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!
Articles about the world of teaching and living Vinyasa Flow Yoga by Elin Jensen and Lisa Andersson Rhodiner