Taking a Yoga Teacher Training Could be the Best Thing You do for Yourself

By Jeanne Heileman for YogaWorks, Published on Yoganonomous

If you practice yoga, then you know about many of the benefits that it brings. It is a wonderful way of getting in shape and can improve your posture, your digestive and eliminative system as well as all other organs, too.

The Pranayama practices from yoga improve the respiratory system and relax the nervous system. The Meditation practices from yoga not only improve your ability to relax, but help improve the mind’s ability to focus and recall information.

Did you know that taking a Yoga Teacher Training can help you even further? You don’t even have to want to become a yoga teacher. The training could be one of the best things you do for yourself.

In a Yoga Teacher Training, you learn Anatomy and how the body works: Most of us live in our bodies and don’t know how they work. It’s like trying to drive a car and not knowing how it operates. You learn the mechanics of your body, the muscles, ligaments and tendons and how they work together, the bones and how they align. This starts out to help you do the yoga poses wisely, but ripples into your every day activities.

Once you learn how your body is best aligned, then you know how to get out of your car without messing up your knee. You can sleep without putting your shoulder out of alignment. You know the direction of the bones and muscles and can do things to prevent injury, even off the yoga mat.

In a Yoga Teacher Training, you learn about respiration and how the body breathes: As a yoga teacher for over 16 years, I can attest that most people don’t know how their body breathes, and they don’t know how to take a breath. Breath is actual food for the body. If we don’t know how to breathe, then we can’t properly feed ourselves the nutrients that come from oxygen. For many people, the way that they are breathing is adding to their anxiety instead of removing it.

You learn how to breathe wisely through a yoga practice. And you learn the art of Pranayama, breathing practices that increase the range of respiration, bringing calm and energy. As they say in India, it’s not how old you are, but how many breaths you have taken. The less breaths, the longer the rate of each inhale and exhale, the longer the life span.

In a Yoga Teacher Training, you learn the philosophy and how the mind works: This seems to be one of the most valuable and meaningful parts for the students whom I teach. Most trainings use the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as a guide and place to start learning that yoga is more than just a bunch of poses. Thousands of years ago someone wrote down philosophy that still speaks to this day and time.

The wisdom from these Sutras can be so helpful when we are feeling stuck in any way emotionally and mentally. Each verse has something to offer that will enhance any religion you practice, or give you some meaning if you don’t have a religion. You learn how to think and how to work with your mind when it starts driving you crazy. That, in itself, is invaluable.

So many people will say that a training is too expensive and they just can’t swing it. I truly hear them and appreciate that reasoning. There is a part of me that just can’t imagine living without the knowledge that I’ve gained from my first yoga teacher training. I know how to take care of my body in any yoga class, and in any physical activity. I notice when I’m not breathing smoothly and immediately see how it affects my nervous system. I am able to then fix it and see the positive effect on my nervous system. When my mind starts to drive me crazy, I can see what’s going on and make adjustments to my thoughts that help significantly.

It might be called a yoga teacher training, but really, it’s a course in learning how to work with your body and mind for the rest of your life.

If you have the opportunity to do a training at a set location, away from home, for an extended period of time, that is even greater. Doing any training of a legitimate standard will require some homework and outside study, as well as a consistent yoga practice. That is hard to maintain when mixed in with your work schedule, the household duties, keeping up with family and friends and everything else.

If you can go somewhere and do a training at a resort, ashram or hosting location, this is even greater because you don’t have to worry about getting and preparing your food. You don’t have to worry about cleaning your home, grocery shopping or the laundry. When a training is on a location, they take care of feeding you, changing your sheets and towels, doing the laundry, basically everything.
This allows you to dive deep into your study of yoga and you. You get to walk, talk, breathe yoga. It allows for an opportunity to do all the homework and really digest the material. You get to spend time with your teacher, seeing how he/she lives the yoga, learning by example. After a period of time in such an immersion, your life does change, for the better. You will find yourself knowing how to sit to keep your lower back happy. You will be less annoyed at family members and friends, using the tips from the yoga philosophy.

So, while I do understand the financial concerns, in some ways, I wonder, how could one not do a yoga teacher training? It’s not just for teachers. It’s for humans who have practiced some yoga and now want to learn more about themselves. When we know more about ourselves, we are less fearful and able to be present with anything that life offers us. In this world of constant change and unexpected, that is priceless.