Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
What does an experienced yoga teacher who has attended and taught multiple yoga teacher trainings know about what to pack for an amazing experience? A lot. That’s why we talked to international yoga teacher Jeanie Manchester to learn the must-haves that top her list.
1. An eye bag
This prop may seem unnecessary. After all, you want to take in everything during your yoga teacher training, right? Wrong—at least when it comes to Savasana (Corpse Pose), says Manchester. “Placing an eye bag over your eyes blocks out distracting visual stimuli, immediately inducing a more internal experience,” she says.”They can also release tension in the forehead, slowing down any mind chatter you’ve got going on—which will likely be a lot during a yoga teacher training.” Plus, many are scented with a lavender fill that smells wonderful and helps to further calm your central nervous system.
2. Your own (well-worn in!) mat
If you’re traveling to your yoga teacher training, it can be tempting to bring your travel mat—or buy a new one once you get there. However, “A travel mat may not give you the cushioning you need when you’re spending several hours a day on your mat,” says Manchester. What’s more, a new mat may take some time to break in—not exactly ideal when you’re already on overload with all the learning and practicing asana. Even better? “Each day you practice on your own mat, you imbue your energy into it,” says Manchester. “It becomes the intimate repository of your emotions and sensations—and yoga teacher trainings are a wonderful time for potent, transformative emotions.”
3. Essential oils
Anyone who has taken a yoga teacher training knows what an emotional roller coaster it can be. Essential are surprisingly powerful tools to lift your mood or soothe your spirit—during your practice or afterwards when you are winding down in your room. “It’s wonderful to have your own stash at a yoga teacher training,” says Manchester. “You can use them while traveling to boost your immunity, and use them each night to promote deep rest and balance your emotions.”
4. Two journals
Not only will you want to take mad notes during your training, but you’ll also want to write down your process: What emotions are coming up for you? What revelations are you having? Manchester suggests bringing two journals or notebooks with you: “I like to take notes during the day—and also have a special place to reflect emotionally about inner and outer shifts that happen during a yoga teacher training,” she says. “These trainings are so much more than what they appear to be on the outside. Some of my deepest personal growth has happened in yoga and meditation retreats and trainings.”
5. Essential reading
Asana so often takes the spotlight. Yet yoga is about making contact with the divine that lives inside of you. Reading a book on yoga philosophy can help remind you of the big picture, and Manchester’s pick is clear: Poised for Grace: Annotations on the Bhagavad Gita from a Tantric View by Douglas Brooks. “This commentary is the best for bringing the Gita into your everyday life,” says Manchester. “Brooks asks probing questions throughout that really make you think. He asks us to jump into our own battle on the field of dharma.”
6. Yoga mat cleanser
No matter how clean you try to keep your gear, one thing is certain during a yoga teacher training: Your mat will get filthy. To help keep the dirt, grime, and germs at bay, wipe your mat down after you practice. Bonus: Doing this will also keep your mat smelling fresh and even extend its life. You can clean your mat using some water and a few drops of essential oil (a mix of tea tree oil and lavender or lemon will work well!), or use an environmentally-friendly pre-made mat cleanser.
About the Writer
Elizabeth Marglin is a freelance writer in Lyons, Colorado.