I am so grateful to be featured by YogaTeacherPrep.com for this amazing project to help students who are considering Yoga Teacher Training. The founder, Laura, has committed to posting 108 tips for prospective students from yoga teacher trainers worldwide. So, here's the golden question...why become a yoga teacher?
I enrolled in teacher training in 2009 to explore myself. Actually, after living in a van on the beach in San Diego and upon my return home at the age of 25, it was my mom who encouraged me to study one of my passions. I chose to study yoga. I have been taught to be aware of coincidences, so when I researched the different programs, I found a studio that I had a connection to. I had been studying with a teacher the previous year whose name was Starseed. After researching online, I found Starseed Yoga and it quickly became my first home. I remember on 9/9/09 I took a class at 9 am with Mary Paige Snell, and it changed my world forever. I head the crystal singing bowls for the first time and I knew, at that very moment, that I wanted to play them, that I wanted to do exactly that. I saw myself in her. I filled out my training application right after class, with basically only $1 in my bank account. I choose a studio that had a history, a success story; one that had a powerful impact on its' community. And a place where I felt love.
When you commit to your dharma with your whole heart, your path opens. During my nine months training, I was able to complete the program, work a full time greenhouse job, pay for the program and pay for my first one bedroom apartment. It was amazing what happened after the day I said, "Yes," to my destiny. Throughout my training, the books seemed like distant memories. It was if I born to teach yoga, that I have already done this before. Originally, I came to yoga for the physical benefits, as so many of us do. It was during my training, during my re-awakening, that I learned about the depth of yoga and met my guru (spiritual teacher) that I still study with. Meeting Reverend Jaganath Carrera for the first time was like meeting an old friend. He was familiar and joyful like Santa Claus. I saw a light that I haven't seen in what seemed a distant memory. I still remember what I was wearing... this adorable black topless sundress...oh, so how inappropriate to wear in front of the guru! I laugh at my past. My journey has been so beautiful.
Upon my 200-hr program's graduation, I was so excited to start teaching. I had the pleasure of having Jason Martin, one of the founders of Starseed Yoga, take the class I was leading. One day he asked me how it was going and I told him I was nervous about making mistakes, like calling a pose the wrong name or not having all the answers yet. He gave me the best advice, which is something I advise all teachers. He asked me, "Do you love yoga?" I said, "Yes, very much." He replied, "Then, your only job is to show the students how much you love yoga." It brought tears to my eyes. We do not own the teachings, they come through us if we allow ourselves to be open to receive them. Do the work with non-attachment, and then allow the teachings to come through you. You get all you need, always, in all ways.
1. First and foremost, the best way to learn is to teach. Teaching keeps us open to keep learning. By committing to a training you are opening yourself up to receive the teachings on a deeper level. Have you ever read a book twice, or even three times? As you go back and dig deeper, you discover there is more to learn, a new perspective you maybe didn't see before. I love learning and it only gets better. Do you know when you learn a new word, you see it everywhere? The same applies with philosophy. As I learn and teach a subject, the universe continually tests me. It is the most beautiful process unfolding in front of my eyes.
2. Teaching helps us become better listeners and more keen observers. When you "teach what you see," and refine your teaching to a place where people can benefit the most, you learn to see where you can help others. Sharpening your listening skills can help you discover what philosophy or concentration technique will be most useful to teach the students on that day. Teaching allows you to hold space for people to share their ideas without judgement. We start to see ourselves in others, and we can use our wisdom from past experiences to help others pull through their own challenges.
3. Choose to be a light worker. Part of teaching yoga is inspiring others. By living the teachings authentically, you encourage others to do so as well. This doesn't mean life will be peaches and cream. Actually, quite the opposite holds true. With your agreement with the universe to teach yoga, you will be tested. It can seem that it gets harder before any freedom comes. But, the power you cultivate on your path can encourage others to follow their goals. It's all for good.
4. Commit to improve yourself. Every day is a new day. The teachings are the tools to use when we are faced with challenges. By having a consistent practice where we honestly look at our progress, both in asana and meditation, we ultimately get closer to the innermost Self. The yamas and niyamas are the guides for keeping a steady mind, and are a daily check-in for behavior and beliefs. Each day is a new opportunity to become a little more giving, a little stronger, and a little more peaceful. Ask yourself, "What can I do now?" Do something for your peace and then spread that with others.
5. One of the greatest gifts in the world is community. When you commit to living the teachings, you automatically will connect with others who have similar goals. By keeping with good company, you will stay away from delusion. There are yogis everywhere, and as yoga continues to spread, the yoga community continues to grow daily. There are more studios, more teachers, more training programs and its all good! There is enough yoga for every type of person to find comfort in the teachings. A 200-hr program is a launchpad to a diverse culture of awareness. There are traditional paths and new branches of yoga like SUP yoga. Plus, the group that you train with will be your family forever. It is a bond like no other.
6. It is fun! Having a passion for what you do makes it more interesting and more rewarding. Growing and helping others grow is fun. There are really no words to describe the feeling to see others succeeding at their goals, especially watching the transformation of a student in yoga teacher training. It is an experience that will offer a new perspective on life and can positively affect your relationships and your whole life. There is joy on the path to joy.