Live yoga

What I Learned from Yoga Teacher Training

May 14, 2018

When people ask, I usually say I’ve been practicing yoga for 14 years. It’s true, I took my first yoga class when I was 15 and since that fateful class with Cindy, it’s been a piece of my life ever since. Yoga and I have seen our ups and downs but it’s been the backbone to my physical and mental health since I was a teenager.

But truly, I feel like my practice of yoga has only just begun.

Thinking about doing a yoga teacher training program? Here is the best of what I learned from my yoga teacher training certification and some words of wisdom for anyone looking to or is starting out on this next adventure.

For the last couple of years I’d been toying with the idea of doing Yoga Teacher Training. It wasn’t as though I wanted to become a yoga professional, but it was this weird, internal itch that I knew I needed to scratch. I wanted to deepen my practice, learn more about the spiritual side of yoga and the fundamentals that many of us don’t learn even if we’ve been practicing for years. I kept putting off committing to a course for various reasons, the biggest of which is time.

The first level of becoming a certified yoga teacher is a 200 hour course. 200 hours is A LOT and not surprisingly, I kept coming up with excuses why I couldn’t do it. But then one day in late fall of 2017 while laying in shavasana after a particularly lovely practice it hit me, NOW is the time. There is never a good time. There will always be something on my plate and it’s about creating space for it if it’s something my heart it calling to.

I walked out of class and immediately to my right there was a table with pamphlets for a 200-hour YTT program. I took it as a sign and by that evening I had submitted my application.

Now, most people won’t come to this decision so easily but I knew if I didn’t pull the trigger on it, another year would pass and another set of excuses would appear. In hindsight, I can come up with 1001 reasons why it was terrible timing. I could also come up with 1001 reasons why it was perfect timing. So yeah, there’s really no good time to commit 200 hours of your life to something. That shit is hard.

Yoga teacher training graduation

So I signed up for the program and eagerly awaited the start date in early February. Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect, especially because I had never met our main teacher or taken any of her classes. I just knew I loved The Pad Studios (where I normally practiced) and it was time to scratch the itch. So I leapt head first into the unexpected.

That’s also part of the reason I didn’t talk about it on here. Though I mentioned on Instagram and the podcast that I was doing teacher training, I opted not to chronicle the experience leading up to and during the course. I just didn’t know what to expect and felt better not having any expectations at all. I also wanted to respect the privacy of my fellow student teachers and honestly, my own privacy. Training is such an intimate experience and I wanted to feel safe in the container we had created. I could not be more obsessed with the incredible tribe we built throughout the program. But more on these beautiful ladies later…

The program I did was 7 weekends over the course of 3 months. On top of that there was homework, in-studio practice 2x a week, teacher shadowing and assignments. There is also a teaching component which I’ll talk about soon.

Over the past 3 months, I’ve learned more about yoga than I thought possible, but perhaps more importantly, I’ve learned so much about life. What I meant by saying earlier that “my yoga practice has just begun” is that the practice of yoga is so much more than the physical asanas. Yoga is a way of life and until this course I didn’t understand that. I now find myself implementing these practices in my relationships, as I plan a wedding, in my business and basically every single hour of everyday. On the first day our teacher told us that while we thought we had signed up for yoga teacher training, we actually signed up for life training. I couldn’t agree more.

Though I don’t want to set any kind of expectations in your mind about yoga teacher training, I did learn a lot and in true Maven form I wanted to share these experiences with you. Hopefully they can help you finally scratch that yoga itch or consider going through your own teacher training. Or maybe it will do the opposite! Either way I hope what I learned from yoga teacher training can be helpful for you.

Be open to transformation! Here's what I learned from completing my yoga teacher training program!

Pick Your Program

There are so many different programs out there! I’m a total vibes person and because I liked the vibes of the studio and the timeline to completion I picked my program but everyone will have a different experience. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing it my way, but if there’s a studio you practice at and already feel comfortable at, it might be a nice option to take a course there if they offer it. That being said, you want to look into things like timeline, location, instructors and certifications before jumping into a training. If you want to get it over with quickly, some places do offer weeks-month long intensives. If you’d prefer to go to a destination, that’s an option too.

Because my intention word for 2018 was “rooted”, I knew I wanted to do mine in San Francisco and well, taking a month off work isn’t an option for me at the moment. So consider all these things, attend info sessions and gather information before signing up for a program.

Set Aside Time

As soon as I decided I wanted to do this program, I immediately blocked off those weekends in my calendar. Yoga Teacher Training became a priority and while I missed out on events, trips and other special occasions, I committed myself to this journey and knew I needed to take a “yoga-first” attitude if I was going to see it through.

Same went for the 2x a week I was in studio. I blocked off those hours in my calendar to ensure they didn’t get booked up with something else.

You Do Not Need To Be An Expert Yogi

This was one of my biggest fears going in. I’m practicing inversions but truthfully, balancing upside down terrifies me. While I wouldn’t suggest doing yoga teacher training if you’ve never done yoga before, don’t feel like you need to be an expert to take a course. People were at all levels in mine and honestly, it’s nice to see everyone be at different points in their practice. Also, some people will just be bendier or stronger than others. That’s not a good thing or a bad thing!

Yoga is more than just physical activity

Oh man, this was by far my biggest learning lesson. Like I said, I didn’t start truly practicing yoga until I learned this piece. Did you know there’s actually 8 limbs of yoga? The physical practice (asanas) are one of the 8 so what we all know as “yoga” is actually so much more. Learning the spiritual side, breath work, ethical codes, meditation and all other limbs of yoga seriously blew my mind. I can’t wait to share more of this info with you!

Be Open

Basically my new life motto. I feel like one of the reasons I got so much out of the experience is because I went in without any expectations. What I got in return was so much more than I could have expected anyway. One of the things myself and my fellow classmates talked about on the last week was how open everyone was to the experience. It’s easy to “poo-poo” certain concepts or just not engage with something because it doesn’t resonate with you, but what we all valued about our group was that despite the breadth and depth of everything we covered, everyone stayed open. You’re going to learn about things that don’t interest you or that you don’t relate to, and that’s okay. I most definitely had some resistance to certain things, but it’s usually in those points of resistance that you discover your greatest power. So try them anyway.

Graduation from yoga teacher training and what I learned from the program

I wrote this more as a general guide to anyone looking to try out or learn more about yoga teacher training. If you have any specific questions about my program (Embody Truth with Dana Damara), feel free to email or message me and I’m happy to give my feedback!

Next, to the incredible women who shared this experience with me: I am forever grateful to all of you. You all made this experience for me and I could not have asked for a better group of women to support me into this next journey. So much love for all of you!

And lastly, what will I do with my certification? Start teaching of course! While I won’t be teaching regular classes in a studio, keep your eye out for more yoga posts and videos on The Healthy Maven as well as events around San Francisco and beyond. If you aren’t subscribed to my events list, I recommend you do so you can stay up to date on events and specifically yoga events that are coming up soon. Can’t wait to share this new knowledge with you!

Have you done yoga teacher training? Any additional words of wisdom to share?

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  • Reply
    Brittany Audra @ Audra's Appetite
    May 14, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    There will never be a “perfect” time…sometimes you just have to jump into it with a leap of faith! Congrats on pursuing this dream!

  • Reply
    Emily Portnoy
    May 15, 2018 at 4:55 am

    Congrats to you! As I near the end of my yoga teacher training in June, I loved reading about your experience. Funny, as much as I love to write, I haven’t been journaling my experience and process through the program. I feel that I would rather be absorbed in it all, taking everything in like a sponge rather pick it apart right now. Also, I am at a loss of words how to summarize the journey. You did so beautifully.

    I also toyed around with the idea of teacher training for years, but my self doubt got in the way of actually acting on that same itch I needed to scratch. As a long distance runner for years, I found yoga to be my balance when the mileage no longer served me.

    Last June, I ended a physically and emotionally abusive relationship. The night it was the worst, I was in the emergency room being treated for a head laceration after being dragged across the floor and shoved into a door frame. I didn’t know how I got to that point. I felt I had completely lost my sense of self.

    After, I learned to meditate. Every morning this helped bring some light during a very dark time. And then, I learned to connect my breath to yoga and how it made me feel was a game changer. I enrolled in teacher training and through the hard times, self doubt, time commitment,etc my sole motivation is to be able to turn around and help other women dealing with trauma or in an abusive relationship.

    When we sit with ourselves and look inward, when we learn to live a life of ahimsa even after experiencing violence, when we practice day in and day out honoring our bodies and minds in that moment…that is yoga. Over the course of year, I am back on track to finding my true self and have never been happier.

    Namaste, sister.
    -Emily Portnoy

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      May 20, 2018 at 4:58 pm

      Oh my goodness, Emily. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story with me. It sounds like it’s been one heck of a year but I’m glad you’ve found a path to healing and connecting with yourself. I’m sure you’ve had these thoughts yourself but everything in life happens for a reason (the good and the bad) and if you take them all as an opportunity for growth it can lead to a really fulfilling life. Wishing you all the best on your yoga path. I have a feeling it’s going to lead to big things. xoxo Davida

  • Reply
    Maria
    May 16, 2018 at 10:20 am

    I remember meeting you not too long ago at one of your YTT sessions that I randomly came to and was allowed to join (had no idea it would be part of a YTT at the time). I was so surprised and happy to see you there! You looked exhausted that day and I can’t imagine the work it took to complete these 200 hours but I’m so glad to hear you completed the training successfully and got so much out of it! I’ve been thinking about doing a YTT myself and this inspires me even more to find a program. Congratulations and thank you for sharing your experience!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      May 20, 2018 at 4:37 pm

      Maria!!! It was so great meeting you as well. Funny how the exhaustion could be seen on all our faces and yet it was exactly where we all wanted to be. You should definitely go for it. I can promise you won’t regret it! xoxo

  • Reply
    Lindsey
    May 16, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    How awesome and exciting for you!!

  • Reply
    Nicole @ Laughing My Abs Off
    May 16, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    So in awe of your dedication, hard work, and constant willingness to grow and try new things. I am considering becoming certified as a group fitness instructor this summer, and so I totally know what you mean when you refer to The Itch hehe.
    Nicole @ Laughing My Abs Off recently posted…What I Ate Wednesday {Summer Break Kick-Off}

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      May 20, 2018 at 4:36 pm

      DO IT!!! You won’t regret it! If anything it will make for a growth-inducing experience and isn’t that what life is all about?!

  • Reply
    Cassie Thuvan Tran
    May 17, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    Such beautiful photos that showcase so much friendliness and positive energy! I really think that yoga definitely shifts your spiritual state no matter what. You never fail to articulate your thoughts and experiences so beautifully. Risks need to be taken, as scary as they may seem, because they are such great learning events!
    Cassie Thuvan Tran recently posted…VegFest L.A. 2018 Recap

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      May 20, 2018 at 4:35 pm

      You couldn’t have said it more perfectly, Cassie! Risks are just opportunities waiting for growth! xoxo

  • Reply
    Eme
    May 18, 2018 at 10:42 am

    Beautiful pictures and congratulations on completing your yoga teacher training, I really enjoyed reading your post about it.

  • Reply
    Lauren
    May 19, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    I just finished my teaching trainIng at the end of April! I also live in the Bay Area (my trainIng was at Mela Yoga in San Mateo). It was truly life changing! I can definitely relate to what you said. I had no idea how much of a self healing & a self study process this was going to be. And for the first time in my life I feel like I can literally do anything (because this was on my vision board. Being able to cross this off made me think what else can I do that I’ve been putting off)!
    Also, I saw this a radical act of self care because of the amount of time and money I spent on myself. I had never done anything like that before! So excited for you that you also had an amazing experience! Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      May 20, 2018 at 4:33 pm

      Congrats on finishing! Such an accomplishment! And I couldn’t agree more on the radical act of self-care. It’s made me want to do something like this at all times in my life. I loved investing so much time into my self-development. It made made wonder why I don’t do this all the time. Lots of love!

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