A month long intensive yoga teacher training was one of the best (and most difficult) things I’ve ever done for myself. I studied in Thailand, and besides the obvious cultural differences, there were many things that took some getting used to.
Here are eight things to bring to your training to best prepare you for your journey ahead.
1. A Journal
Not that you’ll have a lot of free time during an intensive training, but taking just a couple minutes to write will be tremendously helpful. First, the time flies by, and it’s nice to look back months later and reflect. Secondly, besides learning all the Sanskrit names and maintaining an intense asana practice, you may notice subtle (or not-so-subtle) emotional changes. Writing them down is a wonderful outlet.
2. Your Camera
An intensive training can mean up to 12 hours of yoga-related classes per day and it’s a lot to remember, so snapping some photos during anatomy and adjustments classes can behoove you. And, if you have the energy to explore the Thai markets, or go play with baby tigers on your day off, you will definitely want to bring your camera along.
3. More Yoga Clothes Than You Think You Need
Of course, this is all relative to where you’ll be studying, but if you’re headed to a warm climate, bring more yoga clothing than you think is necessary. You will most likely have an asana class in the morning and another one in the late afternoon. You don’t want to sit in sweaty clothes in-between.
A few trainees in my program brought protein powder with them, and they were the envy of the class. Between the heat, the intense practices, and meals smaller than we were used to, many of us felt we needed more calories. Brining protein powder, granola bars, power bars or anything to sustain you between meals is a good call.
5. A Cell Phone
If you’re heading out of the country for your training, bring a cell phone. Research ahead of time to find the best company for your travel purposes (for example, Thailand has a pay-as-you-go service and SIM cards are sold in the airport). Hook up your phone, let family know you’ve arrived safely, and then get back to being present. Take the phone, but don’t let it disturb your zen.
You’ll thank me later if you wind up with a roommate who snores, or have a colony of squirrels and monkeys playing on the roof of your room.
7. An Open Mind
You might be invited to practice vamana dhauti, the purification of the intestinal tract that involves drinking a liter of warm water, jumping up and down, and sticking your fingers down your throat to vomit. You might be invited to practice jala neti, a nasal clearing using water in one nostril and out the other. Before writing anything off, approach it with an open mind, and remember that the magic happens outside of your comfort zone.
8. An Open Heart
An intensive training is challenging both physically and mentally. Muscles you’ve never used before might scream at you. You might find yourself suddenly crying for no apparent reason in the middle of morning meditation. Whatever you experience, be they physical, mental or spiritual, keep an open heart. Give yourself compassion, and permission to feel how you feel.
Above all, have a wonderful time. It will be challenging, enlightening and you will meet amazing people. Bring these eight things, and your experience will be that much better. Oh, and don’t forget the mosquito repellent!