There was a joke statistic circulating online that some people read as true: 4 out of 5 New Yorkers are yoga teachers. Even though yoga is not yet that popular, it’s well on its way and yoga teacher trainings are becoming as ubiquitous as studios (I should know; I lead them!).
Whether you are considering attending a training to fulfill your dream of teaching, or you just want to learn more about your practice, here are some things you should consider before you strap on your spandex:
1. It is work
Yoga teacher training is not a retreat. It asks that you do the poses that challenge you. It asks that you ask the big questions that frighten you. Yoga teacher training, like getting old, is not for sissies.
2. You Get Out of it What You Put into it
Sure, you can coast and read the Cliffs Notes version of the Bhagavad Gita. You can take your meditation homework and choose to watch Mad Men instead. However, doing this homework is not just about making you a better student (or teacher, for that matter). It is about becoming a better person.
3. Let Yourself Be Imperfect
You may have been attracted to yoga because you are naturally bendy. You may have become the best in your class. Yoga teacher training will help to realize how unnecessary that ego is and also get you to eat a slice of humble pie when you notice your accomplished classmates. Spoiler alert: those yoga poses are a fraction of what the practice is.
4. Get Good at Rest
When you’re living and breathing yoga, you can easily forget that your friends don’t all know Sanskrit and that your body can do simple things as well as complex ones. Make sure you aren’t going full out with the physical side of yoga for the duration of your training. Savasana (final relaxation) is also a pose you need to conquer. And you do need to see those friends who prefer coffee to vinyasa class. They can help you to feel balanced when you get in too deep.
5. Meet your friends
It’s pretty much guaranteed that you will find a deep connection with one of the other students in your class. You are talking about spiritual tradition as well as who you are. Your fellow trainees are seeing you in your humble moments, like when you’re nervously teaching your first class. Remember that everyone is on your side and in the same boat. Keep the people who cheer especially hard for when you overcome an obstacle.
If you can, do a training that isn’t all-in-one-go. This will give you time for self-practice and to digest the teachings. You will learn that yoga is most certainly not a destination, but a journey that could take you your lifetime.