by Elizabeth Conway
Almost 6 years ago I graduated from Namaste’s first yoga teacher training. My journey to teaching started with a group of about 20 of us gathered as students. Together with Ashley Sharp, David Moreno, and Baxter Bell for 200 hours from September to March, we learned together and had lasting, life changing results.
While I joined the training with the intent to dedicate time to my practice, hoping to deepen it and not intending to teach, within a month of graduating, I was in a studio, teaching 3 classes a week, which soon turned to 8 classes a week. I have never looked back, teaching classes and workshops at 4 studios since then and co-leading 11 local and international yoga and meditation retreats.
Namaste’s teacher training gave me the architecture for taking a class through a safe sequence, holding space for 60 -180 minutes, and working with the many different bodies, minds, abilities and emotions that come to class. The training taught me how to cultivate my own practice, to continually explore through physical and mental changes to return to the mat and remain deeply curious and open.
Journey to Teaching
People ask me how I chose Namaste’s teacher training and I said I had a few criteria – experienced, respected senior teachers, a long span of time for the training so that my body could grow in strength (short 200 hour trainings I feared would tax my body and mind, potentially injuring one or the other) and local so I could integrate the teachings week in and week out into the challenges of my real life. While I have no prejudice against going to a teacher immersion for a few weeks, I knew that for me, the “how” I learned and who I became as I went through the process, would be just as important as the fact of having “done” the training.
There were other unexpected rewards from my teacher training – specifically, I became friends with a community of people I see often and in a world where it is often a challenge to find friendship as an adult, this was invaluable. Spending 7 months studying the body and spirit and breathing together is a great cultivator of those connections. I also like to point out to people, that before completing the training, despite several yoga immersions, I did not have the faith in my practice that I do now. The teacher training gave me a foundation of safety to explore teachers and studios and practices all over the world. Once I knew that I was among my own best teachers for my body and mind, I trusted that I was at home anywhere in the world. I now practice anywhere, knowing that my asana practice is responsible and responsive.
While I am sometimes troubled by the Western yoga industrial complex and the for-profit models of studio operating, I balance this against the many benefits studios offer for sanctuary, especially in today’s world. I look at the other ways we find to disconnect and fritter away our time, and in listening to some of the questions from people considering joining this year’s cohort, I was inspired (not asked) to write.
Are you interested in deepening your practice and finding your way to a Teacher Training program that suits you? We have two structures for our teacher trainings: a summer intensive format, and an extended weekend format.