As a new year starts to grind into motion, many of us become inspired to make changes to our lifestyles by beginning the year with some serious goal-setting. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn a new language, take a solo trip, or just start some healthier and mindful habits – and stick to them. This time last year, I set myself a goal to complete my yoga teacher training before the year was out. Yoga and I had been ‘going steady’ for about five years, and I was ready to take the next step in our relationship. I didn’t necessarily want to teach yoga – that sounded pretty intimidating, plus I already had a job that I loved and a lot of hobbies! But I knew that yoga was something that was deeply important to me, and I wanted to learn more about it.
After a bit of research, I decided that a 200-hour intensive training was the best choice for me, and I booked my place in a 22-day training with All Yoga in Bali. In the days leading up to my flight out of Melbourne, I started to get serious butterflies – was this a crazy idea? Surely it’s a little bit self-indulgent to abandon my loving boyfriend, family and friends to travel overseas and try to grasp something as abstract as yoga – and then somehow teach it to others? I had no idea what to expect. All of the enrolled students started chatting online before the course started, and I read their introductions with a mix of curiosity and trepidation. What if I was the only student who couldn’t put their feet behind their head, or handstand, or chill in the splits for hours?
However, once we arrived in Bali and got stuck into our training, it became apparent that none of those things really mattered. In between daily asana practice, meditation, alignment classes, and studying anatomy and philosophy, there was so much to learn that I started to let go out of my insecurities out of sheer practicality – I wanted to make as much room as I could for the new life tools I was learning, and self-doubt is a major space-hog. My classmates were from all walks of life, all four corners of the globe, and we all had very different learning processes. The more time I spent with this incredible group of people, the easier it was to see that each of us would bring something completely different to our teaching. Some of us were naturally extroverted and comfortable talking in front of others – they would be the teachers who encouraged their students to laugh at themselves and let go. Others had a more gentle, introspective energy – they would be the teachers who held space for their students, giving them the gift of beautiful stillness.
Just like the practice of yoga itself, a yoga teacher training is a lesson in becoming comfortable with discomfort. We don’t normally take the time to look at ourselves as deeply and truly as we do when we’re away from home, away from the familiar. Teacher training is sort of like speed-dating – with yourself! Over the course of a couple of weeks I witnessed an extraordinary change in myself and the people around me. By the time our training came to an end, I felt like two people in one – more vulnerable, yet more confident. And I think that’s the beauty of learning anything new – it cracks us open, it makes it vital to put the ego to one side to make room for something new, and in doing so, there’s a deeper sense of self-assurance that we can tap into. It’s like standing on the edge of a drop, and being willing to fall – knowing that it might hurt, but also knowing that something magical might just happen, and you might fly.
Doing my teacher training is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It’s also addictive; I’m already planning the next one! For anyone who is thinking about it but isn’t sure if they’re strong enough, flexible enough, young enough, or old enough, just take the leap and make this the year to do it. There is no time like the present to get to know yourself better.
Namaste yogis, enjoy your practice!