Category Archives: Teacher Training

What makes a great yoga teacher? A great yoga student.

Since opening Nandi Yoga in 2008, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of people training to become yoga teachers.  This is partially due to more people practicing, but also because there are a lot more programs out there.  On one hand, the good news is that there are a lot more options for taking yoga classes (and more teachers)! On the other, the challenge for instructors is that there are more teachers out there and the competition is fierce (especially in the Bay Area).

Nandi does train teachers, although it wasn’t our original intent.  We knew which programs (both locally and around the world) were a great fit for the yoga we wanted to offer and consistent with our core values.  We planned on filling our teacher slots with graduates of these programs. However, once we opened our doors, we started getting inquiries from graduates of other programs who wanted to teach, so we auditioned people beyond the programs we originally targeted in search of great teachers.  Not everyone was ready to teach – some needed more time to hone their skills and others needed practice with the basics of teaching itself.

There are countless reasons why some emerge from trainings ready to go and others not, but I believe one factor is key – one’s practice.  In the old days, students would study for many years (usually with the same teacher) before undertaking a training.  This gave them time to learn how yoga impacted their bodies (physical, energetic, mental and spiritual) – a crucial step before one starts to think about how yoga could affect their students.  Nowadays, students can enter training programs without a well-established practice (and often look towards the training to help them advance as students).  In my opinion, it’s putting the cart before the horse. What’s the rush?

Yoga is a multi-faceted and amazingly complex discipline.  Some postures take years to master but doing a one-armed handstand doesn’t make a person a great student or a great teacher.  Students who want to become teachers need to first learn about the different aspects of yoga, including asana (poses), pranayama (breathing), meditation and philosophy and figure out what works for them. Underlying it all is one’s practice.  The more established a person can be in their practice, the more they can use what they learn on their mat to support and help others.  The learning doesn’t stop when a training ends, either.  The best yoga teachers consider themselves lifelong students.

Wendy

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Mentee’s Inspiration: What Makes an Authentic Yoga Teacher at Nandi Intern Program

 

On my first day back at the studio after spending 3 weeks in beautiful Costa Rica, I had planned to simply observe my first class assisting as part of Nandi’s Intern Program (I had missed the most recent intern meeting and was not quite sure what to expect).  However, as soon as Deeb Qobti greeted me, he said, “ok you’re going to teach a 10 minute sequence today!” I remember gazing at him in shock and feeling the anxiety and fear creeping up my spine, as I clearly had not prepared for that.  A large part of me wanted to say no thanks, but the fact that he was confident in me and was offering me this incredible opportunity right off the bat convinced me otherwise.  Plus, I wanted to prove to him (and to myself) that I was up for the challenge!  So, I taught a sequence that we developed right before class, and even though I was nervous, I did pretty well, although I did forget a pose on one side. Being a self-critical perfectionist, I expressed to Deeb after class that I probably could have done better.  His response to me is something I will never forget, “it’s not about the poses; it’s about your energy and the smile on your face that makes you a great teacher.” Immediately, the self-deprecating voice in my head dissipated.  Those words were exactly what I needed to hear, and they epitomize why Deeb has been such a wonderful mentor to me. He constantly reminds me why I decided to become a yoga teacher in the first place.

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Deeb Qobti, Vinyasa Yoga Instructor hands-on assists in his Energetic Flow class at Nandi Yoga.

 

Nandi’s Intern Program has taught me the importance of being a nurturing, attentive, and supportive yoga teacher through hands-on assists.  Deeb’s approach, in particular, is about breathing and flowing in unison with the students.  It is about sharing the energy between teacher and student, using our touch to guide our connective energy through the fascia and the body’s energy channels. And of course, it is also about making the student feel good.  When Deeb adjusts a student, he instructs me to observe and then mimic his movements on another student nearby.  While I still don’t feel 100% confident giving students deep adjustments, I have definitely become more comfortable in my abilities because of Deeb’s style and encouragement.

Since my first class, Deeb has given me numerous opportunities to co-teach his sequences as well as teach some of my own.  Not only has this made me more confident in my own voice, it has also enhanced my skills (particularly in sequencing) as a yoga teacher.  My knowledge about the body’s anatomy and how to properly adjust students has also expanded, particularly because Deeb incorporates a lot of unique, fluid, and energizing poses and movements, not just your run of the mill asanas.  

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Energetic Flow students learn how to incorporate their breath throughout their poses and movements.

 

Every week I look forward to learning something new from Deeb.  Whether it’s a new pose or a new adjustment, I always leave class feeling inspired and more confident in my teaching capabilities.  This mentorship experience has already taught me so much about what it means to be an effective and authentic yoga teacher, and I am truly grateful to have such a supportive and inspiring teacher like Deeb as my mentor.

 

About Deeb Qobti

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Deeb began his yoga journey in 2008 after working as a contractor for over 20 years and hurting his back. He completed his Sri Yoga teacher training under the tutelage of Jean Mazzei and Brenna Geehan in 2011 and a six month internship at Nandi Yoga in 2012 which helped him further refine his teaching. Deeb has studied Tantra with Rajmani Tigunait and other styles at Nandi Yoga including Jivamukti and Ashtanga Vinyasa. Deeb believes if you change the mind, the body follows and if you change the body, the mind follows and integrates this approach of Krama Yoga (Yoga of Action) in every one of his classes.

Check-out Deeb’s full class schedule, and click here to sign-up!

– Celeste Wong, Mentee at Nandi Yoga’s Intern Program