My Yoga Medicine Teacher Training Experience
Whilst living in Western Australia, I regularly attended a fantastic yoga studio there called The Yoga Vine. It can sometimes take a while to find the perfect yoga studio and teachers who are inspiring and dynamic; so when I found The Yoga Vine, I became a loyal yogi at the studio.
I had attended this studio for a while when I noticed an upcoming yoga workshop with a guest US yoga teacher, Tiffany Cruikshank. There was a lot of excitement amongst the dedicated yogis that Tiffany was coming to town. She was doing three yoga workshops over a weekend, so I decided I’d go along to all three and signed up on the spot.
Getting Hooked on Yoga Medicine
From the first yoga workshop I was hooked. Tiffany had started her own yoga business, Yoga Medicine, where she led teacher trainings and workshops all over the world. She had an in-depth knowledge of anatomy and the effect of different yoga poses on strengthening and stretching specific muscles. I found all of this fascinating as I have a degree in anatomy and was thinking of signing up for a yoga teacher training course. After attending Tiffany’s workshops and researching her trainings, I knew she was offering the right teacher training for me. So I signed up for her 200hr teacher training which was starting six months later!
My yoga teacher training journey started in Mexico in October 2015. Now I won’t lie, I was a little nervous! When I arrived at the resort, everyone was really friendly; and I shared a beautiful beach hut with a fellow trainee teacher, a sweet American girl. Waking up to the sound of the ocean was just glorious every morning. We ate local fresh organic food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Intense Training in Paradise
The training itself was as it said in the brochure… intense! Morning yoga practice started at 7 am for two hours, then we had breakfast for one hour, then lectures mostly on anatomy for three hours, then lunch for two hours, lectures for another two-three hours, a restorative practice for one hour, dinner one hour, an evening lecture for one hour and homework. Phew! Full on packed days! But I thoroughly enjoyed every moment.
The amount of knowledge I gained in that one week was incredible. I loved that the course had a very strong focus on anatomy. Tiffany is an amazing teacher, and her teaching method really helps you remember all the fine details. We learned all about the major muscles in the body and which yoga poses work to lengthen and strengthen the corresponding muscles. Tiffany used an anatomy app as a teaching tool, which gave a great visual of the specific muscles she was teaching on.
We learned the art of safely adjusting students in numerous yoga poses by first watching Tiffany and her assistants and then practicing on each other. By practicing adjusting each other in various poses, it taught us how to apply the right amount of pressure and watch out for our own safety and posture while we were adjusting students. I met some incredible people from all around the world and learned so much in that first week.
At the end of Week 1, we were given three assignments to complete over the next three months before we came back for Part 2 of the training. The first assignment involved choosing a book from the provided reading list and summarizing our findings on how the information we learned would influence our teaching. The second assignment involved observing ten yoga classes and writing on these experiences. Finally each Sunday we received ‘homework’, which was uploaded to our online class forum. The homework was to be completed during the week and consisted of videos, yoga sequences to practice and teach to friends, a meditation practice and otmini-assignmentsents. We were assigned a group leader who was always available to answer any questions we had in relation to our homework or assignments. It was great knowing we had that support network available to us.
Back to Paradise
The second part of my teacher training was scheduled for the end of January 2016. The training was held in a beautiful resort in Hawaii. This was a beautiful place full of trees (including avocado, oh to have an avocado tree!) and wildlife. The first evening at the resort was filled with excitement as we were reunited with our fellow teacher trainees.
Part 2 of our training began, and at this point, what we learned over the past few months really came together as we found our unique voices as teachers. I think we were all a mix of nerves and excitement. We started our days at 7am with a two-hour yoga practice, then our mornings were filled with lectures or practice teaching, which gave us a chance to teach each other mini-classes based on a specific theme.
Teaching the Teachers
There were about 60 of us in the training altogether, so we were split into smaller groups and each of us had a group leader. Each person in the group had to teach a 20-minute class to their group and team leader. This took place on the last two days of the training. Much of the week was focused on preparing for this class.
The theme of my class was “Releasing Stress Through the Psoas”. I took the group through a breathing exercise to begin. The breathing meditation I choose is called the “So Hum” meditation. This helped calm everyone down including myself as the air was electric with nerves! I guided the class through a dynamic flow with plenty of nice, juicy, hip openers whilst physically adjusting students and finished the class with a well-deserved savasana. At the end of my class, my group leader and fellow yogis gave their comments on my class, both on what I had done well and where I could improve. This information was invaluable as it really helped to improve my teaching in “real life” classes. It was a very supportive group and a really positive experience.
Afterwards, I was flooded with emotion. I felt so proud of everyone in our group at how far we had all come in just a few months – from being nervous teacher trainees to being fully qualified yoga teachers. That night we had our graduation where we were all presented with our 200hr teacher certificates. I felt a mixture of emotions. Happiness, relief, sadness that it was over. But also proud. Proud of myself for having the courage to go on this amazing journey. This was just the beginning.
I am so glad I chose this training course. I now feel confident in teaching my students about the anatomy of the poses and creating dynamic classes in which the poses complement each other, creating a seamless flow. This was the perfect course for the anatomical aspect of yoga – exactly what I wanted. I would highly recommend Yoga Medicine for anyone considering doing a teacher training. I now hope to continue my yoga journey with my 500hr training.