Corina Chalkiadaki: My Yoga Teacher Training Experience
Written by Corina Chalkiadaki, graduate of One Hot Yoga’s 200 Hr Teacher Training
I have wanted to become a yoga teacher since the very beginning of my practice, about 6 years ago, but it never felt right until I went to One Hot’s 200-hour yoga teacher training information session – my favourite Sydney studio, part time, amazing, personable teachers who I’ve known for the past two years… I knew I had to sign up.
Fast forward to February, overcome by excitement and anticipation, not really knowing what to expect and what I’m truly getting into, I went back to the Potts Point studio, this time as a teacher trainee. I was about to meet the 15 or so people I would spend a lot of my time with for the next 3 months – it so happened that we were all women, of similar age, but very different backgrounds and ideas of what we’re trying to get out of this course. Janet, Amy and Annabel gave us all the material we were going to use throughout the course and made us feel comfortable and ‘at home’, right from the beginning, by letting us all open up and share a little bit about ourselves and our intensions.
200 hours is a lot, and very little – we were thrown in the deep right from the beginning, memorising a set sequence we would work towards perfecting by the end of the course and started teaching segments of it almost immediately. Over time, we learnt how the tone of our voice played an important role in our teaching, how the quality of the teacher’s touch contributes towards the student’s experience and how the sequencing of a class is logical and engages most muscle groups and joints. Everything complemented this effort perfectly – every week we added a little bit more to our knowledge, through practical and theory mini courses.
On Fridays we came together and talked about our week, opened up about our emotions, shared the highs and lows and allowed ourselves to be vulnerable. Our little yoga community was open, supportive and encouraging. Then the group split in small teams of 2,3 or 4 that went off to practice teaching a part of our set sequence, where we all witnessed each other getting better and better each week, thanks to our hard work but also the guidance of our teachers – by the end we were equipped with confidence and a library of cues. Every Saturday typically started with an asana lab, where we went through a series of poses that belong to a certain group (hips, folds, inversions etc.), learnt how to perfect each pose, adapt it through variations, how to assist a student going into that pose and how to safely come out of it and perform a counter pose. These were probably my favourite classes – they were challenging, interesting, and fun (especially the inversion lab, which got me upside down for the first time!). I also loved the Philosophy modules and seeing the spiritual side of the world of yoga unfold before my eyes. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras have been a my go-to topic of conversation with friends and others… what does it mean to be kind, truthful, to not steal and how differently can these concepts be interpreted? Fascinating! On Sundays we meditated, we chanted, we learnt about the human body and common injuries, we were introduced to theming a class and were asked to improvise by picking a theme that resonates and present it to the class. Addressing an audience can be confronting, but over time we all got better at it and allowed ourselves to open up and share deeper thoughts.
The final weekend, the moment of truth where all our knowledge was put to test was fast approaching and I devoted myself to the study of philosophy, meditation, history, anatomy and energy centres. Meanwhile, I was working towards perfecting my teaching skills, since our practical exam involved teaching a 1-hour class in groups of three. Needless to say, I lived and breathed yoga for those 2-3 weeks. I practiced with friends, with other YTT students, with colleagues and recorded myself teaching a class, trying to perfect my very own teaching voice and style. The exams came and went but what stayed was all that knowledge I accumulated throughout this period of hard work and sacrifice of personal time and the strong bond with the girls and teachers who all bonded over our love of yoga, regardless of our individual and unique backgrounds and lifestyle. Perhaps most importantly, this experience allowed me to form a deeper connection with myself and for the first time become more aware of what I am capable of.
The YTT course tested my limits at times, physical and mental, brought up emotions I had not experienced before and ultimately made me stronger and gave me a sense of invincibility and accomplishment. It is amazing how much we all achieved in such a short period of time, walking in as yoga students of various levels and walking out as teachers, ready to take our individual yoga journeys forward. This of course wouldn’t have happened without the support and encouragement of our teachers at One Hot and the hard work that went into designing and executing this course!