Yoga Teachers are Real People

Kristian Bjonard
OPhoto by Kristian Bjornard


Our 2014 Yoga Teacher Training wrapped up this past weekend, and our graduates are now fanning out across Kitchener, beginning to make their own individual, unique paths in the world of teaching yoga! We wish them lots of continued learning, and send them off with this sweetly humorous post from Teacher Training graduate Tiffany.

I have to admit that, prior to starting my Yoga Teacher Training, I had pretty stereotypical pre-conceived notions about yoga teachers and the kind of lives that they lead. To paint an exaggerated caricature; picture an always smiling, socially responsible and community involved super-yogi. You know the type…they practice advanced postures every day, teach mind melting sequences and are completely body omniscient. (Not to mention the deliciously slow pace at which they seem to live.) Calm. Accepting. Flexible.

So when I started the teacher training program in January, part of me assumed that I would slowly start to adopt some of these qualities- at least the body omniscience, flexibility and calm. My expectations for my asana practice were set high. (Intensity, frequency, progress, etc.) I figured that I’d make it to the studio twice a week and practice for at least 30 minutes on the days that I couldn’t get there. I’d write a couple of new sequences each week and make time each day to do a bit of reading and homework. Obviously, with all of this practice, my hamstrings would open up and by half way through the program I’d be able to perfectly demo for my students…

Let’s get real. It’s now more than half way through teacher training and I still can’t get a decent pelvic tilt without bending my knees. (Which is fine!)  There have been a couple of weeks where I’ve barely managed to practice yoga at all… But, I’ve still learned a lot and have progressed immensely over the past 8 months.

A few things I’ve learned:

  • Life happens. Even when we have the best of intentions to accomplish a specific task, or practice a certain number of times each week, sometimes it’s best to just take things one step at a time. Opportunities (and obstacles) will present themselves and there’s merit to being flexible and not stressing over the little things.
  • Let go of expectations about what your practice SHOULD be. When I let go of the idea that my home practice should look a certain way, or be a certain length of practice, I really started to love it. Practice can be anything from seated meditation to a nice sweaty asana practice. That practice can be 1 minute or it can be couple of hours. Your practice is whatever you have time for, and whatever feels best for your body on any given day.
  • Yoga teachers are normal people. They have families and bad days and get busy like the rest of us. I truly appreciate that my teachers are able to show up for each class, and teach a great sequence with a smile on their face no matter what life throws at them.
  • There are general principles that instructions are based on. Teachers aren’t just pulling the foundation instructions and alignment queues out of thin air. Each school of yoga has a similar set of principles on which instructions are based to help get us safely in and out of each pose.
  • Teaching is so much fun! Now that I have all of this new knowledge, I love sharing it with those around me. It’s fun to put my own spin on the practice that I enjoy so much.

Once I managed to let go of my expectations about what a yoga teacher should be, or what my yoga practice should look like, I was finally able to embrace the process of learning. Knowledge and depth will come in their own time… and in the meantime, I’m just enjoying myself and trying to take in as much as I can. Fewer expectations = more satisfactory results. (Super cheesy- I know.)

tiffanyblogphotoTiffany Howes recently graduated from our 2014 Yoga Teacher Training Program. When not practicing (or reading about) yoga, she can often be found fervorously relaxing. Some favourites include: good food/drink/company, naps and long walks in the woods.  

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