Yoga Teacher Training Questions, Tips & FAQs
If you are anything like me, at some point early in your entrée to the yoga world, you experienced a blissful high at the end of a yoga class. In the beginning you may have been pessimistic, questioning if this feeling was “real” or just some figment of your imagination. The dark clouds following you around before class magically floated away, and those negative or worrisome thoughts either suddenly disappeared or you somehow found distance between you and the negative experience. More importantly, the love, passion, joy you experience while connecting with a lover, child or dear friend became amplified. This is the beauty and magic of yoga! So, shortly after experiencing this high over and over again, you become “hooked”. You cannot wait to take your next class. Then, you come to the realization that a yoga teacher training (YTT) is in your future. Your reasons for pursuing a YTT may range from a desire to deepen your connection with self and/or others in relationships, increasing your understanding of yoga philosophy, learning about creative sequencing and yoga anatomy, or just for personal edification. Personally, I became enamored with the opportunity to share my love and passion for yoga and its effects on the mind and body with others, and being able to contribute to our society in a peaceful and loving way.
After deciding that a YTT is in your future, you are confronted with the looming question, “How do I decide which YTT to take?” Following are a few things to consider to help you navigate the decision making process.
Yoga teacher training tips
The yoga industry is growing by leaps and bounds, so it can be a dizzying process wading through all the information available. To consolidate the many directions one can go in when deciding on the appropriate YTT, following are some tips that will hopefully save you time and mental energy.
- First and foremost, do your research!
- Gain clarity in what it is you are seeking as you ponder the idea of taking a YTT. What is it that makes you feel drawn to completing a YTT?
- Do you have the space in your life to commit to a YTT? If so, what does that look like for you? This will help you to determine whether you want to do an intensive or longer training, and if in person or online is more feasible.
- Style of yoga that most resonates with your needs, the emphasis of the training, mode of dissemination (e.g., online or at a studio), location, and price.
Along with these tips are some of the more common questions that arise for aspiring yoga teachers:
How long to practice yoga before teacher training?
My personal perspective is such that if you feel connected to your practice in some meaningful way and can commit to your own practice, whether physical or spiritual, then it seems appropriate to pursue a YTT. So, even if you have only practiced for one month or one year, it is really about what feels right for you. Some students approach a teacher training as if it were a hurdle to overcome in order to advance to the next level in life. If this is your mindset, perhaps it is best to spend more time gaining clarity around the underlying reason(s) for becoming a yoga instructor. It is a big investment, from both a time and financial perspective. Some students get swept away by the yoga frenzy. In the end, it is about the intention underlying the desire to pursue a teacher training then it is how long a person has practiced, or whether or not he/she has a “strong” practice.
What is yoga teacher training like?
Yoga teacher trainings can vary depending on everything from the emphasis to the mode of training and style of yoga being taught. The onus is on the student to do research to understand what is being offered in the training and thinking about how this lines up with his/her underlying intention for taking a YTT. For example, taking a YTT while sitting at your desk in a home office has a much different feel from an in-person training. Again, tune into what feels right for you.
Because of the involvement of Yoga Alliance (YA), a nonprofit organization that has created standards for teacher trainings in the yoga industry, YA approved trainings will touch upon the following in some way: yoga philosophy, alignment, anatomy, meditation, breathing techniques, and self-practice. The teacher also has the opportunity to upgrade from a regular certification to obtain recognition as an “experienced registered yoga teacher” (E-RYT). This upgrade requires a certain number of hours of teaching experience. YA offers trainings that provide 200, 300 or 500-hour certifications. Most yoga teachers complete the 200-hour training. To obtain additional information, go to YA’s website (Yoga Alliance).
What does it take to become a yoga instructor?
As mentioned previously, it is not so much about the physical asana practice. Whether you can do a “perfect” standing bow pose, or jump back from crow and move through a beautiful and seemless vinyasa, is irrelevant. It is much more about your dedication and commitment to the practice. Having been on both sides, a teacher and a student, the message being communicated by the teacher is so much more palpable if done in a genuine and authentic way. Students pick up on this energy. Having said this, given the frenzy that yoga has created, whether your intention is to provide a kick ass workout or to eloquently weave in yoga philosophy, there will be a ripe audience in the yoga community. All this to say, the more transparent from the outset a student is about his/her desires and goals to become an instructor, the more he/she can teach from an open and loving space.
Some characteristics often associated with being a successful yoga instructor:
- Love for the practice
- Living your practice
Other things to consider when becoming a yoga instructor are the audience you want to teach to. If you are interested in teaching at a gym or your local studio, most require that you have a YA approved (e.g., 200, 300 hour) certification and may even require that you complete the teacher training offered through the studio of interest.
What to expect from yoga teacher training
Again, this links back to the type of training you are pursuing. Some YTT are destination oriented; so, it could be about your desire to want to travel to a far off place with beautiful oceans, rest and relaxation, and amazing food. If this is your calling, then seek out this type of training. If you are more interested in something more spiritual or psychology based, then narrow your search to look for YTTs with this emphasis. Talking to other students who have completed trainings can also be beneficial. Ultimately, regardless of style or type, you will notice significant shifts in your mind and body, gain insurmountable clarity, and may find yourself doing things you never imagined possible like pursuing career or relationship endeavors that seemed unfathomable prior to your training.
Check out YogiTimes article about online yoga schools.