A Pure Experience
Pure's Teacher Training Course
Pure Yoga recently held Hong Kong's first ever full-time yoga teacher intensive training course and 39 students successfully graduated from the programme on 18 August. One of the graduates, Kenneth Wong, provides a review of the course...
Before undertaking the course, I was quite concerned that it might be too rigorous. The tight schedule and long hours literally meant there would be no television, no newspapers, no going out and yes probably even forgoing sleep hours. So, was it all worth it? Looking back, definitely yes. The immersion nature of the six-week programme was just what I needed to be more disciplined and dedicated in my goal to be a yoga teacher.
IN WEEK ONE, we were introduced to our daily two hours of vigorous Anusara yoga at 7a.m. during the weekdays and a 3-hour practice at 9:30a.m. every Saturday. The morning sessions were very often packed as we shared our practice with many Pure Yoga instructors and other students. With so many dedicated yogis the atmosphere inside that studio was simply electrifying, which really helped us to get going for the rest of the day's jam-packed activities. This included lengthy group discussions, asana demonstrations and explanations by trainees, and paired teaching practices. After a long day of experience-sharing, chanting, and teaching practices, the day's training would be concluded with a one-hour yoga session that was somewhat less rigorous than the morning one.
IN WEEK TWO, our regular morning practice and asana workshops were followed by afternoon anatomy lessons taught by Chris Kummer from Australia. His cheery, easy-going manner was a plus in helping us overcome our timidity with the technical nature of the subject. With the aid of Tommy the pre-fab human skeleton, we got to explore the relationship of our muscles and bones with some of the common yoga postures. Chris also gave us plenty of hands-on exercises to explore various anatomical structures, during which time some of us gave each other much-needed massages around our lumbar-thoracic areas. Overall the anatomy and physiology sessions were fun, and at the end of the week we were sad to see Chris leave.
WEEKS THREE & FOUR. With the morning practice and workshops now getting more intense, our attention was now focused on the philosophy and history of yoga as taught by Frank Jude Boccio, a Buddhist yoga teacher from New York and the author of the book Mindfulness Yoga. The lectures were very challenging as it involved many Sanskrit names and Buddhist concepts; yet I was riveted because I was delving into such subjects as never before. He also guided us through different meditation techniques that brought a wonderful calmness to our classroom. Other subjects covered by Frank included the teaching methods of different schools of yoga such as Kundalini and Bhakti. The complex Ayurveda system was also well presented and we learned to identify appropriate yoga practices for different individual types. Finally Frank signed off with a quick lesson on mindful hugging that I will certainly practise more frequently now.
IN WEEK FIVE, we were joined by eight new students for the final two weeks in the Preparing to Teach module. Their presence injected new energy to our class and everyone improved significantly in their teaching practice almost immediately. It was also the beginning of our video teaching in which 6 trainees were selected each day to teach portions of a 90-minute class made up of the trainees. More senior instructors were also assigned to assist in our teaching practices that now had each individual teaching more poses to a larger group. The extra instructors observed us very closely and offered many timely suggestions while we were in our group teaching.
|Chris & Patrick|
BY WEEK SIX, with the end of the course approaching, all the trainees were videoed by mid-week, allowing more time for lessons on adjustment and sequencing of postures. Surprisingly we also got to spend time on guided journal writing in which we were given specific questions to answer. As the questions were of the soul-searching nature, it had a great emotional impact on me.
AND FINALLY, with the final examination completed and after a lovely closing song by one of the trainees, the course was suddenly over. Tears flowed as everyone spontaneously hugged to form a gigantic human ball; It was an emotional experience that I don't think I can truly describe in words.
The emotional outpouring I think, was really a testament to the efforts of the two lead instructors, Patrick Creelman and Frances Gairnes. They saw to it that everything ran smoothly and showed a great deal of understanding in how all the trainees were developing throughout the course. Both worked hard to impart to us what they learned from their substantial years of experience - what works and what doesn't. In fact, come to think of it, it is their teaching methods and style that make Pure Yoga such a successful organisation. And by learning from them, it is a sure-fire way to become a good teacher.
More specifically, the asana workshops conducted by Patrick were really interesting as he led us step by step through the basic principles of alignment and the Anusara theories of energy. His demonstrations and pointers were always easy to understand and we were always given ample time to ask questions. Perhaps even more effective though was the way Patrick conducted the review of our teaching performance on video. It was a real humbling experience for all as Patrick pointed out the good and bad points. There were amusing moments and there were some brilliant ones, but it really didn't matter because we learned from the bad and the good. Seeing ourselves teach and receiving comments from fellow trainees and the instructors was a most effective tool in helping us to learn the art of teaching and is certainly the climax of the training programme.
I should note that one of the most powerful aspects of the course was the loving support that grew and grew as the weeks went by. All of this was because the instructors themselves set the examples and from their actions, we all learned to do the same. Their words were always positive, even when some of us deserved reprimanding And their words of encouragement were always very timely. The trainees just instinctively followed suit and like them, I was touched by all the loving support out in the crowd of bodies when it was my turn to face the camera.
All in all, the six weeks were most interesting and invigorating, although it was excruciating (from the asana practice) and even tedious at times, but altogether I have to say, it was a very fulfilling experience indeed. Yes, getting up even before Starbucks opens is tough, but as I fondly remember those days in the spacious sun-lit TST studio that I called home for six weeks, it was really one heck of a ride. As for teaching a real class? It will take a little more time and a bit more courage, but I am definitely on the right path. Oh, yes, I almost forgot to mention this, but some of my fellow trainees are already teaching and they are doing great, just as I predicted during the course.