ALL THINGS YOGA TEACHER TRAINING: WHERE, HOW, WHAT AFTER?
I recently received a message into my Instagram DM box with a few questions about life after yoga teacher training. It’s funny isn’t it, how even though the decision to actually complete yoga teacher train can feel like taking a huge step, sometimes the biggest hurdle is actually the part after. Trusting you learnt and know enough to jump into teaching. You know that saying about how you don’t really learn to drive a car until after you pass your test? Well I think this is like that. The statement isn’t really true - you do learn to drive (or here teach yoga) - it’s just now you don’t have anyone coaching you through the process. It doesn’t make you less competent; it’s just a bit more daunting. But then also like driving a car, when a few months on you can drive, listen to music and think about what you are going to make for tea; one day teaching won’t seem so impossible, it will come naturally. Trust that.
But let’s start at the beginning.
Where and when did you do you yoga teacher training?
I did my teacher training in Bali with a company called Frog Lotus Yoga in April 2015. It was a very last minute decision (I think I booked everything in March!) and was to date the most impulsive but best decision I have ever made (ever, ever, ever). Being mainly a self taught yogi at the time, I didn’t have anyone to ask about training and back then there wasn’t a huge Instagram community I could dive into. What I did as a means of choosing a course seems a little silly now but at the time it was all I could think of. I knew I wanted to go to Bali and I knew that I wanted to do an ‘intensive’ course (aka all of the 200hrs required to be a yoga teacher in one 4 week burst), so I jumped onto google, chose a programme and sent Facebook message to a woman who had left a review on their website to ask about her experience and make sure it was legit. I got pretty lucky. Raquelle turned out to be lovely, she messaged me back to say Frog Lotus were a dream and to go for it. So that is exactly what I did.
Why did you do your training and in what area of yoga?
I can clearly remember the first vinyasa yoga class I went to; the white walls, the big window, calling my mum afterwards in an excited buzz. It was recommended to me an eating disorder coach I was working with at the time and I arrived pretty skeptical. I had been to yoga at University and hated it. Back then I would go for a run before hand in order to make the trip to the gym actually ‘worth it’ and my friend Rosie and I would spend half our time laughing and the other half peeking at the instructor trying to figure out if we were doing it right. But this was different. This was movement in strength and flow, as opposed to sitting on my mat breathing for what felt like an eternity. The hour went so quick - it was a feeling I hadn’t had since being a child; it felt like magic. I still get that feeling when I get on my mat - most clearly when I practice in a group. I can arrive at yoga in pieces and leave feeling much more whole. I trained in vinyasa yoga because I wanted to help other people find this feeling; the one where you crave your mat.
How do you choose which course?
Now of course, you too could jump on google, message a stranger and hope for the best, but I’m not sure its the most ideal route. I think instead it is first best to consider practicalities; are you wanting to train slowly over the course of say a year? Or would you rather go away for a month to train more intensely? How near to home do you want to be - is it possible for you to train in another country, or do you need to be nearer to home?
Once you have the basics down I think finding a teacher you resonate with is key. Use the tools you have if you can’t practice with them personally; videos online, their self practice, their captions on social media, their philosophy and ideas about yoga… does what they do resonate with you?
Finally ask for recommendations. Although I have never heard anyone say anything bad about their teach training it is totally fine to ask around! Speak to people you trust. And then go for it!
Do you have to be able to do advanced poses to become a yoga teacher?
100% no. I think it is important to have a strong practice; a definite passion and love for yoga, but one of my favourite things about YTT was seeing how truly different we all are. You’ll find no one is an expert at anything; we all have such different bodies, strengths and weaknesses. But that is so awesome. Yoga is for every body. And to me, our differing practices highlights that.
How do I start teaching once I am qualified? How do I get past the fear of not being good enough?
I think you know what I am going to say? You have to just begin. As I said in the introduction, you have all you need. Trust that. I truly believe that the way we teach comes from our own experience with yoga; what we feel in our bodies as we move, why we choose to practice, what each pose means to us… and so for that reason no two teachers are the same. Believe in yourself and teach from you.
Regarding the practicalities if it is easier start with a group of friends. Get used to articulating things (you can even do this in the mirror or during your own personal practice). Then contact everyone: gyms, studios, offices. Slowly things build up. Once you have experienced different ages, spaces, people, you can start to refine this more, as you figure out who you are as a teacher and where you feel you gel best.
Is it possible to teach as a full time job?
Yes. I have taught yoga full time now for two and a half years. At first I supplemented my classes by working in a coffee shop and eventually I cut down my hours. I now teach in gyms, studios, offices, and private spaces. However I will say this, teaching 20-25 hours a week is tough. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that yoga isn’t quite like other exercise - you expect more from it, and so that is what you will want to give as you teach too. It can feel like a lot. Please, please know you have not failed if you begin to find this. Figuring out a balance that works best for you is key.
This has to be my fave question of the whole thing because it highlights that what we do does not have to be static. A few years ago my dream was to be a full time yoga teacher and now here I am living out that dream. Doesn’t that just prove, at the very least to myself, that we truly can do anything we put our minds to? I guess I have a few ideas and a few avenues of where I want to go next. But ultimately it is this; sharing the thing that changed me and my life with as many people as I can in a way that makes me happy and excited.