My Teacher Training Dilemma

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Most every time I associate myself as Atlanta Yoga Scene and introduce myself to a new group of yogis, they automatically assume two things about me;

1.) I must be a yoga teacher and
2.) I must be really advanced in my yoga practice.

Funny thing is, I’m neither.  I’m just a growing yoga student like most of you who really loves to write about yoga.

I’m steadily becoming more “advanced” as I expose myself to a consistent flow of teachers and styles, but I’m not getting any closer to being a teacher.

And the pressure is on.

People are confused as to why I wouldn’t want to jump into the next available YTT program. They ask me everywhere, all the time when I plan on taking the leap. For good reason, I guess. I clearly love this stuff!

I have always assumed at some point that I’d become a yoga teacher. I envision that in my future, I’ll hold a couple of classes a week at some quaint studio in the city, with a consistent class of 10 or so people who think I’m awesome. I’d have some really stimulating and fun sequencing that would keep my classes energetic and flowing, balanced by a really long, meditative savasana. They’d grow as students with me over the years, and I’d grow as a teacher with them.

Aside from those couple of classes, I’d still be a four-times-a-week yoga class junkie.

I love being a student so much that I’m perhaps a little bit scared?, unsure?, unwilling? to cross that threshold into yoga teacherdom. That threshold, naturally, is Yoga Teacher Training.

Every year in America, thousands of yogis pass through this threshold, sometimes, in the case of Isvari Verre, multiple times (she took teacher training thrice, count em 1-2-3, times!). Newly minted yoga teachers all come out raving about the experience. YTT is charged as one of the most life-changing, life-affirming things a yogi can do, enabling you with the right tools to share the gift of yoga to the world.

I recently read a post up on elephant journal called, “10 Signs You’re Ready for Yoga Teacher Training” and I fit all of their criteria spot on.

So why am I still resistant?

I think it’s because deep down, I think I’m getting everything I need from my life as a student and the owner of Atlanta Yoga Scene.

I tend to think that many (though not all) people who pass through teacher training do it because they feel they’ve reached a certain level of physical ability and emotional/spiritual commitment that drives them to want to dive really deep into the practice, through reading and detailed attention to asana and meditation. They fancy the idea of studio life, drawing a following of people who like their classes and philosophy, and making a little money doing something they love.

But I’m doing that now without being a teacher.

Through writing about yoga, and experiencing so many great teachers and styles offered in our city, (and jumping into some of the sacred texts in my free time) I have done a self-directed “deep dive” characteristic of the YTT program. I’m clearly very committed to sharing the gift of yoga, as evidenced by my 50-odd posts that go out to over 400 facebook fans every week. I love studio life and get to hang out at a lot, where I form relationships with teachers and students all over the city. I make a little money promoting my advertisers and affiliates (You should become an advertiser too! I do a very good job!).

So I’m torn. I get so much fulfillment and joy out of how I’m able to reach yogis through this medium. Blogging for you and hanging out with you before and after yoga classes lights me up. I can’t imagine that teaching would bring me more joy and play as well to my strengths. But who is to know unless I try?

Above all, I don’t want to compromise Atlanta Yoga Scene to go through months of teacher training. The catch-22, obviously, is that at some point doing both will be a reality if I want to accomplish my twice-a-week teaching dream. Why not now?

What advice might YTT grads have for me? How have you balanced two yoga loves?

7 Responses to My Teacher Training Dilemma
  1. Todd LaBerge
    August 2, 2011 | 6:25 pm

    “….when the student is ready, the teacher (and program!) appears…” Follow this.

    What you do here with Atlanta Yoga Scene priceless, and a Gift to our community here in Atlanta. Remember, I came from SF to teach here in the ATL, and it is beautiful to see someone who has so selflessly committed to furthering the entire community of Yoga here in Atlanta as you have. This is your own Teacher Training…but you’re the one leading it.. Leading it for us, your readers.

    I’ve taken five separate and widely varying, 200 Hour YTT’s, during my journey to my E-RYT 500. Each one nourishes, each one develops and changes who you are as a person. When you’re ready, one will appear that fits your needs and schedule. Also, remember, many programs offer separate modules, to offer entry to those who want to learn and grow without necessarily becoming a teacher. In fact, most people who complete 200 hr YTT’s, don’t ever have the intention of teaching.

    Lastly, when you become a teacher, the first thing that suffers is your practice. You want to teach, teach, teach and teach more. We all do that… then we found our way back to our own practice. It’s all a part of the evolution.

    Trust me…. it will appear when you’re truly ready for it, and you’ll know it.
    Shanti,
    Todd

    • Leah
      August 2, 2011 | 6:41 pm

      Thanks so much for your insights Todd. I’ve re-read your comment three times now and am a little more reassured each time :)

    • Carolyn Purvis
      August 8, 2011 | 5:35 pm

      Well said! I couldn’t have said it better. Thanks for bringing your gifts to the yoga community.
      Namaste’

  2. Katie
    August 2, 2011 | 7:19 pm

    I know what you mean, because I also share a strong appreciation for being student, and becoming a teacher can be a very intimidating idea compared to just going to class and having a date with you and your mat. I also think everything you are feeling is completely normal and with such an investment, you will always have second thoughts. Last spring, I almost entered the program, but due to personal reasons, I had to wait to do the program this fall. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it work financially and I knew it was a huge time commitment, but every time I questioned it, God led me towards the program more without a doubt. It’s funny, because now I am so ready to dive in and I am glad I listened to my heart and did it when the time was right for me.

    With that being said, do not let intimidation or uncertainty hold you back, because any change will involve those emotions, but follow your heart and you will know when the time is right for you. Either way, whenever you decide to do it – you will be an amazing teacher and STILL be a great student!

    Also, it would be awesome to do it together this fall!!!! (but I will put my selfish reasons aside:)Good luck in your journey and you will find the best decision in your heart.

    -Namaste

  3. BeAnne
    August 3, 2011 | 1:21 am

    Anyone who has graduated from yoga TT will tell you the same thing. It’s a life altering experience, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. It’s a journey and an intense one at that. It rips open the heart and sheds the layers of baggage that reveal the true self. Although I’ve never had a baby, I imagine it’s a lot like birthing a child. It’s a 9 month excursion of just about anything and everything and the labor is unimaginable, but then poof, there’s a beautiful precious innocent soul in your arms who smiles up at you with reverence and grace. From that moment, your life is changed forever and you can never go back to what your life was like before. Just like being a parent is a life long responsibility, teacher training is a journey that doesn’t end when you graduate. It’s a life long commitment and you have to be ready for such a powerful journey and you’ll know if and when you’re ready because your soul will take you there and the path will be clear. You are doing exactly what you are suppose to be doing. Writing and practicing is your journey and when the time comes to explore a different path, you’ll know. Love!

  4. Greg the Sponge...Bob
    August 3, 2011 | 5:54 pm

    Leah,

    Thanks for your work on AYC and for turning me on to Elephant and Yoga Dork!

    I’d like to suggest you may want a slightly different perspective on Yoga Teacher Training. Like others, I’ve been through several and expect to continue. YTT is really a title that studios use to describe a “deeper Yoga education”. It is (generally) less about teaching and more about the subtle (or subtler) aspect of the practice. So, if you investigate YTT programs with a clear eye on which “yoga gaps” you’d like to fill in from YOUR perspective, then perhaps it’s less about something that you aren’t ready to commit to and more about growth!

    One really amazing benefit of YTT sessions is the terrific expansion of your circle of yoga buddies that occurs. Some teach, some don’t, but all of them become a new reference point for you to draw upon. I’ve connected with some fantastic people whom I would otherwise never, ever have occasion to get to know. And, I get to be a better person because of it! So, I’m all for more education, even if it’s called Teacher Training. I now have buddies in Oregon, New Orleans, Santa Barbara, Brooklyn, (etc. etc) who are terrific friends whom I never would have connected with so very well had I not taken the plunge.

    In the spirit of openness, I do have to share that I do teach a little bit – so that path opened up for me AFTER my first TT class. I also do my personal practice (how is it possible that it’s been 15 years now???) and get to my favorite teachers classes as often as my schedule permits.

    In any event, please keep putting it out there!
    hugs.

  5. cathy
    August 17, 2012 | 2:24 pm

    Maybe you do not need to teach.
    It’s simple.

    Whatever you do with AYS may be enough. Many people feel ‘compelled’ to get their YTT cert. Some teach afterwards and some do not. Some get it to work as a yoga teacher sas their main income source. If you needed to do so you would.

    I will also say that not all YTT progs rip open you rheart and all that gooey stuff. Some ar esimply 200 or so hours of yoga( no surprise) smatterings of many other subjects( per interpretation of the organizing and teaching group) and a finale, whether a video of you teaching or a final paper or some culminating project. Truly, not hard.

    What is more important is that you practice in the way you choose to (safely) and are honest, careful and kind in your life world.

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