5 Reasons NOT to do yoga teacher training

  1. You hate change   If you are utterly content with the way your life is currently, that’s a very yogic state known as santosha. However if you’re not so much content, as you are stuck, stagnant, blocked, unable to take action – that’s influenced by the tamaguna, or inertia. It can make your thinking clouded, and lead you into a deep funk. Making decisions that reflect your values, and choosing to take action based on those decisions is the best way out of such a state. Even if you make a mistake, or choose poorly, having taken action is likely to shift you from tamas to rajas and then getting in to a sattvik state of clarity becomes possible, even easy.

2. You have enough like-minded friends

If you are surrounded by kind, generous, peaceful people who care deeply for your well-being and happiness, you should treasure those friendships like the gold they are. When we feel unconditionally accepted, loved, and genuinely seen and heard, that gives us freedom to explore our potential, and know that our cheer squad will be there for us no matter what happens. However many of us have grown apart from dear friends, through hurt, or circumstances, and long for a feeling of oneness and belonging. Maitri or friendliness is considered a remedy for the obstacles to yoga. Being in uplifting company makes it so much easier to be our best selves, and practice our yoga uninhibited by fear of judgement, or loneliness. Out of every cohort of yoga teacher trainees, some lifelong bonds are forged. In fact, the social aspect of teacher training is a highlight for many people, and something that lasts long after the high of graduation. People need other people, and being a yoga teacher grants you entry in to a global community of like-minded souls who you can turn to online and face to face, and know you’ll be understood. The sangha, or community of the wise, is immeasurably beautiful, powerful, and supportive.

3. You’re afraid to live authentically

Are you happy to keep yoga a quiet hobby, something you do in your private time, and don’t let your colleagues, friends or family know about? Are you afraid you’ll be judged, mocked, or humiliated? It’s always a risk to put yourself out there. It’s true that people can be harsh but most of the time, it’s our own inner critic that tells us to stick to the status quo, don’t rock the boat, play safe, keep yourself small and mundane. What will it take to break free of those shackles? Every good thing requires a little bit of risk, a step in to the unknown. Of course it’s scary, and sure, bad things could happen, but where does that leave you? Frozen in to a life that you know deep down you’ve outgrown. If you really want to live with the energy and freedom of authenticity, you will have to take action. Whatever it is you want, no-one else will do it for you. The talent scout, opportunity fairy, or rich benefactor is probably not going to knock on your door and say ‘hey, I see your potential, let me make your dreams come true’. Nope, happiness, success in whatever measure, a feeling of alignment with purpose, that’s all an inside job. Make it happen.

4. You don’t believe in investing in yourself

Who are you to take up your household’s resources? When partners, parents, children, pets, bosses, colleagues, all need so much, you should stay at the bottom of the list of priorities. After all, no good will come of investing in yourself! Why would you want to gain new skills, insights, education, qualifications? Why would you give yourself time to grow, reflect, contemplate? That could lead to shaking up other parts of your life and that sounds like bad news all around! Truth is, even if you never become a yoga teacher, you will have created precious memories, and had an experience that you will never forget. Many people enter teacher training programs just for themselves, wanting to learn more philosophy, or understand better the ‘why’ of yoga practice. The gift of time to dedicate daily to your yoga, to sit in silence and watch the breath, to concentrate and meditate, and witness your own patterns, is liberating. Whatever it costs in time, energy, money, there’s something hard to put a $ value on when it comes to investing in yourself.

5. You don’t want to help other people

Selfishness is underrated. You should definitely keep all the benefits of your yoga practice to yourself. Why would anyone else in your community want to learn how to manage stress, move so their bodies feel strong and supple, improve access to well-being, or cultivate peace of mind? There’s no contradiction between #4 and #5 – when you put yourself first, there’s so much more to give to others. Making the shift from student of yoga to teacher is not for everyone, and it’s totally fine if that’s not your path. But yoga has generosity built into it’s ethos – the idea of seva or selfless service is a way to take yoga off the mat. For some people this intersects with social justice – many activists find yoga an ideal way to balance their own energy so they can maintain the good fight. Others feel compelled to offer yoga in not-for-profit settings, as a counterpoint to the inequity of ‘wealthy white wellness women’. In fact, that’s something we have built in to our trainings. In order to practice your teaching skills with real life students, you are mentored to teach your practicums in settings where people might otherwise struggle to access regular yoga classes. The benefits are multiplied – women and children in temporary accommodation are able to calm their nervous systems and connect with themselves as a safe harbour; elderly people living in aged care facilities get the benefits of moving and breathing better; incarcerated people learn skills of self-regulation and self-nurture; people living with mental health issues, addiction, chronic illness and more, are able to have yoga come to them. Along with the benefits to the clients, this also means you graduate able to teach yoga to a much more diverse population than if you only practiced on your peers. There’s nothing like seeing the blissed out faces of your students as they come out of savasana to know that yoga is a gift that keeps on giving.