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How Best to Study to Become a Teacher:

Short Intensive Courses, versus, Longer study Options

As a yoga teacher who has studied a lot abroad, I am often asked about yoga intensives and whether you should study yoga teacher training in one chunk on a beach in Goa, or at home over a longer period of time. They both have their benefits, of which I am sure you are aware of many.

Benefits of Short intensives:

  • shorter training time,
  • intensity of practice,
  • immersion, the time away can offer a very welcome space from the demands of daily life and in that space, a depth of understanding and practice can prevail,
  • sometimes cheaper,
  • heat (!!),

However, there are limitations to shorter trainings too, I hope you will find the benefits of my experience helpful to add to the mix.

The yoga school I attended ran its programs in intensive month-long courses. I did the training in chunks, my first month in Rishikesh was the first Yoga I ever practiced and when I got hooked by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda there. That month changed my life forever.

A few years later, when I worked as an accountant for Ernst and Young, I had the luck to be offered 3 months of leave before entering into the next phase of my journey with them. I jumped at the chance and headed back to Swami. He had moved the school to Thailand, so I studied months 2-4 on the gorgeous beaches there. That was it for my career as an accountant, I changed path almost as soon as I returned home. I then went back and forward to the school in Thailand each year until I had completed the Hatha and Kundalini programs (26 months).

 

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What was interesting about going in and out of the school like that was being able to take the teachings and then try to apply them for a few months before heading back for more intensive training. That was great. Some of the other students there just stayed in the ‘yoga bubble’ surrounded by beaches and other young practitioners also eating brown rice and discussing the latest colonic advice. It was very easy to assume you were making progress there, having amazing meditations with hours of practice each day and never losing your temper, even when your ‘fan spot’ was taken by a new comer to the school.

I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if you removed my friends and popped them back into their family home for a week with their parents and siblings to see just how evolved they really were! I know that I was a total Yoga wally for many years before my regular trips back home to Glasgow brought me well and truly back to earth.

You see, when you remove yourself to practice yoga intensively, a lot of change can happen very quickly, and so it can bring a sort of re-integration period when you come home:

  • Internal conflict at the vast differences in ethos of the two places,
  • lack of community and support upon your return,
  • lack of time to integrate the teachings slowly so that they go deep into your being,
  • gradual melting away of the impact of the training, and if you do not go away again all the learnings may disappear completely,
  • lack of compatibility of the teachings with real life, (as a yoga teacher who has not integrated the teachings with the Western lifestyle you are not able to really understand the demands of the life of a working parent, and so inappropriate advice on practices and depth may be given.)
  • and the most important one – you separate yoga from life.

So, although I highly recommend going away and doing intensive periods of practice, these should be integrated into the life you lead. They should support your growth in all the areas of your life, your work, your family life, your studies, your place in society, as well as your personal evolution.

I would consider that the benefits of longer periods of training at home are:

  • They can fit around your day to day life (e.g. 1 weekend per month means no time off work and not leaving your family and loved ones for extensive periods),
  • You will usually be learning from Yoga teachers who are living and breathing their Yoga in the environment in which you live and so the advice is more relevant,
  • As you start to live the Yoga teachings, you are supported through the changes, which can be challenging, by your colleagues and teachers,
  • You will become a member of a Sanga (spiritual community) which is close to your home and can become your yoga network for the rest of your life,
  • The pauses in study give time for integration and digestion of the information, so far more is retained and embodied,
  • You will have a school you can continue studying with beyond your training close by,
  • You can spread the cost over a longer period of time.

Ultimately the right choice will depend on your needs and preferences and what your intension is for your training. Whatever you choose, good luck on your Yoga path.

Marit Akintewe of Seasonal Yoga

 

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Why goal setting is important ?

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10 Tips to Goal Plan

The first and most important thing about Goal Planning is knowing what you have to do before starting the process and why you are doing it. Get a note book or piece of paper and write each title from the list below. 

1. If you don’t know where you are going, how do you know the direction to go?

 
 
 
 
 
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You are in charge of your own mind, or are you? Are you being pushed into making life decisions by the wants and needs of others?  If you have no plans of your own you may find yourself doing meaningless jobs that are other peoples’ priorities.

How can you make sure you are living by your own values and meeting your own needs and priorities? What are your personal values?

Complete this questionnaire to dig deeper. In Seasonal Yoga we always talk about our life values as part of the Metal Element (Autumn) coins/ metal / value – but always useful to do this in any season! 

 

2. Look at your achievements for last year 

Knowing you can achieve and giving yourself a pat on the back helps with moving ahead in achieving last year’s goals and you create a positive attitude to planning them for this year.  Keep list of your achievements on a piece of paper. I have a goal book which I use each year and it’s interesting to look back at my steady improvement and achievements over the years I have been doing this. 

3. Look at the things that happened that you could have done without

It’s usually called “Pulling the Weeds”.   Look at this list then look at what you did to resolve the emotional upheavals created.  The past is gone, now look ahead.

4. What did you not achieve which you wished you had? 

Look at the list and work out which of the things on the list you would still like to happen and why.  Also think about why you didn’t achieve them. 

5. What about the things you succeeded in? 

How did you do it?  Think about this question and answer “how” for each achievement, listing them down

6. What made you happy last year? 

Close your eyes and recapture the moments of happiness – write them down.

7. What roles do I have in my life? 

List all the roles you have in your life.  

8. How much time to you spend in each role? 

Draw a circle and map like a pizza.  How much time you spend doing each role ?  Section each subject in pizza slices, then mark how much of that slice you spend in that role.

9. Look at the wheel – notice where the spaces are and where the time is full

Connect the pizza slices by joining the dots, then seeing how your wheel looks ? What are the gaps in your life?  Would you like to fill them?  

10. Look at your values from point 1 

Now list your top three values, the things you would like to achieve for next year.  Be realistic but do set high standards. 

Now your road map is set for the coming year. You have a clear direction.  Meditate on it.  Remind yourself constantly and see if you can realise your dreams for this year or at least make a dent in moving toward them.

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6 Mistakes to Avoid when Choosing Your Yoga Teacher Training Course

Is the teacher more interested in you or their phone ?

1.Check which type of Yoga you will be qualified to teach when qualified

A proper conversation with the trainer or applications assistant is essential here.  Ask what type of yoga will I be qualified in on my certificate?  Attending a class of a previous student can let you see the interpretation of the style of Yoga and allow you to see if they meet your target as a Yoga teacher.

2. Ask how many people are attending the course

We run teacher trainings and have noticed that people differ in their preference for size of training school.  If you are quite a shy person and find it hard to speak in public or ask questions in front of big crowds choose a course that is smaller and more intimate.

3. You don’t like the teacher(s)

We have many people applying to move to our training courses from other trainings because they just don’t like the teacher.  Yoga is a very personal thing and if you have not already established that you like the energy of the person you will be spending 200 hours with, now is the time to do it before you pay the deposit!

4. Not asking if you can speak to one of last years newly qualified teachers

Always ask if you can have a phone conversation with a person who has recently finished the training.  Make sure it is a student form the most recent course as any good course organically grows in content or ability. Sometimes they can also go downhill so check this out.  If there is a resistance in giving you a way of contacting someone be very suspicious.  Look online at the latest testimonials and ratings.

5. The times and dates match availability in your diary

Quite often students don’t check for family occasions in their diary expecting to just be able to catch up somehow?  Any good yoga school will be strict with your contact hours – or they should be!  The recognised authority says that of 200 hours, 180 of those have to be contact hours – according to Yoga Alliance – so you may have to wait anther year to catch up.  It’s also a good idea to ask what their catch up policy is in case of an unexpected event creeping unplanned into your diary.

6. Ask about drop-out rates

Make sure to ask how many students start each course and what percentage of those actually complete it.  If the school has a very high drop out rate perhaps the material is too difficult to grasp or the teaching style and delivery not up to scratch.  Consider asking if you can sit it on maybe 30 minutes of an actual course to get a feel for the energy of the teaching.  Ask if they have an open day!

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