Confession time! I did not join a Yoga Teachers’ Training (YTT) to become a Yoga teacher.
My acute desire to improve my fitness before hitting my 40s and stumbling upon breath-taking low-impact acrobatic Yoga poses on Instagram fueled me to search for a fun time. And I found The Yoga Mandala with Jessica Sinclair.
With barely a week more to go in my YTT, did I achieve that handstand? Nope, I did not, but I want to share what I did learn in the process of this YTT!
10. Body alignment
Body alignment is the first step towards a healthy body as we age. Whether we are standing, sitting down, bending down, or waking up, Yoga gave me an insight into lifestyle and mobility.
- Standing with Tadasana
- Halfway lift with Ardha Uttanasana
- Bed stretches with Ananda Balasana
- Sitting on the floor with Sukhasana
I wrote more about body alignment in another article. Check it out!
I learned how to build class sequences for a 60-minute session. But hey! I said I don’t want to become a teacher. Well, guess where else my sequencing skill came into use? When my husband injured his wrist, I can up with a sequence of yoga poses that helped him work out without using any wrist. When I pulled my inner thigh muscles, I came up with a sequence that did not involve any inner thighs. The point is YTT helps you learn how to think and cater to your body depending on how it is feeling right at that moment.
- No wrists: Virabhadrasana 1, Malasana, Navasana, Sethu Bandha Sarvangasana
- No inner thigh: Garudasana, Gomukhasana, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, Halasana
- Shoulders: Prasarita Padottanasana, Phalankasana, Ardha Pincha Mayurasana, Vasisthasana, Uttitha Shishosana
- Twists: Pavritta Ardha Chandrasana, Pavrtta Malasana, Marichyasana, Charadvajasana, Parivrtta Parsvakonasana, Parivrtta Trikonasana, Pasasana
- Balances: Virabhadrasana 3, Ardha Chandrasana, Garudasana, Tulasana, Vrksasana
8. Progressions and Regressions
Back to my handstands! Yes, I am not yet able to go into handstands yet, but a YTT teaches you how to go into regression, progression and even poses with props so that we can progress at our own pace injury-free. Our asana practice then becomes totally an internally-motivated patient journey towards what we truly want to achieve.
- To get into Crow pose or Bakasana: Supta Kapotasana, Skandasana, Phalankasana, Chaturanga,
- To get into Middle Split or Upavistha Konasana: Malasana, Ananda Balasana, Trikonasana, Ardha Hanumanasana, Bandha Konasana
- To get into Front Split or Hanumanasana: Utthan Pristhasana, Anjanasana, Ardha Parsvottanasana, Ardha Hanumanasana
Pranayama, which also means the expansion of life force is an integrated part of fitness Yoga. I particularly loved the 5 types of breathing that I learned. These breathing techniques can be used to calm down ourselves, increase our metabolism or even take a good night rest!
- Ujjayi or ocean’s breath: can be done anytime or while holding an asana in position
- Kapal Vathi or skull shining breath: can be done to increase our metabolism
- Nadi Shodhna or alternate nostril breathing: can be done to have a calming after-effect.
- Bhastrika or bellow’s breath: can be done to increase the metabolism
- Brahmari or bee-like sound: can be done before a rest or sleep
6. Human body
Biology came to life during these Yoga theory periods where we went through the human anatomy. We went through the positions of major muscle groups, glands, and digestive organs. Knowing these positions can not only help us spot what we are working on in an Asana but also help us prevent injuries if a wrong muscle group or pain is observed where it is not supposed to be!
- Digestive: Bharadvajasana, Malasana, Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana, Pavanamuktasana
- Lymphatic: Balasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Salamba Sirsasana, Garudasana, Halasana
“Know Thyself”, declared the Greek philosophers and echoed by many others in the Vedas or Tao Te Ching.
On the surface, Yoga gives a practical look at knowing thyself through our physical bodies. We come to know about our spine health, our alignment, and even our breath. Through meditation, we can even peek into the world of our own thoughts and emotions.
- Pranayama or breathing
- Asana or Yoga Poses
- Kriyas or cleaning methods
4. Public Speaking
As part of our assessment, we had to teach 3 community classes. It was super fun to invite our friends from non-Yoga communities and lead them into various poses.
Teaching Yoga or fitness, in general, is unlike teaching a theoretical sitting-down class. As my teacher, Jessica says, as a fitness teacher you need to be a little authoritative (to ensure safety) and a little sadist (to progress the class attendees). You also need to think on your feet and be prepared to make impromptu changes based on what you see the class attendees do!
- YouTubing or Podcasting
I grew up seeing men in single cloth dhoti doing yoga. Fashion in Yoga has changed a lot in the past few decades. Whether you like it or not, the garments have become more practical as well as stylish.
Brands like Alo Yoga and Lululemon are not only making attires that work in studios but also outdoors. I admit I’m growing to like these yoga styled comfortable and light wearables. They are slightly expensive, but every one of my friends who has brought these garments says they are not only comfortable, breathable, stretchable for those workouts, but also convenient to wear them before and after a yoga session.
- Alo Yoga
- Where to Buy Pretty Activewear in Singapore (Besides Lululemon)
Ok! Time to do some shopping!
We have to recognize that in a globalized world of Yoga today, we have various interpretations. Some of us choose to only practice the fitness side of Yoga, while others delve into the philosophical and spiritual side.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the words of Greek Philosophers, or ancient Chinese philosophy or even modern ones like Kant or Freud being echoed through the Yoga Sutras, Limbs of Yoga or Chakras. Thankfully, if we ever want to dig deeper, these texts are easily available in modern English translations.
- Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
- Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by B. K. S. Iyengar
- Raja Yoga by Swami Vivekananda
YTT felt like back to school in some ways. As a working adult, we seldom go beyond our work and family social circles to meet new people. YTT was a fresh breath of air for me where I met like-minded fitness focused people from different areas of work and school.
To me, this was the most valuable part of YTT – people that I met. I’m so grateful to my teachers and the friends. They have taught me so much and made it all so fun to be part of this YTT throughout the last 3 months!
Namaste, Sayanee (YTT June – August 2018)