How to Choose a Teacher Training That’s Right for You
Do you live and breathe yoga? Does it seem as if you just can’t get enough? Or maybe you feel you’ve hit a plateau and want to move to the next level of your practice.
If any of these feelings sounds familiar, you are not alone! There is something captivating and life-altering about yoga that often leaves many practitioners itching to dive deeper into that world. And signing up for a yoga teacher training may be the next natural step for those yogis. They may desire to share yoga with others or may simply hope that teacher training will lead to new discoveries on their mat.
Because the options may appear to be endless, choosing the right program can be overwhelming, but as with any other important life decision, take your time and do due diligence.
The reasons for signing up for teacher training are many and varied, and run the gamut from practical and personal to soul-stirring, so it is imperative to find the right program for you—otherwise you may wind up embarking on a training that is not in synch with your needs and aspirations. Because the options may appear to be endless, choosing the right program can be overwhelming, but as with any other important life decision, take your time and do due diligence.
Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind as you seek out the yoga teacher training of your dreams.
1. Try Out Different Styles of Yoga
When it comes time to embark on your yoga teacher training journey, it’s a great idea to expose yourself to varying styles of yoga in order to find the one that speaks to you. I’ve experimented with many yoga styles (particularly in the beginning of my yoga expedition), and when it came time to choose a teacher training, I went for one that was based in the styles I was practicing on a regular basis. As wonderful as Iyengar or Bikram Yoga may be for other yogis, they weren’t for me. My heart led me to a training that fused Sattva Yoga (a meditative style that emphasizes inner wisdom) and power vinyasa (which focuses more on physical mastery). I couldn’t have been happier with my choice, as the program was all-encompassing and exposed me to different dimensions of yoga. The power vinyasa aspect emphasized postural alignment, anatomy, and sequencing and challenged me physically, while the Sattva Yoga aspect brought me more in touch with my inner self.
If you broaden your horizons so as to experience myriad styles, you will undoubtedly come across a type of yoga that feels like home.
2. Find a Teacher You Connect With
Although there’s nothing wrong with taking a leap of faith and registering for a teacher training program without knowing the teacher and assistants, it is always a safer bet to sign up for a training that is taught by someone you already know and respect. And while a close personal relationship with the facilitator is not a requirement for satisfaction in your training, it will help if you have some level of connection with the teacher with whom you will be spending several weeks of your life. How does this translate into action? Take a ton of yoga classes with different teachers, my fellow yogis! You will know when you have found a teacher who resonates with you. They may not be the most popular or famous, but they are the one you are drawn to and want to learn from.
3. Compare Program Schedules, Costs, and Curricula
Whether you work full time or are a college student with your summer free, it is vital that you find a training program that works with your schedule. Yoga teacher training is no easy feat, and it’s important to be fully present and dedicated to the entire process. Some trainings are spread out over many months, while others involve a solid month of your time. You can do a training locally or travel to a beautiful, sunny destination for a residential program if you wish. (Sounds like fun, right?)
In terms of cost, most 200-hour trainings entail an investment of $1,500 to $4,000, though some can set you back a lot more. The more expensive teacher trainings are usually the ones that require long-distance travel, as they often include the additional costs of food and accommodations. Furthermore, those led by internationally esteemed teachers may also cost more due to higher demand and quality. Keep in mind, however, that paying more for a training will not necessarily guarantee a more enhanced experience.
Additionally, you’ll want to spend time researching the curriculum of a teacher training. Because schools registered with Yoga Alliance must follow certain guidelines as to what they cover in the 200 hours of a training, the curricula of most trainings will have a lot in common. Nonetheless, every training has its own way of doing things. For example, one training may include a great deal of practice teaching and interactive partner work, while another may offer a deep lecture-based journey into anatomy, physiology, and alignment.
How do you decide which curriculum and schedule will work best for you? Well, for starters, think about how you’ve most successfully learned something new before—at work, in school, and in your personal hobbies and interests. Then consider whether it would be more conducive to pursue your training in eight-hour days, five days a week, or over a number of weekends that allow for more breathing room to assimilate what you have learned.
Above all, remember that teacher training is meant to be a joyous, uplifting experience—not an exhaustive, frustrating one. Be true to your inherent nature in order to maximize your experience.
4. Do You Want to Register with Yoga Alliance?
Yoga Alliance is the regulating body for the yoga industry in the U.S., and its seal of approval is intended to assure that the training you have chosen meets a minimum-level quality standard. Among its member benefits are liability insurance, educational resources, and more. Be aware that some teaching jobs require or prefer you to be registered with Yoga Alliance. (In my own teaching career, being registered with Yoga Alliance has been a prerequisite for the positions I have been interested in.) You will be able to register with Yoga Alliance only if the school you train with is an RYS (Registered Yoga School) with Yoga Alliance. I can speak only for myself, but because teacher training is a substantial investment of time and energy, it made sense to me to choose an RYS (especially for my first teacher training) so I would have maximum flexibility in pursuing teaching jobs later. Of course, there are many fantastic yoga schools that are not registered with Yoga Alliance. But for your first teacher training, I would recommend seeking out an RYS—for the same reason I did.
5. If Anything Is Unclear, Ask Questions
Lastly, before you make a final choice about a teacher training, ask questions regarding anything that is unclear to you. This includes the number of students that will be participating, any prerequisites for admission into the training, and anything else that may be of importance to you. To give a personal example: In a more recent training I was in, I made the mistake of not asking certain questions I had. By leaving those questions unanswered, I wound up in a training with twice the number of students that felt comfortable to me, including many inexperienced students who slowed down the training. Although I thought I had carefully chosen the right program, I was ultimately disappointed with the experience because it was crowded and not the right fit for an introvert like me. I chose the training based on popularity, and ultimately ignored my instincts to find one more suited to my individual nature.
So embrace the process of inquiry, as it will lead to a greater understanding of what you need and what will be in store for you. While some mystery and surprise may be exciting, you will want to have as much clarity as possible on many aspects of the training before you actually show up for it.
So there you have it! Now you are one step closer to the transformational experience that is yoga teacher training. Do your research well, and soon you will be on your way to the teacher training that is calling your name.
Shirin Karimi is a UC Davis graduate in Psychology, an avid yogi, a 200 hour RYT, and a world traveler. Being a lover of writing, she has segued to becoming a full-time freelance writer and is working on her memoir. She has hopes of sharing her voice with the world and continuing to evolve on her writing journey.