Making the decision to sign up for a yoga teacher training program for most people is a big deal.

Many register for programs in order to become a yoga instructor, but people also register in order to simply learn more about yoga. What most people don’t count on is how much you learn about yourself through the teacher training process. While learning alignment for Down Dog and how to cue people into a Warrior One is great, gaining tools to thrive and uncovering a new way of looking at life are even better.

I’ve been leading teacher training programs for more than a decade, and it never ceases to amaze me how much people transform during the process. In the beginning, everyone is excited to get to know each other and learn all about the yoga that they love so much. And, they do! You learn anatomy for yoga, how the poses work, the best way to help students in adjustments, and all about the philosophical underpinnings of yoga. It is an incredible learning experience, and people absorb so much because they are so passionate about the practice.

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Here are some tips to get the most out of your teacher training experience:

Go Beyond the Postures and Let the Yoga Do its Job
At some point along the way, the yoga starts to do its job, which is to create transformation. Yoga is meant to change us from the inside out; to shift the way we look at and participate in the world. It’s much more than just a practice designed to align our physical body, it has the potential to align our heart and mind as well. When students learn that yoga is a state of mind, and that the practice of yoga gives us access to this mind state, they often dive deeply into the inner workings of the yoga practice. They move beyond the postures (asanas) to try looking at life through a new lens. For example, when students learn to meditate in their teacher training, they often realize that the effects of the practice are further reaching than their meditation cushion. Their colleagues and friends notice how much less stressed out they are and how much easier it is for them to overcome challenges.

Be Ready to Find Your True Path
However, sometimes people also do major “course-corrections” in their life through their yoga teacher training, too. As a sailing term, we course-correct when the wind has blown us a bit off track and we need to turn the sails to get going in the right direction. The deeper practices of yoga show us where we have gotten off track, and how we might redirect ourselves in order to follow our true path. I’ve seen students gather the strength to quit their jobs, move house, or change relationships through the power of yoga. It suddenly becomes crystal clear that the things they had been suffering with for years prevent them from aligning themselves with their life purpose. Yoga practice and the support of the teacher training shows them that suffering is optional, and indeed, they are powerful enough to choose for themselves their path to healthy living.

Become a Master…of Your Own Life
Ultimately, those who successfully complete a yoga teacher training are able to guide people through a sun salutation, but a training experience is so much more than that. It is an opportunity to re-examine what is most important to you and develop the courage to live in accord with that. Yoga is an amazing thing; it stretches your hamstrings, but it also bends your mind. In addition to mastering the poses and breathing through a vinyasa, you learn how to master your life.