Confessions of a Yoga Teacher – 4 key stages of learning
Confessions of a Yoga Teacher Trainer – 4 keys stages of learning
Psychologist Bruce Tuckman first came up with the memorable phrase “forming, storming, norming, and performing” in 1965. As a Psychologist, Group Trainer and Yoga Teacher Trainer I’ve witnessed many groups go through these 4 key stages during their teacher trainings.
Yoga teacher trainees are keen to behave ethically towards others (Yamas). With kindness (Ahimsa) and truthfulness (Satya). Already on their way to knowing Asana, Pranayama and Dhyāna as part of their Yoga practice this contributes to a smooth group process. The first meeting is when the “forming” stage takes place, where trainees are positive, polite and in this case content (Santosa).
During the Yoga Teacher Training there are many challenges that will test a trainees beliefs. From notions of duality and non-duality, chanting, longer meditation practices to challenging postures. Anything that might be new to them, and all that sitting and learning! This stage can bring up a lot of resistance. Working with this process is all part of establishing relationships within the group and is known as the “storming” phase.
After this phase the group begins to move into the “norming” stage. At this stage a ‘system’ and group rhythm is established. Gradually achieved with selfless service (Karma Yoga) to others. A devotional aspect to their practice (Bhakti Yoga), and becoming more insightful and reflective (Jnana Yoga). The group is clearly getting to know each other better, and friendships are forming as they begin to socialise. They begin to ask each other for advice and help with their Yoga studies (Svadhyaya). The group develops a stronger commitment to the team goal e.g. to help each other graduate and pass. From here on greater progress is made.
The “preforming” stage is where the group is fully functioning as a whole, to fulfil the desired goal. Vibrant and engaging processes, alongside clarity in communication is present. Consequently, individual differences or resistances are better contained. Trainees will often comment that being part of the group is an easier process than at the beginning. Steadily their practice over the whole course deepens, especially as they develop Pratyahara (sensory withdrawal) and Dhāraṇa (deep concentration), who knows eventually they may experience moments of deep Samādhi too. Whatever the group process or path, it is remarkable to see them all form, norm, storm and preform. Each month I learn so some much from as they unfold and become Yoga teachers. Jasmin, Course Director – with Bahia Yoga Teacher Training School.