Name: Vera Powles
Nationality: Portuguese & British
Were do you live? Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (North East of England)
With so many yoga teacher trainings to chose from, what made you chose TNV's 200 hour teacher training? I knew I wanted to teach yoga as a part of my professional career so the focus that TNV puts on educating their students on sustainable yoga careers and entrepreneurship alongside key skills required to be of service to my own students was a deciding factor.
Lisa and Elin's careers and fields of expertise, as well as their guest teachers, inspired me and gave me the confidence that I'd be in the best hands during my training. I wanted to feel that I was using every second of my 200hr YTT to build my skills and knowledge and with TNV I've got that and so much more!
What was the training like for you and what were some skills and qualities you left with?
I loved every second of the training; The location and venue are outstanding - I felt comfortable, well looked after and nourished all the way through.
All the teachers are incredible knowledgeable, approachable and friendly. I didn't feel that we have spent time doing anything that wasn't valuable or productive. Every day was a challenge and I felt out of my comfort zone many times but found my growth through that. Elin and Lisa's message to "not play small" still echoes in my mind and heart whenever I'm struck by impostor syndrome.
TNV has this special way of attracting like-minded people so I fostered friendships for life and gained a network of recent graduates which has been so supportive! I worked hard during the YTT but also don't remember ever having laughed so much.
Overall it was the experience of a lifetime and something I'll never forget. Professionally I gained all the skills I needed to start teaching to a very good level. Personally, I overcame many limiting beliefs and learn so much about myself.
What's your journey been like since the ttc?
I started teaching the month after I completed my training and for the last 9 months have been building my own yoga community. I've launched a new website including an online wellness membership and recently hosted my first day-retreat.
What's your best advice for new yoga teachers wanting to get started teaching?
Before anything else, take time to sit down and identify your values, your teaching style and class description. These will be your compass for everything that you do and you'll feel more aligned as a teacher. Talk to everyone you know and meet about your passion for yoga and your vision and you'll see unexpected partnerships and opportunities manifest into your life.
Do you teach, if so where? What format? What are your offerings?
I'm an independent teacher so I host weekly vinyasa classes in a beautiful lifestyle shop called Mascara Studio, which is local to me. I also host monthly Yoga Socials in a really cool brewery, Full Circle Brew Co. where yogis have the change to meet and chat over a coffee or craft beer after the class. Recently I've hosted a day retreat which included yoga, meditation, pranayama, journalling and other mindful activities, a soundbath and lots of yummy healthy food. My biggest project at the moment is my online membership which I create weekly content for.
If you are keeping on eye on us you may have noticed that we went from promoting the idea of a 300 hr Advanced Yoga Teacher Training (step 2, if you will), to instead offering a 50 hr advanced yoga teacher training. Do we not believe in further education? Yes we do. But yes, we did have a change of hearts. Here is why.
Quality Problem. On the foundational level, the Yoga Alliance 200 hour format has to follow certain guidelines and a certain curriculum. But there is also a lot of freedom to shape your training. The 200 hour course can be an online course, a weekend modular course or an intensive format. It can be of any lineage or style of yoga – a known one or a made up one. It can be hosted by a yoga teacher training novice who'll never do it again, it can be hosted by a big corporation or an experienced celebrity teacher and everything in-between. The methodology can be an authoritarian one of absolutes, or one that encourages critical thinking. It can be in a group of 80 or a group of 5. These are so many variables. Add to it the fact that an advanced 300 hour training for business reason will probably have to welcome teachers with any level of actual teaching experience, and you have a few more things to consider.
All this combined means that most Advanced Teacher Trainings out there spend a lot of time simply aligning everyone with THIS training's methodology. Ensuring that everyone has the foundational knowledge deemed important by THIS teacher. Content-wise, an Advanced Yoga Teacher Training is often very similar to a Foundational Yoga Teacher Training. In fact, it's not uncommon that 200 hour YTT students are in the same group as 300 hour YTT students. This may work for some, but it doesn't align well with True North Vinyasa's mission. It becomes a quality issue. We want to raise the bar and professionalism for yoga teachers. We just couldn't make it work in this format.
Accessibility Problem. We believe in the immersion format. Not modules, not in front of a screen. We love the idea of checking out from the world and fully dive into practice and professional growth. It's life changing. We've seen it work for many years in our 200 hr trainings, and we want to work in this way. For a 300 hour training, this gives you the option to do 10 hours per day for 30 days straight, or two modules of about 2 weeks (which we were planning on). Either way, it's a huge commitment in time and money. Too big for most people, meaning not accessible. We couldn't see it happening. We started to question the idea.
Solution. We went back to the drawing board and asked ourselves: Yoga Alliance format aside, what is it we want? What are yoga teachers longing for? We went back the survey we did with our graduates. Some wanted that Advanced Certificate. Some wanted to be able to write 500 hr teacher on their website. But most just wanted to learn, to practice and to evolve. Most had figured out that to be a skilled yoga teacher doesn't stand in direct relation to the amount of training hours. Once we were able to free ourselves from the format, it was fairly easy to come up with an amazing course. Immersion format in a beautiful place. Under one week. Focusing on the areas that we consider our strengths. Not worrying about what "should" be on the curriculum. Putting together something that we know we can guarantee at a super high quality. So here we have it, a 5 day Advanced Yoga Teacher Training focused on sequencing vinyasa, theming classes, defining your brand and creating business in the world of yoga, and 50 hours of YACEP credits. In the Swiss Alps, September 24–29 2023.
We (and many others) are hoping that Yoga Alliance in the near future will allow you to create your own 300 hour certificate by combining shorter trainings from different accredited specialists. That would make sense. This way you could take 6 wonderful one-week trainings from experts in their field and become exactly the authentic teacher you deserve to be.
Marketing is uncomfortable for many yoga teachers. It can feel egocentric to talk about yourself and your strengths. It can feel show-off-y to pose in front of a camera. But of course, if you want someone to attend your class, you may have to promote yourself to some degree. Generic stock photography might feel like a good idea at first. But it's not personal and it's a missed opportunity to be authentic. So let's talk about posing for yoga pictures. Here are our top tips and tricks. The list is based on years of working with our in-house talent, photographer Isla Grossi, and it's a compilation of our combined experience.
Yoga photography things that may not work for everyone:
Yoga photography things that usually work well:
All this is general but maybe helpful if you are about to get (possibly) out of your comfort zone and into yoga photography posing. Have fun and good luck!
Every day life as a yoga teacher can feel lonely. You might even feel like other yoga teachers in your community are competition, fighting for the same students.
With that mindset – I'm lonely and I have competition – it might become a struggle to build a personal and strong yoga brand. Instead, rise up and change 180 degrees. You are not alone. You don't have to feel lonely. Yoga teachers around you are colleagues, working towards the same thing; more people doing yoga.
We need each other for many reasons:
At True North Vinyasa, we always try to encourage continued growth and community after our 200hr yoga teacher training. Finally this year, we can offer our very first Yoga Teacher's Boost Retreat. This will be an opportunity to practice, learn and build relations. Hope you can join us!
To sequence a vinyasa class around a peak pose is a planning tool. Yes, correct. It's not about doing the pose itself. It's about using that pose as a lighthouse in the distance, then navigating towards it. It's about preparing your students' bodies for a fair and safe chance to approach the pose. In reality, quite often you won't even do that pose. You certainly won't tell the class that you have a peak pose. It's a planning tool. How?
1. It gives you a direction and a physical theme. We cannot do all the fun stuff in every class, so this is a simple way of crossing out poses and cues that don't fit into the theme.
2. It forces you to analyse a pose and dissect it, to taste it and try it and figure out its' components, energies, alignment and actions. For example, Flying Pigeon (Eka Pada Galavasana, demonstrated by BKS Iyengar above) is a Figure Four shape in the front leg on top of a Chaturanga, with the action of shooting the back leg upwards.
3. Once you have figured out the above, simply look for other poses with similar alignment, actions and angles. How can you teach the pose without doing the pose? We usually recommend identifying 5 key poses that pick up the components of your complex pose in a simpler way.
4. Now you can sequence your class. Use the key poses, the suitable actions and alignment as well as verbal cues throughout your warm-up and main part of class. Always plan a well-rounded and balanced class with all different movements the body can do, but use your peak pose to navigate.
Interested to learn more?
September 2022 True North Retreat in Switzerland ››
November 2022 Vinyasa Flow Teacher Training in Portugal ››
Anatomy, philosophy and class sequencing – these are typical subjects that might come to mind when we think about advancing our yoga teaching skills and growing in our profession. But there are a whole range of less obvious skills that you'll need to develop in order to become a really good yoga teacher. Let's call them non-yoga skills. It's everything else you have to be good at, other than your topic. And it's a lot.
Who else other than a yoga teacher gives a 90 minute memorised yet adaptable speech – a crazy mix of a technical manual, stand-up comedy and lecture all in one – several times a week? And these are just some of the skills you need to some degree in order to become a yoga teacher with an edge. Between doing your taxes, being a social media expert and organising events, it's a lot. You have to be a bit of a polymath – a person whose expertise spans different subject areas.
As a yoga teacher, it's clever to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Maybe by giving yourself a score between 1-10 from the list below. Then make a plan for the next couple of years. Play your strengths. Deepen your knowledge in areas you love. Become an expert in your natural areas of interest and skill. But don't just do that. Develop your weak areas as well. Especially if you have been teaching for a while already. Learn, grow and broaden. Gain confidence.
So what are some of these non-yoga skills?
How to price yoga is always a big topic in our True North Vinyasa 200 hour teacher trainings. It can feel uncomfortable and even wrong to put a financial value on this practice that you love and want to share. For many, especially as studios and gyms may not be an option at the moment, starting where you're standing is a good idea. Most of our trainees have colleagues, friends or family who are interested in taking their classes right after training. The big question is, how much should I charge them? What am I worth as a new yoga teacher? And, should I charge at all actually? Isn't yoga supposed to be free?
Let's start with the last two questions. While it's true that the wisdom of yoga was once a master to student teaching tradition without financial transaction, that is no longer the case. And even then, there was an exchange of gifts (food and other offerings). If you would like to be a modern day yoga teacher and take yourself seriously, you have to be okey with talking about money.
The thing is, yoga is free. Breath and movement exist already in every body, ready to be released. To be guided by a professional who invested in her craft however, should not be free. Step one in pricing is to know your own worth.
Step two is to understand the industry you work in. Yes, it's an industry – a huge multi billion dollar/euro industry. Being a yoga teacher, although often passion driven, is a job. Even if you are just starting out and don't rely upon yoga as an income, please understand that many others do. And that one day, you might also want to. Think sustainably and price accordingly. You want to price as if you had to live off teaching even if you don't. Otherwise you sabotage for others.
But what if you are a brand new yoga teacher then? Wouldn't it make sense to charge less than a more experienced yoga teacher? Of course, if that makes you feel more comfortable. The trick, and we can call this step three, is then to set a time limit on your little internship. If you teach a small group of friends because the practice of teaching has a high value for you, communicate this: "For 3 months, my classes will be €10 per person because I want to build experience teaching a group. After this, I will charge €20 per person (or whatever is standard where you live)". By the time the 3 months are up, if you have done a good job, they will stay with you and you will work sustainably, insuring high quality classes for your group and a chance for you to keep loving your new job.
A few more general tips on pricing:
A while back we did a survey amongst our friends and graduates. We wanted to hear from you before setting a curriculum for our Advanced Vinyasa Teacher Training. Much of what we know got confirmed, and is now the basis of our 300hr YTT program. Some of what you helped us confirm:
One of the most common questions we get from potential trainees for our foundational 200 hour vinyasa yoga teacher training is, do you think I'm ready? If you are thinking about this, you are not alone. Most who show up to their first day of training are wondering if they are ready, glancing over at the other trainees and their yoga practice. Is she stronger than me? Is he more enlightened than me?
We've had trainees from all walks of life graduate our program with flying colors. An 18 year old recent high school graduate having a taste of freedom. A 63 year old former marketing director looking for change. A 23 year old medical student on a gap year. A 34 year old psychologist in-between jobs. Along with most of our trainees (we've graduated over 100 at the time of writing), they have a few things in common. Do you recognise yourself in any of this?
Read about our next 200 hr vinyasa yoga teacher trainings here. And feel free to contact us if you want to discuss if our training is the right one for you!
Less of a career choice, more of a heart's desire. That's what brought most yoga teachers to start teaching. Yet, it is certainly a profession, no matter to what degree you end up teaching. Here are few things we'd like to share that might help you if you are thinking about becoming a yoga teacher.
Interested in a vinyasa teacher training? Check out our Yoga Alliance certified 200 hour trainings here ›› And our certified Advanced vinyasa teacher training here ››
Articles about the world of teaching and living Vinyasa Flow Yoga by Elin Jensen and Lisa Andersson Rhodiner