I Trained To Be A Yoga Teacher and Here's What Happened
A year ago, I went to my favorite Sunday morning yoga class taught by my favorite teacher. In chatting with her after the session, she looked at me for a moment, and said very directly, “You’re ready for teacher training.”
I’m not even sure if I gave an intelligent response. Being a yoga teacher was not in the cards. Because, why?! But, completely uncharacteristic for me and without overthinking it, 6 months later I took a leap of faith and jumped into 200-hour yoga teacher training head-first.
It wasn’t what I expected – because I thought we’d be doing TONS of yoga: perfecting and adjusting! We did plenty of that, don’t get me wrong, but some of the most important moments in my training were the ones that were spent sitting, chatting, questioning, and learning. We’d come together on Tuesday & Friday evenings/Saturday afternoon and talk about how our day went. Or classes we’d been to, or anything we’d read or watched (yoga-related) lately.
At first I was confused. How is talking about this stuff – about too many work emails, or a stolen credit card, or someone’s parenting challenges -- going to help me be a better yoga teacher?
But yoga is truly about how we live our lives and react or connect to the environment & people around us. It was about creating a space where we could be open and genuine (our true selves!). No judgment.
From those seemingly non-yoga-related discussions, we gained the strength to handle all of the mini-battles we fight daily and discovered how important we really are. That we’re all just imperfect and right the way we are.
This is exactly what you need to be a teacher and a guide for others. The ladies in my class were all different from me and everyone had a story of how ended up there. But we all needed yoga in some way, seeking guidance and direction in where we were at that point in our lives. We could then take all of our past experiences to shape who we’d become and reach as teachers.
Here’s what happened when I spent 8 weeks in yoga teacher training:
1. I made friendships with some pretty amazing people who are nothing like me.
Even today, I know I have their unwavering support in everything I do. I’m in awe of what they do and have overcome and thankful to know such beautiful people who always have my back. I realized that teacher training isn’t a one-and-done experience like any other certificate course or training class you’ll forget about in 2 weeks. It’s a forever connection and I will always have a team of cheerleaders in my fellow teachers and teacher guide.
2. I learned how to better manage stressful situations.
I learned to take a step back when I’m getting amped up. Is it worth freaking out over this blah-blah-blah work thing? What does it mean to me 10 days or 10 years from now? It’s perspective that I didn’t have before and it was the 8-week immersion I needed to build a habit to prevent anxiety and stress from creeping back in.
3. I found a new way to explain the good things that were happening around me.
And as the analytical type, I couldn’t explain how good things started coming easily when I let go and followed my growing intuition, or consciousness (which all started with that leap of faith in teacher training). Things just started working out all around in business, relationships, and life in general when I began on this path, and I had no idea I’d be here today. I feel like I haven't had to fight to get here.
4. I gained awareness & direction.
In looking around, I’d notice how other people were disconnected (which, in a few words, means not contributing something positive to the world or the universe). As a way of living life and listening to our intuition, teacher training helped me tune in to that little voice – the gut feeling – to show me the big picture, be grateful for what I have, and to do the work that makes me feel like I’m doing something good around here.
5. I experienced & observed personal growth + self-discovery.
Yoga teacher training sends you through the whole spectrum of emotions: I can’t do this. Can I do this? MAYBE I can do this. Self doubt, tough or painful emotions, and everything in between. Yoga really does quiet the mind to prep for meditation, and in the process of teacher training, there was a lot of journaling and self-reflection. It wasn’t always pretty, but I found some new strength and resilience through yoga for everyday moments in my life.
IS TEACHER TRAINING FOR YOU?
Even if you don't intend to be a yoga teacher, teacher training could be good for you if you:
Want to better understand the “yoga lifestyle” & meditation. You’re interested in learning the spiritual or living simply and genuinely through yoga.
Want a deeper relationship with yourself. You know you need to look within or resolve some deep-rooted issues, and maybe even discover some new things about yourself.
Are looking for meaning or guidance in your life. Maybe you feel like you’re not exactly who you want to be and doing what you were meant to do in this world.
QUESTIONS TO ASK
Thinking about Teacher Training? Not all schools and trainings are the same. Here's what you might want to explore first.
How big is the class size? Look for smaller classes sizes, ideally 10 or less. You’ll have the best shot at asking questions and it creates an open, trusting environment you’ll need to connect with the teacher and your fellow teachers-in-training.
What type of certification will I receive upon successfully completing this course? You'll want training from a teacher certified by a nationally recognized association, one that sets minimum standards for teachers if you're looking to make a career out of it (mine is through Yoga Alliance). It may not matter as much if you want to deepen your personal practice.
What will I need to do in order to complete my certification? What do you look for in a successful yoga teacher training graduate? You’ll probably have to take a written exam & teach a full class. This is a bit exaggerated, but make sure you’re going to be held to more than just memorizing a script.
A successful teacher training grad projects confidence (even if, as a new teacher, you’re totally freaking out inside!). He or she can teach a well-flowing class & develop sequences on their own, knows anatomy and prioritizes safety in instructing students, and sets students up to be successful. Also consider attending a class taught by a newly-certified yoga teacher.
What kinds of tools will I gain from this class that will help me be a strong teacher?
How to sequence a class, especially why certain poses go together
Learn different ways to adjust
Cueing and seeing lines of energy
Know how to instruct a beginner yogi with no yoga background – teaching beginners is much more challenging than advanced yogis!
How will this certification & training help me build my business or career as a yoga teacher? This teacher training should set YOU up for success! If you’re looking to make a career change or become a yoga entrepreneur, a good teacher training course will cover the business aspect of how to market yourself, generate opportunities for private sessions, and get involved in the yoga community.
What support will I receive after completing this training course? A great teacher training course allows you to stay connected to your guide. You might have opportunities for advanced training and credit hours to build your skills, but also ongoing support from your guide or studio. This might mean further instruction as you have questions or maybe just an open ear as you continue to grow in your practice and as a teacher.