You are an interesting anomaly in the modern world. By becoming a yoga instructor, you are choosing a career path that will help you enrich the lives of others as well your own. And you are proving yourself to be willing to do the hard work necessary to make it happen. As your yoga teacher training approaches, how do you prepare yourself — physically, spiritually and plain old logistically — for an experience that will be demanding on so many levels?
We offer twelve pieces of advice, from the practical to the spiritual, to ensure you’re as prepared as possible for what promises to be one of the most transformative and intense experiences of your life.
Whether you choose an intensive teacher training in a locale far from home, or a nearby program that spreads lessons out over the course of six months to a year, there are a number of practical things you can do to prepare.
1. Get organised. If you’ll be traveling to your training, review your itinerary and packing list and begin gathering the items you’ll need. Keep your list as simple as it can possibly be. You’d be wise to bring a journal to record your thoughts and some light reading material, in addition to your required reading, to give your brain a break from time to time. If you’re staying close to home, get your home organized and a simple meal strategy prepared so you don’t have to worry too much about household chores when you should be resting or studying.
2. Make a communications plan. Let friends and family know what to expect of you during your teacher training. Consider not only the logistics (will there by good phone reception?) but also the type of environment you want to create for yourself. It may be wise to limit contact for a few weeks, to allow for immersion in your studies. It’s definitely advisable to drastically limit social media and screen time to allow for introspection and living in the moment. Clearly defined boundaries will help you create the atmosphere you want during your training.
3. Think past the training. Once you get to training, you’ll want to be as present as possible, so it’s worth taking a bit of time now to think about how you may want to use your training certification once it’s complete. Put out some feelers for places that may be in need of a yoga instructor and introduce yourself. Make an appointment to check back in with them once you’ve attained your certification.
4. Tie up loose ends. Create space to immerse yourself in your practice and your studies by taking care of all those little things on your to-do list that could be distractions. Return your library books, file your taxes, service your car, etc. Don’t leave anything big for your mind to worry over.
A residential yoga course is quite physically demanding. It’s likely you’ll be doing more yoga in the space of a few days than you’re accustomed to doing in weeks or months. We recommend the following steps to ensure you show up for your training with as much vitality as you can muster.
5. Practice, practice, practice. A typical residential yoga teacher training will have you practicing yoga twice a day. Therefore, it’s wise to attend a yoga class at least three times per week in the run-up to your training. You may also wish to develop (or continue) a home practice.
6. Clean-up your diet. It’s also important to feed yourself well in weeks before your program starts. A high quality vegetarian diet, similar to what you’ll eat during the retreat, is recommended. Fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains, legumes and dairy products (except eggs) make up a yogic diet.
7. Get your zzzs. Make sure you devote yourself to getting quality sleep, allowing your body to rest and restore so you can show up for your teacher training in the best physical condition possible.
8. Flex your vocal chords. Becoming a yoga instructor also puts you in touch with your voice in a way you may not have experienced before. Doing a bit of singing in the shower and getting comfortable with projecting your voice and supporting it with your breath will serve you well during your training and your career as an instructor.
You rather expect that a yoga teacher training will be a spiritual experience, but again and again our students tell us that the experience was transformative far beyond their expectations. Given that the path you’re choosing requires a certain amount of openness and introspection, be prepared to find that expectations you didn’t even realize you had are about to be upended. You can begin to cultivate a yogic state of mind in the following ways:
9. Say Om. One of the best ways to prepare for the challenging mental environment you’re about to enter is to develop a simple, regular meditation practice. Meditation will help you cultivate mental strength and help you let go of expectations and negative feelings more easily. You may also want to choose a mantra to turn to when times get tough. A simple and effective mantra can be “inhale confidence, exhale doubt.” Meditation and mantras will help you keep the Citta Vritti (mind chatter) in check.
10. Hit the books. Your teacher training program will provide a list of required reading materials for your training. Get these materials as soon as possible and begin exploring them. Your reading may raise questions for you, but don’t feel you must have the answers before you arrive at training! Keep a journal while doing your reading to track your insights and questions you’d like to explore further.
11. Tap into the knowledge of others. You may also wish to spend some time talking to students who have successfully completed your chosen program. Ask them what they wish they had known before their training and what struck them most about their experience. But do keep in mind that each individual will be impacted differently by the experience, based on their unique character and background.
12. Open wide. Above all, cultivate an attitude of being open. Be willing step out of your comfort zone, accept new ideas and try things you previously thought were impossible. Get ready to be humbled when you realize how much you don’t know. Trust the process of life and the process of yoga.
Now you know how to prepare for the teacher training but you are at a loss on how to choose a quality TTC. We are offering a free ebook with 20 incredibly useful tips on how to choose a training that will serve you in the best possible way. You can download it by clicking on this link.
Train to Become a Yoga Teacher with the Himalayan Yoga Institute
Every year we certify new yoga teachers who go on to spread the teachings and practices of yoga, creating meaningful careers for themselves and changing people’s lives for the better. Read more about our approach to yoga teaching.