As yoga increases in popularity, the amount of yoga teachers expands too. According to recent studies, the number of people practising yoga has increased to 36 million, with a further 50 million saying they’re hoping to take up yoga in the next year or so. It’s estimated that around £16 billion was spent on yoga clothing and accessories in the past 12 months – that’s a lot of yoga tops! With new studios popping up every month, there’s a world of opportunity for new instructors. If you’re considering a career change, here are the top things you need to know before yoga teacher training.
The first thing to know is that you can’t prepare fully for what lies ahead of you. While there are various ways to prepare, nobody can tell you exactly what will happen, and nobody can tell you how you’ll feel. When choosing this career path, remember to keep your mind open and release your expectations. Beginning your training with an open mind will allow you to embrace the practice fully.
Just as you would at the beginning of a class, set an intention for your training. Think about why you practice yoga and why you’re hoping to teach it. This intention will give you a solid foundation to build upon and be useful to come back to if things become overwhelming.
While setting an initial intention is important, remember that your goal may change with time. Your reason for starting your teacher training may be very different from the reason you end up teaching. Think of your training as a journey; keep your mind open and enjoy the ride!
One of the most important things to remember is that you’re doing it for you. Study and learn for yourself, not anyone else. Some people begin their training without knowing if they want to teach at the end. Even if you fall into this category, you’ll get the most from your training by absorbing the teachings and abiding by them. To become an authentic and successful teacher, you’ll need to fully embody the training and its lessons.
Throughout your training, you may come across words, postures, and subjects that you don’t understand. That’s totally normal! Think of your training as exploration; question everything, make mistakes and seek help. Nobody on the course will know everything; if they did, why would they be there? If you become confused, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seeking guidance from your peers and teacher will help you learn from a range of different perspectives. If all else fails, take the advice of TKV Desikachar: ‘The recognition of confusion is the first form of understanding’.
This point comes as a surprise to many people! Interestingly, crying is often a big part of yoga teacher training. Whether they’re your tears or someone else’s, learn from the experience and develop yourself as a yogi. When you choose to study something in-depth, tiredness, discomfort, and a sense of being overwhelmed are normal. To become a great instructor, it’s vital to let go of your baggage before encouraging others to let go of theirs.
Typically, teacher training is a mixture of physical practice and lots of sitting. When you’re moving from a sitting position to an asana, listen to your body. If you feel like you ‘need’ to practice each pose perfectly, an injury is likely to occur. Be mindful and kind to your body and refrain from pushing yourself too far. Remember that the best teachers are often those that have learnt from experience. Remembering your struggles and how you overcame them will allow you to help your future students.
Even if you’re an experienced yogi, you’ll need to study hard to become a great instructor. Before you start your course, give yourself a head start by reading relevant material. In the yoga world, there is often criticism about those who being a career in teaching without enough knowledge on the subject. If you’re new to yoga, spend some time learning the basics before embarking on a career in the subject. Attend a weekly yoga class, practice at home, and read everything you can about the practice as a whole. Many yogis recommend William J. Broad’s book, ‘The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards’. This explores the common mistakes made in modern yoga classes, and exactly how to avoid and overcome them.
Like any new venture, your training journey won’t be all smooth sailing. One moment everything will be great, and the next you’ll feel emotional and overwhelmed. The most important thing is to remember that this is normal. When things get tough, take a break and return once you’ve calmed down. If you need to, spend time doing something unrelated to yoga. Catch up with friends or family, go for a long walk, or watch your favourite show. Before long, you’ll be ready to return to the classroom.
During your teaching career, you’ll come across yogis of all sorts. it’s important to understand that everyone is different, and everyone has their own goals, strengths, and weaknesses. You’re going to find some people difficult to deal with but remember that these difficulties will develop you as an instructor and a person.
Whether you are days away from the course or you’re simply considering a new career, consider these things to know before yoga teacher training. If you’re waiting in anticipation, spend time learning the practice inside out. Fill your yoga bag with a water bottle and a notebook and hit the library. You definitely won’t regret it!