*please take note that the article written is based on an Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga course*
It’s been 6 years since I was first introduced to yoga and I’ve been practicing regularly for about 3 years already. Teaching has always been a part of my family and I’m glad that I’ve finally received my calling in teaching yoga.
Before I attended my 200hrs Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training with All Yoga, I didn’t know what to expect even though there were so many articles and reviews online about how potential students should prepare for the training.
Despite having a couple of friends around me who have completed their YTT, each course structure varies and I wished I had more guidance in what I should do to prepare myself for these 3.5 weeks of so called “intensive” training.
Based on my personal and my peers’ experiences, I came up with these 9 things I feel you should be preparing for the course.
1. Your Expectations
The word “intensive” scare the hell out of me. 2 weeks before my YTT began, my asana practice was so inconsistent that I was ashamed of myself. I felt so unworthy to be a yoga teacher and I doubted my capabilities.
I expected the course to be 80% intensive asana practice and 20% theory but I was wrong. There was so much more to Yoga then just asana practice such as the history, the philosophy and the anatomy. Most importantly, I was reminded that yoga is for anyone.
Tip: Be receptive to knowledge and all kinds of challenges. When you’re willing to receive knowledge and face the upcoming challenges, your mind will naturally have an at least neutral perspective about dealing with whatever situation you’re about to face.
2. Your Fitness Level
You don’t want to be struggling in 100% of the asana practice because that’s when you will get injuries. Having a consistent asana practice will help you to understand your body condition better and may teach you to modify certain poses according to your needs.
Tip: Be consistent in your asana practice at least 3 months before your YTT. Having a strong asana practice will help you cope with the 6-day week of 3hrs of asana practice daily. That means practicing at least 3 days a week, 2-3hrs per day. It would also be helpful if you practice the asana which the course you’re taking specialises in because it will not only help you memorising the sequence but it will also condition your body for the upcoming asana practice during the YTT.
Having said that, if you’re attending an Yin based course, you may have a different kind of asana practice which I’m sure the course coordinator will advise you before you start the course.
However, if you happened to sign up less than 3 months before your course and you don’t have a consistent asana practice, don’t be intimidated! Maintain a positive attitude and learn modifications so that you can alter the classes to suit your body and at the same time strengthen your practice during the course.
3. Your Medication
There are numerous yoga teacher training held in countries away from your home where medication might not be as readily available. Therefore, it is imperative to prepare some basic medication such as for flu, diarrhea and inflammation.
The courses are often held over a 6-day week with 1 off day. Classes usually start from around 7.30am and end at 6pm. You already won’t have much time to explore the place your training is held at. The last thing you want to happen is fall ill within your last week of training which could affect your final exam.
Tip: Prepare for the worst case scenario and get all the necessary medication you need because you’ll never know what could happen to you. You’ll be thankful that you have the medication on standby. Important medication you should be bringing are:
4. Your Laundry Budget
If you’re doing a Vinyasa based course especially in a tropical country, then it would wise to set aside a budget for laundry. Be prepared to be changing your clothes at least twice a day and sending your laundry for cleaning 2-3 times a week depending on how much clothing you bring.
Tip: Bring dri-fit clothes so that they dry fast. Some of my course mates washed their clothes in the sink because they were concerned about the quality of the local laundry services. Fortunately, I managed to find a laundry shop that does pretty decent cleaning (both machine and handwash) and drying without damaging my clothes so I sent all of my clothes for laundry.
Also, bring enough underwear because you want to feel comfortable in your clothes especially if you’re in a hot and humid climate. Being comfortable is important because your comfort can affect your concentration in class and you want to be a 100% focused so that you don’t miss out any information that is crucial.
5. Your Modifications
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced asana practitioner, you may have been taught how to modify some poses already. Some could be modifications due to weakness and others could be due to injuries.
The 6 days of consecutive asana practice could tire your body out which could lead to injuries or cause some old injuries to surface. Therefore, it is important to understand your body well so that you know how to adjust according to your needs.
Tip: Pay attention during your regular asana practice when the teacher adjusts the students. Even if you don’t have injuries or weaknesses, it will help you to understand the importance of adjustments which you will be learning in your asana clinic module.
6. Your Insecurities
It could be your physical appearance, your background, your abilities etc. When the training gets tougher and you’re away from your friends and family, your so-called-flaws are going to start feeding you with negative thoughts. Every single day, they are going to haunt you and remind you why you can’t reach a certain goal.
But the truth is, nobody is perfect. There will be people who are always better than you in certain things but you can’t allow that to stop you from achieving your goals. Everyone can achieve whatever we want in life. We’ve just got to believe in it and fight hard for it. If you want something badly enough, you would do whatever it takes to obtain it.
Tip: Be prepared to be vulnerable and come face-to-face with your insecurities. Take this time to accept yourself for who you are and love yourself the very best you can. Once you’ve made peace with your insecurities, nobody can use it against you.
7. Your Ego
Sometimes when you think you’ve been practicing yoga for some time, you think you already know all about yoga. But the course isn’t just about the physical aspect of yoga. It is about discipline, community and concentration. Sometimes, it could also be a situation where you know how to do a certain pose but your body doesn’t allow you to do because of an injury. This is when you need to focus on your health first rather than proving yourself or others that you are an advanced asana practitioner.
Tip: Use your current knowledge about yoga in the application of your practice. There will definitely be a time where you find yourself lost in the knowledge you’re about to learn during the course. Don’t be impatient with yourself. Accept that education is a lifelong process and continue to be curious about all kinds of knowledge you are about to receive.
8. Your Emotions
In this busy world, we all have a habit of avoiding our emotions, especially negative ones. We’ve got no time to deal with our emotions and we often keep them in a little corner at the back of our mind. Sometimes we check on ourselves once in awhile to relieve some of those stress and there are times where we just don’t want to handle them at all. During YTT, we will have plenty of time to meditate and we may even find ourselves in situations where our pent up emotions rise to the surface.
Be prepared to be emotional. You will feel angry, sad, happy, frustrated, love, contentment etc. sometimes all at once. But remember that you’re not alone because what you’re going through could be the exact same thing your course mate could be experiencing as well.
Tip: Trust the process of allowing your emotions to surface and feel every single bit of it. Remember the emotions you’re feeling and accept how you’re feeling at that point of time. Take this opportunity to ask yourself how do you want to feel by the end of the practice and if there is anything you want to let go. You will be guided in practice so just be receptive of the experience and enjoy the process of hopefully liberating yourself from any suppressed negative emotions.
9. Your Intentions
Last of all, what is the reason you’ve decided to sign up for the training? It could be to learn more about yoga or yourself, to deepen your practice, to solely receive the certification etc. During the course, you may be faced with difficulties that will make you doubt yourself and make you want to give up. That’s when you have to go back to those reasons and remind yourself the purpose of this training for you.
Tip: If you haven’t thought about why you want do the training, then this would be a great opportunity to ask yourself “Why?” Before you start the course, find ways for you to remind yourself why you made this decision so that whenever you start doubting yourself, you will be reminded of the sole reason of why you chose this path.
Personally, this YTT is one of the best moments I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve met such amazing people from all around the world and I’m proud to call them my spiritual family. There will be sweat, there will be tears. Maybe blood shed and maybe you’ll overcome your fears. I will strongly urge you to sign up for a YTT even if you don’t think teaching is for you. Come for the experience and you’ll definitely learn knowledge you never thought you never knew and feel emotions you never thought you would feel.
After the course, you’ll be transformed into this whole new person where you would be so excited about going back into the world and sharing your newly learnt knowledge to the people around you. If you’re thinking of joining a YTT to understand yourself better, you’ve definitely made a wise decision and I can guarantee you will learn so much more about yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. Most importantly, set an intention to at least have fun and I’m sure you’ll have an awesome time at your YTT. I hope this article has helped have a clearer idea on how you should be preparing for your training!