Yoga Teacher Training?
I recently cruised south out of my comfort zone to teach at a new studio. I see myself as avoidant of true, deeply scary challenges, so constantly and consistently setting forth to encounter my own fear has deeply relaxed me: I explored Miami’s locked-in-time deco details with total calm in the days leading to my workshop. And when I arrived to teach, watching the studio fill with students in a slow but ever-strengthening trickle, I smiled.
I set my roomful of newbies in a series of yin yoga hip openers, an evolving series of lunges known as dragon pose. In the first they were physically tense but intellectually open to the possibility of maintaining stillness, calm and interested. In the second they were deeper, inhabiting the pose more fully with their bodies yet with mental struggle beginning to etch upon compressed brows, clenched hands. As I put them in their third dragon and padded down the center of the room I closed my eyes to listen to the ease of their breath. They had relaxed, sunken farther into their bodies to retrieve whatever had been manifesting as unconscious contraction. A roomful of strangers had given up their pain for a moment. A roomful of strangers had trusted me.
I remember my mother asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I answered with the unguarded honesty of the toddler. “A hairdresser. I want to make people feel pretty and good.”
Dr Mom was not impressed. But I knew then what I know now, that helping others, relieving suffering, is the noblest path. And I was confused by her negativity. It rebounded through every choice I made.
Watching the effect of my voice and the knowledge of my teachers moving through me, I recognized that yoga had given me the greatest gift. It had translated my need for helping others into an art and a skill. Teacher training had given me a vehicle.
The point of learning to teach yoga is not to teach yoga. The point of d
edicating time to learning the details of this ancient medicine is to embody it, to allow it to heal both yourself and others, to allow it to give you space to be as you are. You don’t need to ever teach another person. But if you allow the art and the science of yoga to show you how you view yourself, how you view the world, you allow yoga to transform you into a perpetual student, perpetually curious.
A good training should be well rounded, teaching not just poses and physical alignment but mental alignment as well, bringing in yoga philosophy at least from the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. You should be taught how to touch, speak, and move from your center, how to navigate running a class. Anatomy, physiology, and nutrition will be a large part of any serious training, as they enable yoga teachers to both protect and help heal their students. And the more hours offered in meditation and breath training, the better.
So don’t take a teacher training to learn how to teach. Take it to learn how to learn, how to look, how to breathe. Take it to remember how to live.