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If you’re reading this right now, you’ve probably got the idea of taking a yoga teacher training bouncing around somewhere in your mind. It’s a natural thing that happens to many yogis once they reach a certain point in their physical practice. But teaching isn’t for everyone. So should you bother taking a yoga teacher training if you don’t ever want to teach? The answer is a very simple YES! Here are 20 legit reasons to take a yoga teacher training, even if you don’t want to teach.
1. you want to deepen your personal practice
Learning the mechanics of why we practice asana in a certain way, why alignment should be this way and not that way, what teachers are looking at in their students while teaching, yogic philosophy, and in-depth study of pranayama – these are just a few of the things learned in a yoga teacher training course that will deepen your personal practice.
2. you want to learn healthy alignment
As we advance as yoga practitioners, we learn the proper alignment in poses, and these come as second nature to us while practicing. Whether or not teaching is in your future, learning the reasons behind principles of alignment can be super helpful in daily life – outside your personal practice. You begin to notice things in your body naturally throughout the day – postural habits, asymmetries, etc.
3. you want to learn effective methods of dealing with stress & anxiety
One of the biggest reasons to take a yoga teacher training is learning stress management techniques. In YTT you learn concepts of mindfulness and meditation.
Mindfulness and meditation are two practices that are designed to re-carve the neural pathways in your brain in order to decrease suffering and increase contentment.
4. you want a boost in confidence
Embarking on a yoga teacher training will ultimately give you a surge of confidence – though maybe not initially. During the beginning, and perhaps over the course of your training, it will be common to have feelings of uncertainty and doubt. Whether you want to teach or not, you will be tested.
You might question (again) why you decided to do this and if you’re even capable. But during the process, you will strengthen your voice, your beliefs, your sense of self. You emerge on the other side more confident in thoughts, words, and actions.
5. you want to discover your strength
Taking a Yoga Teacher Training will challenge your strength in more ways than one – physically, emotionally, mentally. A constant physical practice, the stresses and insecurities that accompany virtually any challenging task, social anxieties, etc. – you name it. All of these things contribute to the ultimate realization of how strong you truly are (and can probably handle more than you think).
6. you want to find your voice
You may have already found it. For me, personally, exploring the yogic concept of satya truly helped me in finding authenticity when I speak, both in my personal life and in my classes. Learning that the things you say, in life and while leading a class, aren’t going to be universally accepted. You can’t please everyone with your words, and so you find ways to accept that. The people with whom your words resonate are your people. You aren’t going to connect with everyone.
7. you want to form lasting connections
The people you embark on this journey with will, at least for the duration of your training, become your family. You are going through the same things, learning the same lessons, coping with the same insecurities, facing the same fears. This shared connection bonds you to your fellow trainees on a deeper level than you can imagine. You will undoubtedly waver in and out of touch, and some people may leave your life forever – but some of the connections you make here will last your entire life.
8. you want to adopt healthy posture
This one goes hand in hand with learning healthy alignment, but taking it to the next level. In a YTT, you’re taught what and how to observe students while they practice – you learn to observe physical habits. Naturally as you are training your awareness to naturally include this physical assessment, you will apply it to yourself.
You’ll notice physical tendencies that you have, whether it’s a natural sway-back position with the hips forward and shoulders back, or maybe something kinda different, like you tend to drive with one foot out of the window (don’t judge me).
If you wind up noticing something that facilitates asymmetry in your body or maybe something unhealthy for your spine, you adjust accordingly. This improves your posture on a daily basis, yes, but also protects your body as you get older.
9. you want to take your practice beyond the physical
Of course in YTT you will learn anatomy, breath work, healthy and safe alignment for a strong physical practice. But you learn about the yamas and niyamas. You learn about svadhyaya and the koshas. Ayurvedic principles. You learn about ancient yogic traditions. Hindu mythology and symbolism. All of these things facilitate broad perspectives and open minds.
10. you want to learn alternate methods of healing your body & mind
In addition to mindfulness and meditation, in YTT you will learn principles of ayurveda. Ayurveda is the sister science of yoga, based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It’s truly fascinating and can be very insightful when figuring out what your dosha is.
11. you want to develop your sense of compassion
One of the major reasons to take a yoga teacher training is the compassion that it fosters. Learning and practicing the concepts of metta, or, lovingkindness, as well as ahimsa, evoke feelings of compassion, not only for our friends and loved ones, but also for strangers, enemies, people we’re indifferent to, and most importantly – ourselves. It’s impossible to be fully compassionate to another when you’re incapable of feeling compassion toward yourself.
12. you want to find a sense of balance
In a society where the busier we are the more successful we must be, it’s often seen as lazy to take time for yourself, to slow down or take a break. But this is not the case. You can’t pour from an empty cup. The journey of a yoga teacher training will emphasize the
importance necessity of taking sufficient time for yourself to rest and recharge.
13. you want to broaden your perspective
In exploring yogic applications of compassion and empathy, we naturally begin to understand and accept
other different ways of living and experiencing life. A broader perspective facilitates higher degrees of tolerance, compassion, and empathy. Win-win!
14. you want to learn how to stay present
With an emphasis on the breath and other mindfulness techniques, yoga teacher trainings reinforce the value of remaining present in all aspects of life. You learn to experience more of life instead of cruising through on auto-pilot.
15. you want to develop a keen sense of self-awareness
A pre-cursor to self-transformation, YTT teaches us concepts and practices that we may not have familiarity with, or, if we do, we may not practice. Bringing in new habits and new activities and new information into our sphere forces us to evaluate our thought processes, our behaviors, and the outcomes of those behaviors.
Only when you achieve this sense of self-awareness can you begin to improve yourself or your life. In my opinion, an increase in self-awareness is one of the most (if not the) most beneficial reasons to take a yoga teacher training.
16. you want to face your past – with acceptance
We all have trauma in our lives. I don’t want to generalize, but typically people come to yoga because of some sort of trauma, whether it is physical or non-physical. Dwelling on our past, having regrets, wishing we could go back and change things – all of these things keep us from living in the present moment, the only place that truly exists.
The things in your past happened. That can’t be changed. What can be changed is what we draw from our past experiences in the present day. Was there a lesson to be learned? Was there any positive outcome? Acceptance without judgement will help you to move on from the traumas you’ve suffered in your past.
17. you want to learn to let shit go
One of the fundamental underlying concepts of yoga is letting go things that no longer serve you. Sometimes we carry around this extra baggage because we think that we have to.
Whatever it is, whatever your personal story is – is there something you’re holding on to that is weighing you down or impacting you negatively in some way? Do you really need this? Would it be better for you if it (or they) were out of your life? Periodically making these assessments helps to weed out the shit that we don’t need in our lives.
18. you want to inspire others
When you’ve emerged from your YTT like the beautiful butterfly that you are, others in your life will recognize these powerful changes that you’ve undergone. Some may be surprising, others expected. But these positive changes might inspire even one person to begin yoga or start practicing more compassion, anything.
Imagine if everyone in the world practiced yoga, what a peaceful place it would be? With one person you’re on your way to changing the world.
19. you want to learn to love yourself
Another of the most important reasons to take a yoga teacher training – self-love. YTT greatly increases your sense of empathy, compassion, and acceptance of others. As you practice these concepts more and more and they become more habitual, you naturally exhibit these qualities toward yourself.
20. you want to be transformed
All of the aforementioned reasons to take a yoga teacher training contribute to the self-transformation that ultimately occurs. By introducing new or unfamiliar concepts into our range of knowledge, we’re forced to reevaluate thought and behavior patterns that might not align with the person we truly are or wish to be. It’s not someone else trying to change us, or us trying to change for someone.
It’s a transformation that comes from the deepest core of our being, because it comes from within, without all of those other external factors. It’s a transformation that aligns us more closely with the person we truly are.
My very first, BYC is a 200-RYS facilitated by Jane Viscolosi in Bristol, RI
Shri Yoga Outreach TT (60 Hours) facilitated by Alison Bologna in Pawtucket, RI
Yin Yoga & Meditation TT (70 Hours) facilitated by Jenn Thomas and Tracey Sondik in South Kingstown, RI