The experience of participating in a yoga teacher training is diverse, unique and personal to each student. We all are motivated by different things and have our own perspectives. Since deciding to make teacher training apart of my personal yoga story, I have come to some liberating, encouraging and at times, forehead-smacking realizations.
1. Don’t Need to Have Mastered Every Pose to be a Yoga Teacher.
I think this is a very common misconception. We think that we aren’t good enough, strong enough, flexible enough, “fill in the blank” enough. We think that we should just keep with our regular classes until we reach whatever arbitrary standard we have set for ourselves until venturing into the teacher training world. This could not be further from the truth. If you want to learn more and go beyond what a weekly class offers, then teacher training is the direction to go. When I started I would avoid telling people I was in yoga teacher training. I would just say, “I have a yoga thing.” I didn’t want judgement or even discussion for that matter, about why I was doing this and what my plans were after I had finished. It was actually very personal. I really just wanted to learn more for my own benefit and that was “enough” to start the journey.
- All Teacher Training Programs Are Not the Same.
There are programs out there that focus largely on asana sequencing and how to plan a yoga class, while touching on some yogic philosophy. Depending on what your personal intentions are for taking the training, there are programs that may be a better fit than others.
When I was thinking about starting yoga teacher training I knew I wanted to explore in depth the philosophy of yoga. As far I knew, so long as there was a strong emphasis in yogic philosophy, I was in. Kosha definitely offered this in their teacher training program along with detailed asana study. However, I did not expect that I would be so enthusiastically exposed to the other avenues of yoga and the amazing insight it provides. Along with discussing the Yamas, Niyama’s and the Yoga Sutras, I was introduced to pranayama, the yoga sister science of ayurveda, sanskrit, chanting and also given a very informative dose of anatomy. Kosha’s teacher training program gave me the education I was seeking while increasing my inquiry into aspects of yoga I didn’t even know existed.
- An Increased Awareness of my Mind / Body.
This may seem obvious, it is after all, one of the main products of a yoga practice but I have found it to be very useful. I am more familiar with my own brain patterns within daily life and have learned how I can redirect thoughts or emotions that can be self sabotaging or agitating. Through meditation and breathing techniques I can clear my head, conserve mental and physical energy and settle my mind. This isn’t to say I don’t have ungraceful moments but I am more in control of my reactions. Also, I have become more aware than ever of the physical power the asanas can have. Being able to support your mind with a physical practice is beneficial in relieving stress and focusing thoughts.
- I Practice Yoga Everywhere.
I have found that I am applying what I learn in class to my everyday life. In yoga, every pose we make is deliberate, with an intention. From where we place our feet, how we ease into a twist, to aligning our spine and rotating our shoulders. The way we breathe to stretch or extend deeper into a posture. I make these same effort as in yoga, to be more mindful in my day-to-day. Like taking a minute to sit with my kids and talk with them, or being grateful that I have the time to make dinner, instead of having it be a chore to hurry through. I let my “to do” list be just a reminder of tasks and not a list of things I am behind on. My yoga practice has grown beyond doing poses on my mat to a way I live my life everyday and everywhere.
- I Like the Person I am Becoming
We all have goals. We want to progress personally, professionally or financially. This is where I think yoga can play a role in all areas of life. What we practice philosophically in yoga can perhaps help us understand another person’s perspective. How we slow down our mind to meditate can clear space for inspiration and creativity. Our asana practice can help us build strength and flexibility and sustain energy. I have seen theses benefits in myself and so have those closest to me. My practice has helped me to become a better version of myself and that, is progress.
All of these things I have realized while in yoga teacher training have been instrumental in shifting what I thought a yoga practice looked like and how I applied yoga to my life. It is more, so much more. And this is just the start.