My first experience of teacher training was in the hot and muggy birthplace of yoga, India. I decided to dive in, go full steam ahead and immerse myself in this wonderful and exotic culture.
This was 11 years ago and to this day I still have a love/hate relationship with the allure and chaos of that country. I remember waking up to the smell of smoke and a sweetness of fragrances from street stalls. I remember early morning practice and mid day rest with the heat keeping us from anything that resembled productivity and learning.
And I remember thinking, when I finish my teacher training, all of my bad habits and shadow side will dissolve. I’d been struggling with an eating disorder for many years that I just couldn’t seem to kick and I felt uncertain about the job I was in. This is going to ‘fix’ everything.
I was young. I was naive and I was full of expectations.
One thing I’ve learnt, but still struggle to put into practice, is that when we set ourselves up with expectations that we’re not ready to receive quite yet, we set ourselves up for failure. Doing my teacher training didn’t make any of my so called, ‘issues’ dissolve. Instead it offered me so much more. Here are five big lessons I received from the teachings in my first 200hrs that I most definitely wasn’t expecting:
- That Yoga can be accessible as a way of life now. And not reserved for the spiritually elite or those living in caves. When we broke down many of the core philosophies of yoga (suggested ways for treating ourselves and others as well as rituals for remembering our authenticity) I realised all of it could be applied to my life immediately. These rituals and moral conduct suggestions are not only available to us but required in our society now more than ever.
- Whether or not I wanted to teach yoga didn’t matter. I had a lot of confusion around this when I boarded that flight to India. Am I doing this to broaden my horizons and knowledge of yoga as well as my practice; Or am I doing this to carve out a new career path? There’s no distinct path that you choose once you decide to do your YTT. Many people intend only to learn but end up teaching and others think they want to teach but decide not to in the end. This is why going into the training with an open mind is key. Who knows where it will take you. I didn’t think I wanted to teach until a friend pretty much shoved me into a class at a gym in which she was introducing yoga to the schedule. To this day I’m so grateful for the ‘shove’. Teaching felt like home for me. For you, perhaps the curiosity of the training will lead you to implement more mindful experiences for yourself and colleagues at work. Or perhaps it will help you be a more conscious parent and that’s your takeaway.
- I experienced every emotion available to human beings. I went into the training seeking adventure and fun as well as atonement for the ways I’d gone ‘wrong’ before. I got the adventure and fun but it didn’t ‘fix’ me after one month. What I learnt, however, did provide me with a set of practices that help me work through trauma, emotion and anything else that comes up. And best of all, the training broke me. A number of times.A combination of a very regular daily practice and meditation as well as cleansing breath work and self enquiry time had me leaning into corners of my psyche that I hadn’t heard or felt for years. If you’re ready to shake things up and get real, Yoga Teacher Training is definitely for you. We not only learn about Asana, Alignment, Sequencing and Voice Projection as well as how to hold the energy of the room, but we do a lot of work on ‘you’ the individual and in relation to core yoga philosophies.
- Perfection is not a requirement for teaching yoga. During our training I was always relieved to hear our teachers talk to their dark side and how they ‘fail’ time and time again on living a particular yogic philosophy or value. I truly believe that the pain and hardships and feeling your way through them is what makes you a great teacher. Some of my own teaching philosophies have come from my own mess. And when it comes to the ways in which you teach a class including pronunciation, clarity and memorising what it is you want to deliver – perfectionism will be your biggest downfall. Confusing your lefts from rights as well as mental blanks are all part of it.
- I met some incredible humans. I’m a people person and I get along with most people. But I wasn’t expecting to walk away from that very first training with a closeness to people I’d met only a month prior. I liken teacher training to AA sometimes. You sit in a group, talk about yoga and philosophy and your own experiences with it. Somehow people in that group shared things they haven’t shared with their best friends. But that’s what happens when you move and breathe and sweat next to the same people for a month plus. You feel comfortable enough to get vulnerable. And this is where all the good stuff happens.
The 200hr training is just the beginning. It gives you a taste of what’s possible, provides you with the skill and knowledge to start leading classes or going back into your every day with a new perspective and a new set of tools for navigating life. It reminds us of what’s important and that following your heart is, only always, the path to follow.
I hope the above inspires you in some way but that they don’t become your expectations. My advice, instead, to those who have enrolled in our next Inspired Leaders Yoga Teacher Training (or for those curious) is to approach the training with an open mind. The path for you is going to be totally unique and have its own kind of magic.
Guest Blog – Katie M
Flow Athletic sat down with Katie M who completed her YTT two years ago. Here’s what she said:
2 years ago! That’s wild! In so many ways it feels like only yesterday that I was starting this journey, but at the same time I almost can’t imagine life before YTT! I will be eternally grateful for this experience.Why did you embark on YTT?
I’d been practising yoga with Kate since Flow opened and totally connected with her approach and philosophy to teaching – her sweet, fully felt sequences, with just enough spice and sprinkled with beautiful enquiries that always, always resonated with me. I wanted to learn from Kate, deepen my personal practice and understanding of yoga, and part of me hoped that the experience would help me master my monkey-mind and learn to be a little kinder to myself.
What was the most challenging part about the experience?
It is a challenging experience. You have to go deep with yourself, be vulnerable, and get comfortable being uncomfortable, is a super scary thought. But the experience is so incredibly rewarding and there’s so much support – basically, it’s worth it! Honestly, the most challenging part was stepping back into the real world on a Monday morning after a weekend of total immersion in ‘the magical yogi bubble’.
What was the highlight?
YTT was such a powerful and transformative experience, and I learnt so much about both the practice and myself. Each discovery (big, small, about self, about yoga) was a highlight (that’s a lot of highlights!). However the biggest highlight was definitely the friendships I made. This experience connected me to a group of incredible women who are now literally my soul sisters. For that I’m forever grateful.
How have you used it in your every day?
On the mat, YTT completely transformed and enriched my personal practice and has allowed me to share the magic of yoga with my friends, family and work colleagues who I now teach. Off the mat, it has taught me how to hold space for others, to be present and to really listen.
Anything else you want to add?
As Kate told me, if you’re curious, follow the charm! You never know where it might lead!