Reflections on Teacher Training: Crash Course by Hilary Buckwalter Kesti

I signed up for my 500 hour teacher training at Yoga North without ever having stepped foot inside the studio. A friend of mine had been taking a 200 hour training there, and I was amazed at the level of skill and knowledge that she had acquired. Through taking her classes, I realized that there had been some pertinent information missing from my own 200 hour training, which I had taken the summer before in the desert of Joshua Tree, California.

On my first day of teacher training at Yoga North, I found myself in downward facing dog during a class practice. I was feeling quite proud of myself and my ability to get my heels all the way down to the floor. Suddenly, the lead instructor pointed out my red face, hyper-extended joints, and that I wasn't breathing. I was shocked. I had thought that I had been doing the pose "the right way." These types of scenarios cascaded through my time at Yoga North as I became ever more aware that my 200 hour teacher training had not even covered the basics of anatomy, proper breathing techniques, classical yoga poses, or yoga philosophy. Basically all we did in my 200 hour, was chant for hours on end and stand in star pose, arms extended out into space for fifteen minutes at a time. The instructor even used a timer! 

In that sense, my 500 hour training became a crash course in many things that my classmates had already learned in their 200 hour. For the first time, I learned about the pelvic floor, proper cueing and anatomy, the Bhagavad Gita, the origins of yoga, meditation, and the ethical code of yoga, the Yamas and Niyamas. I was captivated and enthralled, and soaked it all up like a sponge. 

These experiences are precisely why the curriculum at House of the Gathering Yoga School is rooted in the teachings of India, and based on the Eight Limbs of Yoga. I want students to walk away from their 200 hour experience feeling solid in their sense of where yoga comes from, as well balanced in their sense of working with the mind and body through the practices of yoga asana, meditation, and yoga philosophy. 

As yoga in the west grows into an ever expanding business, I feel that it is important to cultivate discernment when choosing a yoga teacher training program. There are a few simple questions you can ask as a consumer, such as:

*Is the teacher training program accredited through Yoga Alliance?

*What type of curriculum do they offer?

*What am I looking for as a student, and potential teacher? 

That being said, my own personal journey through yoga teacher training that began out in the deserts of California, was what I needed at the time. I am happy for the experiences that I had, however confusing and humorous they were. They make for great storytelling, and offer a multitude of opportunities for humble reflecting on how yoga can change our lives. 

“This world is your body. This world is a great school, This world is your silent teacher.” -Swami Sivananda