I made the decision and the commitment to enroll in a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training program at Corepower Yoga, where I was already attending classes basically every day. I felt like my practice had begun to plateau, and teacher training was something that had been sitting in the back of my mind since I started practicing yoga consistently while living in New York City. The time commitment was what had held me back in the past, but at this point in my life, I was desperately searching for a way to make a commitment to something I was passionate for and not only served a fundamental purpose in my life, but that brought gainful purpose to my life.
I experienced the usual stages one goes through when working towards completing a lofty goal. The exhilarated nerves in the beginning, the anxiety that ensues from attempting to absorb the overwhelming load of information coming in, the thrill when you can see a glimpse of the finish line and your progress begins to manifest, and finally, the simultaneous swell of pride and relief for completing your goal.
After recovering from and reflecting back on the process, overall, I feel accomplished, I feel humbled, I feel grateful. As a person, I still feel the same, although significant self-discoveries were made. My practice didn’t progress in the ways I expected it to, but I do feel that I practice on a more mindful level now. The training provided a solid foundation and sufficient inspiration for continued learning.
Below are the five truths I learned while training to become a yoga teacher:
1. The Community
I was told that your fellow yogis-in-training would become some of your best lifelong friends, but truthfully, I wasn’t in it to make new friends. Yoga has always very much been an intentionally personal experience – my yoga mat was my sanctuary, my therapy, my “happy place.” I had observed the forms of fellowship around me, but I had no interest in participating.
However, during the 8-week program, I was spending more time with my yoga peers every week than anyone else in my life, and in these 200 hours together, we began to learn about each other on genuine levels, we exposed our most vulnerable selves, we came to rely on one another as a support system as we all shared in this challenging and demanding journey.
I found something that I never knew I could find in yoga before: a sense of community. This involvement has elevated my practice as I now understand how to share my practice. During class, I feel uplifted energetically by my fellow yogis, while still remaining connected to my own unique experience.
2. The Intention
On the first day, our coaches had us write down our intention for the program. Like I said, I was looking to level-up my practice, and specifically I wanted to learn more about the physical benefits of poses as well as the philosophy and history of yoga. While our time allotted allowed us to merely scratch the surface of both topics, what I did take away from each lecture was a higher level of mindfulness and it became a resounding theme throughout the program.
In the way yoga unifies mind, body and spirit into one vehicle, this unification is how yoga helps to even out the inconsistencies we experience in life. I was inspired to make an attempt at living a yogic lifestyle – being aware of how everything is connected in the world around us, being aware of how I interact with myself and the ways in which I interact with others.
In an effort to carry my yoga practice from my mat and into the everyday moments of life, I began to study and implement the Yoga Yamas and Niyamas, the moral guidelines for the practicing yogi. Honoring these ethical guidelines required a strenuous level of self-control and mindfulness in each action and decision, therefore cultivating a more present and aware state of being.
3. The Process
I have a tendency to always need a plan so that I can have a clear vision of how things will pan out. I don’t consider this a fault, but it certainly presented itself as a challenge during the program. There were several moments of panic when we were pushed to our edge, out of our comfort zone, without sufficient preparation. I had to remind myself over and over, to the point it became my mantra I would meditate on before every class, to trust the process. Trust the process. There’s a reason why it is structured the way it is. Because it works. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to follow, but you will succeed if you trust it.
4. The Voice
I learned quickly that teaching is much, much, much harder than it looks. When you take class every day, your mind picks up on the recycled cues and your body memorizes the flow. I thought since I knew the sequence so well already, teaching it would come easily. Wrong. So wrong. I struggled the most with finding and crafting words into effective cues. I knew them, they were right there in my head. But there was a disconnect between my mind and my voice that I had to bridge.
I’m inherently soft spoken and withdrawn, so speaking has never come naturally to me which has made me a much more proficient and eloquent written communicator than a verbal one. I knew as I embarked on this journey that this would present itself as an opportunity to develop my verbal communication skills, and it certainly did.
Eventually I found a system that helped me, which was to basically write myself a script. I was very thoughtful and intentional of the cues I chose, and my script went through several re-writes as I found what resonated with me the most. In the feedback I received from my coaches, they always complimented my cues with notes like “poetic” and “strong.” However, my areas for improvement always included “project your voice!”
As my words began to flow more intuitively and effortlessly, my voice became assured and my coaches noted my transformation as I now assumed an authoritative role in front of class. I found my voice as a teacher. I cherish this newfound confidence because it came as I was able to prove to myself the capabilities I possessed but had been dormant until I was pushed to a new level outside of my comfort zone.
5. The Practice
I learned early on to toss my self-competition and perfectionist ambitions to the side. They serve no purpose to me in my practice. It is called a practice because that is literally what it is – practice. It is constantly evolving and it is never the same one day to the next. I learned to have patience with myself, to not only listen, but to also respond to my body and to show myself love no matter what state my mind or body may be in on my mat that day.