There are three key aspects to take time to consider, before making this substantial investment of your time and money in becoming a yoga teacher.
1. Standards and Background
- Take time to consider the standards and background of the training program on offer. Many studios offer teacher training programs in order to increase their revenue. The best programs exceed the minimum requirements; are in good standing with the Yoga Alliance; are clear in their payment structure; and have years of teacher training under their belt. Look for a Registered Yoga School that is in demand!
- Traditionally, there is a lineage in yoga studios. The foundation of this is to honor the teachings of those who have gone before and ensure that the wisdom is carried forward. For example, my first 200 hour training was at East Eagle Yoga in Havertown. Joe and Nicole were experienced Hatha Yoga teachers who did their training at Yoga Life Institute, which is affiliated with the Yoga Institute of Mombai, India. Yoga philosophy, self inquiry, and meditating were emphasized, as well as asanas and some pranayama.
- Different traditions have different approaches to Yoga, and what we would call nowadays “styles”. Here’s a link to a very helpful summary of the styles of yoga.
- Choosing a style of yoga that resonates with you is important. Some schools are now “branded”, so you have to teach in a certain way or in certain locations. There is little opportunity for creativity or exploring different approaches.
- Some schools are also strict on what is correct and what is wrong. This can lead to a rigid practice and a somewhat arrogant approach to teaching. In my experience, there is no right or wrong in yoga, as long as students honor themselves and are safe.
- An other consideration in choosing a quality school, is how many students are in the program, and even more important, the teacher student ratio. One-on-one time with an experienced teacher is incredibly valuable as you grow and expand your knowledge, skills and abilities as a yogi and a teacher.
- Having a variety of teachers, in age, background, and style, can also make for a very interesting and stimulating experience.
2. Be Practical
- Choosing the right program is more than finding the best deal. Studios wanting more cash flow may offer deep discounts, but may not have the standards or the personal approach that you are looking for. Be practical, and find the balance that is right for you.
- Consider the length of the program and the amount of time required to become certified. Some programs may take several weekends out of your year, while others offer an intense few weeks in residence.
- The experience of the teacher/s and how long the school has been teaching, is key. You will get so much more from the experience, and a lot more value for your money with teachers who have taught more than 1000 hours (which gives them the designation of E-RYT200 or E-RYT500). Teachers who have invested in furthering their own education also bring a depth of knowledge along with broader experience.
- Look out for testimonials from recently certified teachers. Testimonials should be on their website, or their Yoga Alliance page. Even better, speak to yoga teachers and find out more about their personal experience.
- Consider the format of the syllabus and classes. Is it practical for you and your life right now? If you are looking for less interaction and a quick certification, then an online training program or an intensive retreat in an exotic destination may be appeal. But seriously, consider how prepared and confident will you be when you get your certificate and teach in the real world with real people. You may know the Sanskrit and be able to do a perfect Trikonasa, but do you know how to teach a class with different levels of abilities and experience, or what to say to someone who tells you they are pregnant?…
- Research shows that we can only absorb so much new information at a time, and it has to be reinforced or we lose what we learn. Time out for relaxation and reflection, as well as opportunities to journal are important ways to allow the information to be absorbed.
- During and after the program there should be time for actual teaching. You may be surprised, but some schools don’t spend much time on how to teach at all! If you want to be a teacher, find good teachers and work with them on how to teach.
3. Be Inspired
- The studio that you have been going to, and is close to home, may seem the obvious choice, but consider how many teachers there are now in your area who have been trained in the same way. Wouldn’t it be better for you, and future opportunities to find a school where you could offer something different and inspire others? For example, right now there are hundreds of Vinyasa Flow Programs in studios all around the US, but very few entry level programs that can support teaching to the growing population of older people.
- We have discussed the importance of standards for programs and the teachers, but what about the minimal standards that applicants should meet? If you have been practicing yoga for some time and want to join a group of fellow experienced yogis, then this is an important aspect for your personal experience in the program. It may be charitable to offer training to inexperienced yogis, but inexperienced yoga students can take up class time and practicum hours.
- Reach out and get answers to your questions! Many studios offer get togethers for interested students. This article from someone who was considering a Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training is helpful.
- To make your choice the right one for you, take time to explore your own personal thoughts and feelings about yoga. Ask yourself these questions:
What am I passionate about?
What aspects of yoga am I really interested in?
What gifts do I want to share with my students later on?
What is the population I want to teach?
What support will I get to teach this population?
Does this align with a particular Yoga Teacher Program?
If you have read this far, I wish you all the best on your journey. It is an incredible one to embark on, that will undoubtedly change your life..