As part of our YTT, students conduct a yoga teacher training exercise to enhance their skills outside of the classroom. New teachers often experience a lot of anxiety about their new found role and the responsibility it entails. And they may even hesitate to get started. Once they do get started, they typically find that teaching is not as scary as they’d first presumed. By the end they feel relieved and event enjoyed their experience. Here is a sample of one students experience.
As a first step, I set my intention for the assignment. This did not come easy, I have a history with wanting to control outcomes. However, I am can draw on my yoga experience and adjust to get the job done regardless of old anxieties.
I had the following goals. Number one, provide a safe comfortable place for students to have a wholistic yoga experience. Number two, the students leave class rejuvenated and to inspire student to continue their yoga practice. And number three, students learn to deal more effectively with their own life challenges.
Students leave class rejuvenated and to inspire student to continue their yoga practice
As I assumed the role of yoga teacher, I contended with my own insecurities around control and a lack of trust in other humans. I doubted if they would even show up and I procrastinated doing the assignment for at least 10 days, until I realized that all teacher probably started with some doubt and reservation.
Once I was able to overcome this low point, I found teaching my students to be a fun and rewarding experience. In particular, I appreciated the chance to work with novice yogis. I remember my initial teachers and it felt good to be able to support others people who just started the journey. This yoga teacher training exercise revealed that I do have love in my heart and desire to grow as a teacher, despite my initial doubt.
As part of the Denver Yoga Underground’s program, trainees practice student teaching outside of the classroom and in the community. Here is one notable example of how an entry level teacher navigated their first attempt at student teaching. As a prospective teacher, this article will teach you what it’s like to get stated teaching.
Q. What was your general impression of teaching yoga? Highs and lows?
A. My overall impression of student teaching felt pretty good. I’m starting to get more comfortable with “putting myself out there”. I also received some good feedback from my student teaching partner Meghan. She said I conveyed a lot of confidence and a welcoming atmosphere.
Cueing poses still feel awkward, especially with people who are new. I know what I want in my brain however it’s that does not always translate to my words. I work to be clear and concise in my instructions and not overwhelm students with ambiguous instructions.
Q. Did you integrate any insights from the previous student teaching assignment? What were they?
A. I want to be genuine. It is easy to get tangled up in the theory or cueing instructions and the class feels ‘stale’. Most recently, I’ve only been looking at a list of the asanas themselves and then describe based on my personal experience rather than the suggested cues in the manual.
Being genuine is necessary to capture the student’s attention and keep them engaged. I can tell the difference when a teacher comes from their heart vs a route description.
Additionally, I have some structural challenges and study different variations. Everyone has a unique body, I want to be able to make everyone feel accepted and appropriately challenged, regardless of any physical limitations.
Finally, I work to create space or silence in the class. Students see themselves more clearly when there are fewer distractions. This is another reason to practice concise cues.
What does it take to be a yoga teacher training student? Yoga teacher training is a significant undertaking for every student. And one should be aware of the demands and expectations in advance.
Enter the Unknown – Some, if not much, of the content in this program may be new to you. The content might seem foreign and unfamiliar. It is a little like traveling to a foreign country where you may not have a grasp the language or the food is different. The experience of travel is always revealing and can show you a world entirely outside of your known reality.
Experimentation – You can also look at the yoga training as an experiment in which the outcome is not entirely certain, though you have a hunch that it will lead you to a better place. Yoga practice is unique in that you are both the subject and the object of your study.
You are not standing there doing tests on something in a petri dish – you are both what’s in the petri dish and the scientist. You are the canvas and the painter. The program will support you in integrating the pieces of the program into the grand experiment of your life.
You are both what’s in the petri dish and the scientist.
Dedication – This program is challenging at times. There will be days when you joyfully anticipate class and other days when you may feel challenged and don’t want to go. Apply yourself to the process to get the most out of it, and know that you will most likely not understand or integrate all of the content. Dedication will help you make the most of this opportunity.
Class Participation – The classroom thrives when people ask questions and fully participate. Your participation contributes to the welfare of the greater class atmosphere. The program happens over an extended period of time and the cumulative effect of everyone’s participation is quite powerful.
Learn the Craft of Teaching – Being a confident teacher is not a given. As with learning any craft, at first, it can be awkward and unfamiliar. Inevitable questions arise such as: where do I position myself in the room? how do I demonstrate? how do I find my voice? What happens when many different skill levels show up in the same class? And many other questions.
It can take months or even years of personal practice and teaching on a regular basis before all the components of teaching come together into one unified whole. One gradually learns the best places to position themselves in the room, how to bring inflection into their voice, and how to see the postures with great insight.
You will also become masterful at designing classes that meet the unique needs of the students. You might even accumulate a stash of jokes to let loose at the perfect moment!
There are lots of yoga trainings in Denver. Each with its own approach and clientele. Here is a traits of yoga teacher training students that resonate with us. And, in full disclosure, the qualities that don’t.
Yoga is not a fad for you.
You want to teach yoga (formally or informally). You know that life can be impossibly overwhelming. People struggle to manage their emotions, feel trapped within their lives, and spiritually depleted. Yoga helped you to address all of that and it can help others as well.
You are easy going, friendly, giving and supportive of one another. You can get on board with a culture of ‘service’ and ‘support’.
Value being punctual, and starting class on time out of respect for your peers. You participate in classes and workshops by asking questions and even challenging some of the ideas presented.
You have a home practice (in some capacity) and want the most of each class.
Other Traits of Yoga Teacher Training Students…
You are willing and able to complete assigned papers and readings.
Crave to know yourself more fully and to be inwardly resourced when facing the challenges of life. You stretch into new territory and the discomfort that may go along with that
You regard the roots of the yoga tradition. You want classic teachings beyond common cliches such as “this practice is for you”.
You have a genuine interest and curiosity about yoga beyond simple asana. Asana is a means to a much greater end that includes stability, equanimity, and spiritual development.
And we have a special place in our hearts for people who…
You desire conversations and philosophies with depth. You value wonder and mystery more than “knowing things”. Our yoga training content is multidimensional.
You can be open, honest and self-reflective and are willing to be vulnerable.
If I ran into you at Natural Grocers (Vitamin Cottage), at the Tattered Cover bookstore, we could strike up a nice conversation
You are dubious of excessive technology and excessive materialism.
A rich supportive community of like-minded seekers is your jam
You care about the welfare of the underserved and may want to bring yoga to those communities. You resonate with underground movements that do a lot of good although they don’t get much recognition.
Appreciate that we are a good-hearted and small business. Some administrative details will feel more like a drive through a scenic country road than mainlining on the interstate.
You continue to seek balance in your life between your own needs offering help to others.
The following kinds of people are not a good fit:
People who are not interested in introspection and just want the yoga teacher training certification
Principally want to study yoga as a form of exercise, and no interest in the entire scope of yoga, including spiritual or personal growth
Habitually late, and have minimal regard for the collective learning environment
Are better suited for a luxury cruise liner than being on a sail boat working side by side with their peers actively contributing to complete the journey together
Dependent on technology and could not envision a class, a 10-minute break, or even shavasana without checking their phone
Have no interest in personal development.
Are exceedingly dependent upon mobile devices. They could not see themselves getting through a lecture, or even a 10-minute break without logging in.
Ever studio has its own culture and set of expectations. These traits of yoga teacher training students offer a clear indication of whether or not our program is a good fit for you. Go with a program that most resonates.
https://www.denveryogaunderground.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/DYU_Logo-small-300x140.png00derikhttps://www.denveryogaunderground.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/DYU_Logo-small-300x140.pngderik2019-11-01 11:16:332021-10-26 13:04:09Traits of Yoga Teacher Training Students
I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge our spring 2017 graduating class! After nearly four months of intensified yoga study and practice, they have blossomed into mature teachers who are ready to pass the gift of yoga along to our greater community.
Each class has a unique character. This particular class was marked by unwavering dedication to being eager students and a common love for one another. Many will remain friends for life.
I sometimes have chance encounters with past graduates and am always overjoyed to hear how they have brought yoga into all aspects of their lives and how they are sharing it with others.
I like to think that Axis contributes to the welfare of humanity in it’s own small yet very powerful way, one student at a time.
“This has truly been an amazing experience,
I am so thankful to have been a part of it!”
“I learned so much about teaching from all of your,
I am so grateful for that!”
“I’ll forever be grateful for the tools,
knowledge & wisdom gained here.”
Thank you for your appreciation and kind words!
Congratulations spring ‘17 students, this is just the beginning of a life long process of yoga, self discovery, and passing the teachings along to your students!
Yours in the Spirit, Service and Tradition of Yoga, Derik
200 Hr. YTT Open House – Aug. 13
Come find out more about Axis Yoga’s ongoing yoga teacher trainings. This will be a great opportunity to experience a class, meet graduates, get your questions answered and get a taste of what Axis is all about!
Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017 9:30-11am
Sixth Ave. UCC – Upstairs
3250 E. 6th Ave, Denver – 80206
Last month, close to 30 people ventured to Grant, CO to spend a weekend in nature. Some were already close friends, some were strangers, but they all had a common goal… to pause, breathe and go deeper in practice.
Lead by both Axis Yoga Training’s Derik Eselius and Beth Sanchez (bethsanchezyoga.net), the 3-day adventure at the Santa Maria YMCA began with yoga and ended with more yoga. Enriched with Dharma talks, meditation, pranayama, nature hike, signing and a bonfire, it made for the perfect getaway to kick off the summer.
The theme “Return to Center” focused not only on going in, achieving balance and returning to Ayurvedic roots, but it also placed emphasis on connection and community.
It was an experience like no other and one that attendees carried with them, down from the mountain and back to their daily lives. Words can’t quite express the magic that took place at Santa Maria, but this video does a pretty good job!
Retreat in Crestone, CO 9/1 – 9/4
Join Axis Yoga Trainings, Derik Eselius and Beth Sanchez for an encore retreat as they gather in Crestone, CO this Fall. Spend 4 days at the Crestone Healing Arts Center Friday, September 1 – 4, 2017. Our theme for this retreat is “Going Within”. Immerse yourself in asana practice, pranayama, meditation, dharma talks, sharing and singing. Portions of the retreat will be in Noble Silence with built in times of laughter, being in nature, and having fun.
Assuming I am still alive, I will be studying yoga until I am dead :)
Yoga, as most of us come to realize, is a lifelong study. We may begin with the practice to loose weight or because a friend dragged us into class; but sooner or later the practice becomes more expansive.
Almost as if by magic, our mood improves, we become more available for other people and our values shift. We can start to see the interconnected nature between our thoughts and our circumstances.
As a natural extension of these discoveries, it is quite natural for one to want to share the gift of yoga with others, to teach. Imparting the teachings of yoga is a wondrous opportunity that can reveal deeper dimensions of your own life as well as in the lives of your students.
There is just one caveat…
You must forever remain a student.
If you are not diligent in your own personal practice, or mistake teaching time for practice time, your teaching will likely become rote and uninspired -you lose the magic. Personal practice is the foundation of teaching.
Here are a few time tested and simple tips for strengthening your personal practice and sewing the seeds of the inner teacher.
3 Ways to Truly Become A Student of Yoga
1. Have a Dedicated Space
Having a dedicated space in which to stretch, breath and or meditate is essential. It does not have to be fancy. My first meditation enclave was wedged between a wall and a desk. It felt like home. Establishing home base for your practice will build up a vital charge of energy and association that will strengthen your practice. Find some way to designate a formal practice space.
2. Regular Practice
In order for the practices to work, you have to do them.
I often tell students to make it easy on themselves by just committing to practicing on a daily basis, no matter how small. This will circumvent the tendency to fall into “tomorrow” syndrome, in which it becomes more and more easy to dismiss the value of yoga practice with each passing day; until it becomes a nice idea rather than a living breathing reality.
If you want to get good at anything, whether it is playing the piano, mastering card tricks, learning to paint or pursuing your unique and noble life’s purpose, you have to practice.
3. Find Positive Association
The more we practice yoga, the more sensitive we become to what is wholesome and supportive to our well being and what is not. Turning the tide of negative behavior takes ongoing dedicated practice as well as a healthy dose of love and acceptance.
What can we do outside of our formal practice time that will support our formal practice? What foods do we eat? Who do we hang out with? What time do we go to bed at night? Was that third slice of chocolate cake really worth it?
Find behaviors and associations that will feed your time on the mat or meditation cushion -it will generate a positive self reinforcing cycle.
Being a dedicated student of yoga requires ongoing practice, it does not happen all at once. We may fail many times before overcoming our inner obstacles. Teaching yoga gives us a chance to share the techniques with others and in the process, reinforce our commitment and dedication to personal practice. Be a yogi first, a teacher second.
Free Student-Lead Yoga Classes (Practicums)
Come experience these one of a kind classes and support these students and they show off the skills they have learned and blossom into full-fledged teachers!
Sunday, June 4, 2017 Class 1: Our Eternal Thread
Brian, Donna & Nikole
Class 2: The Space Within
Lindsay, Paul, Malina & Ashley
Saturday, June 10, 2017 Class 3: Sun, Earth, Moon
Lynda, Rebecca, Kristine
Class 4: The Yoga Breath & Mind
Haley, Lisa & Monica
Free to the public
3250 E. Sixth Ave. UCC ~ Upstairs
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Don’t let your yoga practice suffer in the holidays.
Binge drinking eggnog? Cookie O.D.? Late night raucous caroling? Has your yoga taken a hit over the holidays?
It’s not uncommon for one’s commitment to yoga to waiver this time of year as outward activities subvert one’s inner peace. Whatever your particular vice, consider these practical steps to reclaim your practice and keep your yoga on point in this celebratory season.
1. It is Never too Late!
No matter how low your practice may have declined, it is never too late to renew or revive it. It is those first initial steps that can seem the most insurmountable. Once you get started the rest seems to fall into place. Yoga is the most dear friend that will never abandon you no matter how much you have abandoned it.
Don’t delay until the new year! In fact, now is the time to create momentum that will launch you into the next trip around the sun with a fresh outlook on life.
2. Let Go.
This is a totally different angle on yoga than practicing poses, but it is an easy and fulfilling way to bring the spirit of yoga to your daily life. Letting go.
You do not have to look far to find examples of excess within our culture, just look at the latest holiday catalogue to show up in your mailbox and ask yourself “is this really necessary?”
In our materialistic culture, it can be easy to assume that we need something additional, something outside of ourselves to be fulfilled. When in fact, the reverse is true. Is there something that we are holding onto that we would be happier without?
This pertains to not only physical possessions but more importantly, mental attachments. Clearing up psychic clutter of fear, resentment, anger will open the gateway to deeper levels of fulfillment in our day to day lives. What are you willing to let go of, that once it’s gone, will free you up for more fun?
3. Have Fun!
Yogic wisdom tells us that we are here for four primary reasons, one of which is kama or enjoyment. We are here to experience the world in its fullness, joyfully. Allow yourself to participate in the season’s celebrations, and your yoga practice, in the spirit of satisfaction and pleasure.
Consider adding some spice to your practice!
Expand your horizons, attend a class with another and highly reputable teacher. Many studios offer “Friday Night Yoga” classes that feature very festive themes. Attend classes that play (or don’t play) music. Host a fellow yogi get together or simple bring a friend to class.
4. Make Mountains into Molehills.
It can be easy to get caught up in a grand vision of what our practice is supposed to look like, not meet that expectation, get discouraged, and quit. Sometimes less is more.
In my classes, I encourage students to begin by making small, manageable and sustainable changes. Can you dedicate 20 minutes or more to a daily home practice? Gradually increasing practice over time is more likely to stick than one big, ecstatic burst of inspiration.
If you do receive such a burst of enthusiasm (which can be great!) keep it in perspective and know that it is unlikely that you will live that way for the rest of your life. (Sorry to be such a downer).
Consistency is the key to making long term progress on the path of yoga. What can you do on a regular basis? Life is better with yoga
5. Prioritize Peace.
The goal is peace. People come to yoga for lots of different reasons: to lose weight, to find their tribe, to mend from an injury. All of which are to be appreciated. One essential reference point of the practice in peace, peace that brings freedom from internal friction within our own minds, peace that instills us with compassion and cultivates contentment.
Peace is something intrinsic within us, not something to be acquired. In this season of “Peace on Earth” where does peace fall within your yoga practice? Are you busy pursuing the outward appearance of the pose? How does peace show up (or not show up) in your relationships? How much do we practice self love and acceptance, the fruit of a peaceful perspective.
New Years Day Mantra for Inner-Illumination & Peace
– Jan. 1 at 9:30am
Start the new year on a sacred note. It will look very different than a conventional asana class, as we welcome the new year with meditation, individual and collective discussion (always inspiring!), and chanting the Gayatri Mantra 108 times. Create peace, within and without. Click here for more information.
3250 E. Sixth Ave. UCC
Suggested Donation ($15-20)
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Yoga can be very inspiring and yet we may find ourselves resisting or delaying practicing regularly. We may have the best intentions, however get stuck in the actual application. Here are five practice empowering perspectives and principles to help you make yoga a regular part of your life:
1. Life is Better With Yoga
People share their personal yoga stories with me all the time.They tell me how yoga has touched their lives in deep and meaningful ways; from people who have recovered from addiction to living pain free from an injury, to improved relationships, to enhanced spiritual development.
Why? Because, yoga is expressly designed to make one’s life better. It is made to iron out the friction that keeps us feeling separate from life, to lessen the drama and amp up the peace.
I find that I am most resistant and doubtful of yoga practice when I am practicing the least: “I know this yoga stuff doesn’t work, because I’m not doing it.” It is at these rare-rare moments that I remind myself that the effort that I put in is truly worth it, many times over.
Something far greater than doubt and resistance awaits on the other side of shavasana. It becomes necessary to take those first initial steps that will guide me further into the practice and the promise that it holds.
2. Yoga Is Limitless. And So Is Your Practice.
Yoga is limitless. There is no end to the amount peace, integration and fulfillment one can experience through the practice. This may sound very lofty, but with deliberate effort, it is attainable. Through regular practice, gradually our center of gravity begins to shift and we are no longer triggered quite as much or quite as often.
Yoga allows us to see ourselves from multiple perspectives, the same way you might hold a fine jewel up into the light to appreciate its shape, color, and how it reflects the light.
There is an element of mystery in yoga practice; it asks us to reconsider our conditioned thinking and to create space for uncertainty. Embrace letting go of preconceptions of yourself and the world around you and be open to yoga’s ability to guide you into and through the unknown.
3. Go Beyond The Mat & Go Beyond The Pose
The affects of a healthy asana practice are fairly immediate. The mind becomes clearer and the body becomes free and light. This kind of practice may feed us for many years. And yet, sooner or later, whether it’s an inter-personal riff, or a parking ticket on street sweeping day, we are bound to experience some form of disappointment.
It is at this point that we can draw upon deeper yogic principles such as compassion and non-attachment to regain our center.
At first we do yoga to improve our lives. Then we do our life to improve our yoga practice. Consider, are there things you can be doing (or not doing) out side of formal practice time that will amplify your time on the mat or meditation cushion. What small lifestyle changes can you make that will improve the quality of your practice? Here are some questions you might ask yourself:
Can I make some small adjustments to my diet?
Can I make it a habit of getting to bed on time and or waking up early to allot time for regular morning practice?
What am I willing to let go of that no longer serves me?
What role does devotion play in my life?
Who do I spend my time with, is it supportive?
Is there a change I can make in the quality of my speech?
Even a small change in any of the above arenas can free up obstructed energy and open up an empowering feedback loop that is bound to add bounce to your yoga practice. Pick one principle and commit to practicing it for 14 days or longer. Better yet, invite a yoga buddy to make the change as well.
4. Your Practice Doesn’t Work Unless You Do
In order for the practices to work, we have to DO them. There seems to be no shortcut around this. No amount of thinking about how one should practice, or reminiscing about past practices will substitute. It is like learning any discipline, if you want to excel and reap the benefits, you need to practice.
This can be the daunting part. However, it does not have to be a huge undertaking. It is easy to assume that only the grandest version of a yoga practice will suffice, and then conclude that, if you are not living up to that vision, than you should quit.
Consistency is the key. No matter how small, what can you do on a regular, sustainable basis? In the words of the immortal Krishna, “Even a little of this practice will shelter you from great sorrow.”
5. Home Is Where The Asana Is
An entire world of revelation awakens when we adopt a home practice! This is the point where we gather up all that we have learned from our teachers and begin to explore our personal relationship to yoga, outside of the bright or candle lit lights of the gym or studio.
One of the most genius aspects of yoga is that nothing outside of yourself is required. All that is required is a breath, a body and a mind. These are things that you take with you wherever you go, including your home. On a very practical level, you can save yourself a lot of time and resources by rolling out your mat in your living room. It does not need to be overly complicated. In fact, the simpler the better.
Practicing at home will also allow you to better integrate the methods. No-thing outside of yourself is require. The best news of all is that all the answers lie within you, waiting to be discovered. Yoga is the world’s greatest experiment in which you are both the subject and the object of investigation. Practicing regularly at home will open the gates of greater love, insight and fulfillment.
I invite you to adopt any one or several of these concepts into your life both on and off of the mat. It is never too late to reinvigorate your practice!
Free Student-Led Yoga Classes
– Dec. 11 & 17
At Axis, we teach the driving principles behind an comprehensive and in depth yoga practice (as opposed to route sequences). Our students have dedicated four months of their lives to learn these principles and will be sharing the final culmination of their understanding in their upcoming practicums. Come experience these one of a kind classes and support these students and they show off the skills they have learned and blossom into full fledged teachers! Click here for more information.
3250 E. Sixth Ave. UCC
Free and open to the public.
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The training is coming closer to an end, and this is the final experiment. At first, I thought I should choose the hardest experiment. I thought I should pick something that I am not good at. What is it? Maybe pranayama? Or maybe mantra? Then, I asked Derik his opinion and his answer was I should do something enjoyable. I thought that this was a very interesting suggestion.
Then, I started thinking about the entire training. What did I learn most? I learned a lot; I learned Yoga philosophy, proper alignment for poses, various kinds of pranayama work, beautiful mantras, ayurveda…etc., but the juiciest at the training was learning the importance of Savasana and how to let go of the struggle.
The Axis Yoga teachers may have noticed that I struggled a lot at the beginning of this training. I forced myself to understand everything at once and it was very frustrating. I got really angry at myself at one point because I felt like I was lost.
I learned to appreciate Savasana after doing a lot of Downward-Facing Dog poses, Triangle poses and other intense poses. I’ve been doing Yoga for a pretty long time, and until now I never really enjoyed Savasana; my mind always starts wondering to the things I will do after practice.
During the training I experienced very different feelings from the other Savasanas that I’d done in the past. I felt my own breath, sweat, heart beat, tension and feelings. It was really nice; I felt like I could let go of everything.
The Denver Yoga Underground began in 2003 at the request of dedicated students who wanted to study yoga as a holistic system. Over the years, a diversity of people, seeking education outside of a studio, found a welcome refuge in DYU.
Today we specialize in grassroots Pay What You Can workshops, accessible retreats and our signature yoga teacher training, for the outlier yogi.