If you have completed a yoga teacher training of any significance and value, you are most likely feeling exhausted from the intensity of the workload. A good training will challenge your body physically, so many of your muscles are probably sore! Your brain is probably tired from the amount of required homework and test taking. Your nerves are probably stressed from the intensity of material that was taught in a relatively short period of time. You're probably tired of walking, talking, breathing, and sleeping yoga.
Before you collapse into your bed, here's something to think about:
You likely learned about the gunas in your teacher training, but just in case, here's a quick refresher: Known as qualities of nature, the gunas are qualities that are found in the way we think, act, and see the world. One of these gunas is tamas, which is defined as slow, thick, dull, dark, moist, cool, and heavy. It might sound strange, but I love being reminded that tamas is a natural part of life. When winter arrives and it gets dark earlier in the day, that’s tamas in action. The day after indulging in lots of caffeine or extra physical activity, we are generally tired and wiped out. In the case of the former, we might feel like we need even more caffeine in order to get going at all. Tamas is that slow, dull feeling that follows hectic activity. It happens to all living beings.
You are not a bad yogi. You are experiencing the guna of tamas.
After you have completed a yoga teacher training, you are going to be darned tired. You may not be able to get off the couch, let alone put yoga clothes on and head to your mat. First of all, there is nothing wrong with you. You are not a bad yogi. You are experiencing the guna of tamas. Most teacher trainings are rather intense and condense a lot of material in a limited amount of time. The pressure to remember all of this new material, and to integrate it into creating a yoga class—a yoga class you must teach to your fellow classmates, recalling your sequence while instructing and observing—that's A LOT. And once your training is over, your mind, energy, and body need to change pace in order to continue the assimilation process.
Backing off from yoga allows every part of you to nurture yourself and rebuild after an intense time of productivity. This is not only natural, it is necessary in order for your whole being to remain at its optimum health. Here are some things to do if you feel like you are "stuck" after teacher training and not able to be your “productive” self:
1. Eat something.
You’ve likely been centering your eating schedules around your practice for an extended period of time. Relax. Eat something. Eat something fun if you like; have some ice cream, take a second heaping of the pasta, indulge in things you might have excluded from your diet during your training. Keep it clear that this is for a specific period of time (your post-teacher-training recovery period), and then enjoy!
2. Sleep in a bunch.
Hang out in your pajamas all day. Be lazy. There were probably moments of your training where you were dreaming of something like this, so heck, do it if you can; you're not hurting anyone.
3. See movies.
Catch up on TV. Read novels and light, fluffy stuff. You’ve been reading all about anatomy, philosophy, logic of sequencing, and how to speak clearly. It can all get so serious. Who cares if you like to watch reality TV shows or anything else that’s seemingly “un-yogic”? The more un-yogic the better (as long as it isn’t harmful). Take some time to explore what’s going on in other parts of the world and society outside of your yoga bubble.
4. See your friends.
Your training schedule was probably not only demanding, but limited your ability to keep up with dear friends and family. Now is the time to schedule lunches, dinners, fun activities. Give of yourself as a friend and receive friendship in return. Your heart needs this.
5. Don’t do yoga for a few days.
Maybe even a week. What?!!! How could I write such a thing?! Well, let’s clarify: Don’t do asana. Or at least don’t do the demanding asana class that you’ve become accustomed to. Leave it alone. Even the deepest relationships need to take a break sometimes. Take some time off; go biking or on a walk; take a dance class. Move your body in a different direction. It’s actually good for the body to move in different ways. It helps you to fire new neurons, which keeps your brain alive and functioning.
Take some time off; go biking or on a walk; take a dance class. Move your body in a different direction.
6. If you choose asana, then do restorative yoga for the first week.
Do light practices, like a level 1 class or yin yoga. Again, it is important to allow time for your body and mind to rebuild. This rest period is medicine.
7. If you have a meditation practice, keep it up.
If meditation fell by the wayside for you during teacher training, now is the perfect time to get back into it. If you don’t have a meditation practice, now when you are tired may be the perfect time to sit still and just feel silence. Let the silence wash through your mind and body after the noise of learning so much. I encourage students to allow silence to wrap around them like a loving cloak of support. Silence can be a nurturer.
8. Try yoga nidra (yogic sleep).
This practice is hugely valuable. Think of yoga nidra as the friend you don't like right away who eventually becomes the most treasured “bestie” you can't live without. This practice helps access the inner wisdom that ripples into a way of living powerfully in the outer world.
9. Do a deep cleaning of your home and office.
Your training required that you pull attention away from things that you normally do, like keeping up a decent household. There’s no way around it. In order to bring something new into your life, you have to let go of something else. Now you can come back to taking care of your home, your finances, and everything else with much more vigor. (Once that first week of rest is over, of course!)
10. One to two weeks after your training, get back to class; return to your favorite teachers.
You will not only be practicing at a stronger level, but you will likely see the logic in your teacher’s sequencing and see the other students in the room with new eyes.
11. Two weeks after your training, pull out your books and training manual.
Just for fun, read a section a week. For now, read for your own enjoyment, don't force yourself to "learn something." Just nice, easy reading. As you re-read your notes, the material will start to register on a deeper level. And all of a sudden, it will truly start to "click."
12. One month after your training, begin to regularly re-read your notes.
And in another six months, re-read everything all over again. This is how the material will sink in and truly begin to make sense for you. More than knowing this material in your brain, you will start to know it in your gut. (That is when things start to get really exciting.)
Allow yourself this time of rest and recuperation before you return to your asana with a renewed energy and joy.
The heaviness and fatigue that comes with tamas will pass if you allow it to flow through you. When we fight it and ignore its valuable lessons, then illness and injury can happen. Allow yourself this time of rest and recuperation before you return to your asana with a renewed energy and joy.
And congratulations! You have just completed a life-changing journey and invested in yourself. You have learned about your body and how it works. You have learned philosophy; you have learned about the mind and how you can begin to find stillness. This wisdom is priceless and will be with you the rest of your life. Namaste.