How to choose a Yoga Teacher Training

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If so, then you may be interested in doing a Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). Google the words 'Yoga Teacher Training' and endless listings will emerge. You will find trainings offered in every nook and cranny of the earth, from traditional 'Mysore Ashtanga' to 'Iron Yogi Turbo Vinyasa'. Courses from 2 days to 2 year intensives. Technology is a powerful tool for research and discovery, however, it can be extremely overwhelming when you are looking to invest your money, time and heart into the best training for you. 

There are many factors to consider when choosing any training...

Below are my key aspects to look for when choosing your yoga teacher training. I share this from personal experience after numerous Yoga Teacher Trainings and hope this helps you to begin your journey...

1. What style of yoga should I choose for my first teacher training? 

Hatha. Anusara. Ashtanga. Restorative. Vinyasa. Kundalini. Power. Bikram. Jivamukti. Sivananda. 

These are just a few examples of the most commonly practiced, but the list is endless: yoga comes in all shapes & styles. Most of time time what you are exposed to in your regular yoga practice or studio, is what you will naturally be drawn to for your training. Keep in mind that the practices we avoid may be the most nourishing for our bodies & minds. For example, if you practice power vinyasa without a consistent pranayama or meditation practice, you may be adding tension and stress to the nervous system through too much intensity. On the other end of the spectrum, if your daily practice is more restorative, you may be lacking the energy, agni (fire) or strength that a heating pranayama or asana practice can bring.

The key in any thorough teaching training is balance, just like in our yoga practice. Look for a YTT which is integral and will include different practices and experiences.  

A training which includes multiple teachers is highly recommended as each teacher has their own unique capacities. Often these trainings will bring together a group of teachers who have a common ground for their foundation (for ex: Anusara lineage) however, they will specialize in certain areas - therefore they can convey less information to you, more effectively. For example, an asana teacher can understand anatomy from sensation and intuition, but may not be able to translate it into anatomical terms. Hence, the importance of an anatomy teachers influence and experience specifically in this field.

Most importantly, each teacher will bring their own unique life experiences and perspectives which are a blend from their previous teachers (and thier teachers, and so on!) so that you are essentially learning from many generations. 

*If there is a particular type of yoga you know you would like to specialize in then my recommendation is the same. For example, look for a training which specializes in 'Restorative Yin' (or whatever your interest is) which encompasses multiple teachers and is well organized so you can see the breakdown of the content taught. 

2. What is Yoga Alliance and why is it important?

Yoga Alliance is a non-profit association representing yoga teachers, schools and studios world wide. Yoga Alliance has compiled a certain amount of requirements in order to become 'registered' under their qualifications. YA has become an internationally recognized organization and has helped to create a standardization of trainings. When you take a training recognized by YA you will be certified under Registered Yoga Training (RYT), which will give you traditional and practical education and allow you to teach worldwide.

For example, each 200 hour yoga teacher training which is registered under YA will include:

100 hours of Techniques, Training & Practice: traditional yoga techniques (asana, pranayama, meditation, kirtan, mantra, kriyas, chanting, etc.)

25 hours of Teaching Methodology: communication & business skills, demonstrating, assisting, observation, etc.

20 hours of Anatomy & Physiology: physical bodily systems, energetic bodily systems, etc.

30 hours of Philosophy, Lifestyle & Ethics: traditional texts, such as the Yoga Sutras and Hatha Yoga Pradipika, student relationships and community, understanding the value of teaching yoga as a service to others, etc.

10 hours of Practicum: practice teaching, observing and giving feedback, etc.

These are the most basic and necessary tools you will need to teach. You do not need to understand it all from the beginning (and believe me it takes years to integrate fully!) but it is important to set up a strong foundation from the beginning. 

*Keep in mind there are many trainings that are not RYT (Registered Yoga Trainings with YA) and may be as in depth and thorough - YA is simply the most internationally recognized and if you plan on teachings in studios, many will require RYT education. 

Should I know one of the teachers before I commit to their training?

Not necessarily, however it is extremely helpful if you, or a friend has practiced with them before. This will give you a sense of security knowing that the teacher is genuine and qualified. I have found that teachers who are older are the ones who are well established in their own practices, have spent time with experienced teachers, and have life experiences to add. This doesn't mean a younger teacher cannot translate the teachings as effectively, but be discerning in who you choose to learn from. The power to share teachings from personal experience (and embody the teachings off the mat!) is the difference between an experienced teacher of yoga, and an experienced teacher of asana.

Experience, authenticity and humility are key factors I looks for in teachers and mentors, and I encourage you to do the same.

There is nothing more inspiring than to absorb the profound philosophies from teachers who have devoted their lives to learning, teaching and living the path of yoga. 

3. Which part of the world should I do my training?

Go with the training that speaks to you. Trust your intuition and follow your heart. Do not take a training in Fiji because you have always wanted to swim in crystal clear waters. Do not train in Mumbai if you hate cities, just because you want the 'authentic' Indian experience. Do not choose a training in your city/state/country because it is the closest and cheapest...

Give yourself time to research and narrow down your options depending on what type of environment nourishes you. Do you learn better when you are in a more disciplined atmosphere? Do you need a location which will enable you to stay in touch with children or loved ones? If you can take time away from your daily routine and life (work, family, friends, internet) then I highly encourage you to do this.

A training should create a space which will aid you in the purification process. 

Give yourself this 'time out' and encourage yourself to be off the grid. Disconnect to reconnect. Part of the challenge and experience of a YTT is traveling to unknown places, both physically and mentally. For many, to complete a training outside of your normal context of life and comfort zone, can help to create more focus and immerse yourself fully.  Ultimately, every ones situation (due to work, children, finances) will be different, so choose the training which feels right for you at this moment in your life.

4. I am new to yoga but I am interested in taking a training, can I?

Of course! There are trainings for all levels, beginners - advanced. A 200 hour Yoga Alliance training is a good place to start. Many people decide to take a YTT simply to further their own knowledge for a self-practice and never intend on teaching. This is completely normal. If you have a strong desire to further your practice and are open to a new experience you will be welcome into any training. Make sure your intention is aligned with the training and not an excuse to travel or feel yoga is a trendy profession you want to pursue. 

Immerse yourself wholeheartedly in the experience and don't look back! 

5. Where do I begin my research?

Online is always available and at our fingertips, but the best thing you can do is get involved personally in your local yoga community. Explore multiple studios/teachers and get to know as many like-minded people as possible. Reach out to experienced teachers and other students who can give you recommendations on teachers and courses they have done in the past. If you are hesitant, treat yourself to a weekend workshop immersion or yoga retreat before signing up for a YTT to experience what it feels like to immerse yourself in the practices.

I'm still totally!

As with any subject you study, the first lessons are an introduction. Your first teacher training can resemble the teeny, tiny tip of an ice berg which leaves you feeling inspired and enthusiastic to explore the rest of the iceberg. It is an endless journey and one that will always evolve depending on the phases of your life. 

An intensive training course can also leave you feeling overwhelmed, as you are suddenly opened to new philosophies and ways of living. It will most definitely encourage you to take a closer look at your current life (relationships, habits, patterns) and become aware of what is inhibiting or nourishing you. The deeper into the yoga journey you go, the more sensitive you become as your awareness moves from the physical to subtle. Remember that everything we need to know is with us at this moment and that our lives are unfolding in perfection. You will absorb whatever it is you are meant to learn/take away from an experience in life (or training course). Trust that with steady practice and a burning desire to awaken your true self, the more the knowledge will sink in and begin to trickle off the mat into all aspects of your life. 

I guarantee that your first teacher training is definitely not your last!

So relax.

Breathe deep.

Enjoy the journey and don't rush the process. 

Stay present to the beauty of studentship and know you are continually learning and growing. There is no 'perfect' yoga teacher and no 'perfect' training so do your best to choose teachers and a training that inspires you in this moment of your life, and let go of the end result.

Walk into any training (your first or fifteenth) with a beginners mind... 

Release any expectations and know that any YTT you do will be physically, mentally and emotionally challenging, yet 100% transformational. It will open your eyes to a new way of living. It will help you travel deep within, past your ego and external attachments. It will lead you to reveal the most happy & healthy version of yourself...and ultimately guide you to be of service to others by sharing this positivity and love.

Below are some teachers I know personally, respect deeply and would recommend their trainings in a heartbeat! Others have been recommended within the yoga community and are highly experienced...

Suzanne Faith Yoga

Yoga Arts

Elena Brower

Rachel Zinman

Shiva Rae

Janet Stone

Chris Chavez

Nico Luce

Noah Maze

Sianna Sherman