teacher focus: Tony Watson

Tony Watson is the newest member of the triyoga teacher training faculty and will be co-teaching the November intake of the triyoga teacher training diploma with long standing faculty member Anna Ashby. We wanted to share with you how he began his yoga journey and where his experiences have taken him over the years…

My yoga training started when I was at college studying contemporary dance. As students we weren’t formally practising asana nor other yoga styles. We were however encouraged to approach our classes mindfully, whilst using the body as a source of inner referencing. I knew the training had a strong somatic focus, even though at the time I didn’t really know what that meant. We would spend large amounts of time on the floor releasing our body weight to gravity, exploring human developmental patterns, learning strange sound movement practises such as body-mind centring and the Bartenieff technique.

It seemed that every move whether explosive or subtle, had to be sensed first and felt in the body before it could be expressed. There was always an intention and I personally hated it – I kicked back. I had no desire for inner experiences at the time and I found it too exposing. My fragile centre craved certainty. Needless to say I struggled, especially due to injuries and depression which in turn was what led to my formal yoga practise. I simply practised at the time but looking back, that was the beginning of a new consciousness that would later be welcomed into my life.

In the years that followed I trained in massage, Pilates and cranial-sacral therapy. Passionate about bodywork, this seemed like the natural first path to tread. Massage training gave me the understanding on the muscular-skeletal form. By using diagrams, I had a clear image in my mind of the shaping and direction of the muscles. I also learned that skin is the largest organ of the nervous system and that touch feeds neurological development. I loved it! I wanted to further explore working with the human body and this is how I stepped into the world of Pilates. Through Pilates, I was taught about bio-mechanics, postural conditions and movement contraindications.

With time I also learnt that ‘isolating’ to strengthen body parts is important but equally restricting. Intuitively I’d always had the sense that organising the ‘whole’ is a far more integrative way of working.  But in yogic terms, the whole relates to the different layers of being, from physical (gross) to spiritual (subtle); I was being drawn towards exploring beyond the physical where cranial-sacral therapy was an ideal way in.  In CST we work with the concept that inherent health/wholeness is always present. These experiences of wholeness for me took place within a relative degree of stillness. It wasn’t for the stillness itself but the peace, equanimity, non-attachment and non-drama of the moment.

Although CST does not involve an active system of movement, it has been shown to effect deep changes in somatic patterns. As practitioners we are schooled in sensing through the body, patiently listening and skilfully responding. However, stillness was invited into the exchange by rather than ‘doing’ being encouraged to drop agendas and widen the perceptive field. It’s a paradigm that once embodied; it cannot be extracted from living. When studying with Donna Farhi, it felt as if I returned full circle to those early and confusing years at college. She taught me that a willingness to work in an enquiry based learning pedagogy means not always moving towards certainty; but instead helps build a higher threshold for being uncertain.  Meaning that yoga was a process of evolution, not stasis.

I feel privileged as I now embark on this next chapter by joining the triyoga teacher training team, even more so by having the opportunity of working alongside Anna Ashby. Anna is an inspiration and her contributions to the TT course are monumental. I believe that the role of a yoga teacher is a sacred one, indebted with huge responsibilities and so I take it very seriously. Just as in the practise, it requires a delicate balance of discipline, order, flexibility and a desire to stay open. The following quote from Dr. Moshe Feldonkrais sums it up nicely: ‘When you learn how to learn, you will realise that there are no teachers. That there are only people learning and people learning how to facilitate learning’.

For more information on the teacher training program, please click here.

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