If you eat, sleep and breathe yoga, chances are you have contemplated going deeper and taking a teacher training course. After more than a decade as an instructor, I have acted as a mentor to many students who decided to take their yoga education along this route. Today it is my honour to share with the Hot 8 Yoga community the same advice I give to YTT hopefuls. Here are four important things you need to know before committing to yoga teacher training.
1. Do you respect and enjoy the main teachers of your program?
If you are planning on taking a teacher training, this is the first question you need to ask. The credentials of your future faculty should of course be impressive. It is important to learn from instructors with many years of teaching under their belt who regularly teach in the style they are imparting on you. However, the most impressive master teacher on paper may not always resonate with you in person. Take classes with your potential program director and head staff, ask about their teaching style and make sure your personalities mesh so you don’t find yourself facing hundreds of hours with someone you don’t quite gel with. Sadly, when new teachers express their dissatisfaction with their YTT program it is often because they overlooked this simple and key step before committing.
2. Teacher Training will change your life
Most teachers-to-be decide to take the plunge into YTT because they have been transformed by the power of their yoga practice and inspired by the people who taught them. What you might not realize is that the process of teacher training can also be a catalyst for major life changes you never expected. Not only will you learn more about the practice you love, but you will experience so much personal development that it will make your head spin. Even a positive shift can shake up our life, so during this period of intense learning and growth, make sure you build in adequate downtime for self-care and contemplation.
3. You will not graduate as a master
The biggest source of stress for many people in teacher training is the feeling that they aren’t “there yet”. Whether your program is 200 or 500 hours, let go of thinking you will graduate as a master teacher before you begin, and you will enjoy the process so much more. I have watched hundreds of trainees go through information overload as they learn the more intricate details of postures, yoga philosophy and anatomy. Some try to cram that new found knowledge into every encounter with students while others panic and fight the urge to run screaming from the room.
The truth is, teaching a group of yoga students probably won’t be anything like the hours you spent practice teaching your friends and peers in your program (in many cases your students will be more forgiving than your peers). It may take decades to become a master teacher, but if you keep things simple, share the essence of what you know and care deeply about the people in front of you, there is no reason you can’t be an excellent instructor right out of teacher training.
4. If you want to be a career yoga teacher you will need to be an entrepreneur
The dream of being a full-time teacher is alluring to many people. However what you might not realize when you sign up for YTT is that you need to be a self-starter and invest time into the business aspects of your work. If you pick a teacher training that is forward thinking they may have a module to kick-start your business skills but, just as it will take years to master your teaching, it will take time to build up your business and find your particular method of organizing your bookkeeping, promotion and finding your ideal students.
Don’t be discouraged by this, be prepared. If your plan is to teach full-time, give that transition some time so you can test the waters and see if you enjoy the teaching lifestyle. At the same time continue to expand your business knowledge and make it an extension of your overarching goal to share yoga with the world.
Teacher training is a powerful learning experience that will teach you more about yoga and yourself than you can imagine. Take that commitment seriously and get clear on the above four points before you enroll and you will have a more enjoyable journey that allows you to finally share your passion with the world.
- By Erin Aquin
Erin is an author, yoga instructor and co-founder of AquinYoga.com and currently resides in Boston, MA. She recently published her first book, The A-Z of Being a Successful Yoga Teacher which is designed to help instructors worldwide create more sustainable businesses.
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