This is a guest blog post by Laura Heggs
I recently completed a 300-hour yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India. The training was packed into a 30-day period, and the days were long and intensive. I learned what every teacher should in a training: alignment, anatomy, and philosophy, as well as a few unexpected things. It is safe to say I am moving on with more personal and professional knowledge than when I came in!
1. There is such a thing as too much yoga
When I first went into the training, I was excited to build on my knowledge of Hatha yoga, and to learn Ashtanga! For six days a week, we practiced for five hours a day. At first this felt hardcore and great — it took dedication to attend the classes and to feel muscles that you didn’t know were there. But then in week three, I began to feel very tired. And proceeded to get sick. In order to heal, I had to sit out of classes and let my body rest.
It was then that I realized I had been doing too much yoga for my body. This isn’t a great thing to admit to the ego — you want to feel powerful, perhaps invincible, and it never feel good to have that illusion shaken. The bottom line — your health comes first. Practicing to the point of exhaustion isn’t good for the mind or body, and unfortunately it is our health that pays for it. Take home point: always listen to your body, and learn to let go of the ego when it comes to just how much you can (and should) practice!
2. Your fellow teachers are just as valuable as the classes
Throughout the training, we had some incredibly informative courses ranging from yogic philosophy to anatomy. I learned a lot from the teachers and classes, but the most diverse, valuable source of knowledge came from my fellow classmates. We spent a lot of time together in personal and professional settings, and the diversity and skills of every person provided an incredible platform to learn and grow. Every single person on the course taught me something I didn’t know and made me a better yoga teacher. There is no way you can make a class from this — it is the product of dedicated, passionate people coming together for a common purpose.
3. Pushing your boundaries helps you learn more about yourself
Yoga teacher training pushes you. Sometimes, it downright sucks. As noted above in regards to your health, this is not always an easy line to identify. In fact, most of the time you step over the line in one way or another, by either holding back and not reaching it, or overstepping it. The silver lining in this challenge is that you learn more about yourself: your limits, strengths, and weaknesses, and where you would like to improve in the future.
This process is far from comfortable and I found it challenging and frustrating. However, every discomfort and fear makes you better, stronger, and more in tune with yourself. These situations happen in everyone’s life without attending a yoga teacher training, but there is something about traveling abroad and 14-hour days that seem to accelerate the process! This is truly the magic of a program — limits are pushed, and you learn how to heal.
4. There is no perfect, just practice
People are drawn to yoga for different reasons — maybe to get a healthier body, a slimmer body, or to find mental peace. Others go for a spiritual side. One thing that I have realized on this course is that there is no perfect or peak we must reach. A yoga practice is a constant fluctuation, where ups and down define the experience. The most valuable part of a yoga practice you can have are different tools to adjust to these fluctuations and give yourself the practice you need to be the best you can be.
5. Reflection is integral to integration
Yoga teacher training is packed with information and long days. It is mentally and physically strenuous, and reflecting on the day and new information you have received may take a back seat to sleeping or basic self-care. Despite the time constraints, it is important to reflect on the information, experience, and how you are personally feeling every other day. This will help you decompress and assimilate valuable information and integrate it into your personal and professional practice.
Yoga teacher trainings teach you a lot in a very limited time from. Of course you learn a lot about yoga, but you also are forced to learn about yourself.
What have you learned in teacher training or though your practice? What has this taught you? Share your thoughts below.
Written by Laura Heggs
Laura is an anthropologist and 500-hour yoga instructor. Her yoga journey started 9 years ago in conjunction with her anthropology studies, and the two have been connected ever since. Check out her exploration of yoga on her blog: www.anthroyoga.com