How Yoga Teacher Training Transformed My Life
Looking back after 10 years
Looking back on my life, making the decision to enroll in a Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) was the most important decision I ever made. It’s been ten years since I’ve completed my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT), and looking back at it now I can see the dramatic and important changes that I was wishing for in my life when I signed up for YTT. This is going to sound dramatic but it’s true, it seems to me now that before YTT I felt dead on the inside, not really knowing who I was and feeling like I wasn’t hitting any of the marks that my soul came to make on this planet.
Completing yoga teacher training was the catalyst that I needed to start creating the changes I wanted to see in my life …and even some that I couldn’t even have imagined for myself at the time.
Backstory: I grew up as an overweight child, I had been sexually molested, and I had social anxiety from bullying I endured in my youth. I made my first important decision to lose weight before high school, and I lost approximately 60 lbs. I found yoga practice around age fourteen, and practiced occasionally with my other athletic pursuits. Throughout high school, I excelled in tennis and scholarly pursuits but I secretly struggled with eating disorders and my self worth. I graduated high school and went to college in a different state, grateful to get away from my dysfunctional family home life. During college, I continued doing yoga and started taking more advanced yoga classes. However, I also continued pursuing the world of drugs and alcohol, finding with it social ease, and a comfortable numbing to the painful voices in my head that had lingered since childhood.
After college, I pursued a variety of jobs: some of them in the field of environmental education (similar to the degree I got in college), and sometimes I worked as a waitress or other odd jobs.
Why I decided to enroll in a YTT program
I was in my late 20’s when I made the decision to join a yoga teacher training. At the time, I felt like I couldn’t afford not to. I was driven by my desire to be free myself from addiction, to do something I loved, and be able to help others in the process. I did free myself of my addictions but it didn’t happen immediately after yoga teacher training as I imagined it would.
Life After YTT
I didn’t start teaching yoga right after YTT because I already had a temporary job with a non-profit lined up for me after training. It was a full-time six month position. After completed the job, I had earned enough money to travel to Thailand for the first time, a dream for myself that I had held for 10 years prior.
1 Year Later
I started teaching yoga and meditation classes at the same studio that I got certified in. I taught out of seva (“service” -non paid) for a year. At first, teaching yoga felt awkward as I tried not stumble with my words. I felt nervous just starting out but as time went on I got more confident in speaking and teaching yoga for group classes. However, after about a year the non-paid job lifestyle was beginning to catch up with me and I couldn’t seem to afford to keep it up anymore, even though I had some other paying work.
2 Years Later
A year and a half after seeing the partner I met after I got back from Thailand, I told him I was leaving him one night and he broke my rib in two places. After this highly traumatic life event, I knew I was suffering from severe PTSD and depression. I did not go to hospital even though I suspected that my ribs were broken, and I believed there was nothing the hospital could do to fix it. Therefore, I continued to use drugs, alcohol, and smoking as band aids for physical, emotional, and spiritual pains. However, I still found my way to my yoga mat.
4 Years Later
I challenged myself to stop drinking for 30 days. I was surprised how well it went. I actually liked it. I started drinking natural juices and doing cleanses. I began to look and feel great in my body and my mind became more clear. This was around the time I started on my path to becoming an artist of my own life. Soon afterwards, I started taking a variety of dance and flow classes. I started learning more about myself and my mind. I began to more clearly see and question my own perceived mental and physical limits.
5 Years Later
After getting sober, I could see how my old negative patterns and beliefs that I had been living with for years were connected with patterns of numbing myself. I had used drugs and alcohol to soothe the physical, emotional, and mental pain I had endured throughout my life. I was finding a pathway to freedom through the recovery process and began to feel alive in a way that I never had before. I spent about two months traveling alone on the west coast and teaching yoga to private students that I would meet along the way.
6 Years Later
I moved in with my parents for a few months, and after going through my own childhood trauma again, I ended up in jail, then mental institution, and then living in run-down warehouse where I relapsed. I also started painting, dancing, and getting involved in social justice activism.
7 Years Later
Mostly sober again. I got back into teaching yoga. I started my own YouTube channel sharing my instructional yoga, meditation, and dance classes. Eventually I started teaching yoga at festivals and events around the East coast.
9 Years Later
Sober for over a year. In 202, I made my first documentary called, “The Sustainable Living Documentary”. In the film, I traveled from New Orleans to California to stop at WWOOFing farms to interview farm managers and offer private yoga classes along the way.
10 Years Later
I am so grateful to be free of my addictions, feeling free in my body, and clear in my mind. I have over 12 different yoga videos on my YouTube Channel (including Earth, water, wind, and fire yoga), offer live yoga classes to private clients and groups, and created my own course for women to embody the goddess they are through physical, mental, and spiritual practices.
In 2023, I wrote a book about my journey through weight loss called, “Secrets to Sustainable Weight Loss”.
My YTT surprisingly helped me in ways that I would never have expected including:
- It helped me to speak in front of groups of people
- Connected me with a Sangha that I trusted and become integral in my life and personal development
- Opened me up to a variety of holistic healing modalities that I could also teach, share, and practice with others
- Give me the confidence to believe that I could make a difference in the world by my words and actions
After YTT, I definitely felt more confident in my sequence creation, anatomy knowledge, and knowledge about the subtle energy body. All of these things inform and guide the way I create and teach classes even today.
How to Start Looking For A Program that is Right for You
Although my YTT was wonderful, there’s just a few things that I wish I would had known before deciding on a specific program. I want to offer some tips and considerations to those who want to find a YTT that fits their needs and desires.
If you are interested in YTT, write down what you would want to get out of the experience. Then research yoga teacher trainings live or online trainings (depending on your interest) and see what they offer.
I suggest having a question and answer session with the program advisor to go over those points you write down. Then, ask the advisor if the program would achieve your goals.
The yoga community is grounded in ethics, therefore, it is much more likely that the staff will be honest with you about your questions and this will help you decide if their training is right for you.
If you want to make this a career, I suggest to find yoga teacher trainings that have yoga business curriculum that goes in depth about ways to make a decent living financially through teaching yoga. If this is the career you want, ask the yoga studio what business model do they teach to become a successful financially independent yoga teacher. Obviously, there is more to being a yoga teacher than just making money but if this is your chosen career, you will need to figure out how you will sustain yourself financially throughout your career. How else will you have shelter, food, and other necessities that you need in order to survive, let alone teach classes?
If you are more interested in spiritual development aspect through a yoga teacher training, ask the course advisor what spiritual development practices does the program incorporate? Do students embark on these practices on their own time or is there group class work around these practices? These are important questions to ask for yourself before talking with an advisor.
Are you interested in a YTT to get a stronger, leaner, more healthy body? Or to heal your injuries, health ailments, or chronic pain? If so, ask the program advisor if there are any anatomy classes, books and/or homework as a part of the program curriculum. Also, if you are interested in your own healing, do your best to be honest about what medical conditions you have and if you’d be a right fit for the training.
YTT Online vs. YTT In Person
My YTT in 2012 was a live in-person training and it included variety of instructors and guest speakers. I loved the social group aspect and I gained friends that I still love today. However, I also I took an online Thai Massage Certification Training several years ago and got out what I needed to out of it. I had already been practicing for years before, and wanted to hone my skills and could practice on friends that lived nearby.
Ask yourself a few more questions about why you want to do this training…(specifically…)
- Do you just want the knowledge? Anatomy, sequence structure, subtle energy, etc? - If so, an online course could provide that just as easily as an in person training would - and could potentially save you money in the process.
- Is social interaction important for your learning process? - If so, would an online training incorporate group work? And if it’s in person, is there a minimum or maximum number of people in the training that you would be a part of?
- Do you want training to teach yoga to a specific demographic? For example: trauma based, autistic, and/or youth demographics?
- Or want to be trained in a specific type of yoga? For example: Kundalini, Kripalu, Hatha yoga, etc.
For either of these last two questions you need to ask yourself, “Is what I want being offered in my area?”
And if it’s not - are you willing to relocate to where it might be taught for the duration of the training? - If you do find a studio with the YTT you want, you can ask the studio if they have housing options available*.
*I also worked at a hostel before, and have met a YTT trainee who was doing work at the hostel for some time each week in exchange for accommodation there, which allowed her to be take part in the YTT program.
If none of these are available to you for your desired specifications, you could also research online the YTT options you are looking for.
- Do you want experience teaching yoga during the YTT? - Ask the advisor if practice teaching is included in the curriculum. Or are students expected to start teaching on their own afterwards? I really benefitted from practice teaching yoga during training.
Another great thing about completing a YTT is that afterwards you can continue learning about yoga, even as a teacher. It’s not like being a history teacher who just needs to learn the facts and then regurgitate them to your students. Learning yoga doesn’t stop after the training ends. I continue to learn about yoga and grow as a yoga teacher through teaching both online and in person. I continue to learn about myself, how to become a better teacher, and flowing with more ease and grace the more I continue down this path of yoga.
I’m wishing you the very best luck on your yoga journey and wherever it takes you in this lifetime, whether it be to a yoga teacher training or fulfilling your deepest soul desire on this planet. It’s all Divine.
About the Author
Trinity Wave is a Divine Healer. She helps women embody the Goddess they are in body, mind, and spirit. To find out more about her upcoming 12 week online Goddess Courses sign up for her email list, at Trinitywavedesigns.com