One of the most exciting experiences in my yoga teacher training is the apprenticeship. For certification, I am required to apprentice one of my teacher’s Yoga I class for an 11-week session. As an apprentice, I consult with the lead teacher before each class to learn the theme/focus for the evening, and learn about any assistance that I can give to the teacher (in the form of demonstrations) or to the students (handing our props, making adjustments). I do not “practice” along with the students – unless we are doing partner work and there is an uneven number of people. As my teacher leads the students through the poses, I walk the aisles or stand to the side and observe.
There truly is a great power in observation. First and foremost, it is a great privilege to see the new faces coming into the Yoga I classes at the studio. They did something – made some sort of commitment or sacrifice – to be there at that particular moment in time. Some beginners are nervous or scared walking into their first class, tentative to take the first steps into the class, while others are confident and feel at home. Some automatically head to the very back of the room, while others seek out the spaces up front near the teacher. Observing these tendencies is so meaningful to me, as a future yoga teacher myself, I feel that this experience of apprenticeship has underscored the fact that the best teachers are actually the best students – truly willing to learn from others.
Another tenant of the certification is simply observing – not as an apprentice and not as a practitioner – a class as it is conducted. You focus on how the teacher approaches the class; the clarity of instruction, the poses and the sequences of the poses, and the general feeling in the room. Observation is key. When I am doing an observation, I put myself in the place of an absolute beginner and assess from there. It is an amazing practice, and very rewarding. As a future teacher, I learn what makes sense to students and what doesn’t. For that reason alone, it is invaluable.
My mother and I attended a Therapeutics yoga class this morning, taught by an amazing teacher named Lucy. The best part of the story? Lucy and I had talked online before but this was our first time meeting – we first met through Ravelry! Lucy is a hardcore knitter just like so many of us, and she has done a number of workshops for knitters who are interested in yoga… in fact, we are thinking it might be fun to do another workshop sometime in the future. Mom and I really enjoyed Lucy’s class – it was the ideal class for people coming back after injury, pregnancy, surgery, or with chronic pain issues. It was my first time to take a gentle class, and I just marveled at the smart use of props and how yoga can truly be accessible for ALL people. It was inspirational and made me see my own yoga poses in a different way. I hope to observe more of these type of classes in the future.
I had another wonderful weekend at Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). We have only been together in YTT for 2 months in this program, but I already feel such a bond with all of these women. We spend 15 hours straight with them over a three-day period once a month (more with my teachers!) so it is no wonder that we have grown close! We are preparing to teach a FREE community class next month (April 19th!) where each teacher-in-training teaches the class a series of poses. We are inviting all friends and family members to come to the free class (if you are local and interested, please contact me and I will give you full details!). I was assigned to teach some of the seated poses, including a twist, a hip-opener, and a restorative pose with blankets. I am really looking forward to the experience!
If you are on Ravelry, and are interested in learning more about yoga, please check out the Namaste Knitters group. It is a wonderful and accepting community with several knowledgable teachers and long-time practitioners, as well as lots of beginners. It would be a pleasure to have you join us!
**Inspired by the lovely Alexander Calder sculpture entitled “Eagle” at the Olympic Sculpture Park in downtown Seattle, I did a yoga pose in front while Kris and Jenna took the photo. I chose to do a deeper backbend version of Ustrasana, or Camel Pose with my right arm extended.