Whether your mission is to lead others or to improve your own life through yoga, there are many benefits to undergoing a yoga teacher training (TT).
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The UAE is fast becoming a popular place to do it with TTs occurring almost monthly across various studios and schools such as Zen Yoga and Yogalates Bliss in Dubai; Abu Dhabi is now on board too via new school OmAge Yoga.
These trainings are often led by some outstanding visiting practitioners, and Yogalates Bliss, one of the frontrunners in hosting exceptional local TTs, recently had the pleasure of welcoming Kreg Weiss, a senior international yoga teacher, presenter and kinesiologist, last month to conduct a rich and in-depth 100-hour Hatha Yoga Teacher Training.
As his understudies are about to graduate, and myself being a relatively new teacher, I was eager to chat with him about the perks of doing a TT, what it means to teach, as well as survival tips for teaching in the modern ever-changing world of yoga.
When I did my first-ever teacher training last spring my goal was to share my passion and personal success stories from the mat with other people, heal them from the inside out the way yoga had done for me as a teenager with depression.
What I was surprised to encounter when I got to orientation was that nearly half the class had no intention of teaching at all.
A teacher training is no easy, or cheap, feat, and the intensive, as well as physically and emotionally “invasive”, work we do in and out of the studio will break you down before it builds you back up again.
— Kreg Weiss Yoga (@kregweiss) March 4, 2015
Or it may not even do that for some – two out of 22 of us then did not continue.
“In order to become a solid teacher, you have to put in the effort, drive and will,” comments Weiss.
“People often sit in a public class observing how ‘easy’ teaching must be and then jump randomly into a full training – until they discover just how much work is truly
In any case, to train to teach, and never teach, is increasingly common and actually endorsed.
“Participants come from a variety of backgrounds, some for directly strengthening their teaching skills, some for exploring the possibility of teaching down the road, and others for growth of personal practice,” observes Weiss.
To better understand your body and its place in space, to challenge oneself mentally and physically, to get fitter, more philosophical, build confidence and character, and even to learn meditational tools for tackling the daily grind at your regular 9-5, are just some perks of attending a TT, but having now
myself dabbled in teaching others, I can agree with Weiss that the benefits multiply in leading rather than just looking and learning; and you just may end up realising by the end of training that you want to teach anyway.
“I absolutely continue to learn from students,” he says.
“I make a discernible effort to insure that this learning process is engaging, enjoyable, and most important, accessible.
“Because of the diverse cultural background of the Dubai trainings, I have enjoyed the challenge of making these presentations even more accessible and digestible, thus it has helped me develop new skills as a presenter.”
Indeed, you will become a better speaker, but a good yoga teacher will also become a better listener and learner.
“I have been fortunate to have been part of many excellent training programmes across the globe including Yogalates Bliss where TT students are well-guided through all the skill development to become powerful teachers.
But the 100 and 200 hour certification programmes are only a small step towards a lifetime of learning and development.
This is why I often offer complementary mentorships to all my training attendees, giving them ongoing projects and guidance.”
The veteran teacher reflects: “I think I have been deeply humble in my practice for the past 10 years, especially after recovering through a series of chronic injuries (inflicted from other exercise modalities).
“I think what has enhanced this humility even more was the death of a close friend which further opened my eyes to the precious nature of time and relationships including the one I have with myself.”
Back in Dubai for a third time, Weiss is in-demand for often glazed-over topics – he would do an entire workshop on Downward Facing Dog; or on the hands and their importance as a foundation.
He won’t shy away from anatomy, just as much as he will give ample time and respect to philosophy.
“The physical benefits of yoga are certainly a major influence of having me return to the mat frequently, but I truly find the meditative qualities as being the
— Kreg Weiss Yoga (@kregweiss) February 27, 2015
The physical practice (asanas) is a mere drop in the pool of whole wellness. Much of our whole health is established by our mental wellbeing and our capacity to manage internal and external stressors.
“As for my approach to the physical, these postures are meant to be nurturing regardless of the level of practice. Many people may interpret ‘nurturing’ as being soft or gentle.
Even an engaging, advanced practice should embrace a respectful, receptive quality versus the commonly presented ‘push into your edge’ mentality.
“I find that the more we understand the biomechanics of our bodies alongside how our bodies are all built differently, the more we need (as teachers) to build and
rebuild our students’ foundations so that every practice delivers the optimum benefits of wellness.
“As these recent training participants have learned, integrating functional anatomy into our teachings creates an explosion of purpose and direction in our practices.
It also gives us (as teachers and students) permission to bring direction away from standardised alignment cues and dogmatic instructions which are not appropriate for many bodies in class.”
A good teacher also has to adapt to the changing times and trends – Emoji and even Dog Yoga are things to look out for in the west this year – although Weiss prefers to keep it simple.
“Authenticity is certainly subjective and given that yoga is actually a state of being and not a set form of practice, who am I to judge what makes people feel connected and balanced?” he says.
“But if someone were to tack on the word ‘yoga’ to their hybridised modality, I would expect them to honour the fact that yoga is meant to shift students towards a place of wholeness and betterment, and away from physical and energetic activities that feed the entity of Ego.”
Due to popular demand, Kreg Weiss will be back before you know it, but if you can’t wait, follow him or take one of his trainings abroad via the website www.kregweiss.ca.
In the meantime, Yogalates Bliss has more inspirational TTs in store for Dubai this year; have a look on www.yogalatesblissindubai.com.