Benefits of yoga teacher training go far beyond a certification.
Several years ago, I ventured to a remote area of the Costa Rican jungle to partake in a month-long yoga teacher training (YTT).
On the journey there, as well as during the time preceding my departure, I faced a lot of confusion; I didn’t know why I was going, simply following this immense (and alien) sense of trust and faith in my decision.
It seemed an important thing to, for once, listen to my inner wisdom, which was encouraging that I do something for me: like making a significant investment of time, faith, and money in myself.
Perhaps the most confusing thing, at the time, was that I was going to train to become a yoga teacher without having any intention or desire to actually teach.
In the welcome circle at Blue Osa, when my fellow students and I were introducing ourselves to one another, I remember being asked something along the lines of “why are you here?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea” why I am taking this yoga teacher training.”
This response was met with endearing laughter, but in speaking it out loud I felt a comfort in the land, the space, and the people. It occurred to me then that I was in just the place to find out the answer.
At the end of the month, I had a lot more clarity. I was left doubtless.
My YTT was one of the most challenging, joyous, heart-opening experiences of my short time on this earth. It’s also proved to be a catalyst for many of the things for which I am most grateful today, and is something from which I am still learning today.
Even if you don’t have the intention to teach after graduation, I personally guarantee that you’ll never regret partaking in YTT.
What can you expect to receive from a yoga teacher training that goes beyond a mere certification?
A PERSONAL PRACTICE
It’s a rarity nowadays to be afforded the opportunity to take time for ourselves. In many ways, it can even be discouraged.
If you’re occupying a role around a family, career, or similar such situation, it can be hard to both learn and apply sustainable self-care practices to your life.
If dedicating yourself to a YTT is what your heart is calling for, one of the true gifts that programs can give you is the self-belief and practice in developing a practice.
We can’t truly better this world, nor care for those around us, without setting aside time for ourselves where we can recharge and cultivate the love we wish to give. And when we do? We are able to be better, and to do better.
At my YTT, this was represented by the experiences of several mothers in my group who realized that their initial terror at not being there for their families for an entire month was selfish and harming. The opposite was true: the training equipped them with a greater capacity to help and love their families, allowing them a greater capacity for patience, support, and love.
Practice is Hard…But You’re Not Alone at a YTT
The hardest work for most people at YTT, myself included, often has little to do with asana itself. It has little to do with the lectures, yogic theory, or even homesickness.
The most difficult aspect is generally being confronted with those parts of ourselves that we’re so good at avoiding with all the distractions present in our lives today.
Through the personal practice available and encouraged at YTTs (breath work, meditation etc.), there is a certain degree of (sometimes forced) self-inquiry that is easier to face you’re supported by a like-minded, similarly challenged community. What’s more, most immersions will have a consistent early-morning schedule that helps you get into routine and build momentum, all while having access to people that have a hell of a lot of experience at just the thing.
Building a practice is hard, so being supported is a near necessity.
Bringing Practice Home
A teacher training helps you take this practice home with you.
Whether you’re interested in developing more disciplined physical and dietary habits, or perhaps meditation and breathe-work regimens, there are YTT’s uniquely suited to cultivate each one.
Being around people in practice makes it far easier to develop the discipline and self-belief necessary to cultivate sustained programming. This translates to work, diet, and virtually every other aspect of life where such qualities are invaluable.
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YTT’s are invaluable in their propensity to develop mindfulness that permeates throughout everything we do.
If you’re taking part in an immersion, the practices that you’re doing can be directly and immediately applied to the day-to-day (seemingly) mundane activities that are so often rolled through on autopilot.
Eating, walking, speaking…all of these activities are experienced in deeper, more intentional ways throughout training.
There is undoubtedly an intense physical component to any YTT.
Doing so much physical practice affords participants the opportunity to get to better know their bodies, develop strength and flexibility, and to again cultivate that discipline and belief in our physiological capacity to do all the amazing things that we are innately capable of.
Many people even attend YTTs having never once practiced yoga before. While such a deep dive may seem overwhelming, it is amazing to witness how much your body can change in just a single month.
DEVELOP A SAFE PRACTICE
As with virtually any physical activity, yoga can be done improperly. This can be harmful for longevity and have serious consequences (especially if you have encountered any long-term physical ailments).
Learning proper alignment, both through your own experience and by putting yourself in the role of a teacher, makes the yoga practice you return home with both more sustainable and more impactful.
Most teacher trainings will also help you modify poses to suit you or your prospective clients, as well as show you how to adjust yourself and others within a posture.
APPLICABLE PHILOSOPHY & YOGIC THEORY
Many yoga practitioners have had little exposure to yoga beyond physical practice.
Asana is but one of the many benefits offered by yoga, so attending a YTT is a wonderful way through which you can dive deeper into the other seven limbs and reap the full offering of this ageless tradition.
Graduating from a Yoga Alliance certified YTT program will always include a development of your understanding of yoga in the context of both the modern and ancient worlds, and will illuminate how it is so much more than a “workout”.
The good YTTs (like Blue Osa) impart this knowledge in a contextually appropriate way that students can apply more directly to their lives.
VULNERABILITY & SELF-CONFIDENCE
Spending so much time with a group of people who are doing personal work lends itself wonderfully, as I’ve mentioned, to surprising degrees of personal insight.
Throughout the training, you will have the opportunity (and likely the desire) to be vulnerable about things that you haven’t been able to be before (whether because of a lack of a safe and supportive community, family conditioning, or a myriad of other environmental circumstances).
Teaching for the first time in front of others is an often nerve-racking yet safe way to build confidence that goes far beyond the studio.
Holding a yoga class is tremendously gratifying; people will often bring in a lot of their own hardships, judgments, and anxieties. Learning how to be in a space and in your body while all this is going on is empowering, and it’s rare to come across opportunities to practice cultivating this ability.
FIND LASTING, MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS
I’ve yet to meet a single YTT graduate, at any program, who didn’t make at least one lasting, meaningful connection with either a fellow student, teacher, or retreat staff member.
In a YTT, you are given the ability to see and be seen. While this can prove scary, it’s also a catalyst for lasting relationships that will benefit existing ones back home.
About The Author
Varun is an impassioned writer, content creator, and wellness consultant. His work has been featured in several prominent publications, and he has worked with organizations in a range of industries.
He is good at being bad at things, and is infatuated with learning. To this end, his self-inquiry has seen him receive experiential gifts from writers, acupuncturists, personal trainers, MDs, shamans, astrologers, nutritionists, gurus, yogis and more.
Varun is dedicated to self-development, feeling feelings, moving, and bringing his continually expanding offerings to this world.
On his blog, he writes on a variety of topics (self-development, writing, travel, health, nutrition, spirituality…), incorporating pragmatic insights that he hopes are applicable to everyone’s day-to-day.
In his spare time you can find him cloud gazing, reading, cooking, hiking, climbing, singing, and do-ing no shortage of other ‘ings’.
If you’re interested in working with Varun or exploring his content, please visit his varun penamatsa.