So you’ve decided to do it. You are ready to sign up and throw down the deposit for your very first 200-hour yoga teacher training. But the question of where to sign up for this life-changing experience requires a little more thought than what studio is closest to your apartment building.
Yoga teacher training is a physically and emotionally challenging experience where you will undoubtedly push yourself personally while stepping into your new role as a teacher. Whether you’re undertaking the training to deepen your own practice, or in hopes of making a career change, remember that you are investing a huge amount of your time, money and energy into this potentially life altering experience.
If you’re ready to get started, but don’t know where to start, let this yoga teacher training check list be your guide.
1. Find a teacher (or teachers). The most important research you need to do should be the fun part—simply take a lot of different yoga classes! If you are already considering entering a program, it’s likely that you already have a style of yoga that resonates with you. Whether that be Iyengar, Ashtanga, Restorative or Vinyasa, start taking classes with master teachers who also direct trainings. If you aren’t settled on a style, this is a great time to take some classes you might not normally attend.
Notice what you like about certain teachers and what you don’t like. Does the teacher give impressive anatomical cues? Does she speak about the spiritual aspects of yoga in a way that moves you? Do you admire the way she gives hands-on assists? The point of a teacher training isn’t to become a carbon copy of your teacher, but the teacher you will become is undoubtedly influenced by your training. Choose your teachers wisely. Note that some trainings are taught by a group of teachers. If the studio you’re considering has more than one teacher leading the training, it’s worth checking out each one if you can.
2. Consider your schedule. While many of us have fantasies of living the yoga studio life when signing up for a training, most aren’t ready to quit our day jobs just yet. Program lengths range from two-week intensive trainings (where you will practice and learn from early mornings through evenings for several consecutive days or weeks) to weekend-only programs that are spaced out over the course of many months. Be realistic about the time you can commit and the support you will need during the training. If you have children, is your significant other willing and able to watch the kids for eight hours every Saturday and Sunday for four months? Are you able to get two weeks vacation time from work in order to complete an intensive program? Time conflicts and schedule-related stresses will still likely arise, but making sure the basics of your schedule are in sync with the program you choose will make the process a whole lot smoother.
3. What and how do you want to learn? While your schedule is important, choosing between an intensive program and a long-term program also has to do with how you want to receive this information. Maybe you like the idea of being fully immersed in yoga for a shorter amount of time. Perhaps you prefer to space out your classes and trainings to allow the information to integrate more fully into your day-to-day life. One isn’t better than the other—it just depends on your learning style.
Request a curriculum outline and syllabus from potential training programs. Is there a lot of physical practice that you will be expected to complete? Is the group small enough that you will be getting individualized attention? Will there be different experts to teach you about different topics, or are you spending the bulk of your time with one teacher/mentor? (There are benefits to both.) Is there a lot of lecture? Is there an adequate emphasis on anatomy? On the history of yoga? What books will you be reading? What assignments will you need to complete? Ask yourself what you think is important to learn, and make sure that your program meets those needs.
4. Be OK with not being 100 percent prepared. You can do all the research you can possibly can, and you will still not be totally prepared for the challenges your yoga training will bring. Ultimately you’ll have to follow your gut—another great way to approach your decision. But I can promise that if you choose a program with teachers and content that resonates for you—and if your instincts are on board with that choice—any challenges you face will be absolutely, 100 percent worth it.