As a full-time yoga teacher trainer, I hear a lot of questions from students before they attend yoga teacher training. “Should I sign up for extra classes before I come?” Or “I’m not so flexible. Is it still OK to take the training?” Some express concern that their level of “yoga” isn’t sufficiently advanced. Others feel that their body isn’t strong enough for a yoga teacher training.
They’re all essentially asking the same thing. “Am I ready?”
In my honest opinion, all you need to do to be ready for yoga teacher training is show up and have a willingness to learn. (Of course, it is useful—and, in some cases, required—to have some experience of the physical practice of yoga, otherwise you won’t have any understanding of the actual benefits of yoga.)
Your abilities and amount of experience do not determine “how good you are at yoga,” because there is no such thing. Asana practice does not come with specific requirements of having a certain level of flexibility or strength. As you will learn, yoga is a much broader philosophy than just the poses. Even the postures are not a physical performance, but a tool to help us become balanced and steady in the body and mind so we can be still effortlessly for meditation, one of the highest forms of spiritual practice in yoga. It is through the practice itself that flexibility and strength of body, mind, and spirit are cultivated.
You might be required to complete some reading prior to your training, although that depends on the teacher and the school. In my humble opinion, this is not necessary or even beneficial. The purpose of yoga teacher training is to learn how to apply the knowledge in the training to your everyday life. The philosophy itself is so vast, your understanding of any texts will be far more nuanced when the teachings are explained to you by a teacher, which is how yoga was traditionally taught. Any reading you might do prior to training will take on different meaning after you have been handed down an understanding of the larger scope of yoga by your trainers. After that, you can experience everything—including required texts—through that lens.
It’s important to remember that as a teacher, your learning will not stop at the end of your training. I always say to my students upon graduation, “Now the true learning begins.” The most insightful lessons start at the end of your YTT. Why? Yoga philosophy teaches us about the importance of direct experience. It is through the application of the knowledge that you will discover the truth behind all the theory that you will learn in your training. It is through experiencing all aspects of yoga—and not just the physical asana—that you will evolve in your personal practice as a yoga student and as a teacher. It is essential that you always remain a student.
It is through the everyday practice of the asanas, concentration, meditation techniques, leading yoga classes, etc., that you will learn a more nuanced understanding of all the learning you have done in the YTT. There is no end to the insights and the awareness that you will experience.
3 things you can do to prepare for yoga teacher training
That said, everyone seems to want to do something prior to yoga teacher training. Here are some areas that you can explore in the weeks and months leading up to your YTT:
Relax your body and mind
Yoga teacher training—especially an intensive YTT that is accomplished in a matter of weeks—is not a relaxing retreat experience. Quite the contrary. The days are long. The schedule consists of back-to-back classes spanning both practice and theory. The amount of study time and reflection asked of you outside of class will be substantial.
In other words, you will need your energy. If you start practicing intensively before YTT, you might exhaust or even injure yourself. You can, of course, practice asana or concentration techniques daily, but do it as you would normally, and try not to force your progress.
Maintain your enthusiasm
Keep a positive attitude for the transformative experience to come. A yoga teacher training is a beautiful exploration and having an attitude of curiosity will better support your learning. Instead of overthinking it, keep enthusiastic about the decision you have made and sit with any pre-training nervousness but do not lose yourself in it. Once an emotion is felt and not ignored, you can often move past it.
Let go of expectations
Trust in yourself, the teacher, and the training you have chosen. Be open to this experience and let it unfold as it will. Remember why you chose to join a YTT and keep that spark with you until the end of training.
About our contributor
Miriam Indries is a 500-hour-plus yoga teacher and YTT trainer. With a vast experience of teaching asana and meditation as well as yoga teacher trainings, she is devoted to her mission and service of sharing yoga philosophy around the world through her teachings. She spent time in India studying yoga philosophy and advanced asana practice. Miriam is also an Ayurveda Practitioner, Pilates instructor and fitness enthusiast. Additionally, she has academic qualifications in Psychology (B.A) and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) with an emphasis on behavior, effective goal setting, and strategies for self-development. Her love for learning also led her to studies in Traditional Chinese Medicine, body language, and reflexology and she continues to remain a student of life. She currently teaches at Aegialis School of Yoga in Greece as the creator and lead teacher of the YTTs.