Choosing the right yoga teacher training course
The step from deciding to become a yoga teacher to choosing the right yoga teacher training course is a big one. There are several factors to consider before taking the plunge and applying for a program. This will be a transformational period of your life – and a big financial investment too – so it’s essential when choosing a yoga teacher training course that the course is absolutely right for you.
There’s been a huge increase in recent years of people becoming yoga teachers, as well as the number of institutions offering yoga teacher training qualifications. It’s a crowded and confusing marketplace, which may be daunting when you first begin your research.
Everyone has different motivations, priorities, and needs. And while choosing the right yoga teacher training course is entirely personal and subjective, there are a few fundamental questions to ask which will make your search easier. To avoid making the wrong choice, ask the following questions about a yoga teacher training course before applying.
- Is the course accredited?
- Does the course content meet your expectations?
- How connected are you to the course tutor
- Is the location aligned to your motivations?
- Does the class size guarantee a tailored experience?
- How realistic are the timeframe and cost?
Is the course accredited?
This is undoubtedly the most important question to ask when choosing the right yoga teacher training course. It’s actually the simplest way to narrow your search. While there are hundreds of yoga teacher training qualifications available, not all are delivered by tutors/organisations actually accredited by a recognised body to train prospective yoga teachers.
Choosing an accredited course will ensure you gain an industry-recognised qualification at the end of it. That means it will meet the exacting standards set out by the yoga profession. It’ll help you avoid spending thousands of pounds on a substandard course too. Yes, there are some excellent non-accredited yoga teacher training courses, but because literally anyone can create and deliver a yoga teacher training course, many are of poor quality.
By completing an accredited course you will also be eligible for insurance to teach yoga. This, in turn, will improve your chances of getting hired by a studio.
You can read about the different accreditation bodies for yoga here, as well as reasons why you might decide to choose a course accredited by one yoga teacher training body and not another. It’s entirely up to you which one you go for, though you may want to think about the values and standards of the different bodies, as well as the benefits they offer to qualified teachers.
Again, our article ‘The different yoga accreditation bodies explained’ will help inform your decision and ensure you choose a yoga teacher training course that is right for you.
Does the course content meet your expectations?
Most accredited yoga teacher training courses will dedicate a set number of hours to teaching anatomy, physiology, and meditation, as well as the history and philosophy of yoga. The best courses have modules on running a successful yoga business too. Different schools and teachers, however, will emphasise certain areas over others. That’s why it’s important to scrutinise the course content and make sure it meets your needs and expectations.
- Are you someone desperate to explore the spiritual teachings of yoga?
- Do you want to develop your skills within a particular yoga style?
- Is the art of teaching itself something you want to improve on?
- Would intensive training in anatomy and physiology suit you best?
Some yoga teacher training courses do offer a broad overview of different aspects of teaching yoga, and if a holistic approach will benefit you the most, then make sure you choose a course with a good balance of content.
Regardless of whether you’re seeking a niche or generic yoga teacher training program, always ensure that the course offers a thorough insight into the anatomy and physiology of teaching yoga.
This critical area is one that most prospective yoga teachers know the least about. And it’s guaranteed, that when to embark on your yoga teaching career, students will expect you to offer specific yoga solutions to various physical ailments. If you can knowledgeably talk about the inner workings of the human body and relate it to your practice – adapting your classes rather than giving specific injury advice – it will give a massive boost to your credibility and reputation for results.
How connected are you to the course tutor?
If you’re applying to an accredited yoga teacher training course, it means that the lead tutor on the course will have between 2 and 10 years minimum experience teaching yoga (depending on the accreding body). And if they’ve been teaching that long, they’ll have been practising even longer. But while experience and expertise are important, another critical factor to consider is how connected you are to the course tutor.
If you hope to specialise in teaching a certain yoga style – be it Iyengar, Ashtanga, or Vinyasa – then you should seek out a tutor who practices this style. Sharing a common interest like this will make your yoga teacher training all the more rewarding. And if you’re unsure about what yoga style you want to teach, try out different classes to see what style resonates with you most.
Alternatively, you might find a more meaningful connection with a tutor who doesn’t specialise in a certain style of yoga. If you’d rather learn more about physiology, or how to teach yoga and run a successful business, then find a tutor who isn’t aligned with a yoga lineage. A shared interest in the practical aspects of teaching yoga, rather than a certain style, could offer a better learning experience for you.
Training to become a yoga teacher is a mental as well as a physical journey. You will be challenged emotionally and spiritually as you grow and develop throughout the course. Having a tutor who can offer the right support to you throughout this intense period of your life is essential. Yes, friendship and rapport will build naturally over 200-hours, but it’s a good idea to get to know this person before starting the course too.
- Are you comfortable being around them?
- Do they make you feel positive about yourself?
- What is it about their approach to teaching that makes you smile?
- Would you trust their advice and guidance?
These are searching questions, without a doubt. But having an intimate connection with your yoga teacher training tutor will make the challenges you face during the course all the more worthwhile. And the only way to answer these questions is by attending classes and getting close to potential tutors.
A word of warning here: boundaries are important. The yoga profession has experienced issues of exploitation in the past. Before you commit to a course, be absolutely sure you trust that the tutor will respect your boundaries.
If you already feel part of a prospective tutor’s yoga community, you enjoy their teaching style and are relaxed when talking to them, then you’ve probably found the ideal yoga teacher training course for you.
Is the location aligned to your motivations?
This really comes down to your motivation for training to become a yoga teacher.
For many people, undertaking a yoga teacher training course is an opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills. Whether or not they become a yoga teacher at the end of the course is incidental. It’s the personal journal which counts.
If that’s your mindset, then you have several options about where to study. The world is literally your oyster. Why not take yourself somewhere you’ve never been before and treat your yoga teacher training experience as a chance to explore a new culture or place. There are some fantastic yoga teacher training locations to choose from too – from Bali and Thailand to Greece or Croatia.
People have practised yoga for thousands of years. Those interested in the origins and evolution of yoga should consider doing their yoga teacher training course in India – the place of yoga’s birth.
This is the most authentic yoga experience you can have. Going straight to the source and learning about the yoga asanas, pranayama, and meditation in places steeped in yoga heritage, will offer inspiration likely unmatched anywhere else. Studying in locations such as Goa, Dharamsala or Rishikesh, will only deepen your appreciation for yoga as ancient art.
Gaining an accredited yoga teacher training qualification will enable you to teach yoga anywhere in the world. However, if you’re serious about a yoga teaching career, and want to get started straight away, you should consider training in the place where you want to teach.
Many people who travel abroad to train as yoga teachers find it difficult to integrate the habits they developed back into their daily lives. It all seems like a dream. And, when it comes to getting a teaching job, in many ways, they’re back to square one.
Undertaking a course in the location where you want to teach, however, means you benefit from the opportunity to start building your own community. Furthermore, when it comes to absorbing new information and completing assignments like essays or case studies, being in a familiar environment with fewer distractions may offer a better overall learning experience.
Then again – getting away could be the catalyst you need to get your brain into learning mode!
Remember, once you become a qualified yoga teacher, it doesn’t mean you can’t continue your professional development by completing a different yoga teacher training course somewhere else in the future.
Does the class size guarantee a tailored experience?
Intimacy and personal touch are important attributes to look for when choosing the right yoga teacher training course. The prospect of meeting 20-30 new people all with similar passions as you may appear exciting. In India, for example, it’s not uncommon for yoga teacher training courses to take over 50 students at any one time. A large class, however, will make it difficult to connect with all your peers, as well as get a tailored experience from the tutor.
What does a tailored experience mean?
If you’re someone who likes to ask questions and express ideas, then a smaller class size will allow you to speak your mind and not feel like your opinions are overlooked. And if you value being listened to and enjoy personal attention, again, smaller groups enable tutors to engage more with individuals. They can also offer feedback and advice beyond the parameters of the teaching program.
Ideally, you should choose a yoga teacher training course with a class size of 15 people or less. That way it will facilitate closeness and help you build rapport with your peers and tutor alike.
Whether you’re heading overseas, training with a national yoga franchise, or a local independent studio, be sure to enquire about class sizes and the level of personal contact you receive.
How realistic are the timeframe and cost?
Whatever route you take, training to become a yoga teacher will require you to sacrifice your time, money, and energy. That’s why it’s important to be realistic in your estimations vis a vis your motivations.
Your personal circumstances (job, family, budget, etc.) will really dictate how long you spend training to be a yoga teacher, as well as how big your investment is.
Remember, you must take into consideration personal practice, homework, and assessments outside of the taught hours. Some courses will include additional costs too, beyond the quoted price.
An accredited yoga teacher training qualification can cost anywhere between £2,000 and £5,000 on average. Some are even more expensive still. Remember, though, that this is a qualification. You should think of it in the same way as you would if applying to a college or university and training to enter a new profession.
It’s worth shopping around to get an idea of the variances in prices and what’s included. You’ll also gain insight into the different payment options and early bird discounts available, which can influence your decision and help you budget.
If you’re planning to go abroad to study, again, additional costs will come into play. And while you’ll likely incur the costs of flights, the cost of accommodation and food may be included in the overall price. Be absolutely sure before you book a place.
Some yoga teacher training courses will also require you to invest in additional course materials, as well as attend specialist workshops outside of the taught hours. Investigate these hidden costs and factor them into your decision.
Don’t always assume that expensive is the best or that cheapest in the worst. The cost of a yoga teacher training course may depend on the size of the school, the number of tutors, etc. That doesn’t mean it’ll be a better or poorer quality experience overall.
It comes down to how highly you value certain factors, and whether the school’s values and approach to teaching resonate with you.
Choosing a yoga teacher training course that’s right for you involves weighing up the costs versus the opportunity. If this means taking a little while longer to save, then use that time to go even deeper with your practice and prepare yourself for the challenge ahead.
Yoga teacher training courses that are accredited by a professional body typically include 200 taught hours. This is the minimum number of hours you need to clock up before you can get insured to teach. Other courses will offer longer programs too, sometimes up to 500 hours, depending on the delivery format.
What’s important to consider is how long you can commit to training to become a yoga teacher.
For example, intensive courses can take place anywhere between two and four weeks. This is a perfect solution if you’re able to book time off work, take a sabbatical, or even leave your job altogether. Remember, though, that to complete a course during this period you’ll be spending anywhere between 10 and 15 hours every day learning about and teaching yoga. That leaves little time to process the information.
If you’re scheduling learning around a full-time job or childcare commitments, most 200-hour yoga teacher training courses last between six months to one year. There are even 18 months to two-year options, with more taught hours overall. Classes on these longer courses will take place during evenings and weekends.
Some yoga teacher training courses may include a mixture of online and face-to-face learning too, while others are taught completely online.
The longer you spend training to become a yoga teacher the more likely the habits you learn during that period will become ingrained in your life. Students who undertake six to 12-month courses, usually find the time spent developing their home practice, and reading around the subject, means they go above and beyond the standard 200 hours.
When choosing a yoga teacher training course, be realistic about the time you can commit, as well as what learning format and schedule are best suited to your needs. And always ask yourself: How much does the school care about your overall learning experience?
Are you ready to choose the right yoga teacher training course?
If you’ve read the above and find you’re even more determined to train to become a yoga teacher, then it’s probably time to explore your options further. Find out more about Newcastle Yoga School’s 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training Course here.