So you’ve decided to enter yoga teacher training. Congratulations! You’re in for a fun ride. You will learn a tremendous amount about yoga (and yourself) during your course, but there are some things that are important from the get-go.
For starters, you want to be ready to accept your body. The way our muscles and bones come together varies from person to person; so your body will not be built the same as the trainee sitting next to you. Why does that matter? Well, they are going to nail some poses that you can’t, and it’s not for lack of trying or determination—it’s because of the way you were put together. You will be able to do some things they can’t, too. Instead of trying to force yourself into poses that will inevitably harm you, accept your body now. You can work at your own edge, and I encourage you to do so, but know when to back off. (If you want to brush up on anatomy before training, check out the DVD Anatomy for Yoga with Paul Grilley.)
Be ready to accept the people around you, too. You may not like everyone in the program, but they have a right to their thoughts, just as you do. Learn to listen. You will be really happy you did.
Yoga also teaches us to see the world as it is, not the way we wish it would be. This is to ease suffering. Let’s say your landlord just raised your monthly rent by $100. You’re probably not happy about that but, instead of dwelling on it and causing yourself grief, accept your present situation. Don’t attach yourself to what was or what cannot be—accept the change and live in the now.
If you enter training thinking the way you learned yoga is the best and only way, you are going to miss out on so much. Know that there are different ways of doing everything, from getting into a pose to interpreting a yoga sutra. Be open to other ways of thinking, learning, practicing, and teaching. Take it all in, and then decide what you think.
Before I entered teacher training, I thought I was pretty awesome. It wasn’t until my first anatomy day when I realized I was doing Downward-Facing Dog wrong. How could that be possible? How had no one ever corrected me? I couldn’t believe it, and that’s just one basic, foundational pose that I had wrong. There were plenty of others that popped up along the way, and the same goes for all of my classmates. At first, it was very frustrating for me—don’t let it be for you. This process is all about learning, and you’re going to a better teacher and a better student because of it.
Sure, it’s a dead language. But here’s the cool thing about it: But what’s really cool about yoga is If you learn the Sanskrit name of each yoga pose, you can go to yoga anywhere in the world—no matter what the language barriers may be! Different teachers, studios, and styles of yoga name poses differently in English, which creates a serious challenge for traveling yogis. However, if the pose is repeated in Sanskrit, and you know it, you’re golden.
Ask someone else what you should know before starting teacher training, and they’ll likely have a different set of learning points to share with you. And that’s good! And you should (ask)! Learn as much as you can from as many people as you can. All of these insights will help you figure out where you want to teach, what you want to teach, and how you want to teach it.