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.
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.
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.
Consider these variables when choosing a yoga teacher training including the length, location, style, teacher, and most importantly, intentions for taking yoga teacher training.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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
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?
Technically, nothing says you have to be certified to be a yoga teacher. 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). To register with YA, you must complete one of the approved training programs, provide proof of certification, and then complete registration on their site. You will also have to purchase insurance once you begin instructing. If you know your end goal is to teach, it’s best to start with a YA-registered, 200-hour program.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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