This December I will finally be able to call myself an official, certified, Yoga Alliance-registered Yoga Instructor. Damn. That feels incredible to say. Quite frankly, I’m more excited about completing this teacher training program than I was when I received my college diploma. Yoga has had such a profound impact on my life that becoming a certified teacher and able to help spread the power of yoga around the globe was a no-brainer. I need to admit, however, that in the beginning, I was drawn to yoga purely for the physical practice. I practiced for about 3 years before realizing there was much, much more to this stuff called yoga. Before I enrolled in my teacher training, I was certain we’d only be deepening our practice with the asanas, with breath, and with meditation. Damn, was I wrong. Let me share with you the 3 truths I believe you can expect if you decide to embark on your first teacher training.
- You’re about to deepen the $#%! out of your personal practice — and learn how to properly teach this to others, too.
Yes, doing a teacher training means you’re going to spend time mastering Adho Mukha Svanasana, Tadasana, and a lot of other foundational poses…The first few weeks might involve learning all about the standing poses, sitting poses, externally rotated poses, arm balances, anatomy, pranayama, meditation, I could go on and on…But really, you’re going to be learning the pedagogy of yoga. You’re going to learn how to take a complete stranger who’s never stepped foot in a yoga studio and turn them into a confident, posture-perfect mountain of energy that will have them hooked on your yoga class. The postures in yoga are important to align and teach correctly, but they’re just a handful of fancy poses unless you can properly sequence them as well. You’re going to dive in and learn how to construct a class, starting off slowly, building up to a peak pose, and winding down, affecting the appropriate physiological responses to the pose.
- You will start practicing more yoga off your mat vs. on. Yoga, without a mat? What the hell is he talking about? Well, don’t worry, I had the same questions…Being a former gym rat I turned to yoga purely because it was a life long physical practice I could stick to easily, focusing on building natural strength, balance and flexibility. It wasn’t until I began attending regular classes at my home studio that I started seeing the impact yoga was having on my everyday life…I was kinder…I was more mindful…I was more present…I was more aware of every little thing that went through my head, my heart, and my body. Once you begin a teacher training, you discover that leading a yogic lifestyle is inevitable. Hours and hours will be spent sitting in stillness, breathing long, deep, full breaths, understanding why pranayama and meditation are so important to our everyday lives. It’s amazing, I’m actually becoming more interested in the philosophy of yoga as opposed to the physical practice…Funny how that works.
- You’re joining a loving, knowledgeable tribe of like-minded human beings.
Are you prepared to give up 10-15 hours each and every week for the next few months? Yes, most teacher trainings involve you sacrificing your weekends or weeknights in order to successfully complete your certification process. One of the best things about this time commitment is the warm and embracing community you will get to know and love. Your teachers, mentors, teaching assistants, and fellow students are going to devote their time as well in helping you deepen your practice and become a teacher.
Finally, know this: Just because you embark on a teacher training does not mean you have to teach when you are done. There are people all over the world that participate in a teacher training simply to deepen their own practice. Many teacher training graduates simply don’t feel ready to teach a full class of students at the end of a training, and this is perfectly ok! We are all writing our own books, and no two stories have to be alike. Follow your own path, live mindfully, and know that participating in a teacher training could be one of the best decisions of your life.