Curious about our teacher trainings? Read this blog post by Danielle, a graduate of Yoga District’s 200-hour teacher training program.

I don’t think there was any sort of mental readying I could have done for what the 200-hour teacher training would be like. I had read the books and heard other people’s accounts of how it changed them and yet I was still under prepared.

There are three major things that I felt teacher training changed in me and, how I not only view yoga, but how I view my role (and responsibility) as a yoga teacher.

The first thing came to me as a result of being in an intensive all-day, everyday training where I was surrounded with 11 other people, all looking for different things. We each came from different backgrounds, with different goals and different approaches to yoga and teaching. Being around these people cultivated in me a new understanding of what it was like to be molded by my peers. I was constantly being paired with someone new. Sometimes I would be paired with someone whom I knew thought very differently from me, and I worried that would impact the reflections they would give on the activities we would do together. What ended up happening was much greater and far more exciting.

Constructive criticism is a means in which to flourish and grow — a tool that requires an eager heart for improvement.

Coming from a background where I struggled with my ego and desired to be “right,” I would fight any sort of correction or approach to make something better if it challenged what I thought in any way. It took a good part of the training for me to stop buying into my mind’s pull of “I’m right; I know what I’m doing,” or “This person doesn’t know as much as I do,” and embrace the beautiful process of having an open mind and a soft heart to hear words of constructive criticism to push me toward growth and allow positive change within myself. I learned how to receive and appreciate criticism in a positive, constructive way, not as a means to tear down or belittle. This was a challenge, and one in which I wouldn’t have succeeded if it weren’t for the intensity and structure of the teacher training.

The next major thing I gleaned during this time was geared more toward the truths of teaching versus serving.

There is more to being a yoga teacher than simply teaching. It is the act of serving people who all come to the space looking for something.

You are there to create an atmosphere for people to cultivate this growth and not to push or administer any pre-conceived plan or desire. This was something that I didn’t understand at all until we sat down to discuss what teaching yoga actually meant. Teaching something implies that you are imparting some sort of knowledge base to another. Yoga doesn’t operate this way. We may be teaching poses or breathing cues, but as a whole, we are just there to assist the students individual needs as it pertains to them, not as we see it in that classroom environment. Creating a safe space for the practitioner to work through mental stresses or physical challenges is really what it’s about. We can guide them intelligently, with attention to body alignment and safety, but our ultimate job as teachers is not to teach: it is to serve.

This brings me to the third major thing that I took away from the training, and that is that yoga expands beyond the physical asanas. I knew going into the training that yoga embodies many different attributes, but I didn’t realize the magnitude of it until I worked through all the various aspects of them on a daily basis. I didn’t realize how much of the movement of an asana and the stillness of meditation worked together. Coming from a physical fitness background and only learning of yoga as a means to lengthen the muscles of the body and remove stress and tension, this “mental yoga” was a newer concept. I had read about the eight limbs of yoga and what they were, but actually getting to experience them opened my eyes to how complex yoga actually is.

There is more to yoga than just movement.

I found that through the various practices, I felt more energized, more calm and more clarity of mind, more so than just focusing on the physical asanas could have given on their own. It was really exciting to learn how to properly administer and apply the various methods of yoga as a whole to my practice, and I am so eager to share them with others.

There is much more to yoga than meets the eye. The teacher training really opened up a door that I don’t think I could have found through any other means. Being able to apply these principles to my day-to-day life has been extremely rewarding. I encourage any of you who are looking to deepen your understanding of not only yoga but of yourself, to take a teacher training course. It will impact you in ways you didn’t know it could.

Through this training I came to the realization that I long to help people, through the use of movement, to create positive change. I am so happy that I’ve been given the tools to serve others better and build on this foundation to impact my community in uplifting and encouraging ways.

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