A firsthand look at Ignite Yoga Teacher Training

Every year before Ignite Yoga’s 200-hour yoga teacher training, there’s a whisper of curiosity in the air. Students read our teacher training emails and ask former trainees questions about the possibility of teaching yoga, but they never really get a sense of what attending a Power Yoga Teacher Training is like. So today, if you want to know what it’s like to be part of Ignite Yoga’s teacher training—I’ll tell you.

It’s freaking hard work.

Yoga may seem like the peaceful exploration of inner work, the studying of poses, and learning how to meditate, but honestly—brutally honestly—it’s all a messy soup. At first.

I had the pleasure and privilege to go through Ignite Yoga’s teacher training 6 years ago, with no intentions of ever teaching. You know how that turned out… I’ve been teaching yoga since day one. I taught in gyms and studios, and homes, and rooftops, and everywhere else in between. 

Yoga teacher training, just like anything that stretches you (pun intended), is well, challenging. Consider this: When you begin something new, you have a set of ideas about yourself that you begin your journey with. These beliefs include who you think you are; such as being a good person or a loyal friend, what you know about yourself; maybe you’re a quick learner or have an aptitude to speak in front of people, and what you don’t know; you know you don’t know how to teach yoga—that’s why you’re here! Most of this stuff exists in our subconscious and you don’t really have to think about it, which also means you never have to change it. But in yoga teacher training, all of this is put on the line with seemingly simple questions that ask you to pull those beliefs into the forefront of your mind and really think about them. Are you who you say you are??? It sounds like a lot but rest assured, this is the intent of yoga—to learn to control your mind. So we take a look to see what you can discover for yourself.

The program is progressive in nature. It begins with easily digestible questions and information, and as the weeks progress and the work gets harder you begin to really explore what you’re capable of. You begin to really explore who you are and who you want to be. That of course means there will be an ebb and flow between ease and challenge—certain weeks you are in your groove, certain weeks your brain and arms feel like jello. It’s beautiful. Messy and beautiful.

But have no fear. If you are considering yoga teacher training, I’ve prepared a list to get you through. As an insider and now co-facilitator of the training, these are my private notes for you:

  1. Eat, eat, eat. Even with a practice (you are required to have a regular vinyasa or power yoga practice of at least 6 months before you apply), your body will be tired and sore. You will learn more specific muscle actions, spend more time in anatomy classes, so inherently you will be able to adjust and tweak the poses for yourself to make them more effective. So you have to fuel your body well. I have never been an athlete, so I don’t know for real, but it felt like I was eating like an athlete. I was hungry all the time, I ate tons of protein and tons of healthy foods. I didn’t count any calories, but I made it a very strong point to fuel my body with the best of stuff I could find and afford. It paid dividends. I got very strong (like could do forearm stand by the end of training….. not the goal, but just saying). 
  2. Don’t assume anything. For our brains to feel comfortable we need to stay with what we know. We prepare, plan, assume, compare ourselves, our lives, bodies, experiences to something that’s familiar. We organize ourselves into groups, we create safety and community to feed the brain that we are okay. You cannot, I repeat CANNOT assume that what you have learned so far will be able to carry you forward. You continuously have to let go of what you think you know and try on new thoughts. This is super challenging especially if you have practiced for a while, or if you have a lot of knowledge about yoga already. So surrender. Every practice, every teaching, every meditation. Allow the goodness that the carefully crafted program can bring you. Each week is created with intention and meaning. Sometimes the end goal is not clear to you (it is to us, I promise) as we guide you to the end of the program. You can’t assume you already know, or that you have already tried it and still grow and advance in the program. Surrender. You must. 
  3. Everything is energy. I love walking into a room now (as a student or teacher) and noticing the vibe or the energy of the room. In training, you will learn to read the room (the physical and mental bodies present) and craft a class based on what you see and hear, and know. Have you ever started a class in Downdog or Tadasana? Do you know why? The teacher read the room and decided child’s pose was too mellow. Reading rooms like this will open you up to infinite wisdom about what to say or do when your students are in Savasana, or even how to read the room in your life outside the studio. If you can embody this principle you will be able to lead classes through incredible depth and emotion and leave them in their greatness. 
  4. Don’t take yourself too seriously. I know some teachings are based on and require serious discipline. I’m not saying don’t take the practice seriously. Show up, breathe, do the work. But don’t get too rigid in your voice, in your body, in delivering a class that you end up speaking in a voice that’s not your own, or just a blah class because you got wrapped up in accidentally saying left leg versus right leg. Teacher training and consequently teaching yoga can show you a lot about yourself and where you can allow more flow into your life. 
  5. You can never finish yoga. Ok, shoutout to Katie here, who asked (jokingly) if once our training was over, were we going to be done with yoga? Finished forever? Yoga is never finished. You will learn what you can in the few short months you are in training, and some things will land and some knowledge will come back to you later. I remember too many occasions to count now, where I thought to myself this is what Justina was talking about, months after the training ended. So think of teacher training as a beginning to open the lid on yourself, possibilities in life, in teaching, in growing. 

It’s all worth it if you can get out of your own way and do the work. It’s not easy, you will be tired, hungry, hangry even. You will forget things, and say it wrong, and feel stuck at times. But the messy soup eventually becomes a delicious meal that you can add to, modify, and enjoy for years to come. 

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