Congratulations! So you’ve finally decided to take up Yoga Teacher Training. But with numerous options for yoga training out there, how can you decide on the right program for you? Be it traditional, exotic, new age or sporting, there is no lack of trainers/studios anywhere in the world. Choosing the perfect program is no easy task.
Training to become a yoga teacher is not only a huge financial investment but also requires dedication, commitment, time and considerable effort on your part. If you neglect to do your research, you might end up in a program that might fall short and leave you unprepared to teach others.
1. Choosing Your Style of yoga
Never opt for a particular yoga teacher training program just because of the convenience factor – whether the dates fit your schedule, or whether it’s economical. Rather, train in the style that you want to teach.
There are several hugely popular streams of yoga: Iyengar, Bikram, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Moksha, are some of the more well-known ones. Each style comes with its own strengths and emphasis. Here’s a broad overview of the major styles prominent in the west.
A generic term that refers to any kind of yoga that teaches physical postures involving the most basic yoga postures.
Based on ancient yoga teachings, it was introduced to the West in the 1970s. A rigorous sweaty, physically demanding practice that follows a particular sequence and links every movement to breathing.
Developed around 30 years ago, this school of yoga has classes being conducted in artificially heated rooms. It has recently turned wildly popular, making it one of the easiest classes to find. It will have you sweat like never before as you work your way through a series of 26 poses.
A very meticulous style of yoga that aids each student to find their proper alignment in a pose. Physically challenging, it is your best choice for a speedy recovery from injuries or relief from sore, tight muscles.
It’s advisable to choose and concentrate on one particular style to fully understand and benefit from what you’re teaching. If you find any particular school of yoga appealing but not experienced in it, attend a few regular classes first. Gather as much information as possible – watch videos, read up, talk to trainers and more experienced practitioners, etc.
2. Format and Duration
You have to think this part through before committing yourself. You have to consider the way you absorb knowledge, and also how your everyday life can accommodate or serve as a distraction from your learning.
Most people would prefer to undergo a training program alongside their routine life due to convenience and economic factors. This also lets you continue with your regular work or family obligations even while training.
Others would prefer taking a break from their everyday life and venture on a retreat-style dedicated yoga teacher training program. A residential training will move you away from your routine. Thus, it will allow you to immerse yourself more into a deeper, more transforming yoga practice.
Others may choose to undergo teacher training over a longer period, in distinctly segmented sessions. This schedule allows one to digest concepts in depth, while also allowing lots of time to practice and perfect.
It’s up to you to decide on the mode of training that can serve you best.
3. The Yoga Alliance Endorsement
Teaching yoga does not require a license. But registering with the Yoga Alliance (YA) does come with a stamp of approval and
several benefits. The international governing body for yoga sets the standards for a properly constituted teacher training program. Teachers can register with the alliance after completing training programs that are registered with YA.
The RYT-200 training that is spread over 200 hours of study has become the minimum standard for international teacher training. This course covers basic yoga anatomy and physiology as well as imparting sufficient practical teaching practice. It will give you the skills and knowledge to structure and teach a class with confidence.
The RYT-300 is the second level training course for those who have already completed the first level 200 hour training. The course is more intense and is often referred to as advanced yoga teacher training. It comes with a different curriculum and different objectives.
In this you will deepen your learning and increase understanding of the primary asanas, as well as teaching advanced asanas. The curriculum also covers yoga philosophy, in depth yoga anatomy, physiology, and meditation training.
Even if you can directly take up a 300-hour training, you might not have a good foundation of the basic principles. These are imparted in the RYT-200. After completion of 300-hour training, you can register as RYT 300. If in addition to 200-hour training you can register as RYT 500.
The Benefits of RYT
You can register yourself upon graduation. Any registration should be kept current with Continuing Education and payment of the YA annual fees. The registration brings with it several benefits:-
- Listing on the YA – RYT directory.
- Access to free live Online Workshops (and their library of recordings) that lets you learn from leaders in the yoga community.
- Advocacy alerts in instances of local, state and national government issues facing the yoga community.
- Invitations to YA organized community events and meetups in your area.
- Subscription to YA publications that provides access to research and volumes of informative articles and videos.
- Discounted products and services from YA partners ranging from liability insurance to clothes and software.
A YA registration will help you in landing teaching job at larger studios and if you decide to strike it out on your own, qualify for insurance.
It’s not that all training that is non-Yoga Alliance certified are ineffective — several good training programs do not have YA accreditation. But your chances of taking up yoga as a profession stand to benefit with accreditation from YA.
4. The Course Syllabus
Every training program is required to dedicate a minimum number of hours to cover aspects like postures, anatomy, philosophy, and history. Each trainer tends to emphasize different areas, and tend to bring their own style to their training.
It’d be wise to go through the training curriculum in advance and learn about the various aspects and the hours dedicated to each. Compare curriculum between a few different schools and pick a program that suits you.
If you are really into the physical aspects of yogasana, then a spiritually-focused program most likely wouldn’t suit you. It’s the same if you prefer to discuss Yoga philosophy at length, and the program stresses on anatomy and postures. Chances are, you might not even realize what you wish to learn until you know about all that’s on offer.
Yoga Teacher Training Programs vary significantly. Never expect to receive a well-rounded all-in-one comprehensive yoga training at any school. Instead, inquire about teaching skills and training duration as well as yogic philosophy, cleansing, spirituality, and meditation.
5. Review the Trainer
It’s recommended to carry out some research on the school/trainer with whom you are considering to train under. Some would have been around for a long time, conducting training programs and with extensive experience.
Keep in mind that it is not very difficult to put a training program together. A program being certified by the Yoga Alliance does not automatically mean it is top of the shelf. Ask for references, read reviews, talk to previous trainees and try to familiarize yourself with your studio much as possible.
It’s important that you get an idea and connect with your instructors. Certain studios tend to bring in specialists to teach certain aspects of yoga. Look deep into the trainers/teachers that you’ll be working with. Aspects like their experience, their philosophy, how long they have been teaching or even as to who trained them.
Try and attend some regular sessions with the teachers whom you are considering. Make sure you are familiar with their teaching style and can connect with them.
Find out as much as possible before committing to a program. This information can help you decide whether you want to work with them or not. Yoga can mean different things to different people, so make sure that both your philosophies align together.
6. Picking the School
Yoga Teacher Training has evolved into a big business and is one that’s quite lucrative for any yoga studio. Courses range from as low as $1000 to 15 times that but most can be found between $3,000 to $4,000. You’ll do well to scout around the prevailing rate(s) so that you don’t commit to any yoga program and regret it afterward. Reach out to several schools to gauge their responsiveness. With a few different schools to get the details.
Price can be a make-or-break factor for many. So it’d be wise to inquire about any scholarships and deferred payment plans, which many bigger studios tend to offer.
Communication is a sign of professionalism and especially important while considering an international yoga teacher training program. A good school should come across as organized and professional for you to feel confident handing over a huge sum.
There’s no better way to know about what you’re getting into than from those who have taken the course before you. Shortlist a few schools/studios and ask them for references. Have them put you in touch with a few of their graduates. Professionally conducted courses wouldn’t hesitate to provide you with such connections and if they hesitate, consider it a red flag.
Call up or email the alumni and quiz them about their experiences. Whether they would recommend the program, what they liked best, any shortcomings, details of their teachers/trainers (assuming yours to be the same) any assistance for finding jobs after the course and so on.
7. International versus Domestic.
If you decide to commit yourself to a dedicated training program, you can opt to stay local or go abroad. Even if there are plenty of courses near you, it’s worth considering an international program. They come with several benefits.
International programs need not be expensive. The overall cost might be less than a domestic course even after including travel, accommodation and such. Most courses abroad are around one-month duration, allowing you to complete the course in one single stretch.
With no work or family related distractions, you will be able to commit yourself fully to training.
8. Why go for a dedicated Yoga Retreat?
You can pick and choose from reputed programs and locations in Central America, Southeast Asia or India. An added benefit is that you get to travel, practice yoga and experience a new culture in a beautiful locale.
- A yoga retreat can be an amazing choice for a holiday whether one attends solo, with friends or your partner!
- At a dedicated yoga retreat, you will have access to the teachers/trainers at all times to answer your questions.
- Yoga teacher training programs in retreats are usually held in serene and calm locations. Everything is planned and taken care of – be it the daily itinerary, meals or fun outings. You will likely not need to worry about a thing.
- It is hard to get into meditation practice in our busy everyday lives – especially for those starting out. Being at a retreat, away from our routine and all attached distractions make it much easier.
- When at a dedicated yoga retreat your itinerary and daily routine is decided beforehand for you. Yoga, spirituality and quality time with other practitioners get the priority.
Unlike holidays that merely recharge you, a yoga retreat does a great job – strengthening your body, meditating and eating healthy. After a long and productive period, you will feel more inspired and motivated to get back to your regular life!