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5 Things I Wish I'd Known Before My Yoga Teacher Training


Yoga Teacher Training cohort striking various yoga poses against a plain white wall.

So you're thinking about Yoga Teacher Training. Firstly - I'm so excited for you! Yoga Teacher Training is one of the best things I have ever done, and I know I will cherish the knowledge, memories and friendships from that intensive month for many years to come. Before leaping into the training though, many months of thinking, researching and frankly becoming bamboozled by all the options left me feeling rather adrift, and looking back on it now, there are a few things I wish I'd known ahead of time to get even more from this amazing experience.


For context, I did my training at the wonderful Spirit Sadhana School of Yoga in the heart of Barcelona, where I studied for one month, Monday to Saturday, in Hatha and Vinyasa yoga. I can go into this more in a future blog post, but it's safe to say I highly recommend this school and their affordable price point is just the cherry on the cake of a holistic, nurturing and challenging programme. For now, read on to find out the 5 things I wish I'd known before embarking on the training journey.

 

3 words - rest, rest and rest!

Lizzie laid on her yoga mat sleeping with a pen falling out of her mouth.

Looking at the schedule before touching down in Barcelona, I knew the intensive nature of this training would be a big adjustment. Personally, I grew to love the immersion in yoga that this provided, but the exhaustion was very, very real! Long weeks, scorching heat and an influx of brand new information makes for a tired body and mind, and I found myself more fatigued than I have been in a long time.


Coming into the training experience with as much energy in the locker will stand you in great stead for an intensive course such as this one - if you can, I would suggest putting a deliberately restful week into the calendar ahead of your training start date, to begin reserving physical and mental space for the month to come. Equally, in your first week, be mindful of pacing yourself for the remaining weeks to come - two full out yoga classes a day might leave you stiff for the coming week. Listen to your body and keep the weeks ahead of you in mind when you set your intentions for practice - my teachers always respected and encouraged us to rest when we felt it was necessary, and those times I pushed through sometimes came back to haunt me in the following days!


Read up on your yoga philosophy

A group of yoga students in seated meditation on a seaside pier.

A wonderful part of training that I absolutely loved surrounds the history and philosophy of yoga. This spans a huge range of texts, eras and yogic paths that broaden your understanding of yoga and create a fundamental basis to your teaching. My teachers sent some reading for us to do ahead of time, as I'm sure many schools do, and I would encourage any incoming yoga teacher trainees to take some time to delve into these texts, research them, perhaps watch some videos on them, to get a basic understanding before training begins. Write down any questions or thoughts that come up - when you're in front of experienced teachers with valuable insight, you will thank yourself for having some queries ready!


If you aren't provided readings from your teachers, perhaps you could reach out to them ahead of time to see if they have any suggestions based on their course content. In my case, having read the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali was fascinating and really helpful context, and since training I have read the Bhagavad Gita, which we touched on in training and also struck me as a great text to begin exploring before training.


Nurture new relationships

Lizzie and her friend Samantha hugging and smiling in the yoga studio.

Starting any new course can prove nerve-wracking. Who will be in my group? Will I make

friends? Going in with an open mind to the humans around you and all their various walks of life could open you up to lasting friendships and diverse insights that will only deepen your practice and training experience.


Reflecting on my training, the moments I hold dearest are with people I only just met, and yet who now hold such a significant place in what was a turning point of my life. Yoga Teacher Training is an intensely unique and shared experience - look to your peers for support, you will find that like-minded people converge in these courses and so you are likely to find many a helping hand, person to confide in, or shoulder to cry on should you ever need it. Meeting such wonderful people of all ages and backgrounds was a privilege I'll never forget - soak it up while you can! Create that group chat, suggest a shared meal, organise an outing to the beach - these relationships are ones that will carry you through your training and even beyond. My cohort still talk regularly, offer advice, trial each others yoga flows and give encouragement on the group chat.


Don't kick yourself - pack smart!

Lizzie in tree pose on a terrace with the skyline of Barcelona in the background.

If you're training abroad chances are you will spend some time agonising about what to pack. It's always worth finding out what your yoga school provides. More than likely you won't have to worry about bringing a mat or any props you like to use, but better safe than sorry. Of course, make sure you have plenty of comfortable yoga gear. I would suggest bringing at least a fresh outfit for every day of the week so you can do a big wash on weekends - I for one had to discard my yoga clothes in the wash after every day of training!


After asana practice, the body cools down. In hindsight, I would have brought more comfortable layers for these parts of the day - cardigans, tracksuit bottoms or loose dresses to throw on over the top of yoga clothes. Equally, as an avid notetaker, notebooks, pens, revision cards and highlighters were invaluable. I bought a lot of things there, but if you know you're a visual learner and have your own techniques for memorising and absorbing information, you could consider bringing some of those tools along with you.


Rest assured, it's rare that anyone packs perfectly, and most things you find you need you will be able to get or borrow!


Sometimes the 'right' time never comes

Lizzie and her teachers Johanna and Adeline smiling with her teacher training certificate.

Worrying if now is the right time? Of course, career, family, finances and other responsibilities can dictate when makes sense to start teacher training. These are realities of modern life. Sometimes though, aspiring teachers are put off by their perceived 'low level' of yoga, thinking that they aren't yet 'good' enough to embark on this next step. This was at the core of some of my hesitancy too. I was conscious that I couldn't do some of the most acrobatic postures and therefore was it valid for me to teach?


I quickly learnt that being a good yoga teacher is not synonymous with being the most strong, flexible or picturesque practitioner. These things are great in their own right, but there's so much more that makes a yoga teacher, including compassion, knowledge of anatomy, clear communication, preparedness and safe practice. My cohort had a whole range of levels who all brought something unique and beautiful to their teaching styles. Indeed while both of my teachers had a beautiful, advanced asana practice, it was more often their words, insights and energy that touched me profoundly and taught me the most.


Not being able to do a hand stand press or hold a headstand for minutes at a time doesn't make you less likely to be a great yoga teacher! In any case, as we know, yoga is less about achieving some sort of advanced status and more about the journey. I quickly surrendered to this journey, soaked up what all my peers and teachers had to offer and was endlessly grateful for not only their wisdom, but also my decision to look past my insecurities and delve into teacher training.

 

There's certainly more I could touch upon, but with hindsight these are the 5 things that spring immediately to mind when I consider what I wish I'd known before Yoga Teacher Training. Of course, this is based on my own experience, school and cohort, but hopefully there's a few things in there that might help others starting out on their journey.


Any questions or thoughts? Get in touch. And if you're headed off for training - enjoy, absorb, thrive and surrender!

The yoga teacher training cohort with their certificates smiling against a plain white background.

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