Elements of the Yoga Teacher Training Program

The Yoga Alliance has set a widely-accepted international standard for Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) programs which includes a minimum of 180 contact hours across five areas of teaching: techniques, philosophy/lifestyle/ethics, teaching methodology, anatomy, and a teaching practicum. Here is how World Conscious Yoga Family explores these teaching areas in our YTT programs.

Techniques:

Asana, pranayama and kriya techniques will be taught, practised and trainees will then practice teaching them to their peers. There will be time to develop one’s own asanas, learn about benefits, checkpoints and contraindications, as well as to teach and assist peers during group teaching sessions. Group teaching means that we form a circle and each participant demonstrates and teaches one asana while others either perform the technique or assist their peers. Contact Hours: 100

Asanas:

A variety of asanas from the following groups of asanas will be taught including gentle beginner and intermediate variations. The trainees will be taught how to enter and exit a pose, how to use the breath in the asana, checkpoints for alignment, benefits and contraindications for the asana, and how to assist students in the pose.

Categories of asanas: standing and balancing asanas, forward bends, back bends, side bends, twisting poses, crouching and seated poses, poses on the abdomen, poses on the back, inverted poses and meditation poses. Trainees will also learn how to adapt the techniques for specific ages, levels, some ailments, and in the case of pregnancy. They will learn warm-up techniques and relaxation poses including the importance of deep breathing in relaxation to prevent muscle fatigue and the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles.

Pranayama:

Teacher trainees will learn the form, benefits and contraindications of the following pranayama techniques, as well as when to incorporate them into the class and how to introduce pranayama techniques. Abdominal breathing, the three-part breath, ujjai pranayama, bhramaree pranayama, anuloma viloma, and kapalabhati pranayama. They will learn how to perform these pranayamas with the bandhas and with relatively short breath retention (Kumbhaka) when appropriate.

Bandhas:

In order to perform the retention in the above breathing techniques, it is necessary to teach and learn Mula bandha, Jalandara bandha and Uddiyana bandha, the latter also being instrumental to kriyas such as nauli. The purpose of the bandhas will be discussed in its relation to the uniting of prana and apana to channel them into the shushumna nadi.

Kriyas:

Trainees will learn the following kriyas, their benefits, primarily for their own practice, and later how to introduce the kriya to a class. Jal neti, jal kapalabhati, agni sara, and tratak.

Meditation:

In the theory section, the goal and paths of yoga will be discussed, thereby leading to the concept and techniques of meditation. Guided meditation will be explored, including creative visualization, meditation using yantra, mantra, ideation, ishta chakra and the withdrawl of the senses from external objects. Students will be guided in choosing a mantra for meditation, as well as an ishta chakra.

Mantra:

We will explore the idea of mantra as a mystical energy encased in a sound structure in relation to both saguna (nama) mantras and nirguna mantras such as Om. Trainees will learn to chant and present yogic mantras for the beginning and/or ending of yoga classes (such as the the Shanti mantra or the Jyothi mantra). Bija mantras for purifying the chakras will also be explored including the timing and procedure for using these mantras in meditation.

Transformational Experiences:

During the transformational experiences evening program, students will delve into the practice of both nama and abstract kiirtan, as well as Vedic mantras such as: the Gayatri mantra, the Mahamrityunjaya (healing) mantra, the Shanti mantra, the Loving-kindness mantra, and the Akhanda mantra. Transformational experiences will also include some rituals, sharing, healing circles and creative movement.

Philosophy, Lifestyle and Ethics:

Our program attributes quite a bit of emphasis to this section, as we believe that Western students of yoga tend to focus more thoroughly on the physical aspects of yoga: alignment, health benefits etc. than on the philosophical base and framework of yoga, including the practice of yoga off the mat. This section will introduce yoga psychology and philosophy through discussions on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Chapters One and Two. Trainers will present sutras, and also use pairwork and group work discussions to give trainees the opportunity to explore how these sutras relate to their practice, and how they live their lives. Patanjali’s eight-fold path is the climax of chapter two, and the trainers will offer concrete examples of how to implement Yamas and Niyamas in our daily lives. Trainees will have the opportunity to discuss their understanding and experience with these yogic guidelines. They will also be guided to see the interrelationship of all of the ten principles, as well as the interrelationship of the different paths of yoga. The paths (Bhakti, Karma, Raja and Jnana) will also be introduced in both a philosophical and practical light.

Students will be required to give a 15-minute talk on one of the Sutras or on a comparison between Yoga and another esoteric system. Contact Hours: 30

Lifestyle:

We will present and compare Yogic and Ayurvedic concepts of nutrition, as well as those of daily cleansing rituals, self massage, and other practices.

Ethics:

As a natural extension to the ten principles (Yamas and Niyamas), as well as the discussions on Teaching Methodology, we will flow into a discussion of professionalism and ethics in the teaching profession in general and the yoga profession in particular. We will present our Statement of Professional Standards, and discuss as a group the importance of having and maintaining codes of professional standards.

Teaching Methodology:

Practical teaching methodology includes how to demonstrate, observe, cue and assist students. This will be integrated with the Techniques class. We will also model the importance of language used to describe entry, maintaining and exiting poses. For example, in the forward bend, the image of “surrendering the body to the force of gravity” is a useful, and gentle image, as is “inhale release slightly, exhale and sink in to the pose – feel the pulse of the pose”, as opposed to “pull” or “push”-style language.

Theoretical discussions of methodology (pedagogy) aim to explore how to become a transformational facilitator, or teacher rather than just an instructor. This includes such topics as: the art of sequencing, creating a safe space, establishing a student-centered class, managing group dynamics, language and cuing, the ethics of assisting, and creating a yogic environment for learning, (including the dress of the teacher, yogic colours, the direction of the class etc). Trainees will also discuss qualities that will be instrumental to them as teachers. Contact Hours: 25

Anatomy and Physiology:

In the 20 hours of anatomy and physiology class, students will be learning both about the physical system and the subtle body.

Physical Anatomy:

This class aims to teach trainees about anatomy and how it relates to yoga. Teachers and students will be guided by resources such as Anatomy and Asana, and The Anatomy of Movement. Subjects will include the study of the skeleton, muscles and joints, the cardio-vascular system, the respiratory system and the endocrine system and how they are benefited by yoga.

Subtle Anatomy:

Subtle anatomy is the yogic teaching regarding the three bodies, the physical body, the astral body and the causal body, as well as the five corresponding sheaths, and the yogic techniques that purify each sheath. Further, the concept of nadis, and chakras will be explored. The shape, location, associated glands, and characteristics of each chakra will be explored. This subject will be complemented by the practical meditation sessions and chanting sessions which will explore meditating and chanting to purify the chakras. It will also complement the discussion of the ida, pingala and shushumna nadis that is intrinsic to any discussion of pranayama and the bandhas.

Practicum:

In the first half of the program, trainees will be gradually introduced to teaching by teaching a peer one pose in the Techniques class. This will progress towards teaching one pose to the whole group ‘Group Teaching’. In second half of the course, the trainees will each teach three classes with a peer. Each will teach 40 minutes will for a whole 1 hour and 20 minute class. They will then get 20 minutes of feedback from their peers and from the trainer. The first round will be a beginner’s class; the second round will be an intermediate class; and for the third round teams can choose to teach either a gentle, prenatal, dynamic, beginner, all levels or intermediate class. Contact Hours: 22 (Including 5 hours of teaching a partner, small group and classes)