Fiona’s Story: Diving Deep (and remembering to come up for air)

Well, what a course! Here I was originally signing up to a course that I thought was going to teach me more skills. Skills that I needed to be a better, more connected, more knowledgeable, relevant and holistic special needs teacher and what did I get – it was more about me! What do! mean by this you ask? Well, I didn’t get quite what I came for but I think I may have got a little bit more than I expected, as well as the hunger to continue to learn the skills that I still need, to do what I would like to do.

They say a person has a physical, mental and spiritual well being. Looking at the course from these aspects, you can also see how they cannot be discussed individually without recognizing the connection and influence each has on the other. To support this statement, I have chosen to reflect on various components of the course which were run over an 18 month time period. The examples given may not be chronological in time but rather an evolution of growth, expertise, attitudes and ideas.

Before the course, I really hadn’t done much yoga and was bamboozled by the overuse of animal names for poses/asanas as well as having little ability to repeat any phrase in Sanskrit. Cloaked in this naivety, I (along with a good friend) started the first day of many at COTY, Gladesville. We walked in hesitantly and to “clear the air” we were given our first ever hour-long remedial yoga therapy class. I thought I was going to be crippled for a week. It was hard, – keep those knees together, feet together, chin in, squeeze those knees, squeeze your bottom, etc. It was a whole new way of yoga and I had a lot to learn.

It was interesting to be in a yoga class, taking in all that was being said as a student as well as a future teacher. I found that I had to be more ‘there’ to double check that I was doing things correctly and making numerous paper and mental notes on where and how much I had to improve if I was to take this job on meaningfully. These points were mainly the “how to” of a pose, and in particular, getting the breathing right and concentrating on the focus points. Being pleasantly surprised in the gradual improvement in my own personal yoga, I continue to listen carefully when given a few tweaks and adjustments that I can do on myself and later — clients, that make these moves so much more doable and more effective.

But there is more to yoga then just the moves. It’s the the time of day, the seasons, the weather, the rhythm of the class — “like a wave”, “light and airy” — the lead up to the remedial moves of the class, moves that belong together and taught one after the other without stopping, the tone of you voice, how to breathe and give instructions at the same time, when to rest, when not to rest, helping clients (and you) to notice and feel the ‘changes’, doing the ‘hard side’ again, don’t talk too much, don’t talk too little. No, this was no ordinary yoga course. I was truly learning to feel the yoga in order to teach the yoga.

Along with the practical yoga aspects of the course, we were also presented with plenty of theory, including Healthy Body Systems, Anatomy (how many bones are there again?), Health and Safety, Administering a Practise, The History of Yoga, The Elements, ShiatSu massage, the Hara, Balance points, and physical assessments. I had no idea that the course was going to be so in-depth. I have to admit that I loved the philosophical nature of some of these sessions and also the gradual toe-dipping into the sea of the esoteric. I had many a reacquaintance with and a reconnection to some deeper life knowledge, and I truly appreciate that.

One of the most daunting topics we had to cover was Running a Business. I was so unfamiliar with this, being predominantly employed by the Department of Education for most of my working life. I had never had to think beyond my school, faculty, or classroom and my regular pay check with sick days and holidays allowed for. Breaking down the nuts and bolts of what makes a business sustainable and profitable was therefore incredibly valuable for me.

I could continue to break down the topics of the course and evaluate them, however to gain a truer perspective about what the course did for me, I will reflect on the course as a whole and the experience I have taken away with me which will continue to shape my future:

What have you learnt about yourself as a result of the experience?
I have learnt that if you really want to start and complete something, you can manifest the time to make it happen. This can either be on a conscious or subconscious level as it is quite amazing that when you internalise a goal more energies are put into play to help you make it happen. I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to do the course because of the time it would take from the hours I now need and expected to work in my profession as a Special Needs teacher. And I did it!

Have you developed in any particular way during the course? How?
I have always been a reasonably aware person often sensing others’ feelings and possible issues surrounding them. Recently, I have noticed that I have begun to also sense people on a more physical level. I am really looking at a person now — noticing a slight drop of the shoulder, differing foot fall and/or length, movement of their hips, how they stand, bend, sit, their colour, what moves they avoid etc. The various topics and discussions we have had throughout the entirety of the course has opened my eyes as to how much your body is trying to tell us and that it really does want to be well. I am looking forward to learning more on how to read the body’s signals linking this knowledge with a ‘how to’ and hopefully further on my path be a conduit to help others help themselves to be the best they can be.

Due to a series of physical mishaps in my personal life, I have recently been presented with a few challenges. Participating in the course and the knowledge it has provided has also helped me develop a personal responsibility for my own recuperation. I have needed to make adjustments to my diét, my exercise routines, recuperative and stretching regimes and above all, making time and putting in the effort to enable me to be achieving a more positive result.

What are your thoughts on the experience in general? Was it a useful learning experience?
Overall, participating in the Certificate IV in Remedial Yoga Teaching course has been a rewarding and positive experience. I have had the opportunity to learn new skills and redevelop old skills. I have completed the course knowing that I can facilitate a remedial yoga class for each of the seasons as well as adjust some to suit individual practitioners. I am also considering the possibility that I can run or be involved in a remedial yoga practice in my local area. I also know that I want and need to go deeper.

Additionally, I have had the opportunity to meet regularly with and be influenced by a group of inspirational, caring, knowledgeable and strong women – my teachers and my classmates. I found each to be a power house in their own special way. I now hold them all dear to my heart.