As you can all imagine, I finished my Yoga Teacher Training course, and then some. It was not at all what I expected. I had imagined a bunch of hippie loving vegans all singing in circles and practicing yoga every day and OM’ing my little heart out.
Boy was I wrong. Now perhaps it was the specific studio where I trained and the instructor’s teaching methods that made this experience so.. unique. I will let you decide. All I know is that this was harder than 4 years of University. No joke.
I will demystify some things for my readers. What do you actually learn there? Is it hard? Did you seek enlightenment?
Here’s the truth.
1) YTT teaches women how to deal with women.
Being in a studio with the same 33 women every single day for 6 fucking weeks is basically my nightmare. At LEAST 5 women are on their period at all times. It is like highschool. There are cliques. There are the super keen teachers pets who sit front row on their mats meditating while they wait for the teacher to arrive. There were the dreadlocked girls with massive OM symbols tattooed all over their backs who did headstands and arm balances during breaks. There was one guy in the whole classe who was on an entirely different plane than most human beings I roll with. There were women in their 60s who’s yoga practice put mine to shame. There were 18 yr olds fresh out of highschool looking for a way to not join the conventional workforce. There were mutes that didn’t say a single word the entire 6 weeks. Then there were the brats who giggled and didn’t take things so seriously as everyone else. I hung out with them. Obv. I’m sorry but I cannot keep a straight face when a bunch of women stand in tree pose holding hands talking about how much we love each other and support each other like trees in the forest. Fucking kill me. I pretty much loathed these women by the end. Nobody should ever have to be around this many women. EVER.
Put all these types of women together every single day and it is pretty much a recipe for an emotional breakdown. What did this teach me? How to tolerate women. I struggled with my instinct to judge everyone instantly. I had to tune into my “yoga vibes” and find ways to not let my eye twitch when someone mentioned the word “vegan” or “crossfit”. I worked my way through every single woman in that class until I liked at least one thing about each of them. I even left the course with a few new friends, which was a total bonus considering I live in a pretty isolated part of BC.
This was really hard for me. I am a guys girl. I like boy things. I like boys. I like fart jokes and doing beer bongs. Yoga, however, has taught me how to appreciate women. We aren’t so bad after all.
2. You do not know how to do yoga.
Seriously. Start from scratch. Everything you thought you knew about the correct alignment in postures is wrong. Think you have a nice down dog? You don’t. Think your Warrior II is special? It’s not.
I literally had to relearn every posture. Unless you have a private yoga instructor, you likely have never been adjusted into the correct postures for the majority of your practice. The cueing of poses is so critical and there are a ton of really shitty yoga instructors that aren’t teaching the correct alignment. Getting into a perfect triangle pose is work. I had been dumping into it every single time. I had to really back out of it and work on my core because otherwise the pose is pointless. This leads me to my next point.
3. It is all about anatomy.
For someone like me who couldn’t even tell you what the bones in my legs were called (like um where’s like my tibia?), you pretty much leave YTT feeling like a fucking doctor. You become one of those annoying people who says scapula instead of shoulder blade, clavicle instead of collar bone, ilium instead of hip bone, coccyx instead of tail bone. You become a genius basically. I had no clue what was inside my body. I just left my innards to themselves. Just do your thang, insides. Now I can tell you when my psoas is feeling strained and causing me back pain. I can feel ligaments and tendons and know what they are called and how long they are and where they attach and what the move. Again, I am a fucking know-it-all genius now. Physio Therapists probably fucking loathe yoga teachers.
4. Yoga is a business and the Director of your studio is just as greasy as a car salesman.
It seems so wrong but hey man, they are just trying to deliver yoga and pay bills. I am in the midst of opening up a studio in my town and when it all comes down to it, even though I just want to teach yoga for free so everyone can reap the benefits, I need to pay for my cork floors and pretty spa-like bathroom. Studio’s are a lot of upkeep. Props are expensive. Loans cost money. Training courses are long, intense and expensive. You are not paying $20 for an hour of instruction. You are paying $20 for hours of designing custom classes that will make you feel amazing, an hour of cleaning the studio so it looks and feels like a spa, book keeping and paperwork, planning workshops, and advertising. The behind the scenes work of a yoga teacher is where we earn our $20/student fee which ends up being not the greatest profit. We learn how to make you want to come back. Let us take care of you and buy 10 class punch passes if you want the best deal!
5. Be very wary of where you take your training..
If you are looking to learn the 8 limbs of yoga, discover your chakras, doshas, etc. make sure you do your research. The studio I trained at did not cover any of the philosophy of yoga and I was pretty disappointed. The director is strictly alignment based and obsessed with the spine and anatomy. While I think that this is really important when cueing students into asanas, I also felt like the joy of yoga was sucked away from me and stripped down to essentially a personal trainer program. Near the end of my training I wasn’t even sure if I liked yoga anymore, let alone was I going to embark on a career opening a yoga studio? It is really important to make sure whatever training you take, it suits your needs. Yoga is not just a “workout”. It is a time to dedicate yourself to taking care of your body. It clears your mind. It really is a way of life and a mindset. So meet with the instructors. Take them out for coffee. Get to know their passions. I would have chosen a completely different training program if I had taken a moment to do this.
My instructor, unfortunately, was a drill sergeant who was likely suffering from dementia. With 33 other women in the course, it was hard to get my questions answered. I felt totally disconnected from my personal practice. Her way of teaching gave me anxiety. Teachers need to adapt to all kinds of learning methods. Criticism should be constructive and personal. Not something that can be pointed out as “being wrong” in front of all your peers. I have never felt so belittled in my life. Some people need this competitive sort of push when they learn. Me, on the other hand, felt like crying every week. The general consensus among my peers was that our instructor was severely bipolar and struggling with some serious mental issues, but I can still come to the generalization that you NEED to do your research. Ask prospective studios for a few contacts that have completed their training course and connect with them. They will tell you honestly how the teachers instruct. I’m not saying that I am soft and can’t take a little criticism, but this woman had my friends in tears and ridiculed students to other students behind their back. Find a positive mentor. It will make or break you.
This course was really eye-opening for me. I learned so much about my body. So much about my own patience. I was fully dedicated and immersed in something. I haven’t had this sort of focus in YEARS. It hurt. I was in crippling pain for the first two weeks but eventually gained so much strength and flexibility. Again, it was harder than university. It was a mind fuck. We wrote a 16 pages final exam. It was outrageously inappropriate and covered so many topics that weren’t discussed during the training. I left feeling defeated.. just to find out that they didn’t even mark the exams… it was “more of a survey so the instructors could see how well they taught”. I was furious. I was constantly angry and felt murderous.
HOW VERY YOGA OF ME.
But guess what. I know how to teach a yoga class. And I can’t fucking wait.
Now that I have been out of Yoga Jail for a week, I have collected my thoughts and realized that in the end, I made a few friends and learned how to be a productive teacher at the expensive of a terrible one.
Leaving all this behind me, I am only looking forward to my new studio.
So here is a small poll for you! #1 or #2? My business name was approved. Coming soon to a Fruitvale near you…
Let me know which one you like better 🙂