To be or not to be a Yoga teacher - an unchosen choice
- Sara, How did you know you wanted to be a Yoga teacher?
- Hm… Actually I didn’t know it. Not until I took my first training in March 2016.
And to be brutally honest, sometimes I still can't believe I teach Yoga.
This may come as a surprise to some of you but when I’ve decided to take my first Yoga Teacher Training (TTC from now on aka teacher training certificate), I just wanted to ‘get to know the roots of this thing called Yoga that was changing me so much and turning me into a more tolerant, healthy and even calmer –really?- person.
My Yoga story, as all Yoga stories, started longer before my commitment to Yoga. I was at my first year of Uni and I was diagnosed with depression. Back then, I was taking Pilates classes, in the hope of being a little bit heathier and fit. One day, my kinky ex-dancer teacher (or should I call him Stalin?) didn’t show up so I’ve decided to take a Yoga class instead. That was (definetley not) love at first practise. I found it too slow, too boring, too every-thing-not-good-for-me - or maybe too good? When I was asked to lay down in savasana, I’ve opened my eyes and eventually left class.
Back then, we’re talking about 2003/4, Yoga was a seriously hippy thing, and surely not cool. Now that I know a bit more about it, it was probably a traditional Hatha Yoga class. Anyway, there was something about the whole experience that intrigued me, so I kept coming back to class. On and off, off course, till the point I’ve started to practise twice a week. I was already working full time as a creative copywriter in a posh advertising agency, and I had a gym membership. I don't lie. The pratice kept going, mostly not consitent or regular, and when I moved to Mozambique in 2011, after one year in Cape Verde with zero practise, I’ve found a lovely local studio – if you live there, make sure you find Ernesto. So I went back to a more regular practise. Then the flexibility started happening, maybe even a bit of strenght and balance but, above all, the routine, the breathe, the perseverance and the AWESOME post-class vibes. That is why we do it right?
A couple of years later I’ve moved to London and I’ve realised how quickly my savings were disappearing so I took classes everywhere I could, using those ‘newbie passes’. Trust me, they are the best option if you are a bit unsure if Yoga is for you or not. It is surely for you but first you need to find the right studio, teacher and method. This can take a while, for me it took me… Maybe 7/8years? I was then living in Hoxton, East pre-gentrified East-London and I came across Tammy’s community classes at Jeffrey’s Hall. I was blowen away by it. The energy, the dynamic, the cool people in class.
- Hello, Sara, this is vinyasa flow.
And my life changed.
Then loads of classes followed, more and more regularly, maybe 4 or 5? Then home practise, watching Youtube videos, buying books, booking Yoga&brunch events. I was even taking my boyfriend at the time with me. Long story short, one day the calling happened. The teacher didn’t come to class - does this ring a bell?- so I’ve started my own practise and some girls asked me if I could lead class.
- Oh sorry, I am not a Yoga teacher, I don’t know what I am doing.
- That is okay, we see you here all the time, we will just copy you.
So they did.
About 6 month later, there I was, on my way to Rishikesh, India to do my 200h TCC at Shiva Yoga Peeth. Back then, I didn’t have a clue where I was going, what style I was going to learn about or what I was going to do with it. However, there was something I was 1000% sure: this was the right thing to be done.
I am now a 500h advanced Hatha and Vinyasa Flow qualified teacher by Yoga Alliance International and I wouldn’t change this journey for anything. I’ve just realised how big this post is becoming so I will try to sum up all you need to consider before taking a TCC.
1 month intensive, modules or both? There are plenty of options available out there. As I was working full time in an agency, I’ve opted for the first option, both on my 200h and my 300h – this last one at Sampoorna Yoga, Goa, February 2017. This means a full on month of Yoga. Think of a lot of Yoga. I mean, a lot. 24/7, 7 days a week, classes usually running from 5am-8/9pm, plus extra activities like satsangs, yoga movies and yoga chat. Off course you get breaks ‘to study’ and ‘relax’ but your body, mind and soul will be exausted. Maybe that is why some people prefer to do it in modules, spread between 3 months, 1 year or even more. Before choosing it, be honest with yourself. How much can, and are willing, to give?
Home, India, maybe a fancy Instagram destination? When you start your research about Yoga Schools, start locally. Talk with your teacher, ask them where have they taken theirs, any recommendations, any thoughts worth sharing. Local courses save you the travelling fees but at the same time, wouldn’t it worth going to India and learning from the roots? Or maybe going to somewhere nice you’ve always wanted to visit, like Bali or Thailand? You know this better than me, but bare in mind Instagram-style schools usually do not match the quality of the teaching. Food for thought.
Hatha, Vinyasa Flow, Ashtanga, Iyenger, Bikram, Kundalini, Yin, Jivamukti. The list goes on. ‘Oh but isn’t Yoga just one? Yes and no – you may Google it for now – but the style of Yoga you are going to learn about matters. A lot. If you only remember one tip from this article, please keep this one. I’ve only learnt this the moment I arrived at my Yoga School in Rishikesh. Lol. Yes, make it a BIG lol.
Is there a teacher you love, admire or would like to meet? Perhaps someone you follow on Instagram or you've heard about? This is the time to talk with her/him. Unfortunately, I didn’t do this until I’ve decided to take my advanced training in Vinyasa Flow, and travel all the way from London to Goa to follow my cool guru, Nadine. For me, that was a clever move. I got a real opinion from a real person and I got to not only to learn from her but also to take her classes daily – oh and realise that my chaturangas were shit.
Yes. This one shouldn’t be neglected. Becoming a Yoga teacher is pricy, woman. So far, I’ve invested over 10 000 euros between trainings, books, trips, classes, leggings, mats, green foods, massages (if you become a Yoga teacher, we can have a chat about this) videos, etc, etc. Doing a TCC should never be a decision to be taken light-heartedly. Check your finance wisely before comiting. The course fee is just the top of the iceberg and, as with everything else in the world, paying cheap may mean getting shit and paying expensive may mean exactly that, paying expensive.
Oh damn it, how big has this post become? Just before we all go back to work, one more very important thing. Doing a Yoga teacher training qualifies you to become a Yoga instructor but it does not make you a Yoga teacher. Another post on this later.
Anyway, I hope this helps, at least a little bit.
Lots of love from Lisboa.