If you missed the first part of this blog, you can check it out here.
Click here for info on my upcoming RYT200 yoga teacher training here in Ashevillle.
When I first started teaching yoga, there weren’t a lot of teacher training programs around. I had learned through what’s called the “gurukul” tradition – basically it means you live with your teachers in ashrams or their home while you’re studying. I lived in Asia for 4 years in the early 90s and when I moved back to the states in 1995 and started teaching, the idea of taking or leading a teacher training program was definitely not on my radar.
The first one popped up in the area where I was living in New Jersey around 1997. It was expensive ($5000) and included fire ceremonies. To graduate you were expected to be able to do Tortoise (yeah, the one with both feet behind your neck), headstands, and full Lotus.
It was way out of my league.
When I moved to Asheville in 2001, the yoga teacher market was already fairly saturated. There was a very popular yoga teacher training program at a local studio so I checked it out, but it didn’t feel right for me – it focused on increasingly difficult postures and it overviewed many different styles – I wanted something more coherent.
When I asked a student who had graduated about it, she said, “Why would you take that program? You know so much more than their trainers!” So instead I grandfathered into Yoga Alliance and slowly built up to teaching a lot of group and private classes, mostly at the YMCA and at people’s homes. Trainers started asking me to teach workshops in their trainings, and students started asking me if I would lead my own teacher training.
In the early 90s I had taught English as a Second language at Japan Women’s University in Tokyo and then at a community college when I got back to New Jersey – I really care about learning styles, teaching pedagogy and methodology, as well as learning outcomes. I think some of the reason the established programs weren’t up to par is because the hours required by Yoga Alliance are so low, so you really have to be succinct and focused if you want good outcomes.
I also heard from lots of teachers that the training they had received was mostly about intense asanas with little info about sequencing or adapting poses. They told me that after they graduated, they didn’t have a clue about how to put together a coherent class or to address the needs of the “real” people in front of them, and their program gave just a dusting about anything beyond asanas. They were tasked with figuring stuff out after they graduated by reading and taking workshops.
So in 2006 I decided to take a stab at it. I had studied with a lot of great teachers and had worked with hundreds of people – from kids to nursing home residents. If I wanted to work with people who were not athletic or acrobatic, there had to be tons of other people who wanted to learn to teach to those populations too.
I remember sitting on the floor in my study with my husband, surrounded by papers with bits and pieces of curriculum on them, rearranging the content till we came up with something that felt coherent and progressive. What we wanted was a course that gave a solid intro to the history, theory and practice of yoga, but also that helped people be able to adapt their knowledge to the students in front of them – to people who may not be elite athletes or gymnasts – and share the benefits of practice with people who may not feel comfortable in a hot, sweaty, fitness oriented class.
So fast forward to the middle of 2017 and we have run this program more than 20 times and graduated hundreds of students. I am so incredibly grateful to the teachers who have helped along the way including Samantha Leonard, Eric Seiler, Ashley Lester, Marek Sawicki, Marcy Braverman Goldstein, Ramesh Bjonnes, Maggie White, Holley Porter Wright, Jess Mishu, Randy Rainey, Rhonda Cook, and so many more.
Every time a group finishes, I ask the grads to fill out a detailed evaluation form so that we can make changes and improve the program. The feedback we get in that evaluation, and the hundreds of emails I’ve received over the years, consistently point to three learning outcomes that make me smile:
- Our grads feel comfortable working with people with a wide variety of abilities,
- Our grads tend to finish up the program with a consistent personal practice that includes meditation, and
- The experience of being in a supportive group of people with similar objectives and goals, has changed their lives, sometimes in dramatic ways.
In 2011 I decided to stop teaching my 200 hour public training in Asheville. More and more trainings had sprouted up over the years and one studio was graduating hundreds of students each year. I was more focused on developing my Mental Health trainings for licensed professionals. Also, many studios had started to ask me to come and lead teacher and therapy trainings or workshops at their studios out of town – in Charlotte, Huntsville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Toronto and other places. So I decided I would take a break from Asheville and do more traveling.
But last year the idea began to resurface – local students have been asking long enough. It’s time for another Subtle Yoga RYT200 Teacher training and Personal Transformation Program in Asheville.
So we’re gonna do it!
It’s starting in January 2018 at the Town and Mountain Training center just south of downtown (plenty of parking!).
It will be small, intimate and deep.
You will learn what you need to know to teach great classes to lots of different people. And you will have a chance to really immerse yourself in the practices over 10 months (it’s going to be held in a one weekend a month format) I am so honored to have Eric Seiler and Marek Sawicki as co-presenters for this training – they are both deep yogis with deep practices and many years of experience.
We may not do this any time again soon in Asheville, so if you’re interested, check out the details here.
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Here are some of the incredibly sweet things grads have said about our programs:
The way I see yoga, as a lifestyle, has been transformative. The changes I have made as a result of what I have learned through SY have been subtle (no pun intended) and cumulative over time. This means the changes are lasting. Ayurvedic concepts have helped me understand my physical and energetic needs and expressions in a way that made me a truer expert on myself. When you own that kind of personal knowledge you can facilitate others’ quest for the same understanding of self. – Charla Suggs, LCSW, RYT200, UNC Pembroke
I am very comfortable with what I have to offer — whether in a class setting or working with individuals. While I will continue to deepen my understanding and my education/knowledge, I am more confident that the ways in which I do what I do will help heal those who are interested. – Diane McCabe, C-IAYT, e-RYT500, Virginia Beach, VA
Overall, I am a very body-oriented teacher. I geek out on anatomy and physiology, and so I love to help people find the version of the physical pose that works best for them. But now I can do this with so much more knowledge than just some anatomy. And I honestly feel like they leave feeling more confident than when they arrived. It’s like the trust in their own bodies grows, and I can see it happening, and they come to me and are so excited to tell me how they’ve taken their practice off the mat and into the garden, or the grocery store. This part makes me so incredibly happy. Hearing a student tell me that they are less afraid, less timid, more confident, more trusting in themselves – that’s the part that keeps me teaching and wanting to learn. -Katie Burrus, RYT500, Huntsville, AL
Think about joining me – I’d love to have you.