What’s the difference?

One of the things that I get asked most often by people enquiring about my yoga for cancer training, is ‘what’s the difference between your course, and some of the others on the ‘market’ at the moment?’

Good question.

Firstly, it is important for me to state my position in ethical terms. This is at the heart of my personal and professional practice. I have never sat very easily in the yoga ‘industry’. Those of you who have read my previous blogs will know my discomforts around this. But, competition is the way that our economy works, and like it or not, yoga is a huge industry with its own economy. Inevitably, there will be more than one Yoga for Cancer offering out there. I wrestle daily with whether my offering can compete. The truth is, it can’t, so I don’t even go there. I work part time in the NHS and I offer this training as my life’s work and heart-song. I cannot speak to the quality or content of anyone else’s course, nor would I. I can, however, talk about some of the defining aspects of my course, which you might find helpful.

1. Course length and teaching hours

The Healing Space course is a 90 hour training. This is as a minimum. The self-paced learning can easily encompass many more hours if the individual student has a taste for research. However, this is what our accreditated course covers. 90 hours is not a requirment to register and accredited further training course for yoga teachers, and other courses are shorter. My feeling and experience is that 90 hours is only just enough to cover what I feel is important in this work.

2. Not ‘off the shelf’

The Yoga for Cancer course, and the book (coming out April 2021) is about preparing teachers to feel equipped and comfortable in working with people living with cancer. A lot of this is about developing our own capacity as practitioners to ‘be with’. As such it is a preparation to be present to someone, as they are, and to be able to adapt an yoga practice for them that may or may not include asana. The course has no set sequences, and I resist offering them for this reason. You cannot know everything there is to know about cancer (which is over 200 diseases, not one) but what you can do is develop your practice, skill and ability to research. The rest is about learning to be present. That takes time and commitment.

3. Emphasis on personal practice and development

I don’t know about you. but I have spent a lot of my career pursuing certifications, and I could – literally- paper the walls. If I look at my pile of certificates,there are perhaps three or four from courses that I could say gave me something life-changing. The others – well – they were useful for gaining skills, and getting insurance and they serve a purpose. What I am saying is, this is not that sort of training. I wholeheartedly believe in the transformational potential of yoga. For that reason, I believe that those who choose to teach it should not hold it lightly as a responsibility.

4. Me!

I am really not a self-publicist. What I mean by this flippant section is that different teachers are right for different students. I have a teaching style and presence that you might engage with, and which you might not. I encourage everyone who is thinking about the training to have a chat with me to see if we are a ‘fit’. And if we’re not, I will totally not be offended. I will equally be honest with you if I don’t think the course is the right one for you. I do urge you to choose all of your learning on that basis, and on content, and not on price. In an online world where I have seen a yoga teacher training for less than £100, I think we all need to be very discerning!

The other thing to consider is pedagogy (basically, the ways in which we teach and engage learners) I am a qualified educator with 30 years experience ( I feel old!) My approach is collaborative, inclusive, trauma informed, and with a blended learning model. I do as little ‘chalk and talk’ as possible. I learn from you as you learn from me. I have also written a book on this subject and I am a faculty member teaching about Cancer with YogaCampus and the Scottish School of Yoga Therapy. I should also point out, it isn’t just me on the intensive course, we also have Richard (Biology) and Sue (Cancer clinical practice) who are superbly knowledgeable in their areas of practice, so it is most definitely not the Jude show, thank God!

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