The Holy Grail of Choosing a Yoga Teacher Training

How to choose the right yoga teacher training is no easy feat. In fact, it might be one of the hardest things I’ve done. Perhaps, I’m just going to say it, harder than deciding on what college to attend. Yoga teacher training is a deeply personal experience. If you’ve read this post, then you already know my feelings about it.

Not only is it a personal experience, it is also a journey that provides students with a massive amount of growth. For me, it all happened in one month. And as I sit here months later, the teachings and lessons are still unraveling.

We all know growth, of any kind, is not easy. It isn’t easy to change, to be a beginner all over again, or to seek. These are all things that you will encounter during a yoga teacher training. This is the very reason it is important to choose the RIGHT training for you and your journey.

I didn’t decide to go to yoga teacher training on a whim- I did lots of research. And I mean LOTS. I went as far as creating a whole bookmark folder on Google Chrome for trainings. I wanted to be confident in my decision and comfortable in my surroundings, fully.

With the right tools choosing the right yoga teacher training is not hard! Here are all the things I took into consideration when it came to choosing the right yoga teacher training for me.

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How to Choose the Right Yoga Teacher Training

What is your intention with the course?

Get clear on why you want to do a yoga teacher training. You don’t have to have it all figured out at first. However, keeping that in the back of your mind as you begin to read about yoga teacher trainings and research schools, will be helpful.

Certain things might stand out to you when looking through schools, write those things down. This can help form your intention and allow you to communicate why you want to go to yoga teacher training. Some things to consider when forming your intentions are: do you want to teach after the course? Are you looking to deepen your practice? Are you seeking personal growth and development? These are all helpful questions to ask when getting clear with your intention.

What style of yoga do you want to teach?

Here’s where to take your own personal practice into consideration. Consider the type of yoga you practice the most and decide if that is the type of yoga you want to teach after completing your yoga teacher training. If you don’t want to teach after, consider the types of yoga you want to dive deeper into.

Some styles of yoga are Hatha (Vinyasa), Ashtanga, Acro, Iyengar, power, kundalini, yin, restorative, trauma informed and yoga therapy. Ultimately, it comes down to what style of yoga speaks to you and what is true to your nature.

Intensive or Extended format

Intensive trainings are typically 8-12 hour days over the course of 3-4 weeks with one day off a week. Whereas extended yoga teacher trainings are spread out over the course of a few months and typically have at least one weekend a month dedicated to the training. Here are some pros and cons of both:

Pros for intensive

  • A full deep dive allowing for a lot of intense growth over a short period of time.
  • You can choose yoga teacher trainings from around the world.
  • You can build strong connections with the other students because, for the most part, you are all experiencing the same thing.

Cons for intensive

  • There is very little time to digest all of your learnings.
  • Can be expensive and hard to leave for one month at a time.

Pros for extended

  • You’re local which means deeper bonds with teachers and connections in the community.
  • More time to digest the teachings and apply your learnings in your everyday life.
  • Typically, these trainings are hosted on weekends which means you don’t have to take time off from work.
  • Less expensive.

Cons for extended

  • You have to dedicate the specific weekends on the training calendar to yoga teacher training.
  • You are in an environment you’re familiar with, with your everyday distractions.
  • There is time in between trainings so it might not be as ‘transformational.’

Weigh out both options and see what is a good fit for you and your experience. No one knows what you want better than you so get real with it and do what is feasible for your lifestyle.

Group size of training

Some schools have more intimate trainings with max capacity of 15 while others have upwards of 50 students in one training.

In an intimate group size, there is more opportunity for one on one’s with the teacher(s). Which allows you to not only develop a deeper bond but to feel comfortable asking any and all questions. You might even develop deeper bonds with the other students as well.

In my experience, I function best in smaller group sizes. My yoga teacher training was a group of 15 other men and women. I felt comfortable asking questions, I got to know the other students on a deep level, I had plenty of one on one time with the teacher, I learned from a lot of different viewpoints, and was exposed to many different body types which is super important in a training (it helps to see what postures and poses look like in varying body types).

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What does Yoga Alliance Certified mean?

Yoga Alliance created the framework required for every yoga school to be a registered yoga school (RYS). This means, students that graduate from a RYS are accredited to teach by Yoga Alliance’s standards. There is a minimum number of hours needed to reach RYS accreditation in each category:

  • Asana/Alignment
  • Anatomy
  • Sequencing
  • Philosophy
  • Prop use and modifications
  • Hands-on adjustments
  • Teaching practice
  • Meditation

So why does it matter? For me, it was important to attend a school that met specific standards for teaching yoga in the West. Plus, some studios require their teachers to be a registered yoga teacher through Yoga Alliance while other studios don’t. I wanted to be in the best position possible to teach and didn’t want to be turned away from a studio in the future because my training wasn’t certified by Yoga Alliance.

Know the type of curriculum you’re looking for

Now that I’ve touched on Yoga Alliance, let’s chat curriculum. While yes Yoga Alliance is optional, many schools strive to be certified reaching certain criteria to do so. Regardless of YA certification or not, curriculums vary.

You will get a good idea for the curriculum in the course description. With courses that meet all hourly requirements for YA, there are some leftover hours to spread out among topics. Some schools and trainings might opt for more hours in philosophy or some anatomy. This is the case for courses that are not registered with Yoga Alliance as well. Just get clear with what you want an emphasis on.

Hours of training

There are a variety of yoga teacher training options when it comes to hours. The base level to become a yoga teacher is an RYT200, as most studios require this. Below a 200hr training, while you will not have the opportunity to teach (most likely), you can still deepen your practice. There are trainings for 100hr, 50hr, 20hr- a little something for everyone.

Above 200hr are the more advanced trainings. After completing a 200hr training, a lot of teachers further their education with 300hr and some 500hr trainings (and beyond). Each training builds on the last, getting more technical and ‘juicier’ as I like to call it. As you journey through becoming a yoga teacher, trainings dive deeper, self-inquiry grows, and techniques sharpen.

Determine your budget

Not only is it important to determine your budget for your yoga teacher training, it is important to know what your “all in costs” will be. All in cost is the complete cost the course will be from start to finish. Staying closer to home, these costs will be lower. However, if you’re choosing an international training the costs will be higher and vary from training to training.

You’ll want to know what is covered in your tuition and what is not. Here are some costs to consider:

  • Reading requirements
  • Meals + snacks
  • Accommodation
  • Transportation – to and from country and within the country
  • Activities outside of the training (like weekend excursions or day trips)

Budgeting for a yoga teacher training is important because, most of the time, becoming a full-time yoga teacher doesn’t generate the same income as say a ‘regular’ full time job. Plus, finding gigs as a new teacher is tough. Luckily, many schools offer early bird discounts, scholarships, work exchange programs (I did this!) and payment plans.

One thing to be aware of are prices that are too good to be true. Chances are, super low-cost trainings don’t have the best quality of instruction for becoming a yoga teacher. From my experience, the cost of yoga teacher trainings varies based on location, quality of facilities and what is included in the tuition. Commonly, prices range anywhere from $1,800 to $8,000.

Location

Now that we’ve covered the basics of how to choose the right teacher training for you, it’s time to focus on location. Are you staying close to home or jetting off to yoga teacher training meccas like India and Bali? If you’re choosing to travel, like I chose to, you’ll want to choose an environment you will be comfortable in, in a place you won’t mind spending an upwards of 20 days in. In a yoga teacher training, there is a lot of growth that is facilitated and sometimes being far from home is hard during such a time so get clear with exactly what you are comfortable with.

For example, if you’ve always wanted to spend time on the beaches of Bali, it might make more sense to do a training on Lembongan or in Canggu instead of the more jungle setting of Ubud. Even though Ubud is not far from Canggu, trainings are long and tiring and chances are you won’t want to venture far on your days off. Same goes for places like India, Mexico, Costa Rica and any other destinations for a yoga teacher training.

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Do your research

Whether you choose a destination or local yoga teacher training, it is important to research because vibes don’t lie! When thinking about how to choose the right yoga teacher training amongst many options, it might feel overwhelming. But start with the schools’ reputation.

Are there a lot of photos? Student testimonials? Information about the school and how it started? The lead teachers? How many trainings have they done? Are they well established in the community?

It is very important to learn about the lead teachers of the program, too. You will be spending 200+ hours with them learning about all things yoga. This in itself is an adjustment, at least I knew it would be for me. I am very close with my teachers at home and their teaching styles are exactly what I like, so experiencing something other than that was daunting at first. Things that helped me were reaching out to past students and learning about Charlotte (my yoga teacher training lead teacher).

Ways to research

  • Reach out to past students.
  • Read Google reviews and Google the name of the school for any related blog posts or news.
  • Dive into the website, read their blogs, student reviews, really learn about the program.
  • Ask questions! Chances are an email will be provided for you to ask any and all questions.
  • Schedule a Zoom or Skype call with course leaders.
  • Look at photos! What’s the quality of them? Are there a lot of photos of the facilities? Do the facilities look like places you wouldn’t mind spending 200+ hours?
  • Look for reviews on booking websites like Book Yoga Retreats.
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How I chose my yoga teacher training

I chose to do my RYT200 at Shades of Yoga in Ubud, Bali in October 2019. Before deciding on which school to go to, I knew I wanted to dive deeper into my Vinyasa practice in a 200hr intensive setting, my schedule is a bit all over the place and ever-changing so committing to an extended program wasn’t the right fit.

Choosing a yoga teacher training was a long winding road, outlined in this post, but once I decided I wanted to go abroad I began looking in two of my favorite places: India an Bali.

First: Rishikesh India. I was sold on the idea of getting my certification in the birthplace of the practice. But I wasn’t finding schools that completely vibed with me and what I was looking for. I then expanded my search to Goa, India and simultaneously Bali. Having been to both Goa and Bali I was in my comfort zone, though I’d spent a lot more time in Bali.

Taking that into consideration, I chose to move forward with schools in Bali. Specifically, Ubud. I was familiar with Ubud, as I had been twice before, it wasn’t too far from the airport in case of emergency, I knew there was a large expat community there, and I loved the sacredness the city held.

Once I narrowed it down to a few schools, I researched the payment options, what was included in the tuition, reached out to past students and researched the lead teachers. From there, I went with my instinct. I chose the best school based on my research and what resonated with me the most.

Frequently asked questions on how to choose the right yoga teacher training

Am I ready?

The only person that knows that, is you. Here are some things I considered that led me to feeling confident in my decision:

  • I was asking questions teachers could no longer answer for me.
  • I became hyper aware of the way my body functions and its limitations.
  • Philosophy of yoga became increasingly interesting to me, outside of asana.
  • I wanted to deepen my meditation practice and simply wanted MORE from my yoga practice.
  • I craved connection- with myself and likeminded people.
  • Sharing this practice became something I wanted to do.

I see there’s an online yoga teacher training course. Should I take that? It looks like it would save me money.

In my opinion, it all depends on what you’re looking to get out of the program. When it comes to yoga, I think in person trainings are best. Especially if your goal is to become a teacher in the end. In an in-person environment you are able to cultivate your voice, get an understanding for how other bodies work and what they look like in poses, you learn body language, you practice hands on adjustments and have ample opportunity to practice teach on other people!

Digital courses are better for niche programs (like kids yoga), for deepening your practice and for gaining more knowledge on specific topics (philosophy).

How do I find past students while researching?

If there aren’t any Google reviews or student testimonials, Facebook and Instagram are great places to look. Once I found the three schools I vibed with the most, I reached out to students that were tagged in their Instagram photos or had written on their Facebook wall. Tagged photos on Instagram is another great place to look for past students! Just send them a DM and state that you’re thinking of taking the schools yoga teacher training and wanted to ask them a couple of questions about their experience.

How do I know a school is legitimate?

Your research should give you a good idea of a trainings legitimacy. By now you’ve done the leg work and really dug deep into the school’s website, social media accounts and have chatted with past students!

I’m not flexible. Should I do a yoga teacher training?

You don’t have to be ‘good’ at yoga or flexible to go to yoga teacher training. By this I mean, you don’t have to be able to do a handstand or contort your body into poses. You simply have to want to deepen your practice and understanding of yoga and the self. Of course, you’ll want to have a solid practice going into an extensive training like a 200hr but by no means are you expected to be an expert or crazy flexible!

How do I continue my education?

There are so many ways to do this! There are countless trainings of shorter durations, workshops, mini courses, and books to read to further your education as a teacher. After all, even though you are a teacher, you are still a student.

yoga hands - How to Choose the Right Yoga Teacher Training

As you can see, how to choose the right yoga teacher training is a process. But these are all things you must consider when making such a personal and financial commitment. I hope this blog post was helpful in your yoga teacher training journey!

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