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6 Things They Don’t Tell You About Yoga Teacher Training

Mei Lee
6 Things They Don’t Tell You About Yoga Teacher Training

When I first toyed with the idea of taking yoga teacher training, even when I was just considering it, I felt anxious, insecure, and excited. So many questions went through my head; do I have what it takes to go through this? Am I going to die on my mat and embarrass myself with all these “fit”, experienced yogis around me? What can I do to prepare for this physical and emotional roller coaster??

Hi there, I’m Mei! I recently finished my yoga teacher training at Jiva Yoga Saigon. It was such a great experience for me, and I want to share with you the things I learned and realized (especially the ones people don’t always, or honestly, tell you about).

If you’re curious about how it all started, how I found the right school, and how I finally decided to sign up for YTT, you can read more about my journey right here.

1. You don’t have to be able to do all the yoga poses or be in great shape.

I used to think that to sign up for yoga teacher training meant that I needed to be physically fit, and that I needed extensive yoga experience to endure it. Honestly, I was also struggling with the insecurity that the ‘more experienced’ students might judge me on the mat.

I very quickly realized that it’s not about that AT ALL. As long as you come to the mat with an open heart and mind, and some knowledge of basic yoga poses, you can sign up and start your yoga teacher training.

For some of us, the training was the first time we ever tried to do a handstand. I remember I could barely kick my legs up the wall! As my mind and body got stronger, I was able to kick up and balance my body. Granted, I could only do it for a very short period of time, but the fact that I was able to do it at all (and without the wall!) felt really good.

One student in the class was immediately able to do a handstand without the wall support, and the rest of us sat there staring at her in awe.

The people in my group were also from different backgrounds, ages (26-50 years old), and fitness levels. We all had several things in common, though—we were all there to deepen our yoga practice, we are all good enough, and we all had a profound learning experience with our yoga teacher training.

2. You will cry.

Our teacher trainer, Suzanne Vian, told us very early on that the YTT would be an emotional rollercoaster, but that this would be necessary to peel away our layers and find out more about ourselves. She was 110% right.

I realized how important it was for me to share my thoughts and feelings with the group, and I’m so grateful we had a safe space to do all that. It allowed me to recognize some harmful patterns in my life. I cried on my mat after the first few days of the training...and let me tell you, it felt GOOD. I wasn’t embarrassed, and I didn’t feel singled out—we were all in it together, every single one of us.

3. Your body will hurt...a LOT.

During the first two days of the three-week training, I felt really good about the asana practice. But soon after that, I will honestly say that my body became stiff and sore from the hours of asanas. My body felt super sore the following days, especially in the early morning right after waking up. I wondered if I could even make it through the next round of asanas.

I also became overwhelmed by all the information and all the emotions we were absorbing and feeling on the mat. I remember thinking...man, I really just want to sleep.

Good thing I didn’t give up right then and there, because what I might not have realized at that moment is that my mind and body were already going through a healing process. I was becoming stronger everyday—physically and emotionally—building strength, and understanding myself more than ever.

4. You will meet amazing people and create great relationships.

In such a short period of time, I have created special bonds and connected with people like I never have before. We have learned so much about each other and ourselves, including our dreams and fears in life. We laughed, we cried, and listened to one another with a sense of empathy and understanding.

I made a conscious decision that from now on, it’s all about the nurturing of these kinds of relationships. It’s all about finding and connecting with my soul brothers and sisters, evaluating friendships at home, and letting go of those that do not serve my life positively.

5. You don’t have to want to teach yoga to take a yoga teacher training.

I used to think taking a YTT meant that you’re set and decided on becoming a yoga teacher. However, as anyone who has also gone through the process will tell you, the benefits of yoga teacher training go beyond a yoga certification.

When I decided to enroll in the training program, what I mostly wanted was to do something important for myself—like, making a significant investment of time and money and putting it towards my self-development. I was going to train for three weeks to become a yoga teacher without having the intention to teach...and that’s okay.

When we were going around the room telling each other why we joined the program, nobody said they were there to ultimately become a yoga teacher. Everyone was on their personal journey; be it to learn the foundations of yoga, face their personal demons, become more present in life, or share yoga with others.

Looking back now, I can say that I was definitely prepared to become a yoga teacher. Probably not a proficient one though, because I personally think that this will take time and practice. The most important thing, however, is that I now have the foundation to be the best yoga teacher I could be if I wanted to.

6. Your life will change for the better.

Throughout the training, we would often go on walks as a group to clear the air of the studio after an intense meditation practice. And I noticed I was starting to see things differently; the sky was bluer, I could hear the birds, and the colors of the leaves seemed brighter.

That might sound cheesy to you, but it’s all true! I was finding myself on the path to true happiness, and it felt like I was finally taking a breath of fresh air.

As I have told all my family and friends, this yoga teacher training at Jiva Yoga Saigon has opened my eyes to the world. It is hands down, the best investment I have ever made for myself. I feel calmer and more relaxed, I’m healthier, kinder, and very importantly, more present for my loved ones.

So if right now, you’re reading this and you find yourself in the same situation that I was in—pondering and wondering if taking a yoga teacher training is a good decision and if you can do it—my simple answer is this: YES, it is. And YES, you can.

Mei Lee
Mother, innovator, teacher, and founder of the parent-kids mindfulness academy Mindful Us.