Why is it so important to have the right information, and why should you care?
Becoming a yoga teacher is an exciting time in any students life and participating in a teacher training course can often have life-changing effects. Not only do you gain a deeper knowledge of yoga philosophy, history and application, and are able to perfect your physical practice; it also allows for an individual to shift career completely, to make deeply rooted friendships and to be able to pass on to others the knowledge of a practice they are truely passionate about.
However, it is very important to choose a yoga teacher training that is best suited to your own individual self. When looking for a training, it may be helpful to consider the following points:
- Yoga style. Anyone who has been in the yoga world for a while knows that the styles of yoga are endless. One could almost say that there are as many styles as there are teachers, ranging from kundalini through yin to bikram or ashtanga. Now this may seem quite obvious, but making sure you love the style of yoga that is taught is of utmost importantance. Someone who enjoys a fiery practice such as power yoga may end up miserable taking a teacher training in Iyengar yoga.
- Teacher. It is highly advisable to know your teacher before you sign up to their teacher training. If you have been going to a certain teacher for some time, you will be familiar not only with the style of yoga they teach, but also how they teach – do they integrate asana with philosophy, do they play music, are their classes too physically challenging for you etc. These are all import points to consider, as you will be spending many hours with that one teacher, so the energetics between the two of you need to work. Another advantage is that they will be familiar with your asana practice – know your weaknesses and strengths. They can help prepare you for the training with certain poses or advise you if it is perhaps better for you to wait before embarking on a teacher’s path.
Unfortunately it is not always possible to meet your teacher before the training, so make sure at least your are passionate about the yoga style. Itself. If you haven’t met the teacher personally , try to exchange a few messages via email or set up a skype conversation. Choosing a teacher based on a friend recommendation can also be a good idea, but make sure your friend is into the same yoga style as you are.
- Requirements/pre-requisites. Some trainings may have specific requirements, for example they may ask you have been practicing yoga for a minimum of 2 years or to be able to hold certain asanas for a given amount of time. Others may want you to have completed a given number of workshops with senior teacher before applying to a teacher training. Make sure you fulfill these requirements. It is no fun when everyone else in the room is able to balance on their heads and you are the only one falling around all over the place! Not only may it make you feel embarrassed but it will also prevent the teacher from being able to guide the other students deeper into their practice.
- Format of teaching. Yoga teacher training schedules are varied and diverse ranging from 3 week intensives to 3 year courses. Each has it’s own benefit. Intensives give you a large amount of knowledge in a short period of time and in the long run are less of a commitment that longer courses. As the name suggests, however, they can be rather intensive with rigorous schedules and a great deal of information to learn in a short space of time. Longer courses allow you to start to integrate what you are learning over a greater stretch of time. Thus they give you more space to apply your newly gained knowledge in your day-to-day life. When choosing a teaching format, make sure you can commit to it. Also, try to assess how you learn best – can you pick up things easily or do you prefer to have more time to assimilate.
- Topics covered. Some trainings may spend more time teaching assisting, others may focus strongly on philosophy. Courses may or may not include pranayama. Make sure you see a timetable of the course. Firstly it will allow you to see what to expect from the training timewise, for example, will you be starting at 6am with a meditation or go straight into learning philosophy at 10am. Secondly, you will be able to see how much time is spent on each area – is the majority of teaching time spent on deepening your own practice or on learning anatomy. Thirdly, it should give you an overview of the topics you can expect to cover. That way you can make sure you will be learning what interests you the most.
- Certification. Always make sure you are taking an accredited teacher training! However, it is important to note that there are various yoga teaching bodies, depending on which country you live in. A British Wheel of Yoga certified course may not bear as much weight in the US as a Yoga Alliance International one for example. Check that the governing yoga body in your country will accept your training qualification or contact studios to verify this beforehand.
- Price. The prices for yoga teacher trainings vary enormously and although it may be an important factor, it should not be your deciding one. That being said, more expensive does not necessarily mean better quality. Many programmes offer different payment schemes such as paying in installments or spreading out your payments over a number of months. Do not allow the price to put you off, talk to the teacher about how you can make it work for you. Also, keep your eye out for early bird prices that can often be up to 20% cheaper.
- Location. The price of a teacher training is often linked to its location. Although doing a training in the Himalayas may sound appealing, you may find it easier to assimilate what you are learning from the comfort of your own home. Training in your home town provides another advantage – it allows you to build a network of people that you can surround yourself with after the training itself has finished. It can also help you build connections with already established teachers in your area. Alternatively, perhaps you need to get out of your regular routine and doing a training in an exotic place such as Bali may provide you with that fresh start you are looking for.
- What is included in the price? Some trainings may include food and board while others will only cover tuition fees. Also, you may be required to purchase additional teaching materials, props or attend workshops prior to the training. Make sure you do the maths and work out how much your training will cost you altogether. If food is provided, what kind of food is it? Will it suit your dietary needs? If you need to find your own accommodation, will you be able to find a reasonably priced place to stay? Do need your own space or will you feel comfortable sharing a room/dormitory? All this should be taken into account when making a choice.
- Expectations. Ask yourself – why am I applying for this teacher training? Do you have a genuine desire to teach, or is it just something that seems like a good idea for some time in the future? Perhaps you are better of waiting a few months until you feel fully committed. That being said, you can do a teacher training for reasons other than wanting to teach. Maybe you want to simply deepen your practice. In that case, it may be more valuable for you to do a retreat where you have numerous asana classes a day. A yoga teacher training is a big investment timewise, financially, and emotionally. Make sure you chose yours for the right reason.
Nowadays there are so many yoga teacher trainings available and each has its own uniqueness. But with such a variety, choosing can become difficult. Use the above guidelines to help pick the training that is right for you. If all else fails, just go with your gut feeling. Instincts and intuition is so much stronger than we realize and if we truly tune in to them, we are bound to make the right decision.
Finally, make sure you have fun. Teaching yoga is about doing what you love. And as long as you are truly passionate about learning, you will a good time no matter what training you do.