Are you considering a 200 hour yoga teacher training program? If so, you likely know that you will have a deeper practice afterward and the necessary skills to teach. But there are some things that will surprise you when you make the final leap and start the journey to teaching yoga.
If you are anything like me, you probably have your mind set on what you will do with your yoga teacher training (YTT) certification and maybe even know where you are going to teach. Like you, I had my eyes on specific goals and knew that I was going to teach at my favorite gym and - more importantly - I was going to leave being able to do the most challenging yoga poses like handstands and arm balances.
Boy, was I mistaken!
Here are 4 surprising things I learned in yoga teacher training:
The most challenging aspects have nothing to do with inversions or arm balances!
While there was definitely a time I sat crying on my mat in frustration at not being able to fly in crow, that was the least of the challenges. The challenge that was the most prevalent was the process of learning how much of my actions and behaviors were rooted in limiting beliefs, societal expectation, and a general self-disgust that I had no idea existed. Working through what I truly believed and releasing the beliefs that I hung onto in order to stay accepted by people was so eye opening for me and started me on a dedicated path toward self-love and freedom in authenticity.
The physical aspect was no doubt a true challenge, but unlike the other group fitness trainings I had done, YTT was the one that shined a light on the shadows of my heart and I had to choose to continue on the path to uncovering the darkness or staying hidden and the truth is, once you learn something, you can’t unlearn it and now I knew that joy was my birthright. I went for it.
2. You can be religious and spiritual, religious and not spiritual, or not religious and spiritual and still practice yoga.
During my time in YTT, I had a friend, whom I attended church with, ask me if I was “of the devil'' now that I had gone down this yoga path. The question took me for a loop and I had to get very clear on what I wanted in my spiritual path. It was in the process of YTT that I found my answer: the darkness resides in all of us. We get to decide every moment of every day whether we want to act on our darkness or our light.
There are many people who attend and take part in their religious practices everyday or week that are not tied to their spirit and those who are strongly rooted in their spirit and never step foot in a place of worship. In YTT, surrounded by women with differing backgrounds, beliefs, and upbringings made the conversations have depth, meant I learned a new perspective, and gave me a tribe rooted in spirituality so much deeper than I’d ever known.
3. Being seen and heard with the expectation of authenticity is FREEDOM.
There was no place to hide in YTT. We were expected to journal, share, give feedback, and practice healthy communication with each other and the people outside of the group. There was so much more talk around how to be a happy human than how to deepen into splits. There was an expectation that in order to bring this beautiful practice to the world, you best benefitted from being authentic, sharing the traditions that were so healing, and going beyond moving through shapes to completely shifting yourself toward your highest and best Self.
I learned how to give and receive feedback. I learned that making mistakes was a natural part of transformation and growth. And, more importantly, I learned that being me was what the world really needed from me and giving my light to the world was the most selfless thing I could do.
4. The best medicine is a consistent daily practice - and that looks different daily.
Learning the depth of yoga meant that I also learned that some days practicing yoga meant a 60-minute sweaty hot class and other days it meant a 45-minute yoga nidra session laying on my mat. The thing with yoga is that we get to practice every moment of every day and we get to determine what that means for us.
BUT a consistent practice is still key and that looks very fluid and flexible for me, full of compassion and forgiveness - for myself and the people that cross my path. Yoga is the process of loving myself and the people around me exactly as we are while being open to the cycles of life, love, and relationships.
Yoga is a lifestyle transformation, not just an asana one.
So, while you will most certainly have a huge shift in your practice, you may be surprised to find the huge shift in your life all around. Are you ready to shift?
Tell us what you are looking forward to experiencing on your yoga journey in the comments below.