Drop the baggage
Dealing with your own mental and emotional baggage on a yoga teacher training. By Vidya Heisel
If you’re planning to attend a YTT, live and in person — which is a rare luxury these days — it’s important to be clear about your own headspace. Take into consideration that intensives are usually just that — intense!
Be prepared to be overwhelmed and tired. Know that this can bring up emotions and also cause you to be irritable. Be clear about how to deal with this gracefully.
You may be sharing a room or dorm space — make sure you are realistic about what this will be like. Your room-mate may snore or maybe they like the AC on and you don’t! Use accurate self-assessment and, unless you are super easy-going, maybe opt for your own room, if possible. Sharing space can be fun and rewarding but if you are a light sleeper, it could be extremely challenging.
Taking naps where possible in the middle of the day can be really helpful. Bring an eye mask and earplugs to aid with sleep around others. Bring some energy-boosting supplements from the health food store to assist with low moments, when you cannot nap.
Avoid drinking coffee that can cause jittery highs and energy crashes. Green tea is much healthier. Aside from being loaded with anti-oxidants and improving brain function, green tea can provide you with more stable energy and increase your productivity.
Living with a group of people intimately can press your trigger points. If you find yourself getting grumpy and unsociable, go for a walk, preferably in nature. Also journaling can be very helpful, to let it all out, without disturbing anyone else.
It is important to remember that everyone attending the training is having their own deep experience, and you don’t want to trouble anyone with your own personal emotional issues. If something has really come up for you emotionally and you need someone to talk to, the training assistants or teachers would be a much better choice than other participants.
If it is a reputable training the staff will be more than willing to offer a shoulder to cry on or a few words of helpful advice. Don’t be shy to ask for this support.
It’s good to be aware that an intensive training tends to be very focused and, unless billed as a training that also encourages emotional release, they are usually not a good life-choice when you are dealing with very strong emotional issues, such as a break-up, death of a loved one, depression or anxiety. It’s important to be easy-going, friendly and level-headed in an intensive group experience. If you feel you are not in the right headspace, it may be better to wait.
A good YTT will actively teach you skills to deal with a turbulent mind, such as meditation and self-mastery. Yoga is about finding inner balance and stepping back from emotional ups and downs. Ultimately yoga will teach you how to resolve your own mental and emotional baggage. Through meditation and the study of yogic scriptures we learn how to witness the turbulence of the mind and to practice dispassion and discernment.
It’s important on a training to practice kindness, generosity, patience and open-mindedness and when you cannot do that, go for a walk or put a guided meditation or Yoga Nidra on your phone and relax. Self-care needs to be your priority over socialising.
Avoid too much contact with home or people outside of the training as it becomes too distracting. It would be ideal to do a media fast whilst training which will help to keep you present and focused. Hopefully you will return home with less emotional baggage than you arrived with.
Vidya Heisel is a senior yoga teacher trainer and director of Frog Lotus Yoga International and Suryalila Retreat Centre in southern Spain (froglotusyogainternational.com)