4 Unexpected Lessons That Can Better Your Yoga Teacher Training Experience

by tinareale on October 20, 2014

About a year ago I started toying with the idea of doing the 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Program at my home studio. I knew my heart felt more into yoga and pursuing such a goal, but still felt unsure. I didn’t know if I had it in me. I didn’t know if I could give that much time to what I deemed at that time “simply a hobby”. I didn’t know if it would be worth it.

I can tell you now…it was.

Yoga Teacher Training Lessons

And “jumping right in” pretty much sums up my first experience teaching in front of a class. Or maybe even “thrown right in”…but in the best of ways. The way the Red Hot Yoga teacher training program works, you work with LIVE classes. From the get-go.

Our lead instructor firmly believes that to teach a yoga class you can’t just teach fellow yoga teachers-in-training. You have to work with everyday people in everyday class situations. My 3rd weekend of training I walked in to the studio and was told “You’re teaching Warrior 2 and Parsva Konasana this morning. You’re ready.” Uhhhh? For real???? Class is in, like, TWENTY MINUTES?!?! And there are like OVER SIXTY PEOPLE in that room!!! Oh. My. Goodness.

I could have freaked out…and, okay, mildly did…but I decided not to overthink it. To believe my teacher’s opinion that I was ready. And it was one of the most exhilarating experiences. Sure, it was a little shaky, but once I finished I felt strong. And free to keep moving forward with a renewed belief that I could do this. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and see what it feels like to fly.

After my original try at teaching, I was hooked. I wanted to practice teaching more and more. About a month or so in, I remember one particular evening that crushed me. I felt like I had failed so bad. I thought for sure my teacher and all the other teachers in her class would never want me to teach in their classes ever again. I completely froze during the sequence I was teaching and just repeated “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” over and over and over again. My brain would not come up with anything else. I wanted to lay on my mat and cry in child’s pose the entire rest of the class after that.

After class, my teacher came to me and said she was happy it happened. Uh? Come again? She said that when lessons like that come hard and fast it simply means we are strong enough to take them, learn from them, and move on from them. She has a way of being right. That experience taught me so much. On the surface level, to not freak and keep going when you make a minor error in class. And on the deeper level, to stop with my perfectionist desires already! That one experience was a big eye opener for me.

Touch Your Toes Quote


When I signed up for yoga teacher training, I admit to thinking that it would help improve my personal practice. I thought I would learn how to do more advanced poses and get into things I wasn’t able to do at that point – things like handstands or a split. I don’t know why I would assume that…because learning to teach yoga is learning to TEACH yoga.

The focus of our work was on how to properly teach poses, to understand the body, and to work a classroom safely and effectively. If anything, by learning the proper alignment of poses, I ended up going less deep in many postures because I wanted to perform them well, not just do what I thought “looked right” or “looked good”.

I also grew to more deeply understand the journey of yoga and that it’s not only about physically getting into a pose, but more about psychologically and emotionally understanding a pose. I still can’t do handstands without a wall or splits with my hips all the way down. However, when I’m in these and other poses, I feel like I’m deeper because I understand them so much better. That is thanks to teacher training.

This was probably my biggest lesson. I like to plan. I like to control. I like to know what’s going on. My teacher also saw this in me and worked her magic to bring that lesson to me again and again. A bit frustrating in the moment at times, but I’m forever grateful for having to face those things about myself. Not gonna lie. It wasn’t pretty and include quite a few ugly cries on the way home from training.

Over and over during my personal daily prayer time, I heard the lesson to simply focus on each day, each moment as it comes. Give my best. And then give it up. That’s all I could do was give my best each day and things would end up exactly as they should. And things turned out even better than I could have hoped for or imagined.

A couple months before training officially ended my teacher let me know she planned to open a studio close to my home…and wanted me to teach there. I truly believe that blessing came because I took the path of simply giving my best each day and trusting God for it all to work out. To be honest, this is still something I’m working on – to give each day my best and live in trust, but teacher training at least set me on the path…and gave me a clear example of the good that can come from it.

**What’s a big life lesson you’ve experienced in the past year?


1 Angela @ Happy Fit Mama October 20, 2014 at 7:04 am

I’ve been toying with the thought of becoming a yoga teacher for years. But then the time commitment makes me think twice. It’s a lot! As scary as it sounds, I love the way your studio did it. Nothing like learning on the job!

2 tinareale October 21, 2014 at 7:29 am

It was a lot….but you somehow manage and feel even more at peace and less stressed because of how it affects you personally. I think you’ll know in your heart when the time is right and you can’t wait any longer to follow that dream. You would be an awesome teacher!

3 CARLA October 20, 2014 at 7:15 am

for me it has been the transition is as (MORE?) important than the post.
for sure.

4 tinareale October 21, 2014 at 7:29 am

OH so true! The transitions matter….

5 Linz @ Itz Linz October 20, 2014 at 8:09 am

that’s one of the things i love most about yoga – no matter who are you – itz always a practice!

6 Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine October 20, 2014 at 8:41 am

Teacher training is what I want to do so bad! I don’t have a studio or the money, but one day…. ;)

7 tinareale October 21, 2014 at 9:38 am

One day…don’t ever lose hope on something you know you want to do someday. :)

8 Jolene October 20, 2014 at 4:42 pm

I LOVE this!!! I definitely recall a class or two where I just felt so incredibly OFF and couldn’t shake it and at the end, wondered if the class thought I was the worst instructor ever or what happened to my ‘usual’ self and half the time? They’d say how much they LOVED it, or some comment like that that I was totally NOT expecting. sometimes, it’s easy for me to get in my head and think I’ve done a bad job, but almost always, it is IN MY HEAD ONLY. Kind of crazy how that happens. I’ve definitely had the ‘oops’ I’m sorry moments, and they definitely make you learn fast, don’t they? Love love love this post :)

9 tinareale October 21, 2014 at 9:39 am

Oh, yes. Still have those days where I feel like I wasn’t on point but people say the best things after.

10 Fiona @ Get Fit Fiona October 20, 2014 at 5:52 pm

This is such a great post! Even though I’m not a yoga teacher, I can relate a lot of these things to my own practice.

11 Katie October 20, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Some of the best advice I got before I taught my first class was that I could always put everyone into child’s pose at anytime if I needed time to collect myself. I’ve only done it a couple of times in three years of teaching (I’ve done child’s pose more than that of course! but only because *I* needed it a couple times), but it helps me get my head back on straight if I start to lose track of what I am doing.

Oh and as for jumping right in – I was about halfway through my teacher training and had maybe taught a pose or two when I was given a 75min class on a schedule at a studio. I had less then a weeks notice. I taught to one of my teachers a few days later, and then taught my class. It was nuts.

12 tinareale October 21, 2014 at 9:40 am

So true!!! Child’s pose or a few breaths in down dog are a great way to recollect with where you’re going next.

13 Cheryl October 21, 2014 at 12:59 am

I have a nasty back problem that took me from gym-rat to bed-rat. I eventually started taking a water aerobics class…36yo me along with all the 70-ish classmates (one or two other outliers at various points).

In May, I got an email asking if I’d lead occasionally when the other teacher took summer travels. By the time I agreed, she’d quit and it was “all me”…a me who’d never done anything of this sort. A week before she was supposed to leave, the old teacher called in sick moments before a class. The water supervisor said he’d go throw on a suit and had someone who taught a different class do the warm-up. He took forever and somehow, even though I was supposed to start a week later and hadn’t made the type of plan I wanted, I stepped in, Now, I plan more and spend time looking at videos and reading. I’m still untrained and I tell people that so they take advice from the right position (i.e. my advice on a stretch is from my time as a runner and reading fitness mags, not from being a trainer etc).

But, I LOVE it! And they love me (not to sound snooty, but….)! One lady has taken the basic water fit class at a bunch of places and over 20 years…I rank as the second best teacher ever (best was both a trainer and a masseuse so had lots of knowledge). Mostly, I hear they love my class, hurry to sign up for the next session (6-8w each, class is T/Th) b/c they are concerned it will fill up (never an issue with previous 2 teachers), and that they truly get a good workout that leaves them feeling good. I think it helps too that I know about physical challenge so I can push things but also keep it realistic

Jumping in that first day made every other day better b/c i KNEW I could do it!

14 Cheryl October 21, 2014 at 1:02 am

Oh, and the days when I’m in pain and sure class will stink, i end up overcompensating, pushing a little harder, and get more genuine “Great class today!” comments than ever

15 tinareale October 21, 2014 at 9:42 am

That is SO awesome Cheryl! Sounds like it was meant to be and you’re perfect for it. :) And not sounding snooty at all – you should feel proud of all that you have done and how great you are as a teacher. :)

16 Christine @ Love, Life, Surf October 21, 2014 at 3:21 pm

I LOVE hearing your lessons from teacher training. I went into it think that I wanted to “deepen my practice” but fell in love with the process of teaching and all that it offers. I’m so glad that you listened to your heart and pursued this!

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