9 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Yoga Teacher Training Course

Why do I want

to do it?

Becoming a yoga teacher is a calling. Not only does teaching yoga require a specific skill-set, it also requires adherence to a certain lifestyle. One that follows the principles of yoga at its deepest level but that is comfortable in the modern world at the same time. Knowing and always remembering the reasons that inspire you to want to teach in the first place, are important in planning your career as a teacher of yoga. Below are the boxes you should tick when considering your motives for following this occupation.

I want to inspire Students and Change Lives

There are very few jobs that provide the opportunity to impact the lives of many people on a daily basis. Every time you address a class of yoga students, you'll have the opportunity to truly inspire people.

I want to deepen my practice

You'll be amazed how much you learn from teaching yoga. Students will look for guidance, but will also give back incredible energy and insight.

I want to enjoy a flexible schedule

Many yoga teachers are former office employees searching for something more in their lives. As a yoga teachers you will work only 3 or 4 hours a day, with time available to pursue other interests.

I want to live and breathe yoga

Living a healthy, holistic lifestyle is not easy. When you start down the path of yoga, friends and family are often unable to relate to what you’re doing. One great thing about teaching is that your new coworkers are on the same path as you, so you have a social support system to help keep you focused on living and breathing yoga.

I want to earn a respectable salary

In the past, teaching yoga would not generate enough income to make it a livelihood. But today, legitimately certified yoga teachers are highly specialized and valued employees who are paid very well for their work.

I want to be able to live and work anywhere in the world

The world is your oyster, and the yoga community is growing daily. As a yoga teacher, you'll meet people from all over the world, and discover that there are opportunities to teach yoga everywhere.

Does the course

get me excited?

Choosing your first course is a big decision, and it's an important one because it will influence your performance as a teacher once you’re qualified.

Make sure you choose a yoga teacher training course that resonates with you and that you find exciting. Your intuition will play a part in helping you choose the right course for you. There are so many different types of yoga that it is important to make sure the course you select focuses on

the type of yoga you want to specialise in. When you’re excited about something you tend to be more enthusiastic,more attentive and move involved. The same applies to choosing a yoga

teacher training course. If you’re excited about a specific course you will more than likely find the course more rewarding and give it your very best effort.

Being excited about a particular course will go a long way towards keeping you motivated during the course as it is easy to lose interest and become despondent if you aren’t constantly challenged in a positive way and if you don’t feel like you’re contributing meaningfully.

Choose a course where you are supplied with the syllabus before you make your decision so that you can make extra sure that the course is for you and includes the yoga style, content and training intensity you’re looking for. Some yoga schools will give lessons in Sanskrit, but you may not want to learn that. Read all paperwork, small print, and information relevant to the course you want to sign up for and make sure you understand everything.

Be sure to submit any queries you may have to the yoga teacher or school so ensure that you have a clear vision of your direction. Maintaining a passion for yoga is the most important quality in a good teacher. Whichever course you choose, make sure you honor and nurture that within yourself, above all else.

Is the training

facility registered?

A registered yoga training facility will have a proper training program and adhere to specific principles of teaching. The regulating body for the yoga industry is Yoga Alliance so any legitimate yoga training school should at least be certified with Yoga Alliance who has set the standard for what a properly constructed yoga training program must contain.

A training facility registered with Yoga Alliance also qualifies for insurance which is important regarding your safety during the course any legal claims that might arise during the training.

Make sure you know the size of the classes you will be attending. Large classes will not be able to focus on individual attention to students so smaller classes are always better (i.e. less than 20 students).

Be aware of the facility in which the teacher training will be held. Many training facilitators rent inflatable tents or giant warehouses, and students spend weeks practicing inside a blow-up dome or what should be a storage facility. More common still, some yoga schools hold their training in the conference centers of hotels. These rooms seldom have the appropriate ventilation; have recycled air and dirty carpets. These are not good places to do yoga. Remember to ask about the studio practice room itself.

Registered training facilities also include anatomy in their syllabus, which is really important to understand when helping individuals with specific postures or postural problems.

Do some research on the facility you’re thinking of registering with and find out how long they have been training yoga teachers, what sort of reviews they have received from their students and try to get in touch with students who have been through the program already. Also take some time to research the yoga instructors who will be training you, their lineage, methods, qualifications and experience.

Only once are you satisfied with the quality of the yoga training course and the competence of the instructors, should you sign up for the training.

Will my certification

be international?

If you plan to travel with your training and teach abroad, the yoga training organisation you choose should be globally recognised and offer

training in many cities or countries.There are many avenues for teaching yoga around the world or during your travels. Some of these are:

  • teaching yoga on a cruise liner

  • guest teaching in yoga studios or gyms around the world

  • setting up yoga workshops and retreats at international locations

  • holding private yoga therapy sessions wherever you are staying

  • giving international talks and yoga demonstrations

As already mentioned on the previous page, Yoga Alliance is the largest, independent accreditation board for yoga teachers in the world. Your teacher training school should be accredited at the 200+ hour level.

Unfortunately, many Yoga schools are not accredited because they don't want to follow the required curriculum and structure, so that means you are always tied to your school and lose freedom.In many cases, this means that you cannot work wherever you want, and

some schools even require you to come back every year or two to pay them more money to 'update' your certificate. Remember why you

wanted to be a yoga teacher in the first place. Keep your freedom and get certified independently.

If you want to teach in a gym, or even create your own style of yoga,that's up to you. Your yoga training school cannot, and should not be

able to control your career after graduation. However, many schools do try. If that's the policy of the school you're considering, it's probably not a good choice for you. Choose a Yoga Alliance International School so you're in charge of your future.

Will the course teach me to teach?

Your first and most important consideration when joining a yoga teacher training course is to make sure the course is designed specifically to train you to teach others how to teach, and not just to do yoga.

This sounds obvious, and it is presumed that every teacher training will actually train you to teach. But oddly, many advertised yoga training courses are actually not teacher training courses. Many are just yoga workshops, yoga retreats, or long yoga holidays where you practice relaxation methods and do personal growth exercises.

To spend a month doing yoga and growing personally is wonderful, but if your goal is to teach yoga, make sure you sign up for the right course:one that is focused on the practical, technical skills you need to teach a real class.

Doing yoga for your own self-development and teaching yoga to others are not the same. Being able to teach requires a specific mind-set and the ability to communicate in a multitude of ways according to the many levels of understanding and ability your students will have. Patience and a calm outlook are also important attributes to develop if you want to be a teacher – and these don’t come naturally to everyone. A good yoga teacher training course will teach you how to teach and should aim to instil in you the qualities of a good teacher.

Teacher training will also ensure you know how to deal diplomatically with certain situations that may arise in your class, like students not getting on with each other, how to deal with a disruptive student,managing students who interfere with the practice of others, or students defaulting on their class fees, among others.

Being able to handle situations like the above are important to maintaining a good reputation as a teacher and building and growing classes of happy, satisfied students.

will I get adequate personal attention?

Yoga was traditionally taught in small groups, but somehow the Western influence has made classes increasingly larger to a point where there are many training courses with 300 or more students and just two or three teachers. In such circumstances, you might as well stay at home and learn to teach yoga by watching a DVD.

A good yoga teacher training course will always maintain a student teacher ratio of 10:1 or less. That means that there should be a maximum of 10 students per teacher. If you're considering a course with 20, 30 or even 50 or more students per teacher, forget it. The teacher won't even remember your name, let alone be able to give you adequate personal attention. Disadvantages of large yoga training classes include:

  • inadequate room to move and perform postures properly.

  • trainers not being able to see what everyone is doing so don't always attend to incorrect postures.

  • time-restricted classes resulting in less time to address many student questions.

  • amplified distractions during times requiring intense concentration like during meditation or pranayama.

  • reduced connection and camaraderie among students.

  • teachers being unable to connect properly with students.

Your personal relationship with your teacher is extremely important to your learning, not just during the course but also after the course when you go out and teach. Many students keep in touch with their first teachers for many years, sometimes for their entire career. If your teacher doesn’t know you (because the course class is too large), it will be to your detriment.

Does the course have a great team?

By ‘great team’ we mean that the a course you want to do should be conducted by a strong teaching team. The 'one man' or 'one women' teacher schools are outdated and not conducive to successful learning, but they are still the most common type of courses available.

Imagine for a moment if you were accepted into a university only to learn you would have one and only one teacher during your studies, for all of your courses. That would be crazy. In yoga, it's also crazy. You need a varied teaching team made up of people with different backgrounds, specialities and expertise.

Yoga teacher training consists of different sectors including postures, movement (flow), anatomy, psychology, philosophy, therapy, teaching methodology, and lifestyle ethics. It is extremely rare for one person to be a specialist in all of these areas.

Again, you should make sure the trainers who will be teaching you have extensive experience in their relevant fields and have taught at least 1,000 public classes themselves. This is important because, sadly, some trainers are not real teachers. Some trainers do training as a business, and don't understand the day-to-day dynamics required as a working professional yoga instructor.

It’s your prerogative to request additional information on the instructors who will be teaching you so you can make sure you’re happy with their competence and level of experience. After all, you will be parting with a substantial amount of money for your training course, and it’s only fair that you make sure of the details beforehand.

Make sure that you address the above with the teacher training facility you are thinking of signing up with. A good course director will be more than happy to answer all your questions and put you in contact with the trainers who will be conducting the course you’re wanting to take.

Will I be able to earn back my tuition?

Yoga training courses range widely in price, but after you factor in food, accommodation and flights, it can be very expensive. As much as $7,000 to $10,000 .

Of course, there are always 'budget' course options available, but in almost all cases, they cut corners on teachers and facilities, and you get what you pay for: poor quality training.

For most students, a yoga teacher training course is a substantial investment. The good news is that you can earn the investment back fairly quickly. Some students earn back their tuition in as little as 3 to 5 months, which is very fast, all things considered.

Your ability to earn money as a teacher is determined largely by:

(a) your ability to teach.

(b) your actual teaching skills.

(c) the type of teaching certificate you have.

(d) your business management/entrepreneurial abilities.

If you have a restricted teaching certificate then you will only be able to teach under the auspices of that particular school of yoga. As you can imagine, this will make your life difficult as your options will be extremely limited.

Having a Yoga Alliance International Certificate, will allow you to teach in gyms, health centers, yoga studios, fitness center, schools, and even privately, making it easier for you to earn back your tuition fees.

Becoming a yoga teacher may fulfil your lifelong dream but the rate at which you will earn back your tuition fees and start making a living from it is also largely dependent on your business skills as you will soon come up against problems such as students not paying, dealing with rental and other expenses, and tax returns.

Am I ready to learn to teach yoga?

So, how do you know if you are ready to become a yoga teacher?

Through yoga, we learn to accept ourselves as we are. We accept where we are in our practice without judgment. We learn that modifications don't make us a bad yogi; they make us a smart yogi for doing what feels good.

In yoga there is no 'good enough.' It's not about nailing the final variation of the pose, it's about where your pose is today, in this moment.Your teaching has to start with your practice. So while you're researching and looking for the right course for you, think about your future and your life. No matter what you do, keep practicing, practicing, and practice some more. In the same vein, study continuously. Read as much as you can about yoga. Keep yourself always inspired to strive.

There is no point were you will be perfectly qualified to become a yoga teacher as you are constantly evolving and learning each day. As long as your own practice is one of dedication, commitment and passion, you will pass that on to your students in your teaching. And while they learn from you, you will, in turn learn from them every day.

Maintaining an attitude of humility, open-mindedness and compassion towards others is an important part of becoming an ideal yoga teacher. If you love yoga and want to improve your practice, heal your life and share the gift with others, don't doubt yourself any longer, sign up for the course you’ve selected and change your life one step at a time.

Your practice will always be your greatest teacher.