Preparing for a yoga teacher training course: what you should be doing before it starts

Preparing for a yoga teacher training course

Confirming your place on a yoga teacher course is a great feeling, but you’ll likely be waiting several weeks or months for it to start. How you spend that time is crucial and will help you get to grips with the content and adjust to the changes in your life, once the course is underway. So, if you’re asking yourself, ‘Is there anything I should be doing before my yoga teacher training course begins?’ please read on to find out how to prepare.

  • Revisit: Maintain a consistent asana practice
  • Read: Start studying the literature
  • Reflect: Stay focused on your goals
  • And finally… Get your house in order

Revisit: Maintain a consistent asana practice

As a prospective yoga teacher, you should already have a regular asana practice. During a yoga teacher training course, however, you may find more time is spent learning about anatomy, philosophy, and ‘how to teach’ rather than practising the poses.

It’s important, therefore, to maintain a consistent asana practice leading up to your yoga teacher training course. You should aim to revisit all the different poses and ensure you’re familiar with their names. This will also help your body prepare for an increase in physical activity in the weeks or months ahead.

Furthermore, use this time to familiarise yourself with the different props used in yoga classes. This knowledge will become useful, especially when you’re developing your own teaching methods. Understanding the role of bolsters, blocks, and belts will set you in good stead for when your training starts.

In addition to your home practice, if possible, attend two or three yoga classes per week. You should try a variety of classes too and observe and make notes about different teaching styles, class structures, and content. This will help inform your own approach to teaching, which you can then cultivate further during your course.

Don’t forget to attend classes delivered by your prospective tutor, though. Having signed up for a yoga teacher training course, you should already have a good relationship with the course leader. And time spent with them before the start date will help you get to know them ever better and reaffirm your decision to join their program.

Read: Start studying the literature

It’s likely that your yoga experience to date has mainly been of asana, the physical aspect of a yoga practice. You may have touched on the other limbs too, such as dhyana (meditation) and pranayama (breathwork), though improving your understanding of these broader elements, and the philosophy underpinning them, is one reason why you’ve chosen to undertake yoga teacher training.

Our advice: start studying the literature now.

Learning the philosophy of yoga can be challenging at first. These ideas and teachings are thousands of years old – you’re going to encounter unfamiliar words and abstract concepts that are difficult to understand. Don’t be put off, though. By the end of your yoga teacher training course, all of it will make sense. But engaging with some of the key texts now will help fast-track your development and take some pressure off, early on.

Most yoga teacher training courses will provide a reading list to prospective students before they start. If your course leader hasn’t done so, then get in touch and ask for some guidance before diving into the literature. We’ve compiled a list of recommended reading for yoga teacher training here. By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it includes standard texts you would expect to see on most yoga teacher training courses.

The idea of studying may be daunting, especially if you haven’t completed any formal education for a while. A good yoga teacher training course, however, will offer an inclusive approach that will accommodate different learning styles. If you’re not much of a reader or struggle to self-direct your learning, speak to your course tutor about other resources you can investigate prior to the start date.

Reflect: Stay focused on your goals

While maintaining your asana practice and studying the yoga literature will help you to prepare, try not to overdo it, and experience burn-out before the course begins. Overeagerness could lead to you becoming disinterested, fatigued, or even worse, injured, and unable to participate.

That’s why it’s also important to take some time out before starting the course and reflect on your decision to undertake yoga teacher training. This will remind you of your intentions for signing up in the first place and help you to focus on your goals.

A perfect way to do this often is through meditation. Learning about dhyana (meditation) will form part of the learning program anyway. And in the same way that practising asana should become part of your weekly pre-course routine, try to find time to meditate regularly too and attune your mind to the challenges ahead.

Journaling is another good habit to adopt in the weeks or months before starting your yoga teacher training. Again, most programs will expect you to keep a journal as you work your way through the modules. Getting your thoughts and feelings down on paper can help reaffirm your intentions and alleviate any anxieties you may have.

If possible, you should take a holiday before starting your teacher training. You don’t even have to travel anywhere but having some time away from work and/or your other day-to-day responsibilities, will help clear your mind and ensure your body is fully rested.

And finally…

Get your house in order. Remember, participating in this course is going to impact how you live your life ­– and it may even change it forever. If it’s only a few weeks long or lasts the best part of a year, you need to put foundations in place now to ensure you’re organised and have the necessary support to help you along the way.

Start thinking about the coursework and assessments and how you will complete these around other things happening in your life. Note down important dates, and make sure you’re free on those days. Review the class times and course structure again too, so there are no surprises on day one.

Furthermore, manage the expectations of your family and friends – help them understand how important this course is and how demanding it may be of your time. Explain the physical and emotional challenges you’ll face too and how their support will be a key part in you getting you through to the end.