Why did you decide to pursue a career as a yoga teacher?
It was during lockdown that I had a lightbulb moment; I had just lost my dog, was in bed ill with covid, when I saw an ad for the training pop up on Facebook. I knew I wanted to do more with my life and in that moment, I realised that life is now, so I took the leap. I’m 53 years old and I felt like I deserved to do something that made me feel really happy, as opposed to just carrying on regardless.
“Life can change in a heartbeat…”
What was your experience of the training?
I actually found it quite challenging to begin with because I wasn’t prepared for how much personal development there is woven into the programme. There was a lot for me to deal with emotionally and coupled with all the learning and physical exertion of the course, there were some days I didn’t want to go back.
Why did you go back?
I’d made a commitment; I suppose it happens at the start of any course where there is all this new information being thrown at you and you need time to make sense of it all and process it. We supported and encouraged each other to keep going, and as the course progressed, we saw ourselves get both physically and mentally stronger, which in itself was encouraging, and able to process all that information as it started to make sense and fall into place.
What did you enjoy most about the course?
The practical elements of the course were my favourite. I love how yoga makes me feel and it’s why I’ve had a continued (albeit inconsistent) practice over the years. I was genuinely surprised at how I felt after each session, physically and emotionally, and would say that the personal development side of things has 100% had the biggest impact on me.
Was there anything you found particularly challenging?
The personal development side, although having given me the greatest benefits, was also my biggest challenge. That’s also probably why I struggled more with the philosophy modules than some of the other students; I was so involved in my own development that adding all that on top felt like too much on some days. But equally, I really enjoyed the anatomy modules when others found them less exciting, so I guess you’ll always take whatever interests you most from certain aspects of the course.
You’ve started teaching almost immediately – how did you find that process?
I felt a little bit lucky with it if I’m honest!
I go to a gym regularly and was offered the chance to teach there after I’d qualified, which I said yes to straight away (I didn’t give myself time to find a reason not to do it) and dove straight in teaching three classes a week. I suppose on reflection I could’ve made an excuse, but I’m so glad I didn’t because I love those classes!
I also spoke to a good friend of mine who wanted to learn and said she had some friends who did too, so I fully trusted that opportunity and booked out the local school hall to host the class. That has since grown to two classes of about 15 people in each!! I get lovely feedback from the students (most of whom are about my age) saying that their aches and pains are easing and that they feel so much better having started the practice.
“Since the training I feel more grounded and confident in who I am and my abilities”
How are you finding the balance between teaching and fitting in your own practice?
I’m definitely spending less time on my mat than I was when doing the YTT that’s for sure, but I’m relatively new to the world of teaching and have a fair amount to figure out still, so I’m giving myself space and compassion while I go through that transition phase.
I learnt through the teacher training how important it was for me to stick to my truth and not compare myself to others, and that has really helped me in taking the step forward into teaching. Having that set sequence from the YTT has been really beneficial as well – I mentioned the start of the training was a lot to take in and I’m glad we had that baptiste style of yoga to return to, otherwise I think I would have been overwhelmed!
What is the biggest change you’ve noticed within yourself since the training?
I’m a lot calmer.
I know it sounds almost cheesy to say but I feel so fulfilled teaching yoga and so thankful that I’m able to experience what that feels like. I’m more understanding of people, and even though I’m not practising as much as I was because of all the teaching, just having this much yoga in my life makes such a difference to my physical and mental wellbeing.
Any advice for people who aren’t sure?
Oh my god do it you’ve got nothing to lose and a blinking lot to gain! I think everyone’s reasons for doing the course are different and so you’ll take what you will from it, but whatever that is will definitely be valuable.
Any final thoughts?
I’m intrigued to see where the spiritual side of yoga takes me – I pretty much sit in the middle between functional application of movement and the philosophy. I found that side of the training interesting, but it was too challenging for me to address during the course. Now I feel more settled in myself that’s another side of the practice I can delve into.
Find out more about Jo’s classes here: aceyoga