Lily Gretz, one of our volunteer blog writers, interviewed Kim Murphy and Vladimir Tchakarov, two of our program directors for the Pranakriya 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training.
How will this program help aspiring teachers further develop their yoga skills?
This program touches on all aspects of Pranakriya, giving new teachers a taste of everything there is to come. Really, though, every person’s path is different. The program’s structure equips you with basic tools, but then allows your personal way of teaching to evolve, so you stay true to your own nature instead of becoming a pranakriya clone. In my (Vladimir’s) personal experience of the 200-hour training, I’ve been able to tap into specific training modules and apply them to multiple environments. The Pranakriya program has equipped me with resilience, humility, and the attitude of a life-long learner.
The 200 hour program is the first stage of the teacher training program. What advice do you have for yogis considering starting their teaching career?
Kim: As a yoga teacher, you are a student for life. Continue to practice and grow your knowledge every day for the benefit and safety of your students. Trust in the skills you learned in your initial training and teach as often as you can to gain experience in your new role.
Vladimir: First, whatever opportunity you can find to teach, take it. The first year after the training is where you hatch–take advantage of that. The more you wait to start teaching, the less you remember. Overall, don’t get discouraged–teaching is a learning experience. Be ok with being vulnerable. Do personal practice: it feeds you, centers you, and reminds you what you’re bringing to people. Open yourself to feedback; sometimes if you think the class didn’t go well, it’s actually in your head.
What is the structure of this training program?
The program involves 9 weekends (Friday evening through Sunday) of training spread out across 9 months with various homework assignments in between. The program focuses on practice teaching with positive feedback from the director and classmates, and personal practice, which is monitored through journaling. This journaling was especially helpful in grounding me (Vladimir) in my personal practice. Journals and small group meetings help establish a supportive environment.
The initial weekend provides a course outline and focuses on establishing a safe space. From there, the training will cover an overview of Pranakriya Yoga, dipping into posture training sequence, the history, etc. Each weekend builds on the next, so materials from the first week will reappear in the second week, and so on. I (Vladimir) am always fascinated by how well-thought out the training is; Yoganand, the founder of the program, really put a lot of thought into it.
How is practicing yoga as a teacher different from practicing yoga as a student?
As a teacher practicing, you ask yourself, How can I present this? How can i bring this to my students? What is my purpose with these students? Is this just practice for me or for others?
Your practice evolves beyond the boundaries of the mat when you’re a teacher. Teaching is all about the students–you must hold space for them. You can’t go deep; you can’t drop.
In addition, being a teacher forces you to learn more, at a faster pace in order to keep your students interested.
What is the most rewarding part of being a yoga teacher?
Kim: I find great enjoyment in sharing that which has impassioned me. Swami Kripalu once said, “Whatever you receive, keep a portion for yourself and share a portion with others. By establishing yourself in the flow of generosity, what you give will come back many fold.” For me teaching is a form of service: creating a safe space for students to experience the deep healing that yoga offers. At the same time, teaching allows me to be a better student. I enjoys the gifts I give and receive through teaching yoga.
Vladimir: I love looking at people’s faces in those few moments after class when I’m putting props away–those moments are very special. When i see a student have an experience of opening, discovering something new, or finding a deeper connection to themselves, it’s incredibly rewarding, not because I feel that I made that moment happen, but because I’m honored to be able to hold space for that kind of work. Teaching gives life meaning and purpose, and perpetuates my desire to learn.
What do you enjoy about teaching this program?
Kim: I enjoy seeing the transformation the students make throughout the 9 months. Watching participants embrace the challenge of deepening their yoga practice both on and off the mat is incredible. Each weekend, I can see the participants grow and change on physical and emotional levels as they transition from a practitioner to a teacher of yoga.
Vladimir: What I really love is watching the process–you get to experiencing people evolving over 9 months. It’s fascinating to see the students grow in strength and confidence. In addition, many teachers who go through this program stick with Pranakriya, so I get to see them down the line. This program helps me connect to the community of yoga.
Kim Murphy (E-RYT 500 C-IAYT) is a well-rounded yoga teacher, Thai yoga practitioner, yoga therapist, and a reflexologist. Her initial work in the health and fitness industry brought her to the Pranakriya teacher training program, at which point she realized she was drawn to Pranakriya for a reason. She now enjoys directing the 200-hour yoga teacher training and helping introduce yoga to beginners.
Vladimir Tchakarov (E-RYT 500) began practicing yoga 11 years ago, a natural progression from his martial arts background. Since then, he has practiced every day, allowing yoga to guide him through life’s changes and inspire his desire to learn. Vladimir directs a separate 200-hour training with a similar passion for guiding new yogis.