My love of health and fitness spans many years; as a single parent to my two children -Millisent 12yrs and Gabriele 7yrs- I proudly achieved my first sixpack after the birth of my second child by working out from home whilst studying, working and raising my young family single handed.
Fast forward to today and I’ve absolutely thrived on adding to my skillset; I’m a fitness journalist for fitness events, exhibitions and magazines worldwide, I’ve qualified as a level 3 personal trainer, nutrition advisor, studied sports massage therapy and mindfulness, achieved my PRO card in natural bodybuilding as a vegan and am looking to specialise in helping carnivores to transition from eating meat to a plant-based diet.
Longterm, my goal is to share my love of fitness and nutrition with the world, motivating others along the way with my journey and helping those near and far to lead healthier, happier, higher-quality more-fulfilling lives. Ultimately living longer, feeling stronger and spending more happier moments with loved ones because good health and a higher quality of life are key.
I’ve daydreamed of holding fitness retreats around the world, in sunny remote locations from rustic whitewashed villas nestled into beachfronts, greeting clients with morning yoga followed by a healthy superfood breakfast, afternoon meditations and daily workouts teamed with positive mindset practices; basically pushing pause on the stress, hustle and bustle of life, finding balance and peace and then moving forwards with a collective body mind and soul plan to properly enjoy life, recognise and love every day for the blessing that it is.
I’ve toyed with the idea of becoming a yoga instructor for some years now, ever since my doctor first referred me to a yoga class as as a young student when I developed high blood pressure during exams. I found the calmness, control and freedom of yoga so empowering and uplifting, not only was it a great way to reduce my stress levels but it also taught me so much about myself and what I needed in life to feel calm and at peace.
So a couple of children under my belt later, a successfully hectic work life and never-ending stream of chores, obstacles and challenges to face and my dreams of instructing yoga classes to stressed out fellow city-workers in paradise has seemed to be a million miles away. That was until a sudden worldwide pandemic caused mankind to be forced into lockdown to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus which has taken the lives of thousands worldwide and continues at an alarming rate.
After many hours debating my future plans, hopes and dreams, followed by just as many hours spent researching course providers and study material I’ve just taken my first step towards my next goal and enrolled in a yoga instructing home study course. So here I’ll be keeping a blog of my plans, progress, tips, advice and hopeful success in gaining my qualifications in the hope that I may motivate you to pursue your dreams too.
I welcome you to join me on my journey and leave any thoughts, feelings or feedback in the comments box below; wish me luck and I hope you find my blog helpful!
Coronavirus / Covid19 Quarantine
Whilst many binge on boxsets and movies, trapped inside craving freedom, I’ve never been one to sit and do nothing. My diary is now spookily clear for the first time ever, my home immaculate, my children three weeks into the routine of home schooling and the time feels right for me to begin the next step towards my life goals. For once I have time on my hands and the opportunity to spend it wisely, so I excitedly began my research into online study courses to make my dream a reality.
Where online study courses were once seen as secondary to attending University in adolescence, adult education is now a booming business as it combines the practicality of learning new skills and gaining qualifications at any age with the convenience of home study – afterall, we all lead such busy lives it can be almost impossible to fit in a full time career, commuting and raising a family whilst travelling to out of hours evening courses at local, or not so local, venues.
With quarantine set to last a minimum of twelve weeks, some suggesting eighteen months, now is the perfect time to begin an online study course for which I have an entire year to complete my course followed by a couple of classroom weekends and examinations once social distancing measures are eventually lifted.
Mental health is something at the forefront of society right now as routines are thrown into chaos and many are left isolated, alone and with little more than time and uncertainty on their hands than usual. Therefore, setting positive goals, having focus and spending this time constructively not only helps to restore a little normality to otherwise unstructured days, but it also keeps the mind busy away from the fear and negativity of the press and media.
After looking at a range of different course providers online I chose to study with Train Fitness and was able to speak to a really helpful advisor via telephone prior to enrolment to ensure that I can complete this course (within the twelve month online timescale) even if quarantine isn’t lifted, as they have put in place measures to postpone exams where necessary without having to re-enrol or courses expiring which I found very reassuring.
Why Home Study Yoga?
Whilst my children’s schools are frantically scrambling to now create online classrooms and set homework in study sessions via email, online courses are already in full flow, well established and able to handle the sudden influx in students worldwide as this is already their area of expertise. Therefore for support and qualifications home study is more practical and beneficial than ever.
Interest in yoga also continues to grow worldwide as we recognise the importance of reducing stress and keeping active, not to mentioning maintaining flexibility with coming age. Not only is yoga something that I already thoroughly enjoy to supplement my active lifestyle, but from a business perspective, qualifying as a yoga instructor gives me greater scope to work around my young family and help others whilst striving towards achieving my own longterm lifestyle-intervention dreams.
This yoga instructor course focuses on yoga training approaches and techniques, health and safety considerations, the philosophy and fundamentals of yoga as well as how to plan and teach your own yoga classes which is something I’m really looking forward to.
Accredited by YMCA Awards, once the course is completed I’ll hopefully be awarded my Level 3 Diploma in Teaching Yoga. This qualification is recognised by the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) in the UK, ICREPS Global Portability Matrix, European Register of Exercise Professionals (EREPS), as well as internationally with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) – something many other courses may not provide.
My home studies can fit into my existing lifestyle whilst giving me access to tutors and online support should I need them. The online application was quick and easy to complete and after processing I was able to gain access to all of my course material to get going right away.
My Course Breakdown
My home study Yoga Instructor course consists of the following modules:/
Introduction to Level 3 Diploma in Teaching Yoga
Level 3 Diploma in Teaching Yoga Learner Achievement Portfolio
Unit 3.1 – Anatomy & Physiology For Exercise and Health
Unit 2.2 – Know How to Support Clients Who Take Part in Exercise & Physical Activity
Unit 2.3 – Health, Safety & Welfare in a Fitness Environment
Unit 2.4 – Principles of Exercise, Fitness & Health
Unit 3.5 – Philosophy and Fundamentals of Yoga
Unit 3.6 – Programming a Yoga Session
Unit 3.7 – Delivering a Yoga Session Practicum
Unit 3.7.1 – Delivering a Yoga Session Stage 1 Training Weekend
Unit 3.7.2 – Delivering a Yoga Session Stage 2 Training Weekend
Unit 3.1 – Anatomy & Physiology for Exercise and Health Theory Assessment
Unit 2.2 – Know How to Support Clients Who Take Part in Exercise & Physical Activity Portfolio Assessment
Unit 2.3 – Health, Safety & Welfare in a Fitness Environment Portfolio Assessment
Unit 2.4 – Principles of Exercise, Fitness & Health Theory Assessment
Unit 3.5 – Philosophy and Fundamentals of Yoga Portfolio Assessment
Unit 3.6 – Programming a Yoga Session Portfolio Assessment
Unit 3.7 – Delivering a Yoga Session Practical Assessment
Level 3 Diploma in Teaching Yoga
20 CPD POINTS are spread across Anatomy & Physiology for Exercise & Health, Supporting Clients in Exercise & Physical Activity Health, Safety & Welfare in a Fitness Environment, Principles of Exercise, Fitness & Health Philosophy, Fundamentals of Yoga, Programming a Yoga Session and Delivering a Yoga Session.
My course provider, Train Fitness, are the first training provider in the UK to have an app allowing me to study the online component of my course on a mobile device so that I can study on the go without being limited to a laptop or desktop.
They conveniently have training and assessment centres across the UK including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Ipswich, Chelmsford, Southampton, Liverpool, Nottingham, Leicester, Leeds and Newcastle which my nearest centre being in London.
I can now begin working my through the online course material from home which involves completes the practicum which is 30 hours and a portfolio consisting of worksheets, a journal evidencing 60 hours of yoga practice and also session planning. I can then book onto the relevant scheduled course days and assessment day in London and submit my practicum evidence as well as hand in your portfolio on the assessment day in order to complete my course and gain my qualifications.
With courses starting from £1199 I found this to be excellent value for money for the high quality content and respected qualifications that I can achieve, as well as incredibly affordable with a family as you can break the total into three payments, pay upfront in full or utilise a finance plan of up to five years which is nice to know. They also accept Paypal as well as credit and debit cards and can handle everything over the phone or online – personally I like to speak to an advisor on the phone to ensure everything is accurate and processed in realtime.
My home study course is managed via an online learning portal where I can view my online course material, book onto the course, training and assessment days, as well as watch and participate in eClasses – all of which I can do from either my laptop and mobile app to fit in with my day. I particularly like that they allow you to e-sit theory assessments free of charge on relevant scheduled assessment days, with practical re-assessments and missed practical assessments being subject to a re-booking fee.
Whilst the online course doesn’t include printed material, all static course material is printable and all forms accessible from the Student Desktop.
There are four classroom days in total which are held over two weekends split into stage 1 and stage 2 and can be booked onto at a time to suit via the portal. The classroom days are usually scheduled a month apart followed by the assessment day when students hand in their portfolios and perform practical assessments; you need to bring three participants along with you on the day for this or you can submit a video with six participants online.
A basic level of English and Maths is deemed necessary to understand all content and if you, like I do, already hold a level 2 certificate in Fitness Instructing then you may be eligible for exemption from certain parts of the course.
This course is physically exerting and participation in activity is essential so it’s helpful to already have some degree of physical fitness before starting out. Prior attendance at yoga classes is also very helpful, but not compulsory – all in all I find this course a perfect fit for my lifestyle and goals and I feel fit and ready to begin the next step in my career.
Home Study Support
What really sold me on this course was the access to the Learner Support team who assist with all study sessions and queries as well as the tutors who lead the classroom days. There’s nothing more frustrating than being stuck on something and left in the dark, when having a question answered promptly and professionally by a tutor can solve the confusion and keep the flow of learning on track.
The team is available via telephone, email and on the help desk which is ideal and I aim to assign 2-3hrs at a time throughout Monday to Friday to undertake my course which also allows me to work from home as I presently do, tend to my family and keep up on the extra quarantine housework, chores and DIY sprees – essentially switching time I would have spent commuting for studying my course material instead!
There are also online eClasses which can be booked or viewed at just the click of a button and all eClasses are recorded and then added to on online library so if I ever fail to attend a class I can go back and watch them again without missing out or falling behind.
I love how this course utilises peer-to-peer help with the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn profiles encouraging students to join in social media conversations and share their experience of the course as well as encouragement for others and personal progress – I’m all for fitness families!
Studying with a provider who has over 17yrs of experience tutoring thousands of students, is fully accredited with courses awarded by YMCA Awards, Active IQ or SkillsActive and internationally recognised by REPs and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) I’m looking forward to being educated by some of the fitness industry’s best tutors from the comfort of my home.
I’ve really been playing catch-up on lockdown working full-time and home schooling my children. Being self-employed I sometimes get a whole wave of work all at once which fills my every day and then other weeks it may just be 3-4hrs per day and I have weekends off. I’m certainly hectic at the moment without childcare.
Something that I’ve really found helpful is the Introduction module to this course because it outlines everything that is necessary as well as helping you to plan how and when to study and what works best for you as an individual. Being able to set goals and deadlines for course module completions helps to keep you on track and motivated by having something to answer to, and whilst I have an entire year to complete this course I’m hoping on finishing far sooner!
Each module comes with text, graphs, diagrams, videos and audio to help you to grasp the content in a variety of ways, before you then move onto the module questions in the form of a worksheet. What I particularly like about the worksheet gradings is that the results are immediate to say whether you have passed or need to retry and it highlights in red and green which questions are right or wrong so that you know what to improve on.
I’ve been kept fully up to date as a student concerning the Coronavirus handling of online study courses with Train Fitness and was informed that their face-to-face gradings for exams will now take place online, meaning I no longer have to travel to a classroom weekend because of social distancing. This means I can compete my entire course from the comfort of my own home and not worry about childcare, transport or juggling work for time off to sit my exams. It also opens up their material to students studying from across the world as they do not have to attend a classroom in England.
All in all, whilst there are advantages and disadvantages to being in lockdown, I’m thrilled to be using this time wisely, enjoying spending time with my children, working hard and structuring my studies around my new normal in order to achieve a career in Yoga Instructing for a bright and beautiful future.
This weekend was the bank holiday with beautiful weather and plenty to keep me busy around the house. What with the children being off off school and catching up on work between doing chores and trying to study, I decided to take some time out to be with my children and live in the moment – no phones or electrical’s!
We had the most wonderful time cooking, eating, playing and walking and I feel so relaxed, if not exhausted, by using the time to be so active and make home improvements. Now that it’s the start of a new (shorter) week following the bank holiday I’m back to my studies with a positive mindset and can-do attitude.
It can easily become overwhelming to have so much on your plate work wise, whilst still wanting to progress career wise through extended studying. But it’s important to develop a healthy balance between your home/work and study life so that you don’t burn the candle at both ends and become exhausted.
Set yourself goals, have a deadline in mind to pass each module to keep motivated, but don’t beat yourself up if you do not make each milestone in time – it’s best that you take it at your own pace and ensure that you learn however is best for you.
What I really love is how the student Learner Study Plan (LSP) helps you to plan your study time to fit around your lifestyle so that you can predict how long the course will take depending on the amount of hours needed per module. This is a way of realistically understanding the pace of your progress and giving you an end-point to aim towards.
I found that when I was a student, many moons ago now or so it seems, I used to make notes on paper cards, use coloured highlighters, draw diagrams and doodles and keep images and text layouts as a visual in my mind to refer back to when my physical notes weren’t available. I would spend hours re-writing text from study material into my handwriting to say it outloud, read it in silence and write down what I’m thinking.
Now that it’s more than several years since I’ve been at school, my life is far more hectic than when I had the luxury of being a snoozing student with little responsibility and the forgetfulness of being a busy single parent and I’ve noticed how my study pattern has changed.
Making pages and pages of long-winded hand-written notes no longer cements the information into my memory, but instead keeping shorter bulletpoints with detailed diagrams in notebooks to refer back to works wonders. I must have filled up my internal memory space years ago and can recall the majority and jist of what I know, but the finer facts need fine-tuning with a prompt or memory jog which I put down to age and a hectic lifestyle.
However you choose to study, learn and absorb information is down to what works best for you as an individual. I’ve come to realise that revision methods which used to work well for me as a young adult have now changed with time, which is why it’s important to always return to your notes, to keep the mind active and jog your memory on previous topics and past qualifications whilst adding to your knowledge. We are forever learning and knowledge is such a powerful thing! Now, onto my next module…!
Today I’m off to a flying start, I woke up an hour early to catch up on chores, make the breakfast and sort through my emails, which has given me a morning to dedicate to studying for my yoga course; I’m brimming with enthusiasm and positivity!
Some of the worksheets are smaller, more bite-sized sections focusing on the origins, insertions and actions of different muscle groups around the body and they’re a real morale-booster when you can whizz through them and achieve progress!
Others are much longer and include more questions, videos and audio files which are a great help – the variety in size and content really keeps me on my toes and stops the process of studying being too overwhelming and repetitive.
Whilst the gyms here are still closed as we enter week 11 of lockdown, there is talk of them potentially reopening in a months time. I make sure I keep m children active with me by taking daily walks and getting them involved in homemade foods as they would usually be at school with dinner magically appearing on the table once they come home.
Fitness is very much a lifestyle and something that is incorporated into everything that we do, from eating well to keeping active in the body, mind and soul. That means working hard and pushing boundaries whilst ensuring time is taken to relax and unwind, bringing balance to both progress and de-stress when necessary.
I’m nicely into my quarantine flow now with the children, the house, work and studies and whilst it feels like it’s already been an eternity of change, I’m ready and able for even more change to come. One step at a time we come ever closer to achieving our goals, it doesn’t matter how long it takes you, what’s most important is that you keep on moving forwards in direction!
I’ve found that in times of chaos and uncertainty in life, having a goal and turning to fitness helps to bring me focus and peace and for that reason I’m looking forward to helping others across the world to feel the same way.
Just as I had found my flow with my studies I went through a really painful breakup during Covid lockdown as my longterm relationship came to an abrupt end and the news reported an all time high in relationships ending, divorces on the rise and single-parent families because of the stresses of the pandemic and loss of freedom and routine.
It hit me so hard as the world as I knew it fell to pieces around me as I was entirely helpless to do anything to change it. Home schooling my two children, working from home full time and studying teamed with running a home and suffering from a broken heart proved too much for me to maintain and as a result I took a step back from my studies in order to heal and balance myself; the first task was to focus on eating and sleeping again in order to function properly.
Five months have passed in what seems to be the blink of an eye. I’m ahead on my work, have fully redecorated my home, the children are back to school full time and I am physically, emotionally and mentally in such a positive place in life, which has given me the ability to peacefully return to my studies.
We all face times of hardship and struggle and life is a series of tasks and obstacles one after the other. Rather than burn out and break, it’s healthy to take a step back when necessary, realign yourself and come back stronger and more prepared. I’m feeling so refreshed and enthusiastic to pick up where I left off with my course and am incredibly thankful that I am able to study from home in my own time whilst the children are at school working just as hard.
Today I’ve been focusing on muscles of the core post-pregnancy and it’s bringing back fond memories of regaining my sixpack after having my two children. I’m so excited to be able to put my skills and future-qualifications to good use one day and help others to look and feel their best. Keeping the end goal in sight, focusing on setting aside quiet study sessions between parenting and socialising and knowing that each day is one step closer to achieving my dreams has really got me buzzing to progress through this course. Covid may have a lot to answer for for the suffering it has caused to so many, but it’s also proven that the comeback is always far greater than any set back!
It’s been a bit of a hectic week or so what with my daughter celebrating her 13th birthday and I my 33rd! I’ve had lots of friends and family to catch up with, playing catch-up with work as always when the children go to bed and nipping from appointment to appointment as I transition my hair from redhead back to blonde, undertake 7-9hr sessions at a time on my sleeve tattoo for my entire arm to be inked, attend grooming appointments for the dogs and I for my lashes, and hit the gym for 2hrs per day everyday to both unwind and progress.
It’s a fine art finding balance but something that I’m really enjoying, even though life is so busy! It keeps me on my toes and means there’s never a dull day. Progress is progress, no matter how big or small, it’s important that we continue to move forward towards our goals without burning out.
Seeing as I’ve now completed the Endocrine and Nervous Systems I have unlocked the Energy Systems as my final section to complete before I can take my Mock Theory Paper which I’m both excited and nervous about. I’m excited to make progress, yet nervous to think that I began this course a around six months ago before taking a break for personal reasons and now I wonder if it will all be as fresh in my mind as it needs to be in order to recall the necessary information for the test!
Only time will tell and I’ll be sure to do my revision and skim over my many notes in preparation. If we look at anything as a whole it may seem daunting and monumental at first, but when you break it down into bitesize chunks and take it one step at a time it’s surprisingly manageable; I shall keep calm and carry on!
With my course deadline approaching I have just over 6 weeks left to complete my studies and whilst I’ve had a lot to contend with throughout lockdown I am finally on track for completion! It seems a million and one obstacles have fallen into my path recently from my car battery dying in the snow and getting stranded to my home gas supply being cut off from the sub-zero temperates and a water leak then destroying my kitchen ceiling.
Not only am I home schooling the children again but also raising a litter of four beautiful bouncing puppies who all need round-the-clock care and attention before they are old enough to find their forever homes. It’s therefore safe to say that studying during a pandemic whilst overcoming a broken heart and working whilst raising two children alone without childcare is quite a task that I didn’t intend to deal with all at once whilst undergoing a study course, but hey ho, I shall keep calm and carry on!
I’ve managed to dedicate a good block of study time recently to my course by juggling my work and feel extremely motivated by the progress that I have made. It’s easy for life to get in the way and for things to crop up to throw us off of schedule, but whether we take small steps or giant leaps, all progress is progress and we shouldn’t feel disheartened!
I am super excited to have completed all of my online theory and worksheets for my course now which includes personal training and yoga as my previous qualifications had expired so I have to resit them all. Today I moved onto my online theory assessments and was shocked to realise that it has almost been a year since I started the earlier part of my course, out of morbid curiosity I wanted to know if I could actually remember any of the course without having to revise, so I took a practice test first before sitting the live test and to my elation I passed with a mark of 24/30 for the practice Principles of Fitness which was dead on the overall pass mark. I then took the live test and passed again with the exact same mark, despite the questions being different as they are generated for each exam to avoid cheating.
Being able to sit a practice test, much like the mock at the end of the unit, is a great way to see which areas need more work and where best to direct your attention during revision. Being a busy mum I find that my short term memory can be rather questionable at times from so many tasks and the sheer volume of responsibilities, but my longterm recollection isn’t too bad. Needless to say, it is always useful to have a quick re-read of course material which is so quick and easy to access online as it’s broken into sections in the learner portal so that you can instantly find what you’re looking for.
Next up I’ve booked in for my Unit 3.7.1 – Delivering a Yoga Session Stage 1 Training Weekend via zoom in March which is a few weeks away now and ticks off part of my course criteria for a 9am-5pm session. I’ve also revisited my LAP (Learner Achievement Portfolio) which I’m presently working my way through as it covers part of my assessment which in hindsight I should have been filling out with each section of the course that I completed, but it’s no bother to go back over it all and revise for my exams as I complete the necessary paperwork.
Seeing as we’re still in lockdown because of the pandemic until at least this summer, I haven’t been able to attend any local yoga classes in person but have been using online yoga videos and DVD’s to practise from home. In order to be assessed I also need to have observed a live yoga instructor for 30hrs to shadow their lessons which again is proving quite a struggle for me in lockdown. I’ve reached out to some instructors to see if I may observe their online lessons but am yet to hear back from any of them as I’m sure this whole procedure of online training is new for so many and student confidentiality may prevent them from wanting a stranger present, let alone a student.
I’ve been informed that after the deadline for my course passes I can apply for an extension at an additional cost if I’m unable to complete all of the criteria’s in time. I’m hoping that it won’t come to needing an extension and I can find a suitable instructor to shadow before then, but only time will tell. If we weren’t currently in the midst of a pandemic I don’t doubt that this whole process would be a whole lot easier, but it’s reassuring to know that there are online adaptations available to make sitting my exams possible rather than delaying.
UPDATE: 28/03/21 Yoga Training Weekend 1
My first training weekend is complete and I am so hyped! What an amazing virtual experience that was and how lovely to meet so many fellow students from around the country as well as watch live students on the mat in the classroom with the tutor.
I could have travelled to London to partake in the yoga training weekend in person which would have meant a daily 4hr commute and needing childcare for my two children as well as travelling some distance away from my home during covid; for these reasons combined I decided attending the class virtually would be the best choice for me during the pandemic.
There are two yoga training weekends in total for which I am now half way through and now I must write a 10 week progressive yoga plan overview followed by an in-depth plan for weeks 1, 5 and 10 as I will perform the week 5 lesson for my practical assessment.
I am also shortly to begin my one-on-one online video yoga training with yogi Daniele Cavatton in Italy who will provide me with live support and feedback to gain practical experience as part of my course as I am unable to attend a yoga class in person because of Covid restrictions.
With everything fitting nicely into place now I am feeling more confident in my ability and seeing my tutor at the yoga weekend and fellow classmates gave me an indication of my personal progress and that of others.
So far I have ticked all of my boxes for online theories, coursework and classrooms and now I am ready to dig deep and spend some time on the mat putting my new found understanding into practice which is so exciting!
With my second virtual classroom yoga weekend already booked in I now have plenty of time to clock up some hours of experience as part of my course requirements, as well as putting my theory and planning into my very own session plan to determine if it is suitable for my practical assessment – if I can do it then anybody can!
It’s been almost a month since my first yoga training weekend took place and boy oh boy what a month it has been! Where to begin? I am now almost at the half way point of my independent yoga training with my online tutor, yogi Daniele Cavatton, and am having the most wonderful time.
I first discovered Daniele on social media about 4yrs ago and was instantly drawn to the content that he posted about life and yoga. I felt connected and drawn to his positivity and energy and for quite some time had his influence silently in my life as it filled my news feed. Upon deciding last year that I would like to study yoga as a profession, Daniele was the very first person that I thought of for guidance and was thrilled to discover that he also mentors students in personal and virtually as well as teaching classes and one on one lessons.
Based in London, England I am a busy working single mother of two and my children have just had two weeks off of school for the end of term Easter holidays. Fitting in my yoga studies around raising a young family and working freelance during a pandemic has meant that everywhere around me is closed, including local yoga classes. Daniele overcame this barrier of travel restrictions by hosting our mentoring virtually via video call and it has been the most wonderfully uplifting and informative experience.
Daniele is a fantastic teacher, he is a fountain of knowledge and has so much enthusiasm and energy that instantly ignites every lesson. His experience is so vast that he is able to answer every question that I ask and then some, explaining and assisting in helping me to understand in a greater depth the true meaning and vision behind all aspects of yoga and beyond which is a deeper level of understanding than I have personally gained from attending yoga classes myself as a student some years ago.
To be able to ask questions is so valuable to learning and has enriched what I have learnt from textbooks with first hand professional experience and guided modifications and adaptations throughout. Daniele is a wonderfully motivating and warm teacher and always feel so excited and positive for our next Facetime lesson. As a student it has helped me no end to have one-to-one tuition with Daniele and I love hearing all of his tips, advice, challenges and feedback which has kept me motivated and engaged throughout. It can easily feel overwhelming when you learn something new and start out as a beginner, yet it is where we must all begin, corrections, clarification and support are key to making preparations for an exam during the pandemic so much smoother and attainable.
As lockdown restrictions are now gradually lifting with beauty salons allowed to open as well as outdoor dining, I couldn’t get to my tattooist and nail bar quickly enough! During the children’s time off of school we’ve certainly been making up for lost time by exploring a themepark, celebrating my sons birthday, walking our puppies in the sunshine and having a little pamper – I had three new tattoos this week and a new set of acrylic nail extensions which I didn’t consider the length of until I returned to my yoga mat after the excitement of the holidays! Thankfully whilst my nails are diva-ishly long they do not prevent me from training; sometimes a little TLC and R&R is just what you need to keep you on top of your game!
I’ve also been hectic with work spending the majority of my time in London for photoshoots, filming and content creation so it’s safe to say that my candle has been well and truly burnt at both ends but nonetheless I am still making progress!
Whilst I haven’t previously written down my yoga self-study and training, I’m now officially beginning my 60hr yoga journal making notes about each session, my thoughts, feelings and progress made which really brings into perspective the journey that I am on. It is so motivating to see how far I have come and I’m setting myself goals and manifestations for once I have completed my exams and how I can extend my reach to help others with the help of my yogi Daniele. They say the devil makes work for idle hands; time certainly flies when you’re having fun!
UPDATE: 01/05/21 Yoga Training Weekend 2
Today I completed the first day of my second yoga training weekend and had a fantastic classroom session. It was lovely to see familiar faces and rejoin students from the previous training weekend, as well as meeting new students and a new tutor to complete the second half of the classroom training module.
My son celebrated his 9th birthday yesterday and is therefore enjoying a long weekend of partying and play, which made it ideal for me to join the class virtually via the TrainFitness app on my ipad as I didn’t have to find childcare as the children (and puppies) we free to spend the day as usual as I cooked meals during our allocated water breaks and lunch.
Today we were asked to each perform four rounds of sun salutations to the class as a taste of instructing for which the tutor provided feedback via the chat feature on the app. Unfortunately my lounge isn’t the ideal space to be able to hold a yoga class as I’m limited by furniture placement, so whilst I received positive feedback on my clear teaching points, good timing, monitoring of the class and flow; should I wish to teach yoga virtually after I qualify I would need a larger open space to be able to clearly fit my entire body onto camera. A modification that the tutor suggested for this small space is to turn my mat sideways so that the class can see my positioning better without all of my limbs on screen.
Today’s session focused on the teaching sequences necessary for a class and the preparatory, main and counter poses for a selection of forward folds and back bends which we walked through as a class before breaking into smaller groups, discussing teaching points, contraindications, benefits and precautions and then repeated and instructed to the class as a whole.
It was really helpful to see each student teach to the class as it built up a wonderful mix of teaching styles, key points and tips that I shall take forward with me. The speed, tone and flow of each sequence varied between individuals and allowed me to understand where I sit within the class in a complimentary, rather than competitive, way – precisely what yoga is all about! I’m super excited for my final day tomorrow before continuing to progress with my 60hrs of self study and finally the submission of my practical exam which I have decided to do from my home for convenience.
For our second day of the week two yoga training weekend we covered rotated and inversion postures as well as pranayama and this has to be the most awful half moon pose ever as I asked my daughter to take a picture for me for reference and she jovially chose to ignore my perfected posture and instead snap me as I moved into the pose whilst watching the tutor on the ipad – so whilst this isn’t the final positioning, I suppose it is still visually indicative of what we did today.
It was helpful to have some more time teaching to class the prep, main and counter for each asana as well as emphasising the importance of providing a demonstration of each to the class before asking them to perform it so that heads are not turns and strain isn’t put onto the neck whilst seeking visual guidance throughout.
Upon our open discussion at the end of session we talked about our practical exam preparation, whilst I had originally decided to do my entire course virtually and submit my exam via video recording, seeing as I’m not far from the London headquarters I actually now think that it may be more beneficial for me to attend in person. To be able to interact with fellow students and have feedback from any tutors seems somewhat reassuring and I’ve really enjoyed our group work via video calls after spending a year in lockdown.
I shall be booking my exam shortly whilst building up my yoga journal hours and completing my week 1, week 5 and week 10 progressive yoga plan. The end is in sight! Watch this space…
UPDATE: 05/05/21 Exam Preparations
I had such a wonderful time completing my final yoga training weekend and am bursting with enthusiasm to begin my exam preparations. Something our tutor Tom suggested as a handy tip was to create a comparison table -which I’ve made from two pages of A4 stuck together – to visually show the preparation, main and counterpose at a glance for each asana and sun salutations in order to have a better view of the flow, as the final written document is around 30 pages in length going into far greater detail with stick figurines, teaching points, breath work, contraindications, precautions, props and modifications and isn’t as easy to skim between in a word document.
I’ve also had a look online for the possible in-person practical exams available in London with the first being 29th May (3 weeks away) and the next being 1st August (12 weeks away). I feel that trying to be exam ready in three weeks is going to be a push and I fear it would be too soon for me to fully put into practice what I have learnt from the yoga training weekends, leaving me potentially vulnerable to failing my exam through a lack of sufficient prep in time.
However, 12 weeks is far more time than I need to be ready, but these are my two options, unless I revert back to my original plan to video my exam session and send it in before 30th June. I’m presently weighing up my options as I crack on with my progressive yoga plan planning and continue to build up my hours of practical experience in my yoga journal. I’m hoping by the end of this week I will have made enough progress to determine which of the two dates I will take. What would you do if you were me?
Todays self study was followed by a late afternoon yoga session with my wonderful yogi Daniele where we focused upon back bends along with a variety of hand placements and ways to protract and retract the shoulders. We worked our way through seated back exercises to quadruped, standing, prone and supine and it was so incredibly helpful to be able to ask questions throughout and experience each variation at varying durations and difficulty. For our next lesson I will be delivering a session to Daniele for him to see firsthand how I teach and he can then provide tutor feedback to me on areas that I work well as well as highlighting points that require further concentration.
In the meantime I am making it my personal goal to strengthen both of my wrists and the left hand side of my body in the gym for better balance and stability by switching compound machines to free weights in order to isolate my weaker muscles and ensure proper form. We all naturally have a more dominant and stronger/more-stable side of the body anyway but I feel in adjusting my gym training accordingly that I can make a noticeable difference to my yoga abilities also and hopefully my yogi will notice my gradual progress with each lesson.
UPDATE: 08/05/21 – 85 Days Until My Exam
Progress, progress, progress! I am absolutely buzzing with the progress that I have made this week as my 10 week progressive yoga plan overview is now in place – on my very messy scraps of paper – which I am transferring into a pages document and adding stick figure drawings, breathwork, prep, main and counterposes. From this I will then be able to write my more in depth 1, 5 and 10 week lesson plans, with the foundation in place it’s just a case of adding the plant-based meat to the bones!
I’m also very excited that my beautiful mala beads have arrived which will assist me in my meditations as you hold the beads between your fingers and inhale/exhale for each one until you work your way back to the beginning. This helps to bring focus and consistency to each meditation and should hopefully help me to be more present in my practice rather than thinking about what to make for dinner, where the children put their school books and how long I have left to file my tax return!!
Today I delivered my first lesson to my yogi Daniele which focused quite heavily on the lower body opening the hips and transitioning between standing to squatting and isolation hamstring stretches which left my hips feeling so beautifully open. I used a small piece of paper to draw stick men as a visual prompt which I had to refer to for the first few rounds of teaching but then with time it felt so much more natural that I didn’t have to check and my teaching points flowed as I moved through the sequence more calmly.
Daniele gave me such great feedback, in practice this is invaluable, and he saw my progress which was noticeably felt my end. We then moved onto side angle and triangle pose variations before he set my next homework challenge to extend my written flow by building into this some warrior poses and my chosen tree pose to make it into a full lesson with a longer duration and greater variety of asanas.
After holding my chaturanga today for my longest duration yet I felt really positive about the increase in my wrist strength from previous lessons. Daniele gave me some tips to enhance my gym training and weight exercises by performing forearm cable pulls, overhead tricep extensions with dumbbells and light weighted rope pulls which will not only improve my upper body strength but also increase my stability during mat work as I work towards more challenging poses such as the crow. Bring it on!
UPDATE: 11/05/21 – 82 Days Until My Exam
Taking my yogi Daniele’s advice to improve my upper body strength I have adjusted my gym routine accordingly to focus more heavily upon my upper body by targeting my forearms and triceps to improve my chaturanga and my arms feel like absolute jelly after todays session!
Here I performed forearm cable pulls for 3 sets of 10-12 reps followed by overhead dumbbell tricep extensions for 3 sets of 10-12 reps. I’m gradually looking to improve my wrist strength and endurance for negative reps when to comes to lowering my upper body to the mat.
I’m so incredibly excited to receive my results back for the marking of my LAR modules and from the assessors feedback I had three questions to readdress and submit again for a free remarking which I did as soon as I received the email yesterday.
I’m now waiting for the final response on my amended answers to hopefully complete my LAR which concluded the online section of my course as I have passed the theory test and lesson objectives throughout.
I’ve made great progress on my final exam prep, having now got the foundation in place for my week 1, 5 and 10 progressive yoga plan overview. It was really helpful to see everything drawn out and charted so that I could make amendments over how to progress each asana throughout the weeks and as a result of this I tweaked and changed my initial plan two or three times as I was able to see a smoother flow and better idea for how it would work in person.
From this I am now able to write my in-depth individual lesson plan for each week including teaching points, visualisation, props and precautions – a case of putting (plant-based) meat onto the bones that I already have in place. Following this I will then be able to begin practice for my practical exam by perfecting my week five lesson teaching to my yogi for feedback and advice. How exciting!
UPDATE: 12/05/21 – 81 Days Until My Exam
Today I taught a 40mins lesson I had planned to Daniele for his thoughts and feedback. I started with duping mobilisation before moving into seated lateral extensions, forward folds, back bends, twists, quadruped cat/cow and onto standing mobility and the seven main phases of asanas – standing/balance, seated, lateral extension, forward flexion, back extension, rotation and inversion.
I find speaking through the teaching points, targeted muscles and variations more fluid and natural with each time that I teach and I really enjoy the sense of calm that it creates as I work through each flow. Daniele gave me insight into the intention of my sequence, identifying that the flow I had created was for passive stretching to enhance balance and stability which would be suitable for early morning or late evening.
To extend this flow from 40mins to a more ideal 50mins I could increase the breaths from 2-3 to 3-4 for each asana or add in some more standing poses. He has set me the homework of creating my next lesson based upon a spoken introduction setting my intentions and a main phase focusing on bends, twists and abdominals to span 50mins – I’m excited to see what I can create for my next objective!
This also marks the half way point of my one-to-one yogi instruction as we are now on lesson 15 of 30 and I feel as though I have learnt so much from Daniele already that has increased my confidence and ability on the mat immeasurably. I cannot imagine the stage I will be at by lesson 30; I’m thriving on the progress and positivity that comes from each of our sessions and cannot recommend him more highly as an instructor.
UPDATE: 15/05/21 – 78 Days Until My Exam
Todays flow was based upon my previous lessons homework to create a yoga sequence including bends, twists and abdominals. I began by talking Daniele through an introduction – introducing myself, discussing health and safety issues and setting my intentions for the lesson which was to focus on bends, twists and abdominals. I used some notes on paper of stick men I had drawn to signify the asanas to accompany my lesson and help me to remember the sequence.
Seeing as my previous lesson was very much supine focused, I made todays lesson prone and enjoyed combining table top variations, sun salutations, planks, superman, cobra, sphinx, chaturanga, camel, cat/cow and bow pose to name but a few. Daniele gave me such positive feedback as well as showing me some variations to add arm extensions and make Childs pose dynamic by moving the arms slowly into extension off of the mat.
We also discussed the importance of using negatives and performed a slow press-up from mat to extension to offer an advanced modification to chaturanga which I am seeing great progress in thanks to adjusting my gym routine to focus more on forearms and triceps. My homework for next lesson is to create a sequence based upon abs. I feel so uplifted and confident from teaching today and Daniele said that I am finding my own unique style which is wonderful to realise.
UPDATE: 18/05/21 – 75 Days Until My Exam
I have had my coursework marked and am thrilled to have passed all units and test papers. As I edge ever closer to my exams I must now complete my practicum with 30hrs of tuition with my yogi Daniele – for which I am over half way – and my personal yoga journey of 60hrs which I am making a dent in day by day.
I also have my 10 week overview now written and illustrated and just have my week 1, week 5 and week 10 in-depth plans to write which is a case of crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s as I simply have to add teaching points, props, modifications and precautions to each asana that is already in place.
I’m so excited to be making progress and have loved every aspect of this course. Whilst it has certainly been a testing and unsettling time for many, having something positive to focus on in my studies has kept me on track and shown that you can always make time for the things that are most important to you.
UPDATE: 19/05/21 – 74 Days Until My Exam
Today’s lesson consisted of teaching my abdominal flow to my yogi Daniele for which I had 54 poses as I got a little carried away with my enthusiasm for all of the variations, twists, levers, extensions and knee to elbow that I added to table top, cat, downward dog and plank. I really enjoyed using rotated forward folds, rotated triangle, rotated warrior two and the humble warrior pose and because of this my entire lesson was filled in one complete flow rather than having to repeat it twice and I feel that I was able to create enough content this time through a deeper understanding of the asanas as I progress in my experience.
Daniele said that he really enjoyed today’s lesson which I taught and I lost myself wonderfully in the flow of teaching, linking breath to movement and calmly speaking through each pose, transition and teaching points. I felt on top of the world after teaching today! We also discussed chakras and how adding these to our intentions at the start of the lesson could bring a greater depth to the practice.
As this flow was based upon abdominals this engaged the 2nd and 3rd orange and yellow chakras and I’m excited to ready up more about these to connect to my future lessons. Daniele showed me how to advance today’s lesson by adding a crow pose to the centre of the practice and I felt that my wrist strength has greatly improved which helped to give me greater balance but I still have far to go! He also showed me a tiger variation by lifting alternate arm and leg in downward dog which was wonderfully challenging and something I am looking forward to mastering!
Finally we discussed personal goals that I would like to achieve and I expressed the desire to one day be able to do the splits which Daniele is going to work into our practice. For our next lesson we will return to my abdominals flow that I created for today and look at variations and progressions.
UPDATE: 27/05/21 – 66 Days Until My Exam
Today’s lesson focused on me repeating my teaching to Daniele of the abs sequence that I created for our previous lesson. We spoke briefly about chakras at the start of the lesson which I will be dedicating some study time to for a deeper understanding as my surface knowledge during the intentions of the lesson allowed me to identify the 2nd and 3rd chakras relating to todays workout, but not a great deal more. I would like to be able to include this knowledge in my teachings once qualified, but without overwhelming new students with too much to consider. Whilst repeating my abdominals sequence today we paused at certain points throughout and Daniele gave me variations and adaptations to make certain asanas more advanced.
We practised the crow and the crow with one wing which I failed miserably at, but was pleased with my progress at holding the crow for several seconds whereas I was shaky last time. Daniele noted my improved upper body strength which I found very motivational, however after training legs at the gym today I struggled with holding my warrior poses for prolonged periods of time. We discussed timings and how extending poses to a high breath count can make them more challenging or relaxing. Something I found particularly fun was to hold a pillar pose with the addition of tapping to the abdominal muscles as it was a wonderful indication of how best to activate the core because upon rest it becomes tender, yet when engaged you can breathe evenly. For our next lesson I am going to prepare a sequence on back bends and am really looking forward to making enough content to fill an hours lesson.
UPDATE: 28/05/21 – 65 Days Until My Exam
Today I used a beginners vinyasa flow home workout DVD which I’d bought online at the start of lockdown and had yet to experience. Whilst it seemed a little retro and rather amateur in that way that it was filmed, my daughter joined me for the variations of sun salutations with a female instructor on the side of a cliff top overlooking the ocean and it was very relaxing and progressive for my hamstring flexibility.
We began the lesson by focusing on breathing and chanting whilst standing in tadasana and bringing attention to the bandhas before moving into sequences to build up to sun salutations. The first sequence was an upward salute followed by a forward fold, a half fold, back to forward fold and raising to tadasana. It was very simple but also peaceful and with each round I felt my leg muscles warming and lengthening. We then progressed to including chaturanga, upward dog and downward dog followed by chair, forward fold, half fold and upward salute which was a very satisfying combinaton.
Performing such small yet repetitive sequences made such a difference to my posture and stamina which I wouldn’t have experienced to such a productive measure in a greater variety of sequences; this is something I will definitely include in my own teaching as a short but impactful heat-building exercise.
It felt so lovely to be joined by my daughter and to experience todays lesson together to see how her views varied from my own. She found the sequence very demanding on her calf and hamstrings and I was able to give her teaching points to correct her form whilst I found it very relaxing for my hamstrings and noted my progress in being able to straighten my legs fully with palms to the floor and more upright rather than a bent knee and slight backward lean.
I’m making great progress on my coursework and have very nearly completed my five week full plan including all teaching points, benefits, purpose, adaptations, progressions, precautions, equipment, teaching points and demo. This is the final plan that I will use for my practical exam and I feel that once this is complete the week 1 and week 10 plans will be a breeze in comparison as I gain familiarity with writing plans in such depth and detail.
I’m also chipping away at my 90hr yoga journal having now completed 18/30 lessons with my yogi Daniele via our virtual lessons between my home in England and his in Italy. I’m at 9/60 hours for my personal practise as I’ve been focusing on completing my lessons with Daniele and preparing the homework for each lesson approaching that I teach to him for feedback and considerations.
Once I’ve completed my progressive yoga plans I’ll have more free time to experiment and experience different yoga teachers and DVD’s to complete my personal yoga journal. I have 65 days until my yoga exams and feel as though I’m making firm strides towards the finish line and will ensure that from now on I dedicate 1hr each day to time on my mat.
UPDATE: 31/05/21 – 62 Days Until My Exam
Todays lesson focused upon my homework to create a yoga sequence using props for which I modified and advanced asanas and stretches through the use of yoga blocks and straps. I set my lesson intentions to use props to firstly help students with mobility and flexibility support for a week 1 programme such as sitting in easy pose on a block to assist with tight hips, to then use props to provide stability for a week 5 programme such as using a block for hand support in triangle pose and finally to advance a pose for a week 10 programme by using the block as something to squeeze between the feet, hands or knees in chair and warrior poses or to pull on a strap to deepen hamstring stretches and leg extensions.
Daneiele showed me how the strap could also be used to bind the ankles in the lotus pose to then keep the lower body secure and balance the hands on yoga blocks to raise the body off of the floor. We walked through standing and seated asanas using the props to progress or assist in stability and mobility and it was very helpful to see how each asana can be modified through the use of props. For our next lesson I have been asked to perform a spontaneous flow without planning, simply to attend on my mat and do whatever I feel like without teaching or explaining for Daniele to see how I move and transition without thinking or teaching.
I’m really excited to see how I respond to this, whether I become stuck and lost for thoughts or if I am able to move naturally and progressively for a period of time without prompting or following a plan.
During our lesson today I found that my yoga blocks were skidding on my mat and at times made me feel a little unstable as they are made from a light sponge like material. Daniele informed me that using firmer cork yoga blocks are more stable and that my smooth yoga mat does not provide me with enough grip so I should look to find one with a textured surface to benefit the grip of both my hands and feet as well as any yoga props that I may use.
UPDATE: 03/06/21 – 59 Days Until My Exam
Oh gosh! Its less than 60 days until my practical exam and that seems so daunting, but I’m chipping away at my final exam prep and have been burying my head into my books these past few days to have my final week 5 plan complete.
I’ve been using Adobe Illustrator along with Tummee images to make a visual prompt for each sequence and asana to include in my yoga plans and it’s going pretty well. Whilst the framework for my plans are all already in place I’m now going through and filling out the teaching points, benefits, progressions, adaptations and precautions which is proving rather time consuming!
Looking back to when I was half way through my course I thought the online study and test papers were the most time intensive part but from almost crossing the finish line I can say that the real deal is the yoga exam planning and journal which is huge!
Having this depth of knowledge and going into such planned detail is simply to demonstrate a full understanding of the practice to the examiner and isn’t something that is required to prepare future lessons as a teacher. Much like attending a driving test we must cover each and every point perfectly and explain all understanding and competence, but after we pass we can use our understanding to work in a way and create flows and sequences that work for us without having to write everything out step by step.
As soon as I have my week 5 complete, for which I’m at around 85%, it is very much a case of copying, pasting and adjusting the tweaks to progress and regress each asanas for the relevant weeks of 1 and 10 so it will be much quicker, I hope! I’ve also ordered some cork yoga blocks and an additional yoga mat and pillow for greater grip and stability as Daniele advised me the colourful yoga equipment that I have may look nice but cork does the job far better!
UPDATE: 05/06/21 – 57 Days Until My Exam
My new cork yoga blocks, gripped yoga mat and buckwheat bolster arrived today which was perfect timing for my post-partum yoga lesson with Daniele. I taught my one-hour postpartum yoga lesson for new mums to Daniele and found it so wonderfully peaceful and uplifting; I almost went off into a trance as I moved organically through each asana focusing upon postural alignment, hip openings, core stability and the twisting, flexing and extension of the spine.
I only looked up at my screen a handful of times to acknowledge Daniele’s feedback as he praised the use of my bound angle pose, fish pose on a bolster and pillar to hip-opener dynamic sequence which I was thrilled with.
Where I would have previously paused to ask questions and seek guidance, today I felt as though I really ran with it and found my flow the most seamless yet. I find yoga so wonderfully relaxing and teaching it allows me to expand on what I already enjoy.
Having had two babies, I’m well aware of how my body and abilities changed after pregnancy and found it so meaningful to put this sequence together. Daniele has set me the homework to carry on from this lesson by adapting a postpartum yoga lesson with entirely the use of my bolster and blocks to see how I modify and adapt each pose and I’m really excited to dive deeper into this.
UPDATE: 09/06/21 – 53 Days Until My Exam
Today I taught my post-natal bolster-focused lesson for new mums to Daniele as a way to both adapt and progress each asana. I used the bolster -or a yoga block- to provide stability and support tight muscles for better hip opening and a longer hold as well as a resistance for the body to hold in standing postures and provider a deeper opening for upper body / back bends.
Teaching my lesson to Daniele I enjoyed moving in a flow between prone Childs pose to a low table top with leg and arm extensions, low lunges supported by the bolster into a low warrior one, warrior two and twisting warrior two. I included wide forward folds with the crown of the head lowered to the bolster, progressing into chair pose with the bolster on my thighs to provide support and resistance which transitioned to bear pose and albatross pose with the forward and side extension of the arms respectively.
Moving to mountain pose I then used the bolster against the chest as resistance to standing knee raises, offering the extension of the arms palm up with a yoga block for lighter props. I also used the bolster for support in plank and chaturanga before finishing supine will an elevated pillar pose, leg lifts with the bolster between the knees, elevated hamstring stretches, staff pose, a bolstered fish pose to open the upper body and finally beneath the knees in savasana to lengthen and straighten the spine.
Daniele gave me the feedback of using an additional prop to support the neck whilst performing side laying positions before demonstrating the use of a bolster in hers pose to progress twists, forward flexion and back extensions which I really enjoyed. For our next lesson Daniele has asked me to prepare a pre-natal lesson using yoga props once more, this time for pregnant women avoiding twisting or forward bends and focusing upon hip opening and mobility.
UPDATE: 19/06/21 – 43 Days Until My Exam
Todays lesson with Daniele was my lesson based upon enjoyment and I was asked to create a flow, set a space and wear whatever brings me the most peace, comfort and positivity. I had no specific types of asanas to include or class intentions to consider, just to create whatever felt good and natural for me.
So I created todays lesson by setting my space with no artificial lighting, just natural daylight on an overcast wet and grey day, brightened with twinkling candles and a beautifully relaxing atmosphere of incense to awaken the senses. Of all of my yoga equipment I love my green mat the most because of its beautiful colour and texture for which I found myself dressing in a green sports bra and shorts. Many styles of clothing can be suitable for yoga from tight and minimal to loose and flowing and it is personal preference for whatever brings you most peace and self acceptance. For me I like my clothing to fit snugly and feel supportive leaving me free to move, breathe and become warm without feeling claustrophobic.
Setting my intentions for the lesson I explained to Daniele that the sequence I had created was very much about opening the body and feeling a sense of freedom with plenty of back bends, chest openings, groin openings and upper and lower body stretches. As I created this sequence I felt a great sense of self acceptance, peace and body positivity which in turn made me feel so calm and at peace.
My sequence of 28 postures lasted around 50mins in length as I focused upon 3-5 breaths on each and worked my way through seated mobility to quadruped, twists, extended poses, planks, down dogs, cobra, up dog, tiger, dynamic forward folds, goddess, deep lunges, pigeon, lizard, bridge, camel, staff, seated folds, sage twist, a dynamic standing salute and upper body massage and stretching and it was such a blissful flow to teach that I forgot Daniele was there watching and I totally lost myself in the moment.
Daniele joyfully noted my growing confidence in breathing as I soothingly speak through each pose before fully inhaling and exhaling audibly which was something that I found a juggling act to multitask when first starting out; however now it feels incredibly natural.
Daniele then made some observations to bring more dynamic sequences to this flow by turning my tabletop gate pose variation into a dynamic lunge and press to really open the groin as well as using my thunderbolt pose to keep the hips facing forwards and take a lunge out to the side like a warrior 2 to focus on the side body instead of just front lunges.
I thoroughly enjoyed teaching my lesson to Daniele today and feel my yoga journey deepening with every passing day. I have completed all of my yoga exam papers and have just 38hrs of my 90hrs of practical left to complete. For our next lesson Daniele has asked me to teach whatever sequence I wish to create along with a long introduction considering what yoga is to me, what it can be, how I felt about yoga in the years before I met Daniele versus how I feel about it now and if anything has changed. I’m excited about musing over this reflection and upliftingly passionate about creating my next sequence.
In answer to Daniele’s question about my personal yoga journey I feel:
-What yoga is to me: Yoga to me, right here and now is the freedom of self acceptance, allowing my body mind and soul to align, work together, love and appreciate the trinity within me. A lot of people struggle to accept their physical appearance, fail to believe in themselves and their abilities and may not understand the sensation and realisation of peace, love and passion in life through feeding the soul. Yoga allows me to connect all of these things together to strengthen my inner peace, relax my body and mind and feel good from within.
-What can yoga be? Yoga can be many different things to many different people and it is very much down to the individual how you will personally experience this. When I think of how I have seen others experience yoga I think of the raised eyebrows, keeping eyes open to peep and look around at others and awkward laughter over opening poses that make people feel judged and embarrassed. I then instantly think of hearing a mother breathing deeply with her eyes peacefully closed, heart open and body aligned to feel empowered, in control and at absolute peace. Your mindset and readiness towards self acceptance will determine how you will react to practice and indeed which which teacher you choose to experience yoga with. For many I feel that yoga can become a beautiful and necessary path in life towards self acceptance, true love and happiness.
-How I felt about yoga years ago: Before meeting Daniele I began my yoga journey at the age of 17yrs old as recommended by my doctor to lower my blood pressure during times of high stress as a student meeting deadlines for my exams. My body was on constant high alert leaving me weak and drained and I often fainted and felt my heartbeat within my ears. I had very little peace and relaxation for balance from the many demands that I put upon myself by burning the candle at both ends. Yoga was an entirely new concept to me which I didn’t fully understand at the time as I was unable to ask questions sitting silently within the class. I enjoyed the yoga classes and one-on-one tuition with my female yogi, they were very much something I looked forward to and I hoped that the workout that it provided would sculpt and strengthen my body but I didn’t understand the greater depth and meaning behind it. My body moved through each asana as was asked of me but my mind and soul were entirely left out of the equation. I would leave each class feeling physically at peace, almost floating on air, but then get back into my car, turn my music up loud and drive home quickly to return to my busy life and all of the stresses and demands of my everyday, thus undoing the good of my lesson by throwing off my inner peace immediately after.
-What has changed about how I feel about yoga: So much has changed about how I now view yoga. For one, the disconnect between yoga being just a physical workout has deepened into an understanding of making my body as strong as my mind and soul. Yoga for me isn’t just a measured moment on the mat several times per week, but a way of life, mindset and mindfulness that I carry with me everyday in every way and everything that I do. It’s a peace, acceptance, positivity, self worth and belief from within to be kind to myself and others, to remain calm and collected in all situations and to bring peace and love to my present, connecting my breath consciously to my mind and feeling happy and secure rather than overwhelmed, stressed or inferior. Yoga has been the lighting of a candle in a dark room for me; drawing me towards positivity, good health, love and happiness and I could not imagine living my life any other way now that I have experienced this wonderful sensation.
I see and love yoga for the beauty of non-competitiveness – in fitness as a bodybuilding professional and even as an academic I was taught to work extremely hard, push my limits and exceed all others in order to take first place and be the best which can often lead to a sense of failure and inferiority. In yoga it is about personal growth and development, to never judge or compare yourself to that of others but instead walk your own path at your own time and be kind and supportive of others. I no longer feel annoyed at myself if I get something wrong, fail or make a mistake; instead I notice what wasn’t right and consider how to correct it so that when I try again I will be more likely to achieve my goal. My intention is not to be the best but to try my best and enjoy the process and positive experiences along the way. Many people see fitness as a punishment or process that they have to do to lose weight and please others such as looking good for a partner or being told off by a doctor for poor health – spinning this view to fitness being a celebration of the body and ritual for good health makes each experience mentally, physically and emotionally rewarding and desirable; yoga is the pinnacle of this sensation for me and I’m so pleased to have deepened my understanding and love for it as I progress along on my own beautiful path to becoming a yoga instructor.
UPDATE: 23/06/21 – 39 Days Until My Exam
I’m plowing my way through my studies and making a really good dent on the final stretch of my exam prep now and my 90hr yoga journalling. My stability, flexibility and strength are improving nicely and I’m able to get deeper into postures and maintain them for longer whilst focusing on my breath.
I have 33hrs of yoga left out of 90hrs left to complete my yoga journal and have almost completed my practice with Daniele which is super exciting. Seeing as I’m allowed to take a brief set of notes into my exam to deliver my week five lesson I have begun constructing a set of notes and diagrams to print off and take with me.
Teaching my 12th lesson to Daniele today, I was given the open opportunity to create whatever sequence I liked in celebration of International Yoga Day. As our lesson was in the evening it seemed very fitting to create an evening sequence with the intention to relax, unwind and relieve stress and tension from the body and I enjoyed stretching the soles of the feet and massaging the legs rolling up slowly through the vertebrae from a seated forward fold. I included my new found love of neck and shoulder mobility along with tricep stretches and hip opening as well as some very satisfying spinal twists and rotations to end peacefully feeling as light as air.
We discussed why I chose to represent my thoughts on yoga with this sequence I’d created and I explained that in a fast paced, busy and stressful life where people are hurried and hold a lot of tension and negativity, yoga is most effective to take a moment to relax, reduce stress, correct posture and unwind in body, mind and soul. As much as I love dynamic and invigorating yoga, I think a physically challenging and energising sequence would be daunting for beginners which is why this restorative flow is in my eyes most beneficial for all ages and abilities. Seeing as my sequences have focused upon the feminine and motherhood Daniele has set me the homework of creating a sequence for men to teach in our next lesson and I’m excited to research and experiment with masculine energy which is outside of my comfort zone and experience at present.
Remember to check back soon to see how I’m getting on!