Have you been looking for the right yoga teacher training? Wondering how on earth to figure out which one is best? With the strategies below you’ll be in a much stronger position and will save precious time.
How many yoga teacher trainings are out there?
Way too many to count. Many, if not most, yoga studios offer teacher trainings—but not all are created equal. The sad reality is that many yoga studios are forced to offer trainings since they are big revenue generators. Yoga studios have high operating costs and can be largely seasonal businesses. By offering yoga teacher trainings, they’re able to be financially sustainable and cover their costs.
Are they regulated?
No, yoga is not regulated, so literally anyone can call themselves a yoga teacher; what’s scary is that even without proper qualifications they can then go on to train others. There are thousands of yoga teachers in the U.S . and all over the world today who were once sincere students who enrolled in a training course—but who unfortunately are not qualified to run their own. You need to do your due diligence before investing your time and money.
Why is finding the right yoga teacher training important?
Yoga is much more than just yoga poses—it’s an inherently spiritual practice and a way of living. Many yoga trainings have multiple lead teachers and this doesn’t give the new student a chance to really connect with one master teacher.
Yoga Alliance now mandates that there be one lead teacher in all their registered 200-hour yoga trainings as over the past 17 years they’ve realized that an assortment of teachers doesn’t add as much value as hoped and is in part responsible for a decline of the overall quality of teachers.
Additionally, you need to be sure the content will be meaningful and will prepare you well. For example, I noticed a well-established chain of Seattle yoga studios offering classical Odissi dance lessons as a 20-hour module. As someone who is Indian, I can tell you this for sure: Classical Indian dance is amazing, but it has NO place in yoga teacher trainings!
Also, I once enrolled in a local training because of the senior Iyengar yoga teacher leading it…but we watched yoga videos and movies for the duration of the course. There was no substance—just the most expensive yoga movies I’d ever watched. Needless to say, I learnt a lot of what not to do from this experience.
Now that I’ve given you a reality check, let’s dive in and explore five ways to find the right yoga teacher training for you.
Schedule and Location
As I write this, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. I’m not sure how my studio’s yoga teacher trainings will change going forward, but I’ll link to an update when one is available. Meanwhile, here’s a helpful checklist to get you started:
- Do you already have a specific yoga studio or teacher in mind? Yes/No (if you answered yes, skip to the next section)
- How far are you willing to travel to attend your training? What is your mileage or commute time limit?
- Are you able to attend trainings on weekends? Do you have full days open? Yes/No
Make a list of studios based on your geographical limits. You will start there and work through the rest of the steps, repeating these steps for each studio you check out—but trust me, it’s worth it. Rather, you’re worth it.
The Lead Trainer and You
The lead trainer is one who spends the most time teaching you during your training. He/she is also the most qualified or senior among the teachers you’ll meet. There should always be one main lead—your go-to person and mentor.
A teacher-in-training needs guidance and the lead trainer is the one who fulfills this role and more. The lead should be professional, emotionally stable, unbiased, knowledgeable, respectful, mindful, and transparent about all things related to your yoga training.
In an ideal world, the lead teacher will have a tremendous positive impact on your outlook as a yoga teacher. So don’t take this lightly—it will make or break your yoga teacher training.
Here are some questions to ask while assessing lead trainers…
- How long have they been teaching yoga teacher trainings (not just yoga classes)?
- How long have they studied yoga? Who was their main lead teacher?
- What, according to them, is yoga?
- What is their clientele like? Is it pretty homogeneous or welcoming to a range of people?
- What do they think of other yoga styles and area yoga schools?
You need to find a mix of the right attitude and knowledge in your lead trainer. If they’re disrespectful of other trainers or schools, or teach only one group of people, you should consider other options.
Ask for References
All legitimate yoga teacher trainings should be able to give you references for past graduates you can contact with questions. Asking graduates can be very valuable; for the most part they will give you a full and honest picture of the training. If a school refuses to give you any references, citing privacy or any other reasons, it may be a red flag.
Attend a Class
How can you invest thousands of dollars, many hours of your time, and all your yoga dreams in a training when you haven’t even attended a class at the studio beforehand?!
Don’t rely on just the fancy website or social media posts. Make the time and effort to actually go to the studio (or tune in online) and take a few classes. Not just one. Attend a few classes, so you get a feel for the culture of the studio, meet the community, and see the lead trainer in action. All of this is invaluable.
Ask About Their Information Session
All good yoga studios will have an information session or a master class for their upcoming yoga teacher trainings—it’s worth the effort to show up! In my next blog post I will give you a list of questions that you can use as a checklist.
Here’s how you can benefit from these sessions:
- Meeting the lead trainer, if you haven’t already
- Previewing the training manual
- Understanding the training schedule and expectations
- Asking questions or addressing any concerns you may have
- Meeting fellow classmates; you want to make sure it feels like a good fit (for me, personally,
- inclusivity is very important and not all studios reflect this)
- Learning about the syllabus
- Understanding what’s not included (for example, in my training, hands-on adjustment is not a deal-breaker—we address it, but also educate students about how to be respectful of others’ bodies and power dynamics)
- Knowing what the workload expectations are between classes
- Clarifying policies on absenteeism, make-up classes, etc.
If you apply these tips, I have no doubt you’ll be able to lead with clarity and confidence as you navigate through your options.