Whether she chooses a local studio or a retreat in Rishikesh, anxiety and excitement are the emotions that define every yoga teacher trainee’s feelings before she joins the course. However, over the journey of teacher training course, students experience a wide range of emotions from surprise, shock and acceptance to finally rejuvenation.
Yoga enthusiasts choose teacher training for two reasons. One, they want to go deeper with their practice. Two, some of them choose it to teach yoga professionally. Most students expect teacher training to be a bit grueling. However, by the time they come out they are transformed and have a completely new perspective towards life.
If you are planning to join a yoga retreat, here is what you can expect.
If you have chosen a retreat far away from your home, then you need to come prepared for the climatic change and the cultural difference that come with traveling to another country.
When you join the retreat, you will come across trainees like yourself, from different backgrounds and nationalities, but with a common aim of starting a personal journey with yoga. Most residential yoga teacher training centers follow a standard routine, with a few changes here and there, to personalize the courses for their students.
Traditional teacher training is immersed in yoga lifestyle. Every day you will wake up early to spend the early hours of quiet for meditating. This is followed by morning practice of asanas. Here you may be in for a bit of surprise, because these poses won’t be as benign as the ones you did at your local studio. However intimidating these poses seem, eventually with the help your teacher, you will find a way around them. After a light breakfast, there may be sessions on yoga philosophy, followed by lunch. In the afternoons there may be optional lectures on therapeutic yoga or Ayurveda. The evenings begin with kirtan and group prayers, followed by more yoga and meditation. The dinner is served early, and on most days, trainees retire for the day by 10 pm.
If you go to India for your teacher training, you will be served vegetarian food. In fact, many yoga retreats across the world offer only vegetarian food to their trainees. Made up of lentils, and locally grown fruits and vegetables, it is delight to savour this simple yet delicious food. Many retreats don’t offer food, and the trainees arrange their food from the local markets. However, eating meat and drinking alcohol is prohibited during teacher training.
Meeting fellow students is a delight. Although everyone comes from different educational and social backgrounds, it’s the love for yoga that binds them together. Discovering each other’s life stories over bon fires, and helping each other during the poses, allows every student to shed her inhibitions and enjoy human company without the shackles of “what’s in it for me” mentality. Many students form lifelong friendships during their teacher-training course. Retreats also plan excursions to nearby sightseeing areas, and give students an opportunity to interact with the native people and understand the local culture.
While it seems simpler to read, the routine at yoga teacher training is excruciating. The body goes through complete transformation. From the initial shock of being twisted and turned, the body finds its way to flexibility and freedom. And the meditation opens up secrets locked in our hearts which even we aren’t aware of. There will be days when you will be on the brink of giving up and others when you will want the session to never end. This mixed bag of emotions too finds a balance towards the end of the course.
To sum it up teacher training is a rollercoaster ride of emotions, which eventually leads us to self-awareness and a newfound identity. Whether one plans to teach yoga in future or not, teacher training is a must for every yoga enthusiast.