Namaslay® YTT 2.0: the student becomes the teacher

200hr intensive yoga teacher training. Teacher vs student experience.
When one teaches, two learn.
— Robert Heinlein

In July last year I attended the very first Namaslay® 200hr intensive yoga teacher training in Thailand, which was an incredibly profound and transformative experience. Then, a few months later I was invited onto the teaching team for the Santorini training which just took place 4th - 21st April. If you read the blog post I wrote after I got back from Thailand, you will know that an intensive training (key word: intensive) is no walk in the park.

 

When I was a trainee, it didn’t even occur to me that the teachers were in it with us. What I mean by that is I didn’t even stop to consider that this was intensive for them too, they were tired too, they were getting eaten alive by mosquitoes too, they were taking in a lot of information too, they were nervous too, they were sweating out their own body weight daily too and they are human too. I just assumed because they’re teachers, they have their shit together. I was so wrapped up in my own yoga bubble and my own sleep deprivation and emotional rollercoaster that I completely neglected to realise that this is no holiday for the instructors who also had to be up early, be “on” all day (even at 5:30am), be engaged for the entirety of every class and spend a significant amount of time and energy prepping before they even set foot on a plane, all whilst trying to keep their own businesses running, keep their own doubts in check, deliver an excellent and comprehensive curriculum within very tight time constraints, and hold space for 25 highly emotional individuals.

 

Whew! To their credit, the fact it didn’t come across is probably just testament to how well they worked together and thought on their feet to deliver a seamless training, but now I’ve had a peek “behind the scenes”, I realise how much work it really takes to deliver a top quality yoga teacher training program. Even with two trainings under their belts and the surprises fewer in number, there is always going to be a spanner (or ten) thrown into the works and some degree of uncertainty. When I turned up with a printed schedule, Jen laughed at me and said, “You won’t be needing that.” It was literally changing minute to minute.

 

I know Candace has used the metaphor in the past of the duck swimming on a lake. On the surface it looks totally serene and graceful, but underneath the water it’s kicking its legs furiously just trying to stay afloat. On the surface the training may seem like a well-oiled machine but behind closed doors there are many hours spent making sure everyone is okay, making sure everything is being covered, making sure we are giving ourselves breaks so we don’t burn out, making contingency plans for the adverse weather conditions, chatting to the students when morale is low, squeezing in ad-hoc sessions so they can feel super confident, reviewing our teaching notes, and, and, and.

 

I think sometimes there can be a little bit of a disconnect between the students and the teachers, in that it can be difficult for each to understand what the other is up against. When you’re a trainee it’s easy to overlook how much work and energy goes into delivering the teaching and as a teacher, it can be easy to forget how overwhelming, stressful and uncomfortable it can be as a student in this environment. However, I’m very lucky to be in the unique position of having been through the same training myself just under a year ago and hopefully did a little to bridge the gap. I went through the exact same experience and it was still pretty fresh in my mind so I was very attuned to what the trainees were going through; with a single look at their expression I could feel what they were feeling as if it were only yesterday I were in that exact same place. I could intimately understand their doubt, their fear, their frustration, their elation, their exhaustion, their camaraderie, their anxiety and everything in between. I could be empathetic, I could share advice for how I dealt with the pressured environment, and I like to think I served as a constant reminder that they could make it through and emerge victorious the other side. The fact I was standing there in front of them, very much alive, was proof that they too would survive!

 

It’s true that many things are very different when you become part of the teaching team but there are many things that don’t change at all.

 

How it was different:

  • I did A LOT more preparation leading up to the training.

  • I (kind of) knew what I was walking into.

  • I understood my worth and value as a teacher.

  • I recognised I had something unique to share.

  • I didn’t have to do a 5:30am EVERY morning.

  • I could not take off a day to be introverted.

  • I wasn’t doing deep introspective work.

  • I was not at the mercy of my emotions.

  • I practiced very little yoga (asana).

  • I was giving LOTS of feedback.

  • I wasn’t just teaching yoga, I was teaching people how to teach yoga.

  • I had to be assertive; I had to be an authority.

  • People were asking ME questions, because this time around I knew some stuff!

 

How it was the same:

  • The schedule was intense and the days were long.

  • I was exhausted.

  • I did a whole lot of sitting.

  • I met some awesome humans.

  • I learned a ton.

  • I was hugely inspired.

  • I had basically no idea what we were doing beyond the day we were on.

  • I had no idea what day we were on.

  • I laughed.

  • I cried.

  • I ate some delicious food.

  • I got outside my comfort zone.

  • I had ALL THE FUN.

  • I left feeling strong, confident and empowered.

 

At the end of the day, whether student or teacher, we all work hard, we are all pushed to our limits and we all learn and grow. Basically, we are all in this together. Because we live the yoga and yoga = union.

 

In case it hasn’t come across in either of my blog posts about the Namaslay® 200hr YTT, it is one of the hardest things you will ever do but also one of the best things you could ever do and you will leave a different person than when you walked in. If you are thinking about doing your own training, I cannot recommend this one enough, so make sure to check out upcoming trainings and if you decide to jump on board for Santorini next year, I’ll see you there!