Contemplating a yoga teacher training? Bewildered by the sheer volume of options out there? Welcome, my friend – you’ve come to the right place. Nowadays, thanks to the marvels of the Internet and super-fast global travel, the variety of YTT styles, course locations, price points, class sizes, and course lengths are about as endless as peanut butter options at your local supermarket. (Since when did choosing become so time consuming?!)
To help you with your research, we’ve compiled feedback from our thousands of graduates worldwide, and assembled this handy list of the 6 most important things to consider when selecting a yoga teacher training:
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When you’re choosing a course, remember that a training organisation is like a pyramid – good stuff filters down from the top. It’s important to choose a school that’s reputable, and one that is experienced in offering courses. Nowadays there are thousands of new schools offering trainings every year, and in the yoga industry the only pre-requisite to register a training course is an ERYT200 – that’s just 2 years of teaching! A teacher training is a significant investment in terms of your money and time, so it’s definitely in your best interest to distinguish between reputable schools with a proven track record, and new kids on the block who may not have a great deal of experience offering trainings.
An experienced yoga school should have more than 300 hundred graduates, and should be able to provide plenty of genuine testimonials from students who have recently graduated. The more graduates a yoga school has produced, the more feedback they have received and taken on board, and the more they have improved and updated the program and delivery style to meet the needs of their students.
It also pays to look closely at the finer details of the curriculum being offered – is there an equal balance between theoretical learning, and putting the course material into practice? A good training course should provide a mix between content sessions, yoga classes in which you can practice as a student, and practice teaching sessions in which you’ll be weaving all your learning together by actually teaching your peers on a daily basis.
When you’re learning to teach, it goes without saying that your own teachers will become a pivotal role model and source of inspiration. The teaching team at a training school should be the schools’ biggest asset, and it’s good to look for schools that offer a co-teaching approach – you’ll benefit hugely from the differing points of view that different teachers will offer. Read up on the teaching team for the training course you’re interested in. How many years of combined experience does this teaching team have? Are there guest teachers for specialised modules such as anatomy and philosophy? Ideally, each teacher on your training will be an internationally recognized expert in their particular yogic discipline, and will work with the other teachers to provide you with a well-rounded yoga education.
Undertaking an intensive training course can be overwhelming, and it’s important to be able to share a laugh with your teachers and classmates at the end of the day – after all, this yoga business can get fairly serious at times! Apart from having the technical know-how to teach you everything you’re hoping to learn about yoga, it’s important that you’re able to relate to your teachers. Once again, it all comes down to how experienced the school and the teaching team happen to be. Experienced teacher trainers have an inherent ability to relate to students of all backgrounds, at all levels of practice. Look for teachers who are down to earth, engaging, and really involved in the practice of yoga at all levels. Social media can play a really helpful role in getting to know your teachers before you enrol in your YTT – most training schools and individual teachers will post regularly to their social media accounts such as Instagram, Facebook and Youtube, giving you a real-time idea of what they teach and how!
It may seem trivial, but the actual location of your training has a big influence on your ability to absorb new things. After all, our external environment often dictates our internal environment, so it makes sense to give yourself a head start on your learning journey by removing as many distractions as possible!
If you’ve decided to choose an intensive training, take a look at the location and work out if it’s a place you’d like to visit. Some training courses feature beautiful beachside shalas, others are situated high up in tropical rainforests with views of the surrounding rainforest. Remember, you’re making a financial investmen – so why not experience somewhere that you’ve always wanted to travel, and enjoy a new environment on your days off? The options for different training locations are practically endless.
When selecting a training, it’s a good idea to consider how many graduates the school has actually produced. It’s also important to note how many students are generally enrolled into a training – in a very large group, you may not receive a great deal of individual attention or feedback from your teachers. Ideally you’ll be looking for an medium-sized class, enabling you to form close relationships with your peers in a hands-on, intensive learning environment. However, ideally the class size will be large enough to provide examples of many different body types – this will help you in your understanding of practical anatomy and adjustments – and to provide group teaching opportunities throughout the course.
Finally, the biggest question of all – what style of yoga do you actually want to practice and teach? Firstly, bear in mind that these could be two different things. You may be a dedicated Mysore-style Ashtanga practitioner, but you may find after graduating that there are lots of entry-level opportunities for a Vinyasa style teacher. Perhaps you enjoy variety in your yoga practice, and you haven’t quite found your one true love when it comes to yoga style. Either way, a sensible approach is to pick a training course with one yoga style as its focal point, and really immerse yourself in this style throughout your training, with the option to explore and experiment with different styles throughout.
Learning one particular style definitely doesn’t exclude you from teaching different styles of yoga – it simply lays rock-solid roots from which the rest of your learning can further blossom. Remember, when it comes to yoga, each style is a world unto itself, and you could spend decades studying a particular aspect of yoga such as Yin or Iyengar. Your first 200hr teacher training is going to provide you with the ‘building blocks’ for the rest of your learning throughout your life, so it can be a good idea to focus on a mainstream style of yoga to begin with, and keep an open mind whilst exploring other styles during your training.
At the end of the day, your YTT adventure is a personal choice, and after you’ve taken into account the many factors and variables, you’ll ultimately end up going with your gut and trusting your intuition. Remember to take your time when making a decision about where and with whom you’ll undertake your first yoga teacher training – and most importantly, once your training is booked, start getting excited! The road to yoga teacher training will lead you to greater self-awareness, better health, and a world of self-discovery – so congratulations, you’ve already taken the first step!