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On Observing
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On Observing

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.

YTT Friends!

(click on photo for identifications of these amazing people!)

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.

Yoga Inspiration

Inspired by Sculpture: Ustrasana/ Camel Pose**

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.

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20 Responses

  1. Whistlepea

    I think you have more training in YTT than I did as a teacher! It’s so intense!

  2. Vanessa

    What a joy it is for you to be going thru this process Lolly. Such fantastic points that you are pulling forward here.
    I remeber so many of these same things when I went thru my YTT almost 3 years ago. I am still close to many of the people who were in my training, you really do bond with them in a special way.
    (I just took a 6 week basic back care class, based in the Therapudic yoga idea- it is so fantastic to strip down the practice to the bare minimum and allow yourself the props and SUPPORT that we so often don’t allow ourselves)

    Congrats on this journey, it is a beautiful and wonderful one!

  3. Nachaele Olson

    Great post and story! I wanted to tell you that you look fantastic……so thin and healthy! Great job on your diet and exercising!

  4. Gudrun

    It is an amazing journey going from student to teacher in this environment….and you’re right to observe all you can….obviously when we are practicing alongside fellow students we are concentrating on what our bodies are doing/feeling…..to step out of that and take in everyone else is very eye opening! I’m going to be subbing a couple of classes at the end of April and I’m having to get myself back into that teacher space as it’s been so long for me….the first thing I thought was about the amount of talking you have to do!! I too will be going to just observe some classes in preparation!
    …off to join that Rav group now!

  5. Beth

    I’m really enjoying following your YTT journey. I practice at the same studio – I like sitting at the rose wall ;-) – and think the practice and environment is so inviting and supportive. I saw the ad for the classes on April 19. I’m just back from vacation the day prior so not sure I can make it but I’m going to try. If I do, I’ll say hi!
    The Calder yogo photo is awesome.

  6. Mick

    This sounds like such a rewarding experience, Lolly. Good for you! Just from reading your blog, I can see you making a thoughtful, kind, inspiring yoga teacher. Best of luck with the rest of the training!

  7. Josiane

    You are absolutely right about the great power there is in observation. The fact that the power of observation is true of so many things in life has been made very clear to me quite a few times lately. It was very interesting to read your perspective on it.

  8. Harpa J

    There is no yoga class where I live but you inspire my to try it.

    You look awesome by the way!

  9. Lin

    It sounds like you are really enjoying this course which is great. And you look great too!

  10. felinemagnet

    I am really looking forward to starting my own yoga journey soon! It feels like everything just lined up for me when I was ready and at the right time – meeting you, finding this studio…there are no coincidences!

  11. Stephanie

    As someone who is relatively new to yoga (but I’m trying to make up for lost time!), I notice a real difference between the teachers at the studio where I practice. The woman who owns it has a way of explaining things that just makes sense to me – and there’s something about her that I just clicked with. A few of the other teachers there don’t have the same ability to explain things and it’s noticeable to me. I’m glad you are enjoying your training and I have no doubt that you will be an exceptional teacher.

  12. Shaye

    if you do a yoga workshop for knitters, definitely let us know! i live and work in the same area as you (well i live in baltimore city, but work in howard county). i, myself, am just starting to get into some exercising after coming back from a surgery in the past year. i’ve only started doing very basic and easy poses, but would LOVE to continue with it!

  13. Sarah

    Oh, I love Calder! Some of his sculptures really do look yogic (is that a word?)–I’d never thought of them in that way before.

  14. Kala

    I love the picture of you in the yoga pose, very cool :)

  15. Jenna

    Very thought provoking! I thought that your apprenticeship entailed some leading of the class, but I guess you can’t really do that until you get an understanding of potential class dynamics. The practice of observation sounds very powerful. I’m glad that you’re forming these bonds in your training and I hope they continue indefinitely!

  16. Miri

    I really enjoy hearing your YTT tales – thank you for sharing with us!

    I was lucky enough to once take a class similar to the ‘therapeutic’ yoga you describe although it was called something slightly different at my gym. What an amazing class it was! Going slow and using props, focusing on truly feeling the changes in your body as you become solid in the pose… it was fabulous. And heartbreaking, since it was only offered one day a week during work hours (I’d taken a mental health day that day or I’d have never experienced it). I wish more studios and gyms offered this along with all the fitness oriented yoga!

  17. Bossygirln

    I think you’re awesome. I admire you for following your path where it leads you, knitting, yoga, vegetarianism, photography…I always enjoy reading about what’s up with you. And…you are looking great! Good for you!

  18. Anna

    Your training course sounds excellent. As my British Wheel of Yoga foundation course draws to a close I am pondering which type of teacher training to go for. I have just this week decided to do the Sivananda teacher training, which is a one-month immersion course in an ashram. I’m excited but also nervous about it, and I’m loving reading about your journey while thinking about my own.

  19. Anne Lindenfeld

    You know my friend Eliza! This definitely falls in the small world category. Isn’t she amazing?

    Eliza and I were members of a weekly writer’s group for years. We hadn’t seen eachother in, well, more years and then reconnected last year at a Politics & Prose new book reading by a fellow writer friend. She told me she was in training — and really interested in Yoga Nidra.

    So glad to hear that she (and you) are well on your way to being full-fledged instructors.


  20. Julie

    I’ve been enjoying reading about your journey!


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