attending a live yoga class online, let alone training to be a teacher, was something few had considered. Yoga was either at the gym, in a studio, or via YouTube with Adriene. However, along with the rest of the world, the pandemic showed us how quickly life changes from one day to another, often out of our control. We are constantly learning how to accept these challenges, shifting our perspective, and (with a little help from Zoom) opening ourselves to a whole new space in which to learn and practice.
Starting our YTT journey in January 2021 when the UK had just entered another lockdown, it was evident we would need to be online (and figure out how to turn our living space into a yoga studio…not an easy task when you live in a London flat!). Our course leaders at PYC also adapted, and still had us practice teaching with each other right from day one. Being able to do this one-on-one in Zoom ‘breakout rooms’ was an ideal way to start. It provided the perfect, distraction-free environment for us to find our feet and gain confidence before teaching groups ‘in person’ later in the course.
Taking those first modules online was a revelatory experience: knowing we can practice and teach yoga anywhere and everywhere and understanding that it’s the energy you create with your students that allows you to be together. However, when face-to-face education was permitted from March, and the studio announced that we could complete our training in-person, we were all delighted. Nothing could beat the feeling of joy when we walked into the studio and saw all the people we had shared so much with and grown so close to.
The connections forged through both the training and the challenges of the pandemic created a support network that continues to nourish us.
Doing the YTT both online and in person was a magic combination and most of us were lucky enough to experience this blended approach. There are benefits to both, and not as much missing from an online experience as you might expect. We learnt that what doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you. We may not have chosen the situation but with the support of each other we rose to the occasion. Over the 200 hours we didn’t just learn from our teachers, we learned so much from each other too. This was true of both online and in-person learning, it felt like a celebration of connection; we all need each other like avocado needs toast.
Natasza Biernacka, Jess Elliott, Carlotta Faggian, Lauren Feltham are all students who attended their YTT in 2021 at PYC Academy - The Power Yoga Company thepoweryogaco.com
Natasza Biernacka completed the whole training online, first from Poland, and then from Spain. Here’s what she had to say:
“I couldn’t be happier. I went in wanting to learn more about yoga, little did I know what joy teaching would bring. I didn’t plan it, but due to travel restrictions, I ended up attending the whole course online. Like everyone else, I had to adapt to a new reality, so I decided to approach it with an open mind and make the most of it. Even though the training was via a screen, I felt I had the same opportunities to learn and practice, and my needs were met 100%. The faculty was truly wonderful and the teaching was enhanced by having such a supportive community. All the feedback really helped me to grow in confidence and adjust my teaching thanks to observations and suggestions. If teaching feels this amazing to me via Zoom, it can only get better once things get back to normal and we can all connect in real life. I know online yoga will be around for a long time, and I feel blessed to have that confidence and familiarity with it.”