I could begin by rambling on about how being bored during the Covid pandemic inspired me to pursue a new skill/career/mindset etc, but being in a national lockdown was not the reason I decided to train to become a yoga teacher- This was something I had been wanting to pursue for around two years, but due to my then day job and living situation, it would have been near enough impossible, not to mention the extremely low self esteem I ended up developing as a result of the toxic living situation. Perhaps in some way, the restrictions on daily living did somewhat “inspire” me to finally sign up to a course, because I knew I would have plenty of time and no distractions to study, but not as learning a brand new skill, as I have been practicing and learning about yoga since early 2017, therefore I was already experienced and passionate about the lifestyle. My friends, family and housemates were very supportive and encouraging too, which gave me that final push to get out (or should that be “stay in”?!) and go for it!
I was quite lucky, as one of my friends had recently passed her Level 3 instructor course through a fitness company named HFE, who run online and face to face training in London, as well as many other parts of England. I called them the next day, and by that evening, I was enrolled and excited to begin pursuing a career (as well as continuing acting/comedy/writing of course) that I actually enjoy and am enthusiastic about!
A large percentage of the course was made up of online worksheets, and study manuals which I received in the post. The manuals brought back memories of studying for my GCSE and A- Level exams, which also caused me remember funny things my friends and I did/said in school- although I am sure our teachers had some more choice words to describe us, rather than “funny”! The largest piece of coursework was a long worksheet about the history of yoga, which was very fortunate for me, as I knew a fair bit about this already, and find it genuinely interesting.
There were two face to face training weekends in August, before the final exam weekend on the 12th-13th September, where students were to take two written exams on the Saturday morning, followed by teaching a “Sun Salutations” class in the afternoon. The Sunday was the “big” exam day, where we had to teach a full 40-45 minute beginners yoga class. Originally, we each told we had to bring two people from our lives to teach our class to, but due to the pandemic, this was scrapped and instead we just gave the class to other students on the course, which I preferred in all honesty, as I think I would get distracted and more nervous, if it was people I knew that were part of my exam! The other students were all lovely and fitness fanatics, so I got on well with everyone. Our tutor, Angela, was so nice as well, and I learnt a lot from her during the three weekends. The location was a high end hotel in the middle of Marble Arch/Oxford Street, so there was plenty of choice for lunch, and I was very happy that the hotel had a Costa Coffee, that sold their full vegan range of food and drink!
I rarely ever used to get nervous before written or practical exams as a child/teenager, but a lot has happened with my mental health and mindset since then, so I actually was pretty anxious before all four exams, despite having studied so intensely for the past few months, to the point I probably could recite every manual back to back if I had been asked to! We had to wait 2-3 weeks to get our written exam results, but we got our results for the practical exams the same weekend we took them. I am very happy (and relieved) to say I passed all four exams, and in both the practical exams, I received next to no “comments” aka criticism, when the examiner gave everyone the notes she had written during our performance! The things I need to work on mainly, are speaking slower when instructing, and remembering that a beginners class really is the very basics of physical yoga, therefore I need to keep poses/flow to this level, and not casually drop into a sequence, that if anyone in the class feels like doing full seated binds or headstands, they are free to go right ahead! I was so happy with my results, as I genuinely was worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle the pressures of exams any more, especially as three were on the same day, and I had the additional nerves of going first to teach the main, full yoga class. This was at 9am on the Sunday, so the only last minute refresh I had, was in the taxi to the venue, whereas everyone else had at least an extra hour to polish their routines!
I am currently halfway through my second course with HFE, studying the teaching and adaptions of pre & postnatal fitness, which I am really enjoying. I have had one in person interview at a North London gym for an instructor job, however the manager whom the meeting was with, was somehow under the belief that I am an experienced personal trainer with lots of students that I could bring to the gym! It was slightly awkward, but in all honesty, I am just pleased that during the current state of the country, I was able to secure a job interview at all! I am using my time in lockdown to continue studying, and gain more knowledge about all aspects of the yoga lifestyle, so that when I am eventually able to think about teaching face to face classes, I will be even more confident and educated about the fitness industry! I am so, so happy, that I decided to go for it back in May and enroll on my first course, as it has done a lot for my ever fluctuating self esteem, plus I know my enthusiasm and passion for yoga will be evident in my classes, which will hopefully be transferred onto my students, also!
*I feel I should clarify, that whilst these in person training weekends did indeed take place during the national pandemic restrictions, both the venue and HFE were very much on top of hygiene, mask requirements, temperature taking, and social distancing. In the practical exams, it is usually encouraged that whoever is teaching the class, physically correct others positioning, by moving their arms or adjusting their posture etc, however in the current circumstances, we were told NOT to have any form of physical contact with one another, and that it would be an instant exam fail if we did!