10 reasons you will never regret becoming a yoga teacher   by Clare Bassett.

Over the years I’ve met so many different kinds of people training to become a yoga teacher for many different reasons. From the people who just love yoga and want to learn more to those who plan to open their own yoga studio and offer classes, workshops and retreats. 

Remarkably one thing almost every person who has done the training says to me is that it is life changing and one of the best things you could ever do. 

For me too, it was the most transformational educational experience in my life and I have a masters degree and various other qualifications to compare it with. 

But why? I want to share with you the top ten things you get, and never lose, by becoming a yoga teacher. Spoiler alert –  it’s not headstands! 

  1. Physical health benefits and body confidence

Let’s start with the obvious. Training as a yoga teacher means you spend more time practising asana (the poses). You get stronger and fitter. Your posture improves. Your balance improves. Your flexibility, your body awareness and your self confidence improve too. You become more toned and more confident. It’s exercise for people who don’t like exercise. It makes you feel really good. 

Regular yoga practice also supports the immune system, balances hormones and improves our relationship with food. 

You look good but that’s not the main thing. 

You feel good and you learn to love your body. This is life changing, especially as women, when we are told all the time that our body is too fat, too thin, boobs too small or too big, and the list goes on.  

Through training as a yoga teacher we gain an understanding that yoga is more than what we see on Instagram with beautiful bodies in beautiful poses and you start to see the beauty in every body. 

Even if you stop doing physical yoga, the way you move in your body is different.  You hold yourself differently. You have levelled up your body awareness and how you live in your body.  

Your flexibility, your connection with the breath and your core, this kind of connection to natural body wisdom all improves. So it has a knock on effect, a lifelong knock on effect that even if you’re not doing hundreds of sun salutes, or anything like that, you will still feel that positive effect on your physical well being.

  1. Mental health benefits

Imagine if your default state was wellness and feeling a sense of positivity and joy in the world. Mine is, now, but it wasn’t always. I used to feel overwhelmed, depressed and had a bleak sense that I was powerless against all the chaos and suffering in the world.

Yoga gives you an ability, a tool to come back to inner peace and what I believe is your own innate natural sense of joy in the world. You know that sense of pure unreasonable joy that children have about just being alive, to just wake up in the morning and say, “ It’s a beautiful day mammy,” even if it’s raining. 

Growing up we can lose that sense. We gain greater knowledge and awareness of what’s going on in the world and it can feel overwhelming. But what if I told you could have both? You could hold on to that innocence and playfulness and that feeling of being in love, in awe and wonder at the amazing world? It’s not just me.

When I ask yoga teacher trainees what it is that brings them back to yoga again and again, overwhelmingly they respond with things like, the sense of peace, the sense of joy, the sense of wholeness, of connection, the feeling of well being it brings. 

You become more self aware, you become empowered and confident, less self conscious and happier.   

Here’s the science – Regular yoga practice releases feel – good hormones like serotonin, dopamine and a brain chemical called gamma- aminobutyric acid (GABA) which is associated with improved mood. It changes our bio chemistry so we feel less stressed and more resilient. It teaches us how to become aware of our thought patterns and use our body and breath to build our mental and emotional resilience. We feel good. 

Not only that, but yoga helps keep our brains fit.  Did you know, studies using MRI scans show that people who do a regular yoga practice have a thicker cerebral cortex (brain bit for processing information) and hippocampus (learning)!  

Full article – https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/yoga-for-better-mental-health

  1. Creating positive habits around self care

One of the added benefits of doing yoga teacher training is the supportive frame it gives you for setting up really positive habits. 

Of course no one can do this for you but there is something about the commitment to teacher training and the support and direction of the tutors that enables you to really create positive practices.  Specifically around your yoga practice. If you don’t come to the course with a regular yoga self practice, you will come away with one. If you already have one, you will deepen and develop it. 

You have the accountability and a clear framework to help you set achievable goals for yourself so that you develop a home yoga practice that serves you and fits with your lifestyle. 

The benefits from doing a consistent regular practice are incredible. 

Of course, in an ideal world, you don’t need to do teacher training to do that. But you find that because we have free yoga on YouTube, and all the apps that many people only do yoga when they’re prompted by the teacher. It’s not the same as your own personal practice. In fact it’s quite a big jump. If you’ve never tried to do it on your own before, get on the mat and give it a go! Try some poses, trust your inner wisdom and what you remember from class. It’s life changing. 

It’s an amazing gift yoga teachers have, plus the skills to change and adapt your bespoke yoga practice for life! You become an autonomous practitioner. 

Yoga is not just what you do on the mat. Most yoga teacher training courses will also include journaling with prompts to help you release blocks and get out of your own way so you can extend your self care and self discipline beyond just doing poses. 

You learn the powerful practices of pranayama (breath work), meditation and yoga nidra (relaxation). You practise being present, like taking time for a mindful cup of tea so your yoga is integrated into your busiest days.

You don’t need to throw money at classes that don’t always suit you or get lost scrolling on YouTube.  You can practise anywhere, in any mood and keep adapting so you have a lifelong practice that you can keep doing when you’re 94. That in itself is reason enough to do the training. 

If you’ve done your teacher training, you have a very good idea about what suits your body, your own alignment and how to design a session for yourself. And even if you were to just do that never ever teach anyone else, you are your own first and last student.  

  1. Collateral benefits – a ) power of the intention to change 

I am regularly surprised by those unintended positive influences training as a yoga teacher seems to have in people’s lives. 

Many people use it as a stepping stone to support them with other changes, the obvious ones are, from employment to travelling and teaching yoga part time, or from full time to part time employment or some leave a job to work for themselves as yoga teachers.

I also often see other changes that are harder to explain, like starting a relationship or ending one. I met my husband while I was training as a yoga teacher. That was the first relationship where I stayed with someone for more than 6 months. 

Coincidences? Maybe, but I put it down to the sense of calm and safety my yoga practice gave me and the space it created for me to subtly change on an energetic level.

b) the people around you

There is also the positive ripple effect. We are all connected and doing a course like this affects more than just you. You feeling happier and healthier affects your circle. 

Plus as part of any good yoga teacher training program you have to practise teaching yoga. Many people who would never normally do yoga, try yoga as part of this process.

Many years ago when I did my training one of my first students was a friend from college. 

He was not the typical yoga student and may never have started if it wasn’t for my class. Now over ten years on and he runs a language school, where he regularly organises yoga as an activity for the teachers and students. Together we have trained many European school teachers on an Eramus plus program, to integrate yoga and meditation practices into their own classrooms for themselves and to share with their schools and students all over Europe.  

  1. Adding an internationally recognised qualification to your C.V.

Becoming self employed and running your own classes doesn’t suit everyone but that doesn’t mean that the qualification is wasted. In this tech heavy world in which we are living HR departments recognise the importance of yoga and meditation for digital detox and wellbeing. When I started yoga it was the kind of thing quirky Phoebe from Friends did, but now even Barbie has a mat. 

Yoga is valued. Whether it’s something you do for yourself or something you share, your qualification could help with your job. Many yoga graduates opt to share yoga at work which can help improve relationships and the atmosphere at work. Others feel happier to keep it as their own secret lifeline to handle hard days.   

  1. Being able to earn an additional income or set up your own business 

One of the coolest and scariest things is to have dreams of being your own boss, and of course many yoga teachers work for themselves, either part or full time. 

For those who choose that path it is challenging but so rewarding. There’s nothing like the feeling of getting paid for what you love, paying your bills by helping others feel good. 

You are the boss, you decide your work hours and you have the freedom to take the laptop out into the garden or switch admin tasks around so you can take off with the kids while the sun is shining. 

You set your own schedule so you can stick to teaching a class a week or two a week and be home with their kids or escape all together. I know one graduate who runs her own yoga retreats in Greece and Spain, others offer workshops, while others offer online courses, or memberships. 

If you dream of owning a yoga studio or creating your own yoga app, or online courses, it all starts with your 200 hour yoga teacher training.  

  1. Spiritual benefits

Yes, I went there.  Whether you are religious or not, yoga can open you up to a sense that we are all connected, that love is all around and that you matter. You are a miracle. There is a sacredness to every day, to the small moments, a child’s smile, the beauty of a flower or the sound of rain. We become present and notice. That is yoga, connection.  

We reconnect to the childlike sense of wonder within us. The joy of being. This is all part of what yoga brings. Anyone can access this.   

It wasn’t always that way. Yoga began as a way for the few privileged spiritual aspirants as a path to gain enlightenment, its secrets were guarded. You couldn’t practise if you were a woman. 

Nowadays you don’t need to be rich or devoted or ever visit an ashram.  

You don’t need to stop going to church or start. There is a whole lifestyle that goes with yoga, but yoga is not dogmatic. 

You don’t have to believe in anything in particular to practise, you can be a very devoted religious person, a seeker of truth or a true atheist. 

Yoga is open to those of every religion and those of none. 

  1. Being a better person. 

We grow up with a certain culture and a certain way of thinking. If you grew up in the West, like me,  without realising it you will have certain beliefs and certain ways of seeing things. Looking at life through a different lens, a different perspective, can be really freeing and empowering.    

For example in yoga teacher training we learn about karma yoga. There are four paths of yoga described in the Bhagavad Gita, one of them is karma yoga, or selfless service, we can practise yoga by helping others or seeking to serve. It does matter what you do, if you do it with the right intention. Deep.   

If you, like me, were brought up Christian you will have learnt about the ten commandments. ‘Do not kill, got it, do not steal, got it, do not covet your neighbour’s wife…’ (I didn’t really get that one.)

In the yogic tradition there are the yamas and niyamas, ten principles to live a social and ethical life, they include ahimsa, which means non harming or compassion and santosha, which means contentment.  

Whatever your faith, these are beautiful qualities to study, and practise and share. 

When you feel happier and practice compassion the world is a better place.   

  1. Finding your tribe

The biggest surprise for me when I did my training was the amazing people I met. 

I’m not surprised by this anymore.  There is such a sense of support and of finding our tribe and some of the nicest moments are often the breaks, lying in the grass and chatting. 

It’s a combination of the amazing women who come to yoga and the yoga teacher training itself. We meet from different roles in life, to go deeper and learn and practise together. There is an amazing atmosphere of support where laughter and tears are welcome. 

You will know from your own yoga practice that when you finish a yoga practice you feel so in love with the world around. There’s a sense of empowerment of being able to make change. There’s a sense of wellness and well being. And when you get a group of people practising yoga, especially at this level teacher training level together, there’s a certain power in that and very often, there are very special friendships formed that last well beyond the 200 hours of the course and a sense of yoga teachers supporting other yoga teachers. 

One of the nicest feedback comments on my courses was from a yoga teacher who came away from her training saying,

Thank you Clare, I feel like I’ve been on a retreat.

Amanda, Belfast

And that was on the online pregnancy yoga teacher training. She got her qualification, but also made friends and had a sense of having filled her own cup and was restored. 

  1. Knowing your way home. 

You know how after yoga you feel more calm and centred?  Maybe you sleep better, or you find you can focus more. You are more grounded, more settled and peaceful. You have better focus, manage challenges better but then… as the week goes on you lose a bit of that. Things throw you off balance. You feel more scattered, busy, stressed, maybe anxious or depressed.  

Do you know how to get back home to a sense of peace?  

When you train as a yoga teacher you know the way home and you know that ‘home’ is not a feeling of overwhelm or heavy sadness or frustration.  It is not being stressed out. Home is an inner state of calm, safety, and peace.  

We can all got from 0 – 60 in a millisecond, we have a nervous system that’s evolved to survive, but how long does it take us to come back from 60 – 0? 

Yoga teacher trainees learn the simple techniques that bring you back home and develop the awareness of when they need them. It’s always just moments away.  It is so simple but it is life changing.

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