Yoga Teacher Trainings can be intense! I often say to my yoga trainees, “it’s not a matter of issues arising on teacher training, its how we cope with the issues arising”. Yogic practices aim to move through and beyond the mental and emotional baggage that inhibits people from experiencing their deeper core nature. This is why you may find your self crying on the way home from back-bending class or angry with your self or others after a strong inversion class. Our body houses our emotional energy and as we practice, unresolved emotions and traumas can surface in our awareness asking for healing. Add this to the pressure of a TTC, where the intensity of the asana increases, when students have to learn new anatomy and Sanskrit vocabulary, undergo assessments and possibly share accommodation with strangers, eat unfamiliar foods, deal with intense heat or other environmental stresses; all of this under a time limit for a certificate,….well this can be like putting all of your “stuff” in a pressure cooker and you shouldn’t be too surprised if it starts to boil over at some point…
The first step to coping with your emotional baggage on a TTC is owning it. When you can take responsibility for your emotions, you are then in a position to transform and heal them. Hopefully your teacher will also address this issue to the group at the beginning of the TTC. On my own trainings, I tell students when they can talk to me or an assistant about personal issues and we also have regular group circles, so that emotional energy that builds up on the trainings can find expression.
If you find yourself completely emotionally overwhelmed during a TTC, in addition to seeking assistance, my advice is to try to trust the process. Sometimes when we are experiencing unresolved trauma, it can feel like falling down a dark rabbit hole. In this place, our emotions can feel more permanent than they actually are. We can forget that “this too shall pass” and loose perspective. This is an example of what yoga calls “Avidya”, the illusion between what is temporary and permanent and the over identification with emotions which are temporary in nature. When we feel bad, that does not mean that we are “bad people”, but sometimes in our despair we convince ourselves that we are what we feel. We judge and condemn ourselves and limit our growth with fear-based beliefs that are known in yoga as the samskaras.
This is just a phase of practice. When yoga reveals love and light as the true nature of our being, we see that we carry scars, but we are not our scars. Our practice gains new depth. It offers us connection with the part of us free from wound and trauma and reinforces wellbeing and ease in our nervous system patterning. If feeling despair, trust that the darkest hour is before the dawn and soon you will be flowing, content in your being once again.
Carol Murphy is the director of Green Lotus Yoga. She has been teaching yoga for 20 years and training yoga teachers internationally for 10 years.