Interview with an Avid Yogi Graduate:
She gives us an insight into why she chose the Avid Yogi course at Meadowlark, life after Yoga Teacher Training (YTT), teaching and her favourite bit of Yoga equipment.
Q1: You completed the Intensive Avid Yogi YTT course last year; why did you choose to do this particular course, at this particular location?
Jennifer: I had been looking at YTTs all over the world in all sorts of glamorous locations. However, when I thought more carefully about my choice, I realised it was far more important to ensure I was with the right teacher and in a place where I could potentially make good contacts that would carry me forward into my new career. I had practised regularly with Karen at Bristo Yoga School and then Meadowlark, so I was 100% confident that I wanted her to be my teacher, whom I would learn a lot from.
Q2: What did you love most about the course?
Jennifer: I had never practised Mysore-style yoga before the course; my experience previously had been purely led classes, mainly vinyasa flow style, so I wasn’t too confident with Ashtanga yoga. I was initially quite intimidated by the prospect of practising Mysore every morning on the course. However, I can honestly say that beginning a Mysore practice on the course has been the best thing to have happened to me, on yoga terms. I discovered a real love for it and genuinely looked forward to starting each day with the Mysore practice – my favourite days were when we practised both in the mornings and in the afternoons!
Q3: What did you not love/expect…?
Jennifer: Science is not my strong point! My old school teachers can definitely vouch for that! I found some anatomy aspects quite challenging, but equally interesting – I knew it would be a necessary part of the course and I hope I took it all on board! I really loved our discussions on yogic philosophy and history.
Q4: Have you been passionate about yoga for a long time? How did your journey start?
Jennifer: I have been practising yoga for about five years; it’s been a slow-burning journey and it’s taken me a few years to get to the level of dedication that I am at now. I went to my first ever yoga class as a Fresher at Edinburgh University, mainly out of bewilderment and excitement at being in a new place – I thought I might as well give it a go! I made a few other friends who got into yoga as well and together we gradually started practising regularly at Bristo Yoga School, which is where I first met Karen. A few moves away, first to London and then to Melbourne, meant I tried out a lot of different teachers, studios and styles, so it was lovely to eventually come back to Edinburgh and reconnect with Karen.
Q5: Do you have any teacher/s that greatly inspire you, like a guru?
Jennifer: I feel extremely lucky to be a part of the Meadowlark community, which runs such an authentic Mysore programme. Having teachers like Karen, Emma Isokivi and Sarah Hatcher to practise with regularly, is very inspiring, as you can see the level of dedication & commitment to their yoga. I am attending a workshop in July with Dena Kingsberg, who I have heard a lot about, so I am really looking forward to studying with her.
Q6: What have you been doing since you graduated from the course?
Jennifer: Honestly, mainly yoga! I started teaching at Meadowlark pretty much as soon as I graduated and am slowly building up more and more classes. Keeping up my own personal practice, whether in the Mysore room or at home, is also a big part of my routine.
Q7: What’s it like to be on the other side, teaching the class instead of taking part?
Jennifer: It’s tiring in a different way! As the ‘teacher’ you might do less physically than the students, but you still have to maintain a high level of energy. Holding poses or moving through a sequence whilst also talking/counting can be a challenge, especially in my Vinyasa Power classes, which tend to be pretty sweaty! You can get a real buzz when a class goes well though and when it’s clear your students have enjoyed it or learnt something.
Q8: Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Jennifer: That is a very good question and one that I usually tend to avoid! I’ve learnt that life can throw you unexpected changes, and that you have to just go with them. Generally speaking though, I would like to continue my teaching and develop my own personal practice, including lots of trips abroad to study with different teachers. It would be nice to be able to press up into a handstand in five years time as well – I’m working on it!
Q9: Do you have a favourite piece of yoga equipment or apparel that you can’t live without?
Jennifer: I’ve recently bought a good Manduka mat after years of practising on the same cheap mat which just wasn’t cutting it any more – my Mysore teachers were very happy to see I’d finally invested in something of a higher quality! I pretty much live in my yoga clothes, I’m rarely seen in anything that’s not lycra-based. I love Sweaty Betty and LuluLemon.
Q10: Do you have any advice for aspiring yoga teachers, who want to take their career into the yoga field?
Jennifer: Be patient when you first start – it can take time to make connections and build up your classes. Karen also gave me some advice when I first started teaching which I try to stick by and remember: nothing is more important than your own practice. Don’t take on so much teaching that your personal practice is neglected. Doing yoga every day, practising and teaching, can be exhausting, so it’s ok to start slowly until you find the right balance. But most of all, enjoy it! I feel lucky every day to be doing what I’m doing.