5 important lessons I’ve learnt during my yoga teacher training

Today, I thought it’ll be great to share with everyone some of the really important lessons I’ve learnt during my YTT so far, that has really transformed my yoga practice. Prior to starting my YTT, I have been practicing for 2 years at various studios, only settling at Pure Yoga around 6 months ago. I thought I had considerable knowledge about yoga and what I am doing, but training at Tirisula Yoga has really changed my perspective about my own practice.

1. Alignment is extremely important, but also extremely overlooked

This realisation was one of the biggest lessons that has transformed my yoga practice, because most of the times, yoga teachers outside don’t emphasize the importance of alignment in ensuring a safe practice enough. Most of the time, many of us collapse our weight into our lower back without realising it, in a bid to enter more deeply into the pose. My YTT has been a lot of unlearning and relearning of alignment and asanas even in seemingly basic poses such as Virabhadrasana I, II, Utthita Trikonasana, and many more. Because yoga teachers out there do not have the luxury of time to correct every single student in a yoga class, many of us are left with severe misalignment in our asanas without even realising it. This can cause severe spinal injuries in the long run. Yoga is supposed to heal, it is not supposed to inflict long-term injuries. If you are in pain in an asana, you are probably in the wrong alignment.

2. The importance of pranayama and meditation

Pranayama and meditation are great but also under utilized tools in creating greater mental awareness and alertness that can help us immensely throughout the day, even outside of the yoga mat. Doing 50 rounds of Kapalabhati first thing in the morning and doing a short 5 minute meditation before starting your day can do wonders to our level of alertness and stress. And no, meditation and pranayama are nothing about being religious – it is a tool to clear out the toxins in our body that builds up during a restful night’s sleep. You will be amazed how simple breathing exercises can help to clear out toxins and distractions in our mind and body.

3. Yoga is not just about flexibility

This is something that I have learnt since the very beginning, even before I started my YTT. I always knew how yoga is not for the flexible – it is for everyone! You do not need to be flexible to do yoga. However, this lesson was constantly emphasized again and again during my YTT.

Yoga is a combination of strength, flexibility, and stamina.

The most difficult part about yoga is about balancing all these three aspects to perform different asanas. For example, sometimes flexibility can be a hindrance because one tends to collapse into the lower back due to back flexibility. This hinders one’s ability to balance in an inversion. Similarly, one who is really strong can find that they might be really tight in some of their major joints, such as shoulders and hips. Of course, stamina is another aspect altogether. Our stamina is constantly put to the test with 3 hour asana practices, and intensive strength and conditioning trainings.

4. Do not be afraid to ask questions

That being said, I think it is important to ask questions after yoga classes if you have any questions about entering into an asana. Sometimes online resources has its limitations, and it is always better to have a more hands-on experience with your yoga teacher who have seen your practice during class and may be able to point out modifications or adjustments that are more specific to you. As I mentioned earlier in the first point, alignment is constantly overlooked in yoga classes because of the relatively large class size and a lack of time for the yoga teacher to go around and adjust individual’s alignments. Therefore, it is on our own onus to ask questions and be more inquisitive about alignment in yoga asanas. If you experience any pain during your yoga practice, it is also extremely important to flag it to your yoga teacher so he or she will be able to suggest various modifications. Keeping quiet will only aggravate your injury or misalignment, and can be very detrimental in the long run!

5. Yoga teacher training is not only for aspiring yoga teachers

Many people may have the misconception that yoga teacher training is only for people who eventually wants to be yoga teachers. However, this is definitely not true, because there are so many fellow yoga teacher trainees around me who are doing this as a way to deepen their practice. YTT has definitely helped me deepen my understanding of yoga and transformed my yoga practice. Even if I don’t plan to be a yoga teacher in the future, all these information and lessons will definitely improve my yoga practice and physical wellbeing in the long run!   Namaste, Angie (200hr Weekend TT)