The Things I Have Learned in my Yoga Teacher Training:
1. It is just the beginning
Do you believe that you’ll take your “Yoga Teacher Training” and acquire all the skills you’ll need? Your first training just whets your appetite.
2. Find your voice
After every training your teacher’s voice will reverberate in your classes. Allow yourself to practice the ideas, mull them over and create space for your own interpretations to come through. Your authentic voice will deliver a much more powerful message than parroting your teacher’s voice. Talk to yourself in your own practice or find opportunities to curate your words. Deliver your own genuine theme.
3. Teaching can take over your practice
It is so common to come out of teacher training and throw yourself into your classes, thinking that teaching is the same as practicing. In some ways it is, but your own practice instills your personal richness. You will never access that in a class where your mind must remain focused on your students’ needs. Part of practicing yoga is attempting ‘single pointed focus’ and ‘withdrawal of the senses’. These are not viable states for a good teacher to go into during class. Guard your own practice and carve out space for it daily.
4. Less is more
You can spend hours creating class plans that are artistic, complex and intricate, with creative themes and powerful metaphors. In the end, your students just come for a good yoga practice, and to learn the techniques of linking their bodies with their breath. They did not sign up for circus school or Philosophy 500. So, while you can always base your class on a theme or have fun with your poses, do not feel like each class needs to be a completely new invention. Repetition is what creates neuromuscular connection. Permitting yourself to have a style that is reliable and repeatable can be a benefit to those you serve. I am reminded of a quote from Pattabhi Jois, “Yoga is an internal practice, the rest is just a circus.”
5. Advanced does not mean harder poses
As a teacher we can be easily duped into the idea that “advanced yoga” means “harder poses”. We can even think that our goal is to become an “advanced” teacher. While there is a close relationship between flexibility in the body and flexibility in the mind, or suppleness in the spine and suppleness in the heart, there is no link between harder poses and an advanced yogi. You can have a hard body and be able to push up into a handstand but still be missing the key factors that take that pose from an astonishing physical feat to an advanced yoga practice. Asana is only 1 of the 8 limbs of yoga. An advanced yogi practices all 8 with diligence.
I have come to believe that being an advanced yogi means being able to meet people where they are at and create an accessible practice for any body without judgment. Don’t dwell on setting specific outcomes for each person. The goal of the advanced teacher is to introduce yoga, and let yoga decide what the outcomes will be.
6. The best laid plans
Plan, and then be ready to set your plans aside. You never know who will walk into your class and what they will need from you that day. You may find that you have a person who shows up that day and inspires you to go in a whole new direction. Sometimes it is just the weather, the mood in the room, or even a significant local or world event that can sideline your plan. Choose to be compassionate and flexible, and hold space for the needs in the moment. Don’t obsess over rigid adherence to your plan.
7. Set aside ego
You are a conduit of what the universe wants to deliver. Remove your ego and what you think you need to offer. Instead, go in with the intention to serve. Know that you can be dissatisfied with a class that you have just taught, and people will approach you to say it was perfect for them that day. Contrarily, you can deliver your perfectly executed class plan and not one person will mention your brilliance. You can even teach when you are not in your own peak state. Every class deliver what is necessary to each person, including you, if you set aside your ego and step into the wisdom of the universal flow.
8. Yoga is always the answer
“Yoga is always the answer” does not mean that “asana/ movement based” class is the answer. It could mean taking some deep breaths, being mindful for 10 seconds, closing your eyes, and sitting still. Yoga is being. It is not doing. It is allowing your attention to be present right now, in this moment, to whatever exists at this time. There are many entry points into this practice and although asana is the way it is thought of in our culture, movement in the body is just one way to experience yoga. The other 7 Limbs of Yoga hold as much depth, promise, and perfect access to this rich and rewarding practice.
I am always learning, and can always share more. The life of a yoga teacher is a rewarding one. Sharing a practice that I love, seeing the change that it creates in my life and in the lives of those I teach is so gratifying. And while it may be a life-long exploration, you’ve heard the quote, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Lao Tzu.
Are you ready start your teacher training? Fireweed Yoga is hosting their first 100 Hour Teacher Training Program this fall. If you are interested in learning more about yoga, teaching yoga, or deeping your personal practice then have a look at the program Jody DiCastri and I will be offering.