If you closely followed our intensive 200hr yoga Namaslay® Yoga Teacher Training program which took place in Thailand this past summer, you know that the entire program was no joke. It's called an intensive for a reason - it is both mentally and physically demanding, but when you have to cram 200 hours of yoga stuff into a few short weeks, well, it is what it is.
Despite how challenging it was, I am extremely proud of the curriculum. I purposely designed it to tackle things I felt my own training had missed, and the common themes that kept coming up from newly minted yoga teachers in my DMs.
One of the most important pieces of the program was making sure our Namaslay® graduates felt prepared to teach. Now that in and of itself is sort of a loaded statement because I don't truly think anyone feels 100% prepared to teach, but I guess I mean that I wanted them to be as prepared as possible before they jumped into it.
One of the ways in which we did that was to design a practicum that would truly challenge them. There were a number of practicums, as required by Yoga Alliance, and one was a group taught class where each person took a section (preferably the section they felt the most uncomfortable with) and then taught to their group. So, let's say I was a trainee in a group of five, and I didn't feel very comfortable leading the guided meditation, pranayama and centering part - the beginning of a standard class. I would take that part and teach to my fellow trainees. The catch was that one of the Namaslay® teachers would be a student in the class. This was to give each trainee a chance to teach a group of students at a time, because prior to that, they'd only taught one to one, with the exception of doing centerings for the entire group. Anyway, we threw in yet another catch. Throughout the class, the Namaslay® teacher would take on the persona each time a trainee switched from being a student to a teacher in the group.
For example, when our trainee Danielle was teaching her section, I pretending to be mildly drunk in class. I spoke loudly, chatted and made comments to the other student, asked questions that didn't quite make sense, and was a general disruption to the entire class. Poor Danielle! But it was a good exercise for her and she handled it brilliantly. First, she made light of it and kept on teaching. Then, as I got more annoying, she asked if I was okay and checked on my wellbeing. Then, as I get even more disruptive, she came over and asked me to reign it in, or she would have to ask me to leave. I thought that was a good way to handle the situation.
For the next teacher, I pretended that I had trouble hearing. This required her to speak loud enough for me to hear, as well as demo more than usual. For the next teacher, I pretended to not be able to see. This required the teacher to give exceptional verbal cues. For yet another teacher, I pretended to have a bad knee or a bad wrist, and this required that they remember to give modifications. Essentially, I gave examples of things that I have dealt with in my own classes, in the hopes that the exercise would better prepare them for their future teachings.
We got some great feedback from the students on this style practicum, and I'm hopeful that because of it, our graduates are better able to handle the various situations that'll come up and restrictions that their students may have from time to time.