Thinking of Yoga Teacher Training?
Posted on 26 July 2016
The Ladies are Back with Advice!
- Drop Your Expectations and Be Gentle with Yourself - It's OK if you don't get something right away! Looking back, only one year after training, I realize I came out with nothing I could have expected - including life-long friends and private yoga clients. I expected to come out of my month-long intensive yoga teacher training knowing how to be the best teacher on the planet, so I was pretty hard on myself when I couldn't remember a sequence, the name of a pose, or something in one of the four books we were reading. Yoga is a practice, and it is not meant to be learned all at once. It's also not meant to be learned in the same way by everyone. What information lands with you on a certain day may be different than what your friend picks up. While you are all learning the same thing, you have had different experiences that will shape your own understanding of yoga. Our unique perspectives are the gifts we get to share as teachers. I wouldn't ever have expected to learn that!
- Get Good Laundry Detergent - You will be doing a lot of yoga. You will be sitting in those same yoga clothes for hours. They will start to smell, even if they have some fancy stick-free fabric. It's nonsense. Get good detergent made for athletic wear (like Tide + Downy Odor Defense Collection) and wash your clothes as soon as you can. Let them air-dry. Don't leave them piled on the ground in your laundry room or in your gym bag to pick up more stank. If you don't follow this advice, your fellow trainees will be singing "Smelly Cat" in their heads. They will give you the stink eye even if they don't sing outloud and you will know that it is your fault.
- Be Willing to Own Your Story - You can't be an authentic teacher without honoring both the dark and light sides of you and your story. People like real, so don't be afraid to get honest. Embracing your own vulnerability will help you grow, and it may help a fellow trainee do the same. You never know what someone else is going through, and they may need to feel like they aren't alone. If there is self-reflection and sharing built into your yoga teacher training (and I hope there is), embrace it. You aren't the only one with a weird or crazy or f-ed up story out there. Own it. Shine light on it...and become the badass you already are.
Lindsay is a student and RYT200 living in Spartanburg, SC. Yoga came to her at a powerful time in her life — a time when, having battled addiction, she finally began to get clear and take action toward building a positive life. Her story has plenty of twists, turns, and moments of darkness — all of which continue to shape the student and teacher she is today. Yoga gives her tools to use when those moments of uncertainty arise, and her goal is to help her students do the same. When she's not on her mat, she's spending time with her peeps or sharing her passion for creative living on her blog - www.justalittleorganic.com.
Before I even start, let me acknowledge, teacher training is hard. Now that that’s out of the way, here are a few things to keep in mind whether you’re thinking about teacher training or already in a program.
- It Isn't a Competition - No one is out to get you or make you into a fool. This is something I face a lot in my life and I’ve watched a lot of teacher trainees get caught up in comparison - against their peers, against their teachers - demonizing the process because they weren’t “the best”. But, there is no best, everyone is different and in different places.
- You Can't + You Won't Learn Everything - Remove the expectation that you’re going to finish teacher training and know how to teach yoga, because you won’t. There’s only so much you can take in at once, and while yoga can be simple, it is also quite complex. Coming into your own as a teacher takes time and a lot of practice. you will mess up, so what ? That’s the point, let it be messy, that’s how you’ll learn.
- Be All In - Drop your shit, don’t worry about what you look like or what other people are doing, because who cares ? Teacher training will teach you more about yourself than you’ve ever known if you allow it.Yyou get out what you put in, so if you want to get a lot out of it, you have to put a lot in and from my experience, it’s worth it.
Emily Hager is a yoga student and teacher at Move Your Hyde Power Yoga in Cincinnati, Ohio. Co-founder of esprit de corps : the arts, an interactive and experiential two-day event exploring the question : “how do we bring art, meaning, and expression into our work ?”. Project manager at possible. Freelance branding consultant. Let’s work together to stand taller. http://www.emilykhager.com/
- Growth is Continuous - This is just the beginning of your yoga training, your growth as a teacher will continue long after the program. You will learn the foundations and history of yoga, as well as, begin your own personal transformation. I'm so excited for you!
- Take Care of Yourself - Pace and be kind to yourself. Most yoga teacher training programs are very intense and will require much mental and physical energy. Be mindful of this.
- Practice Meditation Beforehand - Your program will most likely require a lot of introspective practice such as journaling. There will be a heavy emphasis on excavating your stories, limitations, self-doubts, and habits. Take the time to establish a sitting meditation and practice before beginning these activities. The sitting meditation (even 2-3 minutes) gives your mind and nervous system time to settle and gives you the mental clarity to filter through your "mind-clutter".
- NO Expectations - Don't set any expectations of the program, just be present :)
- Be Yourself - Bring lightness to your group, teacher training can be very intense at times. Maybe suggest a trainee night out, a walk, or lunch to increase bonding. You can also simply bring your smile and a sense of humor with you to class - showing others you are not afraid to laugh at yourself demonstrates humility.
Katherine Lasky attained her RYT-200 HR from Charleston Power Yoga in 2015. She loves reading and sharing information about the positive neurobiological relationships between meditation, mindfulness, and yoga practice. She currently teaches at Barefoot Yoga Studio, privately, and for the Charleston County Move It! Fitness yoga programs.
- Find a Studio/Methodology that Jives with You - With so many different styles and branches of yoga there is a place for everyone to find what they need. Some schools focus more on alignment and asana, others focus more on inquiry and svadhyaya—ask questions about the curriculum to find a program best suited to your needs.
- There is no need for Perfection to Start - You DO NOT need to be able to nail a handstand in the middle of the room. Or any pose for that matter. Your asana practice does not need to look any certain way for you to be an effective and powerful teacher. There is no need to “perfect” anything about your physical practice or throw yourself into spin to make your poses look perfect.
- Be willing to learn in unexpected places - My teacher training had 20 amazing souls participating. Each one of us came from a different background and had something different to bring to the table. Outside of the official hours of teacher training, I was able to hear my new friends talk about what they were going through and what they were learning from the training. Hearing their perspectives about our collective experience opened my eyes to things I wouldn’t have thought of before.
- Trust the process - There were some days in my training when I thought “I’m so bad at this what am I doing here?” Your teachers know what they are doing. A great teacher training program knows how to set each student up to find their greatness—even if you do not feel great 100% of the time. Keep your faith in the process and show up 100% and the results will come.
- Don’t take it so seriously! - Do all the assignments and throw yourself into the training as an open and willing participant…but Have fun! This is an incredible life experience, whether you decide to teach or not, so enjoy it!
Michelle is a RYT 200 based in Charleston, South Carolina who is on her way to becoming a Certified Baptiste Yoga Teacher. She is a graduate of Clemson University (BS '11, MS '13) and loves Clemson football!
- It WILL Change You - Those who have gone thru teacher training will tell you: "teacher training will change your life" and they're 100% correct. Be prepared for shifts to happen and know that because you're choosing to dive deeper into you, not everyone else is doing that same work. Which means, relationships will change, some will end, and others will go deeper than deep; your appreciation for the simple things in life will be more prominent, and gratitude will turn into a daily practice.
- Baby Wipes...Or Any Other Type of Wipe - You won't always have the opportunity to shower after your practice or during your lunch break. Baby wipes and Burt's Bees face wipes became my best friend during teacher training weekends.
- Must Read - A required reading for my teacher training was How Yoga Works by Michael Roach. I highly recommend this book as it takes you thru the Yoga Sutras through the adventure of a Tibetan girl who is traveling to the main land. I found that learning some of the sutras was more accessible and understand thru this novel. Plus, it is a book that you will visit again and again for inspiration and the reminder of how yoga works!
- Excedrin - enough said.
- China Gel - this magical healing lotion will be the answer to all your aches and pains, I promise! I used China Gel throughout my entire training for my sore muscles, rubbed on my temples when I had headaches, under my nose when it is stuffy, and on my throat when it started to feel sore and scratchy from all the sharing.
Mandy is Yoga Alliance registered instructor who received her certificate from Inner Bliss Yoga Studio in Cleveland, Ohio. She is motivated to create a space that is centered around the breath where her students can experience bliss, self-love, challenge, and connection to themselves and each other.
- Go For It! - Yoga teacher training was something I wanted to do for YEARS, but in talking with a fellow yogi friend one day about this desire she looked at me and said, “Yeah, but I mean… Are you really ready to do that?” And gave me a MAJOR complex about if my own personal practice, my physical ability, my competence, and it was a dream that stayed on the shelf until I was all but forced into signing up for teacher training! The reality? Yoga is more than the physical asana; what does yoga mean to YOU, WHY do you do it? For me, yoga was a revolutionary way to process emotions and connect with myself in a way I never knew possible. THAT was the reason I ultimately recognized is my “why” and determined if I was really “ready” to become an instructor.
- You Don't Have to be in Peak "Yoga Physique" - It doesn’t hurt to amp up your yoga practice before teacher training, -AND- if you aren’t in your peak “yoga physique” that is also perfectly okay too. In the intensive teacher training I completed, we practiced two times a day around 5 days of the week. At the time this was physically and emotionally exhausting! I had been relocating to a new city for about 6 weeks and my physical yoga stamina was not “on point”. Week 2 out of 4 I got a shoulder injury (I believe from a lack of base strength and improper chaturanga alignment), which hit SUCH a personal nerve with me because I felt like that was the story of my life — I go all out with something and ultimately find a way to sabotage my dreams! I get sick or get an injury… I was angry at myself! But this incident is what yoga teacher trainings are all about; how do you show up, what is your inner monologue, and bringing awareness to these patterns is what creates transformation. Looking back at that experience it was one of my biggest teachers because I learned to find compassion and acceptance towards myself and my body. I had to find ways to modify my vinyasa, my down dogs, any kind of shoulder work. I understood what it feels like to simply not have the base strength to do some physical poses, and in my own teaching now I HAVE that power to teach from that place of empathy and understanding that I don’t think I would have had if it wasn’t for my own personal injury. Another benefit? I was WAY more motivated to understand alignment in yoga BECAUSE of the pain I was feeling! So don’t let your feelings of inadequacy about your physical ability be the excuse for not pursuing yoga teacher training.
- BE BOLD, SHARE YOUR REAL FEARS, YOUR REAL WHYS - You get what you put in to your training; emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally. Journeying through your past, your present and your future with a group of wonderful people in a confidential safe environment is one of the coolest, most special wonderful experiences I think anyone can have. It’s like group therapy… but in awesome yoga clothes. I learned so much from hearing other peoples stories, hearing their “why”’s, understanding their insecurities, seeing the way people would literally shut down during training and observe their tendencies, it was the most beautiful learning experience. Yes, it is absolutely terrifying, and you may think everyone is going to judge you and never speak to you again, but you may be surprised that your honestly and ability to be vulnerable opens up the most special healing experiences you’ve ever dreamed of. Many of the people I did my teacher training with are to this day some of my best friendships I ever forged; and I believe part of that was starting a relationship in such deep, honest depths. So open up your heart; the wounds, the fears the pains, put it all on the table— and let the transformation begin!
Shelby Ring is a RYT 200 based in Galveston, Texas. "Loving and accepting myself, feeling powerful regardless of my circumstances, and being present were three very foreign concepts to me just a few years ago. I stumbled upon yoga in a really difficult time in my life, and it taught me how to process and release difficult emotions, heal and love myself, and feel powerful in my own skin. When I'm not teaching yoga you might find me filming a wedding, hunting, frying or fermenting something."
- Stay healthy/hydrated - Prepare for your training with easy snacks, water and meals prepped. It makes you more present when your are fueled up!
- Be open - This is the time to truly let you're guard down, and be open to new possibilities and experiences. You will learn so much about yourself and your yoga practice when you are open to what can happen.
- Listen to your body - You will be practicing a lot, it's so important to know when to dial it back or amp it up. You don't want to injure yourself!
Sarah is 25 years old and started practicing yoga with her mom in high school. She has taught middle school math for the past 3 years. Currently she is teaching yoga and planning the next big adventure!
- Keep an Open Mind - Prepare for your mind to be blown in a million wonderful ways. This training is going to open your eyes to so many new ways of thinking, and some of those ways are likely going to be very different than your norm. And that’s okay. Embrace it. Soak it all in. It’s okay not to agree with everything that is said or taught during your training, but being open to new possibility and listening to what other people have to offer will give you so much new information that you can either take or leave in your own teaching.
- Take Notes. About Everything - I love going back through the journal I kept during my teacher training to see the all of the things I wrote down, not just about the sequences or the Sanskrit or the homework, but also about the life lessons from my favorite instructors or tips on how to implement yoga into our daily lives. Every piece of information I learned was so valuable and a lot of that information was not in our textbooks. Take note of everything being shared. You’ll gain so much knowledge that you can use throughout the rest of your life.
- Make Real Connections with Your Fellow Trainees - You are going to get to know the people you embark on your teacher training journey with on a very deep level, so take the time to really get to know them. You will likely have group discussions about a variety of experiences you’ve all had, which may be uncomfortable considering these people were probably strangers to you at the start of training. Make it less awkward and have genuine conversations with them when you meet one another. Ask them about their lives, what made them decide to do training, etc. You may gain some lifelong friends!
- Reflect on Each Day - Teacher training demands long hours and lots of physical and mental work, so it can be easy to throw yourself into bed the minute you get home. However, before your head hits the pillow to prep for another day, I recommend journaling about each day of training when you get home to remind yourself of the things you learned, experiences you shared, poses you nailed, how you felt, etc. It will help you stay in check when you complete your training as you can look back at each day and see what you accomplished as well as what you felt you needed to improve on.
- Take What You Learn and Live It - Taking what you learn throughout your training and implementing it into your life is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself. Being authentic and recognizing your true power allows happiness and abundance to flow freely into your life. Think about the values being instilled throughout your training and carry them with you in your daily routines. I guarantee 100% that you’ll feel lighter, calmer, and more fulfilled.
Tori Williams is a writer, editor, dancer, and registered RYT-200 living in Charleston, South Carolina. She holds a BA in Communication and minors in International Studies and Dance from the College of Charleston. In her spare time you can find her sweating it out on the dance floor as a company member at Dance Lab Charleston or in a hot yoga class at Charleston Power Yoga, cuddled up with her cats Buddy and Goose, or reading every article and book she can find.