Taking a yoga certification course is a wonderful opportunity to dig deeper into your own practice, cultivate your skills, and connect with a community of peers.
However, it's also a big investment - both of your time and money - and it's important to consider your options carefully so that you choose a course that is right for you.
Here are the top five things you should consider before you lay down your deposit.
Teacher training is generally offered in two different formats: long-form and intensive.
A long-form program is scheduled over several months, which gives students ample time to integrate the information and skills that they are learning. Generally, these courses are great for 9-5'ers who have to work during the week or need fit the training in around family obligations. This style course may also be for you if you like to have more time for reflection and study. However, if you choose a long-form program, you will be limited to taking programs in your local area.
Intensive programs cram the teacher training into three weeks. While this kind of program can feel dense and overwhelming, it is perfect for those who want to feel fully immersed in the training experience. Opting for an intensive program also opens up the possibility of traveling abroad to take your training (for example, taking a training on retreat).
However, while the schedule is an important component of choosing your program, I've seen far too many students wind up in an ill-fitted program just because the timing worked. Make sure that the training also meets your other needs (keep reading!).
Choose a training with faculty whom you admire. Keep in mind, the faculty will be teaching you to, well, teach like them! Research the faculty of your program in advance to make sure that you respect their teaching style and resonate with them enough to want to spend 180 hours with them in a classroom.
If your teacher is local, go to their public classes and ask them for a chat afterward. If your teacher is not local, investigate their website, writings, videos, and social media channels. If you want to know more, email them to connect. Any trainer worth their salt will be happy to Skype with you to answer your questions.
3. The Learning Experience
Not all teacher training is created equal. The educational standards of yoga teacher training vary wildly, and registration with Yoga Alliance is no guarantee of quality. If you want to ensure that your training passes muster, then you will need to ask the certifying school some savvy questions to assess if they have their act together. Here are some suggestions:
- What are the learning objectives for this course?
- How do you assess your students?
- What are the specific standards for graduation?
- What is the teaching methodology that I will be learning?
If they cannot answer these questions, then the training has not been built upon sound educational principles.
4. What will you learn?
Taking a power yoga teacher training doesn't make sense unless you love to practice power yoga. There is a myriad of yoga styles developing in the world; some schools focus on asana, others on sequencing, pranayama, meditation, or therapeutics. No two schools are the same.
Make sure that you are signing up to learn something that interests you. Ask the school how much time they spend on various subjects, and make sure that the content lines up with your personal interests.
5. What is the experience?
Most students do not take a teacher training program in order to teach; most students take the training in order to deepen their practice and love for yoga. Before you sign up for your course, ask yourself: what is the experience that I want?
If you are interested in becoming a professional yoga teacher, choose a school with high educational standards and an excellent faculty. If you are doing the training for the love of your own practice and for a personal adventure, then you may not mind having a less structured or less organized experience. If you want to become a professional yoga teacher, then it is a good idea to take your teacher training program at the studio with whom you would ultimately like to teach. If they do not have their own program, then ask the studio manager which training programs they respect. Set yourself up for success by being clear about your goals.
Your first 200-hour yoga training is just the beginning! No 200-hour course will ever be able to teach you everything that you would want to know about yoga. Remember that you are at the start of a great adventure, and the learning never really ends!
About The Writer, Rachel Scott
Rachel is a yoga educator and instructional designer based in Vancouver. She has over 4,000 hours of experience leading teacher training and a Masters of Science in Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies. Known as the "educational expert for yogis," she helps yoga teachers and studios grow their brand and business through excellent education. E-RYT 500, MSci, MFA. Rachelyoga.com. @rachelscottyoga