Teacher Training: Are You Ready?
For many of us, discovering yoga was a lot like falling in
love—the surrender, the glow, the longing for more. If you’ve arrived at that
point where you yearn for a deeper commitment—you want to become a teacher or
to explore beyond the boundaries of 90-minute classes—you may be thinking about
attending a teacher training program.
But how do you choose when there are currently more than a
thousand training programs registered with Yoga Alliance? To clarify, Yoga Alliance (YA) is a
national organization that supports yoga teachers and establishes education
standards. Though you can become a “certified yoga teacher” in as little as a
weekend, such programs do not meet YA’s standards, now
considered a benchmark by many studios hiring new teachers. YA standards
include a minimum of 200 hours covering asana technique,
anatomy, yogic philosophy, and other subjects.
your program registered by Yoga Alliance?” This is the most common question
prospective students ask, according to Sydney Pinkerton, who often fields
questions about teacher training in her role as manager of 7 Centers Yoga Arts, Sedona, AZ. Because
yoga training is a serious commitment in terms of time and money, there are
many questions to consider. Does tuition include books, materials, and required
workshops? Is the program residential or do students need to arrange housing?
Are meals included? How much will travel expenses add to the final cost? Does
the school’s lineage require personal or financial commitments after
Though core requirements and costs may make training
programs appear similar, each has its own a distinct flavor. “It’s like comparing
apples and oranges,” according to Pinkerton.
To decide which program is the best fit for you, she suggests beginning
by identifying your needs and goals. Do you want to teach? Where? Is teaching
in a particular style
(Ashtanga, Iyengar, Kripalu, Anusara,
Jivamukti, Bikram, etc.) important to you, or would you
prefer a program that offers a broad foundation? Do you want to complete
training in a single, intensive month of study or spread it out over several
The most likely disappointment, according to Pinkerton,
happens when a training program doesn’t meet the student’s expectations. To
learn more about what to expect from a program, she recommends asking the
school for a list of recent graduates so that you can talk to them about their
experiences. It’s a good way to find out what a typical training day or week is
like and how you can prepare yourself mentally and physically. It’s also a good
way to find out more about the program’s teachers, adding to what you learn
from the bios and resumes posted on the school’s web site.
Pinkerton believes that one of the most important—but often
unasked—questions concerns a program’s contact with students. While YA standards require a
certain number of contact hours during trainings, the quality of “teacher
time” is harder to measure. Does the program offer the level of mentoring you
need? Will your teachers continue to offer support after you graduate and take
on the role of teacher yourself?
Because no matter which program you choose, one of your
biggest realizations during teacher training will be the moment when it dawns
on you: This is merely the beginning. Like life itself, the vastness of yoga
demands continuing evolution. And even as a teacher, you will always be a
Are you ready?