There are many reasons why an individual may consider embarking on the journey that is, Yoga Teacher Training. It is safe to say that most students already have some sort of practice of their own and want to “go deeper”. They may be looking for ways to overcome an obstacle, for healing in an area of their life or, like me, they want to learn more about the different aspects of yoga that aren’t always taught in a standard asana class. No matter what the motivating factor is, I would say there are a few things that ring true across the board when it comes to a yoga teacher training experience.
You Learn What the Poses Can Really Do
As I continued to practice yoga, I found that more and more I wanted to blurt out questions in the middle of class. Whether it be about alignment, how to place my feet or hands on the mat or why a stretch didn’t seem to be stretching much of anything in me. I was curious as to why some poses, that appeared easy, felt unbearable to hold. Something was happening within me and my practice and I wanted to know what was going on and if anyone else was experiencing the same things.
Along with getting answers to my questions about the physical poses themselves, I learned that in an asana practice there is so much more happening then one may think. Energy is being moved in our bodies, chakras are being stimulated and awareness of our mind, body and everything in between was being cultivated. *cue “mind blown” sound effect now*
It was fascinating to learn about the anatomy of the human body and how to engage certain muscle groups to improve poses and achieve proper alignment. Employing all of the anatomic knowledge while using breathing techniques that could warm or cool the body really gave me the tools to progress my personal practice.
You Actually Start to Take Your Practice “Off the Mat”
It’s something that we hear often in a yoga class. “Take what you learn on the mat and use it off the mat.” I understood what my teachers were saying but I didn’t really know how to apply it. If every time I felt overwhelmed in a day there is no telling what odd places you could possibly find me in child’s pose. I knew there was more to these sage words and I wanted to understand.
For me, understanding came in the form of our family car overheating at the top of Vail Pass in Colorado. Usually, in this kind of situation, I see dollar signs on fire and I quickly start questioning all of my life’s choices and wonder why I didn’t follow my father’s advice about marrying a doctor because in this irrational moment, it just makes sense that a doctor would never own a car that overheats. Right…?
At this point I was about half way through the treacher training and I had learned not to give “life” to my thoughts. They were just that- thoughts. They enter my mind, then leave my mind so long as I don’t cling to them. That is exactly what I did. I noticed my fears and anxiety raising up as they always did and I suddenly realized that no matter how I chose to react in this situation, the situation was still going to be exactly what it was. The car still overheated. I could be angry and shaking my fist in fury or patient and ready to solve the problem, the car still had overheated.
Much to my partner’s surprise I was calm and actually helpful. With a quick trip to a nearby auto parts store and inexpensive purchase of a cap for the engine coolant we were no worse off than a thirty minute delay. I had taken my practice off the mat.
You Should Expect Personal Growth
It has now been a couple months since I completed my 200 hr. Yoga Teacher Training. To be honest, I felt a little aimless at first. What now? Then I thought back to the beginning and why I had decided to start the teacher training in the first place. I wanted to learn more and I had a desire to make yoga a part of my life. I think I can say that I have done this. I have held the proverbial mirror to my face and made changes that serve me better in my daily life, not just in a yoga class.
I have also realized that yoga is a forever and ongoing practice that will take different shapes, adjusting to the many phases of life. This means I will always need to be open and learning. At times, this idea seems overwhelming, like proficiency is a moving target. Then I think back on the eight months spent in my teacher training and remember that progress is perfection and the seat of a student is an honor to occupy.