This past weekend I started my 200-hour yoga teacher training here in Milan.
I had been wondering if I should do it or not since August. I would keep going back to the website of my favourite school at least two or three times per week, reading the program, and trying to look for any requisites I hadn’t noticed before.
Nothing. It really looked like the course was open to anyone willing to take it. How exciting! The idea of starting this journey made me feel high every time.
However, I did not have the courage to enrol till November.
Although yoga practice has become part of my daily routine during this last year, I was afraid of not being good enough, of not being able to keep up with the rest of the class, that I would end up losing time, money, and hopes.
“I am not good enough”
“I don’t have a proper background”
“I haven’t practiced long enough”
“I have contractions”
These were all the excuses that I was giving to myself in my head. I was often googling “When are you ready for yoga teacher training?” (did you happen to find this post in the same way?!?), with the hope that some more experienced person could specifically address my doubts, and answer for me.
Well, after months of internal struggle, I decided in the end. And I COULDN’T HAVE DONE ANYTHING BETTER FOR MYSELF.
While talking to a friend of mine, who is attending her 200-h YTT in Australia, she told me: “You are ready because you are walking out of your comfy zone..”
And that was true.
There is no rule, no-one can objectively tell you if you are ready or not. THE ANSWER IS IN YOURSELF.
It’s absurd how things change. If one or two years ago someone told me “The answer is in yourself” in response to my many doubts, I would started friendly making fun of him/her. The “new philosopher!”. I probably wouldn’t really take the advice seriously either.
But things change. I am undergoing a process of change, and self-development. While in the past the need for change was related to my environment and my external stimuli (so much that I moved to the other side of the world!), this time development needs to come from inside.
So, in my case the answer was: I am in a moment of transition, my ideas about the future are not as clear as in the past, I have never got keen on doing something daily as it happened with yoga. I AM READY TO START THE JOURNEY.
Because yoga teacher training is a journey. It involves a process of discovery and acceptance of the self on the physical level, but also, and more importantly, on the energetic, mental, and spiritual level.
If you feel the need and strong desire to do it, often that’s already the answer.
If you need some reassurance though, I can tell you this.
YTT IS NOT A BOOTCAMP.
Yes, 200-h YTT offers time to practice yoga, but more importantly it offers an introduction into the philosophy of yoga, as well as alignment principles, anatomy, proper assists, the method to create a yoga sequence. These foundations come together, so that students can understand the deeper root of yoga.
If you are concerned about looking “stupid”, or “clumsy”, I can report the words of my teacher Giancarlo during the first half a hour:
“Do not compare yourself to others. It’s not a competition. We are not here to judge yourselves or the others. Most important, respect your bodies, and accept what they are communicating you.”
Your fellow mates usually have different degrees of experience with yoga. Groups are variegated. And not just in terms of age, body shapes, and yoga backgrounds, but also in term of attitude and personal inclinations.
For example, in my (amazing) class three or four people are already teaching yoga to small groups, few others have a strong five or ten year practice. Someone else is a beginner. There are introverts and extroverts. Someone admitted to have blocks to get rid of. More than a couple of people have the innate ability of teaching, while others are there willing to take the challenge to stand in front of a class.
It’s a totally non-judgemental, relaxed, and fascinating context. So, really, don’t be concerned about what you may look like while performing an asana.
You can’t do it YET. You don’t touch your feet YET. You don’t do Sirsasana YET.
This doesn’t mean you will never be able to do it. Yoga asanas are just like that. The more you practice, the more you advance, and then one day they come. They will slowly unfold with dedication, awareness and time, when your body and mind will be ready.
Freeing yourself from self-judgment can be a tough challenge, both on and off the mat (this is valid for me for instance). If this applies to you as well, perhaps you can set non-judgment as your intention for your yoga teacher training. After all, yoga represents a nurturing experience where you can let go and get rid of criticism, which will lead you to a steady mind.
Remember: this is just the beginning of your journey into yoga. So, let go and enjoy the ride!