Teacher Training Grad - Chris ... 5 Things you should know

One of the things that makes the Twist Yoga Teacher Training so special is the community that is created during the program. But, it doesn’t stop there. Our grads continue to support eachother, share class information, and connect for future events.

Heidi McInroe, the Twist Yoga Training Ambassador and past TT grad, had a recent conversation with Chris Schaus, a grad from 2017.

Q: Why did you do Yoga Teacher Training?

A: I did Teacher Training because I had recently experienced a number of major life changes that both allowed for, and encouraged, me to pursue Yoga to a deeper level and take what I had already learned and apply in a beneficial way - for myself as well as others. Having retired early from the semiconductor industry doing R&D, engineering, and manufacturing, I now had time to practice yoga nearly every day of the week.  Not long after retirement in 2014, my 24 year old son unexpectedly, tragically, passed away.  A year later, my mother also passed away - peacefully at 90. Another year passed to the amicable dissolution of my 28 year marriage.  More and more I found solace in my yoga practice and time spent on my mat. It was here I met a woman who changed my life in a very positive way.  Her encouragement caused me to take that step into Yoga Teacher Training and our relationship has since blossomed into a loving partnership.  After seeking training opportunities in the Hillsboro area my Yoga teacher/mentor Amy Harris, encouraged me to enroll with Twist Yoga Studio training under Ali Matt and Jessica Baker.  Amy suggested Twist offered some of the best training available anywhere in the Portland Metro area.  She was right!

Q: What was biggest hurdle

A: After the first and biggest step of committing and writing a check, it was memorizing sequences that became the biggest single obstacle to overcome.  I continue to struggle even now, nearly two years later, with the memorization aspect of teaching yoga - so much so that I still outline every one of my classes in advance with notes to keep me on track, and on time.  It removes much of the otherwise stressful demand of recall, on both asana sequence and the the timing.  Furthermore, notes allow me to bring guided meditation and/or topical notes to support my weekly and monthly themes.  So my initial difficulty in memorizing sequences was very frustrating until I accepted that using notes is actually 100% OK!  In fact, most students have come appreciate the notes I bring to class as an indication of preparation and professionalism they have come to expect from my classes.

Q: What was biggest surprise from TT

A: The biggest surprise from the Teacher Training experience was how much I enjoyed the history and philosophy.  As an engineer most of my life, history and philosophy were always somewhat of a bore to me.  I was just not very interested in either of these subjects.  So I was very surprised at how interesting and captivating I found the history and philosophy topics in the Teacher Training.  Learning about the history and philosophy of Yoga brings a richness to the practice that is otherwise buried under the over-emphasized physical asana practice so prevalent in our typical Western interpretation of Yoga.  I was surprised at how much depth the history and philosophy added to my own understanding of Yoga, and also to my ability to practice and teach in a more comprehensive and meaningful way.

Q: What was your favorite part of Yoga Teacher Training at Twist Yoga?

A: This is a difficult question, that I will bend a little to include not only a single aspect, but rather three aspects that I consider my favorite parts of the Teacher Training experience.  They include: 1) Team/pair practice to develop practical teaching skills; both in class and outside of the classroom.  It combined valuable learning practice and a lovely social aspect; getting to interact with and know my classmates more deeply.  2) Anatomy with Dena Zimbel; the human anatomy is amazing and complex, but Dena was able to provide a depth of understanding that was tightly integrated to Yoga practice.  I found it very valuable material and the lectures were informative, fun, and interactive.  3) History and Philosophy with Sara Ivanhoe; as I mentioned above, this was a nice surprise for me and really encouraged me to keep digging deeper, reading and learning more of the what the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita have to offer.  It also provided great insights into the evolution of the eastern cultures and religions, and their bearing on the evolution of Yoga.

Q: How has your practice changed?

A: Not only did the training prepare me for teaching, it set me up to be more directed and intentional in my own Yoga practice.  There is nothing like teaching as means to learning! As a result, my confidence in teaching and my own personal practice has has improved steadily.  As I have become more comfortable in the role as teacher I continue to work towards directing more focus outward towards students.  This has been a challenge as the teaching and leading role has required intense concentration on my part, so making room to focus outwardly as well continues to be a challenge for my teaching development.  Finally, my style and expertise in teaching has evolved with the various styles I have been able to teach. Beginning first with Yin Yoga (with much help from Bernie Clark’s “Complete Guide to Yin Yoga”), I then picked up some Restorative Yoga classes, and more recently Power Yoga.  I have been fortunate to have many opportunities to substitute teach Hatha and Vinyasa styles of classes as well.  Most recently, I have begun teaching 1:1 sessions for special needs.  All this has given me a dynamic and growing personal practice in addition to a deeper understanding and respect for the Yoga discipline.

Q: Where can we find you now?

Currently (as of February, 2019) I am teaching three different weekly classes at Hawthorn Farm Athletic Club in Hillsboro, two different classes at a smaller gym called Angel’s Boot Camp & Essential Health, subbing several classes at Bethany Athletic Club in Portland, and now beginning at the yoga studio Ether & Stone at Orenco Station, Hillsboro. I also provide private weekly sessions to personal clients, allowing me to focus on therapeutic elements for specific conditions that require a custom yoga practice that is more targeted and personal in nature.