Outline of Course Curriculum
Structured into four core 7-day residential intensives and a 3-day final intesive with graduation, The Yoga Academy Teacher Training Programme is designed to be an innovative, challenging, enjoyable and highly rewarding journey into the practice and principles of yoga as an evolving, living tradition continually being influenced by new findings and developments in the mind-body field. The course content is extremely practical and skills-based, while at the same time facilitating a personal journey of exploration and discovery. Each intensive course day includes guided practice and asana technique classes, formal practical study/lecture time, unsupervised study/reading time, discussion time and time spent in silence.
On registration, you will be given our pre-course reading list and study requirements, essential course reference book list, your shared-library book title and essential props list.
On commencement of the course, at the first residential period, you will be provided with a full curriculum, course manual and schedule of activities.
Our curriculum has the following focal areas of study:
We have an illustrated syllabus of course asana with their Sanskrit and English names that we teach and require you to learn and understand even if you may not able to practice all of them at this stage of your journey. Our asana teaching is grounded in thorough understanding of functional anatomy as applied to yoga. This understanding lays the foundation for appropriate joint care, safe and intelligent alignment and sustainable movement principles applicable to all asana irrespective of their form. Anatomical understanding enables you to understand the functions of asana, tailor your self-practice to your own unique needs and effectively teach and, where necessary, offer appropriate modifications. We consider the ability to offer modifications to asana according to students' physical abilities one of the most important resources for a yoga teacher.
Our asana technique classes are closely connected to applied anatomy lectures, as a result of which theoretical study of anatomy becomes alive and relevant in asana practice. There will be ample opportunity to apply your knowledge to practice, to explore and embody all that you have learned. Your own embodied practice eventually makes the foundation for your own teaching.
Pranayama, meditation and chanting
Although asana is the common modern-day medium to yoga, we emphasise throughout this training that yoga is much more than asana practiced on our yoga mats. On this course, we teach a variety of pranayama or breathing practices. Our breathing is hard-wired to our nervous system and even more importantly to our animating energy or life force or prana, as it is known in yoga, or chi, as in Chinese medicine and movement practices. You will be required to keep a pranayama journal for a designated period of time to note your personal experiences of focused, regular pranayama.
Meditation or ‘silent sitting’ is part of the led classes on this course. Traditionally in yoga, asana was used to prepare the body for prolonged, silent sitting with the intention of taming a restless mind and sustaining focused concentration. We will look at how to establish an appropriate position for your seated meditation or pranayama practice that helps keep the body suitably aligned, facilitating effortless breathing and keeping bodily disturbances to the minimum. We will explore meditation practice, sometimes guided, considering different ‘anchors’ for quieting of the mind, toward the establishment of a personal mindfulness practice.
We will teach chants recited in the vedic tradition and help you become familiar with leading a chant yourself.
Teaching skills and methodology
Leading a class might look quite simple, but there is ample preparation, planning and awareness behind each class. As a trainee, you will learn effective ‘classroom skills’ including demonstration and mirroring, giving clear verbal instructions and cues, use of voice and intonation, safe and intelligent hands-on adjustments, lesson planning, class sequencing and direction. You will learn to use pinmen to illustrate your lesson plans and sequences.
You will have ample time in our safe and compassionate in-house classroom setting to practice and enhance your teaching skills among your fellow trainees. There will be full-day workshops within the residential periods dedicated to the study of lesson planning under the guidance of Jan Palmer. You will also complete a number of lesson and course planning and sequencing assignments as homework, part of which will be assessed. Under teaching skills you will also learn how to teach yoga 1:1 and how to safely integrate pregnant women in your classes or adapt yoga to seniors.
The theory and philosophy of yoga form an important foundation that helps you understand the source and guidance behind most of what you practice and will teach. It will also hugely enrich your personal practice and teaching experience by adding to its authenticity. When learned in the proper context, philosophy can be fascinating, healing, empowering and life changing. Yoga philosophy stimulates your enquiry and our understanding of consciousness. You will be introduced to key texts in the yogic tradition: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, the essential Upanishads and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, with guidelines towards the study of other texts.
Almost every style of modern yoga can very clearly trace its roots to just a handful of teachers. Understanding where yoga came from helps you gain appreciation for its rich history and gives you a better understanding of the “bigger picture” of yoga in all its newer incarnations. There will be full-day workshops within the residential periods dedicated to the study of yoga philosophy under the guidance of Gill Lloyd.
Anatomy and physiology
The study of anatomy and physiology on this course begins by learning general anatomical language, terminology and concepts and moving on to more specific musculoskeletal anatomy ie names and locations of bones, muscles and other body parts and how they move or influence our movement. With the foundational understanding of terminology and concepts we then move on to applied anatomy, learning to see the musculoskeletally moving body as a cohesive and intricate system of interdependencies between tissues and body parts and viscerally witnessing and experiencing anatomy in action in asana practice.
Your anatomical awareness will improve your practice and teaching by giving you the tools to justify why you teach what you teach, what modifications are necessary and appropriate and how to help you and your students to stay safe and properly aligned in class and out of the wear ‘n’ tear zone. Studies will include audio-visual presentations, hands-on exploration of anatomy and body reading. In addition to lectures and practical sessions with Simon Low and Eija Tervonen, there will be full-day workshops within the residential periods on anatomy and physiology with Loretta Stowell, Julie Gudmestad and Gary Carter.
Our subtle anatomy is one of the most fascinating and yet mysterious aspects of our being. For thousands of years man has sought to understand and experience the energy of being. Yoga is rich in the teachings of subtle anatomy that look at the body from the point of view of energy or prana or chi and its movement and pathways in the body, thus complementing the western ‘physical’ view of human anatomy. Under subtle anatomy, you will study such elements as kosha, vayu, guna, chakra, bandha, nadis, mudra and kriya.
Yoga Nidra, meditation, mudra and pranayama will be practiced throughout the course.
Who and what am I as a yoga teacher? Roles, ethics and responsibilities of teaching yoga.
Teaching is like any career in that you must be determined in your study and work and take conscious steps toward success, while always allowing your integrity, skill and authenticity to reflect in your approach. Over the two years of the course, during the residential intensives and in the self-study periods in between, you will be guided and supported in various ways as you progress in establishing yourself as a yoga teacher. We will be looking at the roles, ethics and responsibilities of teaching yoga, using the eight limbs of yoga (especially the yama and the niyama) as presented by Patanjali as an underlying guideline.
While many others have also decided to tread the path of teaching yoga, there are many hundreds of people in any location of this planet who would like to experience, practice and understand yoga. For the lifestyle choice to become a life-supporting one we encounter many questions along the way. We support you through the enquiry into these questions, especially relating to ethics, roles and responsibilities as well as financial remuneration.