Sometimes I'm asked to share thoughts on Yoga Teacher Training with people interested in signing up for a program. I recently wrote an article called '7 Tips for Selecting a Yoga Teacher Training' and it explored how to go about selecting a training program. But sometimes, people are intrigued by the idea of attending, but aren’t sure they want to teach yoga. So, what’s in it for someone doesn’t want to teach yoga?
Consider these thoughts:
1. Alignment: If you want to understand how to do each yoga pose, a teacher training is a great way to do it. Most programs will break down the alignment, discuss modifications and most include assistants that will show you hands-on adjustments for each pose. While this is part of teaching, it’s also great to know as a student too and is a wonderful investment in your practice that will pay off in the years to come.
2. Physical challenge: A teacher-training program is a physically strenuous endeavor. Whether it’s a weeklong program or one that covers several weekends, you’ll practice a lot and you’ll try new poses you’ve never tried before. If you like a physical challenge or are looking for something that will push you to your edges, a training program might be just the thing.
3. Understanding other components of yoga outside of the physical poses: Many students never learn about the history of yoga, understand the Sanskrit words, learn about Yoga’s Eight Limbs or any of the other philosophical components. Attending regular classes is more about the physical practice and even if your teacher adds in explanation as to other aspects of the practice, you may not understand it. Training programs will give you a chance to understand the broader context of yoga, which will deepen your understanding and may provide some applicability to other parts of your life.
4. Dig deep into yourself: A common statement you’ll hear from people when they finish teacher training is, “This training changed my life!” Regardless of which training you attend, there is something to be said about committing yourself to the practice of yoga in a sustained way. Through this focused attention, you may find feelings and emotions bubble up to the surface that you’ve buried for years. You’ll explore your physical capabilities and try things you never thought you could do before, which is completely empowering. Being part of a supportive group experience may encourage you to share thoughts and feelings about what you want to do with your life at home and you may find you get more clear on what that is.
5. Practice teaching is a great tool to help you learn how to speak clearly, speak from the heart and manage a group: I approached yoga as a student having worked many years in the corporate world as a manager of teams of people. Over the years, as I continued with my yoga training and began teaching, I found that many of the skills I was learning in the yoga studio I was using in my job. The ability to lead a group of people towards a common goal; to speak succinctly to a group, to remain neutral and grounded in my own body even when there was external drama and turmoil; these are all things that you’ll gain from yoga teaching- even if your only experience is practice teaching in your training. Of course, it’s always great if you can continue with teaching when you come home, but if not, your training experiences will bolster your abilities both in your job and in your personal relationships.
There is no doubt that attending a teacher training is a significant financial and time commitment and one that should be taken seriously. One outcome for those that attend for any of the above reasons (or any others) thinking they don’t want to teach is that they return home realizing, “Oh my god! I DO want to teach yoga!” (this is what happened to me) That’s a beautiful realization. But even if that’s not where you end up, there may still be wonderful residual learning from your time in training that will last you for your whole life. Your practice will soar, your life may take a firmer shape and you may come back feeling great in your own skin; and what a great return on investment that can be.