What I learned in the last 8 months at yoga teacher training

or a funny thing happened on the way to the studio

Five weeks ago I completed my 200 hour teacher training to be a yoga teacher in the state of California.  For this accomplishment I can sign up with the Yoga Alliance.  I can receive a copy of Yoga Journal with my yoga liability insurance coverage, and best of all I can teach. 

I took my training at the closest studio to my house which was located about 46 miles away.  Yes, 46 miles, but no one else any closer was certified to certify me.  I have a friend who was taking her yoga teacher training via correspondence school.  I would not recommend this route as there is no live person to correct your alignment.  Some things are better learned in person, yoga is one of them.  In addition to the 200 hours we spend actually training to be teachers I spend 3 hours a day at the studio taking classes.  I highly recommend this to anyone taking yoga teacher training.  It gives you a chance to observe other teachers and how they teach.  It also gets you into great shape.

I noticed that many of the people in my class were taking the teacher training because they loved yoga.  The interesting thing was they didn't necessarily love teaching.  I noticed even some of the teachers I had didn't love teaching.  Some people like to perform, they like to be center stage, they like to be noticed and patted on the head.  To that end I will admit I was not the best yogi in the class.  I can't even do all of the strength poses.  But my passion for teaching stood me in good stead.  I genuinely care about people, and I know it isn't all about me.

We spend more time in class than I would have liked to giving the vulnerable girls boost ups.  That was weird to me because in college you don't get a lot of cheerleading.  It occurred to me that the studio had a vested interest in seeing everyone graduate, so they spent a lot of energy reassuring people.  I'm not sure how many of my former classmates are actually working in our field but I will tell you this, the ones who came from a working background fared better than the soccer moms.

So if you think you want to be a yoga teacher I recommend a couple of things: 1) you have a realistic idea of how much they can help you.  No one offers you a job on a platter after graduation, you actually have to get out there and hump it.  So if you are sitting around, bored with being a housewife and think one day "Gee, I like yoga, I like the idea of running my own studio, guess I'll take yoga teacher training!"  You may be disappointed.  I say only "may" because surprisingly some of the people in my class who seemed the very least likely to teach glibly signed up for the extended 300 hour teacher training class right after our class ended.

2) I recommend you take advantage of any and all workshops and classes the studio has to offer.  You may think, why do I need to do that? I've been practicing for 10 - 7 - fill-in-blank years!  It's because earlier in your practice you were going to classes for you.  Now you are going as an observer.  Pay attention to the sequencing and tone of voice, the pacing, the teachers you like the ones you don't.  I realized when I paid attention, the teachers I liked most were the ones who connected with their students.  The ones I liked least spoke to us like a herd of cattle.

3) Be focused. 200 hours is not a lot of time, lots of studios offer weekend workshops so you can get certified in as little as 3 months.  So you think you are going to slip that in between your regular day job, your kids and your relationship - NOT! It's a huge commitment.  I recommend if you are a mother don't do it until your kids are in school and a little autonomous.  It's horrible to be sitting in class and worrying about your 2 year old or feeling separation anxiety.  If you have to work, it's nice if that is only a part time gig or better yet if you are married if you can quit.  If you are in a relationship, explain to your mate how important this is, and that for the period of time you are in school you aren't going to be around as much.  I was lucky in that my son was up and out already, I only worked part time and I am single.

4) Be committed.  I noticed the younger girls in the class, two were in their early twenties didn't want to admit how important their training was.  They didn't do the assigned reading.  It was as if they felt paying the money and telling a few poignant stories at share time would transform them into Rodney Yee.  In my experience you get what you put into a project.  Don't be ashamed to admit to yourself that this is important and you will act appropriately, by studying the material and practicing the poses.  Lest you think I am being "ageist" I will add, some of the older women in the class were similarly un-committed.  A few days before the final I was horrified to discover they were spelling "Sanskrit" as "Sandscript" yikes! Beware of yoga teachers that don't know yoga originated in India!

So the strange thing that happened to me on the way to the yoga studio was a deeper appreciation for the art and the practice blossomed inside of me.  I realized I really wanted to know about all the alternate forms, the props, the teaching styles.  For me the assigned reading was hardly enough, I bought additional books and read them with interest.  My personal practice was solid, a day without yoga felt “odd.”