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Yoga Teacher Training - The Final Exam!

December 19, 2014 by Laura Wootton 

And just like that, it was over! After 10 weeks of intense training, learning and practicing, I can now narrate the timetables of most of London’s yoga studios as well as the Ashtanga primary series. Oh and I’m officially a qualified yoga teacher! To be honest, I still can’t get my head round that. I woke up the morning after my final exams and it was only when I was brushing my teeth that it pretty much hit me and I thought ‘oh my god, I’m a yoga teacher’! For someone who went into a career in the media (an industry with notoriously few professional qualifications) I haven’t taken an exam since my degree. In many ways passing my YTT reminds me of taking my driving exam -  it’s instantly given me a new identity, title and an inordinate amount of opportunity. Right now that’s partly hugely exciting and partly a bit overwhelming, but I do think my group has finished our course at the best possible time, with a couple of weeks over Christmas to take stock of everything that we’ve been through before being properly launched onto the yoga public. The final couple of weeks of the course were some of the most intensive I think I’ve ever experienced, with preparing for our practical and theory exams as well as making sure we had completed all of our practice hours. I found myself reciting my exam sequence (a one hour modified Ashtanga) in the shower and on the tube and begging friends to lend me their bodies to practice with. I was well aware that the main thing that was likely to floor me in the exam was performance nerves, so it was important for me to get myself in front of students and reciting my lines, so that I didn’t get stage fright during the exam itself. I hired a studio, bullied a few friends and friends of friends to come along on consecutive Sunday mornings and managed to give a half-decent impression of a yoga teacher for a couple of hours. Plus I managed to bag a couple of covers at a studio so had had some experience of teaching paying customers, which made me pull my yoga socks up sharpish. I think the main learning curve with these classes was how much preparation was needed. Not just planning my sequence and thinking what I was going to say, but the nuts and bolts of studio admin, so getting  there with plenty of time (thank you number 37 bus for your unexpected diversion before my very first class), making sure things like heating and speakers and working and knowing where the toilets are! When the exam itself came around my emotions were swinging between feeling quite confident, and having almighty freakouts that I couldn’t remember anything! I got myself to the exam studios over an hour before I needed to be there so that I had as much last minute swotting time as possible, but with the whole YTT course together, we were all helping each other out and willing each other on. As well as teaching a one hour class and speaking on a theory topic picked at random, we all took part in each other’s classes and had to observe and provide written feedback on one other class. To be honest I can barely remember my exam itself, it was as if I was in a bit of a daze! I was very lucky in that I knew all the people I was teaching very well so wasn’t afraid to inject a bit of personality into the class and, despite the nerves I almost enjoyed myself! Finishing the exams and being awarded our certificates in a beautiful candlelit ceremony was a moment to be savoured, as we all gave thanks to our amazing teachers for leading us through the past few weeks. I think that’s actually what’s been so hugely special about the course. Not only have I learned so much, but I’ve done it with some of the very coolest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. When the going got tough (and god did it get tough) we stuck together and helped each other out, and when there were achievements to be celebrated, Happy Birthdays to be sung, and classes to be supported, we did it all as one. So, what’s next? Well I still don’t have any plans to give up the day job just yet, but I am incorporating teaching into my life straight away. The studio where I had my practice classes has given me two slots a week to teach dynamic classes (Sundays and Wednesdays at SWC in Brixton – come!) with another very cool venue in the pipeline. Plus I’m starting private lessons  which I’m hugely excited about and spending the next week or so getting www.laurawoottonyoga.com up and running. And despite the fact that officially I’ve finished being a student for now (!), I’m reading as many yoga texts as possible, and planning workshops that I want to attend in 2015, fully aware that I have so, so much to learn. If completing a teacher training course is on your list of new years resolutions, then I say go for it. You won't regret it.