Yes, I really do mean everyone. You don’t have to be “good” or “flexible” or aspire to be a teacher. You may think yoga training is all about learning how to do a “perfect” downward dog and espouse the details of the Sutras. That might be in your training, but it isn’t the point.
Everyone can benefit from a yoga teacher training – whether you plan to teach, practice or simply live in this crazy world. Here’s why:
1) Self-Exploration. It may sound corny, and frankly, you may not want to learn about yourself – but yoga training gives you insights into why you do the things you do, and perhaps the power to make changes where necessary. Emotions and feelings that have lain below the surface will bubble up. Sometimes this is uncomfortable – sometimes exhilarating – always enlightening. You hang out with yourself 24 hours a day, and now you actually get to know “you.” That’s cool.
2) Physicality. You may not feel you are in good shape or you may feel you are a star athlete. You may have conquered your chatturangas and handstands or you may prefer simple seated pose. Regardless of where you think you are in your practice, yoga training will challenge your thinking. You will prove to yourself you are stronger than you think and that you are not as able-bodied as you think. Learning both makes you a much more appealing person.
3) Beyond the Physical. Your teacher may touch the surface of the non-physical aspects that surround yoga – calming the mind, overcoming self-doubt, living in the moment – but to truly understand what these mean, you need a teacher training. The yamas and niyamas – underlying beliefs in the system of yoga – are not preachings, but simple tenets of good human behavior. Being in an intensive training with a group of people with whom you can discuss and share gives you support and helps you delve deeper into these tenets than you might on your own.
4) Community. You will meet people you never would have encountered, except perhaps in passing, and develop a bond. These may be people you wouldn’t normally choose to associate with – and that is valuable. They can teach you that everyone has a story and struggles and vulnerability and value. With community comes kindness and understanding of the “other.” When you understand the “other,” you are less likely to fear them or to judge them.
5) Deepening Your Spirituality. If you fear yoga will compromise your chosen spirituality, don’t. Yoga can deepen your relationship with your divine, or perhaps help you find a deeper internal spirituality. Think of teacher training as a complement, not a competitor.
6) Meditation. Not all teacher trainings delve deeply into this, but most do to some extent. Inspiring you to create a meditation practice can enhance your immunity and ability to focus. It can lessen feelings of anxiety and depression. Meditation lowers blood pressure and reduces your risk of heart disease. You become more compassionate and empathetic when you have regular meditation practice. Binge eating and sleep disturbances tend to fade. And, if you suffer from a chronic condition, you will most likely experience better pain management.
7) Communication. Whether or not you take your yoga-specific learning out into the world to share, yoga teacher training makes you a better communicator. You must address fears of public speaking – but in a safe environment. You may find yourself better able to express your feelings and thoughts, at home, with friends or at the workplace. You learn to lead people toward a common goal, to speak succinctly and with truth, to be nonreactive when something doesn’t go your way and to avoid drama.
8) Teaching. Yoga teaching doesn’t always come as you’d expect — in a studio or fitness center leading bodies through Sun Salutations and Triangle pose. In fact, teacher training opens your eyes to all the places you can find and apply yoga. Maybe it is helping an elderly sick relative find solace in breathing techiques, leading a group of preschoolers through animal-inspired poses or offering your coworkers a few stretches they can do at their desk to release back pain. Perhaps you just find yourself having a deeper understanding of the poses and how to heal yourself.
Yes, teacher training is an investment. But it is an investment into your very being. You will be asked to do work. You will be asked to be uncomfortable. Ultimately, however, you will be asked to be yourself. Oftentimes, I find people (myself included) who say, “I want to do this, but NOW is not the right time.” I ask you then, when is? The longer you delay, the longer you go without and the less likely it will ever be THE time.
If you are convinced, I am partial to LifePower Yoga Teacher Training at Lifepoweryoga.com. Ultimately, you have to join a training that speaks to your needs. Just find one.