Taking inspiration from the term ‘ashtanga namaskar’ meaning 8 parts or 8 limbs bowed or greeting ( to the earth) I offer 8 points to consider and encourage your investigations into the path offered by yoga teacher trainings. As you read the below notice what resonates or sounds familiar to help you decide if this is the journey for you!
1. You cant seem to get enough:
Have you turned into a yoga bunny or yoga ‘bro’? Can you remember the turning point when you just kept coming back to class- once a week, twice, 3 times- a membership? Theres no denying that the process of yoga pulls you in- why? Because yoga is a system of health and healing that helps us feel good from the inside out- by working from the outside in. More importantly than feeling good is the feeling of balance and sense of perspective that emerges from a regular practice that positively influences our lives. Some people say their practice is like a home- coming, a regular check-in that leaves them refreshed, calm and at peace. Yoga is experiential and therefore its benefits are both personal and universal - in yoga speak the effects are on both the micro and macro-cosmic levels. This is part of the mystery that has kept people studying and delving deeper into the layers of this ancient practice.
2. You want to deepen your asana practice:
Most of us first get into yoga through the physical practice of asana. This makes sense as physical yoga classes are generally what is on offer as most yoga studios, gyms and through online resources.
Likely by the time you consider doing a teacher training you will have been going to classes regularly( see can’t get enough above ), might have a favourite teacher and a self practice. Taking a teacher training provides you with longer practice sessions, hands-on workshops and discussions where more attention is given to details such as physical and energetic alignment, breath, feeling and exploration. You will also have space to accumulate and process your own experiences which is where a lot of the ‘aha’ moments take place. You will have the chance to explore more challenging postures and movements that may take your practice to a new level. The purpose of the asana practice is to render the physical body ( annamaya kosher) strong, adaptable and pure for long periods of intense mediation.
3. You want to take it past the physical:
If this sounds familiar, you will most likely of discovered that yoga is more than just a physical practice. How? from your experience of feeling through and after each practice, perhaps by further research or philosophy artfully weaved into class by your teachers. Past the physical does generally mean getting into the ‘spiritual’ - which is the real essence and heart of yoga- that which connects you to your spirit. In yoga our greatest connector is the breath. In Latin breath translates as “spiritum’ and when we talk about someones spirit we generally mean there essence, vitality, soul or life-force. Yogi’s know this as Prana- an all pervasive and subtle force of motion in creation that we could simply call energy. Through the asana practice and breath work- pranayama ( breath regulation/expansion)- we start to work with the subtle energy body ( pranamaya kosha) to create profound shifts in our human structure so we are able to experience the higher bodies and states of awareness bliss and ultimately union with the source. Studying some of the enlightening main yogic texts, The Yoga Sutra’s , Hatha Yoga Pradipika and other texts that resonate with the course tutors is also a huge part of TTC so expect some academia and daily meditation.
4. You want to spend some time getting to know you:
When was the last time you challenged your self-perception and faced your ego? Your chosen teacher training will most likely do just that with equal moments of joy, realisation, bitter sweet truth’s and frustration. Yoga Sutra 11.6 states “ egoism is the identification of the power of the seer
with that of the instrument of seeing” . An interpretation of this could external labels, items & ideals do we use to define ourselves and the image we out out into the world- who ‘we think we are’. All the practices of yoga are to remove these separation causing ego binders and strip us back to the bare essentials where we can see ourselves as one and the same as every other thing. This process and its up’s and downs can lead you to greater self expression , confidence, creativity, new insights revealing thought patterns and habits, ability to feel comfortable in your own skin, to have a greater level of contentment and even form better relationships- ultimately becoming a more peaceful, understanding and loving human.
5. You want to live with more integrity:
At the end of the day, stripped back we can only be true to ourselves to find contentment
( santosha). The process of a yoga training asks you to be authentic and connect in a way that aligns your heart and mind. You may discover new ways to live from the heart that have profound benefit on self and others with little wasted energy or resource and that make you truly happy. It is a reality that the a good modern yoga teacher has an important role and responsibility in society- to have positive impact on individuals, the community and the environment. The key to this is to practice what you preach. A good way to discover if your are living with integrity is to ask your self some simple questions- what is really important to you ? ( make a list), do you take ownership of your actions and reactions? ( be honest and kind to yourself) and do your actions support what’s important, you & those around you?
6. You want to learn about self healing and balanced health:
Balance within in the context of yoga doesn't just mean standing on one leg or on your hands- though we can learn a lot about the state of our mind and body from these challenges. Ayurveda is a 5,000 year old system- a natural healing science and root of the tantra’s (root of yoga) that is still practiced by many people today in India and beyond. Ayurveda honours the dynamic process of health that changes as we do with the seasons, our life phase, our body type and with what activities we do- recognising there is not one size fits all method to vital health. The ultimate aim of this process was to release or find Soma - a regenerative elixir that bestows radiant vitality even immortality on the receiver. In a TTC you will learn a little about ayurvedic diet, the dosha’s ( forces that build and effect your being) and the elements that form the basis of ayurveda.
7. You feel an innate calling:
Not enough emphasis is placed on intuition in todays society. Yoga takes you out of your head and other distracting social demands or devices that hinder intuition and asks you to get into your body, initially through asana, breath work and integrative mediation. You may feel that your experiences will be helpful to others or have received some insight that you have a call to share. Check in with your self about the source of this calling ( being wary of the ego!) and start to investigate. You could talk to a teacher or friend about this feeling or just follow your heart. Remember yoga is a life path and there are no short cuts to being a great teacher just as there are no short cuts to true happiness.
8. Your inspired by community; Sangha is the sanskrit and buddhist word for community. As well as the rapidly growing global yoga community you'll find smaller communities centred around local studio’s and teacher communities that support one another. Your sangha is a bit like your tribe for sharing discussion, practice and ideas or coming together for Kirtan ( group devotional singing ) or darshan ( beholding a sacred form). Perhaps you have felt inspired by teachers or friends who have made connections in this way and given and received support. In practical terms once you start teaching your sangha is a pool for work exchange such as recommendations or covering classes. Your sangha also provides a space in which you can talk openly about yoga without boring those who aren't into the practice! On the global level -sangha can be both inspiring and confusing. The internet social media creates a great platform for community for those who can’t get to a physical class and connects people from all around the world which is wonderful. The confusion comes from advertising that use’s yogas growing popularity to buy into a product or lifestyle that could potentially take you further into ego-centred attachment. So choose a sangha that inspires, supports and uplifts your vibration and do the same for others as you continue on your sacred life path.