Ready or not?
There’s no time like the present! Suzanne Davies explores the common reasons students delay taking the plunge into teacher training
How do you know when you’re ready to embark on a yoga teacher training? Well chances are, if you’re reading this, you already are! But if you still need convincing, here are my responses to the concerns I hear the most.
I’m not good enough
This is what I hear the most. How can I train to be a teacher when I can’t do all the poses properly? Well, here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter.
I had these thoughts when I signed up to my teacher training. A couple of months before the training was due to start, I entered a wild panic. I tried to force my body into poses it wasn’t designed for and attempted to lose a stone in weight with some crazy idea of trying to look more ‘yogic’. It was, of course, irrational, but, in my apprehensive state, the course was going to be full of young, slim contortionists, and I was going to be the old fraud.
As it turned out my fellow trainees mirrored the wider public, with different ages, and shapes, strengths, and weaknesses. And the training was much richer for it. We are all unique and bring different perspectives and voices that broaden yoga’s appeal.
And we might think our perceived ‘flaws’ will make us a bad teacher, but often they make us better. When I see someone struggling in my class to touch their toes, or to sit cross-legged, I can put myself in their position because I’ve been there too.
Raising self-awareness is a key element of yoga. Taking a yoga teacher training can highlight the way you respond to challenge and being uncomfortable. My experience revealed so much about my thought processes, and habitual ways of responding to life – in many ways that was the most transformative part, and still informs the way I teach.
And let’s not forget that yoga isn’t about posture. Asana merely leads the way to something much deeper. So, if you’re really concerned about your ability to demonstrate posture, choose a stye of yoga that places more emphasis on pranayama and meditation.
I don’t know enough
You will never know enough so don’t let this hold you back. Yoga is a journey down a rabbit hole to the very meaning of existence. You’re not expected to fully grasp that for a 200-hour teacher training! If you have been practicing yoga regularly for a couple of years, understand the structure of a class, and are aware that yoga is more than stretching, you know enough to sign up.
Tried to read Patanjali’s Sutras and failed? You’re not alone. Yoga texts are often deliberately vague to allow students the gift of self discovery. Plus, a lot of this stuff is beyond words. Accepting that you don’t know it all, and maybe never will, and being curious is more than enough to see you through a teacher training.
I’m not sure I want to teach yet
A lot of people don’t take teacher training courses with the aim of becoming a teacher. Wanting to learn more about the practice and spend some time deeply immersed in it is a great reason to sign up. Sure, on most course you will be expected to lead a class at some stage. But if you’re not planning to teach, then what does this matter? An hour or so of being nervous and an experience never to be repeated! Learning to teach a subject is a great way to deepen your understanding of it, so, perhaps, try looking at it like that.
I don’t have the confidence to teach
If, like me, you’re introverted, then putting yourself out there and teaching is challenging. When I trained, I thought I’d be smart and chose to teach my assessed class as early morning sadhana, figuring no one would get up early. Little did I know that the date I had chosen coincided with an all-night event at the venue, so I ended up teaching sadhana to 100 people! As awful as it was, it was also a gift – nothing has been that challenging for me as a teacher since.
That’s an extreme example, but most yoga teachers will tell you that teaching on the training course is the hardest. You’re new to it, and you’re being monitored. But it’s like taking your driving test; just a few nervous hours and then a lifetime on the open road. And don’t forget a teacher training course is exactly that…a course designed to train teachers, to give you the knowledge and skills you need to teach confidently.
I’m not sure I have enough time
A teacher training can be a transformative experience, and you want to give it the time it deserves. Not just for the course, but also for deepening your personal practice. Make an honest assessment of your current commitments and figure out how much spare time you have. And then look around – there are so many different styles of teacher training now – online, intensive, spread out over several months. Figure out what works for you and what you can commit to.
We can spend our whole life wondering if we’re ready, waiting for the right moment to act. But is there ever a right time for anything? Sometimes we just need to set our doubts and fears to one side and take a leap, trusting that we can make it work. If yoga makes you excited and gets you out of bed in the morning, what are you waiting for?
Suzanne Davies is a Senior Yoga Teacher and Trainer Pro (Yoga Alliance Professionals) in Hertfordshire. She runs babacool.net with her husband, Alex. They offer Yoga Teacher Training and Gong Practitioner Training in London.