Inspired by Yoga, Dogs and Chocolate’s great post on the things she wished she knew before heading into a yoga teacher training, I thought I’d mark the (almost) one year anniversary of completing my 200-hour level teacher training by reflecting on the past year and sharing some of the things I wish I had known before YTT.
1. Yoga Teacher does not equal Super Hippie.
I honestly expected others in my training program to be reeking of patchouli, levitating in full lotus and shining enlightenment out their arses. The best thing ever was walking in to the studio on that first day and realizing they were people just like me: regular, every day people who struggle with balancing yoga and meditation with careers, relationships and the rest of life.
2. This isn’t college. Reading lists are guidelines.
You don’t have to read everything on the reading list before class starts. We had a reading list of over twelve books and I busted my proverbial balls trying to read everything before classes started. As a result I missed the message in a lot of the books. I got a lot more out of them AFTER training was over. There’s more context and more personal experience to draw on after class than before. Like most things though, there’s one exception to this …
3. Read the Yoga Sutras.
They’re short, sweet and impossibly complex. Read them before, during and after training. Read different translations and interpretations. Read them before you go to bed at night. Read them when you wake up in the morning. Read them when you’re on the bus or train or subway. They will challenge your mind like nothing else I have ever come across.
4. Minds are like parachutes.
I’ll echo YDC here and say … approach everything with an open mind. Teacher training can (and will) bring up very powerful emotions and experiences. Be open and be compassionate to yourself and your fellow yogis.
5. Listen to your body.
You will be tired. You will be sore. Old injuries can flare up, though, interestingly, while they might flare, usually YTT works them out and the go away forever … mind/body connection, anyone? ::wink:: So if you’re sore, rest. Modify. You’ve still got a lot of sun salutations to go. I pushed it the first weekend and thought my shoulders and hamstrings would never forgive me. Don’t let your ego take over.
6. Fuel up!
Pack a lot of healthy snacks. I was a big fan of trail mix that I made myself (stock up at Trader Joe’s for nuts and dried fruit, then add in some fancy chocolate chips), or pieces of fruit like bananas, pears and apples. Energy bars are touch a go so be sure to read the labels carefully. You want something with protein and fiber, but not a ton of sugar an ingredients you can’t pronounce.
7. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
Drink a lot of water and leave the energy drinks and sports drinks at home. Sports drinks are crap.
8. Eat well and eat what works for you.
There’s a lot of talk in the yoga community about being a vegetarian, vegan or raw vegan. The middle of your training is not the time for major dietary shifts. Teacher training is hard on the body and mind — and both need to be fueled with good, wholesome food and a lot of water. So much else is being shaken up on your insides that it’s wise to keep your diet healthy but consistent. If you’re interested in exploring any of these diets, wait until training is over before making any radical changes. (And remember, you CAN be a meat-eating yogi!)
9. Teaching is not the only outcome.
Teacher training programs are an amazing way to bring your practice to a much deeper level so if the thought of teaching terrifies you, that’s ok.
10. Make time for YOU.
Make time for meditation during your training. Even just ten quiet minutes a day will set you up for a successful teacher training and finding the sanity to balance the rest of your life along with YTT. (I also highly recommend massages, pedicures and a good, entertaining book to read before bed.)
11. Make friends wisely :)
Guaranteed there will be at least one person in your training program who’s a massage therapist. Make friends with them on the first day.
12. Make friend often.
You will meet some of the most amazing people in your life. Sharing this experience will bring you closer than you ever imagined.
As a great follow-up, Elephant Journal has an informative post on the Eight Steps to Becoming A Yoga Teacher.
Congrats to all the Prana Power Yoga Teacher Trainees who are finishing this coming weekend! Can’t wait to see you in the studio!
And congrats to all the PPY YTTers from 2009! Look how far we’ve all come in a year! GO US!