5 Ways a Yoga Teacher Training can Mess Up Your Life (& You’ll be Glad it Did) ~ Elephant Journal Article

You love yoga. It’s no surprise that you’ve been thinking about taking a teacher training for years.

You sometimes push your hair back away from your eyes, squish your toes deeper into your sticky mat and watch the teacher at the front of the room. All the while thinking to yourself, “I wonder if I could do that?”

Time and time again you see ads for amazing looking programs float across your social media feeds. The cozy group shots of beaming faces catch your eye. You’re drawn in by the heartfelt proclamations of how “life-changing” and “transformational” each participant’s experience was.

You follow the links, research the trainers, feel like you are supposed to join them. But still, for some reason, you don’t hit the little sign up button to make it happen.

If this sounds like you, know that you are not alone.

You might feel like you are standing at the edge of a precipice when you consider committing to a yoga teacher training. The truth is, you are.

Once you make this plunge, it’s impossible to go back.

When I went to my first teacher training back in 1998, I was a terrified wreck. Painfully shy, I felt like a turtle with all its vulnerable parts tucked deep into its shell. I tried my best to go unnoticed. The first few days I hid in the back of the room, barely spoke up and dodged all opportunities for practice teaching. The truth is that I had no intention of ever actually teaching yoga publicly, and I made it very clear to everyone present that I was just there to deepen my own practice.

What I didn’t know at the time is that the magic of teacher training is subtle and sly, and it gets under your skin in the best possible way. Before I knew what had happened, my confidence had grown. I was coming out of my shell and was well on my way to creating a life dedicated to teaching.

Seventeen years later, after building a successful career teaching yoga and personally training hundreds of yoga teachers, I want to share with you the top five reasons you should be afraid to join a yoga teacher training:

1. You’ll never feel the same about yoga. 

Most of us who are drawn to teach do so because we love the practice and want to know more. The easiest way to gain more knowledge and enrich your practice is to do a teacher training. Taking a training will broaden your understanding of yoga in ways that attending drop-in classes simply can’t.

Once you learn all that goes into teaching, your experience as a student will forever shift. Participating in a teacher training changes your relationship to yoga in so many ways. Whether it’s in the new depth of connection you will feel to the history of the practice or your heightened appreciation of sequencing and alignment, nothing will feel the same.

2. You won’t be able to hide. 

If you are totally content being shy, playing small and avoiding attention, then a teacher training may not be the right place for you. But if there is some part of you that is ready to step out of the shadows and into the light, it may be just the thing.

One of the most common side effects of these trainings is a massive boost in confidence. Often, even the shyest people uncover a latent boldness. Once you discover how courageous and daring you can be, it will no longer feel right to hold yourself back. Get ready to be seen!

3. You will be forced to see yourself in an entirely new way. 

There’s nothing like being thrown into a powerful community of yogis to shake up your sense of self. When you get together with a group of conscious practitioners who are dedicated to authenticity and awakening, there will be endless opportunities for reflection. Be prepared to have a lot of your old stuff come bubbling to the surface. You might find yourself navigating limiting beliefs and habitual family patterns as you uncover a deeper connection with yoga and step into a bigger version of yourself.

4. You might want to quit your day job. 

The richness of the inner exploration affects not only your yoga practice, but also every area of your life. The clearer you get in who you truly are, the more pull you will feel to live your passions. If you have been living out of alignment in any way, this will soon become more obvious. You might find you suddenly have a burning clarity about your life’s purpose and the desire to bring it into full expression will be hard to resist. It could be time for a change!

5. The love. Oh my god, the love. 

Something magical happens when people embark on the journey of a teacher training together. The long hours, rich practice and countless opportunities to face your fears creates a bond that lasts. Your heart will crack open in gratitude and wonderment for the other people in your group. And that feeling of love and appreciation will eventually extend beyond your training to all beings everywhere.

Before long, you will have a soft spot in your heart for the tender beauty of our shared humanity and the infinite strength of the divinity that pulses through us all.

To be sure, a yoga teacher training is a huge commitment on many levels. No matter what your past experience with yoga is, diving in this much deeper will likely rock your world. For most of us, that thought is more than a little scary.

I know. I have been right where you are now and I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that in the end, it’s all totally worth it.

There’s an old saying about the spiritual journey: “Best not to begin. Once begun, best to finish.”

If you are into yoga at all, then you have already started down this road. You can already see the change in your life is under way; you have already begun. Best to finish.

Every single one of us has the capacity for such immense greatness. It is up to each of us: Will we stay small and let our fears remain in the driver’s seat, or will we risk letting go of the familiar and lean in the direction we are meant to go?

A yoga teacher training is simply a chance to take it one step further. What will you choose?

Kirsten Warner