“Yoga teacher training – yes or no?”
I never thought I would ask myself this question. It had taken me too long to get into yoga as a student to imagine taking on the role of teacher.
But once I was hooked, it happened pretty quickly.
Before – the decision making
Barely a year had passed since I started practicing yoga regularly when my then-teacher mentioned in class that a new training was starting soon. “Doesn’t concern me,” I thought. “What am I going to teach people, I haven’t been at it that long myself.”
But then, the following week, my teacher came right up to me after class and approached me about the training. She said she had a feeling about me that this path might be right for me, and that she was sure I would make a good teacher – and no, she doesn’t get a commission for recruiting “yoga trainees” 😊
With a warm tea in hand, we talked for a long time that evening. About the training, her own experiences, my concerns about it, but also about us in general. In the process, we realized: we have a lot in common. When she signed up for the training, she was in a very similar life situation as I was at that moment, and for her it was the best decision ever.
She also shook my conviction that I was too inexperienced when she told me that another participant in our course had already signed up – you don’t need any profound prior knowledge or practice, it’s enough if you have the desire and interest to delve deeper into the subject matter: the philosophy, the mythology, the anatomy, the correct alignment of the asanas and much more.
In any case, I felt like it, and so I took an information brochure home with me, which I read from cover to cover over the next few days.
It quickly became clear to me: this is actually exactly the right thing for me. But to be honest, I also had some jitters. Two years is quite a commitment, not to mention the cost and work involved. Training once a week, plus several intensive weekends a year… that intimidated me a bit.
However, I also saw the great experiences I would have; the things I would learn; the interesting people I would meet.
Over Christmas, at home with my parents, I talked to them both about it. My mother advised me to wait another year to solidify my own practice. I distinctly remember my gut feeling at that moment: no. It’s now or never.
I didn’t know it yet, but two years later, that feeling would prove to be absolutely right. But more on that later 😊
Back in Frankfurt, I registered – and got the very last place. Shortly after that, the training started. That’s how much time I had taken to make the decision!
The first experiences
Just in time for the very first evening of training, I fell ill. With a sore throat, a headacheand fatigue, I dragged myself to the studio because I did not want to miss the first evening under any circumstances.
Despite my condition, the special atmosphere totally resonated with me. The magic of the getting-to-know-each-other ritual was clearly tangible, and I felt: this is the place for me. Although I still had concerns about my personal practice level, I became calmer during that first evening.
Shortly thereafter – still a little under the weather – I went to visit my parents and went to yoga in their area. When I returned, my mother (who was rather skeptical about the training) was completely blown away. She was like, “You suddenly look so much healthier than you did before class – if that’s what yoga does for you, I’m all for it!”
Once the initial sickness was over, I really got into it. I felt right at home with the flow of the training evening – meditation/pranayama, theory, asanas – the content, and especially the people. An environment that had previously unsettled me quickly became my comfort zone.
Ashram and studio weekends
This positive impression was confirmed on the first weekend we spent together in the yoga studio. On two days, we dove extra deep into exciting topics such as Hindu mythology and got to know each other even better.
But the real adventure were the intensive weekends in the ashram. For many of us it was the first time in such a place, so we were not yet used to the long days, the early rising, the eating rhythm and the extended kirtan singing in the evening. Especially the latter was strange for many of us at first and then quickly became something to look forward to.
Eleven girls in one room – can that work? It sure can!
We had a lot of fun in the room, which we were allotted to on every training weekend, with only one exception. In the evenings, before going to bed, we exchanged reading material; during breaks, we sat together in the bunk beds with our newfound friends, chatted, snacked and sometimes even drank a “smuggled-in” coffee.
This very special mix of “class trip meets spiritual retreat” very quickly became something I began to look forward to. Yes, it was also exhausting, but at the same time I refueled my energy every time.
Those who know me know: exams are absolute hell for me. In the yoga teacher training it was no different. It already started at the first teaching rehearsal: Palpitations, sweaty palms, stage fright, fear of failure.
Fortunately, however, it turned out quite quickly that I felt very comfortable in the role of teacher and the nervousness went away as soon as I sat in front of my group. So the practical exam was much less nerve-wracking for me than the theoretical one. Teaching a lesson whose exact sequence was precisely prescribed – which I didn’t have to plan from scratch – and which I had practiced in this form umpteen times before, that wasn’t too scary.
The theory, on the other hand, scared the living hell out of me, and that was despite the fact that I was studying diligently. I wrote flashcards with which I repeated the material on the bus and train, but I still worried that I wasn’t prepared well enough. The idea of taking a written exam for three hours made my stomach hurt – my lucky hamster, who has accompanied me during exams and job interviews since my school days, was of course essential and was by my side during both practice and theory..
At least the studying was fun because the topics were super interesting. I dealt with anatomy, mythology, philosophy, teaching didactics, yoga for special target groups and much more. Even today I am amazed at how much knowledge I accumulated during this time. And actually, I was able to reproduce it, because I passed the exam 😊
I completed the exams in January 2020 – shortly after that, Corona hit.
Soon after, I realized that the inner voice that had advised me to rather not wait another year had been absolutely right. Corona spread, due to which I came into short-time work and suddenly had a lot of time. So I had enough free time to do the Ayurveda correspondence course, which I had already flirted with during my training; and to do further training in therapeutic writing. Then, as soon as it got warmer outside and it was possible to teach outdoors, I was soon teaching four classes a week at a senior citizens’ residence in Frankfurt.
None of this would have been possible if I had joined a year later. And not only that: the training itself would have been completely different – with fewer face-to-face and more online evenings, without the intensive practice of corrections, without the cozy ashram weekends with eleven of us in one room.
Looking back, I am still incredibly happy about my decision to follow this intuition.
It sounds like a cliché to say that a yoga teacher training makes you grow personally a lot. But I can assure you: it’s true.
Because I did a two-year training, it was a very sustainable process. I wasn’t in a kind of bubble for three weeks and then thrown back into everyday life, but the training with all its teachings and people became part of my everyday life.
I established some new habits (for example, starting the day with yoga, not eating meat anymore…), learned a lot about myself (I can be really striving when my heart is on a subject) and made friendships that last until today.
Another aspect that was a real enrichment for me was the spiritual component of the training. While rituals, kirtan & co. were alienating for me in the beginning, they soon became things I even longed for when I was going through difficult phases.
Probably most importantly, I discovered a new comfort zone for myself and feel right at home in the yoga world and in my role as a teacher. I’ve broadened my horizons tremendously and couldn’t be more grateful for it.
My advice to you
If you are thinking about training, I can only encourage you to do it. Even if you don’t want to teach afterwards, you will benefit greatly from it – I promise! If it is somehow possible for you, I would advise you to choose a longer in-service training instead of doing an intensive training in an exotic place for a few weeks. Why? First, you logically learn much more theory in a longer training and also gain much more routine in teaching. In addition, as described above, you build the new activity directly into your everyday life. If you spend three weeks in Bali, for example, the content and new habits can fade away very quickly back in Germany.
However, this is only my personal view. The choice of the right education is very individual, so inform yourself, look what fits best to you and your needs and possibilities.
I wish you from the bottom of my heart that your experience will be as fulfilling as mine!