When you hear the calling and set out to do your first foundational 200 hour teacher training, you realize what a jungle it really is. Weekends for a year, modules, intensives. In India, in Bali, with a famous teacher, with an unknown teacher or in your hometown with your regular teacher. Prices all over the spectrum, class sizes unknown.
It's not easy, and there is no one size fits all. Here are some thoughts that might help you decide what suits your particular life situation before making that down payment.
1. YOGA ALLIANCE CERTIFIED OR NOT? As the international governing body for yoga, the Yoga Alliance has set the standard for what a properly constructed international teacher training program must contain. Ensure that the training you choose is Certified by the Yoga Alliance. There are plenty of excellent non-credited trainings out there, no doubt. But since the Yoga Alliance is the authority and the competition these days is quite fierce within the yoga teaching community, a certified 200 hour training has increasingly become a minimal requirement by many yoga studios. In addition, you will not quality for insurance – another increasingly important part of the world of teaching yoga.
2. YEAR LONG OR INTENSIVE FORMAT? Your life situation will ultimately be the deciding factor. A weekend style training, usually set over a year, will give you a longer digestion time and allow you to keep your regular life afloat at the same time. A retreat style format will require you to check out from your life and it will be super intensive and at times overwhelming. At True North Vinyasa, we strongly believe in a retreat format training – particularly for vinyasa, where you get a chance to really develop your own practice (have you ever practiced twice a day for 3–4 weeks?). We believe in the full focus and devotion to the practice and the art of teaching others as part of your transformation into a yoga teacher. But again, a longer time period will offer other benefits. Your life, and which teacher you would like to follow on this path, will decide.
3. TEACHING TEAM OR ONE GURU? Vinyasa is a non-method of sorts, and as a future teacher of vinyasa you will have to rely upon your own knowledge and creativity to create sequences and deliver memorable classes. There is a great value in a team of teachers. This way, you are exposed to several personal teaching styles and several fields of expertise. We suggest looking into the credentials when it comes to anatomy especially. Understanding the human body and alignment will greatly benefit your own practice as well as your skills as a vinyasa teacher. While there are many amazing teachers conducting great YTTs solo, beware of the guru style teacher, claiming to have all the answers and the only "right way" of teaching and practicing yoga. Know that yoga is ever-changing, ever-evolving and that you as a teacher trainee should question everything.
4. KNOWN TEACHER OR COOL SOUNDING VENUE? A little secret: it's not particularly hard to put together a 200 hour yoga teacher training program. Even when certified by Yoga Alliance, it doesn't actually mean that the quality of the training is high. We know of certified trainings that reportedly consisted of far less than 200 hours, those that were taught by under-qualified teachers and those with a teacher-student ratio of 1 to 70. Unless you have a home studio or a teacher you know conducting a training, do your homework. Check the company/studio, look into who the teachers are and what their experience is, check who they trained with and what they stand for. Meet them or talk to them before signing up. Take their class or short retreat. Don't let the pretty pictures and videos fool you. Beware of making a particular venue or country a top priority. Also beware of the celebrity teacher: while that experience can be amazing in its own right (devoted followers, large groups, a touch of glamour on your resumé), you often miss out on personal feedback and attention during and after the training. For a new teacher, feedback and mentorship are essential components of growth.
5. THE YOGA SUTRAS IN DETAIL OR SEQUENCING WORKSHOPS? Each training is required a minimum number of hours dedicated to subjects like asana, anatomy, yoga philosophy and history, etc. But each training will emphasize different areas depending on the style of program and yoga. Most directors of a teacher training will have their own passions and skills to share. All programs will (or should) have a clear focus and emphases. Study the curriculum, ask the questions. Know what you want. Are you an alignment nerd, are you spiritually focused, are you after clarity on the history of yoga or are you craving practical knowledge on teaching and running your business in yoga? Whoever you may be, there is a program for you. At True North Vinyasa, we emphasize anatomy, alignment, sequencing and hands-on skills, spending less time or self-studying philosophy, history and meditation. In addition we offer a greater segment on business, marketing and branding than most yoga teacher trainings.
Good luck with choosing a yoga teacher training that is right for you!
How to plan your first yoga retreat
As a new vinyasa yoga teacher, you might already be thinking about running a retreat. You might have heard that this is a good way of making money. And of course, the idea of making money while traveling is quite nice...To organize a successful retreat involves a lot of attention to detail and decision making. Location, clients, price, retreat program and timing are just a few aspects to consider. You will probably make some mistakes, but read our take on the most common big ones, and you might just avoid some of them.
This article was originally posted at yogobe.se in Swedish
By Elin Jensen and Lisa Andersson Rhodiner
You know that feeling of completion and content, when you come out of a Vinyasa class that had it all. The teacher gave you a mental break, took you on a journey and left you with a story to tell. To create a class like that, try starting with this very simple Vinyasa recipe and build upon it.
1. ONE PART YUMMY WARM-UP
Make it slow at first. Whether you are teaching a morning or evening Vinyasa class, start slow and simple. This is what every body needs. Take your class into receptions of any combinations of half Sun Salutation A, complete Sun Salutation A, Classic Sun Salutation or Sun Salutation B. The Ashtanga tradition calls for repetion in sets of five, but as a Vinyasa Teacher you are free to do any combination and number of repetition. Another delicious way of approaching these classic warm-up series could be to tease and pulsate within a movement, for example lifting three times into a soft cobra pose instead of one.
2. ONE PART CLASS THEME
A theme should have logic and intelligence in order to make sense to your students. It might an asana theme, such as forward bends, backbends or twists. It might be a theme of a more spiritual nature, such as emotional challenge, the full moon or setting a greater intention. It might be a very practical theme, like focusing on the feet, exploring the movements of the shoulder or activating the core. There are no rules when it comes to a class theme. We have themed classes around pretty out there ideas like "Asanas with Bird names", "Resist the Dark Side" and "Planting seeds". An asana themed class is usually a good start in Vinyasa, and quite often a peak-pose progression is a good idea. Always design a well-rounded class, and don't try to jam in too much. Use the power of repetition in verbal cues as well as asana family, and move from simple to more complex.
3. ONE PART COOL-DOWN
Always allow time to unwind the nervous system and cool down the bodies of your students. Set them up for a soft, gentle landing. Allow the heat of the practice settle. Use classic cool-down poses like forward folds and reclined twists. Use counterposes that balance your theme and neutralise the spine and settle the nervous system. Allow at least 10 minutes for Savasana and closing of the practice. Don't be afraid to offer a gentle touch as your students settle into relaxation, and assist with blankets, essential oils and cues for calming the breath and letting go.
Look around you for a class theme. The ocean, backbending, the shoulders, the front body or relaxing the jaw are all potential themes based on this picture alone.
You love your practice, your yoga community and all the good it might have brought you. You have been to a retreat or two. You probably played with the idea of becoming a yoga teacher. We know. It feels like a massive step. Am I ready? Do I really want to do this? Isn't it better for me to keep my practice for myself? Well, just like few people in human history have ever regretted attending a yoga class, a Yoga Teacher Training sort of follows the same pattern. No matter if you end up teaching full time or deciding you are not cut out for teaching, a training will give tenfold back and you won't regret giving yourself the space to grow. Here are five reasons why you should go for it.