The kind of student you are during your yoga teacher training will determine what kind of teacher you will become. I’ve said it before: Good yoga teachers first make sure they are the best yoga students they can possibly be. I bet you’re determined to do great in yoga teacher training because studying yoga excites you. But did you know teaching yoga and doing yoga are two completely different skill sets? They’re related but they’re not the same. Just because you do your poses well, that doesn’t guarantee you’ll be a good teacher. Here I’m sharing five great ways to prepare for your yoga teacher training. These tips are effective and efficient—and guaranteed to help you stand out once you begin your training.
No one is forcing you…
That’s right! No one is forcing you to become a yoga teacher. Everything you’re doing with regard to your training is out of choice. You may need this reminder when things feel tough and you’re writing a long essay or trying to build a new sequence for handstand conditioning. You’re here by choice…You can quit if you want.
You’ll only do it once…
Most people do yoga teacher training only once. Trainings require big time commitments—and let’s not forget the load on your wallet. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most people. Do it right since you’re probably not going to do it again.
Reasons or results:
I read this in Marie Forleo’s book, Everything Is Figureoutable (Portfolio, 2019): She spoke about how some people have reasons and some people have results. So insightful, right? When you catch yourself coming up with reasons not to put in the work, swap that train of thought with a focus on the results you’ll see at the end of the yoga training.
The reason I’m successful today is because I was a super-nerdy, crazy-dedicated yoga student. From the day I signed up, I jumped all in. I got my books before the training and started reading. I went to asana classes every single day. I read as much as I could. I was hungry to learn. It also helped that at the time I was feeling rather lost; I didn’t know what to do with my life and found myself at a crossroads. Yoga showed up at the right time for me. I never missed a single class. I never missed a single word the teacher said. I was present 100%—actually even more, if that’s possible. I kid you not when I say it was the best time of my life.
Today, because of that dedication and non-stop work, I’m a recognized WOC teacher—in fact, one of the few Indian immigrant yoga teachers—working successfully in the yoga industry in a country that I moved to only seven years ago. I run my studios, host a podcast, train teachers, and am living my dream life. I know what it takes to help you build your yoga career. Let’s take a deep dive into five great ways to prepare for your yoga teacher training.
- Build your asana practice
- Journal your practice
- Start reading blogs and listening to podcasts
- Start getting social
- Start early
Build your asana practice
This is the easiest one. Step onto your mat regularly before your training starts. Even more valuable would be taking a lot of regular yoga classes with the person who will be your lead trainer. This will give you the opportunity to prepare not only your body but also your mind for the training. Doing your asana, pranayama, and dhyana (meditation) regularly is key. After all, yoga is an experiential practice. The more you can embody the practice off your mat, the greater your advantage during training. You will grasp concepts a lot more quickly and be able to execute them with greater understanding too.
Where to start?
Start with three days a week on your mat for an hour each time. These can be online studio classes or a home practice. Make this a habit: Keep track of your yoga days on a calendar. Assess your progress at the end of each month. Once you’ve built this in effortlessly, start consistently adding an extra day of practice. I would say four times a week is a safe bet if you want to become a yoga teacher. More is always good but getting into the habit of doing yoga consistently is more important than just going for quantity.
How intense should my training be?
A yoga teacher needs to have a strong practice—this includes asana as well as other yogic practices. While the details will depend on what style of yoga you’re training in, most successful yoga teachers have rock-solid physical and spiritual practices. There is no shortcut around this. If you want to be relevant and competitive in the modern-day yoga world, start your asana practice right away as it will lead you into deeper work. Work on getting stronger in your poses. Attending higher-level classes is what will make this possible with time. Initially you’ll feel weak and unsuccessful, but repetition is the mother of success. Start attending progressively more advanced classes at your studio.
Here is the typical breakdown of levels at most yoga studios:
- Level 1: Beginner Friendly
- Level 2: For those who have a firm foundation, know poses readily and are looking to learn deeper backbends, inversions, and arm balances
- Level 3: The strongest practice where one learns to experience the poses and the philosophy too
- All Levels: Mixed Level classes with options for everyone
- Beginners Yoga: As the name suggests, newbies start here
Journal as if you’re a yoga teacher
Do this correctly and you’ll be well on your way to succeeding. Grab a diary and start recording details about your practice. Below I’ve given you practice prompts that will keep you on track.
- Date, time, duration
- Peak pose or theme of practice. Write briefly about what the practice was about- backbends, twists, arm balances, etc. Was there a peak pose in class? What direction did the teacher move you in over the course of the full class? Was it obvious? There are no right or wrong answers but keep it brief. Pen this in under a minute.
- Do you remember the sequence? Write it down in the order it happened in class. This is the most important step. This will be super valuable as you develop your own class sequences in the future. At first, this will take a little longer, but as you do it often it will require no more than a couple of minutes. Don’t write stories, just list pose names or draw stick figures.
- How do you feel after practice? Do you have a post-practice high? Jot it down in a word or two. For example, I’ll write “energized,” “focused,” “calm,” etc.
Pssst…Don’t worry about knowing pose names right away. Make up your own for the sake of keeping a list. You’ll learn them as you go to class more often.
Start reading blogs and listening to podcasts
It’s never been easier to learn yoga. Never! You have everything you need available at your fingertips. Use technology to your advantage. As a budding yoga teacher, read a credible yoga blog or two once a week. This gets you into the mindset of learning theory. I recommend starting with reputable yoga publications like Yoga International and my blog 😉
Also, listen to audio content. If you haven’t jumped into the world of podcasts, where have you been, my friend? Start now! There are so many good yoga podcasts out there, so start exploring—listen to one episode a week while doing laundry, cooking, or commuting. My personal favorites are Yogaland by Andrea Ferretti, Teaching Yoga by Cora Geroux, and The Connected Yoga Teacher by Shannon Crow—and, of course, my own, Let’s Talk Yoga!
Start getting social
I feel like hitting my head against a wall when I speak about this in yoga teacher trainings. But you, my friend, will start on the right foot, won’t you? You have to be active on social media as a yoga teacher. I wish there were another way but in today’s world it’s nonnegotiable. I remember a student saying that social media is the printing press of our times. It’s free advertising, so put aside your personal feelings, create an account, and actively engage with your yoga journey online.
Full disclosure: I have to give 100% credit to the impact of my being active on my Aham Yoga page on Facebook when my studios opened. I had just moved to the U.S. from India and I was organizing my life here. I knew not a single person other than my husband. I turned to Facebook to keep my marketing skills alive, I posted every single day, and guess what? I had my first six clients lined up even before I had a location! It was the same for my dance studio. A lot of those students are still with me seven years later.
Yes, this was in the time of better algorithms and all that! But if you’re not online as a yoga teacher, you’re not relevant. This is even more true during the pandemic when yoga has transitioned to a virtual space. I’ll be doing a social media class during your teacher training but here are some points to get you started. And it’s perfectly okay if you’re shy or apprehensive about it.
- Try boomerangs and time lapses to show your practice or poses. No prep needed and no need to talk.
- Post a pic of your mat and add a yoga quote.
- Check yourself in at your yoga studio and write something fun about how you feel after class.
- Yoga memes- they work every single time.
- Post a picture of your best yoga pose online to boost your confidence.
There’s so much more you’ll learn about this in yoga teacher training. But if you start doing this now, it will quickly feel less awkward and provide you with a valuable foundation. People in your social media circles will notice and will come to you for yoga when you’re ready. Don’t take this advice lightly. It’s gold!
Don’t think that you start becoming a yoga teacher only on the day your training starts. Your journey starts now, during these precious moments way before you even start coming to class. Implementing all these steps now means you’ll be showing up every day in your training as the best version of yourself. A yoga teacher training is a marathon: You can’t just show up and start running. You have to prepare to do well.
I hope these tips help you get started as you work on fulfilling your dream of teaching yoga. Remember, yoga teacher trainings are powerful, they can change your life—so don’t take this lightly. If you have questions, drop them in the comments below. 🙂