I came away from my yoga teacher training with far much more than a 200 hours certificate, both intentionally and not. Whilst I definitely still get frustrated and annoyed at the little things, I’d like to think that I have come away a better person. Here’s ten thing that I learnt:
1.I can practice for long periods of time without losing focus
Before starting my course, I had a minor crisis as I completely failed to manage any yoga practice of longer than 40 minutes whilst at home before losing focus. There I was, about to do yoga on the daily for a month and I couldn’t hold the space for myself for even an hour. I began to realise that in setting up expectations for myself to practice for long periods of a time every day, I had created a feeling of fear around being committed to my mat for that length of time. Recently, I’ve been slipping back into that mind frame, but now that I am aware of it, I am able to work on letting it go and instead enjoy my time on the mat. Once I’m “in the zone” during yoga and time flies, to the point that the two hour practice plus meditation felt like nothing.
2. All bodies are different and no body is perfect
One of the things I loved about being on my course was seeing how yoga looked different on everyone. We all had our strengths and weaknesses, and that was fine. Despite the fact that I can (just about) do the splits, I was the only person in the class who couldn’t do hero’s pose either lying down or propped my forearms. I was sat on a block because sitting on the ground hurt my knees and propped up with three or four bolsters because my tight psoas and lower back were not happy. But, I instead found that was one of the stronger ones in the class, at least when it came to my arms, and that I now love arm balances.
3. Everyone has a different perspective and belief and that’s okay
We had lots of different opportunities to discuss and share opinions on my course, and at no point did I ever feel judgement or disagreement from my course mates. From discussing our belief or not in a god or religion to whether or not it is okay to go upside down on your period (something traditionally not recommended) the space felt open for anyone to join in. I usually stayed more quiet in the philosophy classes, but found it interesting to listen to debates and discussions between others.
4. You can push yourself more than you think
My home yoga practice often follows, or followed, a similar pattern, with harder poses often shied away from. Carol got us practicing difficult poses quickly, and once introduced, incorporated them frequently. I may have huffed when instructed to do Vasisthasana (side plank) with my upper leg extended forward, but there’s nothing like practice to achieve progress. I quickly found myself able to reach harder variations of poses, and discover some new ones as well.
5. But rest is okay too
Truth be told, having two weeks in the US doing field work straight after my training was a hidden blessing. Limited access to practicing yoga gave me the chance to let overworked muscles and joints recuperate. There were a few times where group members chose not to do the morning practice for whatever reason, and in missing one practice, they improved their capability for all the other days and kept their practice safe.
6. There’s practicing asana, and then there’s practicing yoga
We learnt so much about the mind-body connection, the importance of moving with the breath and being present.
7. I need to trust people more
Whilst I’m happy to chat away to people on a fairly superficial level, I’m not really one to open up. Seeing my friends bare all with one another made me realise that it’s okay to be vulnerable and not be afraid of rejection.
8. Yoga injuries can, and do happen
There’s sometimes a perception of injuries never happening in yoga. If only! Over enthusiastic students, pushy or inexperienced teachers, or a myriad of other reasons can result in injuries. My
9. I really, really love yoga
If I thought I loved yoga before, I know it now. Being in a little bubble of experience and enthusiasm really helped me to kindle that love. By the end of the course, I was absolutely bubbling over with excitement for the future. There’s nothing like surrounding yourself with those that inspire you really embrace your passion.
10. Yoga teacher training is just the start
I’m almost overwhelmed at how much more there is to learn and have already started a list of further trainings that I’d like to attend. From deeper anatomy and different styles of yoga, to philosophy, I really have only scraped the tip of the iceberg. There’s a variety of ways to continue progressing. First and foremost is showing up and practicing. Then there’s attending continual professional development (CPD) courses over days or weekends, taking modules that count towards the US Yoga Alliance 300 hours training, or building up to the full 8 years of teaching and CPD courses to become a senior teacher with the UK Yoga Alliance Professionals body. I haven’t quite decided which route to take yet, but will be learning as much as I possibly can.