Ninja School left me feeling well and truly stealth... like a ninja cat! As a newly qualified teacher I really wanted to learn more about assisting and the power of touch in yoga.
Even though we covered assisting during my 200hr training with Frame (read about that HERE), my brain was so full up with new information at that point that I felt revisiting assisting would be really useful and would offer the opportunity to learn more advanced assists.
SSY training was genuinely so much more than I had hoped for - the training and insight from Michael was fantastic and the support from the group allowed us to feel completely at ease which gave the perfect leaning environment.
I am so much more comfortable assisting bodies now. I now feel very capable and really enjoy incorporating assisting in my teaching!
As well as that, it's just completely lifted my confidence when it comes to teaching and moving around a classroom. I've also come away with a new awesome bunch of friends.
The course ran 9am-7pm over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There was a huge variety of levels of experience of teachers on the course, from the newly qualified to those who have been doing it for years. This was really comforting as I was definitely nervous that I was out of my depth before the first day!
As a new teacher, the fear set in the night before and I briefly questioned why I signed up! Why not stick to an easy life, instead of doing things that make you nervous? I thought. I then rewatched watched Will Smith's video (hero!) about pushing through your fears and that "everything you want is on the other side of fear". It's a reoccurring thing for me: pure nerves and then after I take the leap I'm delighted by life, and feel great. Maybe soon I'll just skip the fear part!
We started the course with a group practice... blindfolded. It was honestly amazing (I would say eye-opening... but!) and all thoughts melted away as I became completely absorbed in the flow.
You are tuned in to so many different things when you don't have your sight to rely on. You notice things. Your sense of sound is heightened. What is touching the floor? Where is your block? Are you at the top of your mat? Are you even on your mat?!
It was a great exercise to further understand what students are experiencing in a class, particularly if they are at the beginning of their yoga journey and everything is new. And also noticing how an assist can help aid their practice in certain poses by noting what postures were most difficult without sight.
On a personal note I genuinely really loved practising this way. While there were more wobbles and moments where I definitely was in the wrong pose, but there was a greater sense of being fully present and in that precise moment. Your mind simply can't wander... or you'll end up flat on your arse.
After this we got into learning. The group was immediately so lovely and supportive that any initial concerns vanished and were replaced with excitement.
We covered so much over the three days. From breaking down specific poses and the various assists that go with them, to learning how to work in a team when assisting a teacher's class, as well as incorporating assists into our own classes. We were very hands on and got to work with many different bodies and try out a huge variety of assists on each other. This practical element was invaluable and took our assists from unsure pats to firm, confident touches.
We ended the weekend by assisting an 80 minute class led by Michael... while surrounded by FIRE!!! Well... candles. But candles are FIRE. This made us extra mindful while assisting and being very aware of the space around us. Yes, I definitely stood in a candle!
My group of four ninjas (we named ourselves catasana as we all love cats!) were up first to assist the class. The room was made up of a mixture of Ninjas and a some lovely surprise Sunday School Yoga guests. Each group assisted a 20 minute segment of the class. There was so much kindness and compassion in the group. We also had gong and sound by Harriet Emily which made the experience (especially savasana) even more magical.
It is designed as a 30/40hr course, which means 30hrs contact time + 10hrs practice time.
This course is listed in YOGA ALLIANCE ORG, and you can find it listed as NINJA SCHOOL, by SSY /// 201 /// 40hr Advanced Assisting Post Graduate Course.
Once you do the intensive weekend training you have the 30hrs under your (ninja) belt. To complete the course in full, 10hrs of in class assisting over the next 3 months is required.
The requirement is assisting any 60+ minutes class where your focus is assisting (not teaching). This could be a gym class, a workshop, a festival event, a studio class, a corporate, an ICP in another teacher's class.
Don't worry about this aspect as the yoga community is so warm and kind that teachers will welcome you to assist their classes if you reach out. The lovely thing is that you can assist fellow ninja's classes too!
Click HERE to check out Sunday School Yoga, the community and the training on offer :)
The real world:
I have been putting all we learned into practice as I teach my own classes and I feel able to add so much more to the experience for students. I'm also much more comfortable demo'ing less and being able to lead a class while assisting.
I will be putting my Ninja skills to good use this weekend too by assisting three teachers (Annie Clarke, Steffy While and Ryan Leier) at Lululemon's Sweatlife Festival! I can't wait to help these wonderful teachers and be a part of an awesome event!
I am assisting a fellow ninja's class next week and have also reached out to my amazing yogi mentor Dimuthu who has kindly said I can assist some of her classes at Frame too. It's wonderful to already see an improvement in myself as a teacher and to be able to add new layers to my teaching.
Watch this space for further updates on how everything goes!