If you’re planning to jump headfirst into a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) overseas, you might be wondering how to prepare. Based on my experience, here are 10 ways to prepare for yoga teacher training overseas.
1 / Develop your practice to prepare for YTT
There are numerous benefits to deepening and developing your practice as much as possible before you start your yoga teacher training.
The hardest part of yoga teacher training, in my view, is the creeping self-doubt that you may feel at times during the course. Particularly when things get tough, you can assume that everyone else is finding it easier than you and the negative self-talk soon takes over.
One way to combat this feeling of self-doubt (a little) is to know that you’ve developed your yoga practice to the point that you are confident in your own ability. Being a competent yogi on the mat is one thing, and teaching is another, but if you can feel sure of your own practice, this can boost your teaching confidence.
Secondly, making sure that you have a regular practice can help to mitigate against injuries during your training. You will be doing asana practice every day, many hours a day in fact, during your course. If you don’t have a regular practice, this will take a huge toll on your body.
2 / Know the poses
Whilst you don’t need to have the most advanced practise in the world, it can be very helpful to have a good comprehension of all the main asanas or poses. You will work through a breakdown of each of these and learn how to cue each pose. But, if you don’t know your warrior 3 from your half-moon, you might find it even more challenging to get your head around the technicalities of each pose.
If you haven’t practised for long, I would recommend looking on YouTube just to learn the main asanas from Ashtanga and Vinyasa sequences. Bonus if you can make sure you know how each one feels for you too. This will give you a head start when you have to think about cueing other people into the poses.
3 / Know your body
Knowing your physical limitations as well as how your body might send stress signals, is vitally important for yoga teacher training. There may be poses that you just cannot do due to injuries or other limitations in your body. It can be good to know what these are before you embark on your yoga teacher training course. This helps you to prevent injuries on the course and also know where to focus your energy. Conversely, there may be other poses that you thought you would never do that suddenly are available to you when you practice every day on your YTT which is an awesome feeling!
It’s also good to know how you might react under stress. Are there signs that you can recognise in your body when you’re pushing yourself too hard? YTT can be very intensive, and you may need to slow things down if your body is telling you to during the course.
4 / Learn some sanksrit
Depending on where you take your course, you might find that the yoga teacher trainers like to use sanskrit regularly throughout the classes. If you don’t know your Uttanasana from your elbow, it will be difficult to keep up during the first few days. Learning the names of a few key poses in Sanskrit, especially if your course includes Ashtanga yoga, will be a helpful endeavour.
5 / Take a variety of classes to prepare for yoga teacher training
One of the things that I felt most grateful for whilst doing my yoga teacher training was that I had attended a wide variety of classes over the time that I had been practising. But, since I decided to complete yoga teacher training, I ramped this up and actively sought out classes with different styles.
Before my training, I had tried Hip Hop yoga, Silent Disco yoga, hot, bikram, restorative, yin and yoga nidra as well as Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Hatha. But, even more than that, I found that practising in different countries and areas with a wide variety of teachers also helped.
6 / Set some goals
Many people start their YTT with no idea as to whether they want to teach yoga or just to develop their own practice. That’s fine! But personally, I always like to set goals. So, I spent some time thinking about what I wanted from the course before I started.
If you have goals, whatever they are, you can come back to them during the course. There will be times when you need to choose how you direct your time and energy. Perhaps you’ll need to choose between studying or going out with your fellow students. If your goal is to socialise and connect with others, then this can help with these decisions when they arise!
Or maybe, you’ll want to set some goals for your own practice too. Perhaps there’s a pose you don’t have in your practice, and you want to work towards it during your course. I finally conquered Bird of Paradise and Firefly, but Lotus still evades me (ironically!)
7 / Consider yoga teacher styles to prepare for Yoga Teacher Training
Exploring a wide variety of styles helps you to figure out what you like. Plus, practising with different teaches can help you to pinpoint what kind of teacher you might like to be. If you can’t get to lots of different classes, try different methods and teachers on YouTube. You’re sure to find something to inspire you.
I also undertook a journalling exercise before I started YTT. Analysing my strengths and how they may support me as a yoga teacher. I also thought about the areas of yoga teaching that I may find more challenging and how I might manage this. This exercise definitely helped me during difficult times on the course.
8 / Detox
This is something I did not do! Prior to yoga teacher training, I had been in Jordan eating endless amounts of amazing food and enjoying the local beer. When I arrived in Bali, I felt bloated and tired and not 100% ready for the challenges that YTT would throw at me.
If I ever complete another YTT, I will definitely take a short detox before starting my course. Being in peak condition before starting is hugely beneficial to self-esteem but also the physical experience you’ll have during YTT.
9 / Pack carefully
Packing for yoga teacher training overseas is so important. We’ve written a separate article to address this specific topic – link here. But suffice to say, pack more yoga clothes than you think you will need
10 / Acclimatise to the heat and time zone
If you choose to take your YTT in Bali, India or Costa Rica, you will likely find the heat and the change in time zone to be challenging at first. If you can arrive in country a few days or ever a week prior to your course starting, this would be beneficial. This may not be available to everyone, but I’d really recommend taking the time if you can. It took me around 4 days to adjust to the time zone in the UK from the UK and I know that I would have found the first few days of my YTT hard if I hadn’t spent a few days in Ubud before I started the course.
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