Metamorphosis: From Guiding Students to Guiding Teachers

Metamorphosis: From Guiding Students to Guiding Teachers

Stepping into the role of a yoga teacher trainer has been something that has crossed my mind several times since I first started as a yoga teacher in 2018. But it didn’t come from a place of confidence that I could do this anytime soon. Yoga teacher trainers had to be a specific kind of human in the picture of my mind: with at least a certain number of years of experience, older, with countless hours of training under their belt, meditation masters, and all the impossible postures mastered to perfection. I put these humans on a pedestal and looked up to them as the kind of person I hoped to become one day.

When I first signed up on Yoga Trade in 2021, I had spent almost a year peeking into the job offers posted on the website and knew that it had opportunities I wouldn’t find anywhere else. It gave me hope that I would find the teaching job of my dreams that would set me free from living in the city (Paris, France at that time) and from working multiple jobs, including teaching yoga, to make ends meet. And so it was.

I had already left France and was living and working remotely in the South of Costa Rica, my time there was coming to an end and the last thing I wanted was to return to France. I had just resigned from one of my jobs that didn’t feel aligned with my path and it was the perfect time to dive into the job offers on Yoga Trade. It took me a couple of applications before hearing back from the Moksha Yoga Amazonica school creator and getting hired for a support position on a 200h Yoga Teacher Training in the jungle of Peru! What a dream!

I didn’t expect much when I applied. After all, I had been teaching for only 3 years at that time, but I knew that I could learn a lot from the other teachers and from the unique setting itself. Above all, I trusted that I could give my best to the students there and that my passion for the practice of yoga would transpire through my teaching naturally.

When I arrived at the training’s gorgeous venue, nested in the Peruvian selva (jungle), I didn’t know that this would become my home for the next year and a half and that my life, from then on, would spin 360° in the direction of my dreams.

The following two weeks of training were a lesson of trust & surrender. At first, I didn’t know how I would do guiding future teachers toward their first yoga class and their certification. The imposter syndrome would take over at night, when I would spend hours going over all the tools and wisdom I had gathered in my trainings, books, and articles online, going over my morning classes in detail, polishing them and adding nuggets of information that would serve the future teachers on their journey. This type of teaching definitely stood out as completely different from teaching a public class to a crowd returning to work and a busy schedule in the city right after…It was the perfect “bubble” where everything was orchestrated and prepared for the students to have a jam-packed day with lessons, but where there was nothing for them to do but learn and prepare for their practicums. For most of the students, it was the first time they left their families for two weeks straight, and where they didn’t have to worry about cooking, cleaning, or transportation; it was a fully immersive experience. It was similar for the teachers too, all we had to do was prepare classes and lectures, show up as our best selves, and share our knowledge, trusting the flow of the schedule, one day at a time. It was intense, but it allowed me to truly find out what it means to be a guide and teacher, it made me dive deeper into the meaning of yoga, its’ history and philosophy. I learned that in order to truly understand yoga, I have to be able to explain it to someone else out loud.

The other lesson of surrender was that I was completely trusted with my abilities by the leaders of the training. There was no micro-managing, double-checking or worrying, even though there were lectures that I taught for the first time and built from the ground up on my own there. I also had the freedom to add a couple of classes that I was personally passionate about teaching, like “Shakti Dance”, myofascial release, and even teaching about the inner seasons of the feminine cycle (we were all women in that first training). And I think this is what made the biggest difference: feeling trusted made me braver, and allowed me to go the extra length to bring forward more than what was needed, to bring forward what I stood up for, what I believed would benefit that particular group too. This allowed me to find a flow in my teaching and yoked yoga theory to yoga practice on yet another level.

I saw myself blossom into the next version of myself there, my teaching had more meaning than ever, I felt like I was serving my community, both international (the students) and local (through karma yoga projects that the school organized), and at the end of each long day, though exhausted, I felt fulfilled and content. I stayed for another training, and another…

With each one taking on more and more, expanding my lecture toolbox, co-learning, and co-teaching alongside other yoga teachers that came from around the world.

This is the job where I learned about ceremony and the importance of opening and closing the space as leaders of a group of individuals journeying together for two weeks. Creating a sacred space with an altar, a ritual, a prayer…Which so naturally came to me once I started to incorporate it. I knew about these things before, but feeling their power in action, seeing how creating a beautiful and intentional moment positively affected the groups time and time again, and then also incorporating ceremony in my daily life, created a deeper sense of understanding why our ancestors practiced ceremony and ritual and how this wisdom is important in our day too.

This is also where I rediscovered my love for singing and learned about sacred songs and Kirtan thanks to Tiana Price, the other teacher hired through Yoga Trade by the school, who arrived there at the same time as me. Singing and devotion to the higher self and different deities have transported me to an even deeper layer of surrender. Seeing how both “Shakti” or embodiment dance and singing mantras made people’s faces glow from the rising energy and opened up their hearts and minds for the rest of the training, showed me what alchemy is. We have the power to transform our physical and emotional states, we have the power to transcend negative emotions, and painful memories using the body, our physical vessel, including our vocal cords. We can raise our energy with movement and vibration, dancing to a song or two is just as energizing and empowering, if not more, as a cup of coffee. We all hold that innate power, yet rarely use it. I had the pleasure of guiding and participating in these practices regularly, and it has made me so much more open, confident, and free! These classes are definitely the highlight of the trainings for me.

Since that first training, Tiana and I have become dear friends and business partners, as we joined our talents and strengths to create “Salisa Retreats” and have since facilitated four international retreats: in Peru, Mexico, Montenegro, and Costa Rica. A dream come true for me, who envisioned hosting my own retreats since my first yoga training, but thought I wasn’t knowledgeable nor capable enough just yet…Maybe I can do another course, read another book first, I thought.

Turns out, just like with training future teachers, there will never be enough years of experience and hours of training, there will never be a perfect age, nor the perfect moment to take the leap and start. It is not for everyone, but if there is a burning desire, or even a quiet voice saying “I see myself doing that”, then this is all one needs to trust and take the leap! Trust that there will be the right type of guidance on the way — one’s intuition, and other guides that will help make it happen. Learning and acquiring skills and knowledge will be done before, during, and after you start. One never stops learning as a teacher, and this is the beauty of it! After all, it’s not about knowing everything, but about having the experience with something that your students are about to step into, and gently guiding them on their path.

Connect with Sophia:

IG: @spreading.lava

YouTube: Deep Breaths with Sophia

Website: Salisa Retreats

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Svyatoslava Pskova
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