In all honesty, probably not. Need is a strong word and since the yoga industry has exploded I don’t feel like anyone is likely to be struggling to find a teacher. Still I had been looking at the requirements to become a Registered Yoga Teacher for several years now.
Every year around tax return time I would browse the Yoga Alliance website and look at how many hours I would need to spend outside the home to get RYT certified and sadly shelve my desire to learn the practice more deeply.
I had already been working outside the home and knew that I didn’t have the space in my schedule to do in-person training but this year when I looked at the requirements my heart rejoiced!
The in-person class requirement has been lifted and I would be able to take an online class and still qualify for the RYT certification!! Am I looking to make a career change to be a yoga teacher? Not specifically but I am not ruling it out either. I love learning new skills and yoga has always been a wonderful compliment to my higher goals.
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Many people assume yoga is all about complicated poses which require inhuman flexibility but in reality it’s about breathing and connecting to your inner self. Unsurprisingly I don’t believe social media culture has represented yoga in a well-rounded way. Anybody or any body can do yoga (after consulting with your physician). There are so many types of yoga and options to put yoga in reach of those who’s bodies are very inflexible or those who have conditions that make movement difficult.
While yoga will help you become more flexible it also helps you feel good in your body, relax chronic tension, correct imbalances, reduce pain, help improve and sometimes heal old injuries, and can improve mental state and focus surprisingly enough.
It’s not magic. You can’t just do one yoga video over and over and expect miracles but even committing to one yoga workout regularly can be life changing. When I figured out that breathing well was the secret to getting the most out of yoga it all clicked for me and I wanted to learn as much as I could.
To be honest the yogic principles are very similar to my personal inner workings anyways. I try to avoid doing harm, actively seek the truth within and out in the world, and I am always trying to learn more and be better.
You actually don’t need to be certified to teach yoga in the states but it does help you get hired and get liability insurance. Is any of this a priority for me? Well no, so what is the real reason I am seeking certification?
I have always nerded out on the health and wellness space. My dad told me a long time ago that you only get one body so take care of your “machine”.
I doubt that those words alone made me who I am but take those words and color them with years of helping my parents accomplish tasks made harder by disabilities and your darn right I take body maintenance seriously.
Now I haven’t been great at taking care of my body in all seasons. Life is busy and so so so many things get in the way. It is hard to get back into the habit of exercising but I baby stepped my way back into it because I have seen that caring for your body can give you back years of your life.
I have been doing asanas (the physical exercise of yoga) on and off since 2003. Degenerative spine onset happens early in my family. I have a vertebra that likes to poke out too far and if I don’t keep my back muscles strong the block tower that is my spine is going to come tumbling down.
Add to that compression from jobs carrying heavy trays, heavy boxes, and jobs where I both sat or stood a lot. Also a few pregnancies where I carried quite large babies had left me with diastasis recti which is a vertical separation in the ab muscles. Superficially it does affect how my belly button looks and it’s now an outie even though I started life with more of an innie belly button.
Silly Side Note: When the belly button is neither very out or very in, my family calls that an in-betweenie!
Going from an innie to an outie might sound like a fun change but it had concerned me as neither hernias nor abdominal surgery sounded fun.
Anyway the point is that I had a lot of imbalances, and weak muscles to work on and I had to start slow to not hurt myself worse while trying to get better. I made my life easier by creating a wardrobe that would work for work, gardening, household chores, outings with kids and friends, and yoga!
These Yogipace Bootcut Dress Yoga/Work Pants are so comfortable! Since they are so versatile I’ve been buying different styles of dress yoga pants and getting rid of my less versatile pants to try and simplify my wardrobe.
So with other exercise it seemed to intensify the stress I carry in my neck and shoulder muscles, which tended to cause headaches. I imagine most of you reading this post struggle with some sort of neck, back, or radiating pain down the arms or legs due to strenuous work, household and family chores, or sitting at a desk many hours of the day. The funny thing is that musculoskeletal pain doesn’t discriminate and it can just as easily happen to those that have a very physical job, or to those that sit most of the day.
I was like most others using over the counter pain medications more and more to address my headaches and to take care of those pains that made functioning difficult. I knew that I didn’t want to continue on this way. There are many different ways to try and relax those muscles but rarely do relaxation techniques help to correct imbalances.
The one exercise exception that I believe comes close to yoga for the strengthening-relaxation combo is swimming but it’s a lot harder to get to a pool a few times a week all year round than it is to roll out your yoga mat. Plus unless you are doing some crazy pool moves it’s probably not increasing your flexibility significantly.
When I discovered that doing yoga helps keep my spine in alignment, and works for all kinds of other aches and pains, I knew that this was a path I would walk someday. My mom had always said I would make a wonderful physical therapist or occupational therapist, but when I looked into the schooling to become an OT it just didn’t feel like the right path for me. It really is a shame because OT’s and PT’s in general get paid a lot more than yoga teachers and that kind of job usually comes with medical benefits!
I appreciate the truth of my journey though and I have faith I’ll make the “earning a living” piece work somehow. To be honest yoga spoke to me because I love the idea of teaching people how to listen to their bodies and heal themselves before injuries get to the point of medical intervention.
I have long encouraged yoga to friends and family for stress-relief, pain management, toning, and weight-loss. I have been teaching my kids about breathing for anger management and calming down since they were little. I do teach and preach yoga to those close to me fairly regularly. I care about my loved-ones’ long-term health. I want them to be happy, to be able to move easily, and not struggling with back pain, limited joint mobility, migraines, high-blood pressure, female issues, or any other illness that stems from the body not functioning properly.
It was starting to be apparent that I was going to have to step up my game from a novice to a professional. We are still pretty young (in my opinion) but Billy has already been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. He is in pain constantly and I wanted to be able to help him in ways other than just supporting him through a multitude of doctors appointments and picking up medications at the pharmacy. He is the poster child for muscle imbalances at the moment as he is very strong in most muscles but in the arthritic joints the strength is already being affected.
He is not flexible at all so that made picking a yoga program from Youtube pretty challenging as many of them are geared to women. This means they don’t often give enough instructions for poses that tend to be more challenging for men. I did end up finding some appropriate videos eventually but I also bought a set of yoga props to help support our bodies as we corrected our muscle imbalances.
I also had fallen off the regular exercise wagon and both of us were moving like we were a century old. I knew it was time for a change. I started with my own health because I can’t preach what I’m not practicing. I started with incredibly slow and restorative yoga before I started doing the more fast paced vinyasas and power yoga classes.
If you want to revisit the way in which baby stepped my way back to being active this post is all about the ways I gently encouraged myself to add more activity into my busy schedule.
Obviously this post was written during the end of the winter but a lot of what I suggest could be used any time of the year.
After 6 weeks of doing yoga regularly 4 times a week, I was reading yoga articles and watching yoga videos trying to learn all I could about specific postures and how to get the most out of my own workouts. I believe I was looking for more postures to help with neck and shoulder pain (always an issue for me) when I stumbled onto content about yoga teacher training online. When I saw I could get the RYT certificate fully online, at my own pace, I couldn’t believe my eyes!
I chose the Original Hatha Yoga Teacher at the Aura Wellness School because it seemed well-rounded. Other students had been approved for their RYT with the accreditation from this program, the program was self-paced, and it seemed inexpensive compared to a lot of the other yoga teacher training courses out there. There is a lot of information in the courses in regards to history, principals, anatomy, kinesiology, and I am just now starting to learn about the different asanas and their benefits.
Just so you know I get nothing for sharing this information except for maybe some good karma. I know I was really excited though, so I wanted to share this information for other busy yogis who are aspiring to get their RYT but always felt like it was out of reach before.
Breathing is a main focus of yoga, for so many reasons, so I have started practicing different breath techniques. Happily I have found that a few of the breathing techniques have actually helped reduce my sinus issues, which is saying a lot during allergy season!
While I haven’t explored many of the guided meditations I have experimented with a few meditation techniques good for clearing the mind. I have been practicing different mind clearing techniques for years though as I have found this is the best way to fall asleep. I still can’t meditate in the morning but that is when I like to write so I am still working through different thoughts and allowing ideas to come.
Experimenting with meditation has made it obvious how much I love singing bowls. If you haven’t heard of this multipurpose instrument you should check them out because they are really fun!
So does the world really need another yoga teacher? Maybe not but I will be one less unqualified yoga instructor doing more harm than good. Since I am teaching people I truly care about, I want to be pretty confident that I am helping them and not accidently causing them more wear and tear on their body.
I didn’t necessarily need a certification to teach friends and family but I was really excited about working towards a certification in the health and wellness space. With that certification I’ll be able to write with some authority on yoga and wellness topics I am interested in instead of being another health and wellness hobbyist.
There is nothing wrong with doing yoga or practicing wellness as a hobby and encouraging others to do the same, but I had reasons to become a qualified professional and the ability to step into it this season. So I am going for it!
At this point I can’t imagine quitting my day job and starting a studio, or starting a job at a gym. I can’t imagine that it would pay more than I am making now. I am not the strongest or most flexible yogi at the moment and there is a lot of competition out there. I don’t feel like there are many gyms hiring in my area either but honestly I haven’t looked into it. I may check it out once I finish my course but in any case I’m doing this to build up my own skill set and be able to give good advice to my own friends and family. IF they are interested.
A person only need take 1 appropriate level yoga class that makes them feel amazing to realize the benefits. I know that I haven’t done yoga regularly all the seasons of my life but even when I am not doing it my brain knows it makes me feel great and that I should start again. Like I said before, yoga is one of the few workouts that builds both strength and releases muscle tension in the same session. What I didn’t mention is that often the different poses also massage organs and get more blood flowing to neglected areas in the body, which helps the body heal any number of things! It’s definitely worth your while to get yourself a fun yoga set-up and start practicing regularly.
I am not saying that you won’t experience aches and pains especially when you first start, but yoga is a workout that corrects imbalances in the body over time. So while you may be muscle sore, yoga can make you feel so much better overall that you just don’t care. Done regularly and with good alignment yoga can help heal persistent pains and health issues that you may have accepted as problems that “can’t be fixed”. Yoga isn’t a miracle cure but before you write it off as mystical hooey consider this:
Yoga has poses and counter poses. Simply explained you do a pose that works part of the body, then you do an opposite pose that releases that part of the body and encourages it to find a neutral and balanced position. We are working with scientific principles here. Newton’s third law is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In yoga that opposite reaction is addressed and you work the whole body’s range of motion. The different asanas (poses) and vinyasas (smooth transitions) are really well thought out and most poses have you working many areas of the body all at once. Read Here: Shorter Work Out Faster Results!
More active yoga classes offer a variety of movement exercise, and stationary and balancing poses to work muscles in different ways. I have found that I am able to exercise muscles longer than I would if I was just trying to exercise them just using motion type exercises, like running or lifting weights. I find that only doing an active exercise and not stretching muscles in between does not work well for me. My muscles get too tight, fatigue quickly, and then all this causes pain, it’s hard to move later, and then I really don’t feel like exercising for awhile. In contrast in yoga both the stretching and counter poses of yoga prevent the overtightening of muscles and help to increase range of motion. Just don’t forget to breath!
To restate you can get a powerhouse of a workout, increase your range of motion, relax your muscles, and feel great all from the same class! I find that in other types of exercise many people skip the recommended before and after class stretching more often than not. With yoga it’s all built in and refined to help you achieve balance in your body.
I’m not saying other types of workout classes aren’t beneficial. I’m just saying yoga is a useful addition to any fitness routine. Even if you are working out regularly you are still likely creating imbalances in the body, even if you haven’t discovered it yet. Yikes! Sorry to be such a downer but I tell the truth, even if it hurts. Now that you know how much yoga can help your body and improve performance, why wouldn’t you make it easy to add to your exercise, training, or gym routine?
While many people may have only experienced the slow restorative type of yoga that beginners often encounter first, o .,nce you learn some of the asanas (postures) and find a comfortable alignment in your own body, then you can move to the intermediate level with vinyasa (flow yoga) and power yoga classes for strength building.
If you have felt that yoga was “too slow” for you in the past I would tell you to talk yourself into a restorative practice at least once a week to start loosening chronically tight muscles. Then I would move to a power yoga class to learn some of the poses that aren’t typically taught in restorative yoga. Yes, power yoga can still feel like you are holding poses forever but just remember to breath, try to improve your alignment, and remind yourself that you are building both strength, flexibility, and improving your body’s stress management system all within that same class!
Once you have built up your strength and stamina, vinyasa classes are now within your reach. No more slow-moving yoga for you! Although by this point you have probably figured out how yummy slow-moving yoga makes your body feel afterward and will be unlikely to get rid of this from your practice altogether.
In my journey I am still building strength and prefer power yoga with vinyasa movements as opposed to vinyasa classes. Vinyasa classes tend to make me out of breath still and the transitions are too quick for me to find a good alignment. Vinyasa looks fun but I am pretty sure I might hurt myself. So for now strength classes with a little bit of flow are where it’s at for me. Though it’s less than ideal I end up stuffing my yoga practice in wherever I can find a moment in my day. Whether it’s during a toddler nap, or after the nap fails I am transporting my yoga mat to the park.
Three pregnancies and a job where I sat for 10 hours a day did my core muscle in and it’s taking awhile to come back from that. The coolest thing about yoga is that there are modifications or substitutions for practically every pose.
I’ve heard some teachers in the yoga community say that yoga is for anybody (or any body), there is no age limit or certain fitness level required. If injuries or disabilities limit activities check out chair or bed yoga. If you are a healthy pregnant person looking for a way to alleviate some of the aches and pains due to a growing belly check out prenatal yoga. If you are a mom with kids that tend to butt in on your yoga practice check out kids yoga. As always make sure you get the go ahead from your medical professionals.
Pro tip: I like to put on cosmic kids yoga on the TV and use my phone to do my own yoga practice while the kids are occupied. Thank goodness you can get a full body workout in quickly because kids’ attention spans are not great. If the weather is good you will probably win yourself more time and a better workout by taking them to a field or a park!
So if you have made it this far in this post, I’m sure you can tell that I am truly excited about the benefits of yoga as an exercise. I have also taken my yoga practice off my matt and experienced improvements in unexpected areas unrelated to fitness but vital to well-being. In truth yoga is a philosophy, not a religion, that encourages movement in order to get your head, heart, and nervous system in proper working order.
The physical exercise is really just a gateway to helping people steer their own thoughts and actions better. Could you imagine how much better life would be if you could stop thinking destructive thoughts? What in your life would improve if you could figure out how to focus better, for a lot longer? How would the world change if everyone was a little less stressed and a little more patient?
I am just starting to dip my toe into the world of prayanama (different breathing techniques) and I have found it super helpful. The first time I encountered breath techniques I saw people teaching them without explaining the purpose and I was just like, this is weird and what is the point. So I walked away.
Now I am back years later very impressed with how much prayanama helps me to feel better in everyday situations. I wish I would have given it more of a chance earlier on but I guess I wasn’t ready, or that particular teacher wasn’t explaining it in a way that spoke to me. They always say when the student is ready the teacher appears.
Since I am on the subject of yoga that is and isn’t for certain people, I have to say if you have had an experience where yoga has seemed cliquey, smug, superficial, or elitist please don’t judge all practitioners or studios by that. That is not what yoga is about, but as with all things bad players give practices a bad name. Please don’t write off healthy choices because of a bad classroom experience. If there aren’t different classes in your area there are plenty of yoga studios with online options.
With classes offered online it’s easy to find and try out different styles of yoga and take classes from different teachers! While I prefer an independent home practice this season, I am considering an in-person class or an interactive online class in the future. Yes I am still going to take yoga classes from other teachers even after I become certified. Ongoing education is important!
I want to mention how much I love yoga for it’s low barrier to entry. You literally just need comfy clothes (clothes are even optional in the home setting lol) and some instructions (which can be readily found on Youtube after you check with your doctor to see if he approves your new exercise routine). I do suggest a mat if you are doing more athletic yoga as this will help prevent slipping and falling.
Props also can help prevent injury but they are inexpensive and you can substitute household items for blocks, bolsters, and straps until you can purchase the real thing. I already had plenty of yoga mats at home when I got more seriously into my practice. So I found this Yoga Starter Kit and cute but giant elephant tote bag to keep my stuff organized, and make it easy for me to practice.
Maybe yoga in the past was limited based on location, gender, and other obstacles but it is so accessible these days that I feel like most anyone can find a yoga practice that will serve them and improve their own life (and maybe even the lives of those around them).
I am still trying out lots of different types of yoga and enjoying the unique wisdom that comes from each teacher’s different experience of the practice. I hope to bring integrity, joy, humor, and wisdom to my own practice, so that I may teach others how to better communicate and cooperate with their own bodies. Once you really dive into yoga and start learning all about it, you realize that yogic principles are really similar to having a user manual for the body.
I have been absolutely amazed at how simple techniques can help me reduce anxiety, adjust blood pressure, raise my energy levels, relax me for sleep, and help me get out of a funky mood. I really look forward to sharing techniques I think others will find helpful in their everyday lives as well as bringing more movement, health, and joy to others.
I hope that this article answered some questions about why I am studying to become a RYT. I hope that I also provided enough information and inspiration, for those who are new to yoga or that haven’t practice in awhile, to get started. If you are already a regular practitioner, I really hope this post provided some affirmation of why you chose yoga in the first place.
If anyone has any questions, or suggestions please share them in the comments, or feel free to send me a message. As stated I am still learning and certainly don’t know all the answers but I am always happy to learn more and share what wisdom appears along the way.
Thanks for reading with me today. I hope your day is filled with radiance and you enjoy it to the fullest!
PS If you have a hard time not pushing yourself too hard, or you gravitate towards more punishing workout programs and yoga practices, check out these beautiful Infrared Crystal Rainbow Chakra Mats!
I didn’t even know these existed when I bought my infrared sauna blanket. Since my spa blanket is still working, I won’t be spending money on this beautiful stone mat yet and will just enjoy getting my sweat on in my much cheaper purple “sleeping bag”!
Anyway infrared blankets and mats are a wonderful way to relax and heal muscles when you need relief from muscle pain and activity isn’t the best option. I love mine because it’s like having a whole body heating pad.
If you have tried a sauna blanket or crystal chakra mat let me know what you think!