Yoga Teacher Training

Yoga Teacher Training

In a few days I fly off for two weeks to begin yoga teacher training with my yoga home.

It’s not something I’ve taken lightly.  I’ve thought about it so much.  I first started looking at teacher training courses roughly two years ago. And each time I would dismiss the idea pretty quickly.  For a long while I had a lot of excuses as to why I couldn’t or shouldn’t do it:

  • I can’t afford it
  • I can’t do every posture perfectly
  • I’m nowhere even near getting into headstand or handstand or toe stand or….
  • I get shy in big groups and don’t do public speaking, so HOW would I stand up in front of a class
  • I don’t know about yoga philosophy
  • I was rubbish at biology at school – there’s no way I could get my head round the anatomy

That’s not an exhaustive list, but you probably get the idea.

Once I’d started practising regularly at Yogahaven I saw the course that they offered and my desire to do teacher training was reignited. How I would love to do that course, if only I could afford it.

For a long time, “I can’t afford it” was my biggest excuse. Then I got laid off from my job and got some redundancy pay.  So I couldn’t exactly use the money excuse anymore.  It’s not that I am rolling in money – it’s scary seeing my bank balance going down so rapidly, with no indication of when or if I will be paid for the freelance work I have done so far.  But I instinctively know that now is the time, so I purposefully put some of that redundancy money into teacher training.

But then once the money excuse – my biggest excuse – was off the table, there was still something stopping me.  What was it…?  I was slapped in the face with the realisation that the money excuse was not my biggest excuse after all.  My biggest excuse was:

I don’t look the way a yoga teacher is ‘supposed’ to look.

I felt genuinely shocked and rather disappointed (in myself) at this realisation.   As a student I actually don’t expect teachers to look like they could grace the cover of Yoga Journal because in my view and experience what a teacher looks like has nothing at all to do with whether they are a good teacher or not.  But I have overheard enough conversations in female changing rooms (not at my yoga home, I hasten to add) to know that some people do think very differently indeed.  As dumb as it might sound it really made me doubt myself and question what ‘right’ I had to want to do teacher training.  Yoga really is for everybody, but that’s not how it always appears. I’ve noticed that in the last several years especially, yoga has increasingly become more fashionable.  And tied up in that I see certain images presented and certain expectations of how yoga practitioners are ‘meant’ to look.  I was faced with this myself when someone I met was surprised to learn I practise yoga and actually told me I didn’t look like I had a ‘yoga body’. I thought about that conversation and wondered what the reaction would have been if I had said I was a yoga teacher.

All this concern about what other people might think made me seriously consider not pursuing teacher training at all.  I confided in one of my lovely teachers about wanting to do the course and she was kind enough to give me some advice and really encouraged me.  But still, I worked myself into such a state about asking Allie, who is the course director, about whether I could apply.  In the end I just thought:

Woman Up!

When did I start letting what I imagined other people might think stop me from doing something I really want to do?  I thought I’d got past that a long time ago.

I’m so glad I got over myself and decided not to let my insecurity get the better of me.  I know why I am doing this.  And I know that I do want to teach and share the wonderful gift of yoga with others.  But Allie gave us teacher trainees some really valuable advice – to see the course as a journey of discovery and not to get addicted to the destination of being a yoga teacher.

I’ve been putting quite a lot of pressure on myself and have become increasingly nervous as the start of the course draws nearer.  Over the past week especially I’ve wound myself up into a bit of a panic about it – I don’t feel as ready as the old perfectionist side of me expects me to be.  But when I feel myself getting overwhelmed I remind myself of Allie’s advice.  I remind myself of the kind words of encouragement and support I have received from all my teachers – such goodwill which I appreciate hugely. I remind myself of how very lucky I am that I get to do this and how exciting it is.

This has been a pretty significant year of change so far.  This is the next step in that journey.  Yes, I do still have some butterflies about what lies ahead as I embark on teacher training, but now I can’t wait.

17 Responses »

  1. I’m so happy you are letting yourself have this opportunity. From one perfectionist to another, I predict that there will be times during the training that you get very upset that you can’t “get it” (by which you’ll mean be absolutely perfect with all of it) but in the end it will be so very worth it.

  2. I really look forward to the day that the “yoga body” stereotype dies. Can you imagine saying that you meditate, and someone replies, “Wow, you don’t have a meditation body.” What does that mean? One day, SOME day, people will finally understand that yoga is SO MUCH MORE than a body-based practice.

    Also, I think my yoga teacher training experience was the exact opposite of yours. I started searching for schools in August and was in training by that October. And then I came home, taught for about 6 months, and decided I didn’t want to teach anymore. I have a feeling you’ll be teaching for a lifetime! :-)

    • Thanks Jennifer :D x

      I’ve had people I know say they’re reluctant to go to yoga because they feel they don’t look right or have the right stuff to wear, which is so not what it’s about. I really hope that stereotype disappears too.

      I’ll be taking YTT one step at a time trying to focus on the experience (and reminding myself to enjoy it rather than get caught up in trying to do things perfectly!). I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to do this. In my heart I know I would love to teach though. We’ll see. Do you think you might go back to teaching one day?

  3. Congratulations on starting your YTT! I’m starting my 200-hour YTT in September (unfortunately weekends-only for 3 months, I would love to go to an intensive like you are…I suppose sometimes redundancies, as scary as they can be, can be a blessing in disguise?)

    I went through the same excuses in my head too, I’m not skinny by any stretch of the imagination but I’m happy in my skin. It is tough out there for us curvy girls and people love to make us feel less-than-stellar about our bodies, but it’s up to us to remain confident and unflinching in our endeavors whatever they are. If we truly understand Yoga, we know that our physical body means nothing when it comes to experiencing Yoga…so if anyone tries to say you (the “royal you”) aren’t the right shape to teach yoga, they’ve got a problem (probably can’t understand how someone could be confident despite the rest of the world telling them they’re ‘disgusting’ and they battle with this self-acceptance themselves). We also need curvy teachers to help curvy students, thin people don’t know what it’s like to do twists and binds with extra flesh, a curvy yogi can show other curvy yogis how to adjust their bodies to get into good twists and so much more with the physical practice alone. So, you actually have something more to offer students than some model-thin yogis, how bout that?

    Good luck and have fun on your teacher training journey :)

  4. You gorgeous, gorgeous, amazing thing you! I am beyond excited to see you when you get back from this experience and find out what you’ve learned from it. You are exactly the kind of woman that needs to be teaching yoga because it clearly comes from a truly honest place inside, and will reflect on the outside of your PERFECT YOGA BODY. Because I think you are missing the point, which is that your body IS perfect for yoga (as are all bodies, as long as the mind is in it too).

    Bring on YHTT2011!!!

  5. Yea for yoga teacher training! I had these doubts too prior to my training, but I thought, whether I teach or not, I am ready to learn new things and this will be a good way to really ingrain yoga into my life. I did not know about yoga philosophy or who Patanjali was before my training. I kid you not. It was all OK – learning without any prior knowledge worked out well for me. As for feeling ‘inadequate’ or ‘not looking the part’– that lessens as you learn about yoga philosophy. Being surrounded by a supportive group of yogis and teachers also help quite a bit. During out first day of YTT, my teacher chanted ‘I love my body!’ and we had to repeat (just like call and response). We all looked at each other like he was totally crazy. Towards the end, we have all become more compassionate towards our bodies and towards each other.
    Enjoy your journey!! looking forward to reading about it.

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