How to cope in the final week of your Yoga Teacher Training course
The final week of yoga teacher training can often bring out every anxiety we ever had about school exams, delivering a dissertation in university or preparing for a big presentation at work. It had been a long time since I’d experienced any of those things, but for many students, the length of time between academic life and yoga training isn’t that long, and they can simply go into panic mode as the written exams and practical teaching assessments loom towards them.
When I did my training at Sampoorna – Yoga Teacher Training School in India, a few well-chosen words from Sudhir Rishi, the course director, and his team of teachers really stood me in good stead and I’ve carried them into many a ‘real world’ stressful situation where they have worked beautifully. Let me share them with you now…
Do What Needs to be Done
I think I must say these words at least once a day now, every day. There is never a time when they are not applicable. It’s so simple: you are anxious because something needs to be done. So do it and remove the anxiety. How many times have you sat paralysed by the thought of some studying that needs to be done, research for a paper you’re writing, planning for a yoga class you are teaching? Just sit down and do it. Even if it’s for just one hour a day. I found the two-hour lunch breaks in Sampoorna enormously useful as study time and stayed in my room to simply read the manual and make notes. You are on a training course so studying will have to happen – make it small amounts every day so you’re not cramming it all in at the end.
Trust the process
This leads on from the last mantra. I was told that just by attending and listening in every class in your 200-hour YTTC that the right information would sink into your head. Studying and practising afterwards is the deepening of that process. I was told by a very good teacher to simply submit to the course process and that would lead me to success at the end. Turn up to class, read the book(s), listen to the teachers, practice your flow and commit to every part of the course with your heart. Then celebrate on graduation day because you will know that your achievement is based on doing what needed to be done and trusting the course to guide you through it.
Know that the hours will roll on
Whenever I felt anxious about my final teaching exams I felt a sense of the endless cycle of the days around me, and that time would simply take me to the point of the exam and then roll me out the other side. It is going to happen, and there will be a start and a finish. Perhaps it was because I was based in Agonda, Goa, where you become very aware of the cycle of each day – sun up, sun down, the regular timings of the habits of the people and animals around you. There is a strong sense of knowing that the sun will come up on the day of your exam and set after it. You will get through it because time is rolling on and there will be a point where it is over and the sun will rise the next day. I found this thought very calming and I hope you do too.
Many people say that learning about ahimsa – non-violence – in their philosophy class, is the turning point in their yoga teacher training. It is the point, teachers say, when they can see students be kinder to themselves, as they start to adapt and modify asanas to their own bodies. If you are on a month-long 200-hour YTT course you will be tired from not just the physical yoga classes but the sheer volume of information being thrown at you (in a non-violent way, obviously). Remember that you are human and can only take in so much in one day. That’s why I adopted the ‘little bit every day’ strategy when it came to studying. It was an act of kindness to myself that paid off. Yes, I still felt stressed but it wasn’t overwhelming.
Do not bring stress into others’ lives
And by the same token, don’t let others’ stress into yours. Sudhir Rishi said this recently on one of his Facebook posts, asking us not to judge others and to live and let live. I’ve thought of how many times in my working life that I’ve found a colleague to moan to about what’s going on in the company or to vent my fears and frustration about something I’m involved in. Selfishly, I offloaded onto people without realising that they might be my ‘misery sponge’, absorbing all my negative thoughts. If you are panicking about your course, try to breathe and work through them using the strategies above, or speak to someone at home about them. Bringing stress into other’s lives is not the best start for a yogi life so be aware when someone may have sidelined you as their ‘sponge’. Misery loves company.
You will know more than you think you know
If you’ve come to your YTTC from a busy life in a city, you may still be pushing yourself forward at a speed that matches city life. You don’t need to know everything in the first week – if you follow the steps above, you’ll know it when you need to know it – at the end. Don’t rush to push all the knowledge into your head at once, and by the same token, don’t be frustrated if it doesn’t appear to be there halfway through. Trust the process and it will be there. Teachers kept saying to me that we’d be surprised by how much we knew – and they were right.
Lisa Edwards is a freelance writer, editor and certified yoga teacher, who completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training at Sampoorna Yoga school, Goa, India, in 2019. Sampoorna Yoga courses – RYT-200, RYT-300 and RYT-500 – are registered with Yoga Alliance, USA, and Yoga Alliance Professional, UK.