The Toughest Part of Yoga Teacher Training

We’re in our eleventh round of 200-hour yoga teacher training at Carolina Yoga Company. (Join us for the twelfth! Or go deeper with our 500-hour advanced studios yoga teacher training!) As usual, we have a lovely crew of earnest students who anticipate a journey of self-discovery and growth that will be difficult at times. But the toughest part of yoga teacher training isn’t learning Sanskrit, resolving your questions about alignment, or gaining comfort leading group classes. It’s sitting on the floor.

And how appropriate this is! The Yoga Sutras tell us very little about poses—only that we should find a seat that is both steady and comfortable. I consider the poses we do in the twenty-first-century West to be preparations for this work of getting cozy in a seated position. Because once we can hold the seat—once we have strength through the core and ease through the hips—we are ready for the more inner practices of yoga that lead us to self-awareness, starting with meditation.

Here’s some of my best advice for sitting:

  • Eschew the cross-legged option. Instead, build a kneeling seat. Here’s a piece I wrote for Yoga Journal on how to kneel with greater comfort: “Find Comfort in Sitting.”
  • Prop up when you’re cross-legged, too.  A bolster or even two under your hips will help a lot.
  • Build into it slowly. Adaptation to any stimulus must happen progressively over time. Overdo it, and you’ll find up doing more harm than good.
  • Take breaks! We encourage our yoga teacher trainees to shift position, to move to a chair, or to stand in polite attention to the teacher.

And if you’re leading a yoga class, remember that your students may not instantly be comfortable sitting. Start lying down or standing instead—it sets a lovely tone for class. We explore lots of alternatives to the traditional seated start of class in Sequencing Yoga Classes from Welcome to Namaste.