On completion of the TSYP Teacher Training Diploma Course in the tradition of Krishnamacharya and his son TKV Desikachar, it seemed a fitting time to reflect on what the course has meant to me and how it has enhanced and developed my 30-year relationship with yoga.
As the years passed since qualifying to teach yoga in 2002, I became increasingly interested in yoga’s healing and therapeutic applications. This led me to seek out teachers in the tradition of Krishnamacharya and his son TKV Desikachar, while pursuing individual tuition as a student myself. Keen to extend my knowledge in the application of yoga tools to promote health and well-being for a broad spectrum of students, I embarked on the TSYP Diploma Course in September 2017.
From the very first weekend, I knew I was in the right place!
Our lead teacher, Andy Curtis-Payne, communicated the ancient teachings of yoga with passion and precision, while never losing sight of how relevant these teachings remain to our lives today. He is very skilled at applying the tenets of yoga philosophy to our lived experience and whether we were learning about kriyā yoga and the kleśa-s (obstacles) in Patanjali’s Yoga Sūtra-s, or the origins of yoga in the Upanisad-s, or dhyāna (meditation) in the Bhagavad Gītā, we were encouraged to reflect on how the teachings of the ancient texts aided and assisted us in our Gŗhastha (house-holder) lifestyles in the modern era.
This focus on yoga philosophy was one of the many things that drew me to this tradition in the first place but the course weekends were a stimulating mixture of study and discussion of texts, a range of āsana and prāņāyāma techniques plus mudra and bandha, anatomy and physiology, common pathologies, listening and observation skills and professional practice, plus plenty of group practice of āsana, prāņāyāma and mantra. ‘Homework’ was practical. As well as keeping up with our own personal practice, we applied our new learning in creating practices to teach to the rest of the group. Yoga is experiential; you have to do it, to feel it, in order to know it or even begin to understand it. I loved that this tradition and training emphasised this, and that everything we were taught in theory, we were invited to put into practice.
The main body of work that we needed to complete for assessment was 6 individual case studies. Over the course of our second year, we saw each of these volunteer students 6 times so that, once again, we could put our learning of 1-2-1 teaching and yoga therapy into practice. As a budding yoga therapist I was learning to apply yoga tools that addressed the whole system – annamaya (‘food’ body), prāņāmaya (‘energy’ body), manomaya (mind and senses), vijňānamaya (‘wisdom’ body), ānandamaya (‘bliss’ body) – adopting a holistic approach, rather than separating the person into disparate, unconnected ‘problems’.
Having a mentor is an invaluable resource
Luckily throughout all of this, I was never alone, with my mentor on call should I feel the need for additional support and direction. This is another wonderful asset to this tradition; all yoga teachers working within it must have an ongoing relationship with their own mentor. This is an invaluable resource of help, advice, support and encouragement, whilst simultaneously ensuring that the teachers are teaching and practising from the same agamā (authentic, valid, reference point). Some of the senior teachers in the TSYP studied directly with Sri TKV Desikachar (son of the father of modern yoga, Krishnamacharya) and still travel regularly to India for further study at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai. There is much to be gained from these ongoing links and those of us on the course experienced this sangha amongst ourselves, forging strong bonds between us, which we intend to continue beyond the end of the course.
What have I gained from my 29 months on the course? New skills, new friendships, deeper understanding, better health and well-being, re-connection to yoga philosophy, development of yoga teaching and yoga journey, more clarity and stability, happiness, confidence. I shall miss it! But now the real work begins…….