Nadine Watton, senior Meadowlark Teacher and Lead-trainer on Meadowlark’s Yoga Trainings, reflects on the teacher trainings that she has worked on so far and her vision for the future.
I have had the complete pleasure of contributing to and co-running the Avid Yogi 200-hour YT (Yoga Training) this year at Meadowlark, and also continuing to run the Yin and Restorative 100-hour training. This has given me the opportunity to delve so much deeper into the beautiful and enriching teachings of Yoga – bringing me to a different level of teaching.
Lifelong learning journey
This journey of learning is an open-ended one and I believe that learning in all aspects of life should never end, no matter what job you are doing and no matter what area your learning is in. Out of the people I meet who are in their senior years, it is the ones who have the enquiring minds, the desire to learn more about their interests and relationships who seem the most fulfilled, grounded, healthy and young for their years. It is as though their sense of wellbeing is bolstered by the inquiry they make into all aspects of life, nature and science. It feels like a gift to have this expanse of learning open to us – this could be in the shape of attending a yoga class, completing a training course, growing veggies in your garden, with trial and error over the years, or sitting in meditation. As human beings, our nature is intrinsically to seek, to discover, to try to understand.
Moving out of the comfort zone…
Pulling together my share of the content for the courses has been an amazing journey and an experience which will continually evolve and, hopefully, become richer. I did my 500-hour teacher training over a decade ago so sitting down and considering what is important and relevant to the 200-hour YT completely took me out of my comfort zone. A wonderful gift of this process has been coming back together with my old teacher David Charlton, an incredibly experienced yogi who trained me to teach, a friend and all round good guy. Dave lives down south so we work together via Skype, with Dave guiding me on various philosophical concepts and mentoring me. This is a very nourishing relationship and I feel blessed to have this connection.
After teaching asana, pranayama and meditation for over 15 years, I am comfortable teaching regular classes and workshops – although every class brings up its own unique experience, as this practice is an energetic one. I also try my best to keep things fresh and aim to consider new ways of expressing the traditional practices and teachings of Yoga.
When I started teaching sessions on Yoga Philosophy to the trainee teachers I was revisited with the fear that I experienced when starting to teach asana classes all those years ago. As probably most all new teachers of any subject know, the butterflies and nerves that accompany teaching things for the first time can be quite overwhelming.
When I started teaching asana I was so scared about getting the asana in the wrong order, or forgetting to counterpose or just drawing a blank. I’m only human and a lot of my students will know that mistakes can happen – and don’t even get me started on right and left! I will always have a lesson plan, not just to keep me on track during the class but to also remind me of what each class has done from week to week and I can build on that.
Before teaching the philosophical content of yoga, I discovered that I do not have much ability to retain “academic” information. Looking at my son’s challenges with Dyslexia, I have noticed that all through my life I have struggled with learning too – unless it is through my body. Give me a physical dance sequence, a yoga sequence or a physical adjustment, I’m fine, but when it comes to retaining verbal information and, even, chants, I struggle. This was so apparent when I recently revisited the philosophical concepts I had covered many years ago with Dave, concepts that I had reflected on and revised for the years, but found I was unable to recall and verbalise the information.
One of my regular students said to me that you do not fully know your subject until you teach it and, in my case, I feel this is true. After holding several sessions on Samkhya and the Guna, the Bhagavad Gita and The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, to name a few, my knowledge feels deeper – although there is still so much to learn and always new theories and research to consider. I can try… and I am thoroughly enjoying this journey. The discussion that surrounds philosophical ideas is always an illuminating one and I am more than happy to face the challenge.
The next two YT courses we have planned are so very exciting! I am working together with Karen Kirkness and Amy Hughes – two awesomely wonderful women – to extend and build upon Karen’s course she single-handedly created several years ago. This feels like a strong collaboration of years of experience and energies to construct what we hope to be a fully enriching and comprehensive training.
I am personally striving for trainees to feel inspired to learn; to build confidence on all levels; to become well-rounded practitioners and teachers; feel satisfied; and to have some clarity in what can be the mysterious world of yoga. I would like to encourage trainees to feel grounded and confident in who they are, what they are learning and what they are communicating to the outside world. In the heady days of social media, fancy photos of asana and fancy yoga clothes it can feel intimidating and overwhelming to trainees and teachers.
Yoga is an internal practice and a practice of compassion, observation and faith. A beautiful photo of an asana can be very inspiring but the real beauty lies within and then the true honesty of practice will be expressed with clarity and love.
On the last training, one of the most moving pieces of feedback we received was that the course had been “life-changing”. I did not expect to hear that but I could see how some trainees found that giving the training their focus enriched their life on so many levels and gave them a stronger sense of self. Yoga has done that for me too! You do not have to want to be a teacher to attend a training – you just need the desire to learn new things and to be ready to move out of your comfort zone.
With the Yin and restorative training, alongside my general aims of the 200-hour course, I aim to continue the focus on stress and anxiety and how yoga supports us in life – how yoga practices not only relax the body and the mind but also our life. I have taken research from modern science and also reflect on more ancient, traditional views and how that links into today’s research. This training acts as a module to existing teaching qualifications and is also open to non-teachers who wish to deepen their understanding of a Yin and restorative practice and how they can apply it to their lives.
To close this blog I would like to leave you with this quote to consider….
“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”
Thanks for your time reading this,
Love Nadine xx
If you would like to join any of Meadowlark’s teacher trainings please find the full range of courses here. For any enquiries please contact Nina on firstname.lastname@example.org