As Sattva Yoga launches into the Summer/Fall season, it is always exciting to see people take an interest in delving deeper into the ancient science of yoga. As a long time practitioner, teacher, and teacher of teachers, it is easy for me to see why of course, everyone would love to carve out 200+ hours and take in the cursory elements of what most of them currently just practice in the form of asana.
There is one question that inevitably comes up when people ask to talk to me after class and who are entertaining the idea of doing a teacher training: what if I don’t want to be a teacher?
The fact is, many do not, and frankly, few are called. A love of the physical practice naturally opens doors to want to learn, to feel more. This is the good news. Yoga Teacher Training, at least a good one, is as much about your personal journey, the transformation that happens within, as it is learning the Sanskrit name of asanas or how to intelligently link together postures for maximum effect. But to go into a Teacher Training assuming it is all about the asana, well expect to be surprised.
At least 20% of the teacher trainees are not interested in becoming a teacher. When I established my program, intentionally, I designated three paths: the first is for the current or aspiring yoga teacher. The second is for the yoga entrepreneur or studio owner. But there is also one uniquely categorized, but not to be pigeon-holed, to the devoted practitioner. This is someone just profoundly in love with practicing yoga: a seeker in life wanting to understand and take in more.
Alignment clinics, and posture practicums are equally beneficial to the person looking to teach and the person seeking to understand their own body. Teacher trainings have plenty of reading, journaling and talk time. The interactive conversation in a kula, or close group of students, enables a depth in discussion and a deeper connection. What I find my favorite part of the teacher training is guiding students how to begin a true seated practice, showing people the power of stillness, silence and quieting the mind. We start slow and steadily build; our society does not take sitting well and I do not want to scare people off from the idea of gentleness and calm, especially if their only exposure to yoga is a rigorous physical practice (don’t get me wrong, a great thing too!)
Effective tools in life such a speaking public, better decision making, strategic goal-setting, a critically- thinking and discerning mind all play a part in creating a robust and full-bodied ‘life’ experience for any person. Do you know you can create asana, take a differing opinion of something stated or written? Of course! You just need to know why, the how and the efficacy of doing so. Yoga is a breathing, bouyant and progressive science, and as such must continually evolve or it gets capsized in the sea of dogma, drowning itself into obsolescence.
There have been several devoted practitioners along the way who have a change of heart, or maybe an opening of it, and decide that teaching is a calling they are drawn to; likewise, sometimes the most doggedly-determined aspiring teachers realize that teaching is not what they really want after all.
It is ok to go back and forth between the two. Yoga is a human science.
If you feel the calling to ‘learn more’ and to devote a decent chunk of time to learning about all the eight limbs of yoga, more about your body and self at every beautifully complex layer, then think about taking a program that enables you the space and time to go deep, to sit and think a while, and to share your life with others. I have never seen someone not greatly benefit from the experience.
Ideally, you have a consistent practice and some idea of a seated practice. It is a large undertaking on many levels, so come with some preparation, a willing spirit and an open heart. Namaste.