It seems that opportunities to train as a yoga teacher are sprouting up all over New Zealand.
The latest to join us is an offering from newly-arrived American Jenifer Parker.
Her and her husband Ryan have set up the body, mind, soul collective Healium, and are offering four different teacher trainings next year.
The Yoga Lunchbox had a chat to Jenifer to get the lowdown on these trainings, and find out what makes them different from other yoga teacher training available.
1. What inspired you to start offering Yoga Teacher Training here in New Zealand?
I suppose the first answer is that I really enjoy training people to be teachers! So, in a self-serving way, I just enjoy doing it, so I thought I would do it here just as I did in the US!
Also, when I first visited New Zealand to teach in 2007, a lot of other teachers asked me to teach them a bit, because they liked my classes so much. When I moved here, they asked me to lead an advanced training, and so here I am.
2. Who developed the programme and what does it cover?
I developed the programme over the last eight years, ultimately codifying it into its current form. I currently offer four educational opportunities.
1. The Basic Certification is 300 hours of training and open to only six students because it’s based on the apprenticeship model. Each student teacher gets a lot of hands-on, personalized attention so that we can really go in-depth in the individual’s learning process.
The programme begins with an exploration of alignment and assisting, with a focus on anatomy, kinesiology, and biomechanics. Then, we study sequencing theory in-depth to learn how different sequences work and why, and how to develop effective sequences for a variety of students. Finally, we explore the history, philosophy, and traditions of yoga, and go into the business side of things for a bit so that teachers get a few tools to get to work!
The programme also includes a lot of one-on-one mentoring as well as hands-on opportunities to observe and assist in classes with me, so that we both can be assured that the student teacher is learning safe, effective technique. Our first Basic Certification programme will begin in July 2011, and I’m really excited to offer it!
2. The Advanced Certification is a three-workshop course providing 100 hours of training. These workshops expand on what every basic certification provides. In the first workshop, we learn more about modifications and assisting, so that we can work with really diverse clients in the same classroom.
In the second workshop, we study the energy body in relation to asana and assisting, and how to find the appropriate alignments for optimal access for the student through energetic alignments. And in the third workshop, we integrate the two workshops into one idea, combining the physical modifications/alignments with the energetic ones, so that the students we teach can get maximum access and benefits from the poses every time!
3. The Diploma course is really unique. I truly have never seen a training like it, and it is the distillation of the work that I have done and studied over the years. It is an additional 400 hours of training. It includes the three workshops of the Advanced Certification, but then takes the information even deeper, month by month.
So, for example, we start with the first two workshops of the Advanced Certification, and then we explore each chakra, physical bodily system (such as the endocrine system), and yama or niyama over the course of several in-depth workshops. We bring all of this information together with the same workshop as the Advanced Certification (that third workshop of their series).
But, it still continues further. Student teachers do case studies and present these to each other, and they also do a final presentation and examination before commencement. In addition to all of this fun, amazing, in-depth discovery work, there is a lot of one-on-one mentoring to facilitate the process of the homework, case studies, and prepare for the examination as well.
And, of course, the student teachers help each other all the way through.
These two courses are starting in February 2011 with a maximum of 15 students.
4. Throughout these Advanced Certification and Diploma studies, the courses are available as Continuing Education. If you are a teacher already, or an experienced student interested in a certain topic, you can take a single course of the Advanced Certification or Diploma curriculum as it serves your interest and as long as there is space available.
3. Who is the programme suitable for?
Our Basic Certification is open to student teachers who have one year of documented yoga study. This can be one’s own journal, or a note from a teacher with whom you have practiced for a year, or even just an explanation of your practice over the past year.
Since the first programme starts in July, someone who started yoga in August 2010 or before would qualify!
For the Advanced Certification and Diploma programmes, the student teacher must have some form of yoga teacher training and some teaching experience. For the Continuing Education, one really only needs to be a sincere, interested student.
4. What can students expect to get out of this teacher training?
My number one goal for teachers in training is that they discover and develop their own unique gifts and talents as a teacher. The information we study really just becomes the tools in the teacher’s toolbox. I also want to make sure that the teachers know those tools and how to use them well.
Teachers will gain a deep knowledge of the physical and energetic bodily systems and how they relate to asana and pranayama. They will go deep into contemplative and meditation practices to learn about themselves and the philosophical underpinnings of yoga.
And they will learn how to develop their own unique style of teaching that is open and adaptable to a variety of teaching situations, but also has a firm foundation in the tradition of yoga.
5. How does this training differ from other teacher training programmes available in NZ?
First, the programmes are really hands-on and personalized. Space is limited in the programmes so that I can facilitate the learning process and help each student develop his or her own teaching style throughout the training.
Second, this training focuses on learning foundational information about the physical and energetic bodies, as well as the foundational philosophical precepts, and utilizing those as the creative building blocks for teaching yoga safely and effectively in any setting.
It’s really designed to provide information from which each teacher can create and bring his or her own voice forward in the continuation of the tradition of yoga.
6. What kind of qualification do students receive at the end of their training? Is the course Yoga Alliance registered?
Those who complete the training receive a Basic Certificate, Advanced Certificate, or Diploma in Yoga.
I chose these titles because they best represent the level of work that the teacher completes.
When designing the programme, I looked at how other programmes are designed in New Zealand – most specifically how massage schools and technical colleges design their programmes – and also what the various international registries hold as their basic standards.
Looking to all of these programmes, I designed a programme that would easily exceed the basic standards for the registries, and one that could qualify for verification under NZQA, even though I have not yet sought that verification.
I also have not registered the programme with Yoga Alliance or the Yoga Register. My reasoning is that these two organizations are specifically for their own countries.
Yoga Alliance and the Yoga Register were founded to prevent US and UK government involvement in yoga training such as creating licencing standards. They seek to keep yoga unregulated in those countries. But, neither organization has any presence in the New Zealand political system in this regard, and so has no direct impact on us or yoga as it is practiced here.
It is a very expensive process for no direct gain for the training or students of the training except a label asserting that the programme reaches their minimum requirements, even though the programme exceeds their requirements by a great deal.
Of course, because the programmes exceed the standards of these registries, teachers may decide to register themselves, and I am happy to facilitate that process. I am familiar and comfortable with the paperwork, so it is easy enough for the individual student to decide to register individually.