I just spent the last 10 weekends dedicating my free time to an amazing experience that I recommend any dedicated yoga practitioner do at some point in their lives; yoga teacher training.
I learned a lot about the history of yoga, asanas, pranayama, meditation and more and I never would have been able to do it without the following 10 essentails (much like I would have in my hiking pack, these all became lifesavers!)
As with any other activity, hydration is super crucial to maintaining health and endurance during something as grueling as doing yoga 5 days a week, sometimes several times a day. Especially when a lot of those classes are in 85 degree rooms filled with other yogis and yoginis and you’re sweating literal buckets! Even without this loss of vital fluid, our preconceived rules of hydration were recently found to be slightly incorrect and we should be shooting for women to consume 72.8 ounces (nine 8-ounce glasses) daily and a man to consume 100 ounces (12.5 glasses). These can come from other beverage sources, but the best place is just from plain water or herbal teas that don’t contain caffeine.
The above set-up is my personal favorite! An insulated stainless water bottle (least likely to break or crack when kicked over during practice and keeps your water cool in the hot room!) and Nuun hydration tablets to help replace much needed and easily sweated out electrolytes!
A healthy, whole food, mostly plant based diet is highly recommended for most avid yoga practitioners and we could do a whole post about whether or not you should consider becoming a vegetarian, but that is for a different day and also, just not for me.
It is however, really important to keep in mind bringing a lunch from home and many snacks to power you through the long days of teacher training. I would usually pack a homemade salad and many of my very favorite snacks as little rewards throughout the day.
My favorite lunch during training was butter lettuce, spinach, carrot, pistachios, mango and avocado with just a little salt. If I didn’t have time to prep that I would head to the local market for some fresh soups and a kombucha.
My go to snacks were larabars, little coconut bites, mixed nuts, and berries. Best natural sources of sugar and fiber to keep feeling full and my brain sharp throughout the day.
3. BODY CARE!
Saucha is one of the tenants of the yoga sutras and means cleanliness of body and of mind. When you are practicing and then spending many hours in cramped quarters with fellow yogis it is pretty kind and crucial to practice this. However, when you have almost 20 women, two showers and only 15 minutes to get clean, some sacrifices needed to be made. I took little sink showers, washing my face and underarms before changing into clean and dry clothing to start our days of learning and then would take full showers as soon as I arrived home.
My kit included:
- The above amazing soap! Stuff smells great and I have recently taken to using clay based and charcoal inclusive soaps on my face and it has been the key to keeping my skin really clear. (More on that at a later date.)
- Primal Pit Paste and a travel size Salt Crystal deodorant. Seriously the best natural deodorant system I have come up with to date!
- Face lotion
- Body lotion
- Homemade yoga mat and body spray
- Chapstick, because always!
When you’re sitting on the floor for hours on end and practicing in packed classes it’s a good idea to have your own props. Not a necessity, but when there are 21 people in your yoga teacher training, the bolsters and other cushy things to sit on go quickly.
I had been wanting a meditation cushion for home anyhow, so this was my one little investment before the training so that I would always have my own cushion and now I want to sit on the thing everywhere!
There were many days too where I kicked myself for not bringing my own strap, block or blanket, too. So those are other items to consider packing with you.
5. A HIGH-QUALITY MAT!
Pardon me for one moment while I turn into a Manduka spokesperson. I have owned at least 7 mats of different brands and levels of quality over the years and none have been as wonderful as both of my Manduka mats. I originally bought an EkoLite because I was so used to using lightweight, eco-friendly mats and by the end of training my knees were very thankful that I became a Pro convert. By far one of the thickest and stickiest mats on the market!
A few people in my training have had their mats for over 5 years and they still look almost brand new! Plus, a lifetime warranty isn’t half bad, considering that my $20 mats would poop out after just 6 months.
Warning: they do take some serious breaking in and will be slippery for a while during that process!
6. EXTRA CLOTHING!
You will practice A LOT, sometimes twice or even three times in a day and you will get re-sweaty often. So, bring a backup change of clothes and layers like socks and cozy sweatshirts to wear when you’re sitting for a while.
My favorite comfy yoga clothes:
- Threads for Thoughts Firefly leggings. Can’t go wrong with recycled and ultra-soft brushed polyester from an amazing company! Plus, they have fun patterns and are really thick. (No see-through there!)
- Free Fly Apparel Bamboo tees, tanks and hoodies! These things are the miracle shirt! Super soft, naturally odor resistant and sweat-wicking.
- Smartwool PHD Socks. These are just my always go to for everything!
- Beanie for those days your hair just isn’t cooperating.
7. ARNICA SALVE
With all that practice and incorporating new poses, you’re bound to get a little sore. This stuff was a serious lifesaver at the end of the day! Arnica is an amazing anti-inflammatory flower and works wonders on sore muscles and joints. My friend Amanda forages the flowers in the summers up in the Yukon and makes this salve that I am not sure I could ever go without.
Honorable mention to BioFreeze for the cooling, plus great herbs!
8. CONSIDER A DETOX!
Ok, so not an essential, but definitely a great think to consider! Practicing mindfulness and cutting out things that aren’t serving your highest good is so much easier when most of your energy is dedicated to a self love practice. Now is the perfect time to detox from things that your feel are hindering you. Aside from sticking to a healthy diet, I decided that I would give up drinking and really limit social media during this time and it made such a HUGE impact on my relationship with both.
I was a chronic and almost impulsive checker of Instagram and Facebook prior to the training and felt like sharing my every detail of life was almost something I HAD to do, not just something I could do. I became strikingly aware of just how often I was doing these behaviors when I start keeping a tally during my first week of how many times per day I was checking both and then used an app on my computer called “WasteNoTime” to track my use and block facebook after 15 minutes during my day. Now I don’t get that panicked feeling like I must have missed something and rarely find myself in the facebook scroll trap. I also deleted Instagram from my phone and only posted a small handful of times and checked it maybe once a day. I definitely missed Instagram more, because I love looking at photos, but again, now I know I can always go without!
As for alcohol… we have had quite a rocky relationship the last few years and now that I drink so rarely, I feel it’s negative effects even more. I can almost literally feel inflammation starting in my body and it working overtime to repair any damage and flush the alcohol out of my body. Having a sensitive stomach also doesn’t help. So from here, an occasional celebratory beer or glass of wine will be it for me and as rare as possible!
9. A JOURNAL!
Our studio did an amazing job of really incorporating a TON of introspective practice into our training and it brought up so many wonderful things that I am so happy I tracked it all in my journal. Sometimes there were just short entries like “We practiced 3 times yesterday and did some fun vinyasa transition work-shopping that I have never done before, but MAN am I sore today!” Other times it was an emotional 4 pages of all my years of baggage being finally let go.
The memories and inspiration will be so priceless to look back on down the line.
10. MOST IMPORTANT, AN OPEN MIND AND OPEN HEART!
After spending 10 weeks with people who began as strangers, doing some of the deepest self reflection, and one of the most challenging things to my own status quo and ego, I have to say that this is the most crucial thing to have in your “pack” of life!
Without both of these, I never would have made such amazing strides in my own intention, “I live in non-judgmental awareness and surrender to the process.”
Without both of these, I never would have made so many amazing friends coming out of this. I never would have been able to develop such a great sangha (community).
Without both of these, I never would have been able to tap into this deep part of myself that had all this untapped confidence, strength, and an innate knowing that I am enough, just as I am.
Without both of these, I never would have seen this shift in myself that has allowed me to find a sliver of my dharma that includes sharing this same beautiful practice with anyone willing to open themselves up to it and to me as a teacher.
Walk in a curious student, walk out a peaceful warrior!