You’ve caught the yoga bug…
You love the post-yoga glow and that feeling of being stronger while also calmer… and you just want more of that in your life!
As you yearn to learn more the idea of doing a yoga teacher training course grows and grows, but start researching and it all becomes a little confusing… Goodbye yogic calm, hello bafflement!
Let’s get clear on how to choose the best yoga teacher training
First thing’s first, you are not likely to cover everything you want to learn in one course… so you could think of your first course simply as a starting place to explore yoga further and deeper. Here we look into some important factors to consider when embarking on a yoga teacher training journey.
1. Yoga training for yourself
Do you love the idea of doing the training course itself over and above the idea of teaching yoga? If so follow your heart’s desire to the location of your dreams and just revel in a month of being able to immerse yourself in yoga. This can be a good place to start even if you do want to teach, see it as a sort of foundation course. While intensives can be a great way to learn a lot in a short period of time, they are not likely to give you time and space to mature into being a teacher with the confidence to go and set up class once you return home. Saying that some people do, and if you have a lot of prior yoga experience this can also act as your foundation.
2. Yoga training to be a teacher
If on the other hand you think you may want to teach at the end of your course, have a good think about the sort of teacher you want to be and the sort of yoga you’d like to teach. Find a teacher who you inspires you and try a few teachers to see which method of yoga and teaching you relate to best. When you have some idea of the sort of teacher you want to be you can start to find a suitable school.
3. Yoga lineage
Broadly speaking yoga has been passed down through schools, or families called lineages so do ask any teacher you admire which “lineage” of school(s) of yoga they have studied. This can be a good basis to find training with similar roots.
Moreover if on researching a course it was a bit vague about which traditions of yoga the course is based on this could be a warning signal that the basis of the course might be a little shakey.
Broadly speaking yoga lineages are of 2 sorts, (1) the ashram schools where the teachers live together in an ascetic community and then (2) the yoga families where teachers are married.
The ashrams, for example, the Sivananda and Bihar have traditionally been fairly strict and ascetic, with an approach that might emphasise chanting and meditative aspects over the posture work. Whereas the Iyengar and Ashtanga traditions are passed down along family lines and give more attention to the postural work, alongside some meditation and other “spiritual” practices.
If you aren’t sure what sort of yoga you’ve been practising then it’s worth asking and trying to work out where the sort of practice you enjoy fits in the broad landscape of yoga practices.
4. Who to study with
Once you are clear what sort of yoga you want to study then you will want to have some feeling for the course tutor and teachers. Yoga teacher training is a big investment of time, energy and emotion….so its worth knowing that you feel you will be in safe and wise hands.
Both consciously and unconsciously we absorb information from our yoga tutors, so it’s a good idea to have a feeling for the teachers approach before the course, to see that you like it!
5. Learning Objectives of the Course
While personality is a biggie, don’t forget to see how any course is planning to teach you ‘how to teach’. It’s one thing to love yoga and be bendy but its quite another to actually get a class into and out of a pose. You will need structured learning to help you understand how to teach, how to manage different scenarios and the yogic philosophy that underpins all this.
The training school should be able to tell you what sort of skills they are instilling in their trainees. And the sort of classes you will be able to teach. Some courses teach trainees set class routines, whereas others will aim to give enough understanding that the trainees can create and adapt classes to teach a variety of students.
6. Where to study
If you know you want to teach and where you want to teach, consider learning within a course or tradition that is known and respected by your choice of teaching venue. There are SO many courses out there that a lot of studios will only take trainees who have passed through specific programmes. Many of the Bristol City Yoga teachers (our sister company) trained at Bristol School of Yoga, for example. Many reputable studios are less likely to hire graduates from courses or teachers they are not familiar with.
Also worth factoring in is the fact that yoga teacher training gives you the wonderful chance to meet a new group of potentially life-long friends, so it’s great if you can see your yoga community from time to time for support.
7. Daily structure
The days should allow for varied learning and experience so that you can stay as attentive as possible throughout the day. If the course is structured to fit in with other classes a studio has running, its unlikely to be ideal for the yoga teacher trainees. Check the timings and the intelligence of how each day is set up. There should specific learning objectives for each day.
8. Number of trainees
You may have some idea of how many people you prefer to study with already. For yoga, it can feel important to have a tutor “see” you to be able to support you specifically in your way of study and learning. This can feel difficult in a large group. Some of the larger studios have courses of 30+ trainees which may limit tutor interaction or group cohesion.
9. Should I prepare?
Before any yoga TT it’s a good idea to establish a relationship with a teacher by regularly attending the same teacher’s classes and asking for advice. If you can let your teacher know you are thinking about the training they are more likely to offer you some advice and support (hopefully!). It also really pays to have a good knowledge of how to do the basic standing and seated poses, so that you are more ready to describe them for someone else. Saying that few of us ever think we are good enough! SO if you’ve had a good solid practice for a couple of years or more why not explore further.
10. Finding the perfect time
Often potential trainees are waiting for the perfect moment to study. But like everything else in life, the time for yoga training is unlikely to just materialise unless we take a step towards it!
Some courses may more easily fit with your schedule like escaping for a month-long training somewhere exotic and warm, or you may need a weekend only course to keep the day job going. Every option has its advantages and disadvantages but the longer courses definitely have the advantage of time, to integrate what you learn as you go along. A shorter course may leave you inspired, but with less practical support in place once you return home. You need to weigh up the pros and cons, pick the option that suits your desires and needs and DIVE IN! You won’t regret it…