10 Jan What to expect on a yoga teacher training course: A Graduates’ 5 unexpected lessons
Posted at 10:50h in blog, front page, latest news
Not sure what to expect on yoga teacher training course? Katherine is a recent graduate of Real Flow Yoga. Here’s what she had to say about her experience:
5 unexpected things that I learned at Yoga School
I’ve recently gained my certification as a Yoga Teacher. During the training, I learned a LOT. Beyond all of the things that I expected to learn, such as the Sanskrit names for poses, the teachings of yogic texts, anatomy and (crucially) how to teach yoga (!) – there were many other lessons that took me my surprise.
Here are the five unexpected things that I learned on my 200 hour YTT:
1. You don’t have to be a superstar yogi to teach yoga
Before embarking on the course, my main concern was whether I was good enough to teach yoga. Despite 7 years of practice, there were still so many things that I felt I couldn’t do. I had a mental aversion to being upside down, so how could I be a yoga teacher if I couldn’t even do a headstand?!
Our Course Teacher, Tammy would often say, “Start where you’re at and just teach what you know”. This teaching helped me feel less intimidated and more focused on what I could do rather that what I could not. Soon I realised that that you don’t need to have practised for decades or have mastered every pose before you can start to teach.
One of the great things about the Real Flow Yoga Teacher Training course was that all of the trainees were really encouraged to help each other to learn and support each other to master new poses – so now I can stand on my head!
2. Yoga is for everyone
This may sound obvious to anyone who has been practising yoga and attending classes, but I admit I was worried that I wasn’t the right “type” of person to be a yoga teacher. My day job is a trainee solicitor and I’ve spent my working life in offices and legal environments. Going along to a taster event for the Real Flow yoga teacher training in London last Spring, I expected all the other potential trainees to be freelancers, spiritual and creative types. I was surprised to meet a whole range of different people with different backgrounds and professions, even including a fellow lawyer! On the course itself we had an optometrist, social worker, lawyers, events coordinator, fitness instructor, artists, actresses and more. There is no such thing as a “typical” yoga teacher, and everyone can enjoy and share it.
3. Sometimes yoga makes you feel bad
This was a big shock to me! Tammy had warned us in her emails ahead of the course that the yoga can bring stuff up and to be prepared for this. I didn’t pay any attention! I loved yoga because it made me feel good – it had always been the antidote both physically and mentally to a hectic city lifestyle with so many hours hunched over a desk. I had never cried during a yoga class, never had any negative emotions come up. I expected the course to be physically demanding ( and it was!) but I never expected to face the mental and emotional challenges that I did.
The first two week immersive retreat included several hours of yoga practice and daily meditation. This brought things to the surface that I didn’t know were there. Reassuringly, it was evident that each of us trainees faced struggles at various points. However, I found that the immersive retreat environment was the perfect context in which to go to this deeper level of yoga practice because we had the support of all the teachers and also fellow trainees.
4. Yoga is more than the poses on a mat
I actually found one of our ‘homework’ assignment tasks to be a highlight of the course! The month-long “Sadhana” was an assignment that involved self-practice starting and ending on a new moon. We each had to choose a personal goal as a theme to focus our self practice and bring yoga into our daily life. The good thing about it was that we had the freedom to tailor-make our self-practice to accommodate our needs. Whether it was just 10 minutes of morning meditation or hours of asana practice, or whether we wanted to work towards a challenging pose. We were encouraged to journal daily and reflect on how the practice was affecting our daily lives and thoughts.
For everyone this was a very personal and empowering time of deep self-enquiry but for me I was amazed at how yoga came “off the mat” – it no longer had to be an hour’s practice at the end of the day to cancel out the stress; I could be practising yoga whilst stuck in a traffic jam or having a conversation with my family.
5. It’s all worth it
I thought long and hard before signing up for the teacher training course – and that’s no bad thing. It’s a big investment of time and money and I didn’t take that decision lightly. But ultimately, despite all of the excuses that I came up with for why I shouldn’t, I knew that it was something I had to do for myself. Despite it being really hard at times, and it that it took a lot of time and energy, it was all worth it. I loved that for those three months I was truly immersed in yoga and in this learning experience. I ended the course feeling inspired and with a real sense of achievement, some wonderful new friends, and a wealth of new knowledge.
Katherine loves to share the dynamic heart-based yoga flows. She runs classes and workshops in Oxford. www.realflowyoga.com/teacher-directory