I was so excited to hear that The Studio was offering an apprentice program. I've been a 200-hour vinyasa certified teacher for three years, but knew I wanted to pivot and become a Katonah yoga certified teacher. Katonah yoga is the lens that speaks the most to me in my personal practice and has tools and techniques I want to share with my students. I reached out to Abbie to be a part of the program and was very grateful that as my teacher, she saw me, my practice and knew that I would show up and be a part of The Studio's community.
In the fall of 2017, Abbie held a teaching clinic before the apprenticeship program started. The main nugget of information that I received from that training module was that I needed to own my teaching voice. I am more comfortable being in the background, being a student and soaking in the information. Now that I have all this information about Katonah yoga and the material, I needed to go out of my comfort zone and actually teach it. The apprenticeship allowed me to step in as a teacher in the community and actually play with the tools and techniques I've been using in my personal practice. Teaching the material has actually expanded and clarified the information for me because I was forced to articulate and provide context as to why we are doing what we are doing.
Like our physical practice, the apprenticeship program has many dimensions to the program: check-ins, homework, assisting the restorative classes, assisting Abbie's privates, teaching community classes at The Studio, etc. I enjoyed the check-ins and homework assignments and sharing my experiences with my fellow apprentices, Abbie, Alex and Sophia. It created a sense of camaraderie amongst the apprentices as younger teachers using this material. On walks to and from The Studio, I would bounce class and sequence ideas with the other apprentices and we would help each other come up with richer experiences for our students by using different metaphors or explaining the set-up for a pose in a different way.
Through assisting the restorative classes, I got to see first-hand how Dara and Kyle built out this offering for The Studio. I also was able to see how the material can be explained in different styles -- Kyle uses his humor and his attention to detail to get everyone through a class while Dara uses her compassion to make her students feel safe and taken care of. The Katonah yoga theory and material is powerful regardless of who is teaching it and as the teacher, hopefully a student will hear something different and new.
While assisting Abbie's privates, I got to see how powerful and sharp Abbie's vision and body reading is. It truly is amazing and inspiring to see a teacher who has been working for multiple decades do her craft. We worked with students with different types of bodies and levels of yoga experience but regardless of who the student was, we made them use all parts of themselves. If a student needed to get fired up, we moved them around, if a student had no awareness of their lower body, we made them use their legs, if they needed more air, we gave them more space in their lungs. We use the metaphor that a body is a house, each body or house is unique and different, but the way you clean up a house is the same. Or the way you tune an instrument is the same.
By teaching the community classes, we were able to take all our learnings into the real world. Before the apprenticeships, I used to spend a lot of time writing out sequences before my classes and practicing saying the poses out-loud. I would get caught up in the memorization and the "instruction" of sequence that I would not be able to be present in the class and pay attention to the students. During the apprenticeship, I took on a different approach of thinking about the experience I want students to have vs. what poses I wanted them to do. That mind shift changed everything about how I taught my class and one student even told me she recorded my class and does my class at home. I appreciated all the students that showed up to class and noticed it would be the people that showed up to do their practice and truly loved the material. It was comforting to know that the students were rooting for me and trusted me as a teacher because they have seen my practice in Abbie's classes. From the teaching clinic to my last community class, I noticed such a difference in my confidence, in how I viewed students and in how I wanted to provide information through my classes.
Finally, what I enjoyed the most about the apprenticeship was the time spent with Abbie. Whether it was early in the morning waiting for a private to show up, or in-between taking or teaching class, I loved those little moments of being mentored by Abbie off the mat.