Choosing a yoga teacher training is not an easy task. It took me many years to figure out what the right “fit” was for me and even then, some of my experiences came with pitfalls.
With a lot of options out there it could be tempting to dive into a yoga teacher training for the wrong reasons. Even with diligent research beforehand you might end up in a training that doesn’t quite “fit” what you’re seeking. Of course, there are learning opportunities everywhere—even in the negative experiences—but there’s something special about discovering a training that elevates you, sometimes in unexpected ways. The first step in choosing a yoga teacher training is asking a few key questions. If you want to receive an education that connects with your core values make sure you consider the following guidelines.
- Does the lead yoga teacher’s style of teaching resonate?
Have you been to a yoga class with this teacher—either in person or online? This is the first step when considering any yoga teacher training. When researching any program you want to be certain you’re thrilled to embody the lead teacher’s yoga practice. Can you imagine being stuck in a program for 200 hours exploring a style that is a far cry from your own? We all want to feel connected to our authentic voice which can only be achieved by studying with someone who expresses our values. If you love that teacher’s style you’ll end up leaving your yoga teacher training feeling excited to share this gift with the world.
A few other ways you might “get to know” a potential teacher and their intention is to read their blog posts and follow them on social media. Getting a feel for what they are like “in real life” along with their teaching philosophy will give you a good idea whether diving into a training with them is a good fit for you.
- Is there a clear outline of what you will learn?
A clear outline of what you will learn in your yoga teacher training should include a well-rounded description of the content that will be offered. This includes topics such as asana (poses), anatomy, teaching methodology, yoga philosophy, and so on. If a course does not have a general layout perhaps the lead teachers don’t either. Becoming a yoga teacher is much more than the physical practice. I would caution potential students with approaching trainings that over emphasize the physical aspects of the practice that dilute the messages of yoga as a whole.
- What is the student vs. teacher ratio?
Is there a class cap in your prospective training? The amount of skilled teachers relative to the class size will have a major impact on the quality of the program and its learning outcomes. In modern yoga teacher trainings it’s very common to have a class of 50 or more with only one lead yoga teacher present. To become a truly effective teacher it requires strong supervision and feedback. Without consistent attention it’s nearly impossible to learn and grow even with a well-rounded curriculum.
Less than 10 students is an absolute treat with one lead teacher however with a skilled teacher it is possible to support 10 – 15 students while still providing a quality education. If there are assistant teachers present a larger class would be appropriate as long as they are also skilled teachers.
- Does the program balance personal and professional development?
There’s a reason the best students become the best teachers. Personal development does not just mean that your warrior 2 has perfect alignment or that you’ve got a killer handstand. Personal development requires students to open up when studying the deeper values of yoga—what surfaces acts as a catalyst for positive change and transformation. Opening up in this way can actually help you hold space for others which brings us to professional development. If teaching is your goal then you must develop skills for leading classes confidently which include public speaking, presence, teaching methodology, knowledge of asana/sequencing/philosophy/safety, and more. To become an effective teacher the balance between personal and professional development should always be highlighted.
- Are you getting to the roots of the practice?
Becoming a yoga teacher is much more than offering students a series of postures. I would caution potential students to avoid trainings that over emphasize the physical aspects of the practice while diluting the messages of yoga as a whole. Although learning the asana (aka poses) is an important aspect of a training when it comes to designing and implementing a class it is not the “end all be all” as a yoga teacher. If this were the case, it would be called “stretching and breathing” class rather than yoga. We have to ask ourselves how the lineage of yoga can be served when passing on the knowledge to others. Ensuring that teachers offer a wide spectrum of learning opportunities—including pranayama, meditation, and philosophy—should be a keen focus implemented by all yoga teacher trainings.
When researching yoga teacher trainings start by asking yourself the important questions. Asking yourself if the teacher’s style resonates with your own will give you clarity of your intention while understanding the course outline will offer you insight into theirs. Knowing the student-to-teacher ratio and the balance of personal vs. professional development can make the quality of the program transparent. Finally, choosing a yoga teacher training that honours the roots of the practice confirms your respect of the traditions at the heart of yoga.
Ready to take the leap into yoga teacher training? If you are confident that I am the perfect fit for you then join me in Whistler this September for Hatha/Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training! Learn more here.
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