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In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher. — Dalai Lama

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Yoga Teacher Training will Change Your Life

by Melissa Haller

“Yoga teacher training will change your life.” This is what I was told whenever I inquired about teacher training at a studio. This was surprising. First, because it was being said by complete strangers (how did they know my life would change?) and second because they didn’t really say how my life would change; only that it would, with a kind of happy certainty and a shy smile.

I had started yoga in my early twenties for the exercise. I avoided all classes that contained too much meditation or yogic philosophy and favoured teachers who I considered to be practical and down-to-earth. I was wary of anything that I considered to be too “flaky”. Over the ten or more years that I practiced yoga, I gradually became more comfortable with the aspects of yoga other than the postures. I was happy to join in a chant at the beginning of class, I meditated from time to time, and didn’t mind being told to “open my heart centre”.  By the time I decided teacher training was indeed something I would like to do, and that it was the right time for me to do it, I wanted to understand more about all aspects of yoga, including yogic philosophy, and to fold yoga into my life more. Yoga teachers always seemed to be so happy, and so I thought, maybe there was something valuable to be learned.

And yet, part of me still worried about the non-physical aspects of yoga. I worried about what exactly I might be signing up for in teacher training. No one really said what it involved, expect for basic things like learning the postures, anatomy, meditation and yogic philosophy. But what did that mean? When people at the yoga studios said “yoga teacher training will change your life” I imagined myself completely altered, unrecognizable even to myself, maybe even brainwashed. I thought I might uproot my entire life, leaving my job, my friends and family, and this worried me. Although I respected another person’s choice to join an ashram and devote themselves entirely to practicing yoga, I didn’t think that path was for me, and I worried it would somehow be required. On the other hand, yoga only ever had a positive influence on my life, and people I knew who had completed teacher training didn’t seem to have suffered any adverse effects. This reassured me, and so it was that I tip-toed into my first teacher training class at Yogacara on a cold January day; full of excitement and apprehension.

It has now been almost a year since I graduated from teacher training, and you know what? Yoga teacher training has changed my life, but in much more subtle ways than I ever imagined. I didn’t uproot my life. I still have the same job, and the same friends (with a few new ones). And yet, life is very different too. Yoga is now a bigger part of my life than it was before. I have a daily meditation practice, and I’m glad to have enough knowledge of the postures that I feel comfortable practicing them on my own (although I still go to a studio regularly). On another level, I find that I am emotionally and psychologically better equipped to live my life, and am simply happier. I find my work far less stressful than I used to. I find I have more compassion for others. I am softer, kinder and more loving in my personal relationships.  Instead of losing myself, I feel that I know myself better and love myself more. I have a sense of being more firmly anchored in my life. Of course, everything is a work in progress, I’m still learning and growing every day.

Am I saying that yoga teacher training will change everyone’s life in exactly this way? No, of course not.  We are all different, and I know that for each of the eight other women who took the teacher training with me, there are eight completely different experiences.  Some may feel their lives have changed, and some may not.  But for me, my life has changed for the better, and I am grateful for it.

Does yoga teacher training appeal to you? Do you have misgivings about taking it? If you have completed teacher training, what were your experiences? Did it “change your life”?

Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful ~ T. Hanh