I want to hold your hand

There have been times in my life where I’ve wanted someone to hold my hand. Like the time I was in the midst of 9/11, when I went through my divorce and that moment I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Each time knowing someone was there to reassure me allowed me to let go, relax and trust the process.

Having someone there to gently support me through times of transition has not only been invaluable it’s become a guiding principle for the way I approach my work as a yoga teacher. I couldn’t have developed my own practice and career without the support, friendship and guidance from truly brilliant mentors.

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I firmly believe that when someone holds your hand at a time of deep crisis, nothing can compare. So why do we feel that we shouldn’t ask for help at other times in our lives? Perhaps we feel we should toughen up, go it alone and shoulder the burden or that we shouldn’t ask for favors or special treatment when wanting to learn a new skill. Forgive me but that’s a bunch of hooey!

If I’d believed any of those things, I most likely would never have started teaching yoga.

I can remember the exact moment my teacher suggested I think about teaching. She encouraged me to ask a fellow more senior teacher to mentor me and there was that incredible feeling when she said, yes. It was a gentle start; handing out blocks, watching her teach, writing down her sequences. Picking her brain.

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Another milestone moment was being able to study with a visiting senior teacher. I was a nervous wreck presenting my 3-minute shoulder opening sequence and was shocked at the feedback, “you are a natural teacher, keep at it.”

I never went looking for a job as a yoga teacher. In the early 90’s you were just lucky that people were passionate enough about their own practice to share it in an open class. When one such teacher made a suggestion that I teach a bunch of pregnant ladies at his studio because I just happened to be pregnant too, I thought, why not? I bought myself a copy of Sophie Hoare’s book, Yoga and Pregnancy and didn’t look back. Never mind the fact that I hadn’t a clue what it was like to give birth or go through a pregnancy.

By then, I’d had enough handholding from my teachers to trust that I could fly. And I did! With clear feedback and support I made it through that first year of teaching and I developed the confidence to teach.

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Being a teacher who trained, ‘old style’ its been surprising to watch the development of training in the last 20 years. Trainings are getting shorter, cheaper and less personal. When planning to run a course, marketing and spreading the word, the first feedback I often get is: looks great but…. it’s too long, doesn’t fit my schedule or I’d rather do it on an exotic island overseas.

I get it and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to learn to instruct yoga. Anyone can learn to stand on their head, but not everyone can teach yoga.

What I’m passionate about is meeting people who want to live yoga, know what yoga is and share that as a teacher. In my experience that kind of study and practice takes time, introspection and a connection with a mentor who cares. I feel absolutely grateful to my mentors knowing that years later I can still write, ask questions and share my heart.

As a yoga teacher trainer I’ve been lucky to mentor a handful of students. Watching them go on to inspire their own students and even teach teachers is hugely satisfying. When we get together and they share their growth as a teacher I feel like a proud mother hen. I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without these dear friends.

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Someone once shared with me that what they loved most about the training environment was that we all felt like a big family. The people who had trained the previous years would come back and join the classes and share their knowledge and experiences with the new group.

To me that’s what mentoring is all about. Being embraced by community, good will and a sense of giving back.

Reflecting on the importance of mentoring has inspired me to rethink how we approach our teacher training courses. How we can be more effective in sharing the tradition and true meaning of yoga while keeping in mind the demands of a busy 21st century life.

I think its important to know the teacher, make a connection and watch them in action. Plus, there’s something about having a teacher’s hands on yours, showing you how to adjust and observing different bodies to learn how  to adapt the posture to the individual. And then there’s the group dynamic and building community.

With all these thoughts in mind we’ve put together a 12- month mentorship training which combines face to face training (where you learn to teach a set series of postures  in the Ishta style while receiving the depth of the traditional teachings of yoga) which is then followed by an online component.

Over the 12 months we’ll also teach you via group google hangouts and personal skype sessions with the intention to

-support you to stay committed to your personal practice

-give insight into your progress as a developing yogi and teacher

-provide opportunities for you to assist and be involved in any of our workshops, trainings and events.

If something like this peaks your curiosity and you’d like to know more we’re launching this new 350 Yoga Australia registered course with a two-week immersion from October 10-24, 2016 in Byron Bay, Australia.

The course is limited to 10 participants and acceptance is on application and interview only. You need at least two years of yoga experience to apply and two references. Applications close August 31, 2016

To find out more send me an email rachel@rachelzinmanyoga.com


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