My Top 5 Takeaways from Yoga Teacher Training

When I committed to practicing yoga seriously just over three years ago, my top 5 Takeaways (or goal list) would have looked a lot different:

1. Hook ankle behind neck
2. Visvamitrasana
3. Scorpion
4. Headstand with no props
5. Handstand away from wall in the middle of the room

Fast forward three years, I still “can’t do” anything on that list, and I’m happier about my personal yoga practice more now than ever before! (OK, I am getting close on the handstand bit!!!) But at least now I know that’s not the point of yoga. That was a flawed mental list in the first place.

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My prior misunderstanding of what yoga even is provides a perfect segue into #1 on my list of mind-blowing things I learned during my 200-hour yoga teacher training with YogaWorks in Mill Valley. Without further ado, let’s get this show on the road:

1. THE WORLD NEEDS YOGA

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The world needs yoga, now more than at any other time in history, and first we need to start using the word yoga correctly! When I first started taking classes at Yoga Tree Castro, I thought the postural “asana” practice was all of “yoga.” Period. In teacher training we spent a lot of time studying Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga, of which “asana” is the third. Patanjali explains in his second Yoga Sutra that “yoga is the stilling of the turnings of the fluctuations of the mind.” In a world full of computer screens, smartphones, and momentous events taking place on a daily basis, our minds are overstimulated. There is so much more information for the mind to process today than in prior eras. Even the Dalai Lamai said “If every 8-year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” Indeed, we learn ahimsa (non-violence) in a deep yoga study. Yoga shows us that we are all interconnected, and as such, violence is not the answer to the world’s problems.

2. TRUST THE UNIVERSE

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Nothing is within our control, and fool ourselves into thinking we are in control of things. We thinking worrying about things will influence the outcome, but worrying does nothing for us. It robs us of the infinite beauty found in every moment. By giving ourselves permission to not worry (there is a lot of practice involved with that), we find that there is boundless beauty and freedom in letting go. By practicing yoga, you already have everything you need— our study of yoga makes us spiritually rich.

3. WE ARE DIVINE

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Avidya, our ignorance of our own divinity, is the root of all other evils, such as the ego, attachment, aversion, and fear. “Forgetting” that we are all interconnected by the universal divine unchanging soul is the root of all obstacles. Ignorance causes us to think that we are not enough, and that we are not where we need to be, and we suffer on account of this. Bottom line people: You are perfect in this exact moment. Which leads me to…

4. LIVE IN THE MOMENT

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All we have is the amazing divine gift of the present moment. We can’t change the past, and we can’t predict the future. The best way to light up your life is to devote yourself to learning how to “be” in each present moment. Yoga teaches us how to love each moment. I’ve taken even the smallest steps so far, and I’ve found Heaven in smiles, in warm conversations, and while enjoying the myriad of flavors dancing around in a bowl of pumpkin soup. Our concept of Heaven is actually all around us, if only we would allow ourselves to see it. Promise yourself that you’ll look for the beauty in the every day. Give yourself the gift of permission to perceive the joys that we refuse to notice. My teacher Hillary says it best in our half-suryas during warmup when we bring our hands together at the chest and she says, “Bring heaven to Earth.” I always love that!

5. ATHA YOGA ANUSASANAM

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Last but not least- don’t ever forget the first of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: Atha yoga anusasanam. Now begins the study of yoga. Yoga is a way of life, and when you embrace this ilfestyle, you commit to a lifelong commitment of self-examination full of constant learning, growing, and serving others. Namaste.

Do my thoughts resonate with any of your New Year’s Resolutions? Please share in the comments! If you are a yoga teacher, what were your top takeaways from your yoga teacher training? If you are considering a yoga teacher training program, what areas do you hope would be of focus?

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3 Comments on “My Top 5 Takeaways from Yoga Teacher Training”

  1. Lisa Young February 4, 2016 at 05:54 #

    Love it, love it, love it!

  2. babycrow February 27, 2016 at 02:19 #

    such beautiful and uplifting thoughts (and photos!). thank you for sharing.

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