Yoga Teacher Training Survival Guide for Students

September 16, 2021

“There is a miracle in every new beginning.”

Herman Hesse

There are so many feelings when one decides to do something new. First, there is the eagerness, followed by a sudden rush of excitement. Then there is all the self-doubt and inner fear about whether or not it’s even possible. We all find ourselves in such spots at some point in our life! Starting something new isn’t always an easy thing. But unless you begin, there is no knowing what you can accomplish.

Starting a yoga teacher training course can seem like an exciting, new experience. And it is a beautiful and transformative experience. A yoga teacher training course is a dynamic and detailed exploration of yoga and is different from a basic yoga course that you may have done earlier.

This article is a basic survival guide for anyone who wants to pursue a yoga teacher training.

What you need to know about a yoga teacher training?

A yoga teacher training has its own share of challenges. But it’s a good choice if you want to adopt a powerful personal practice, make a career switch, or uplift your life.

What is a yoga teacher training?

A yoga teacher training (or YTT as its commonly known) is a certified teacher training program that offers a complete and detailed understanding of yoga. It covers all the major aspects of yoga, including, meditation, philosophy, history, physiology, and anatomy. And it equips you with the skills and methods necessary for teaching yoga to others.

A 200-hour teacher training course is the golden standard. You can follow that up with other advanced or specialized teacher training programs.

Depending on your budget, schedule and home situation, you can choose to complete your 200-hour YTT in a short and immersive course of four weeks, at your local studio or (since the COVID pandemic) online.

Read: “4 Reasons Why an Intensive Yoga Teacher Training Works!

Why do you need a yoga teacher training?

Every person is different. So, the reason for doing a yoga teacher training varies from person to person. Your reason(s) for doing the course will depend on what you wish to gain from the experience.

These are some of the reasons that usually motivate people to take up a yoga teacher training course:

  • Get into a new lifestyle: Yoga and mindfulness have become a go-to solution for many. They are tired of living a hyperactive life packed with stress and want to break away from this tedious pattern. The lack of meaningful experiences makes many people seek something different in life. And yoga gives them this opportunity to live a healthier and more fulfilling life.
  • Make a career change: Many people join the teacher training course because they want to explore the possibility of becoming a yoga teacher. Following their heart and making a career switch has enabled many people to take their life in a new direction.
  • Learn new skills: Some people also do a YTT because they want to take their yoga practice to newer levels.
  • A shift in perspective: A change of scenario brings the opportunity to make many important life decisions. An immersive experience like a yoga teacher training gives them the momentum to evaluate their life from a fresh perspective.

Read: 10 Ways How a Yoga Teacher Training Can Change Your Life

What to expect from a yoga teacher training?

A yoga teacher training course will bring many changes to your current lifestyle. It will challenge you physically and mentally, but it will also provide you with the necessary support to tackle these challenges. You will overcome many pre-existing fears, doubts, and self-limitations. And by the time you finish the course, you will start seeing yourself in a completely new light.

Given below are some of the things that you can expect in a yoga teacher training course. Most of them are related to both the remote (online) training as well as the on-site training. There will be a rigorous practice of yoga every day. For remote training, you may have the flexibility to follow at your own pace, but regular practice is a must.

  • There is a lot to learn, and it is better to have a student’s mindset throughout the course. There are asanas, mantras, meditation, theory classes, etc. Plus, you will have to read a lot and also sit for an exam! You may excel in some areas, and you may struggle in some, but the idea is to keep up your effort and not let any of these impact your mindset.
  • You will undergo a change in diet, sleep habits, body metabolism, and your ideas about life in general. All of these can have a strong impact, and you may feel uncomfortable for a while. But as the training progresses, you will get more attuned to the whole experience and even start enjoying it.
  • Practicum hours will introduce you to the art of teaching yoga to your peers. You will get to experience what it is like to actually teach another person and also observe how others teach.
  • You will undergo some major emotional ups and downs. The change in environment, the rigorous physical training, the strict observation of discipline, the new (and even strange) exercises, the detachment from family and friends – all these can feel a bit overwhelming at times, especially when you will stay in an ashram. But this is only one part of the experience.

There will also be many moments that will surprise you, excite you, and make you feel happy and grateful. This is the nature of life, and when you stay in an ashram, you are reminded of many beautiful things about life as a whole.

To know more about the experience of living in an ashram, read: What to Expect at an Ashram.”

  • You will meet many amazing people and make some friends for life along the way. You will begin the training as strangers, but over time, it will mature into a special bond between all of you.
  • You will overcome your fears and doubts. You will be in a supportive environment where you will learn to overcome challenges with other like-minded people. This will inspire you to not let your mistakes or weakness discourage you. Rather, it will motivate you to break through these barriers and work with even more determination.

How to prepare for a yoga teacher training

 “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. When the student is really ready, the teacher will disappear.”

The best way to prepare for a yoga teacher training is to have an open mind. Further, your dedication and willingness to learn and adapt will help you move through the different phases more easily.

A yoga teacher training course, when done at an ashram or yoga school, is a fully immersive experience. An online course, on the other hand, offers more flexibility.

Listed below are 10 tips that you can use in order to get the best out of your yoga teacher training course.

Five survival tips for an online yoga teacher training

  1. Research, read some good reviews, and choose a yoga style.

A wide variety of online yoga courses are available nowadays. So, research properly and compare the best matches based on a detailed breakdown of your requirements and goals.

Read about the school and the courses they offer. Go through their website, check out the reviews and the testimonials shared by past students. If needed, call or write to them to get a detailed overview of a course you may want to pursue.

Some courses focus on one or more of the popular styles of yoga, while others teach a more classical version. Some courses also offer a combination of different yoga forms. Getting to know a yoga style will help you decide how you want to start your yoga journey.

  1. Plan your schedule in advance.

Plan and adjust your schedule so that you don’t face any last-minute trouble when the course starts. While you certainly have the flexibility to do the training at your own pace, it is an addition to your current routine. Having a calendar will help you synchronize your class timings, the live practice or group sessions, and whatever other responsibilities you may have.

  1. Maintain a daily practice.

Consistent practice is a must if you are serious about your training. It will keep your body and mind aligned and in sync with whatever you have learnt. It also prepares you for the difficult poses and helps in building the mindset of a yoga teacher.

  1. Follow a routine and cut out the distractions.

Distractions are more likely to be present when you are doing an online yoga teacher training course from home. Work, family, and other obligations may create additional pressure. As such, it is better that you create a routine before you begin your training. Set aside some time for yourself each day and try to cut out as many distractions as you can. Inform the people staying with you about the training and help them get accustomed to your new routine.

  1. Be more accepting of yourself, stay optimistic, and keep a journal.

A yoga teacher training will open you up in many ways. Many emotions and inner demons might show up, and sometimes you may feel like you don’t want to continue. Having an honest appreciation for yourself and respecting your emotions is crucial during this time.

Talk to your teacher and seek their support if you feel things are getting a little difficult for you to tackle on your own.

Start writing down your daily experiences in your journal. This will bring more clarity and help you deal with your thoughts and emotions.

Read: Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Yoga Teacher Training

Five tips for an in-person yoga teacher training

  1. Make some changes in your lifestyle

Start by making some changes in your lifestyle. This will make it easier for you to adjust to the new way of life during your yoga teacher training. Start eating healthy (preferably stick to vegetarian meals), do regular exercise, follow a sleep pattern, and get into the habit of waking up early. Get a health check-up done as well.

  1. Get into the habit of reading.

In all likelihood, you are probably already doing this. Having a basic idea about yoga training, an ashram lifestyle, or students’ experiences gives you an idea about what to look forward to. Check on things like the weather, the rules of the ashram/school where you will stay, what you need to bring along, and what will be provided to you as part of the course.

You will also have to do regular studies during your training. So, getting into the habit from before becomes helpful.

  1. There is no need to compare yourself with others.

Be kind to yourself and just go with the flow.

You will be living and learning with people who have already done a yoga course as well as people who are new to it. Seeing the more experienced learners may make you feel a little awkward. But remember, the ultimate objective of yoga is to go inwards and build yourself according to your needs, not of the needs of others. Your goal is to understand the way yoga works and how you can tune your body and mind with it.

  1. Don’t take it lightly but don’t nurture self-doubt.

Joining an intensive program like a 200-hour teacher training course is a serious decision, and it must not be taken lightly. Having said so, we would also like to remind you to not be too serious or feel too intimidated at any time before or during your training. Thinking too much about what the program is going to be like, whether you will be able to do it, whether you are of the right age, or what others think of your performance will only hinder your learning. Remember that yoga is just as much about self-acceptance as it is about growth and self-development.

  1. Think of it as an experience and not just a training

Look at your yoga teacher training as more of an experience than a mechanical process that brings you from point A to B. Yoga lets you evolve with time, so you will keep seeing changes in your practice. There is no end to learning, and there is no fixed destination. So, whether you wish to become a yoga teacher or reason you do the course for your own development, the decision to do a YTT will help you to step beyond conventional thinking.

About the author

Kalyani Hauswirth Jain

Kalyani Hauswirth-Jain is creative director & senior teacher at the Arhanta Yoga Ashrams since 2013. She teaches during the Arhanta 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training, 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training as well as a variety of 50-hour courses such as the Vinyasa Yoga teacher training.

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