Plus 3 tips if you are still nervous

The world is full of Yoga teacher trainings. There seems to be a TT-course on every corner and many people want to become a Yoga teacher.

One might love or hate the fact that you can get a piece of paper stating that you have passed certain requirements to be a “Yoga teacher”. But let’s face it, that’s just how our society works, we want to standardize everything and we often use titles and certifications as orientation for our choices and trust (e.g. “organic” food, scientific studies from prestigious universities etc.).

Personally I don’t care much about diplomas of any kind, but I do believe in disciplined learning based on daily practice and first hand experience.

When I signed up for my teacher training intensive, I already had an established daily practice and was quite advanced in asana. My main goal was to broaden my knowledge and experience and deepen my practice, especially in areas that I had not explored before.

There is a very powerful effect of committing to a period of intense learning and practice, of dedicating oneself to studying and being open for new experiences. And that’s what happens when we sign up for university, for driver’s education, or when joining any other course.

It is or at least should be mainly about focused learning, not about getting a certificate or title.

What is a “Yoga teacher” after all?

For most of us the concept of following a Guru for enlightment is pretty foreign. And I guess none of us studying Yoga will ever be a Yoga “Guru” in a traditional way.

We are at best dedicated students that share our knowledge based on our own experience.

An experience that will hopefully increase everyday until we die – Never stop learning, never stop being a student of life!

And coming from that perspective, a teacher training (or intensive,  immersion or whatever it is called) is hopefully an opportunity for the dedicated student to deepen their practice & experience of many tools and techniques of Yoga.

Most of us start out practicing asana. In the teacher training we might then be confronted with a regular practice of pranayama, meditation, chanting, philosophy.

On top of that we learn and practice teaching techniques that allow us to translate our own experience of Yoga into something we can share with others.

An no matter how long the teacher training lasts – 1 month, 1 year or 4 years – one will only learn so much, a perceived minimum to then go off teaching while still keeping up the study and practice on our own path.

After the teacher training course is over, learning and being a student will continue until the end of our lives, if we do so consciously or not. That’s for sure.

And actually sharing our knowledge with others is one of the best ways of deepening our own knowledge.

I personally learn the most, when I prepare for teaching a workshop on a subject I haven’t taught before.

As I want to teach a certain concept, there is a much higher urge for self reflection and re-assessing those concepts in my own practice . And therefore my own learning curve goes up as well.

Here is where the personal responsibility comes in.

Our teacher can only offer us techniques and answer our questions.

We as students have to take the techniques, practice them regularly, do our best to understand them and ask questions when we are not clear. If we use the time of any training course like that, an exam will never be a problem.

But as we tend to get tense just by the fact that an “exam” is coming up, here are some ideas on staying focused and calm while studying for the exam:

1. Don’t try to be perfect! Instead be the best you can be at this very moment.

Nobody expects you to know every detail. So don’t worry about making mistakes. Making mistakes is how we learn. I actually remember more things that I failed to write down in tests than I remember of the things that I studied and wrote down correctly.

Forget perfection as there is none. But ideally make the mistakes to learn from before taking an exam.

Also, you can just learn and keep so much at any moment. Do your best, be focused and study as much as you can, but trying to understand every detail won’t help you to pass the exam but will just freak you out.

2. Take action and transform learned knowledge into experience

For me it’s all about putting it into action: Mantras don’t make any sense until you chant them. Kriyas are just weird until you have felt their effect on your own body, mind and spirit. Anatomy is only helpful when you can make sense of it in your practice. So transform everything you learn into an experience.

You may know and have even memorized the whole cookbook but without actually preparing the meal you will remain hungry.  Everybody who has cooked a certain recipe a couple of times knows how they just don’t need the cookbook anymore.

Ideally, studying for the exam consists of just reminding yourself of all the things you have learned and experienced throughout your training course.

3. Use common sense and always reflect with your own practice and you cannot be wrong

We are often so attached to being GOOD, needing to know EVERYTHING, not making any mistakes, that we forget to use our common sense.

Instead of freaking out when we don’t know the prescribed – the “right” – answer from a textbook, we should just stay calm, ask our intuition and think of what may be obvious.

Let’s get off our goal of reaching success and avoiding failure and stay in equanimity. The answer might just come.

“Equanimity of mind is Yoga. Do everything, Arjuna, centered in that equanimity. Renouncing all attachments, you’ll enjoy an undisturbed mind in success or failure.” -Baghavad Gita, II.48

Still study though ;)

Tom Richter
Tom Richter

𝒾𝓂𝓅𝓇𝑜𝓋𝑒 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝒷𝓇𝑒𝒶𝓉𝒽, 𝒾𝓂𝓅𝓇𝑜𝓋𝑒 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝓁𝒾𝒻𝑒 Breathing & Movement Teacher ︴Ashtanga Therapy ︴Pranayama