Joining a yoga instructor certification course to become a Yoga Teacher is a big decision. It’s a huge investment, both in time and money. You might feel overwhelmed at the many choices of Yoga schools and Yoga trainings. Picking the right yoga course for you can seem like a daunting task.
Well, we’re here to help you get more prepared and confident in your decision. By walking you through this step-by-step guide of choosing your Yoga Teacher Training , you will have all information needed to make the right choice.
|1.||What to know before choosing a Yoga Instructor Certification Course|
|2.||Busting some common myths about yoga Instructor certification course|
|3.||How to pick the best yoga Instructor certification school!|
|4.||Check out All Yoga!|
|5.||How to prepare for your Yoga Instructor certification|
Let’s start with some basic concerns you might have about doing a yoga Instructor certification program:
Contrary to what you might think, you don’t need to have been practicing yoga for years before joining a yoga teacher training. The most important thing is commitment to wanting to learn more about yoga (including yoga philosophy and history). Having said that, you do need a certain level of fitness and stamina to be able to join, as trainings are intense, and you will be practicing for many hours each day. If you come from a fitness background then you might not need as much yoga experience (purely from a physical stamina level).
Generally we recommend at least 3 months of consistent yoga practice before embarking on a yoga training. It’s also a good idea to have tried the style that you are going to train in (e.g. Ashtanga-Vinyasa, Hatha, etc.), before embarking on the course, as you might find that the style is not for you.
There is no upper age limit on joining a yoga instructor certification course. As long as you have the physical fitness to cope with a training (which is not affected by age!) then you should not feel put off, or think that you’re too old. It’s never too late to change careers, or to learn something new, and you might find your age is a benefit as, depending on where you work, many students who attend yoga classes are more mature, and may relate better to a more mature teacher.
On the other hand, don’t be worried about being too young to attend a training; as long as you have a certain level of emotional maturity (or are willing to develop it) then training at a young age just means you have so many more years ahead to develop and refine your craft!
It’s totally normal to be nervous about teaching your first class – remember, most people’s greatest fear is public speaking, so you’re not alone! Many people who attend a yoga teacher training have no previous teaching experience whatsoever, and it has no bearing on how good a yoga teacher they will be in the end. A large part of yoga teacher training is giving you the confidence to be able to teach, which is achieved through plenty of practice – teaching your fellow students during the course.
Teaching, like public speaking, is something that you will get better at, and be less nervous about, the more you practice, so the sooner you start the better!
This is one of the biggest concerns people have on starting a yoga training – that their own practice is not good enough, that they’re not flexible enough, strong enough, or can’t do fancy yoga poses (arm balances, handstands, etc.) yet. It’s easy to forget, in our current climate of “Insta yogis” who look more like contortionists/gymnasts, that yoga is not all about fancy asanas or getting your leg behind your head! It’s a much deeper, spiritual practice of self-awareness and self-development.
Besides, everyone’s bodies are different, and not all bodies will be able to do certain poses. And that’s ok. Great, in fact. You can show to your students and to the world that yoga truly is for every body – all body shapes and sizes. As long as you have a certain level of fitness/stamina, and a willingness to try, then you are definitely ‘good enough’.
Many people who come on a training do not want to be yoga teachers, and that’s fine. Besides learning the skills for teaching, the training is also teaching you more about yoga itself (the philosophy and history) and helping to do to deepen your own practice. So you will still get a lot out of the course, even if you don’t want to teach. Plus, some people start the training not intending to teach but then change their mind by the end! Whether or not you do, it will open doors for you in the future if you do change your mind later down the line.
Absolutely! You might think that the majority of yoga practitioners these days are women, but actually this really depends on where you end up teaching. In fact, historically, the most famous yoga teachers in India were men (there was not this gender-disparity much further back in the past, when both sexes practiced yoga equally). Nowadays there are several prominent male teachers with large social media followings, and you may find a niche for yourself in encouraging more men to practice in your local area.
If you are pregnant, or planning on becoming pregnant soon, it is not recommended to enroll in such a vigorous training, unless you are an extremely advanced and experienced yoga practitioner (and even then, it would not be recommended in the 1st trimester). Instead, it would be better to enroll in some prenatal yoga classes, and wait until post-birth, when you are back into your yoga routine, before joining a 200hr training.
You will be entitled to teach immediately upon graduating from your 200hr yoga teacher training, however you can then choose to become certified with Yoga Alliance after your training. You don’t have to be a Yoga Alliance certified teacher in order to teach, although you might find that certain employers/studio owners do require this in order to hire you. Also, if you think you might want to become a yoga trainer at some point in the future (teaching yoga teachers) then you need to be YA certified. There is a yearly membership fee, and you would be required to undertake continuing education to retain your Yoga instructor certification. You can find out more information here: https://www.yogaalliance.org/
While it may be tempting to go out and buy a fancy, expensive new mat for your training, be aware that you may be required to draw on your mat as part of training, so it might be a hard lesson in non-attachment! On the other hand a really cheap mat may fall apart in the heat (if you are training in a tropical climate), and because you will be using it for many hours every day.
You will also be sweating a lot (due to both the heat and intensity of the training) so a mat that is designed for hot yoga, where you won’t be slipping all over the place, might be a good idea (or you can also bring yoga towels). Since most people will be traveling to their yoga instructor certification course from another country bear in mind the weight of your mat, and whether it will fit into your suitcase/rucksack.
|07:30 – 10:30||Morning study (meditation, pranayama & asana practice)|
|10:30 – 12:30||Brunch break|
|12:30 – 14:30||Lecture (Philosophy, Anatomy, Group discussion)|
|14:30 – 15:00||Tea Break|
|15:00 – 17:00||Asana clinic (elements of teaching with group work)|
|17:00 – 18:00||Yoga practice (led class or Mysore practice)|
Nowadays you can pretty much find a yoga training in every country around the world, so the world is your oyster when it comes to where to train!
However, if you’re after tropical climate, beautiful scenery and a truly unforgettable experience we recommend Thailand, Bali, or India. Each has its own unique charms and quirks: India is the birthplace of yoga, so many feel drawn to train there, and with trainings all over the country you have the choice of mountains, beaches, or cities.
On the other hand, the sheer number of schools in India can make knowing which one to pick extremely overwhelming, plus if you’ve never travelled alone before, India can be a daunting country to start with. As a more touristy and – arguably – Westernised destination, Bali might be a better choice, especially as it has become a mecca for spiritual and wellness seekers.
Because of this, however, Bali can also be quite pricey, with some of the most expensive yoga trainings being held here. Perhaps a perfect compromise between India and Bali, then, is Thailand, known for its remarkable natural beauty (jungles, mountains and beaches) and friendly people. Like Bali, Thailand is also a haven for health enthusiasts, with a multitude of spas, health food cafes and retreat centres, but not quite at Bali prices (yet).
Wherever you choose, make sure you have researched the school, and feel confident in the quality of teaching being offered.
When you go will depend on the country you choose, and if you want to avoid their wet season (which most people do), as well as what kind of weather you enjoy, and when you can get time off! For India and Thailand, generally November to February is the best time (although it depends what part of the country you are visiting), while Bali is best enjoyed in its dry season, from April to October.
Most 200hr yoga trainings are in Hatha yoga, Vinyasa yoga, or Ashtanga-Vinyasa (or a combination of several styles).
Hatha yoga today has become somewhat of a ‘catch-all’ category to describe the general ‘flow’ yoga that you can find in most studios in the West. In general though, Hatha is slower paced than most vinyasa classes, and poses are usually held for several breaths.
Vinyasa yoga is a ‘flowy’ style of yoga very popular in the West today. Often accompanied by music, vinyasa classes flow from one posture to another without holding the poses. The emphasis is on combining breath and movement (one breath for one movement) in a meditative but usually fast paced routine.
Ashtanga-Vinyasa yoga is the physical yoga practice descended from the Ashtanga Yoga lineage; an ancient philosophy over 5,000 years old, developed in Mysore, India, by the late Pattabhi Jois. The practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa is defined by the connection of breath with movement in a flowing sequence. Asanas are performed in a specific order, whereby each pose prepares the body for the next. There are 6 series within Ashtanga-Vinyasa, and students must master each series before moving on to the next.
Training in Ashtanga-Vinyasa provides great foundation for your yoga knowledge, as well as helping you cultivate strength, flexibility and a focused mind. Learning a fixed sequence is also a useful foundation and helpful structure for when it comes to planning future classes.
Now that we’ve answered many burning questions, and hopefully got most of your concerns out the way, let’s bust some of the common myths around yoga trainings, so that you know exactly what to expect (and what not to expect!).
This is one of the main concerns that yogas student have about attending a yoga instructor certification course. But it is absolutely not true! It doesn’t matter whether you can do handstand or not, nor how flexible or strong you are. As long as you have a willingness to learn and to have a go, then you’ll discover that you don’t always need to be able to do a pose yourself to be able to teach it.
What’s more, all bodies are unique, and some bodies won’t be able to do certain poses. As someone who gets this, you’ll be an even more compassionate and relatable teacher, and be able to make your classes more inclusive. And after all, the end goal of yoga is to be able to sit in meditation, so the poses themselves are not everything!
You definitely don’t need to have been doing yoga every day for the last 5 years before you can join a yoga training! All we ask is around 3 months’ consistent practice (that means at least 3 times a week) unless you have a movement background, in which case less time might be fine. As long as you have a basic level of fitness, your commitment is more important than your experience.
Yoga bodies come in all shapes and sizes! You absolutely don’t need to have a ‘six pack’, or train for marathons…. just a basic level of fitness and dedication to practicing what you learn. It’s really important as a teacher to be mindful of different bodies not only when it comes to adjusting but also anatomy-wise, as not all bodies will be able to do certain poses, and respecting/honouring that is very important.
Everyone’s journey to yoga is different; some may have come from a more spiritual or traditional background, practicing ‘ahimsa’ (non-violence to all living creatures), and others from a movement or physical health perspective. You will not be shamed for not being vegan on a yoga training, although often the food served at the training is traditionally vegetarian, and you might be encouraged to try sticking to a vegetarian diet for the duration of the training. Either way, coming with an open mind, and respecting others’ journeys is all that is asked of you.
This is definitely not true! You don’t need to be an ambassador for Lululemon to join a training… if you do have any props that are essential to your practice you may want to bring these, although check first what props (if any) are provided by the school. Otherwise see above regarding what mat to bring, and, as for clothes, just bring what you are comfortable in, as long as it’s appropriate for the weather and climate of the training.
This is another misconception, exacerbated by social media images of young slim women doing fancy yoga poses, but doesn’t represent the diversity of yoga practitioners, nor the diversity of people who choose to do a yoga training. The more we can do to spotlight and celebrate diversity within the yoga community the more we can bring yoga and its benefits to every body.
By this point you’re probably desperate to sign up and get started on your yoga adventure! But the most important part is still to come – how to actually choose the best school, and training, for you! Unfortunately, not all trainings are created equal, and the last thing we want is for you to spend your hard-earned cash in vain, or to regret your choice of training. So here are some key points to consider when choosing the right yoga school to do your training with…
Are you looking to teach or just improve your practice? Do you want more of an intense, retreat-style training, or are you looking to make new friends in a fun, laid-back setting? All of this will influence which type of training (and which school) you will want to choose.
This is really important to think about: are you already super passionate about one style of yoga and you know that’s what you want to specialise in? Or are you undecided? If you’re undecided then it’s probably best to choose a more generic-style of yoga for your 200hr Yoga Certification course, one that gives you a strong, general foundation, from which you can then go on to specialise in a particular area in the future. We always recommend to try a few different styles of yoga beforehand so that you have more of an idea what each one entails, and whether you have a preference for one style over another.
There are so many schools and trainings to choose from these days, all of which require a significant investment, both in terms of your money and time, so it’s in your best interest to choose a reputable school with a proven track record, rather than a new school that may not have a great deal of experience offering trainings.
An experienced yoga school should boast several 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 therefore improved and updated the program and delivery style to meet the needs of their students).
The teachers really are the most important part of the training, and should be a source of inspiration and wealth of experience for you to draw on. Having two or more teachers per training is also really important, as you learn from different experiences and points of view. Some schools may also have guest teachers for specialised modules such as anatomy, many of which are international well-respected experts in their field.
The cost of a 200hr training varies wildly, from around $2000 to $5000 (USD), or more. This generally only includes the tuition cost, and not accommodation, food, or anything else, so you need to work out your budget and find a training that works for you (bearing in mind it might take a while before you will make any kind of sustainable income from teaching yoga).
The cost of the training doesn’t always reflect the quality – it depends on location (trainings in India tend to be cheaper than anywhere else), the faculty (whether they have very famous international teachers they are flying in for the training), the place (is it in a local community centre or a five-star eco resort?), how many students they allow (they might charge more if there are only 5 students per training, for example), and so on.
As mentioned, most trainings only include the course itself and your final certificate, but occasionally they might also include accommodation and some food. Make sure you are clear on this beforehand so you know exactly how much to budget for.
Generally, the fewer students there are, the more personal the training, and the more individual attention and time you have with teachers to be able to ask questions, get feedback, and make sure you understand everything. On the other hand, if the group is too small (say 4-8 people) it might feel very intense, and you may miss out on seeing a range of different bodies and perspectives from your peers.
The ideal number would be around 15-20, so that you can still form close relationships and bonds, but there are enough people to create stimulating discussions, and plenty of people to practice teaching and adjustments with.
Most 200hr trainings last between 24 and 28 days (3-4 weeks). This is known as an intensive training, where you will be training around 12 hours a day (not all of this is physical practice), with one or two days off in the entire course. Some super intensive courses may fit this into 2 weeks but then you would be training around 15 hours a day! Intensives are perfect for those who want to get their certification as quickly as possible, or are travelling after/before the training (most intensives take place abroad, in destinations like Thailand or Bali, rather than Western cities).
Non-intensive trainings are more likely to take place part-time, in the evenings or weekends, so people can fit them around work, and can take anything from 6 months to 3 years to complete. These tend to be in Western cities, where students already live and work (so they don’t need to pay for accommodation or food as they go home between classes). This is a great choice for people who have commitments like families or bills to pay, and can’t take the time off work. It’s really up to you and your personal circumstances.
Unless you have decided to do a non-intensive training in the same country you live in, generally you will be travelling abroad for your training, so it’s up to you where in the world you choose to go (depending on visas and any travel restrictions). If the school you like has multiple locations then consider where you might like to visit, what kind of climate you prefer, the cost of flights from your home country, any visas or vaccines you might require, etc.
Yoga Alliance is an internationally recognised yoga institution and our principle accrediting body in the field of yoga. Many yoga schools and trainings are Yoga Alliance accredited, which means you can expect a certain standard of teaching, and that the school’s curriculum meets Yoga Alliance’s minimum requirements.
However, there are many good yoga schools that are not Yoga Alliance accredited (for a variety of reasons). This doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t choose them, although if you are hoping to work as a yoga teacher after your training then many employers require that your training was YA accredited, and/or that you register as YA certified teacher, so you need to think carefully about your decision.
Although Yoga Alliance requires that schools meet its basic standard for what should be included in a training curriculum, there is quite a lot of room for flexibility and for each school to put its unique perspective into the curriculum. This includes which elements are prioritised over others (how many hours are spend on anatomy, for example, as opposed to yoga philosophy).
It’s also worth finding out whether the school favours theory over practice: some schools over very little practical hands-on teaching experience, instead choosing to focus on yoga theory and your own personal practice. If you are looking to teach after the course (rather than just improving your own practice), then you may want to find a school that offers plenty of hands-on teaching experience and learning important teaching skills, in addition to theoretical understanding. Don’t be afraid to ask the school for a detailed curriculum or a typical daily schedule so you can be sure it will meet your needs.
1. The trainers are not dedicated yoga practitioners
As mentioned, your teachers should be a source of inspiration, and role models for you on your yoga journey, so it would be slightly worrying if the faculty don’t take time for their own personal practice, or are not that involved in yoga (unless they are a guest teacher for a niche topic such as Chinese Medicine, but, even then, they will be able to relate their topic to yoga in a much more authentic way if they are also yoga practitioners).
2. Unclear faculty
Given the importance of your teachers, as mentioned above, it would also be worrying if you weren’t sure exactly who was going to be teaching on the course – there may be lots of staff members listed, for example, but no exact mention of who the course leader is and who will be taking the specialised modules.
Unfortunately, some schools may be deliberately vague about who exactly will be teaching on the course, so that they can hire random local teachers or they might get very recent graduates of the course to teach on the next training (very often on a volunteer basis). While this may seem like a great opportunity for new graduates, unfortunately they lack the experience, teaching skills, and in-depth study required to be able to teach other teachers (as well as the risk of exploitation from the school).
As a student, you should be looking for teachers who are experts in their field, and who have the knowledge, skills and training required to support you on your journey.
3. Big group size
As mentioned, the ideal size for a yoga training is around 15-20 students per training. The problem with more than 25 students per training is that you might just feel like a number. There may also be less personal attention or individual contact time with your teachers, as well as time/opportunity to ask questions, offer your opinion, and make sure you understand everything. It may also be harder to form close connections with people in such a big group, and it may suggest that the school is more profit-driven, rather than focussed on providing you the best experience possible.
4. Lots of days off
While this may sound like a good thing (!), the problem with too many days off, or only a few hours of training each day, is that it becomes more like a holiday than a yoga training. After all, you are here to become a certified yoga teacher, not to go on a yoga holiday, and you want to choose a school that takes this process as seriously as you do.
5. Multi-style yoga training (or no clear style)
While it might sometimes be ok to learn a general yoga style such as Hatha or Vinyasa for your first 200hr training (see point 2 in previous section), if the school only teaches ‘multi-style’ courses or it’s unclear from the description exactly which style(s) you’ll be learning, this can be an indication that the school (or teachers) are not experts in one distinct style, and/or that the training is not so focused on the teaching part.
Take a skill such as dancing, for example: if you wanted to learn to dance you wouldn’t start learning jazz and street and breakdance and tap and ballet all at once! You would quickly confuse yourself; it’s better to focus on one style at a time, and master the foundations, and then build on that by adding in another style, and so on.
6. Only one teacher
Even if they have the best teacher in the world, the fact that there is only one teacher would be worrying because we learn best by being exposed to different experiences, backgrounds and teaching styles. Moreover, with only one teacher they might not be able to give you as much personal attention and feedback as they have too many students to deal with by themselves.
7. Very few reviews
This would be a very big red flag – the more students who have trained at the school, the more feedback they have gained (and hopefully improved and adapted the training accordingly) as well as experience in what works and what doesn’t. If there aren’t very many reviews or testimonials available, this implies that the school is either very new and hasn’t yet trained many people, or that it hasn’t received good enough feedback that it is willing to share (although seeing negative reviews is not necessarily a bad thing – it shows a level of honesty and transparency from the school – as long as the school can demonstrate what it has done to change or improve things, having taken on board this feedback).
Now that you know what you want from a yoga training, and what to look out for, why not check out the training at All yoga before you make your final decision? Here are some of the highlights:
All Yoga has been training yoga teachers for over 10 years now, and certifies hundreds of successful graduates each year. With so much experience and feedback from so many students, the course has been improved and refined over the years to deliver the best quality training to our students.
All Yoga limits the number of students per training to a maximum of 20. This ensures personalised attention and guidance for each student, as well as hands-on support, and means that students can develop close bonds with their peers.
We have chosen to focus on Ashtanga-Vinyasa yoga because it gives you a strong foundation in yoga knowledge (including yoga history and philosophy), as well as improving your strength, flexibility and discipline (your focus). Since you learn a set sequence, training in Ashtanga-Vinyasa also gives you a foundation from which to create your own sequences (and therefore the ability to teach Vinyasa yoga), as well as the confidence to begin teaching immediately (since you already have a class sequence and don’t need to come up with – and learn by heart – any new ones).
As an Ashtanga teacher you may also have an advantage since you are able to teach a relatively ‘niche’ style (there are far fewer Ashtanga teachers than Vinyasa teachers in most cities), whilst at the same time being able to teach Vinyasa and general ‘flow’ classes.
All Yoga trainings take place in unique locations on the tropical islands of Bali and Thailand. The yoga shalas are reserved exclusively for yoga trainings so students can practice yoga to the sound of the waves, enjoy a glorious sunset on the beach after class, and explore the culture and beauty of these countries on their days off.
All Yoga’s teachers have been leading yoga trainings for many, many years, and are passionate about sharing All Yoga’s vision and mission of creating a safe and nurturing environment for students to explore and develop on their own yoga journey. We also bring in guest teachers for certain topics; these teachers are international experts in their field, highly experienced in yoga trainings, and share All Yoga’s values.
At All Yoga, our yoga instructor certification courses are always fun and nurturing. With the addition of group bonding activities, students have the opportunity to grow into an extended family of yoga lovers from all over the world, who are there to provide their support and friendship. This support network remains in place even after graduation, as alumni are encouraged to share their successes and are even provided with a platform to promote their own yoga courses through our website.
By now you’ve hopefully decided on which yoga training or school you would like to attend, and you know where and when you want to go. Maybe you’ve even thought about your onward travel plans and accommodation. But how should you start preparing yourself for this life-changing experience?
One of the best tips for preparing for a yoga instructor certification course is to arrive with an open mind; be open to the experience and the process, and you will have a far more enjoyable time than someone who resists, or comes with loaded expectations or preconceived ideas of how a training ‘should’ be. This includes setting aside what you think you already know about yoga, as every teacher you meet has a different perspective and something you teach you – and this might contradict what you have heard or been told by your current teacher.
Be open to learning, and respectful of the skill and experience of your teachers. On the other hand, try to also set aside your insecurities – everyone feels ‘imposter syndrome’ at some point in their lives, and we all have to start somewhere, so have some humility, embrace a beginner’s mind, and be kind and patient with yourself on the journey.
If you have never done any inner work before, nor practiced meditation consistently, it may be quite confronting how emotional you may feel during the yoga instructor certification course. We are not generally taught to face and sit with our emotions, but you will be asked to do this during the training (in a safe and supportive environment). Try to embrace this unique opportunity (when else will you have so much time to meditate, go inward, and reflect on your emotions?), and to trust in the process. You will have plenty of support from your teachers and fellow students, who will be going through the same process.
As you will be practicing yoga for several hours a day in a hot climate, the training will be intense physically, so it’s a good idea to make sure you are in good enough shape that you won’t be struggling too much, and so that you don’t injure yourself. Ideally, at least 3 months before the yoga instructor certification course , you would make sure you are practicing yoga consistently (by that we mean at least 3 times a week, for at least an hour) – unless you are already doing so, in which case, keep it up!
It’s also a good idea to start practicing the style that you will be training in, so that you will have more of an idea of what is expected physically (and, if you are training in Ashtanga-Vinyasa, so that you have an idea of the primary sequence before the training begins). By doing so you will also have an idea of what poses you need modifications for, which will then help you understand…
… what props you need! If you know you require a block, for example, then check with the school what props will be available to use (if any). If you need to bring your own, make sure you factor this into your luggage allowance (for the flight, boats you might be taking, etc.).
Besides any regular medication you take (make sure you have informed the school if you have any health issues, and that you have enough medication to last the whole training), it’s also a good idea to bring general travel medication (including rehydration salts/electrolytes, Imodium, and something for diarrhea, coughs, fevers, flu or sore throat) as you may not have time between classes to get to a pharmacist, there may not be one close, or it might not sell what you need.
Just as important to remember is adequate sun protection (high factor sun cream) and after-sun care for if you do burn (but please try not to, as it will not be fun trying to do yoga covered in sunburn!).
Consider the climate of the place you will be training, including the time of year, temperature at night vs during the day, etc., and, if you are travelling after the training, will you be staying in the same climate or will you need different clothes?
For the training itself make sure you pack appropriate yoga clothes (bearing in mind the temperature again – yoga shorts might be better in some cases than long pants), and enough of them, as you will be sweating a lot and may need to change at least twice a day. On the other hand, you don’t need to overpack, as there are laundry facilities in most towns/hotels, but make sure your budget allows for this too.
If you haven’t already, make sure you know what is included in the training cost (e.g. accommodation and food) and book any accommodation and flights you need. Many trainings offer airport transfer to the venue, but check beforehand, and plan out how you’re going to get there if necessary.
Hopefully you have checked already whether you need a visa for the training destination and any vaccinations you might need, so now is the time to get your visa, and to book in for any vaccines you need in plenty of time.
Finally, come back to the intention you set when thinking about which yoga instructor certification course to choose. If you didn’t set an intention before, then now is the time! This will be really helpful when things become challenging on the yoga instructor certification course (whether that’s due to the intensity of the experience, or if it’s the first time you’ve travelled alone); to remind yourself why you are here, and what this training will mean for you.