So you’re about to invest money and time into finally completing a Yoga Teacher Training. It’s super important to do your research and ask the right questions.
I’ve heard a few horror stories of how people invested so much time and money and were disappointed with the course work (or lack of), the knowledge of the teachers, the unreliability (for example, a studio closed), or the harshness of the trainers.
Teacher trainings are life changing, so you want it to be a positive experience all around. Here are some tips and questions to ask when choosing the right one for you.
1. What’s your intention?
Do you want to deepen your practice? Do you want to teach? Know that your intention may change during the program (you may not want to teach in the beginning and then at the end you may decide to teach).
If you’re looking for a quick fix but not a longer commitment, then consider a workshop, series or retreat instead of a teacher training. If you want a life changing experience, then yoga trainings are it.
Your intention will also determine what kind of teacher training you decide to sign up for. There are many specialties out there – maybe the 200-hour level, 300-hour level, prenatal, restorative yoga, and so on.
2. Who are the teachers? How much experience do they have? What’s their intention for creating the teacher training?
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT TO READ!
Find out how long they’ve been teaching or are they newer? Have they been teaching at various places? What’s their intention for creating the program? Do you know them, the studio, or their organization?
Some teachers think it’ll be cool or fun to teach a teacher training or they feel it’ll make them more popular and make them money when they’ve only had 2 or 3 years teaching experience.
Unfortunately, it brings the yoga industry down. The quality of the training is lower (even if they are registered with Yoga Alliance as Yoga Alliance cannot do an audit on all the trainings). It’s leading to way too many teachers graduating looking for teaching positions and some don’t have strong teaching skills because of the training.
It also takes years of dedication to showing up to teach when you have a full class or when you have 1 person, when someone has one type of injury and another a different type of injury. It takes years to know when and how you can help a student and when to be a silent support for a person, or when to gently guide them to go further or when to back off.
Find out more about the teacher and ALL the trainers – take a class with them, ask to chat with them, check them out on social media, ask them when they took their teacher training, do they have extensive training in the area they’ll be teaching, ask them how many trainings they’ve taken, ask them how long they’ve been teaching, and ask people and graduates about them. Find out if they’re constantly upgrading their teaching skills, are they vulnerable in their own journey or do they preach what they think people want to hear (you’ll feel it inside).
Does their teaching style and the things they say resonate with you? Teacher trainings can be deeply emotional and transformational, do the teachers have experience in this happening and can they help provide a safe space?
Bottom line – CHOOSE WISELY!
3. What style do you want to teach?
There are many different styles of yoga. If it says specifically it’s Ashtanga, Kids’, Prenatal or Restorative, then you know what you’re signing up for. If the training says it’s 200-hours, or in Hatha or Vinyasa, then attend the teacher’s class to get a feel for their style as those titles are used more broadly. Ask them what styles they were trained in – this will influence their teacher training.
4. What’s your budget?
Money will determine where and when you’ll take your teacher training. Ask about payment plans. Ask about added costs (like textbooks, classes, etc.).
If money is tight: Do they have a discount if you help out at the studio (energy exchange positions)? Do they offer a scholarship? Yoga Alliance also provides scholarships.
At Chrysalis Yoga we offer a discount for our employees and volunteers, and we award a scholarship to the person who needs financial aid, is helping the community and has been wanting to do the teacher training for a while.
5. How will it fit in your life?
Some trainings are one month in length, some you can do on weekends. Look at your job, life situation, energy levels, and your learning ability.
A month long teacher training may suit you if you have the money for the training, accommodation, food, extra money to explore the area and do other activities, and pay for airline tickets. Consider time off from your work and life and who will look after things while you’re gone.
Trainings close to home that are spread over a number of weekends avoid the burn out effect (that can occur in month-long trainings). They allow you time to digest the information and apply it to your life. They tend to be more affordable and even though you’ll still need to ask your family to help out, it won’t be as much as month-long trainings.
6. What is the course work like and how does the training teach you to teach (especially if you’re nervous or shy)?
How much effort do they put into the training? This is usually reflected in their course work and materials. Ask to look at their course work and schedule.
Do they regularly update the information (based on their acquired skills, keeping up with the changes in the industry, and changes in their teacher training)?
How much knowledge and training does the person who’s teaching the different sections have in that particular area (i.e. anatomy, yoga philosophy, Ayurveda)?
How do they teach you to teach? Do they throw you in as soon as you arrive or do they ease you into it? Do you teach in front of the entire group or do you teach in small groups? Do they build on your teaching skills or want you to teach right away?
7. What do recent graduates say?
If they’re registered with Yoga Alliance, there’ll be some reviews on there. Are there testimonials on the teacher training website? Reach out personally to some graduates and attend the graduates’ classes.
8. Is there on-going support and access to the lead trainers?
Yoga is a very powerful practice, and you can also feel vulnerable teaching. You may end up with questions or feel you need that added support after the training. Some trainings will give you a certificate with no support afterward (i.e. support by offering you classes to start teaching, added resources, continuing education options, mentorship, access to the trainers for questions and support). Trainings at a local studio may offer a different support (as the teachers are there physically) than those away (which may be through email).
9. Is it registered with Yoga Alliance
Yoga Alliance is a self-regulated organization (meaning – not associated with the government) that governs yoga teachers and organizations. When a yoga school applies to have their training accredited, they have to submit a curriculum. This is based on honesty from the person submitting it as Yoga Alliance doesn’t do an in-depth investigation. There are also different yoga alliances for different countries. Do your research.
10. How many trainees do they accept?
A smaller group (of about 20) will mean you’ll get a little more attention than a larger group of (50). Find out if they have assistants helping. With larger groups, it may be harder to ask questions and get the answers you need.
11. Will you learn how to prepare beginners and help those with injuries? Will you learn how to guide intermediate to advanced students?
This again goes back to attending their classes. When you attend their class, ask: Are their instructions clear and direct? Do they give modifications? Do they practice yoga when they teach (not really teaching or observing their students) or do they walk around and help those who are struggling and give them modifications?
Ask the trainer about how to keep someone safe in a twist, a backbend or inversion? What are the contra-indications for a headstand? See what their answers are – this will give you an idea of their knowledge.
If they can’t do advanced poses, can they give options to those who want to go further?
A good instructor will know how to teach to all levels in the class. They won’t get flustered if a student has an injury and will not hold a student back because they don’t want to explore advanced poses themselves.
12. Does the trainer (or trainers) have a thriving business?
Not all popular teachers are great teachers. However, most students follow their teachers for a reason, and they’ll be well liked. Does the trainer have a strong following? Do they have experience in workshops, classes, studio stuff, and other yoga business topics? Or do they hop from one studio to another and don’t have strong relationships in the community? All these will tell you what kind of teacher they are and hopefully, they can impart great skills to you if they are experienced enough.
13. What does your intuition say?
Lastly, you have to trust your intuition. You may not connect with faculty when you meet them, and it may just simply be that you don’t mesh (even if they’re great). It’s not a reflection on them or you – it’s just not a fit. It may not be the right time with that particular training, and that’s ok. Stop and listen to what your heart is telling you to do. Then fully commit and enjoy.