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Yoga Teacher Training – Day 3

by on February 6, 2013

Well, technically this is day 4 of the course, but yesterday (and every Sunday) there was a satsang. Attendance is “expected” but doesn’t appear to be mandatory. Also, the Yoga Institute is deeply rooted within the local community, so a lot of people show up for satsang. I may skip a few of these so that I can go exploring on the weekends (shh, don’t tell anyone).

Anyway, the highlight of day 3 was a very¬†interesting conversation with one of the main teachers, an older gentleman who tells us to call him Prabhakar. He led us through a series of supine (lying on back) poses, leading up to naukasana (a.k.a. superman). After the session I walked up to Prabhakar, mentioned how I’ve learned how to protect my lower back during these poses by keeping my core engaged, glutes loose, and legs extending outwards, and expressed my curiosity as to why he didn’t offer these tips. He responded with “its OK, do it long enough and you figure it out.”

I’m not sure what to make of this. One one hand, the meticulous asana instruction I’ve received in the past leads me to view this man’s approach seem sloppy at best. I had hoped to receive some fundamental instruction here that I could carry over into my own teaching practice, and perhaps educate my western students about basic injury-prevention.

On the other hand, from what I’ve seen, this institute focuses more on the basic concepts of yoga, such as proper diet, detox, sleep, and attitude. With so much to cover in this holistic approach, the asana instruction need not be too detailed. In contrast to the western attitude of asana being the primary vehicle to yoga, and other spiritual aspects being more background in nature, these guys appear to de-emphasize the importance of asana in favor of all else yoga.

So what? My lesson here again is that I can’t forget what I’ve learned, I’m here to synthesize my past with the present to create a novel future, and that no matter what, I will continue to listen to and protect my own body, regardless of the quality or type of instruction I receive from anyone.

And I’m learning so much more about yoga here! Real quick, today covered the concept of Duty, and how it affects our relationship with the material world. Phrase of the day: vidhya vinayana shobate (wisdom increases with humility). Basic asana practice of Talasana (and variants), and Konasana (similar to triangle). Generally, all asanas here are modified to be really simple, so that regular folk can perform them with some ease. It definitely challenges the power-yoga-fueled ego! We also played some name games with our fellow students, although I’ve already connected with most of them.

Another highlight, and what is turning out to be my favorite class, is Methodology, taught by Asha Sharma, who says that we humans have it in our nature to teach. We covered how to create a lesson plan, including picking a topic, targeting the topic / content to a specific group (like age groups), how to set a (teacher’s) intention, and how to motivate students using story/song/games.

There’s more, so feel free to ask for details in comments!

  1. Wow! so how many different teachers/sessions are there??

  2. Like Prabhakar, my martial arts teacher and his teacher and his teacher’s teacher, all follow the same philosophy – show, don’t tell. From their teaching experience, they find that people learn best the less, not more, instruction you give them. He recommends “The Inner Game of Tennis” by Timothy Gallwey to learn more about this principle. “The “inner game” is based upon certain principles in which an individual uses non-judgmental observations of critical variables, with the purpose of being accurate about these observations. If the observations are accurate, the person’s body will adjust and correct automatically to achieve best performance.” Thus, as you mention in your last post – your body is your best guru/teacher. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that your senior instructors in India follow the same teaching methods.

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