With 8 of the 11 sessions of the TSYP Foundation course already under my belt this feels like a good time to take stock & reflect on the course so far.
I’d come to yoga late in life with only a handful of sessions here and there, until a bad skiing accident in my mid 50s, five years ago, shattered both my leg and my self-confidence. A prolonged search for recovery (of both mind & body) followed, until a chance conversation with a stranger at a drinks party led me to try yoga therapy under the guidance and care of Bea Teuten, who happened to live just around the corner from me.
What makes this tradition so powerful and transformative?
Fast forward almost five years and I am two-thirds of the way through a TSYP Foundation Course and loving every moment! Having benefited so directly, both physically and mentally from practising in this tradition of yoga I wanted to know more – I knew I had been helped enormously but how, exactly? How could an initial focus on the physical through āsana and prānāyāma have such an impact on my emotional wellbeing? What makes this tradition so powerful and transformative? A search for understanding plus an inkling of a thought that as I had been helped, maybe one day, far, far in the future I might be able to help others, led me to take the first steps and sign up for the Foundation Course.
Whilst the course is an essential first step for anyone thinking of going on to do teacher training, many students don’t partake with this end goal in mind. Since the course is designed as a ‘stepping-stone’, it is suitable for anyone undertaking a weekly class or 1:1 tuition who wishes to deep their knowledge of yoga in this tradition; the course is a wonderful support for using and practising yoga in one’s daily life.
Together with eight other students (one of whom weirdly turned out to be the stranger at the drinks party – thank you Caroline!) we have touched on postures, breathing, philosophy, history, ayurvedic diets, chanting and meditation. We have a brief outline for each day (11 days in total, one a month) sent out in advance, and each day starts with a discussion sparked by any questions we might have relating to what we have learnt so far. I have especially enjoyed discussions focusing on some of the sutras from Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra (a key text), and how these can relate to our daily lives.
‘I even love the homework’
The days are intense but punctuated by much needed lunch and tea breaks as well as a couple of practices. These not only help break up the day of thinking and talking but are also essential, as we have to experience the process to understand it. Constant repetition of Sanskrit words such as āsana, prānāyāma, samskāra mean that by this stage of the course some words are now beginning to stick!
I even love the ‘optional’ homework: usually some reading which either follows on from what we have covered or prepares the ground for a following session and some self-reflection on how what we have covered during the day applies in our lives. Best of all is the opportunity now to have a go at putting together a short practice ourselves, and receiving considered and constructive feedback on one’s ideas.
We are nothing if not flexible
As a group disparate in terms of age and life-stage, we support each other along the way, and I have realised that the learning is amplified by the sharing and swapping of thoughts with others. It can be great fun, hugely emotional at times and I feel immensely privileged to undertake this journey, at this time, with this group and in particular, under the close watch and supportive guidance of our teacher.
Even though social distancing has meant moving classes online for the time being and splitting a day’s session across two half days (who can do a full day of Zoom!?), we are nothing if not flexible, and all seem to have adapted to the change well. Fingers crossed that our final session, in July, can take place in person once again, and that we can celebrate that milestone together!