A year ago I was sitting where you are right now, surfing the web and looking up different yoga schools. Reading reviews and looking at their social media pictures to see if the place would suit me. I eventually chose a school that seemed to fit me and I don’t regret picking it whatsoever.
In this article I will describe my Yoga Teacher Training experience and give you some tips on what to expect. If you are considering doing a YTT I suggest you start by getting clear on why you want to do it. Do you want to teach or do you just want to deepen your practice? You don’t have to become a yoga teacher after the training but you might feel the urge to start teaching after learning all about the magic of yoga…
Yoga Teacher Training – What to expect
Everybody is scared…
Like with all new adventures it might feel a bit scary in the beginning. The feeling of booking your spot and getting your tickets is sweet and can give you a bit of a rush. However, packing your bags and going to the airport to travel by yourself might feel a little less fun and that is when all the weird and crazy thoughts enter your mind. Why am I doing this? Who else is crazy enough to do this? What happens if I back out now?
Traveling is draining and can take the fun out of the adventure. I knew I would be in a bad mood during that first day so I prepared myself on feeling those low vibrations of emotions. Later I learned that I wasn’t alone feeling scared, actually, a bunch of the group also felt the same way they confessed as we had our first sharing session.
Do you like hugs, crying in public and being outside your comfort zone?
Landing into a retreat is always different and can be intense depending on what your energy levels are like before. For me, I was pretty rested before I got to the villa where we had our training in Tuscany, Italy so I could just observe my thoughts and felt that the transition was easy. But if you are coming into this space from a stressful life, prepare yourself emotionally and be aware that the slow and secluded life can feel overwhelming and that it is okay to feel that way.
After meeting everybody and getting acquainted with the surroundings the first evening together, I went to bed early to get some rest. I slept like a baby and woke up feeling eager to yoga.
We had our first yoga session at 7 am in the morning the next day where it all fell into place. Our yoga shala was a wedding tent that they had set up for us outside the villa. It had heaters in the middle of the room and uneven floor but it was kind of perfect to practice there. It was going to be our classroom for the next three weeks so we all adjusted our mats and gave each other enough space to share the experience together. Everyday after we had our intention setting and warm up, the sun would rise outside the tent and light up our space in a special way that felt like magic. That feeling still lingers in my mind and warms up my heart when I think back to that time in Italy.
Things to think of before you book your training…
If you are really considering investing in a training here are some things to think about before you actually book your tickets.
Into the wild…
So, a yoga retreat is very special. You have to have an open mind to the experience because some of the things that goes on there are not things we do in our normal lives. I don’t know about you but in my world, crying and sharing my emotions openly are things that is frowned upon in society for the most part. Even though these things are so human and natural we can sometimes feel the need to hide our raw emotions from people just to fit in. We have to stand tall, be strong, bite our tongues and act nice all the time. It is exhausting trying to fit in to whatever is expected from us in real life but in a yoga retreat all things that are “weird” are welcome.
It is kind of leaving your comfort zone and stepping into a world where you can just be free and people will accept you for you. So you have to give that gift to other people too. And also, be prepared to get a lot of random hugs.
In my training we learned about so much more than just yoga. Our syllabus was filled with lessons of the chakras, pranayama, philosophy, ayurveda, astrology, conscious dance, meditations, mantras and chanting. Some of it required leaving my old programming behind and stepping in to the weird and uncomfortable ways to move my body, mind and spirit. But it was fun to challenge myself and see just how much of me is me and how much of my boundaries are ingrained in me from my parents, society and culture (my samskara).
My yoga teacher training was held in Italy and the scenery every morning made all the difference for me. The villa was located in a small Tuscan town outside of Florence and had an olive grove surrounding the property. The environment definitely made it more magical and gave me the peace and quiet I was searching for. Whether you want to go to Italy, Bali or Costa Rica I think you should consider nature because it helps with the experience. If you are having a tough day moving though a lot of emotional och physical pain nature can help soothe and heal in a way when your normal support system is not there. Consider the location if you are nature person like me.
Back to school
One thing that I forgot to think about is that the training actually means going back to school in a way. There was a lot of information to be taken in during a short amount of time. It can get overwhelming with all the new knowledge that you have to take in and learn so be nice to yourself if you struggle with memorizing things. Learning Sanskrit, taking notes, reading five different yoga books and getting pop quizzes from your teacher can feel too much at times.
Sometimes we can get stuck in our heads trying to get everything right in the first try. Remember to give yourself the time you need to digest the information and have fun while you are in the training. Books can always be read somewhere else at another time but the time with the people will pass by sooner than you think so make sure you take advantage of all that is presented to you and be in the moment.
Leading your fellow students through your yoga routine in another language (if you’re not an English native) can also be challenging. Give yourself time to sequence your classes and think about how you can give the alignment cues in a fun and personal way.
Your style of Yoga
Think about what your learning style is and how you learn the best. A lot of schools offer a 200-hour training that is held during a three week period. It is an immersive training and can be an intense period of highs and lows. Some schools have 200-hour trainings that are divided into different modules that can be spread over a longer time period like six months or even a whole year.
For me, it was nice to have that deep concentrated time of just focusing on yoga for a whole month. It gave me what I was seeking which was to deepen my practice and understanding of my own body. My Yoga is so much more than the asana practice. Yoga is about how we react, how we think, how we love, how we give and how we receive. I learned so much about myself and I am still learning new things about my old self and adjusting it to the person I want to be.
The student becomes the teacher…
Here is the thing, we are never gonna fully master something if we aren’t willing to see things from different perspectives. When we keep on learning and open up ourselves to having that beginners mind as students we become better teachers.
It is funny because when I left the retreat and my yoga community I felt so ready and eager to step away from the role of a student. I felt like I knew so much and couldn’t take in anymore knowledge into my mind.
However, the universe was wide awake and threw me a sign right away as I checked into my hotel in Florence. It was a postcard with the text:
That was a fun reminder to always have my heart open to new beginnings and give myself the permission to keep on learning.
I hope this gives you an idea of what to expect from a yoga teacher training and that you’ll find a kula that fits your soul.
Let me know if you have any YTT tips or questions in the comment section below.