I think of yoga teachers as a secret society of warriors. Warrior 1 is your local yoga teacher whose class you cannot miss (i.e you may have changed your wedding date to attend her retreat in Tulum). Warrior 2 is the yoga teacher who travels the world hosting convention sized classes and spreads the love to millions of yogis through her instagram. Warrior 3 might be the person in the cubicle across from you. At work she blends in just like you, in class she bends just like you, at the mall she probably spends just like you, and she also happens to be a yoga teacher. Yoga teachers range from the celebrity to the non-practicing, and all share the experience of yoga teacher training (YTT). If you have thought about a yoga teacher training before, here are six reasons it’s time to take the leap:
- Deepen your physical practice – Yoga training programs bring students of all physical levels together to learn from each other’s different body types, injuries, flexibility levels, and strengths. Watching a fellow classmate nail her first headstand was a personal victory for me during my training. You know those poses you always hope the instructor skips in class? Well, you may find yourself learning to love them as you study and embody the correct alignment, modifications and benefits of each pose in detail.
- Learn some skills – Whether you need additional training hours for an eastern studies major, or want to become self-employed, earning your RYT is something to add to the long list of things you are skilled at. Once you have completed your training you will officially be eligible to register with Yoga Alliance as a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) and access tips for starting your own studio, finding new students, and earning additional training hours. Becoming a yoga teacher offers the freedom of self employment as well as the flexibility of teaching both locally and internationally. The omnipresence of yoga means the world truly is your oyster.
- Find your yoga family – If there is one underrated benefit of YTT programs, it is the yoga family you will stay connected to years after your last shavasana. While delving deep into your own spiritual and physical practice, you are also supporting the journey of those around you and creating a support network of warriors. I have since visited my yoga family in places as far as India and as close as a shared bed in a New York studio apartment. Upon your completion of training your yoga family will expand as you embrace your students, teachers, and community.
- Challenge yourself mentally and physically – One of my favorite quotes my yoga teacher imparted upon me during training was “As a beginner your mind is in a million pieces and your body is whole. As a master your body is in a million pieces and your mind is whole”. As I deepened my physical practice and added components of meditation, chanting, and restorative asana, I found myself become more flexible both physically and mentally. While I challenged myself through multiple hours of physical practice each day, I learned that the asanas only comprise one of eight limbs of yoga. I began to explore all of the other practices to develop a more well rounded and balanced lifestyle.
- Explore your spirituality – I find that many people who deepen their yoga practice through teacher training leave with a spiritual practice rooted in the understanding that we as people are all very connected even if we share different beliefs. Yoga serves to help quiet the mind and attune to our true selves. This awareness provides the means to live a more conscious lifestyle and focus on what matters most. While YTT is a very communal practice, one of the greatest benefits of the program is the self-discovery and time to reflect as you approach life with a heightened sense of awareness.
- Become a teacher: As if this wasn’t obvious enough. Once you have completed your YTT you will be a teacher! Use this power to develop your own unique teaching style that is authentic and mindful. Think back to teachers who made an positive impact on your life and strive to pay it forward to your own students. As a teacher, you have the opportunity to give back not only to your students but also to those who may not have access to yoga. Seek out karma yoga opportunities in local senior centers, prisons, primary schools, and other community outlets.
Now that you have all of the reasons to become a yoga teacher, you will find unending options to complete your training. Program formats range from 4 week intensive courses, to weekend-only lessons, and even international trainings.
For the busy yogi: A weekend based program tends to span over 6-9 months and is suitable for those who can’t dedicate weekdays to learning. These programs allow students to apply learnings over the course of their training and provide more opportunities for classmates to connect outside of class time. While you may not have the resources to quit your day job, I recommend taking a good look at your schedule to make sure you can dedicate the necessary amount of time.
For the adventurous yogi: If you are reading this article, you have most likely heard about Wanderlust and maybe even attended a festival. Wanderlust provides a unique teacher training format comprised of 4 modules and a pre and post training session. There are many options to attend and complete each of the modules and you can take them at any one of the locations where Wanderlust is held. These modules give you a head-start on the festival magic while providing a serene and diverse environment to learn and meet new people at each new module. For anyone who has attended a Wanderlust festival, here is your opportunity to extend the weekend you never wanted to end. Learn more.
For the dedicated yogi: When I had three months off between jobs, I knew it was time to dedicate five solid weeks to my yoga teacher certification. I made the deal sweeter by finding a program in Bali, Indonesia. Not only did I get to deepen my yoga practice, but I also called Bali my home and integrated myself into the local culture and community. My new yogi friends and I used any free time to enjoy the beach, teach karma yoga, surf, sample local foods, and get lost in the fields of rice paddies. The intensive nature of the program provided an uninterrupted arena to delve deep into yoga and emerge with a solid understanding of our mental and physical practices. These intensive programs can be found in your local studios or through many international platforms, and I highly recommend the format due to its highly focused and thorough nature.
Take into consideration your present time commitments, lifestyle, learning style, and location preferences to find the right program for you. Once you have decided, prepare yourself for intense learning, new friends, and plenty of yoga!