For anyone who has been practicing yoga for at least two years, considering taking a teacher training program is normal. The motivation to join begins as an idea. It comes when you hear that a person who used to sit beside you in yoga class has now become a certified yoga instructor. It can also come from seeing personalities on Instagram who have “YTT 200 certified yoga instructor” on the multi-hyphenated answer they provide to the question, “What do you do for a living?” The idea can also form because one day your teacher observes your form and tells you that you have the potential to push your practice and become an instructor.
Wherever the idea originates, one thing is certain – the teacher training is not easy. It’s a commitment. The daily 2-3 hours of asana practice can be grueling. And the difficulty of memorizing Sanskrit and specific muscle and bone names gently reminds you of how old and rubbery your brain has gotten.
But throughout the lectures, you also pick up the images and ideas that help to refine your practice. For me, it was the image of the “ascending triangle,” which was part of the learning methods we discussed during the second week of training. The concept of learning here is we aim for a goal or a “ceiling,” and when we fail, we don’t return to the low point where we started; we are a step higher. When we try to reach for the ceiling and fail again, we descend to a point that is even higher than the previous one – until all the points at which we begin form an ascent. Finally, we reach a summit and break the ceiling.
Imagining your training (or your entire life) as an ascent can be powerful. If you’re open, you realize that a failure or a fall is never final because you can always try again. If you give up on your first or second try, then you are leaving something open ended. Like a loose windowsill flapping in the wind, it will nag at you endlessly.
So, while the teacher training can be struggle at times, it’s important to establish a pattern of completion, to complete the training and not leave it hanging.
If you hope to become a teacher, you need to realize that your first pupil is yourself. You can be disciplined by simply showing up daily. You can be mindful of your practice by being present with the challenge, observing it, and meeting it.
If you’re thinking about enrolling for a program, then you’ve already taken a first step; indeed, the only way to complete something is to start something and go through the motions. And each day as you observe your progress, you also witness your ascent. When the struggle transforms into relief and effortlessness, that’s when you know you’ve broken out of the ceiling and it’s time to aim for a higher one.