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My Dharma -Yoga Teacher’s Training

This weekend (after a few morning classes at the studio on Saturday) will be the first I’ve had off in months. My weekends have been tied up with  yoga training, begining my own training in a yearlong 500 hour program that I had to juggle along with weekends devoted to the first RYT-200 program I taught at ReFlex (a killer schedule). When that was over, I immediately jumped into teaching my second RYT-200 program. My 2nd batch of beautiful yoga students graduated this week so at long last, I have 8 weekends off before my next summer immersion session (which involves 20 hour 3-day weekends EVERY weekend for ten weeks.) Meanwhile, on the rare weekends I might have had off, I’ve hosted three aerial yoga training weekends. I’m preparing now to add Chair yoga training to my offerings this summer. But Sundays are free now, even though I have to direct my attention to my upcoming recital now. Even so, I will be able to fit in a bit of beach time or kayak time, or writing. Sundays will be for personal pleasure for a while! Yea!
     But I’m not complaining. I absolutely love my work. People who want to get more involved in yoga are amazing, and these weekends, while long, are filled with poignancy, laughter, health, insight and meaningful conversation. Every time I guide a discussion, I learn as much as I teach, and studying yoga philosophy and physiology continuously continues to lead me deeper into self-understanding and wisdom.  Top that off with the fact that I feel a deep sense of contribution in my work and it is no wonder I’m willing to lose my weekends to live my personal dharma. People tell me the program alters their world and causes huge paradigm shifts in their life. I am deeply proud of that. Yoga is life altering –I’m the perfect case in point.

From the moment I decided to take teaching yoga seriously, I knew I’d wind up involved in teacher’s training. I’ve been teaching teachers in the dance field for years, and people have long told me I have a gift for inspiring others and putting information in easy to understand ways. Since putting together educational programs is a part of how my brain is hardwired, I spent the bulk of my time in my own yoga training assessing the program, thinking about worked and didn’t (for me) and what I would do differently. And when I sat down to consider designing a teacher’s training program of my own, I spent hours considering all the weaknesses in my own yoga education and I tried to come up with solutions to help others come out feeling more prepared to tackle the huge subject of yoga.

So I studied. I took classes, read a million books, got my higher certification, asked for guidance from a seasoned professional regarding how to handle the red tape of Yoga Alliance accreditation, struggled over a defined syllabus preparation, and 9 months later , was ready to dive in as director of ReFlex’s first program. It took all I have in me to keep ahead of the students and not fail them in any way, but the work paid off. I am deeply proud of the program at ReFlex, which is swiftly gaining a great reputation. My enrollment is bigger than the RYT program at schools who have been established for many years in this area and I’m just getting started.

My approach to yoga training is very down to earth, takes a broad view of yoga and is in many ways unique, though due to the stringent guidelines of Yoga Alliance, I cover all the traditional material. Wanting to circle the elephant to get a strong understanding,  I begin with a study of what yoga is (myth verses science) and then we study yoga history and the commercialism of yoga and how its popularity impacts the purity of the practice. We also study yoga styles in a comparison analysis so my teachers have a broad understanding of yoga in its many forms. We learn about Kundalini, Bikram, Ashtanga, Iyengar,  Anusara, and we explore hot yoga, yin yoga, restorative yoga and other popular classes.  Then we move  on to anatomy (thank God for David, because he and my dear , amazing friend, Cinde Carroll, cover this subject with slide shows, skeletons and lectures & practice (since I couldn’t possibly do the job decently) in a 20 hour workshop that covers bones, muscles, lymph system, physiology and theory. It is ten times more involved than what I received in my own training, an amazing study of the science of yoga.. Every experienced yoga teacher who works for me agrees, because every one of us feel our education in the area of anatomy was thrown out there too quickly to digest.) After we understand the body we begin breaking down every yoga pose so teachers learn not just how to do a pose correctly, but why, when and who should do it, as we study the cause and effect in the body. My students also study the Chakras, get Reiki trained (level 1) and spend hours studying and discussing the yoga sutras and personal intentions. Then I try to throw in fun extras, such as a 3 hour journaling course, a evening of Kirtan music and chanting, a meditation day, an outdoor retreat day and one weekend devoted to aerial yoga certification. There is no down time or busy work in my program. It’s all information overload and experimental learning! And at the end, the students each teach a (free to the public) class that they have to prepare themselves, and I give them feedback and an assessment.  As I write this I think it’s no wonder I’m tired. I cram more into one training course than most aspiring teachers could get in years of study.
  Anyway, the program continues to get more defined as it evolves to become what I consider a strong foundation for a yoga teacher.
  And now, I’m working on accrediting the school and thinking through a more involved program so I can offer a RYT 500 program for more advanced studies next year. I already have people waiting and eager to take the next level course, but before I will be  ready to do justice to the job– there is more to learn and plan. I am studying prenatal yoga and yoga therapy and ayurveda etc…  Small steps, ya know. And of course, I’m hot on the trail of preparing and offering a children’s yoga training course. It’s a natural fit considering my dance background and Guidance etc……… If only there were more hours in a day….

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few pictures of my yoga training activities…. The bet way to see what the training is like is to view our 7 minute slideshow. (David prepares one of each session to show at the graduation ceremony. It’s a great way to see not only our activities, but the great personalities and focused attention of some dynamic students.) I still love teaching dance and working with children. That always has been and always will be a very important element of my life – and I deeply love and appreciate my dance students, but I have discovered deep, poignant connections to the self-actualized adults who take on yoga teacher training. They are not just students, but friends, and people I expect to remain in touch with for the rest of my days.

Here is a link to one of the slide shows…

In conclusion: Even hard work can enrich your life if you are willing to make sacrifices to stay in a field that is authentic and uplifting. Anyway, somedays I feel I work way harder than anyone my age should have to and I don’t make much money for the time and effort involved, but I love the path I’m on even so….  But despite this glowing description…. STILL I’m looking forward to a few much needed weekends off…. 

Aerial Training

Chakra Studies (My students always do an alter to set the mood for their presentation, and they put 110% into it -he artistry and diversity is totally fun and noteworthy, but here, I’m just showing an example….)  
Reiki and Anatomy

Posture focus & study

Outdoor day – yoga outside, meditation, journaling, & paddling as a metaphor for life!
Yep… it is a full course  …. and by the end, we get tired. 

About Ginny East Shaddock

Ginny is the owner of Heartwood Yoga Institute. She is an ERYT-500 Yoga teacher, C-IAYT Yoga therapist, RCYT & Ayurveda Counselor who loves nature, gardening, and creative arts. She has an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University, and a BA in Business Administration from Eckerd College. She teaches writing and is the creator of the memoir writing program, "Yoga on the Page" combining the teaching of yoga to writing personal stories with integrity, intention, and heart.

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