brisbane yoga studios

Is this on the test?

I listened to an interview with Seth Godin today.  Seth is one of my favourite authors and thinkers.  If you haven’t come across any of his work, I highly recommend him.   One of the things that Seth often says is that a question indicative that we are a product of the modern school system is, “Is this on the test?”  I saw this in our recent Brisbane 200 hour Yoga teacher training.  Trainees were freaked out by homework.  Not only was there apprehension simply around the fact of having homework, trainees came back asking, albeit in slightly different and round-about terms, “will this be on the test?”    This was homework that we had carefully constructed to provide processes of inquiry which would take students deeper into the study of Yoga and themselves, not the sort of homework that would be marked with red pen and big crosses.  While there were important learnings in there for the teacher in training (indeed, for any Yoga practitioner), what we were seeking to create wasn’t students who could memorise and recite the correct answers, but something different altogether.  We sought to open doors onto a journey of lifelong, passionate, engaged learning.  To me, this is what Yoga is.  Yoga isn’t mastering techniques or learning information until we ‘arrive’.  Sure, much of the Yoga tradition does hold that there is a definite place we can arrive at and journey no more (samadhi, or nirvana in the Buddhist traditions).  There are two things I would say to this:    1)  What if there isn’t?  2)  Even if there is, until I arrive there, I plan to stay open.  Ceaselessly, boldly, gloriously open to transcending old understandings and embracing new, more effective ones.  Douglas Brooks’ teacher, Dr. Gopala Aiyar Sundaramoorthy, said, “Yoga is virtuosity in being yourself”.  Not only is the target changing, as the self seems to be ever in flux, the self is complex enough that no amount of work could perfect us.    Training to become a Yoga teacher is a big deal, with a quite unfathomable amount one has to learn.  But what do you do to improve at a thing, to become proficient and to understand it more deeply and more fully?  You do it.  Engage in it wholeheartedly and learn by doing and course correcting, without the expectation of perfection.    Back to Seth Godin.  Seth relates that many people, when meeting successful creative people, will ask, “Where do you get your good ideas?”  This, he says, is a bad question.  Bad, because what we would ideally ask is, “Where do you get your bad ideas from?”  If we create enough, he says, we’ll have a bunch of bad ideas, but we’ll also have some great ones, so we should create enough, practice enough, do enough that we give ourselves that opportunity.  Seth believes in this so much that in his online training program, he has students create multiple significant projects within the space of a month.  It’s the same approach that we’ve taken.  Our Yoga teacher trainees have their first experience of teaching on the first day of the course.  This is simple at first, and highly manageable. As the course progresses, students continue to learn and to layer more, teaching more and more as they go along, building in confidence, knowledge and proficiency.  The next step along this journey is when teacher trainees begin to create their own classes and receive feedback as they go, leading up to their final assessment of teaching a full class to their peers.    This isn’t easy.  We know it’s not.  We saw trainees grapple with the awkwardness of getting all of this right.  We saw them come face to face with their own ‘bad ideas’ (In this case, words that came out less than smooth, lefts and rights mixed up, cues that weren’t the best in the pose and class plans that didn’t have as much clarity and direction as they could have).  In and through it all, though, they were held.  And remarkably, this audacious plan of ours to have students in the practice of teaching as they were learning and as a tool to learning paid off.  The teachers that we saw teach their assessment classes were ones that we couldn’t have imagined as we started out.  They were confident and competent.  Knowledgeable and well able to teach a wonderful Yoga class.    Most of all, and perhaps most excitingly, they were entirely themselves.  In and through this process, they had peeled back the layers to uncover their own expression as a Yoga teacher.  It was one of our main aims, and remains so;  that each individual dives deeper into what Yoga means to them, embodies its truths and expresses them in their teaching.  Not only this, we hope to facilitate that process in such a way, sharing our experiences with Yoga and passions for Yoga, that each teacher trainee is invited to become the sort of teacher and practitioner who is ever opening to expanding the possibilities of who they are as a human, as a teacher and as a Yogin or Yogini.   "Marty (Martin Collyer), along with studio founder and owner Amy Wilkinson and partner Riss Carlyon, is one of the three creators and facilitators of our Brisbane 200 hour Yoga teacher training.  Our goal was to bring to the Brisbane market a Yoga teacher training which combined the best of Vinyasa and alignment based postural Yoga, a balanced approach to the history and philosophy of Yoga and a true journey of the transformation so important to becoming a Yoga teacher.  Yoga is our gift and passion, and we feel so blessed to share it with people in this unique course.    You can keep an eye out for graduates of our first Brisbane Yoga teacher training in studio, where they are teaching across our three locations.  If you’re interested in becoming a Yoga teacher yourself and are based in Brisbane, come along to a class and say hi to Amy, Riss or Marty.  We’d love to see you and will endeavour to answer any questions you have about the suitability of the 2017 intake of our 200 hour teacher training.

I listened to an interview with Seth Godin today.  Seth is one of my favourite authors and thinkers.  If you haven’t come across any of his work, I highly recommend him. 

One of the things that Seth often says is that a question indicative that we are a product of the modern school system is, “Is this on the test?”  I saw this in our recent Brisbane 200 hour Yoga teacher training.  Trainees were freaked out by homework.  Not only was there apprehension simply around the fact of having homework, trainees came back asking, albeit in slightly different and round-about terms, “will this be on the test?”  

This was homework that we had carefully constructed to provide processes of inquiry which would take students deeper into the study of Yoga and themselves, not the sort of homework that would be marked with red pen and big crosses.  While there were important learnings in there for the teacher in training (indeed, for any Yoga practitioner), what we were seeking to create wasn’t students who could memorise and recite the correct answers, but something different altogether.  We sought to open doors onto a journey of lifelong, passionate, engaged learning.  To me, this is what Yoga is.  Yoga isn’t mastering techniques or learning information until we ‘arrive’.  Sure, much of the Yoga tradition does hold that there is a definite place we can arrive at and journey no more (samadhi, or nirvana in the Buddhist traditions).  There are two things I would say to this:  

1)  What if there isn’t?

2)  Even if there is, until I arrive there, I plan to stay open.  Ceaselessly, boldly, gloriously open to transcending old understandings and embracing new, more effective ones.  Douglas Brooks’ teacher, Dr. Gopala Aiyar Sundaramoorthy, said, “Yoga is virtuosity in being yourself”.  Not only is the target changing, as the self seems to be ever in flux, the self is complex enough that no amount of work could perfect us.  

Training to become a Yoga teacher is a big deal, with a quite unfathomable amount one has to learn.  But what do you do to improve at a thing, to become proficient and to understand it more deeply and more fully?  You do it.  Engage in it wholeheartedly and learn by doing and course correcting, without the expectation of perfection.  

Back to Seth Godin.  Seth relates that many people, when meeting successful creative people, will ask, “Where do you get your good ideas?”  This, he says, is a bad question.  Bad, because what we would ideally ask is, “Where do you get your bad ideas from?”  If we create enough, he says, we’ll have a bunch of bad ideas, but we’ll also have some great ones, so we should create enough, practice enough, do enough that we give ourselves that opportunity.

Seth believes in this so much that in his online training program, he has students create multiple significant projects within the space of a month.  It’s the same approach that we’ve taken.  Our Yoga teacher trainees have their first experience of teaching on the first day of the course.  This is simple at first, and highly manageable. As the course progresses, students continue to learn and to layer more, teaching more and more as they go along, building in confidence, knowledge and proficiency.

The next step along this journey is when teacher trainees begin to create their own classes and receive feedback as they go, leading up to their final assessment of teaching a full class to their peers.  

This isn’t easy.  We know it’s not.  We saw trainees grapple with the awkwardness of getting all of this right.  We saw them come face to face with their own ‘bad ideas’ (In this case, words that came out less than smooth, lefts and rights mixed up, cues that weren’t the best in the pose and class plans that didn’t have as much clarity and direction as they could have).  In and through it all, though, they were held.  And remarkably, this audacious plan of ours to have students in the practice of teaching as they were learning and as a tool to learning paid off.  The teachers that we saw teach their assessment classes were ones that we couldn’t have imagined as we started out.  They were confident and competent.  Knowledgeable and well able to teach a wonderful Yoga class.  

Most of all, and perhaps most excitingly, they were entirely themselves.  In and through this process, they had peeled back the layers to uncover their own expression as a Yoga teacher.  It was one of our main aims, and remains so;  that each individual dives deeper into what Yoga means to them, embodies its truths and expresses them in their teaching.  Not only this, we hope to facilitate that process in such a way, sharing our experiences with Yoga and passions for Yoga, that each teacher trainee is invited to become the sort of teacher and practitioner who is ever opening to expanding the possibilities of who they are as a human, as a teacher and as a Yogin or Yogini.

"Marty (Martin Collyer), along with studio founder and owner Amy Wilkinson and partner Riss Carlyon, is one of the three creators and facilitators of our Brisbane 200 hour Yoga teacher training.  Our goal was to bring to the Brisbane market a Yoga teacher training which combined the best of Vinyasa and alignment based postural Yoga, a balanced approach to the history and philosophy of Yoga and a true journey of the transformation so important to becoming a Yoga teacher.  Yoga is our gift and passion, and we feel so blessed to share it with people in this unique course.

You can keep an eye out for graduates of our first Brisbane Yoga teacher training in studio, where they are teaching across our three locations.  If you’re interested in becoming a Yoga teacher yourself and are based in Brisbane, come along to a class and say hi to Amy, Riss or Marty.  We’d love to see you and will endeavour to answer any questions you have about the suitability of the 2017 intake of our 200 hour teacher training.

Taking the next step in your yoga practice.

What does the next step in your yoga practice look like?  Where do you feel called to take it, deepen it, even share it?  Maybe it is tackling a more advanced class; perhaps you have been enjoying a Foundations class and are somewhat trepidatiously looking at Vinyasa class times.  Maybe it is tackling a posture you have always held in a certain awe while wondering if you’ll ever be ready to look at it.  Maybe it’s taking your practice deeper by taking a meditation course or maybe, the big maybe, you’ve been looking at immersing yourself in a teacher training course.

I’ll take a little detour, if I may...

This pose (the one in the picture)…  I remember seeing it, all those years ago as a beginner, new to the world of yoga, and feeling smitten.  There was something about the pose that without actually thinking, “I’ll have made it when I can do that pose”, I kind of thought that.  I was a professional ballet dancer at the time, relatively early in my career but at a high degree of competency in and with my body already.  I read in "Light on Yoga”, and, “Yoga the Iyengar Way”, though, that this was an advanced posture, so I wasn’t going to attempt it.  Sure, I played with preparatory shapes which would start to set me up for it, but I knew that attempting the full shape was a long way off.

Fast forward all these years (about fourteen) and it’s a shape which I can get into and find some play in.  I certainly wouldn’t say I have ‘mastered’ it, but then I wouldn’t say that I have mastered utthita trikonasana (triangle) either, if for no other reason than it being a strange concept.  My body is different every single day, its needs different every single day and so honouring that looks different, every. single. day.  A shape becomes a shape becomes a shape, a posture a means to honour the body and to inspire it to experience itself differently.  (When it comes to asana, I love the quote, “Change your shape, change your state”.  I believe it is attributable to Darren Rhodes, perhaps Anthony Robbins, perhaps both and  maybe neither).

So when do you begin to approach that next step in your Yoga practice, whether it be vinyasa class, advanced asana, a meditation course or teacher training?  Well for me, as with this pose, I only really began to play with advanced postures in the last couple of years.  In the process, I surprised myself.  Not only was I better able to grapple with the shapes than I would have expected, the journey they took me on was immense.  I progressed quickly in the ability to work with more difficult shapes.  Most importantly though, it improved both my relationship to more fundamental poses and to the overall health, integrity and comprehension of, and connection to, my body and breath.  The latter I believe to be one of the most important outcomes of postural yoga.

For me, this leap was an act of audacity.  For years, I held back from jumping in because it felt like saying, “I consider myself to be advanced”.  There are so many beautiful parallels that we can draw between our life on the mat and the one that happens everywhere else.  The saying, “How you do anything is how you do everything" springs to mind.  Is standing up and saying you’re up to a task audacious, especially when you possess no real evidence to support the notion but a still small voice which urges you forward?  YES!  But is it needed?  And how have you ever stepped up to a new level in anything without jumping in and swimming like crazy?  I know that any meaningful shift, any movement towards mastery in my life has looked precisely that way.

Just like Hanuman, unaware that he was possessed of Godly capabilities, wishing he could help save countless lives, so are we.  Hanuman’s dear friend, the great Jamabavan, turns to him and reminds him that he can make himself enormous (this, I believe, can readily be interpreted to symbolise our ability to become larger than any obstacle which faces us).  He reminds him that he is well able to leap the ocean and bring back the herbs which will save the lives of his dearest friends and beloved Master.  Furthermore, he lets him know that he is the one.  He asks him, perhaps, as our dearest friends do, “If not you, then who?"

And so, the audacity of standing up and saying maybe, just maybe we will approach those postures, those practices, those endeavours which we deem far beyond us becomes practice for standing up in life to do the things we can which no other can, or in a way no other can.  And we swim, we swim hard, and we grow.  And for each of these acts, whether it be the mighty or simply to say, “I’ll begin to play with that next step.  I’m not sure that I will ever be able to balance on my hands and touch my toes to the back of my head, but I’ll take that handstand workshop.”, or, " I’m not sure about ever standing at the front of the classroom and teaching, but I’ll register for teacher training and see where it may lead me.”, the world is made better.

 

You can read more about Marty Collyer in his teachers bio, or catch him on the mat in one of his inspiring and challenging weekly classes at Bulimba, Camp Hill or Wynnum. Marty is also a lead teacher in our upcoming, Live Your Bliss Yoga Teacher Training commencing in August and also runs regular workshops at Inna Bliss, which encourage, support and empower you to refine and deepen your practice. His next workshop, Foundations of Flow, focuses on helping you to find ease and seamless flow in the most fundamental moves and sequences of Vinyasa Yoga.