These days, it seems like we all know someone who’s beginning yoga teacher training (YTT), right? These programs are often considered the “next step” in practicing yoga once you’ve settled in to a solid routine at the studio.
Even people with no interest in teaching flock to trainings, seeking more structure, depth, and community in their practice. More and more YTT programs are being offered these days.
But how do you know if you’re up for taking that step? If you’re wondering, “Am I ready for yoga teacher training,” ask yourself if any of these signs apply to you. You just might be the next star yoga instructor!
Five Signs That You’re Ready for Yoga Teacher Training
1. Drop-in classes don’t feel like enough.
As a dedicated yogi, you might attend frequent classes – but maybe you’ve reached the point where they no longer feel like enough. Teachers in regular classes usually don’t have the time to break down each pose, tie in all the relevant anatomy, go in depth on philosophical teachings, or do more than basic meditation exercises.
Plus, drop-in classes don’t typically build upon each other to help you progress, and they don’t guarantee a well-rounded practice. If you’re yearning for deeper or more structured study, you might be ready for YTT.
2. You’re interested in more than the poses.
You’ve probably heard yoga teachers say that poses are just one aspect of yoga, or that toning your glutes is not the true purpose of the practice. So it’s no surprise that poses are only one part of a training curriculum.
Meditation, philosophy, Ayurveda, chanting, and the subtle body are just a few of the other topics YTT might cover. If none of these things are of interest to you, teacher training might not be a perfect fit.
3. You love being a student.
In some ways, enrolling in YTT feels like going back to school. With a prescribed schedule, regular lectures, quizzes and tests, and reading and homework assignments, teacher training is best suited for people who love being students – or at least love to learn.
4. You want to challenge yourself physically and mentally.
YTT is demanding, so you need to make sure you’re up for it. You’ll work hard, doing yoga more frequently and for longer than maybe you ever have. At the same time, you’ll be working towards more challenging poses and sequences – perhaps even learning about aerial yoga.
But YTT will also force you to study and learn a large amount of sometimes complicated material. It will push you to question your values, beliefs, and habits. Are you ready for both a physical and mental challenge?
5. You have a regular practice.
Different YTT programs have different prerequisites. Many are open to students who don’t have a ton of experience with yoga. But before you dive into teacher training, you’ll ideally have some type of regular practice. Taking classes, watching videos, or practicing at home on a regular basis will help build a foundation to set you up for success during YTT.
Of course, you hardly need to meet all these criteria in order to sign up for training. People from all different backgrounds and with various interests and levels of experience enroll in YTT. If you know you want to dive deeper into yoga, that’s the most important sign that you’re ready for teacher training.
Four Things That Surprised Me About Yoga Teacher Training
Now that you’ve contemplated the idea of starting yoga teacher training, let’s talk about what to expect. Every teacher training process is different, so you can never be totally certain how things will go.
When I went through the process of teacher training, these are the four things that surprised me the most.
1. You will teach on Day 1.
I was hoping for a couple days of instruction about teaching before I actually got up in front of people to teach. But I was way off. Expect to teach at least a small group of people on your very first day of training. It will most likely be a very simple sequence; possibly Sun Salutation A or B, but be prepared to do at least a little bit of teaching from the get go.
By the end of the first week, or after about seven or eight days depending on the format of your training, expect to teach a full-length class to your fellow yogis in training. This is daunting at first, but the best way to get over your fear of teaching is to just do it. After two or three classes, your nerves will quiet down and it will be easier focus on other aspects of teaching.
2. You are your own teacher.
If you’re doing a teacher training with an instructor whose philosophy and teaching style you admire, it’s easy to think you’re going to become just like them. You won’t. Teacher training isn’t about teaching exactly the same way your teacher does, it’s about finding out your own teaching style.
Get ready to dig deep and really get to know yourself. You’ll learn to bring a lot of you into your teaching, so when you find that your classes are different from your teacher’s, embrace that.
3. Beginning yoga teacher training is not all fairies and butterflies.
Yoga teacher training is not for the faint of heart. There will be a lot of inward reflection and that sometimes isn’t fun – but it is necessary.
Becoming a yoga instructor isn’t just about the history of yoga or anatomy of the body. It’s also about getting to know yourself on a deeper level so that you can create a healing environment for those who come to your classes. That’s not to say it isn’t an enjoyable experience – it is, and you’ll be glad you did it!
4. What you get from it is completely up to you.
Your instructor won’t do everything for you, no matter how knowledgeable she or he may be. As with anything in life, you get what you give. Teacher training is not only a financial investment, but also quite a large time investment.
Make sure you set aside enough time to dedicate yourself to your training completely. You can have the best teacher in the world and it won’t matter if you don’t commit to understanding yourself and practicing the actual teaching aspect on your own time.
Beginning yoga teacher training is a very special journey. Go into it with an open mind and heart, and you will not only reap all of the amazing benefits, but you’ll come out of it ready to be a fantastic yoga instructor.
Portions of this article were contributed by Anna Schoener, a yoga instructor living in Malmo, Sweden.