Becoming a yoga teacher: my experience
Becoming a yoga teacher is part of a path, and part of a lifelong journey. Approaching the practice, the body itself makes us understand and communicate the closeness to a certain horizon of meaning. If this desire is also replaced by the desire to transmit the accumulated experience, here we start on the path of teaching. Theoretically, those who feel the vocation should discover their own lineage, the tradition to which they feel they belong. A series of significant coincidences will guide the aspiring teacher to a qualified instructor who will offer him a specific sadhana. Depending on the lineage, the aspirant will have or not realizations that will lead him to higher states of consciousness. It is a long, personal journey that depends a lot on the occasion, on the meeting. The Buddha himself actually described life as a series of encounters.
In more practical terms, today, it is possible to become a yoga teacher after obtaining a certification issued at the end of a course, usually three years, at recognised institutions. Currently, compared to what happened in the past, several aspiring students of yoga come from the world of gym and fitness, more than from spirituality.
The solutions are different and the courses to become yoga teachers are many. There are training courses that last only one month or five years, cheap, expensive or even free, with exams to be passed or not, with one or more teachers. The offer in this field is truly varied so you can choose what feels best for you.
Of course, a course is not enough to become a yoga teacher: it takes years of practice and research. By practice, I mean a constant work on yourself, a continuous experimentation, which passes both through the sensations that are felt during the asanas, and for those that concern the most disparate aspects of life, of relationships. Adherence to oneself, an end and a half for a good yoga practice, is achieved in every moment.
It would be foolish to think that the teacher exhausts his role within the yoga studio walls, a yoga teacher training is a lifestyle you embraced, a unique different approach to explore yourself and the practice to a whole new level. A yoga teacher training calls you to be fully present and committed both physically and mentally all over the duration of the course but also after, as the yogic approach should become the one that lead your life. This is my own personal experience in becoming a yoga teacher.
What it takes physically and mentally
Embarking on my yoga teacher training journey, I wanted to become a yoga teacher, of course, but also to spend some time with myself in a different way, to learn to see the world and my daily life from a brand new perspective. Previously I had worked in social media marketing and I was all about a go-go-go mindset, sharing online instead of living the moment. I wanted to take a break and I decided to cultivate my passion for yoga embracing a totally different lifestyle.
Becoming a yoga teacher it takes a lot both physically and mentally. But I really think that the mental involvement is what it takes the most. Physically yes, you need to train, you need to practice yoga for hours instead of a quick at home practice of around 20 minutes or instead of twice a week sessions at a yoga studio but being there mentally was the real challenge, at least for me! I wanted to really give a yogic approach a true try so I decided to digitally detox, to avoid drinking alcohol and to even embrace a vegan lifestyle while prepping for my yoga teacher training and keep embracing this healthier more present lifestyle once I started it.
The course was a month long but I had to stop halfway there because of some health issues ( I then realised I was pregnant with my first child!). So basically I had to come back home but I had the chance to freeze my yoga teacher training journey to resume it as soon as I recover from post-partum. Even if I am not a yoga teacher yet, the experience was life-changing, something I won’t never forget and something that made me realise how I was living my life wrong.
As I said, becoming a yoga teacher has been quite a wild ride for me as I embraced a different lifestyle in many different parts of my life. The best part ever was the fact I was there with other people who, like me, wanted to find themselves besides becoming yoga teacher and get their certification! This was amazing because I really felt like I was part of a community, what in yoga is called sukha, a community who shared the same passion but also the same need to disconnect from the daily frantic world and its stressful lifestyle and connecting with our true self with the tools of yoga, meditation and a more present lifestyle.
Our group meditation was the best part of my day. I remembering starting the day looking forward that moment because it really was relaxing and not so difficult as I thought it was in the very first place. I learnt to trust my group and start focusing on my breath and my self even when surrounded by other persons. And this is something I will cherish forever and that I still use in my daily life after my experience.
Highs and lows: my personal hurdles
Saying it was all fun and games would be a lie. There were some great highs but also some lows. Some days I missed my husband so much, other days I felt like I needed a break from being constantly around other people. Some days I felt like I wasn’t doing enough because I felt my yoga level was not comparable to that of other students. I felt so frustrated!
So I started to change something. I woke up before 5am in the morning and went to a rooftop terrace – everyday to marvel at the sunrise and journal. That was my special moment, a moment all by myself, to reflect on my day and start a new day setting intentions and listening to my true self.
It was something so amazing that I try to keep doing this at home, even if, I have to admit, it’s something that is not always doable for me! Plus, I started to change the way I felt about myself and others. This was something I really needed to change no matter what but my yoga teacher training helped me a lot to do it!
I always had this need for comparison, this need to always be a 10 to be appreciated and loved. Really, I think that this was because of my online job all about likes, comments and general approval. I started journaling and discussing this with my yoga teacher from the training. She told me something that was so easy but also life-changing and absolutely fitting for those moments:
“Your journey is yours. Your body is unique. You are you, and you need to learn how to listen to your body and your self. Yoga is no competition. Yoga means union. Union between your body and your mind and respect, for others, yes, but most of all towards yourself. Take baby steps, one breath at the time, and do your thing. This is what really yoga is about. Be present, be committed, be alive”.
This was so basic but also so needed. I wrote it down in my journal and I keep reading it still today when I need a bit of encouragement to live my path instead of looking to someone else’s!
The yogic day
I am glad I embraced a healthier lifestyle while prepping for this experience because for it was very hard at first even if I was still at home and it would have been a bit too challenging to adjust to all those changes at once! We started our day at 6 am for meditation followed by a quick yoga session in the morning. After this we ate our breakfast and started our study for the day – the theory of anatomy, yoga history and principles for almost 6 hours. Then it was time for more yoga, quick lunch and then back to study and yoga. Then finally some meditation to end the day. And repeat! We only had the Sundays off to explore the nearby area but I basically went to the beach every single Sunday because I don’t have the chance to do so where I live!
The course location: My chance to connect with nature
The course location was absolutely astonishing. The rooms were big and comfy but they were shared with two other students. This was great, but as a person who likes time alone, I was always looking for some time off all by myself and the location made things easy! It was nearby the sea and I could not stop thinking about it! The perfect colour at sunrise and sunset. The beach walks, the salty breeze at night, the peace all around us.
I was so in love with the fact that I finally had the opportunity to press the pause button from my city life while full immersing into nature and connecting with moments of true peace.. This was absolutely incredible! Another big plus was that all around there was green, green everywhere! A girl from the city like me could not even imagine how living nearby nature for a month would be so life-changing, it changed a lot the way I spend my off days now! Because I really try to be more present, more connected with nature with long walks outside and more time spent looking for peaceful spots where to meditate, read a book, journal or just simply to listen to my self.
How my yoga teacher training changed me
My yoga teacher training helped me so much to really connect with my inner voice and my best self. I realized I wasn’t living my best life and that I was doing some things because of what others wanted me to do. I was just following and accomplishing others’ dreams and visions while I was just a puppet. This experience really gave me the chance to learn who I truly was, disconnecting myself from the world and reconnecting with my self. After a few weeks from the training, I found out I was pregnant. This was like a message from the universe to tell me to stop from living my previous life, use the lessons I learnt while training to become a yoga teacher and embrace a more balanced, healthier and more present life, for my baby, of course, but most of all for myself.
My personal advice or insights for yogis/yoginis wanting to become a yoga teacher
I highly recommend taking this decision based on true passion and a true “call”. A yoga teacher training is not a joke, it’s challenging and it puts you to the test in many different ways, both physically and mentally. I decided to become a yoga teacher because yoga basically saved my life when I started practising years ago, in a very dark time of my life where I experienced losses, depression and when I felt uncomfortable in my own skin.
Yoga has taught me a lot but I know I still have so much to learn about it but I really think that yoga can be some light in the dark for so many other people. Live your yoga teacher training as a way to connect with yourself to a brand new level while you learn all you need to know to help others, to become a vessel to spread the word of love, union and kindness, the main basic principles of yoga that make this discipline the best resource we have to live a better life.
By Daniela Di Francia
Yoga Teacher, currently living in Southern Italy