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The Journey of Becoming a Yoga Teacher - Part 1

There is no way back

An honest, personal and ironic review of my first weeks in yoga teacher training. The journey has involved up’s and down’s – just like any journey in life. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. Because learning of the body, the mind and the soul has become a precious gift, I would love to hand on to others through yoga. My resume is: There is no way back. Once you have started this journey, yoga washes over you, changes you and carries you along forever.

Starting a yoga teacher training is like boarding a plane

“There is no way back.” That sentence has been stuck in my head for days now. Since I have started the journey of becoming a yoga teacher, I have been wondering what scared me so much. And it is that there is no way back. You start the journey, you board the plane, and it just lifts higher and higher.

In other words, the decision of doing a yoga teacher training is a decision to open up your body, mind, and soul for the experiences that await you. With regards to the body, it is not even so far fetched. The more you practice yoga, the more aware you become of your body, that is, its needs and desires. Initially, the awareness might relate to being sore, dense, or tight. Eventually you learn to listen to your body and react to its wishes with awareness and an increasing sense of love. In yogic terms, you start to connect more deeply with the body which one of the 5 koshas, namely, the Ana Maya.

Still, there are times when you wonder, if you should really be the one to show others how to get into a certain pose. Doubts arise: How could you claim the right to teach, when you are yourself not even 100 % certain you are doing it right? Besides, how do you actually look in this pose? Do you want others to look at you, your imperfect body with the belly popping out and the butt never perfect in any kind of yoga pants? Should you not rather leave the teacher performance to others who are better yogis, better looking and – well, just better than you are? But here you are – training to become a yoga teacher. More so, you act as if you were completely fine with exhibiting your imperfect body performing sufficiently acceptable asanas to your future students. Doubts are screaming inside you. At times, they scream so incredibly that you forget you were actually looking forward to becoming a yoga teacher.

This plane ride involves doubts and excitement at the same time

Sometimes neither the meditation nor the mindfulness practice you have established in your daily routines help to release those doubts. The voice in your head just seems to become louder when you are sitting still. Ok – by now, you have learned to name it. “Hello Mana Maya – welcome. Nice that you are so actively chatting with me today. But seriously, can`t you just tell me how much you like the yoga teacher training? Or chat a little about the asanas, the yoga sutras ­– all the beautiful philosophy that is to yoga.” There you sit, trying to both meditate and accept the voice of your second Mana Maya-kosha. Sometimes it works just fine and you arrive in a beautiful state of freedom, non-thinking and floating. More often, however, this citta vritti keeps talking and talking. It whispers about your doubts to become a yoga teacher, but really, there is so much more to the citta vritti. “Hey, you need to buy groceries…and – oh, your colleague’s suite looked hilarious this week, and – ah, a massage would be nice now…did you call mum yesterday…” Presumably, everyone knows this chattery voice. In yoga teacher training you learn a lot about meditation. The more you learn, the more you think, you will master the chatty Mana Maya through the so-called Vijna Maya. Vijna Maya is the higher level of individual intellect that brings us closer to our true mind, self and existence, namely Ananda Maya.

Well, I guess, it is all about practice. And honestly, practicing meditation is fun. True fun. Especially, when you start floating in the present through your breath (Pranayama – another kosha). But it takes time, patience, and the ability to let go. Becoming a yoga teacher proves to be a journey once more.

I am completely in love with this yoga adventure

Please forgive my irony. I am completely in love with this yoga adventure. The up`s and down’s are just like a normal plane ride. In fact, the turbulences can be as intoxicating as scary. The thought of being able to assist others in their yoga practice is exhilarating. While I taught my first couple of sequences and little classes to friends, I noticed an energy building up in the room. It is hard to put this energy into words. Basically, it feels like a sacred space you create for your students. Within this space you help them to float, to be, and to let go. The chance to do such a thing in the long-term as yoga teacher seems an amazing opportunity. If you can create such a sacred atmosphere in only a small setting, how else might you be able to aid others in the future – another exhilarating and comparably scary question. Chakra therapy has provided me with the glimpse of an answer: Chakras – a system of seven points in the body moving from the root up to the crown – are used as starting points for energy work and yoga therapy with individuals. The smallest glimpse of chakra work has made me aware of how many emotions we bury inside. Maybe as yoga teachers, we might become capable to assist others in exploring their hidden, emotional landscape, and connect more with their true self. So many promising maybe’s.

Thinking about the maybe’s makes both my heart jump and my eyes sparkle. At the same time a tiny, cold sensation makes me shudder because I know there is no way back. With all the experiences I have already made during the yoga teacher training, the only thing I really want is to know more. In fact, I want to know it all. I want to become an amazing teacher. As the yoga sutras put it so beautifully, we receive gifts, tasks, and energies from the universe (or god, or the angels… you name it). Carrying these gifts is a present, we should perceive as a loan rather than a possession. We might even have to hand it back at some stage. But as long as we carry this god-given responsibility, that is, the gift of teaching yoga and assisting others, we should fully cherish and embrace it.

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