yoga teacher training

My experience in a 16 Day YTT training: Preparing for your YTT

I kind of fell off the "blogosphere" once September hit!  September and October were such a blur, and it just seemed like one thing or another took priority over recipe developing and writing.  One thing that was taking up my time was preparing for my trip to Baja for my yoga teacher training. It was such an AMAZING adventure, and I wanted to take some time to share some of my experiences. I'll be writing a couple posts about it, and today's is going to focus more on pre-training. Hopefully YTT hopefuls will find this useful!

Choosing a Yoga Teacher Training

Googling YTT's can be so overwhelming. I have been taking yoga for a little over 3 years (more seriously in the last year or so), and had been considering taking a teacher training for about 6 months or so before starting to really look into it. 

  • Look for training registered with Yoga Alliance. As you start to look into your training, from what I gathered before my training, you should look for a place that is registered. Many studios may not hire a yoga teacher who hasn't. And although yoga teachers aren't tightly regulated now, that may change in the future so better safe than sorry. 
  • Abroad or close-by?  Are you interested in getting away from it all for 16 to 30 days and doing your training all at once, or saving the travel costs and staying close to home?  Many local trainings can be done part time on some evenings and weekends, though sometimes there are intensives offered (full time, usually over the summer). Local trainings have the benefit of (often) being at a slower pace to let it all sink in, and you may be able to get additional support from your instructor if needed. I opted to travel for my training. My schedule is busy, so it would be hard to accomodate a local training. I also thought it would be great to get "away" from it all and be able to immerse myself in yoga. 
  • Length of training. As I mentioned before, some trainings can be part time and will be offered over varying lengths of time. Some teachers may be accomodating to work with your schedule as well. Abroad trainings are generally offered as an intensive (shortest being 15-16 days), or longer training (with days off) of about a month. The intensive trainings are, you guessed it, a bit intense. You need to cover a lot of material and yoga in a short period of time, so you need to have a solid yoga practice. Prior experience teaching groups is helpful as well.
  • Type of yoga you want to train in. Who knew there were so many types of training! Do you have a specific type of yoga you enjoy the most? Many may have a 200 hour option (though some may require some prior training to attend). It can be really overwhelming!  Vinyasa yoga is a pretty popular one, and thats where my interest was. But, if you are an Ashtanga yogi, prefer more meditation, yin, etc. there are trainings out there for you!

Yandara Yoga Institute

I came across Yandara how most of us  find things nowadays, through Google. With how much time I get off work, I needed an intensive, and for my husband's sake something in a place that's pretty safe.  Yandara's training has been around for a long time, and had rave reviews. The location in Baja looked like a perfect retreat from reality and it wouldn't take me days to travel there and back.  I knew it was meant to be when I saw that they offered a rebate for Canadians!  

Preparing for the Training

Yandara has complete an application to see if you are right for the intensive program, since it moves at a fast pace.  Everyone in our group had been taking yoga before coming to this program, but there was some variety in skill level. Some had fitness teaching experience, but not most.  If you are worried if you are "ready" for this program, the people are Yandara are very approachable - so just e-mail, but passion goes a long way!

The program recommends that before starting your YTT you should aim to take yoga 5 days a week for at least a month. You also have to complete some reading before flying out (including anatomy homework). I would recommend getting started on this at least a month before to give it some time so sink in. And don't worry - you aren't meant to be an anatomy expert or sanskrit whiz coming into the program.

Packing for Yandara

Uggghhh packing for a trip is always the worst part.  Here are some of my tips for packing for Yandara's intensive training in October:

  • Your bag should basically be yoga clothes. You are going to be spending most of your time in a class doing yoga or talking about something yoga related. I wore a yoga outfit every day I was there.  You can send laundry out once a week at a pretty low price, or they have buckets, laundry soap and clothing lines if you just want to do it yourself.  I brought about 7 or 8 outfits then handwashed clothes a couple times.  I would suggest bringing 1 dress for your last night there and then maybe 1 casual outfit for the few hours you are in town.  Its HOT in October so you don't need a lot of long sleeves. For the bugs and the slight possibility of a cool night, bring one.
  • Essentials.  Of course there are things like: toothbrush, toothpaste, hair ties, shampoo, and body wash. Since you are in Mexico, bring SUNSCREEN the sun is intense. Also, bring a pair of flip flops that are easy to get on and off. I would also recommend bringing a pair of running shoes. A flashlight is also very important for navigating on the grounds at night. You do also need a towel for the shower since these are not supplied. Lastly, a notebook and a few pens is really important for the classes you will be taking and for journalling during your time there. 
  • Take it or leave it. They do recommend you bring your anatomy book, but I would suggest you can leave it behind if you read it ahead of time. Make sure you bring your anatomy homework. Leisure books to read: there isn't a lot of time to read so if you are trying to save space I'd suggest leaving this out. 
  • Nice to have. Protein bars: you don't eat breakfast until after your first yoga practice AND on Sundays you only have breakast and dinner included (with the option of going off site for your lunch meal) - so it was nice to have some protein bars on hand.  A water bottle is also really helpful to keep you hydrated, though if you forget they do have glasses!  They do have a few spare yoga mats if you need them, but I would highly recommend you bring your own. Your music player (ipod, etc.) is also really nice to have too so you can make your own mix for your final class. Pain meds: just in case you get a strain or headache, having some pain meds on hand is always a good idea. They do have a first aid kit if you get a cut or other injury.
  • Things you don't need. Make-up: this is a very casual environment and I barely even looked in a mirror while I was there. Leave your make-up at home (also you are living in a tent while you are there - so your make-up may melt!). Vitamin supplements/ gel-tab medications: again, you are living in a tent so these will likely melt into a glob (personal experience :P). Computer: you do NOT have wifi while you are here. If you require it, they can give you a code that is active for 30 minutes. Yandara is off grid, so the power in the tents is really only appropriate to charge things like your music player or phone. Its crazy how long your phone will last when you aren't using it for social media!
  • Money: This was something I tried to research before I left and couldn't find much on. Yandara is kind of in the middle of nowhere, so it's good to bring some money with you since the first time you are in town isn't until 7 days after you arrive.  That being said, most things can be "charged" to your account and you can pay by card or cash at the end.  At Yandara, they do offer massages, Astrology readings (highly recommended by others!), Reiki and other treatments. The cost of these is included in the welcome package, so bring enough for these, your shuttles to town, and airport transfer. If you plan on buying anything in town, I'd suggest getting some pesos out before you come down (I took out 500 and probably could have used a bit more: that covered an appetizer, smoothie and 1 purchase in town). 

I think that about covers it!  Next post, I will reflect a little on my time at Yandara.