What to do when you finish your yoga teacher training
You’ve completed your yoga teacher training course, taught your final exam class, taken your written exam and enjoyed your graduation ceremony. What do you do now? Well, first of all, enjoy the moment because ones like these don’t come along very often. You’ve probably worked hard in one of the most intense periods of your life – whether it was a weekend-based two-year yoga teacher training course or a four-week one, you’ve likely been through something that has changed your perspective on life permanently and it’s almost time to consider what comes next.
First up, take some time to process. Just before I signed up to my 200-hour Yoga TTC at Sampoorna – Yoga Teacher Training School in India, I met two girls who had just graduated from the school. They were having a quiet dinner together when I went up to them and asked them about the course, because I’d seen them at drop-in classes. Their advice really stayed with me: “Take some time to process what just happened.” At the time I didn’t really know what they meant, but I could see something in their eyes – a brightness, an awakening, a spark – that told me I needed to listen. When it came to my own graduation moment I knew exactly what they meant.
I flew home from India almost immediately after that glorious photoshoot on the beach at Agonda, but I was in a state of stunned awe. These are the only words I have to describe the feeling. I remember wandering about the streets in sunny summer London, feeling something whirring around inside me and obviously emanating outwards because lots of people smiled at me. In London. If you’re familiar with the city you’ll know how rare that is. I think the feeling was mainly intense happiness but there was so much in there I needed time for it to work through and settle. It doesn’t disappear, I might add, it just deepens. Be prepared to never be the same again.
On your YTTC you’ll probably have been given some advice on how to start teaching – maybe offering your services as a cover teacher in nearby yoga studios or gyms, or setting up a free community class in a venue like a church hall or community centre. Some people are lucky enough to get jobs in holiday resorts almost straight away after their training ends, where they get thrown into the proverbial deep end of teaching and never look back. But if it doesn’t happen immediately for you, don’t despair. It can take a while for the processing of your course to happen and for you to find the courage to start putting yourself out there. Sometimes people get a leg up in the teaching world through people they know. If things aren’t happening on the cover-teaching front, you could offer to teach friends and family, or even work colleagues, for free first. I taught my first class with three friends and I loved it. It’s a great way of building your confidence after the supportive environment of the YTT drifts away and you are out there, contemplating a career as a solo yoga teacher.
Or are you? One of the things about YTT is that it helps to make big decisions about your life, and one of them is allowed to be that you don’t want to pursue yoga teaching as a career. In lots of ways we think we ‘should’ do it because we paid for the course and put so much into it – surely we have to pay that back by becoming the thing it trained us to be? The answer is no. The way you make sense of the course is by being true to yourself and your true nature. The best YTTCs take you on a personal journey of discovery ‘whilst’ training you how to teach yoga. You might be so excited about your journey on your 200-hour YTT Course that you imagine signing up to the 300-hour as soon as that course is over. But by the end, you may have changed your mind and that is allowed. This is why it is important to take time to process after a YTTC because you need to give your mind time to adjust to all of the new ideas flooding into your brain.
One of the most important things after a YTTC is not to start comparing your journey with someone else’s from your course. When I think about everyone on mine, some started teaching straight away abroad or at gyms in their hometowns, some took their time and tentatively set up community classes, some switched careers and pursued academia in a completely different subject. If you only follow someone on Instagram or Facebook then you are only going to see what they are choosing to show you. The picture showing them sitting blissfully before a sunset might say “I’ve found my path” but behind the scenes they could be struggling to process their own journeys. Be true to your own spirit and listen to it carefully. It may be the first time in your life that you have discovered your inner voice and you are still getting to know it. Allow it to tell you what it wants to do and don’t be upset if that isn’t yoga. Remember you can always come back to what you’ve learned when the time is right for you – it doesn’t have to be right now.
I think about my journey and how I never thought that I’d be writing about yoga, other than in my personal blog. I realised that writing (and editing) is something I love so much, it’s important to combine it with other things and not let it be subsumed by anything else. I stayed true to that idea and now I’m writing content for Sampoorna. It allows me to research yoga topics in depth and I’m learning so much along the way.
If you are reading this and you’ve just completed a YTTC, then we at Sampoorna wish you all the best for your own yogi journeys. Namaste.
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.