What People Don't Tell You About Yoga Teacher Training

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What people don’t tell you about Yoga Teacher Training

I started practicing yoga as cross training for my competitive running. I would practice 1x/week almost every week. Each time I came to my mat, I felt this urge to learn more about the practice (and feel like I understood the foreign languages that the teachers were speaking). 

It took a few years of increasingly steady practice, a building curiosity, and a solid girl crush to get me to sign up for my 200 hour training. I signed up with no intention of ever teaching, but thought I could get on board with living in stretchy pants 24/7. Little did I know where this journey would take me. 

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I had 5 solid takeaways from my training: 

1. You will never be “perfect” at something - so stop waiting or striving for perfection! 

I put off registering for yoga training because I kept thinking that having a handstand was a right of passage and that I needed to own a white leotard and do yoga on the beach all of the time. I could barely touch my toes when I started my training and still don’t do a handstand without a wall for mental support. Each and every person has limitations no matter how long they practice. There is always room for refinement and in yoga - you are always a student! Celebrate small victories, and be kind to yourself on the days that you fall out of revolved triangle - you’re human! 

2. Knowledge is a powerful tool and it can boost your confidence! 

A lot of folks are afraid of public speaking. Yeah, it’s not at the top of my favorite things to do either. But, there is such a big difference in giving a presentation to a crowd vs. leading a yoga session! When you are knowledgeable about the body, the poses, the breath, it shows! You will do your job well and students will not be scrutinizing your every word. Believe it or not, they are less concerned about you, and more concerned about their own breath and movement. Let your passion, knowledge, and confidence overtake your fear when you flow and let go! 

3. You have to step outside of your comfort zone.

Yoga is so much more than just the physical practice. Yoga is an entire way of living. It is a way of living mindfully. When I went through my training, I have often told people that it felt like I was in church. The spiritual side of the practice had the most profound impact on my outlook. I would not describe myself as an overly emotional person; however, I would find myself fighting back tears on certain days when diving deeply into philosophies and principles. I had to learn to be “okay” with not being “okay”. Meditation is great for this! 

4. The more joy you give, the more you receive back.

Teaching yoga is not an easy job. You have to connect with those around you and foster a sense of unity. There is a ton of prep work that goes into each and every class — developing sequencing, curating a playlist to suit the flow, constantly studying alignment and abnormalities in the body to better assist, not to mention, preparing a mantra or a focus for the class. Yoga instructors make an immediate impact on students. Without question, my most gratifying moments are when a student leaves the class and stops to tell me that they feel better than they did before they walked in. 

5. You won’t have it all figured out…and no one expects that you will! 

When you slip up over your left and right side of the body, folks are more focussed on their own practice to notice your fumble! Remembering that yoga is a beautiful guide, set of tools, philosophy, art, and way of being will help you release some of the anxiety and realize that you are sharing a practice that will ultimately bring joy to the life of those around you…pretty cool, huh?

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It has been years since the very first time that I stepped onto my $7 TJ Maxx mat. I have come a long way. I no longer compare myself to the person beside me and I also no longer think that yoga instructors should be envied or awed! My preconception of instructors spending their days in sun-filled locations, listening to flute music, and inhaling palo santo and lavender oils are gone. 

Becoming an instructor myself has deepened my practice, but also my understanding of sharing the love of the practice. The allusion of a perfectly peaceful yogi decked out in stretchy pants 24/7 was replaced by an appreciation for the actuality of sitting on a concrete floor and studying anatamy for 8 hours a day every other weekend and adjusting alignment for so long that your brain and your body aches. Training is a powerful journey of self-discovery and is not for the faint of heart! 

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Meghan Ann Martin