YOGA Teacher train­ing helped Tif­fany Jack­son find peace in her prac­tice.

Head­ing off to do an im­mer­sive yoga teacher train­ing might sound daunt­ing, but it can bring so much to your per­sonal prac­tice, whether or not you want to teach, says Tif­fany Anne Jack­son

In the Moment - - Contents -

About eigh­teen months ago, I de­cided that life was too short, and that I was go­ing to In­dia to do my yoga teacher train­ing.

Let’s back up. I rst came to yoga, as many peo­ple do, as a way to nd a sense of calm. I it­ted be­tween teach­ers and styles, en­joy­ing the classes but not re­ally nd­ing a prac­tice that res­onated with me. Then I tried Ash­tanga yoga, and ev­ery­thing clicked into place. I nally felt like I un­der­stood what all the teach­ers and the magazines had been talk­ing about, and I would badger my teacher in every class with ques­tions about how to take a pose fur­ther, what the San­skrit names of the pos­tures were, or what read­ing I could do to un­der­stand the phi­los­o­phy more. Then I started toy­ing with the idea of let­ting my teacher get on with teach­ing his class with­out my in­ter­rup­tions, and tak­ing th­ese ques­tions to a yoga teacher train­ing in­stead. ‘Have I done enough yoga? Am I good enough? Would I even be able to if I don’t plan to teach?’ Th­ese thoughts oated around in my head, stop­ping me from putting ideas into ac­tion.

“We are all life­long stu­dents of yoga, whether we’ve done a teacher train­ing, go to class or prac­tise at home when we can.”

Then 2017 hap­pened. The events of the

rst part of the year were a huge chal­lenge for me, both emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally, and my yoga prac­tice played a big part in help­ing me through. By May, I knew that I wanted to dive in and learn more than an hour-long class could give me, and hope­fully get some an­swers to my end­less stream of ques­tions. Yoga teacher train­ing sounded like the per­fect way to do that.

I’d trav­elled to In­dia once be­fore, and pre­vi­ously spent time in Agonda, Goa. This sleepy lit­tle vil­lage had been my happy place then, so when I dis­cov­ered that there was a yoga school there, Sam­poorna Yoga, my mind was made up. I sprung into ac­tion; with sup­port from work I booked time o , I ar­ranged ights, re­quested visas and or­dered the many books on the read­ing list.

But then it sud­denly hit me – I’m go­ing to an­other coun­try to train to be a yoga teacher. I looked around at the teach­ers I knew. I was sure that they’d been prac­tic­ing for so much longer than me be­fore they even con­sid­ered go­ing to do their train­ing. They seemed as though they’d al­ways been wise and bal­anced, and that they’d done all the read­ing be­fore they went (as any­one else who has dys­lexia will ap­pre­ci­ate, I was still fran­ti­cally try­ing to make sense of the new San­skrit lan­guage in front of me). Although I didn’t plan on teach­ing when I got back, I still felt like an im­poster in even go­ing to do the train­ing.

Then I came across a quote by K. Pat­tabhi Jois: “Yoga is 99% prac­tice, and 1% the­ory.”

I re­alised that not only was this true for me, ap­proach­ing my train­ing, but also for so many of us who are ner­vous about go­ing to a yoga class and not know­ing the poses or the terms. I put my books down, and fo­cused on be­ing in class and present in the prac­tice un­til the time came for me to leave for train­ing.

When you’re on a teacher train­ing course, you re­alise how many things can hap­pen in a month. You cry un­ex­pect­edly, laugh un­con­trol­lably, feel an­noyed at your­self, com­pare your­self to oth­ers on your course, make life­long bonds with peo­ple you didn’t even know a few weeks be­fore. It’s a com­plete roller­coaster of emo­tion and knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ences. But for the rst time in my life I felt calm and happy in my own com­pany.

Of course, learn­ing all the asana and the phi­los­o­phy of yoga, as well as how to teach it, was a key part of the train­ing, but for me, the most im­por­tant learn­ings came from other as­pects of the course. On most days we spent 5:30am-10am in si­lence, mov­ing through med­i­ta­tion and yoga prac­tice with­out speak­ing. On the rst day, I thought I was go­ing to ex­plode. All my feel­ings of self-doubt rushed back into my head, and with no one in­ter­rupt­ing my thoughts, I had to just sit with them. I’d spent quite a lot of the year be­ing fear­ful of fac­ing up to my­self, ner­vous of fall­ing again into a spi­ral of dark thoughts. But one of my course­mates said some­thing that re­ally res­onated with me on the evening be­fore we spent 24 hours in si­lence: “I don’t want to be sad to­mor­row”. It was so sim­ple

– I could choose to be joy­ful, rather than feel sad­ness, dur­ing this quiet time. By week two, I was hooked on this calm start that made

me re­treat into my­self and en­joy spend­ing time there, and when we spent that whole day in si­lence, I em­braced the chal­lenge.

The month ew past, and I left In­dia feel­ing as though I’d found what it was I went there look­ing for – and more. I’d had all my ques­tions an­swered; of course, they’d led to a whole new list of ques­tions, which I can now en­joy nd­ing the an­swers to as I con­tinue on my yoga jour­ney. But the most im­por­tant thing I learned was that the teacher train­ing was ac­tu­ally more about learn­ing to be a stu­dent – we are all life­long stu­dents of yoga, whether we’ve done a teacher train­ing or not; whether we re­li­giously go to class or prac­tice at home when we can.

Since the train­ing, my own prac­tice on the mat has been trans­formed. I’m less ob­sessed with get­ting cer­tain poses, and I know that be­ing the bendi­est in the class doesn’t make you the best! I’ve given my­self per­mis­sion to slow down, adding other styles such as yin and restora­tive ows into my rou­tine. Even if I only have time for a short prac­tice, I al­ways soak in those deep breaths at the end, nd­ing peace in the time that I have on my mat, no mat­ter how long it is.

Although it wasn’t my in­ten­tion, I have now gone on to teach, and I get so much out of shar­ing what I’m learn­ing with my stu­dents. I re­cently heard a quote from a teacher and now friend that would have calmed me when I was pre­par­ing to go o to train­ing: “You are ready to want to go, where you are in your prac­tice is per­fect, and you don’t need to be more than what you are right now.” If you’ve been con­sid­er­ing mak­ing that leap, I hope this res­onates with you, and that it brings you as much per­sonal growth as it has done for me.

Clock­wise from top: Tiff set­tlesinto her ac­com­mo­da­tion at Sam­poornaYoga; days off were spent prac­tis­ingyoga on the beach in Agonda, Goa;make friends for life on ayoga teacher train­ing course;morn­ings spent in si­lence al­lowyou to fo­cus on your prac­tice.

Above: the new yoga teach­erscel­e­brate at the clos­ingcer­e­mony. This pic­ture: Tiffhas learnt to be happy withwhere she is in her prac­tice.

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