Inside YJ's YTT: 4 Fears We Had Before Yoga Teacher Training

Yoga Journal editor-in-chief Carin Gorrell gets candid about her own fears and insecurities pre-YTT. Sound familiar?
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Yoga Journal editor-in-chief Carin Gorrell gets candid about her own fears and insecurities pre-YTT. Sound familiar?
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Yoga Journal editor-in-chief Carin Gorrell gets candid about her own fears and insecurities pre-YTT.

Last week, the Yoga Journal team started a 200-hour seva teacher training with our good friends at Yoga Pod, and we couldn’t be more thrilled! There are 14 of us representing our editorial, publishing, and digital teams, and after just two sessions, I already feel more bonded with each of them and a little more knowledgeable about yoga. So why are we doing it? (Other than the fact that we can’t get enough yoga, of course.) For one, it’s an amazing team-building opportunity. Second, Yoga Pod has built in a specific seva, or selfless service, component to their training, a concept that is very much a part of Yoga Journal’s mission. And finally, we’re always seeking new ways to deepen our practice and refresh our knowledge.

For the next few months, we’ll all be blogging about our experience and sharing some of the insights we gain through our 200-hour journey together. I have the honor of kicking things off, and I’ll open by being totally honest with you: I was a little nervous about this whole thing. Excited, too. But I kept thinking things like, what if my coworkers think I’m a terrible teacher, or my teachers think my practice is too weak, or I say something idiotic, or or or… And when I talked to a few fellow students, I learned that they were a little nervous, too. In hindsight, I think it’s normal, and now that I’m a week in, I’m feeling much calmer and more confident about things. So now seems like a good time to share a few of my top worries, and why they weren’t worth stressing about. And maybe, hopefully, if similar things are holding you back from taking the leap into yoga teacher training, it’ll help convince you to go for it!

See also Should You Take a Teacher Training to Deepen Your Practice?

4 Pre-YTT Fears You Should Get Over

“I’m not advanced enough.”

I work at Yoga Journal. I should be a master yogi, right? Well, scandal—I’m not. Not even close. Even after 15 years of practicing, my hips remain stubbornly tight, and inversions still freak me out a little (okay, sometimes a lot). And did I mention that I’m 25 weeks pregnant? Which means there are a lot of poses I shouldn’t do, and thanks to my weakened and increasingly heavy and off-balance state, others I simply can’t do.

All of this to say, I was a little anxious when we rolled out our mats on day one. But I shouldn’t have been. Turns out the level of experience in our group runs the gamut—some have multiple teacher training certifications, others are relatively new to the practice. And that’s perfectly normal, according to two of our awesome teachers, Nafisa Ramos and Amy Harris. They assured us they’ve seen many beginners in their trainings through the years, and besides, yoga isn’t about nailing a perfect handstand. I knew these things already, but it helped to be reminded. And—bonus!—Amy is about 21 weeks pregnant herself, so I feel even safer knowing I’m in smart and empathetic hands!

See also Are You Ready for Yoga Teacher Training?

“I don’t want to share super personal information.”

This is true in general, but even more so given my classmates are also my coworkers. I know yoga teacher trainings can bring to the surface some pretty heavy emotions—do I really want to risk breaking down in front of people who work with or for me? And yet, in week one, I already found myself revealing a few personal facts that I had no prior intention of sharing, and it was totally fine. Here’s the deal: It’s not like the moment you walk into a teacher training, you get sprinkled with some sort of truth dust and can’t keep your mouth shut. I’m still the same old me, and I only say what I’m willing to say. And by the way, my classmates were beautifully receptive and supportive—not that I was the least bit surprised.

“As a teacher, I won’t know the answers to students’ questions and will feel like an idiot.”

Yep, this will totally happen, no question about it. I taught a graduate class at New York University for a while and it happened at least, oh, once a class. Are those moments fun? Not really. Is it a big deal? Not really. No one knows everything about anything. That’s life. What matters is how you handle those moments when you’re caught in the headlights with a blank brain. My approach: Lose the ego, admit what you don’t know, and promise to find the answer. Heck, ask the entire class right then and there if anyone knows the answer; make it a discussion. Our Yoga Pod teachers did that on day two, and it only made me respect them more. As I see it, being a yoga teacher isn’t about wielding knowledge over others, it’s about learning and growing together as a community.

“What if I don’t see bad alignment?”

After two plus years of studying pose images for the pages of Yoga Journal, I’ve gotten much better at recognizing the little nuances of good and bad alignment in other people’s bodies. But again, I’m no master, and I rely heavily on my awesome team of editors and fact checkers and outside consultants to make sure we get it right. But at the head of a class, it would be just me—no crackerjack team of yoga aficionados to correct my mistakes or catch my oversights. What if I miss something? What if someone gets hurt on my watch?

All I can say to this is, that’s what teacher training is for. I already know more now than I did just a week ago, which means the odds of my making a mistake are that much less. And that makes me feel a little better—and a lot more motivated to keep learning.

See also How to Choose a Yoga Teacher Training