Thinking about yoga teacher training (YTT)? If so, chances are you might have a few questions about what YTT is exactly.
Before beginning YTT, it is important that you do a little research. Think about your intensions for taking teacher training and what it can provide you on your yoga journey.
For many yogis, yoga teacher training can be a way for them to expand their knowledge of the yoga practice. But for others, it might be a way to learn more about themselves.
What is yoga teacher training (YTT)?
Remember when you were in high school and you took a variety of classes that gave you enough knowledge to go out into the world and earn a living at age 18? That’s sort of what yoga teacher training (YTT) is. It’s the basis and foundation for a lifetime of knowledge you can apply and use as a yoga teacher, both for your own practice and for life.
Post-graduation, you can choose to continue your education, jump right into teaching, or take a different path all together—utilizing the knowledge you’ve gained in everyday life.
Most training requires a certain amount of hours for a specific set of curriculum including anatomy, asana, philosophy, and dharma, which qualify you in becoming a yoga teacher.
Why do I need YTT? What are the benefits of a YTT?
Whether you want to become an international yoga teacher by connecting with people around the world or want to simply deepen your own knowledge of yoga, both intentions are great reasons to attend yoga teacher training. On a personal level, you will benefit greatly—if your inner voice calls for you to share your knowledge and inspiration, then consider teaching yoga your calling.
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How to pick a YTT?
Consider these variables when choosing a yoga teacher training including the length, location, style, teacher, and most importantly, intentions for taking yoga teacher training.
Length and location
Most training runs over the course of seven to eight weekends for around six months to a year. This is many people's favorite educational experience because it allows you to absorb and apply the information without feeling overloaded with content.
In addition, you can create strong bonds with fellow teacher trainees as you grow and learn together. Think week-long summer camp acquaintances versus high school life-time friends.
Another option is a 21-day or a full month of learning, where you are in one location for the set 200 hours waking up every day covering the topics and course. Know whether you want to stay local or study abroad. There are plenty of options for whichever you choose.
Style and teacher
The style and the teacher are two important connections that all inquiring trainees shoulder consider when choosing a training program.
If you don’t connect with the style of the practice or the teacher leading the training, you’re not going to put your best foot forward in absorbing the knowledge. Connection and attraction to the content being offered is the key to making the most out of your training.
Last point to consider, what is your intention behind the training? What do you hope to get out of it? And, when looking for a training program, will this training have the potential to offer that outcome for you? If you don’t know from reading the course material, ask the teacher or the studio. Be honest with your intentions.
How soon should I start teaching after graduation?
Tomorrow, one month, a year, or maybe five—whenever you feel ready and have the desire to share the practice. This is a personal question to knowing your own intentions. Ask yourself, if there are any fears that may stand in your way and how you can outsmart them.
What qualifications do I need after graduating to start teaching?
Yoga teacher insurance and CPR certification are two important qualifications to have after graduating.
Most facilities, including corporations and being an independent contractor, have asked for proof of yoga teacher insurance and a CPR certification.
What’s the difference between a 200-hour training and 500-hour training?
Think of 500-hour training like the grad school of yoga education. Do we all need it?
If it’s something that will add to your offerings as a teacher and is something you connect with, then of course. There is no denying that you can benefit from a 500-hour training.
Do I need to do a 500-hour training to be a “qualified” teacher?
If your intentions are to become a yoga teacher, either part-time or full-time, then complete your 200-hour degree. Get out into the teaching field, take advantage of the opportunities that will give you hands-on experience, and go from there. Often times, experience trumps all forms of education.
Think of each class as a learning tool but also a joy. It’s an honor to teach and share the practice of yoga, but it is important to never lose that connection to why you started practicing and teaching in the first place.
Sara Quiriconi's YTT story
"To be honest, it took me a while to fall in love with yoga. When I first began practicing yoga, I treated it as a workout. But, it quickly became a lifestyle and healing modality for a lot of personal issues I was learning to deal with at the time.
Yoga later became more than just an exercise. It was a feeling and a place for unexpressed emotion to find an outlet. It was a place for me to feel, heal, and reconnect to both my mind and my body.
After noticing the positive changes in my personal life, I knew the empowering practice of yoga was something I wanted to inspire many others to take part in as well. I began yoga teacher training a year before I finally graduated, picking right up where I left off.
With yoga teacher training, I wasn’t initially committed when I started, I knew my heart wouldn’t be in the training if I wasn’t fully ready or committed to learning the knowledge.
So, as the saying goes, “when the student is ready, the teacher appears.” When you’re ready to learn, the knowledge awaits you. I’m forever grateful for my teachers across the country and the world—a teacher by profession, but always a student willing to learn, grow, and share."
- Sara Quiriconi, Live Free Warrior
Reasons to attend yoga teacher training
If you know you want to teach yoga, investing in the initial 200-hour yoga teacher training may seem like a no-brainer. The investment in your future outweighs the financial aspect of teacher training. But what are some other reasons people look to teacher training, and are they worth the roughly $3,500 investment?
1. Become a yoga teacher.
Technically, nothing says you have to be certified to be a yoga teacher, nor is there a certifying company. With the volume of people out there teaching, that can be a little scary. More studios are now looking for teachers who have completed a 200-hour training and registered with Yoga Alliance (YA), but this just means paying their fees. You will also have to purchase insurance once you begin instructing.
2. Find your yoga family.
If you go to any yoga studio more than a few times, you will start to see the same faces and get to know the people around you. In most studios, you will eventually (if not right away) find a regular group of classmates to chat with before and after class.
The more you go to class, the more you will find a unique set of like-minded people who understand why you are there. Teacher training takes this to the next level. Many students get the same thing out of training: a sense of belonging, a group of people who were going through the same process. Through the training, you create some pretty strong bonds.
3. Deepen your personal practice.
Not only did you deepen your practice, but you also made make your practice a safer one. Through training, you will learn much of what to do with your body and what is unsafe. The knowledge you will gain will allow you to practice for years without heading straight for an injury. You will learn about the history, philosophy, and the different ways of taking on the yoga practice.
4. Devote some real time to yourself and wellbeing.
Sometimes you just need a break from whatever that has been consuming you in your life. Maybe you are going through a major life change, dealing with a divorce, a death, retirement, marriage—whatever it is, sometimes you need a new perspective. Immersing yourself in teacher training is a great way to find that new perspective. You may discover things about yourself that you didn’t even know were there.
No matter why you are considering yoga teacher training, realize that there is no one reason or right answer for signing up. Training doesn’t offer people one path. In fact, it takes people coming from many different roads, who will continue to go in many different directions, and puts them all on the same path for a moment in time—a time for learning, growing, bonding, and change.
How to prepare for your first yoga teacher training course
Many yoga teachers will tell you that they have benefitted in more ways than one by attending a 200-hour yoga teacher training course. If you are new to the world of yoga, a 200-hour yoga teacher training course could be a great way for you to learn more about the yoga style that you love.
Over the years, the number of yoga teacher training courses available for prospective students has increased dramatically. So, what are some things you need to know before you attend? And how do you choose the right one?
Figure out what style of yoga is being taught.
Ideally, the style of yoga that is offered is a style you’ve been practicing for a while. And hopefully you know through experience that it’s the style you wish pursue for years to come. Find out what the various 200-hour yoga teacher trainings have to offer and what style of yoga they teach—try to find a style you want to learn more about.
Know where the trainings are located.
Some trainings are located in retreats or isolated ashram settings, where everything is taken care of for you and there are no outside distractions. However, there are plenty of trainings that take place in urban environments, where you are expected to take care of your own meals and accommodations.
There are many trainings where you will spend a couple months away from home. However, there are others that are broken into small segments in large city studios—these trainings are meant for people who cannot leave work or family. It’s a unique experience to be on a retreat than it is to be in the middle of an urban jungle, so choose a style of yoga teacher training that works best for you.
Find out the cost and class size.
The size of a training group can range anywhere from 10 students to more than 100. Ask yourself—are you okay with a large group, or would you rather be with a smaller group? Class size is something to consider when deciding on the right yoga teacher training course.
Something else to take into consideration is the cost of the training. The price of a training course can range anywhere from $2,000 to more than $15,000, however, the cost of the training doesn’t necessarily denote quality.
There are many dubious trainings that are very expensive, but there are also a lot of wonderful trainings that are relatively inexpensive. That’s why it’s important to do your research before enrolling in a training course.
Go in with a positive mindset.
Understand that you are positively affecting people on an individual basis with everything that you do as a yoga practitioner. When you live according to your own personal dharma, you’ll find that your practice extends into everything that you do. And although the market is saturated with capable teachers, don’t be afraid to look for new opportunities that allow you to share your expertise.
How to choose an international yoga teacher training
International yoga teacher training courses (YTTCs) are a big business—perhaps even as big as domestic programs. After all, they make for a great excuse to take a trip out of the country and they allow you to finish your training in one month. They enable you to fully immerse yourself in yoga rather than having to balance your YTTC with work and home life.
However, with courses popping up everywhere and seemingly taught by anyone, quality and standards of teaching greatly vary. Before you spend thousands of dollars on your yoga education abroad, you should make sure you’re investing wisely by doing your research.
See what your neighborhood studios have to offer.
Many studios conduct YTTCs domestically and abroad, giving you the opportunity to test out their teachers at home before you commit to something bigger afar. As an added bonus, studios where you have completed a yoga teacher training courses are more likely (though not guaranteed) to hire you afterward.
Pick a country, or at least a continent.
If the local studio route isn’t an option, then you need to pick a location. Programs in Central America are ever-popular, especially in yoga-laden Costa Rica. But they’re also popping up in lesser-traveled countries like Guatemala and Panama. Because Central America is relatively close to the U.S., airfare is reasonable and flights are quick.
Europe, South America, and Asia are also great options. Thailand and Bali are Southeast Asia’s yoga meccas, and you couldn’t talk yoga without mentioning its homeland, India, where YTTCs abound. This is the ultimate place to learn yoga, and a guaranteed epic journey.
Look at weather forecasts.
When you’re going abroad, weather can have a big impact on your trip. Tropical countries have rainy seasons that may make your experience a little too wet. In India, heat and air conditioning are nearly nonexistent, so you don’t want to be in the hot south during the summer, or the freezing north during the winter. Look at yearly averages so you know what you’re getting into before you book.
Research several programs.
Even if there’s one particular program grabbing your attention, it behooves you to pick several in the country or continent of choice to compare. As mentioned, quality varies greatly. Size up three or four programs using the following five steps.
Know the program’s yoga style.
There are numerous styles of yoga in existence—some traditional and some modern inventions. If you’re not sure which lineage is for you, spend a few weeks at your local studio to acquaint yourself with yoga’s many styles. Then find out what style each of the contending YTTCs is teaching. You wouldn’t want to spend a whole month learning something that actually doesn’t speak to you as a yogi.
Research the teachers.
Get to know the people who might be teaching you. They don’t need to be famous to be good, but one would hope they’ve been teaching for more than a year or two. Ask where and when they completed their own training. Do some Google research. See if they have any online classes that you can watch to get a feel for their teaching style. If you’re going to India, is it important to you to learn from Indian teachers? This can really make a difference in your education.
Compare course content.
This is one of the most important steps, whether the program is domestic or abroad. Yoga is an ocean of a science, and each program must carefully pick and choose what to include in the span of one month. It’s very helpful to compare the course content of a handful of YTTCs. Some are more spiritual, some more modern. Some teach Ayurveda and yogic diet, some don’t. Explore several programs to decide which aspects of the curriculum are imperative in your education.
Size up the accommodation.
While most YTTCs abroad include accommodation, some surprisingly do not. If you’re unfamiliar with the city or even the country where you’ll be studying, it’s way easier to have food and housing arranged for you. You should expect accommodation to be basic if you’re studying in a developing country. If you want something a little plusher, expect a pricey tuition.
Email past students.
This step might be the most valuable. Ask program contenders to put you in contact with some of their past students. If it’s a good program with satisfied students, they’ll be happy to do so. Past students can give you honest insight into the programs’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as advice for your own journey.
Lock in your spot.
Once you’ve made your well-informed and well-researched decision—taking into account the weather, course curriculum, teachers, yoga style, accommodation, and past student recommendations—it’s time to enroll. Some courses accept as few as 15 students a session, so be sure to book early.
After yoga teacher training
Once you finish your yoga teacher training, you’ll no doubt have gained a ton of new knowledge. 200 hours, though, is merely one drop of wisdom in the vast ocean of the yogic science, and hopefully only the beginning of your yogic education! Don’t let a teaching certificate end your quest for knowledge—a great yoga teacher is forever a student.
Keep taking classes.
Just because you’re a teacher doesn’t mean you should stop taking yoga classes. But you may have a harder time finding a good teacher who challenges you post yoga teacher training. If you’re fortunate enough to have a stimulating yoga teacher nearby, then by all means keep learning from them.
If not, diligently continue a home-based practice. Attend studio classes every so often to remind yourself what it’s like to be a student. Observe how other yoga teachers teach, and what you should or shouldn’t integrate into your own classes.
Whenever your schedule and budget allow it, enroll in yoga workshops. Workshops develop your personal practice and your teaching. You’ll gain an in-depth understanding of topics like tight hips, headstands, or yogic philosophy. Once you have a more astute sense of any one subject or asana, you can sum it up and teach it to your own students from a place of genuine knowledge.
Keep your ears open for well-known yoga teachers visiting your area. They’re usually famous for a reason and have a lot to share. Even if you don’t particularly jive with their teaching or yoga style, it can be insightful to observe how they interact with their students, how they go about marketing, and what makes them successful.
Attend yoga conferences and festivals.
Yoga conferences are a great way to experience the modern world’s most famous yoga teachers, meet like-minded yogis, and envelop yourself in a few days of pure wellness. For dates and locations in the U.S. and around the world, check out www.yogafestival.com.
Here are some popular yoga festivals to consider:
- Bhakti Fest has a few festivals in California and Wisconsin each year. These are bhakti-based with a spiritual mission: embracing yoga, kirtan, and meditation.
- Yoga Journal conferences are put on multiple times a year by Yoga Journal LIVE! and feature big names in the yoga industry
- Telluride Yoga Festival is a yearly, three-day festival set in majestic Colorado.
- Wanderlust Festivals take place across the country and around the world multiple times a year. They call their festivals “all-out, ecstatic celebrations.”
Enroll in an anatomy and physiology course.
There should have been a yoga anatomy segment in your yoga teacher training; but it probably wasn’t more than a few hours long and gave you only the briefest overview of bones and muscles. If you want a serious understanding of the body’s inner workings, consider enrolling in an anatomy and physiology (A&P) course. It’s well-worth the investment. When the body is less of a mystery, you become a better teacher. You’ll be able to teach students how each asana affects the various body systems, plus you’ll know why and how to modify poses for individual bodies and conditions.
Here are some course options to consider:
- Local community college courses are generally inexpensive, and schools often have night class options.
- UCLA Extension has several different online A&P course options. Online classes are great for those who are self-motivated and can’t commit to being physically present in class.
- Clovis Community College also offers online A&P courses that can be transferred for university credit.
- Leslie Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy course includes three 12-week trimesters focusing on the breath, spine, and limbs; and you can move entirely at your own pace. This online course is on the expensive side, but unlike general A&P, it’s taught entirely in terms of yoga.
Along with these four ideas, expand your knowledge after yoga teacher training by reading yoga books, meditating, and above all, teaching.
This guide is combined with the following articles:
This process is very dependent on what the individual puts in as to what they get out of yoga teacher training. Your training style, life experiences, and even fitness level will also influence the transformation that occurs. However, note that there will be a transformation.
During your yoga teacher training, you will learn from experienced yoga leaders. In addition to classroom and at-home study, during yoga teacher training you are required to spend a large amount of time in “hands-on” learning classes. Whether you realize it or not, you’ll grow personally and professionally from all of the instruction, practice, and testing that is required to pass yoga teacher training.
Yoga teacher training is usually conducted in a live, classroom setting at the yoga studio and/or school offering the training. Today’s training offers more accessibility with most 200-hour programs being a blend of hands-on and online or self-paced learning. Expect to put in the work it takes to learn different yoga styles, yoga breathing, class planning and sequencing, health and human anatomy, and even topics like ethics and running a solid yoga business.
As you learn material, you will face tests. Some of which are the anxiety-creating pencil and paper type but remember your instructors are also watching how you relate with others in the class, your attitude, and even homework responses. Make sure to give every activity your best effort to truly excel during yoga teacher training.
While there isn’t a specific ‘international yoga certification’ there are certifications in yoga that are recognized throughout the world. Completing a 200-hour yoga teacher training is something that’s recognized by yoga studios worldwide. You have the option to complete this training from one of many, many different certification centers around the world. Taking your 200-hour yoga teacher training in an international location can be life-altering, challenging you as you learn a new culture, as well as demanding material in your yoga courses.
Choosing a yoga teacher program can be tough simply because there are so many programs out there. In order to choose the best yoga teacher training that meets your individual style, you need to research the options available to you.
Yoga teacher training curriculums can focus on different styles entirely, so make sure you are starting a program that’s in an area you’d like to actually make a living teaching. A good yoga teacher training program will cover the basic yoga styles but then can hone in on a specific modality.
Second, make sure that your program is affordable relative to your earnings potential. While spending a couple of months in Thailand sounds lovely, the costs of that program may make breaking even take a really long time.
Lastly, do some background on the particular program you are interested in. If possible, visit the studio, talk to your potential instructors, and try to get honest feedback from students before you. A solid yoga teacher training program should have a great track record of successful students post-graduation.
Yoga teacher training is no joke. You’ll be challenged by your instructors to learn all of the information and techniques needed to be truly successful as a yoga teacher. This goes far beyond just learning a bunch of different vinyasas. You’ll study and be required to demonstrate mastery of many different techniques, training, and practices, teaching methodologies, planning and sequencing, human anatomy and physiology, running a yoga business, and even ethics in yoga during the course of your training.
While mastering yoga takes years, mastering being an effective teacher can take even longer. Yoga teacher training will lay the foundation for your ability to confidently guide students from all manner of different backgrounds and at different levels of physical fitness.
Yoga teacher training should be viewed as an investment. With an investment, you usually do your homework before writing a check and yoga teacher training should be no different. Research the available programs and the training programs that cater to these. Research the school itself and look for positive feedback regarding their training.
When you select a program, pour yourself into getting everything you can out of the training. Since this is your investment, it is wholly up to you the size of the return that the training can bring. Some tips for getting your best bang for your buck in yoga teacher training include:
Come to class early, stay late.
Get to know your teachers.
Network with the other yogis in your class.
Try to get an apprenticeship.
These are just a few things you can do to help maximize how much you get out of your training. You still need to study hard and invest yourself in learning the material to be successful.
Yoga is practiced around the globe so there are many, many different programs available internationally for yoga teacher training. While 200-hour yoga teacher training is pretty much the norm, there are some programs that carry more weight internationally. One of these is Yoga Alliance’s 200-hour Registered Teacher Training. International classes are offered all the time and in some really beautiful locations.
If you’re ever able, taking even one course internationally will broaden your experience and effectiveness as a teacher when you have a diverse group of students from different backgrounds. International yoga training can also push you to be more confident, as you learn both a new culture, as well as challenging material. You’ll need this confidence as the students in your class look to you to help guide them on their own journeys.
Absolutely. There are many different programs offered by studios and schools around the world. Some 200-hour yoga teacher training courses are offered as a full-immersion, retreat-style where you spend several weeks in the country. Being able to travel internationally, especially to beautiful places like Barranquilla, Columbia or Koh Samui, Thailand (both of which have yoga teacher training programs offered there) is usually a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If you have the opportunity to learn from experienced yogis around the world and take an international course or even an entire training, you will be left with a well-rounded basis from which to help guide your own students on their individual yogic journeys.
Because of the popularity of the 200-hour yoga teacher training program, there are also a great many websites out there that offer study guides corresponding to yoga teacher training. The popular study website Quizlet has an entire section devoted to yoga teacher training study guides.
What you should bring will vary from program to program and the locale in which the yoga teacher training is being offered. Generally necessities include:
Notebook with pen and paper or a laptop for taking notes. You will be cramming information but should also take the time to jot down notes of your feelings, emotions, and thoughts as you progress towards being a yoga teacher.
Your yoga mat and accessories. While most programs today will offer these, the quality or type might not be quite what you’re used to. Not to mention the thought of someone else sweating on it before you.
Unrestrictive, i.e. yoga, clothing for hands-on classes.
Water bottle with sealable lid.
A great attitude towards putting everything you have into learning the material.
If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll also need your passport, credit cards, personal effects, etc. Make sure to understand the locale - some areas of the world have cultural or religious restrictions and/or requirements. For example, in some areas a head covering may be required when entering a mosque or temple.
You do not usually need to secure yoga teacher insurance in order to complete a yoga teacher training. The “but” is that this could be incredibly unwise. During yoga teacher training, you will face many of the same liabilities as a practicing professional. Hands-on training on real life individuals can easily have any number of different accidents occur. That’s why beYogi offers a students-only plan that covers you while you are completing yoga teacher training.
After you graduate, we have a specific yoga insurance program developed just for yoga teachers that follows you throughout your career. In many situations, to teach yoga the studio or business will require that you show proof of insurance before being allowed to conduct the class.
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