When summer comes to a close, kids get ready for their first day of school. This first day of school requires careful preparation and it’s a moment of great excitement, not only for the little ones starting their first grade, but also for the “big” ones starting their first teacher training in a school - in a Yoga school.
How do you know when you are ready?
You know that kids go to school when they turn 6 or 7. However, when you decide if you are ready for a yoga teacher training or not, age is not a criterion at all, not even the “age” of your practice. Young or experienced, yoga beginner or super-advanced, you will find a Yoga teacher training that suits you as soon as you feel you are prepared for such a course.
How do you know precisely when you are ready for a yoga teacher training? Sonja Appel, Founder and leading teacher at Sushumna Yoga in Goa, India, affirms that a student knows s/he is ready for Yoga Teacher training by looking at the burning desire to dive into the eight limbs of yoga:
“Of course one needs to have a burning passion (rajas) and true desire to embrace all eight limbs of yoga, not just the asana practice which is only one of them. This should be considered before embarking on any Yoga Teacher Training. I think that it is more important to have a daily practice or start doing one than the ability to do advanced asana, although a certain level should have been attained, at least a level two in classes. However the ability to have an open mind, strong body and a great desire to learn and good knowledge of how your body feels when practicing asana is a great starting point too.”
Preparation tips for Yoga Teacher Training
There are a couple of tips for you to prepare for the wonderful learning journey of Yoga teacher training. The following tips will help you prepare not only for the first day of the teacher training programme but will set up the basis for your entire yoga journey.
1. Read through some Yoga literature in order to get familiar with the key concepts. Ask if there is a reading list recommended by the Yoga school where your teacher training takes place and try as much as possible to go through it before the course. During the course, you would be so busy with the practice and the study of the textbooks that there will be no time left for extra curriculum readings.
2. Get in touch with recent graduates to know what to expect from your Yoga school: how is the place like, what should you bring with you, daily schedule, classes structure, teaching methods, teachers, is there a “silent day”, what kind of food will be served for meals. Ask your Yoga school if it can provide you with alumni contacts who could be a valuable insightful support in preparing your trip and setting up your expectations for the teacher training course. Furthermore, talking to alumni, other yogis or yoga teachers will boost your motivation and inspire you to get the best out of the course.
3. Spend some time working on the asana. As soon as your application is successful, this is the time when you really start to prepare. Sonja believes you can only teach to the level of your own daily practice. So, what she recommends before embarking on a teacher training course is: “asana practice 6 days a week, one day of rest and if you do Mysore self –practice; rest is taken on the moon days too, which is twice a month. No inversions at that certain ‘time of the month’ for women. Practicing with full mind/body awareness will not tire you out as you should never push your body in yoga. I encourage you to always practice ahimsa - non violence, in thought, word and action.”
4. Give yourself time for the learning process. Learning occurs differently for each of us and in different time spans. Reflecting on your learning process would help you understand how you function as a learner (what is the most helpful for your understanding - to see it, hear it or try it?) and then enhance your learning based on what you know about yourself.
5. You may want to buy a notebook more than the ones counted on the list received from your kid’s teacher. You will need a notebook and some pencils just for yourself. Prepare your notebook for taking notes during the classes and for journaling. Inspiration, thoughts, reflection and thought may pop up and it’s good to have a space to gather them all.
Reading the recommended literature of your yoga school before the course, getting in touch with other yogis, graduates of the yoga school, their teachers or staff, dedicate some of your time to the regular conscious practice of asana and reflect on your learning process in order to improve it, should support you in the endeavor of becoming a great yoga teacher. This will allow you to enjoy the experience with all your senses realizing too, that at the same time the 5 senses can be limiting, if we cannot move beyond them into a more expansive realm, which is the true journey of the yogi.
For all the little ones, and the big ones starting their school this fall, an open mind, a big heart, a strong body and a burning desire to learn will keep up your excitement for the courses. Not only for the first day of school, but for the entire learning journey.