WHAT TO EXPECT IN AN INTENSIVE YTT RETREAT
There’s many things that draw someone to complete a yoga teacher training. Whether that be a goal of becoming an instructor, a desire to deepen one’s own practice, or simply undergo a new, challenging experience, most participants can find what they’re looking for. But, goals can be left unfulfilled if you choose the incorrect style training program for yourself. There is a variety of options to consider before taking the plunge and booking your spot. Some trainings are extended over the course of a few months, meeting only for a few hours each week. Others are designed as intensive retreats, which are more condensed. Though not all created equal, there’s certain things you should be prepared for if you’re considering an intensive yoga teacher training program.
These intensive style trainings typically last only a few weeks, as opposed to the months-long process of a more spread out YTT program. Though shorter in length, intensive teacher trainings cover the same core curriculum topics as other training programs. These modules typically include asanas, anatomy, and philosophy (which may also include topics such as Ayurveda and the Chakras). Throughout all of the modules, students will practice teaching what they have learned and applying their studies to practice.
While intensive style trainings are more time efficient, you must be prepared for some possible information overload. This is especially true if you’re a new teacher completing your 200-hour YTT. To learn all of the essentials in such a short amount of time can be overwhelming for new teachers, so even though it is a retreat, be prepared to study hard and focus.
But, this information overload isn’t a negative thing. Though it can be overwhelming, intensive or retreat style trainings can be more impactful because they become your sole focus during the training period. Without the sessions being broken up and spread out, you can devote those few weeks only to your trainings without the distractions or stress from daily life. The setting is great chance to dive deeper into the material without thinking about daily life, which is crucial for developing yourself as a teacher rather than just imitating the style and lessons you’ve seen taught by others.
To achieve the necessary trainings in a condensed amount of time, there will be some long days. Be prepared to stay up late studying, and wake up early to practice yoga (and study some more). Waking up early isn’t all bad, though. The mornings are a great time to meditate and slow down. In a setting where there’s so much learning and studying going on, early mornings can be a great time to step back and remember why you’re there. And, the long hours really aren’t so bad when they’re spent diving deep into something that you love.
Even though the people in your YTT group begin as strangers, you’ll leave with many deep friendships, some of which may even feel like family. When you spend so much time with people working together to better yourself as students and teachers, learning together, examining philosophic principles, and more, deep connections are formed. Along with a yoga teacher certification, you’ll likely leave training with lifelong yogi friendships and a group of people to continue learning from as your yoga journey continues.
There’s many aspects of an intensive YTT that can radically shift who you are on the inside, not just expand your knowledge of yoga. One of these has to do with the location. While you may be lucky enough to find an intensive yoga teacher training near where you live, many people travel for the experience. In fact, the enticing locations of many intensive YTT is a big reason that many people choose to undergo their teacher training this way. Travel in general provides many opportunities for growth. Handling sometimes tough situations with air travel and transport, communicating with people with a different native language, and seeing the ways of life are another country tend to shift many people’s perspective. The experience of travel itself coupled with focusing on and learning about yoga provides the perfect opportunity to return home with a fresh perspective.
Yoga teacher training, especially intensives, requires you to step out of your comfort zone in ways other than just getting on the plane. As part of the learning experience, you’ll have to be comfortable asking questions and try things you may not feel like you’re “good” at. To make the most of the training you’ll need to put yourself out there connect with the other students, all of whom begin as strangers. These experiences both prepare you for teaching to a room full of students, as well as events that occur in your life off the mat.
The deep focus required in an intensive setting is a wonderful opportunity to recommit to your yoga practice, even if you’re unsure that teaching is the right path for you. Be prepared to work very hard, but come out of the program as a knowledgeable teacher and with new experiences that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
By Rachael Lustbader
Rachel Lustbader is a CYT-200 who received her training in Cahuita, Costa Rica. Off that mat, Rachel is a medical and science writer with a passion for travel and the outdoors. You can find her on an early morning bike ride, with her nose buried in a book, typing away on her laptop working on an assignment, or in the airport on her way to the next country.