At the beginning of 2016 I took the plunge and signed up to my first yoga teacher training course. It’s something I had wanted to do for so long, so despite my trepidation I found my metaphorical balls and enrolled. I felt completely ready for the hard work, commitment and the challenge I was about to endure. On my first day I sat in a circle of, what were once, strangers and listened to the teacher tell us ‘something will change for you over the next 6 months’. I was curious as to what my change would be, I mean how much can a person really change in 6 month? Little did I know what the next chapter had in store.
During the research process of finding the perfect teacher training school I read numerous articles advising not to take on any extra ‘life pressure’ during study. This advice is all well and good, but sometimes you cannot plan what life throws at you. With this in mind I thought it best I share with you future teacher trainees my top 3 tips on surviving yoga teacher training whilst living in the real world.
1. Get a support group, quickly: I’m not sure whether I got really lucky with my fellow teacher trainees or if it was the universe sent me special angels to guide me along the way but the people on my course just happened to be the most supportive, loveliest, friendliest and wisest group of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of being around. When I struggled, they were there. When I fell, they were there. When I laughed and cried, they were there. I looked forward to seeing them after a long week (with an even longer weekend ahead of me) and they made my experience even more special. We created an energy that was sacred to us all, and without them, training to teacher would have been so much harder and a lot less fun. So find your yogi sisters and brothers and lean on them when you need them, which you definitely will at some point.
2. Prepare to be broken: I was so strong before embarking on my training; physically, mentally, and emotionally. Or at least I thought I was. I started practicing yoga over a decade ago to help manage anxiety and stress, I worked hard on my mat so I would eventually be able to still my mind, and it worked! It worked for years. It worked up until the pointof beginning yoga teacher training and the universe said; ‘Okay girl, let’s see how much you really want this’. It then proceeded to throw at me an array of life stresses; a house move, renovations, a sick dog, work worries, cancer, long distance relationships, money woes. You name it, the universe dealt it. My anxiety was through the roof, my practice was minimal and my mind was right back to square one. It was as if I’d been stripped of all my layers of strength and forced to remember what life was like before I first stepped on that mat 10 years ago. This time though I knew my practice would be there to save me, not my physical asana practice, but meditation. I sat, for hours, and felt every little broken piece. I’m still sitting, still feeling, still nursing the after effects of Hurricane Yogini. I just trust that little voice at the bottom of my stomach that whispers ‘trust in me, it will all be okay’.
3. Believe in yourself: If you are brave enough to put your dream out there into the big wide world then you a brave enough to stand in front of a group of people and teacher asana. Your mind will tell you differently, your mind will tell you that you’re not good enough to be there, that you ‘can’t even do a handstand’ so you’re definitely not teacher material. Don’t listen to that voice! That voice is bad, it doesn’t know anything about you and it wants you to fail. When you start believing in yourself that voice will become quieter and quieter until, one day, you just won’t hear it anymore. Hopefully your course leader instill in you a sense of self belief, trust them when they tell you you’re good enough. They want to you succeed and will do everything in their power to help you. Now the rest is up to you.
Training to be a yoga teacher is possibly the most challenging yet most rewarding thing I have ever done. It teaches you so much about yourself, it forces you to deal with the aspects of life you want to change, it forces you to accept the parts of yourself you weren’t so keen on before. It makes you see other people, other places and, most importantly, yourself in a different light. And that’s worth every tear you will cry during the process. There is no hiding from yourself during training to teach yoga, you become raw. You will learn what it’s like to feel deep into your own soul so that one day, hopefully, you’ll pass that gift onto a student.