Six reasons why everyone should take a yoga teacher training course once in their lifetime
Most people will think of yoga teacher training as something you would only undertake if you were actually thinking of embarking on a career as a yoga teacher, or were looking to deepen an already advanced practice. What they might not know is that whatever level you practise at, a yoga teacher training course will have a profound effect on your life, not just your physicality.
You will have a much happier relationship with your body. You may have pushed your body doing physical exercise in your everyday lives but by focusing on the ritual of a daily practice led by experienced teachers, you will realise the full potential of its latent power. Whatever limitations or restrictions you think you may have, you will be given the chance to focus positively on everything your body has the potential to do, and it will amaze you. I started my own 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training thinking that I would not be good enough to complete it because I had a shoulder injury and very tight hips and hamstrings. I didn’t know that having those limitations would help me to a better understanding of how the human body reacts to everyday stress, therefore making me more able to help others in a similar situation.
You will gradually say goodbye to your ego. Chances are, if you’re a regular yoga practitioner like me then you will rock up to your YTTC with the full intention of trying to be the best yogi in the class. You may have been punishing your body in your regular classes by trying to make it do things it isn’t comfortable with and there will be asanas you can’t achieve that the person next to you can. By the end of the course this struggle will end and you will humbly accept that what is important is that you work only with yourself and stop comparing and competing with others.
You will reassess your entire life. A yoga teacher training course gives you the space and time to step outside your daily routine and gain perspective on what you are doing in your everyday life. Many people turn up at yoga courses after a significant event in their lives has taken place – perhaps they have left or lost a job like I had, or a relationship has ended. By focusing on the daily ritual of asanas, meditation, pranayama (breathing) and the study of yoga philosophy, you will learn that you have the freedom to choose what path you take next in life and it may not be what you thought it was. For me, a person at the peak of a 24-year career in publishing, it meant that I chose to step off the corporate ladder and become a freelance writer and editor. And here I am doing just that, at Sampoorna!
You will realise how connected we are. One of the most profound moments of my own 200 hr YTTC in Goa at Sampoorna – Yoga Teacher Training School in India was the first partner-yoga session which we simply held the hands and looked into the eyes of the person opposite us, as we rotated in a circle. If you live a busy city life, as I did, you may have trained yourself never to look at someone properly for fear of exposing your vulnerability. As you share yourself with the person opposite you it is an intensely emotional experience and all but a few of us broke down in happy tears. To truly be seen, and to see another person, is to acknowledge that we are all connected in our humanity and you can never go back to how you were.
You will realise how connected you are to nature. Not only will you connect with other human beings in a profound way, but you will start to see the creatures around you as part of the same network. Depending where you do your yoga teacher training /TTC , you may find yourself surrounded by animals of different types. In Agonda, Goa, where I completed my training at Sampoorna, everyday life is punctuated by families of cows, pigs and dogs. They are wild, free and independent. You begin to see them as partners in the world we inhabit and your relationship with them is never the same. For me, it was the end of me wanting to eat meat because I stopped seeing animals as commodities for human consumption.
The landscape you complete your training in may also have a profound effect on your outlook on life. A mountain location may help you discover the vast beauty of the universe and breathing in its pure air may help you to connect with it more efficiently. For me, the endless cycle of sun-up, sun-down in Goa, the ebb and flow of the waves and the regularity of events such as the cows gathering on the beach for a feed every day at 4.30pm gave me a profound sense of the circle of life and the place my routine had in it.
You will realise that yoga isn’t just about asanas. I think most of us on my 200 hour Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training Course came with the idea that we would work on our asana practice and become better at Ashtanga or Vinyasa as a result. Whilst that was true, it was the discovery that yoga is a way of life, encompassing a set of practices and values that extend way beyond the physical class that became the biggest learning. You discover that the meditation, pranayama and asanas work together with a set of life values (Yamas) and practices (Niyamas) to help you reach the ultimate goal of yoga – to find your true nature.
A Yoga Teacher training offers you the chance to accelerate the journey you already found yourself on when you first discovered yoga and found that it made you feel better about yourself. You learn that beneath all the obstructions that modern life puts in the way, what resides inside all of us is pure joy and love, and that there is no need to seek these things elsewhere.
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.