5 Stages of Yoga Teacher Training

Congratulations! You’ve officially enrolled in yoga teacher training. You did your research, paid your tuition and bought your books. Woo-hoo! As you’re prepping for your first training class, I want to share the five emotional stages you’re likely to experience as you go through training.

Stage 1 | Nervous Excitement

Occurs pre-training and throughout first session

The stars aligned and you’re taking teacher training. Yippee! You fell in love with yoga and are ready to learn more. You know it will deepen your practice, and take you to the next level. Plus, there’s been this whisper to teach, and you’re finally heeding the call.

But you’re also secretly doubting your decision. The timing, the investment, will the kids blow up the house while you’re gone. Then the normal mind-litany: What will training be like? Can you really do this? Will anyone like you? Will you like any of the other teachers? What the hell have you gotten yourself into?

It’s a see-saw. I’m nervous-I’m excited-I’m nervous-I’m excited.

Stage 2 | Deer in the Headlights

Occurs somewhere between first and second training session

Holy crap. It’s the end of the first session and your brain is fried from new words, new ideas, and just how far your comfort zone is going to be stretched. The day after your first training, you’re exhausted and hung over. (Oh yeah, training hang overs are a real thing.)

You get a glimpse of the effort and homework (homework?!?) it will take to complete the training. And now you’re seriously questioning your sanity. Maybe you made a mistake. Maybe you’re not meant to be a yoga teacher after all.

This is my favorite part of teacher training and one of these days I’m going to snap some Before & After pics. Those wide-eyed stares of terror, like sitting at base camp after you’ve agreed to climb Mt. Everest.

Stage 3 | Overwhelm

Occurs somewhere between 25-50% of training

Whoa baby, this is when those doubts really rear their ugly heads. The requirements feel a bit like you’re in school again, and you were never a top-notch student. Words are rambling in your head and you’re not sure the difference between updog and downdog anymore.

You’re going to have to get in front of people and actually–gulp–teach. Who the hell are you to be teaching anyone? Clearly you don’t know enough–that’s why you’re in teacher training. Who’s going to take yoga from you? No one’s going to be interested, no one’s going to show up.

And you still have so.much.homework left to complete. There’s no way you’re going to finish everything. You have a life outside of yoga, damn it, and if you hear your teacher say “trust the process” one more time you’re going to go berserk.

Stage 4 | Acceptance

Occurs somewhere toward last 25% of training

You want this, and you’re going to do it. It’s been hard, but you put your head down and kept checking off requirements one by one. You’re not there yet, but you’re closer than you were two months ago.

You’ve taught a few classes and you don’t suck as badly as you thought. You received some nice compliments and most have come back for another class. One or two have shared how much better they’re feeling or how well they’ve slept. ::Squee:: That’s exactly why you wanted to become a yoga teacher.

Stage 5 | Bittersweet Joy

Occurs at the end of training

OMFG. You did it. You completed training and you were pretty good at it. You still have a long way to go and so much more to learn, but you completed the first major step. You proved to yourself you could do it. It was everything you imagined it would be–and so much more.

You’re a different person at the end of training than you were when you started. You’re surprised at the personal growth you experienced and are extremely happy you went through the entire process. You understand the process and why it was necessary.

When you get your picture snapped with your certificate–pure joy.

The cozy cocoon of training is over. You won’t be seeing your training buddies on a regular basis. Your mentor won’t be there to ask questions and calm your crazy fears. This is where the bitter comes in.

Yoga Sutra 1.20

I’m not sharing anything new because thousands of years ago, the Yoga Sutras addressed these very stages.

“Through the faithful certainty in the path and directing energy towards the practices, repeated memory of the path and the process of stilling the mind, training and deep concentration and the pursuit of real knowledge, by which higher samadhi is attained.” –Swamij.com

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