What to Do BEFORE a Yoga Teacher Training
9 Steps to Ensuring a Safe Journey to Transformation
By Jeanne Heileman, Yoga Teacher Trainer
Isn’t it exciting? You’ve made the big decision to take a Yoga Teacher Training, and the starting date is around the corner. I always get inquiries from students about what to do before the training starts, imagining that I will advise them to take a gazillion yoga classes and write amazing book reports before we even begin. Disappointingly, my advice is a little bit more of the opposite. Here is a list of my recommendations for all students who are getting ready to begin a life-changing experience
1. Get the required books and start “looking” at them.
Don’t make yourself “read” stuff, but just peruse through them, making it fun. “Look” through them all, reading what is interesting to you. This can help you gain a larger perspective ahead of time. Make it fun, no tasking required. When you are in the training and dealing with homework, there may be a natural phase of resenting the books and the amount of reading required. The more you get to know the books, without a pull of obligation and requirement, the easier it will be to keep up with the homework later on.
2. Organize your life.
Sort out your clothing and make sure you have a little extra underwear, socks, and maybe even a few extra pieces of yoga clothing. Once you get started, doing the laundry on a regular basis will not be as easy as it seems. If you can, pay some bills ahead of time. Create systems in your home/life so that things can operate naturally, with as little effort as possible. (One student arranged for an organic grocery delivery service on a weekly basis so that she didn’t have to go grocery shopping. It saved her sanity!)
3. Eat and drink whatever you want – within reason.
Once you begin the training, it will be wise to eat as clean a diet as possible to help you sustain the amount of energy that you need to keep up. So, have that ice cream Sunday and enjoy it! (Just don’t have one every day or you will have a hard time walking into the training!)
4. Plan your meals.
When I teach Trainings, I establish one night a week as cooking night. On that night I cook about 2 types of protein, 2 types of quality carbohydrate, and at least 2 vegetable dishes. Plus, I prepare breakfasts, snacks and lots of fruits so that I just grab them and go. During the week it’s too busy to figure out food, so I can just put some things in a glass dish and re-heat. If cooking is not a reality for you, you can get lots of healthy options at health food stores. Stock up and freeze some things if it helps.
(Note: none of this is perfect Ayurvedic advice, so forgive me if you are a purist. However, once you embark on a large project, you’ve got to allow some softness to the rules to prevent having a mental breakdown of control. Trust me. I had to go through that to know.)
5. See your friends and family.
Socialize. Go out and do things that you’ve meant to do together. Have fun.
6. Say good-bye to your friends and family.
Once a Training begins you really won’t have much time for anything but studying, sleeping, working and being in the training. Arrange some child-care help, if you can, from family members or a safe neighbor or friend. Schedule a re-visit with friends and family to happen once the training ends, to help those who may have a hard time with your upcoming, temporary, limited access.
7. Have fun. Travel.
If you are taking a teacher training in your own home-town, travel and get out of town. If it’s away from home, stay home and curl up on the couch with the remote, your favorite people and your favorite snacks.
8. Sleep in.
Take a picture of yourself sleeping in, to remember that you have had the experience, and you will likely have it again in the future.
9. Take care of any lingering projects.
Get taxes done early. Get holiday shopping done ahead of time. Take your car in for a check up now, so that all is in working order once things are underway. Clear out the garden, clean out your closets. Address large projects at work, and get as much done as possible before the training starts.
In the world of yoga, there are three qualities/ways, (known as Gunas in Sanskrit), that describe how the mind naturally moves. These movements ripple into the qualities of experiencing objects/people, emotions, and life events. Sattva (also written Sattwa) is the Guna that represents balance. It can be described as clear, tranquil, easy, effortless, translucent, non-attached – basically all the things we’d like to cultivate to be perfect yogis. The mistake is to interpret that we should aspire to be Sattvic, all the time. Nothing in Nature stays exactly as it is, all the time. As a tree looses its leaves in the fall season, as the sun goes down at the end of the day, as a cat will likely chase a mouse if given the opportunity – our energy and aspects about ourselves will change over and over. The trick is to enjoy Sattwa and let it leave us when it’s time, with open palms.
The time before a Yoga Teacher Training could be defined as a Sattvic time, before the transformation that inevitably will happen from learning more about yourself. Enjoy this time. Just don’t cling to it. When everything is all over you will find yourself returning to Sattwa again, naturally. When you do, your experience in this quality will be even more heightened from all that you have learned and gained.
So, for now, enjoy yourself. “Do” as little as necessary and just enjoy your friends, family and the opportunities to relax. That is the best preparation before embarking on the transformation of a lifetime; a Yoga Teacher Training.