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The Benefits of Yoga Teacher Training (it's not just about wanting to teach yoga!)

July 15, 2014 by Shailee Shah 

Shailee Shah share her experiences from a 200hr Teacher Training @ Atmananda Yoga Studio NYC

My passion for yoga started 3 years ago when I moved to New York City. There seemed to be a yoga studio opened or opening on every corner so it made not going almost impossible!

I started attending group classes twice a week at first and soon after seeing the effects on my mind and body my attendance advanced to 4 times a week. I have to admit, the effects on my body were most noticeable and that spurred me to carry on as I am a massive foodie who does not stop eating! Toned arms, stomach, legs – which I had never previously achieved even with a personal trainer.

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The effects on the mind were also slowly coming into effect, after a busy day in the office all I wanted to do was get on my mat and lose myself in the practice, clear the mind and stop the endless thinking we all experience - for me yoga became a form of meditation.

I continued with Vinyasa classes for 2 years and decided that I wanted even more out of this so I took a 3 month sabbatical from work last year and searched for an intense 200 hour yoga teacher training course. I came across Atmananda in Gramercy, Manhattan. A beautiful studio tucked away on one of my favourite streets, Irving Place, near Gramercy Park  - a lovely street to stroll and just minutes away from the buzz of Union Square.

On arrival it was very much emphasised that Yoga was a practice of mind, body and soul and not just toning the body! That became quite evident within the first few days. We were given a reading list on anatomy, philosophy, nutrition and out of all these the most useful to me was Yoga Sutras by Patanjali – a deep, insightful guide to all that is Yoga. A typical day on the course consisted of:

8.00am-9.30am Yoga Practice

9.30am-9.45am Meditation /Pranayama

9.45am-10.30am Breakfast

10.30am-12.30pm Asana (Poses) practice

12.30pm-1.30pm Lunch (option to take a yoga class)

1.30pm-4.00pm Anatomy / Ayurveda

4.00pm-6.00pm Karma Yoga / Yoga Class

6.00pm option to take Yoga Class

It was amazing to see on day 1 how many of us had not even perfected downward dog after years of practice! The course gave excellent alignment and instruction on all beginner poses, we were given at least 5 tips per asana which I found extremely useful in teaching and self-practice.

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Ayurveda (a system of traditional medicine native to India) classes provided a harmonious balance to the Yoga practice. Figuring out your “type” and therefore what foods benefit/aggravate you, also discovering how a fresh strawberry/pear cut in half acts as a cheap and excellent face exfoliator!

The Anatomy side was extremely important in understanding how the body is put together and being aware of student injuries, what asanas to promote/avoid, for example, Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) is great for thyroid problems.

The 10-hour day actually flew by and I would often get in early/stay later, the studio has a sanctuary feel escaping the hectic pace of Manhattan and really being able to invest time in reading or asana practice . We were a group of 10, a mix of ages and personalities however, towards the end of the programme we became each other’s family, helping each other through encouragement and perseverance.

The final test came when each of us had to teach a real class with clear instruction, encouragement, adjustment at a good pace. The lesson actually flew buy and as a teacher your mind has to be fully engaged in the flow. I am happy to say that I passed! I now give the odd class to friends or family on weekends and even though I have not fully pursued becoming a yoga teacher the knowledge and experience I have gained has been greatly beneficial. Understanding the roots of yoga, quietening the mind and what that achieves, and being to incorporate this into a daily city life is a gratifying achievement!

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