Congratulations! You’ve taken the leap and decided to undertake a yoga teacher training. If this is your first training, chances are you’re feeling a little in the dark about what to expect. Maybe it’s been years since you’ve been a ‘student’ and you’re wondering if your brain can even retain new information anymore. Then there’s the travel factor. If you’ve booked your training overseas then you’ll be traveling away from your friends and family to a foreign destination, potentially for the first time. There’s a lot to consider!
To help you navigate the unfamiliar waters, here are some tips that I found helpful when embarking on my own YTT.
1. No Expectations Are The Best Expectations
I think this is the number one tip that any teacher trainee would offer. Even if you’ve had friends take the exact same training, the experience will vary hugely from one person to another. Try to keep an open mind and arrive without too many pre-conceived ideas of what your training will be like.
Teacher training is different to a yoga retreat, so if you’ve enjoyed the retreat experience in the past, you’ll probably find training to be more intensive – it’s supposed to be. Your trainers have a lot of content to fit into each day! Conversely, if you work yourself into a fearful frenzy beforehand and worry that your asana practice won’t be up to scratch, you’re already starting on the wrong foot. Don’t think too much about it – if anything’s going to teach you to live in the moment and without attachment, it’s the experience you’re about to have.
2. Your Teachers Are There To Help You
It’s easy to be awe-struck by your teachers on training – I certainly was! To a teacher trainee, our fearless leaders seem flawless and it’s easy to get in our heads about asking ‘silly questions’. Remember there’s no such thing as a silly question! If you’re curious about it, or you’re struggling with it, chances are somebody else is too – don’t be shy, ask away. Whether it be asana alignment or yoga philosophy, having an enquiring mind will help you get the most out of your teacher training. Which brings me to my next point…..
3. Write Stuff Down
…because trust me, you’re definitely not going to remember it all! And six months later when you’re teaching your own classes back home, it’s going to drive you crazy trying to remember the name of that guru/kriya/asana that you learned about on your training.
4. Don’t Rush Your Body
We all come to teacher training with varying levels of physicality and strength in our asana practice. The biggest learning that I took home from my teacher training was this: Yoga is so much more than asana practice. It’s only one of the eight limbs! That means there are SEVEN whole other aspects of yogic living that you can work on cultivating, during your teacher training and beyond. If you can’t get into sirsasana and your classmates can, don’t sweat it. Take the opportunity while you’re on your training to practice compassion towards yourself.
Teacher training can be physically tiring and I actually found I became less physically flexible on my training. It’s normal. You have the rest of your life to work on your tight hamstrings or your tense shoulders – but you have a pretty unique opportunity to work on opening your mind while you’re completing a training. Practice and all is coming.
5. Be Prepared For Life On The Fast Track
Lastly, I’d like to give you all a heads up about the changes you may or may not experience in your life immediately after a teacher training. Completing a yoga teacher training is a means of holding a mirror up to ourselves – we start to notice things that perhaps were always there, but we never saw before. You might be inspired to let go of things in your life that you suddenly realize weren’t really serving you – this can mean relationships, jobs, or long-held habits. A yoga-teaching friend of mine told me before I went on my training to ‘buckle up and enjoy the ride’ – she was right!
For me, the changes were subtle but substantial. I now have a daily yoga practice and I teach yoga to others. These two things alone have given me a greater connection to others, richness in my daily life, and a sense of peace that I didn’t have before. It’s a new way of living with yourself and the world around you, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Namaste yogis, enjoy your practice!