Are You Ready for Yoga Teacher Training?

The question that I get asked most often in regards to my yoga teacher training courses is something along the lines of “I can’t do all the poses yet, would I be able to do a teacher training?” or “ I have only been doing yoga for a few years, am I ready for teacher training?”  I often find these questions hard to answer as I don’t have set answers for them.  As with so many things in regards to yoga it really does depend.
In my opinion you certainly don’t need to be able to practice all the yoga poses in the common syllabus with mastery to attend yoga teacher training or begin to share your love of yoga with others. Nor do I think it really matters how long you’ve been practicing yoga. What do I mean by that? Well many people have been practicing yoga for a decade, but they don’t practice regularly. When they get busy they may not show up to practice for weeks, or even months, and when they leave the studio after a good practice that they  they are not necessarily going home to read yogic scripture in their spare time, or attempting to adopt the lifestyle practices of yoga off of the mat.  And then there are others who may be fairly new to yoga yet they practice with intense enthusiasm and a strong desire to learn as much as they can. They are engaged and show up with curiosity and openness. So you can see the overall time spent around a yoga studio does not necessarily quantify the readiness of the student in this case.
And what do I actually mean by intense enthusiasm when it comes to practice? Does that mean practicing advanced poses or sitting for hours in meditation? For some it does. And for others it is simply attending class a couple times a week and making effort to embody the teachings in their lives. Again we cannot quantify the level of enthusiasm by the depth of a student’s backbend any more than we can measure it by how many times a week they practice. Rather the only real measure is the amount of intention they bring to the practices they do.
So when a student asks me whether or not they are ready for teacher training I am more interested in knowing why they want to be teachers and what the practice has given them then how many years they’ve been practicing. I want to know how hard they are willing to work in order to refine their ability to articulate what they’ve experienced through their practices so that they can then communicate that with others. What I really want to know is how committed they are to the ongoing learning process that is yoga- not whether or not they can balance on their head. Teaching methodology, alignment technique, anatomy, and philosophy can all be learned in time, whereas a passion for practice and a desire to be of service can not- they can be cultivated- but they can not be taught.
When I first came to the mat I had no idea what yoga was. I had never read a yoga book, or attempted to meditate. I certainly didn’t know the difference between Trikonasana and SirsasanaIyengar and Ashtanga, Patanjali’s Sutras or the Bhagavad Gita. But in my very first class I knew that I had found something that felt more real than anything I had ever experienced before that. And as I continued to practice I discovered valuable tools that helped me to live with greater skill and integrity. Was I proficient in Sanskrit language, anatomy of movement, and yoga philosophy before I signed up for my first teacher training? Certainly not. Was I a highly disciplined person that had all my emotions and appetites under my control? No I wasn’t .  Did I have a strong desire to know myself better and to learn more about the practices that were so powerfully impacting my life. I did. Was I committed to practicing what I learned so that I could translate it into knowledge I could one day share with others in the hopes I could offer them the inspiration my teachers had given me? Without a doubt.
So instead of asking me, or anyone else, whether or not you are ready for yoga teacher training ask yourself. Do you have a true desire to be of service? Do you have a passion for practice and a willingness to commit to it? Even when the going gets tough? Because in a lifetime of practice there will be tough times. Ask yourself whether or not you truly want to learn and continue learning about the great traditions of yoga so that you may add something meaningful to the conversation. Because though yoga is ancient it is also evolving and that evolution will be determined in great part by who is transmitting it to the world. And if you can answer yes to all these questions than you are ready so hurry up and dive in because the world needs passionate people like you!