I’m kind of pumped. I just signed up for a five-day teacher training in Austin with my girl Sadie Nardini. (Have I mentioned that I love her?) I’m counting the days till I can get out of town and be totally immersed in some of my favorite yoga.
The truth is, I’m a bit of a yoga workshop and teacher training junkie. I’ve done them all: Vinyasa, Anusara, Iyengar, Viniyoga, and more. I’ve done one-night master classes, weekend workshops, and week-long immersion trainings. I love coming back from a workshop inspired in my teaching and my own practice. But I’ve hit some duds, too. I’ve spent entire weekends in the back corner of a studio asking myself, “Did I really pay money for this?” It can be hard to know what the best, most enlightening workshop or training will be for you. Here are some of my tips for making the most out of your yoga workshop experience.
Be a yoga tourist. Yoga tourism is one of my favorite ways to travel. When I go to a new city, I usually try to check out at least a couple of studios to get a feel for the local yoga flavor. Finding a workshop is a great way to tour a city, as well. Most workshops aren’t all-day affairs, so there’s still plenty of time to see sights, people watch, and check out restaurants. The studio hosting the workshop might have some suggestions for attractions that will appeal to yogic sensibilities. (Check out more of my yoga tourism tips here.) Also, even if the worskhop isn’t exactly what you expected, at least you’ll still get a fun, new experience out of it.
Use it as an excuse. Always wanted to go to Seattle? Check out upcoming events at studios in the area. Need a get away to the beach? Find a workshop in Pensacola or Hilton Head. Tack a few days on before or after the workshop for R&R, and get a double dose of escapism. Yoga workshops are a great excuse to take a vacation, while expanding your yoga repertoire.
Check out teachers on YouTube. I decided to do my first-ever teacher training with someone I’d never met in a city I’d never been to because I found a video of her on YouTube and really liked her smile. (Fortunately, she ended up being an amazing trainer and made me the teacher I am today.) Most teachers who offer workshops and trainings have at least a few videos online these days. Watch some and ask yourself, do I like their style? Do I connect with their energy? Can I stand to listen to their voice for a day or a weekend? Knowing what you’re in for ahead of time can help you decide if it’s a workshop worth investing in.
Go deep with one teacher. We Westerners don’t usually ascribe to the guru model, but we do have opportunities to study with teachers in a sustained way. Right now, my teacher is Sadie. In the last year or so, I’ve put most of my workshop resources and energy into studying with her. In the past, I’ve dedicated time to studying with other great teachers like Seane Corn. If there’s a teacher who you really resonate with, channel your inner Deadhead and follow them around a little. You’re likely to learn something fresh every time you practice with them.
Explore something new. On the flip side of the yoga coin, there’s a huge benefit to getting lots of unique perspectives from different teachers, especially teachers from different traditions. Vinyasa yogis can benefit from the alignment principles of Iyengar or Viniyoga. Therapeutic and Restorative practitioners can learn a lot about strength building and energy dynamics from Power Yoga teachers. Getting new perspectives on yoga helps keep your teaching and practice fresh.
Do it buffet style. Yoga festivals and conferences are blowing up right now. They’re a great place to practice with a variety of different teachers in a short amount of time. Some of the larger fests can be hard to get to, but there are some great ones coming up in the Southeast that feature incredible, inspirational teachers a pretty affordable prices. Check out this one in Atlanta, and this one in Pensacola coming up this fall.
Do it in your pajamas. Lots of teachers offer trainings and workshops online now. My first teacher training with Sadie was online, and it was an awesome experience. I got a full, 20-hour teacher training complete with 90 minute practices that I could do at home and at my own pace. I also saved lots of money on travel and lodging costs, which can be prohibitive for a lot of yogis. It there’s a teacher you’re interested in studying with but travel isn’t an option, see if they offer online trainings you can take advantage of.
Invest in yourself. Money is tight for everyone. We don’t always have the resources to travel or take weekend-long workshops every month. But a yoga workshop is an investment in yourself and your practice. If there’s a particular teacher you want to study with or a style of yoga you want to learn more about, it may be worth cutting back in other areas to make some room for that workshop. Your practice and your life will thank you for it.