As the Winter Intensive Yoga Training approaches here at Meadowlark, Jenn Usher sums up what the first few months (or years) of being a yoga teacher can be like – and the positive journey a YT course can begin for everyone taking part.
1. You will realise you are a complete beginner at yoga
I don’t know a single person who didn’t eat a huge slice of humble pie when they started their YTT. No matter your practice level, once you start training to be a teacher, you will be reminded that you are at the very beginning of a lifelong commitment. Even upon completing your YTT and being recognised as a qualified yoga teacher, the real learning doesn’t start until you begin teaching, and it is important to stay really sharp in terms of continuously progressing your skills and developing as a teacher and a practitioner.
2. You may spend months, years, or decades building up the yoga career you want
Of course, not everyone does a YTT with the ambition of teaching yoga professionally. Lots of people do it just for their own benefit, to dive into a deeper, more profound practice and gain more understanding of yoga. But if you are going into a YTT with the intention of becoming a professional teacher, I think it is vital to understand that this can take an enormous amount of hard work and time. The market is saturated with more and more yoga teachers so competition is fierce. But if you are willing to put the time and energy into whatever students you have to begin with, it will gradually grow from there.
3. You will feel a new level of physical exhaustion you’ve never experienced before
If you practice a physically exertive type of yoga like Ashtanga, then you’ll know the type of exhaustion I’m talking about. But if you practice a physically exertive type of yoga like Ashtanga, and then you teach 3 or 4 very physical classes later on in the day, you’ll reach whole new levels of body tiredness!
4. You’ll get sick pretty quickly of people telling you how “relaxed” you must be
If I had a pound for every time someone said to me “oh you’re a yoga teacher, you must be so chilled”… well, I would be rich enough that I probably wouldn’t need to teach yoga anymore! Practising yoga doesn’t necessarily make you chilled. It can make you all sorts of things, relaxed might sometimes be one of them, but it is certainly not a given. My practice brings up all sorts of things: excitement, frustration, disappointment, determination. It often leaves me feeling energetic and fantastic, but it can also leave me feeling drained and emotional. In terms of teaching yoga… next time someone says that to me, perhaps I’ll reply: “Have you ever tried speaking coherently to a roomful of strangers, giving clear instructions to people of all ages and abilities, keeping them all enthused about something, while simultaneously doing the splits or an arm balance? It’s not too relaxing.”
5. You’ll start saying no to things
Maybe this is just me, but when I began teaching yoga and practising yoga seriously, I noticed a huge shift in my priorities and that was reflected in my social life and what commitments I took on. Of course, I still try to maintain something of a social life, and sometimes I feel frustrated that it is hard to be social with my schedule – but also my need to be out and about quickly diminished, as did my desire to drink or stay up late. I try to save the majority of my stamina for teaching and practice, which means the amount I take on outwith of those things has narrowed. When your job requires you to pour energy into other people, you start to find yourself needing more time alone when you’re not working, just to be quiet and restful. Sometimes I miss my former life of partying a lot – but then I remember how much more I’ve gained than lost, and how much happier on the whole I am.
6. There will definitely be lows, but the highs will be higher than you imagined
There are times when being a yoga teacher is very hard. It can be exhausting, isolating, repetitive, lonely, frustrating, and difficult to make ends meet. However, for every moment you feel run down or fed up, there will be a hundred moments where you feel unbelievably privileged to be making a living out of teaching what you love. I can’t quite describe the satisfaction of leading a class where you know it’s gone well, people have been receptive and enthusiastic and grateful to learn from you. Once you’ve built up a regular student base, you start to feel connected to your students in a really lovely way and share with them their achievements and moments of progress. Occasionally someone might even reach out to tell you how much they’ve enjoyed your classes or how much they value you as a teacher – and at the risk of sounding cheesy, that makes the hard work genuinely worthwhile.
Interested in training to be a yoga teacher here at Meadowlark? Explore our various trainings here.