Make the Leap with Mountain Yoga Sandy’s New and Improved 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training
By Melissa Fields
In the three years that Mountain Yoga Sandy (MYS) has been offering its annual 200-hour, Yoga Alliance-certified, Fall Yoga Teacher Training, led by MYS founder Jackie Wheeler, dozens of yogis have made the leap from practitioner to teacher, while deepening their practice and connection to the MYS community along the way. MYS is offering its fourth YTT this fall, but in a bit different—and, hopefully, more effective—format.
Instead of covering all five of MYS’s elemental classes—Hatha, Fusion, Flow, Stretch and Restore—in one 200-hour training, the Fall 2022 YTT takes a deeper, more intensive dive into Hatha and Fusion, both in terms of instruction and a broadened exposure to actual teaching. (A second training—300 hours covering Flow, Stretch and Restore—is currently in development and will be offered sometime in 2024.) The intent of re-tooling and refining the curriculum, Jackie explained, is to give teacher training students a stronger foundation and, ultimately, better prepare them to teach. “We often felt rushed to get through all five elemental classes in our previous teacher trainings,” she says. “So, this year’s curriculum has been distilled in a way that will set students up for a more confident and seamless transition to teaching.”
“This year’s curriculum has been distilled in a way that will set students up for a more confident and seamless transition to teaching.”
MYS teaching staff member Jayda Beckstead is a graduate of MYS’s Fall 2020 YTT and says she can see how the new format will give participants an advantage. “Studying all five styles of yoga in one 200-hour teacher training can be a lot, especially for those who don’t have the time, like I did, to take on more training and learning on their own outside of the classroom hours,” Jayda says.
The Fall 2022 YTT begins with an exploration of Hatha, a set sequence of 26 plus two poses. “Hatha is an excellent framework for learning how to teach yoga,” Jackie says. “Because students know what’s coming next, they can fully concentrate on the fundamentals of teaching—things like cueing, reading the room and successfully taking students through a practice—without being distracted with building sequences and playlists.” The Hatha block also includes principles of alignment and postures, and an in-depth study of how yoga works.
The training’s second block centers on Fusion, a practice Jackie describes as “the Hatha series peppered with pockets of Flow.” Within this block, students learn how to thoughtfully and intelligently incorporate movement sequences—like chair series or sun salutations—into their teaching practice. “Becoming comfortable with teaching a Fusion class is essential for developing the necessary confidence and organizational skills for eventually building a Flow class,” Jackie says. The Fusion block also covers posture variations and adjustments, an inversion workshop and methods for creating classroom ambiance.
Emily Longfellow, owner of Vimana Yoga in Basalt, Colorado, and author of Vimana Yoga: An In-depth Guide for Students and Teachers, has co-taught MYS’s teacher trainings since Jackie first began offering them 2019, and will return this fall to lead the training’s Fusion instruction. “Being able to build a solid Fusion practice is an ideal entrée to creating a safe and therapeutic teaching practice in a variety of yoga styles,” Emily says.
Tying together all the previously presented information, philosophy and concepts is the focus of the training’s third, culminating block. This section also includes instruction on meditation techniques, professional development and sound yoga ethics, and features a Yoga Sutra workshop led by Utah yoga pioneer, writer and therapist, D’ana Baptiste.
Perhaps the most significant change in format made to the Fall 2022 YTT curriculum, however, is the inclusion of weekly teaching “dress rehearsals.” The entire class will meet at MYS to teach, be taught and both receive and offer feedback on each Wednesday evening of the two-and-a-half month training. “Teaching yoga can be very intimidating, especially for people who make the switch from being a student to a teacher within the same community,” Jackie says. “The teaching piece of the training has been expanded to a core part of the curriculum and is designed to build confidence, self-esteem and ultimately help transform devoted practitioners into great teachers.”