If you’re interested in yoga teacher training, and looking for New Zealand-based training, one of your options is Knoff Yoga Teacher Training.
While the Knoff Yoga School is based in Cairns, Australia, they travel to hold their month-long immersion teacher training courses.
The next intake of students in the Wellington-based course is this November, 2010.
The Yoga Lunchbox spoke to James Bryan of Knoff Yoga to find out more about the training.
Why does Knoff Yoga come to New Zealand to hold this training?
The Knoff Yoga headquarters is based in tropical Cairns, North Queensland, Australia, and teacher training takes place there every year during July, August and September – the beautiful winter months. In 2010 Knoff Yoga Teacher Training will also take place in China, Taiwan, Germany and New Zealand. Knoff Yoga is taught wherever there is in invitation!
For a number of years Nicky Knoff has, through invitation, brought our courses over to New Zealand, which is why there are many in the yoga community who are familiar with the work we do.
How long have you been running the program?
Knoff Yoga Teacher Training started in Cairns in 1996 and from that first single Course it has now evolved and progressed to 5 Levels, plus Chair Yoga Teacher Training.
- Level 1 – Discovery
- Level 2 – Foundation
- Level 3 – Intermediate
- Level 4 – Advanced
- Level 5 – Master
Each level has its own complete syllabus and each Course prepares the student for the next higher level.
Levels 1 & 2 are registered with the international Yoga Alliance for 200 hours and Levels 3 & 4 are registered for 500 hours – the highest level of international recognition.
Chair Yoga is a modified form of Knoff Yoga which allows students with disabilities, lack of mobility, balance problems, joint challenges, recovering from illness, accidents and operations, or other physical issues to participate in and enjoy the benefits of a yoga practice.
Chair Yoga is aimed at the reduced physical capabilities of a significant portion of the population – aged or otherwise. It is not a dumbed-downed or diluted approach to yoga. Like the other Levels of Teacher Training, Chair Yoga can be taught anywhere in the world as long as there is an invitation.
Who leads the course?
I will be running the Discovery/Foundation Level Teacher Training in Wellington from Monday, 15 November to Friday, 10 December, 2010 at the invitation of Jessica Latton, a certificated Knoff Yoga Teacher.
I am E.R.Y.T 500 registered, a certificated Iyengar Yoga Teacher (initially in 1986), having also studied Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga over a period of 10 years, learning the First, Second, Third and Fourth Series.
I am the Course Director and Senior Teacher at the Knoff Yoga Headquarters.
What is a 200-hour Discovery/Foundation Level teacher training course – is it just asana or do you go into other aspects of yoga?
The month long Discovery/Foundation Course is comprehensive and covers the following techniques:
Sun Salutations 1 & 2; 26 Asanas (Discovery); 39 Asanas (Foundation); ‘Principles of Practice’; Foundation; Cardinal Directions; Centering; Earth / Heaven Extension; Bandhas; Co-Contraction; Spiralic Action; Reciprocal Inhibition; Body Proportions; Essential Alignment; Expanding & Contracting; Coiling, Balancing Ha / Tha (Right / Left); Synchronising Breath & Movement; Balancing Flexibility & Strength; Growth; Organisation & Decay; Mindfulness; Effortless Effort; Progression; Five Elements; Enjoyment; How to Practice Effectively; How to Modify Postures.
Normal Breathing; Yogic Full Breath; Ujjayi Breathing; Viloma I; Viloma II; Viloma III; Surya Bhedana; Chandra Bhedana; Nadi Sodhana; Kapalabhati; Sitali; Kumbhakas.
Breath Awareness; Anapana Meditation; Mindfulness Meditation; Relaxation.
Mula, Uddiyana (minor); Jalandhara; Hasta; Pada.
Uddiyana (major); Nauli.
How to Teach; Menstruation Sequence; Restorative Sequence; Principles of Teaching; Principles of Demonstration; Principles of Observation; Principles of Adjusting; Principles of Sequencing; Monthly Rotational Sequence; Weekly Theme; Progressing your Students; Triangulation for Seeing; Class Planning and Layout; Positive Terminology; Teaching Tips; Demo, Describe, Explain.
Observing & Assisting in public yoga classes.
Philosophy, Ethics and Yogic Lifestyle:
Health Beyond Posture; The Philosophy of Posture; Posture as Philosophy;
What is Yoga? Ten Fundamental Principles of Yoga; In Praise of the Philosophical Life; Why Study Yoga Philosophy? The Seven Stages of Psychospiritual Maturation; A Bird’s Eye View of the History of Yoga; The Yoga of the Vedas and Upanishads; The Bhagavad Gita and Its Teachings; The System of Patanjali’s Classical Yoga; Tantra: Revelation for the Kali-Yuga; The History and Theory of Hatha Yoga; The Technology of Traditional Hatha Yoga; Ethical Guidelines for Yoga Teachers; Application of Spiritual Ideals and Values; ‘Sanskrit Pronunciation’; Asana Names; Common Yoga Terms; Chanting.
Anatomy and Physiology:
- Locations on the Bod
- Muscles and Tendon
- The Pelvic Girdle & Thigh
- The Trunk
- The Shoulder Girdle & Upper Arms
- Myofascial & Organ Plane
- The Breath Connection
- Putting It All Together
The month-long training is immersion – what does that mean and how does it affect the training?
We call the Knoff Yoga intensive approach to training the ‘Baked Cake Method’. If you want to bake a cake and it requires one hour in the oven, you do not remove it every 10 minutes, let it cool down, and then put it back in the oven over and over again. If you do, you end up with an inedible mess!
You need the concentrated and powerful cumulative effects of deepening your practice and teaching if you want to be a credible teacher with your own experience and insights. You have to ‘pay your dues, if you want to sing the blues’.
The daily timetable is:
5:45am – 9:45am
Asana, Pranayama & Meditation
9:45am – 11.45am
11:45am – 1:00pm
Philosophy, Ethics & Yoga Lifestyle (Mon/Wed/Fri)
or Anatomy & Physiology (Tues/Thurs)
1:oopm – 1:30pm
1:30pm – 3:45pm
Who comes on the course – is there such a thing as the average student?
Internationally the female/male ratio in yoga classes is 80/20% and this holds true for the Knoff Yoga Teacher Training. Interestingly, in Cairns the ratio is 70/30% and our goal is 50/50%.
People come from a wide range of vocations and surprisingly for varying reasons. Not everyone wants to be a yoga teacher – some just want a turbocharged boost to their understanding and practice.
Do people have to be really flexible to become a yoga teacher?
There is a saying in yoga:
Blessed with stiffness and cursed with flexibility.
The meaning of this statement is that physical restriction or stiffness allows the students to find their edge where the body/mind complex interacts. Without this edge it is very easy to get lost.
We have had students in the past who were so flexible that they were disoriented in their bodies. We have also had students who dislocated their joints very easily. These people actually have to learn how to tighten up!
Physically flexibility is regulated by the mind and as such is a reflection of the level of tension in the body. Most Westerners are stressed and therefore tend toward stiffness.
In yoga we are learning how to un-do the knots of tension throughout the body/mind complex and as a result one becomes more flexible.
Often new students ask, “How long does it take to become flexible?” I answer with the question, “How long does it take to get a Black Belt in martial arts? Or “How long does it take to get a Bachelor of Anything at university? If you put in the same amount of effort into your yoga as you would martial arts or university, it takes around 3 – 5 years to make real and significant progress.
How do you know when you’re ready to train as a yoga teacher?
You know you are ready to teach when you have a passion to help others achieve the benefits you are experiencing. You know you are ready to teach when you no longer find your vocation satisfying. You know you are ready to teach when you realize that uplifting your fellow human being is a spiritual practice of the highest order.
Do you accept just anyone, or is there a selection process?
For the Discovery/Foundation Level Teacher Training an applicant must have a minimum of 2 years of regular yoga practice behind them. This is a requirement because we teach in the intensive format and if a student is not yoga-fit, then they will not get the same amount of enjoyment of out the Course.
What kind of qualification do students receive at the end of the course?
After a student successfully completes the Course, they receive a Knoff Yoga Teaching Certificate, plus they are automatically qualified to register with the international Yoga Alliance and be able to use the words Registered Yoga Teacher 200 or R.Y.T. 200 after their names.
Does anyone ever fail?
Yes, students do fail! In order to obtain the Teaching Certificate, teacher traniees are required to:
- Attend all classes
- Attend the teacher/student feed-back session
- Complete all assignments, presentations and pass the exams and assessments.
Can people expect to start teaching classes as soon as they graduate?
The Course is designed so that teachers will be properly prepared, trained and certificated to teach the syllabus they have studied — provided that they do the work and pass the tests.
What kind of commitment does it take to become a yoga teacher – both before, during and after the training?
It simply takes a commitment to practice. Practice is the crucible for internalizing the knowledge and learning that takes place during Teacher Training. Practice is the vehicle which transforms knowledge into wisdom.
We encourage our teachers to practice a minimum of 5 days per week, preferably 6! However, this is a moderated practice – you do not work at full capacity every day, but practice from the different Levels: Discovery and Foundation, plus Foundation Day 1 and Day 2.
Is this course a good way to start a career as a yoga teacher?
I obviously believe in our teacher training course and part of the reason for this is that we train all teacher trainees in a unique and proven system of 5 class elements: Meditation (non-religious); Pranayama (expansion of the life-force); Asana (anatomically aligned postures); Savasana (yogic relaxation); and Philosophy (how to have a happy life).
Trainees are shown how to teach these elements in specific class percentages to ensure your students are instructed comprehensively. The Knoff Yoga system also provides a weekly theme to make sure teachers can provide their students with sufficient repetition (the first rule of teaching) combined with new material so their interest levels are kept high.
A cornerstone of Knoff Yoga is the appropriate use of yoga props (belts, blankets, blocks, bolsters, bricks, chairs, inversion slings, etc.) — using them where they provide a benefit or are necessary, but gradually working towards freedom from the props and the full expression of classical postures in order to develop the full expression of our human potential.
Knoff Yoga focuses on anatomically correct practice. But much more than just alignment, you are taught the unique ‘24 Principles of Practice’ which help you negotiate the multitude of technical points in asana practice.
For example, there are over 119 points in Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana), but only 23 principles. The good news is that the 24 principles apply to all the yoga poses, and this is a major emphasis in all of our Courses. Once you understand these principles, you have them for life. The 24 Principles of Practice are covered in great detail in your Teacher Training Course Manual.
Ultimately, we provide our trainees with clear and dependable tools and principles, as well as theoretical and practical structures that deliver a strong foundation upon which to build a yoga teaching career.
Is there such a thing in New Zealand – a yoga teacher career?
I live and teach in Cairns, Australia which has a population of 135,000. In our yoga classes we get anywhere from 10 to 50 students depending on the day and level of the class. We also teach many Yoga Therapy and Private one-on-one class and this increases my income.
In Cairns there are 4 other yoga schools besides Knoff Yoga, plus many independent yoga teachers – most of whom have done their Teacher Training with Knoff Yoga.
Many of our certificated Teachers live in much smaller rural towns in Australia and are often the only yoga teacher. Some of these teachers are fully booked and have a waiting list of new students – a nice position to be in.
There are also many teachers in New Zealand who have gone through our courses and are teaching around the country (see our website for a list of certificated teachers).
Is there anything else you’d like to add about the Teacher Training?
During the Discovery/Foundation Course,teacher trainees study the principles behind the practice, and learn to adapt their teaching to meet the needs of a wide range of students, abilities and body types. This will allow teachers to incorporate a broad range of students into their classes with increased confidence, resulting in bigger classes and a more successful yoga business.
Teacher trainees will learn accurate alignment of the physical body and how to identify and correct misalignments and blockages in their students. In addition, they will gain comprehensive knowledge of important breathing and meditation techniques that balance the nervous system and calm the mind.
The Course covers how to design a yoga class as well as how to sequence a practice and teaching with a five-week rotational sequence and weekly theme — to ensure a balanced program. Trainees will learn how to teach in a safe and caring manner, combining positive communication with helpful encouragement.
We take into account that there are three types / modes of student learning:
- Visual Learners — acquire information through watching.
- Verbal Learners — acquire information through words.
- Kinaesthetic Learners — acquire information through feeling and doing.
We incorporate all three modes in order to help our students reach their goals in the easiest and most efficient way possible. In other words, we:
- Demonstrate the posture / pranayama a number of times (for visual learners).
- Describe the movements and techniques of the postures / pranayama while we are demonstrating (for verbal learners).
- Explain how the posture / pranayama / meditation feels (for kinaesthetic learners).
Becoming a yoga teacher is a big step and committing the money and time to do teacher training is worthy of serious investigation. One excellent way to test the waters, is to ask people who have already completed the Course for their comments and opinions. The Knoff Yoga website has a list of certificated teachers and anybody is welcome to contact them and ask questions.
The testimonials on the Knoff Yoga website are worth reading as all the individual letters are real and they provide a good idea as to what to expect doing this Teacher Training.
The Knoff Yoga Teacher Training in Wellington, New Zealand will be held from 15 November – 10 December 2010.
- Earlybird fee (if paid by 15 Sept 2010): $2990 AUSD (approx. $3890 NZ)
- Full course fee: $3490 AUSD (approx. $4540 NZ)
- For a full course brochure please contact James Bryan: firstname.lastname@example.org
- New Zealand contact: Rhys Latton (email: email@example.com)