• Katie

Considering Yoga Teacher Training? Here's Six Things You Should Know

When I signed up for my 200-hour registered yoga teacher training, I had zero clue of what to expect. The only friends I’d known who were certified instructors were … well, my teachers! So, unlike college, I couldn’t ask a friend for the details or check RateMyProfessor for this one.

I will go more in-depth into my personal experience and reflection on my yoga teacher training in a different post. But for now, here are some of the (unexpected) things you can except during your teacher training that aren’t necessarily part of the curriculum.

You’ll never take a yoga class the same way again

Some of my teachers warned - er, told - me about this beforehand, and I’m sorry to say it’s true. When I attended yoga classes during my teacher training, I was overly aware of everything going on: alignment, cues, breath, oh my goodness is my teacher staring at me? I found myself questioning my stance in poses I’d been practicing for years. At times, attending classes felt like work (and not just because we were required to have a certain number of practice hours to graduate).

Eventually, the hyper-awareness did quiet down. But I still haven’t been able to attend a class the same way I did before I became certified. More often than not, I’m either comparing myself to the instructor teaching the class, trying to take a mental note of this teacher’s cues because they’re so much better than mine, wondering how I can incorporate some of these elements into my upcoming classes, or a combination of all three. These aren’t bad things, necessarily - just different. As a teacher, you will always want to be learning and looking for new things to add to your own classes (more on this below). Plus, attending classes post-training definitely gives you a newfound appreciation for the time and energy teachers devote to their classes, whether it’s the music, flow, poses, cues, or any other added touch.

Just remember … every teacher is unique and brings something different to their class; when you start teaching, this will include you.

It will be difficult to make time for your own practice

One more bit of bad news … I absolutely did not believe this one until it happened to me. Pre-training, I practically lived at my studio, squeezing in as many classes as I possibly could. Beginner, vinyasa, gentle, slow flow - if it fit my schedule, you bet your asana my mat was rolled out. I also had a pretty solid at-home practice at that time - I woke up first thing before work to get a yoga session in to start my day.

Once I started teaching, my personal practice took the backburner. This can be attributed to a number of things. For one, I was fortunate enough to be placed on the schedule full-time within a couple of months of graduating (this is NOT common!) - so during a time I’d normally be free to take a class, I was instead instructing it. I also work full-time, which limited my availability even pre-teaching. After I started teaching, I switched to a different full-time job. My new hours were later than at my previous job, so instead of getting out of work at 3:00, that changed to 4:30 or 5:00. AKA, my favorite 4:15 class was no longer an option. Plus, I moved a bit further from the studio, giving me a longer commute to classes. Whatever your circumstance may be, keep this one in mind.

This is significant for several reasons. For one, you obviously decided to go through training because you love yoga! So it’s a bummer to have less time for one of your favorite hobbies. Also, it’s very difficult to grow as an instructor without continuing to deepen your own personal practice. If you continue to teach the same sequence class after class, simply going through the motions, your students will catch on - and probably become bored.

Even if you are not doing yoga for yourself quite as often as you used to, it’s crucial to make time to keep your own practice going. How can you continue teaching your students to evolve and grow when you are not doing the same?

You’ll get to know your fellow teacher trainees very well

This could go one of two ways: for better or worse. In my case, it was fortunately for the better. I still consider the yogis I graduated my training with to be very close friends of mine. I feel fortunate to have experienced teacher training with a group of beautiful, diverse, strong women!

Having said that, it’s always possible that your experience will not be the same. Bringing together a group of strangers for an extended amount of time is not an easy or predictable task. Unfortunately, I do know people who had less than a perfect time in their training. This should not steer you away from why you started your training in the first place, though! These people still went on to become wonderful, knowledgable yoga instructors (one owns a studio!). Like with other things in life, remember: you’re doing this for yourself, no one else.

The eight limbs of yoga will become your bible

Uh, what? I thought yoga wasn’t a religion?! You're right; it’s not! But most people say that learning the eight limbs, discussed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (if you don’t know, you will after training!), was one of the highlights of their training. To give you the summed-up version, the eight limbs provide guidelines and philosophies to follow not just on your yoga mat but off of it. The beginning portion describes how to cultivate healthier and more positive relationships with everyone around you, as well as yourself. You’ll examine your daily interactions very differently during this time. You may even notice your behavior shift. For me, the three biggest things I noticed were that I spoke less and listened more, my road rage significantly diminished (hey, I’m not proud, but I’m being real), and my interactions with strangers became more friendly - and not in a “fake smile” kind of way, but a genuine “Have a good day” or “Your shirt is beautiful!” way.

Even people who do not study yoga for 200 hours can find something positive out of the eight limbs. I used to go home and share with my parents and friends what I’d learned that night and how it made me feel, and they were always eager to share their take on what I’d described. I also used the eight limbs as a theme for an eight-week yoga series I taught, so I could share with my students the same things I learned during my training. What Patanjali describes doesn’t only apply to yoga, so my goal was that even if my students didn’t reach “enlightenment” after my classes, hopefully they found something they could take off of their mat that would shape their interactions, like not losing their minds when their barista got their coffee order wrong.

Life will not go on hold during your training

Every training is structured differently, but they all equate to the same amount of time spent. My training was broken up over six months. A lot of things can happen over the course of half a year - and they will. At just the halfway mark of my training, I moved out on my own for the first time. Aside from the newly added stress of bills and rent each month, I also lived further from the studio where I was training (I used to be right down the street). I also got into a relationship while training - another positive milestone, but something that changed my life.

Some trainings take place over a shorter amount of time and may be broken up into several very intensive days or weeks. Others could span an entire year. Whether you work or have other obligations will also be something you’ll have to consider when picking the training that’s right for you.

If you are interested in a training at a certain studio but are unsure of the scheduling due to other commitments (such as, well, work!), it doesn’t hurt to reach out to the studio owner/person in charge of the training and see if there are any other alternatives or make-up days. The worst they’ll do is say no, and you can simply seek your training elsewhere.

All of this to say - the world will not pause when you’re doing your 200 hours. Be prepared!

You’ll miss it when it’s over

The teachers who taught my training all commented on how much they enjoyed the experience for themselves because it gave them an opportunity to go back and relearn many of the concepts they’d been taught during their training! I didn’t quite understand at first, but I soon realized exactly what they meant. If you love yoga (which you do, if you’re considering getting certified), it’s a wonderful atmosphere to be in where you’re discussing yoga, its nuances, and what it means to you. To this day, I still miss being a part of that and having those discussions and connections - and I miss spending time with the fellow yogis who I told you are now near and dear to my heart.

Having said that - bonus fact, you can always continue your education! There are different specialty trainings you can find, whether it be restorative yoga, yoga for kids, or even taking the plunge for your 500-hour certification.

If you’re even considering taking your training and aren’t sure if it’s the right time, let me be the first to tell you - it’s the right time. You will get out of it so much more than you can predict. Even if you’re not sure whether or not you want to teach when it’s over, immersing yourself in everything yoga is, everything it was, and everything it could possibly be will enrich your practice for years to come.

Did you complete a yoga training? Have any questions about the process? Let me know in the comments!

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