Intensive Versus Extensive Teacher Training - Yoga Journal

Intensive Versus Extensive Teacher Training

Why is immersion study is so productive?

James Bryan, Master Yoga Teacher explains the benefits of Intensive Yoga Teacher Training

By far the best way to learn a new language is to travel to the native speaking country and spend time immersed with the host and locals.  It allows you to focus and concentrate.  It stimulates your brain holistically as all of your senses are engaged and each day builds on the day before, so progression is rapid and real.

The same applies to learning Yoga.  An intensive teacher training course is immersing yourself without the normal distractions of daily living.  Intensive study allows you to focus your energy and concentrate fully.

When you bake a cake, which requires an hour, you cannot put it in the oven for ten minutes, pull it out and let it cool down and then repeat for another five times.  You will end up with an inedible mess. 

Life is busy, so fitting in time to study as a yoga teacher can be challenging.  A mistake often made with intensives is combining them with a holiday.  Real teacher training requires your full attention.  Trying to combine an intensive course with an exotic destination is setting yourself up for distraction – exactly what you need to avoid.

“In less than 3 months of Intensive teacher training with Knoff Yoga, I gained certification in 7 levels (Discovery, Foundation and Intermediate, plus Chair Yoga, Pregnancy Yoga and 2 levels of Holistic Healing).  My colleague is in the middle of 18 months of Extensive teacher training and will only receive a level 1 certificate.  For me, the immersion approach minimises time wastage and maximises my qualifications.  I find Intensive Teacher Training is more productive.”  Marilyn Morris, Knoff Yoga Teacher, Emu Park.

Nicky Knoff – 5 Day Intensive

Not everyone has the option of intensive study and the part-time approach is better than nothing, but to temporarily set aside work and family responsibilities, provides the best opportunity to commit one hundred percent of yourself to the task at hand.  Full effort is going to affect a better result than a partial, casual approach.

Another mistake that is often made is bringing along family members.  An intensive Yoga Alliance registered course requires long hours and a full day.  When you get back to your accommodation, you need to do two things – homework and rest.  Being fully charged and prepared for the next day is critical to your success.  It can be done, but it is less than optimal. “I’ve always been rather envious of the students who didn’t have to go home to look after family.  Hotel, study, bed, what a luxury”.  Nicola Maxwell – Knoff trained Yoga Teacher and mother of two.

Before embarking on an intensive yoga teacher training course, it is extremely helpful to have a solid base of practice – one to two years of consistent practice, so you have sufficient body awareness and yoga fitness to embrace the training without being overwhelmed. 

One of the surprising differences between the intensive and casual approach to the study of yoga is that when you give your full effort you are more able to see and feel your edge.  The edge is the understanding of balance – too much vs too little.  The edge is where most learning takes place and this knowledge is vital to making you an empathetic teacher.  If you don’t understand and can’t feel this concept, you won’t be confident to help your students find theirs.

Intensive study actually gives you more flexibility in your life.  With sensible planning, you can temporarily step away from your normal responsibilities, really focus on what you are passionate about, and then return with the goal in hand.  This well-earned knowledge is yours to keep and share. “Intensive Yoga Teacher Training allows you to be completely absorbed in the yoga course and in what you are learning, so your progression is quicker and your improvements are visible on a daily basis. My last teacher training course was probably the best experience of my life; to be able to spend a whole month doing what I love and am passionate about was an incredible opportunity.” Elena Colleoni, 2019 Advanced Knoff Yoga teacher training graduate.

Intensive study is not for everyone.  Let’s compare it to removing a band-aid.  You can pull it off slowly, hair by hair, or you can rip it off quickly and get it done.  If you are timid and unsure of yourself, then slow is your sensible fast lane.  But, if you are confident within yourself and have thoroughly investigated the Yoga Alliance registered teacher(s) you have chosen, then holding back is going to hold you back. 

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