Training to become a yoga teacher is intense — like all of life’s most worthwhile endeavours — and it helps to be prepared. We can all list the obvious, practical equipment we need: a mat, a block (or a brick, or both as the case may be) and breathable, comfortable clothing, but what about the things we can’t purchase in our nearest Sweaty Betty? What about things that take a little more preparation, a little more thought or a little more awareness. Sometimes it is the less obvious things that will be of most use to us along our journey and five of them are listed below.
1. Keep A Yoga Journal
Of course you will make notes, annotate handouts and do your own research at home long after the final Namaste of the day and these will definitely be of use to you throughout your training and on into your career as a yoga teacher, however so much can be forgotten when limited to facts. What about how you felt throughout your practice and what helped you get through it, how a particular way of phrasing things changed a pose for you or how your mindset developed and altered from the beginning of a class until the end.
We forget lots of what happens to us in our day-to-day lives and having a place where we can look back and remember, not just what we learned, but how we felt and how we grew will prove invaluable to our continued exploration and development of ourselves. It may help us feel more compassion toward our students, empathise with them on their own journeys and in turn become a better teacher.
2. Find A Camera
Up to 12-hours of learning each day is a lot to take in and having pictorial reminders can really help us visualise and remember adjustments and anatomy. It can also prove a vital time saver when trying to make notes from a board after a class brainstorm – being able to simply press a button and capture the information to record and decipher in our time later can allow us to free our minds and move on to the next part of the discussion.
As well as this there is a much more personal reason that bringing a camera to class is an essential item of my yogi teacher training toolkit: memories. You will meet people you connect with, wander past something new and interesting during a break or simply want to remember a moment where you felt totally at peace with yourself and what you were doing: it is important to capture these moments. We share our training journeys with others, we build bonds and these memories may prove just as important once we start teaching as the practical lessons we learned.
3. Pack Some Snacks!
We are nourishing our bodies and minds constantly during yoga training but it is important to keep replenishing our energy throughout the day so that we are able to stay alert while rewarding ourselves for our efforts. Bringing some delicious homemade or store-bought treats gives us the option of refueling ourselves whenever we need and is also a great way of bonding with our classmates: who doesn’t love being offered a homemade honey and but bar or a handful of fresh raspberries?
See Also: The 12 Best Snacks to Have on Hand
4. A Good Sense Of Humour
We all have a tendency to take life very seriously – to take learning very seriously. And in a sense we should – it’s important and we owe it to our future students, and to ourselves, to be the best yoga teachers we are capable of being. However, the process doesn’t have to be all frowns and frantic note taking – bringing humour to class lightens the intensity – it can help us expel any caught tension during our breaks, help us forge bonds with classmates and teachers and allow us to see things from a different perspective.
Sometimes we may be asked to do something that feels silly, or looks silly, and not taking ourselves to seriously will help us feel at ease in these situations and thus, get the most out of them.
5. Cultivate Self-Compassion
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, bring self-compassion and bring it by the bucket load. Yoga teacher training is challenging – worthwhile, but challenging – both on your body and on your mind. You’ll suddenly be nursing muscles you didn’t even know you had, find yourself feeling overly emotional during your mid-morning coffee break at work and pondering on questions that you feel you may never have the answer too. It is both liberating and tough and a large dose of self-compassion is extra important. Allow yourself to go through the emotional stages, the physical stages and in the same way you would give kindness and patience to a loved one, or a fellow class member, bestow that upon yourself.
Avoid beating yourself up if you have a hard day or you can’t grasp something you feel you should, don’t push yourself to get through that to-do list in the evening if what you really need is a bath and a soft pillow. Practise compassion meditation, there are lots of good variations on YouTube, to help instil the message of self-love and kindness in yourself. Instead of thinking, “why can’t I get this? I should try harder!” think, “I have already learned so much and come so far and this too, I will conquer when I am ready.”
As in your daily yoga practice, if we give our body’s compassion and space to adjust, adapt and heal, we get much more out of it.