My experience in two different 200-hour yoga teacher trainings

I went through my first 200-hour teacher training at YoYoYogi in Portland, Oregon back in 2014. It was kismet. The studio was nearby, school started in a few weeks, and I was looking for something to do now. I wrote an introductory letter to the person at the end of the email address on the website. Terri Cole wrote back. For real, she wrote me back like a pen pal would. She invited me in for a meeting and as confused as I remember being, she saw me at a time I couldn’t see myself, which gave me immense relief. She told me a little about the training group that had already formed and said how much she’d love to have me join. So I took the last spot. I had been practicing lots of Pilates at the time, so winding up in a yoga teacher training was a little off-the-wall. I didn’t know why exactly I was there. Honestly, I think I was there because of meeting Terri. And, a random question from one of my Pilates instructors. Anyway, it just felt right.

YoYo’s 200-hour training was perfect for me. First of all, the group of us who came together had lots of different backgrounds as well as lots in common. We found out by teaching each other, working together, and especially during our “Book Club” discussions on Wednesday nights. We read The 8 Limbs of Yoga: Pathway to Liberation by Bhava Ram throughout our 200+ hours together and gathered once a week on Wednesday nights to talk about it.

On the first day of class, I met Terri’s husband, co-teacher, and partner is everything, Alex. They make the most nurturing, well-rounded team as teacher trainers. On Wednesdays, they would set us up for discussion and then let us talk, asking questions from time to time, but not often sharing their opinions. They said they wanted us to figure out our own relationship to yoga. What we think about the practice, what we think good teachers should be like as people and if and how we hold ourselves to these standards. They wanted us to find our voice and figure out what we teach.

During Saturdays and Sundays, we broke down poses, discussing all the necessary cues needed to get our students into the asanas. We would split into small groups and teach the poses to each other. We would round-robin teach all together. We went over and over and over and over poses, cues, and teaching out loud. We learned to teach.

Some weekends we had workshops led by outside teachers. Anatomy, voice, yin yoga, pranayama, and others. We got a taste of the other limbs of yoga and how vast the teaching of the practice truly is. We saw what else is out there.

Our final project was a whole class each, 60 minutes where we invited our friends and family. We had to design our own class (with music or without), in our own style, and with our own message. We had to set up the room and environment and teach whoever came to class, whether familiar or unfamiliar. Alex and Terri were there for them all. As was their daughter, another integral part of the YoYo experience, Kristi. Our fellow teacher trainees also tried to come to as many classes as possible. We became teachers.

Seriously, what an incredible 200-hour teacher training.

I learned to safely and effectively cue yoga asana, I found my ground within the eight limbs of yoga, I figured out what it is I teach, and I taught a 60-minute class.

I’m barely touching on the importance of the relationships we formed during the process. We supported each other through major life changes that were brought on by the experience of teacher training itself. We met three days a week, every week for 11 weeks (I think 11). We saw each other almost daily at the studio because of the huge number of classes we were required to take as part of the program. We became family, complete with the love and frustration that comes along with closeness and intimacy. It was awesome.

Now, as a part of YogaWorks 200-hour teacher training, I feel like this is an equally as awesome experience, but in a totally different way. Wow! It’s crazy how much two great yoga teacher trainings can differ.

I’ll talk a bit about the differences in the programs, but bare in mind we have only just finished the second weekend out of twelve for the YogaWorks 200-hour training program. (And as a bridge student, I’m only registered for the first six weekends. It’ll be hard to leave.)

So far at YogaWorks, we are learning about the YogaWorks method of teaching asanas and sequencing classes through daily anatomy lessons and review and a 1.5-2 hour focused practice on sets of similar asanas (e.g. externally rotated standing poses). We have lessons on cueing and sequencing and study sessions on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. We have a lot of reading and some assignments for homework. We had our first session on adjustments today, and there is more in store. We are learning to see bodies in their natural alignments (and misalignments) and what steps can be taken to bring these bodies into better alignment in each pose. Oh, and I’m finally learning the Sanskrit names of the asanas. It helps that our teacher, Amy LaFond, has a passion and talent for learning languages as well as teaching yoga, and is sharing what she knows with us on all fronts.

So, the main differences I notice in the two trainings is the YoYo focus on practice teaching and finding your voice versus the YogaWorks focus on anatomy and the YogaWorks method. At YoYo, I had a lot of opportunities to work out the tongue-tie of cueing poses, which is much harder than it looks. I learned the process of breaking down pretty much any physical pose into a set of directions and saying those directions clearly to a student. I could teach a full yoga class by the end of it.

I haven’t done much practice teaching in the YogaWorks training so far, but, I’m learning the YogaWorks way, which is why I wanted to take their training in the first place. I admire YogaWorks teachers and I want to be able to teach like them. YogaWorks classes are so damn effective on getting me into my body and alignment in asanas. Through taking classes at YogaWorks, I’ve become more adept at using my body in my physical practice and I love that. Now I’m learning to think like those teachers who have taught me so much. Namely Amy, who is such an experienced, knowledgeable. and clear teacher. I’m definitely an Amy student and fan, and it’s a pleasure to be studying with her.

I’m looking forward to getting deeper into the YogaWorks training, and after having written this post, I’m missing my YoYos more than ever. :*