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    In recent years there's been a lot of speculation about how long yoga teacher training courses should be. Perennially, we have had the 200 hour courses. Then some of the yoga associations began proposing 500 hour courses and then almost as an afterthought along came the 300 hour compromise from some yoga schools. Recently, we have been getting suggestions about a 1000 hours! Of course you could always opt for the 30 day fast track style course in some far flung exotic location but who would seriously fancy that!

    So which is right? 

    I'm grasping here for the piece of string concept. There is a belief in learning circles that anyone wanting to become adept at any subject has to be looking at around 10,000 hours of application and of course this would take years. So we are moving towards the idea that the more you do the better you get and that's obvious of course. 

    There are a number of variable factors that ought to be considered when thinking of how long you initially train and what might help project you forward in your progress. 

    My first concern about extended training courses such as the 500 and possible 1000 hour courses is trainee commitment. Even the 200 hour courses can require a full weekend every month for a year with additional attendance for observed teaching practice and maybe assistance work plus added homework. Many of my trainees over the years have missed days and even whole weekends of their course despite signing to full commitment.

    Some prospective trainees also have the hidden belief that a 200 hr course is a softish option and really just about attending the weekends when they can have an interesting interaction with like minded students and practice a bit of yoga with a bit of philosophy thrown in. It really depends on which 200 hour course you do and the syllabus is worth looking at and even asking the trainer what the course work is like and what to expect. Some 200hr courses are superficial and can be a bit like some of those in Australia where many 200 hr graduates are only expected to act as yoga teaching assistants.

    There are 200hr courses that have a lot of depth and where the homework can be more demanding.Its often about striking a balance between exposing trainees to enough (probably 50%) practice and training with methodology and the philosophy, traditions and thinking behind yoga. 

    I insist that trainees do several of their later observed teaching practices with invited members of the public as this gives them a more realistic experience so they don't have to wait till after the course to teach "real people" as opposed to peer group teaching. My trainees are also preparing yoga sequences from month two and teaching their per group from month 3. Where appropriate I also encourage them to start teaching in the community if there is the opportunity and I think they are ready. This will depend on their confidence and early knowledge. Remember, insurance is needed and their students must be informed that they are on a training course and perhaps charge a bit less. In my experience those trainees who can find this opening (not always easy but doable) progress more quickly even if they start the course with less experinec than other trainees.

    Also it's easier to get to grips more quickly with a teacher training course if you have first attended a short (6mnths) Yoga Foundation which is aimed at deepening your practice.

    In conclusion I think the 200hr can be enough to be ready to teach if you apply yourself to the course work and do plenty of background reading while also considering some of the other factors I have mentioned above. It's worth noting that those who embark on a yoga teacher training course will no doubt have been personally practicing for some years and attending regular yoga classes weekly. This should give them a strong start especially if they have been getting their heads into yoga thinking behind the Yoga Sutras and other texts.

    It's courses for horses so to speak and also how you work. Some people just like taking courses all their life. I have heard of someone who has taken no less than 6 yoga teacher training courses and this was while they reamined an assistant teacher! In the end you have to dip your toe in the water and find every opportunity to teach as this is what will make you strong. The course is really to propel you forward to that place.

    Barry Todd (Hatha Teacher and Trainer)

     

  2.  

    relaxswing

     

    WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU DID SOMETHING DIFFERENT???? ....
    Friends I have a challenge for you.????????????????????????????‍♂️????‍♂️????????‍♀️????️‍♂️????️‍♂️????️ 
    How many of you can do something different, stetch your comfort zone, be daring, take a chance .... once a day for 30 days?
    It could be something as simple WEARING ODD SHOES or something you've always wanted to do like PARACHUTE JUMPING (ha ha). Please let us know what you get up to.
    We will be offering some ideas and providing options for you over the period too. Sign up now for the challenge and we'll keep you posted about the things we have thought up for you to accept or not. 
    Just add your name below to show you're up for the challenge and we'll get going.

  3.  

    WHAT HAPPENS ON OUR SPIRITUAL ADVENTURE WEEKENDS
    One of the very best things for us about the retreats is that we have people who we see fleetingly each week for a yoga class and some who come to other activities too or even people that we have never met or who we only see on the retreats each year. We find that it is a time to get to know these people in more depth and when people begin to relax over the weekend their different side begins to come out and we really get to know them well.

    group

    We have people who have been coming to yoga classes for years but on retreat we find a different more relaxed side to them and it really is very fulfilling to experience this and I am sure they would probably say the same about us.

    lawn work

    Each years we have a slightly different set of experiences so here's the story of our recent retreat just to give you an idea.

    We were very fortunate that the weather was fantastic most of the time and we were able to have a yoga session on the beach and an optional swim in the sea which for me I think was the hghlight of the weekend. Some followed by taking a coffee/ice cream in the beach cafe

    beach yoga

    A close runner up for me were the sessions of yoga on the lawns under the shade of the old trees.

    outdoors

    Whenever possible we were outdoors and the only indoor activities were the evening yoga sessions that took place in the atmospheric stone walled chapel and the individual hypnotherapy sessions. It was great to relax to the yoga and then be able to go straight to bed.

    herb labyrinth

    The labyrinth mediation walk was wonderful on the grass labyrinth with bare feet and the pebbly one was a good additional one to try andto smell the bountiful herbs on the way around.. I kept seeing people returning to the labyrinth alone to work some of their aims over the weekend which was great.

    gass labyrinth

    enterainment

    We made use of the marque in the garrden on two evenings. One when we had a professional magic performance and the other was a sing along around a virtual camp-fire (and dance it turns out).

    singing

    Each morning before breakfast there was the option to meditate around the fountain in the grounds, others chose to wander the grounds and explore, others had a lie in.

    magic

    We also had a Qi gong session on one of the lawns which was interesting and a contrast to the yoga

    yoga lan

    We had a sponataneous yoga laughter workshop by popular demand and unplanned, on the lawns. It seems that absence made the heart grow stronger as it was with reluctance that people joined in last year.

    We had a spontaneous peeble art session and left stones to remember our visit.

    The mandala workshop was also very interesting followed by a yin yang yoga session.

    Even the stroll into the nearby village about 15 minutes away was a pleasure as we picked up forgotten essentials and special treats from the local shops.

    yoga in chapel

    It was good to catch up with successful progress of some of the aims and projections made last year on things like the labyrinth meditation workshops and also good to see some people were able to bring problems to the sessions and find solutions. Can't wait for next year to see how they all work out.

    Linz who was offering really reasonably priced therapies sold out and was working untill 10pm some evenings. People were gong back for seconds! we saw so little of her we began to suspect she had sneaked home.

    Last year we had a didgeridoo demonstration as evening entertainment.

     

    Not sure what it will be next year. We will definately be holding an extended version of our regular candlelight meditation evenings which incuded mediation, guided visualisation chanting and mantra for one of the evenings though.

    As we are now offering more days/nights there will be more time to introduce lots of exciting things. So watch this space.

    We already have bookings coming in for next year.....

  4. New yoga students are often worried that they are not flexible enough to do yoga. There is an assumption here that yoga is defined by posturing alone : what we call asana in yoga.

    Anyone out there who still thinks that their lack of flexibility is an obstacle to yoga can stop worrying and start thinking that they want to do yoga to GET flexible and toned.

    There is however another consideration when starting your yoga journey and that is the importance of the breath. In many ways this is THE most important consideration and often lost in the translation of how practising yoga makes us look good especially when we are parading around in our fancy new yoga gear and trying to get into these weird and wonderful aesthetic positions.

    Correcting your breathing could be your first consideration when starting yoga. 

    It has been said that correct breathing is the thing that glues everything together in our yoga practice. Yet it is often not till students have been practising sometimes for years that they come to realise this.

    Our breathing experience in practice is probably closer to the true nature of yoga than asanas can ever be and that is why it is wise to cultivate a more nourishing relationship with that wonderful phenomena that we have known about since birth but hardly noticed or appreciated.

    If you are budding yoga student be sure to find out as much if not more about the breahting side of the practice when you go to classes.

    In the early days you practice should be navigated with good breathing in mind. 

    Some of this can be usefully done IN posture even using simple warm up movements with considered inhalations and exhalations. It can also be done in relaxation beginning to cultivate an awareness of the Passive Breath and later working with yogas more controlled breathing techniques. The passive breath is often deemed boring by beginner students who cannot understand the need for it. Early on students are easily distracted from this practice as it has little value to the mind. It has been shown however that observing the passive breath while in relaxation allows it to perform more naturally than when we are distracted by conversation, eating, reading TV etc etc. Over time the passive breath BECOMES more interesting. We begin to form a more intimate relationship with the various nuances of the breath cycle and thus are able to keep with it for longer. This process also bears the wonderful gift of a calmer and more relaxed body and mind.

    The increased tempo of our breathing in asana and the introduction of controlled breath techniques adds more strength and dimension and over time some of the tension that we have built into our lungs and  the deep tissues of our muscles of respiration begin to release allowing us to feel more calmer.

    Becasue we also learn to breath more correctly while in a wide range of body positions (asanas) some quite restricted this also helps us to breath better when in other tight situations in life such as difficult meetings, confrontations and unwanted social gatherings.

    So when beginning or returning to yoga or even if you have been practising for a while and "forgotten to breath" and have never quite got it, start to bring as much if not more importance to its value. Find that magic relationship that you can have and deserve to have with your breath. Don't let asana take your breath away.

     

    Barry Todd 

  5. choices

    It's coming up to that time of the year when many people make resolution for the New Year in an attempt to improve their lives.  

    But ..... do you really know what you want?  If it involves the word 'more' then that's hard to define.  For instance if you want more money then you need to define how much more otherwiise you may never be satisified as more could never end.  What would you do with more money - pile it up in a corner? Give it away?  Spend spend spend..  Would that satisfy you?

    Really you need to know what the objective behind the wish is.  So with the above example and exta £x would allow me to not worry about payments I have to make.  I would be able to buy this and this and this that I have been wishing for etc.

    So in actual fact it was never extra money that you wanted but a desire to feel secure and happy.  That would be the focus for your resolution not the money which is only one of the means to getting it.  Let life fill in the details, you just need a clear idea about the life you want deep within.  You need to know what you need to make you happy.

    Often it is nothing material at all.  It is something within you that is unfulfilled.  You and only you have the means to make that change.  Nothing materialistic can do it for you.  It can cover it up or ease the pain but it will not provide the solution.

    For you it's just a matter of changing your perspecitve about your life..  It feels like pain now but that is only because it's the only way you have even known it to feel.  

    Changing your perspective can change your life.

    Hypnotherapy and especially hypnoanalysis can help with that.  The best Christmas present ever is freedom.  Put it on your wish list now.

    Andrea Lowe

    Senior Hypnotherapist and Hypnoanalyst, NLP Practitioner, Hypnotherapy Course Tutor

  6. Yoga for the Embarrassingly Basic!!

     out of fitness doing yoga

     


    I have many people telling me they have attended yoga classes mainly at sports and leisure centres and have found that their billed beginners classes are definitely NOT for beginners. Many complain often with humour that they were run ragged a bit by the flow they were asked to participate in.
    This might happen for a number reasons.
    1. the teacher might be expecting some of the attendees to be gym or fitness aficionados so they put on a moderately challenging flow.
    2. Some teachers feel too embarrassed to effect a flow that is too basic or that might look like a gentle exercise workout.
    3. Some teachers might have been trained or evolved with a strong approach to yoga and find it hard or refuse to moderate - this last approach is not necessarily inconsiderate as yoga teachers are often rightly advised to stick to their personal philosophy about their approach to practice. This would also apply the other way in that a gym yoga class with some students demanding hard core yoga could be well confronted with a teacher that refuses to put everyone through a wringing machine.
    Having said this we are also taught to teach who ever is in front of us and to quickly assess if there is anyone who might have less than peak range of movement. Teachers can often sense this simply by seeing how a student walks across the floor to their mat. This enables teachers to make allowances for those students by offering variations or moderations in poses.
    4. It may be that a teacher has been trained in a specific yoga tradition that doesn’t lean too close to calm abiding or meditation
    5. It could be that the manager of the establishment asks that the yoga classes keep to the regime of fitness.
    6. It could mean that the teacher is not too bothered and has the attitude that this is how I do it so take it or leave it.

    Hopefully there are not too many of the last category although I am sorry to say I have known some.

    When first starting out if someone said why not and teach a senior or remedial group or an absolute beginners class some would baulk at the idea or some might think they are only experienced enough to teach beginners. Further investigation would reveal otherwise. These last few categories and even Chair Yoga can be surprisingly challenging and also interesting as teachers attempt to bring the magic of yoga to the novice.
    Annually I run a five week absolute beginners class of one hour per week to ease new students into the practice of yoga. There is a lot of early foundational light yoga work to waken the body to the idea of asana and then some light strengthening and stretching posturing . Don’t be pout off if you think you are not flexible enough to do yoga because that could be your prime reason for taking it up. We must not forget however the main objective of yoga and that is to calm or abate the distracting and unnecessary activities of the mind. The posturing with considered breathing begins this process by toning and calming our human physical structure.
    Don’t be put off but rather be inspired by the great sage Patanjali who laid down much of the thinking behind most modern yoga practice if you discover that he found out more about his inner self by spending long periods of time in stillness! How much of this do we get in modern asana classes!
    (If you come on my AB classes and find anything too challenging tell me right away.)

    Barry Todd