What is Yoga Teacher Training Like?

This post was written by a current student of teacher training, Chelsea Tauzin. 

“Everybody circle up. We’re going to do introductions. Tell us about yourself!”

There were lots of reasons I could come up with in favor of going through teacher training. I liked yoga; I needed some sharper public speaking skills; it was about time to take on a new challenge; it’s a great way to get in shape; I could use this training to help get over my fear of public speaking (I mention twice because this point cannot be overstated). And for a while, I had just as many excuses for not actually signing up for it. I didn’t have the time; I couldn’t afford it; I hadn’t been doing yoga “long enough” to be a teacher; I don’t need to speak in front of crowds, anyway. Then one day I couldn’t really justify all of the excuses anymore… so I pulled the trigger.

And at the moment Madi corralled us together, I was wondering why I had. I scanned the circle of eager faces, strong bodies, and confident postures… “What am I doing here?” Introductions launched, and I began hearing the stories of many successful, talented, and well-established yogis. Some have been dedicated to the philosophy for many years; others have been practicing asana for decades. Where do the curious, carnivorous, relatively unseasoned yogis like me fit in here? It’s while I’m berating myself with this insecure questioning that another student speaks and her voice cracks; her eyes well up. And I relate. In that fraction of a moment I could feel my throat also tightening empathetically. Ironically, I found comfort in this. I was not the only person in this pow-wow that might be silently scrolling through similar feelings.

The journey through yoga teacher training is different for everyone. We studied alignment, philosophy, history, meditation, breath, and anatomy. We also dabbled in ashtanga, restorative, and prenatal yoga. The more we were taught, the more I realized how little I actually knew and how far I have still to go. But some of my favorite lessons from discussions, readings, and practices include:

  • Don’t make so many snap judgements. What you reject and fear today may evolve into something you need and crave in a week.
  • Do not sneak up on anyone for adjustments (particularly in half moon, and especially on me).
  • Get over your own ego (some days you’re just going to suck a little). Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • You’ll only find your own voice if you use it.
  • A spinning color wheel is not just a Mac user’s worst nightmare (#chakras).
  • Your best today is not the same as your neighbor’s best. It’s also not necessarily the same as your best yesterday or tomorrow.
  • If you have a question about alignment, you’ll have to demonstrate it (so think really hard on whether you actually have a question about chaturanga or not… you’ve been warned).
  • We might have different seats and paddles, but we’re all rowing the same boat.

As the weeks wore on and we got into our observation hours, it became clear to me just how special of a place Black Swan Yoga actually was. All of the instructors I observed were so different in their own styles, tones, intentions, emphases, musical preferences, etc. It gave me confidence to know that if under one roof there is space for all kinds, surely there is a place for me in the yoga community outside of training.  [Side note: some days it feels like that place is a page or two in the “What Not to Do” BSYTT manual, but that’s my cross to bear. 😉 ]

Madilyn, Felicia, and Patsy are a power trio for training future teachers. Their range of personalities and strengths is impressive to watch come together in such a successful way. This merging makes for an incredibly dynamic learning experience when you can pull answers and advice from three people who are so diverse not only in their own teaching styles but life experiences, as well.

My biggest takeaway is this: connection is everything. Connect to your breath — your practice relies on it. Connect to yourself — you’ll never be able to ask for or find what your body and mind need. Connect with people — life and all of its wonderful experiences (YTT, for a good example) will be weaker, less colorful, and more difficult without them.

I am so grateful for all of the guidance and connections I’ve made with the trainers and students alike. And I am so proud that I made this amazing decision all on my own, for only myself. You go, Me.