With hundreds graduating from teacher training programs every year, you have to wonder how these newbies are going to practice teaching and refine their skills? And then, how does a studio get to know these teachers and decide who to offer a job?
Many studios find a solution by having "community classes" taught by beginners. Sarah Schumann, owner of Shambhala Yoga and Dance in Brooklyn comments, "The Blossoming Teachers classes are mutually beneficial in that they offer the community classes that all can afford; the donations are contributed to charities (this round is for Memorial Sloan-Kettering); and new teachers have the chance to develop and share their practice in this new way and become closer to our community. Ideally, blossoming teachers can have a community amongst themselves (everyone comes from differing trainings and backgrounds) and 'established' teachers can take their classes and offer mentoring, if requested."
Mel Russo of Yoga High in Manhattan adds, "Budding teachers get a chance to practice teaching to in a class setting. They get practice having a class which means showing up on time, being prepared, setting up the room, all things that you need to get really good if you're going to be a successful teacher. They also get the chance to get feedback. Mentors are usually teacher-training leaders who give feedback as part of the 300-hour training. Feedback is invaluable when you're starting out. You have to hear if you're calling out the breath correctly or if your sequencing makes sense on the body. Community classes are set up so that the teacher knows they will be working on improving their teaching skills."
Moira Brennan, one beginning teacher at Yoga High talks about the benefits of community classes. "I'm 47-years-old, and a longtime yoga practitioner. I remember a time when yoga classes in NYC were cheap, if not free, when classes were highly diverse, in terms of age, gender, body size, ability level, etc. (as they still are at Yoga High, I'm proud to say). And, while I think the growth of yoga awareness has been awesome, I do worry that people get left behind. Teaching the community class is a way for me to address that. My class has a handful of regular students (some old friends, some whom I've met through YH), but there's often a person wandering in who has little or no experience. I think when they see the words 'community class' they feel the pressure is off, and they can just come in and test it out. That's how we ALL started doing yoga, so I'm very glad to hold a space for that tradition to continue."
As well as benefiting new teachers and the studios, these classes also benefit the community. Many send the donations from the class to a charity. "The students have to pay only $10 as opposed to $20. They also are getting very enthusiastic and excited about trying new teachers. It works out all around," adds Mel Russo.
Here is a list of studios that offer community classes but double check the schedule because classes shift around. (Studio Owners: If we forgot you, we're sorry. Send us your information and we will add you to this list.)
Ishta Yoga - Mondays through Fridays at 3 pm; Saturdays @ 2 pm; Sundays @ 8:15 am, $10
Yoga High - Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 - 10 am, $10 cash only
Sonic Yoga - Mondays 8:45 - 9:45 pm, Wednesdays 3 - 4 pm, Fridays 3 - 4 pm, Saturdays 9 - 10 am, by donation
Laughing Lotus - Mondays through Fridays at 2:30 - 3:45 pm, by donation
The Shala - Sundays at 12:15 pm, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8:15 pm, by donation
Sacred Sounds - Saturdays and Sundays at 9 am, by donation
World Yoga Center - Saturdays, 8-9:30 am, by donation
Yoga Vida - Monday through Fridays at 2-3:05pm, by donation
The Giving Tree Yoga Studio - Mondays 10:15 - 11:45 am, by donation
Shambhala Yoga and Dance - Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays 1:45 - 2:45 pm, Tuesdays, Thursdays 1:30 - 2:30 pm, by donation
Abhaya Yoga - Saturdays at 8 - 9:30 am, by donation
Jaya Yoga - Sundays, 8-9:15 pm, by donation
Urban Asanas - Monday, 12-1PM,5:30-6:30 pm, Tuesdays, 5:30am-6:30am, 9pm-10pm, Wednesdays, 7am-8-8am, 12pm-1pm, Fridays, 12pm-1pm. by donation with a suggested amount of $7- $15
--Illustrations: Shelby McChord