Recently a few of my students completed their 200-hour YTT (Yoga Teaching Training) with my yoga master, Dr Venky. They kept sharing with me how much to learn and how intensive it was. Signing up for YTT is the first step to be a yoga teacher. However, completing the program doesn’t necessarily make one a yoga teacher. Having been there before, I volunteered to be their mentor and helped them with their transformation.
Here is our little journey:
April 19: YTT with Dr Venky kick-started for the ladies
May 21: Mid-term break. We had a YTT Zoom party where we played Yoga Trivial Pursuit and a teaching game. I put them into two teams and quizzed them with yoga related questions. We then played ‘Teach a Class’ game where everyone took turn teaching a pose to link it into a sequence. Tons of fun!
July 18: Last day of YTT and final test. I surprised my students by showing up unannounced with some graduation balloons to congratulate them for their achievement.
July 22: Upon my repeated requests, everyone finally signed in blood to teach a 4-week online program. Initially some of them were hesitant because they didn’t believe they could teach. I named the program Keep Moving and I secretly called them the “Yogi Spice Girls”. I really think that it is great for them to work as a group to grow together and cry together if they need to. A bit of girl drama here and there. All jolly good!
July 23: The weekly schedule and theme for Keep Moving were all confirmed. Each person takes turn teaching a 45-mintue class on different days of the week for 4 weeks. I designed different themes for each week but each building on top of the theme from the previous week. I also got them to work on their biography and send me pictures for the program posters.
July 28: I created two beautiful posters introducing the program and each one of them. The posters were sent out to my other students and also via their respective social media. The response was overwhelming. The Yogi Spice Girls put a cap of 30 participants maximum the very next day.
July 29: The actual graduation day when they all became YTT graduates
The go-live day of the Keep Moving program was planned for the week of Aug 15, week T. We had 3 weeks to get ready.
Week T-3: We had our weekly meetings. All the graduates were practicing to teach Sun Salutation, the theme for week T. I prepared a list of teaching tips and also a sequencing template for them. I had everyone commit to a daily teaching practice among themselves. I also got everyone to send me a 5-min video clip of their teaching every week so that I could provide individual feedbacks. I still remember their videos. Let’s just say that you can tell that they are fresh graduates.
There is so much to learn to be a teacher. Putting the yoga element aside, first of all, you need to get over your anxiety of teaching in front of a group of people. No matter how many yoga classes you have taken, having to teach a class is a completely different ball game from attending a class. You have to prepare what you want to teach, memorize the sequence and work out all the verbal cues. As expected, when you are nervous, everything goes out of the window. In addition to teaching, I also need the ladies to be as professional as they can be on zoom. Believe me, just learning how to teach online is another skill. First things first, they need to go shopping. They need to get their Zoom Pro accounts, microphone headsets and tripods. They also need to find a clean spot in their home for the classes. All the other soft skills such as projecting the voice, looking into the camera, talking to no one but everyone – are all equally important.
Tips for the week: Practise, practise, practise. All the ladies were totally committed and followed my plan to the ‘T’.
Week T-2: We had our weekly meetings. They were practising the theme for week T+1 – Full Body Stretch, meaning Sun Salute + Standing poses + Seated poses. They shared their struggles. They all found it difficult to memorize all the teaching cues. I told them for the time being to forget about all the adjustment cues that they learned from their YTT (sorry Dr Venky!) and focus on movement cues only until they are ready. At the same time, in order to have a clean background for better visual effect, a couple of them needed to re-arrange their whole dining/living rooms. One of them needed to use her mother-in-law’s room. The other needed to tell her neighbour to stop their renovation work during her class.
Tips for the week: I told them to watch their own teaching videos and experience the class from an attending student’s point of view and make any adjustments accordingly. I have to say, I could already see big improvements from the previous week.
Week T-1: After 2 weeks of intensive teaching practice, all the ladies were a lot more comfortable in their own skin. They were practising the theme for week T+2 and T+3 – Core inspired (front, side and back). I could see them smiling a lot more into the camera. All looked more relaxed and all were more fluid in their teaching. I had another meeting with them for a pep talk.
Tips for the week: Have fun and be yourself! The Yogi Spice Girls were ready!
Week T: Show time! I love how they all supported and helped one another. We had 30 participants from all over the world on the first day! All their hard work paid off. There were no glitches and the classes were well received. I am so very proud of each one of them. I can truly call them yoga teachers now.
We just finished week T+1 when I wrote this blog. We had our group meeting. I shared with them that I received very positive feedbacks about their classes. The new teachers all said that they are getting more used to teaching and actually enjoyed the experience. I asked them to jot down their experience and share with us in their own voice. Look out for their blogs in the following weeks!