Kumari Sulgado started her Teacher Training journey with Yogacampus in September 2018, and was awarded the Yogacampus Bursary Place for her desire to work with recovering addicts and groups of teenagers facing the turbulences of growing up. The bursary is provided by Yogacampus, a not-for-profit educational body committed to sharing knowledge and making yoga accessible to all and encourages active involvement in a community that could benefit from yoga.

The first part of the series went on to express her desire to work with these groups both out of personal interest as a member of a 12 step recovery programme herself. Now in the second entry, Kumari shares her experiences during the course so far. Read on to get some first-hand insight in to the life of a Yogacampus Trainee.

We are now almost at the mid point of our Teacher Training Course and beginning to change from a group of nervous strangers with a shared interest in yoga, to a group of tentative students coalescing into friends. Along the way we have met up several times for our various modules which have included sessions upon anatomy, delving deep into the mysteries of the physical body and the koshas, exploring the idea of the physical body (annamaya kosha) and the ultimate blissful body (anandamaya kosha). Each new teaching seems to open up a new perspective on the world we live in, challenging our fixed and established beliefs.

Part of our training has involved observing other teachers as they teach yoga classes in various studios. Although I have taken many yoga classes, I was shocked at how different it feels from the other side of the studio. Actually writing down the instructions and actions of the teacher made me realise just how much thought and information goes into the instructions for each sequence. What can appear seamless and effortless when you are on the mat requires a huge amount of knowledge and skill, and a capacity to adapt and respond to changing circumstances. What we as students hear in class is really the tip of the iceberg in terms of a teacher’s knowledge. Elements of a class which I had never really been conscious of began to percolate through my awareness; how does this teacher structure the class? When does the energy in a class rise and fall? How does a teacher adapt a class for a group of older students? How do they handle adjustments? How much do they demonstrate? These issues might be obvious to experienced teachers, but for me just beginning on this journey it was a revelation to see how the information we were learning in the classroom translated into practice.

Our homework has included teaching our fellow students in small groups. Each time we meet we are given two postures to teach while our fellow students watch, observe and comment. The challenge for me has been to try and remember all the points I want to convey; cues, instructions, adjustments, while remaining present and in the moment. It is easy to become lost in my own head as I try to recall instructions and forget to be responsive and present to the students and what is actually happening around me. Not to mention the self obsession which strikes as I try to demonstrate! Surely there must be a conspiracy to make me look like a fool by giving me Warrior III to demonstrate? However, what I am discovering is how much we all want to support each other, how much we all want each other to succeed and that the feedback I receive from other students has been invaluable. (And that, if necessary, I can use the wall to demonstrate Warrior III!).

A key part of the course is maintaining our own practice. For me that has involved trying to step out of my comfort zone and into the poses I find really challenging. Without a doubt these are the balances which, given half a chance, I would probably avoid permanently! And yet, I have found myself waiting at a bus stop and, almost without thinking, raising one leg like a flamingo to practice my balance. Never mind the strange looks from fellow bus queuers. I have always found balancing very difficult and it is exacerbated by occasional bouts of vertigo which sometimes make postures like Trikonasna challenging if my head begins to swim. Nevertheless, through practice my balance does seem to be slowly, slowly improving. Slowly, I am letting go of the idea that I am someone who can’t balance. Words cannot express how happy I felt when I was able to hold Crow for more than seven seconds!

A major milestone in our course has been our homework of completing our first class plan. What seemed to be straightforward turned out to be fiendishly difficult. What sequences to include, what to leave out and in what order should they appear? Is the class too repetitive or too disjointed? Too energetic or too sluggish? Do the postures cover all the planes of movement? Despite the challenges, this is where our student whatsapp group became invaluable, as we realised we were not alone. The relief of handing in the completed work was like a massive group exhale. Now just the beginners’ class plan to do for next week…...