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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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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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