If you are ready to take your yoga practice to the next level, choosing the right yoga teacher training can be challenging and even overwhelming. There are so many different styles, approaches, lineages, schools and formats. It is also an investment of your time and funds, so here are some things to think about when picking out where to train:
Decide what you really like. What kind of yoga practice makes you smile on the inside? Do you need a powerful flow, one that is heated with a lot of strong poses, or are you drawn to a slower, detail-oriented approach? Perhaps meditation is your calling, a combination of all of the above? Identify exactly the kind of teaching you connect with as a practitioner and focus on that.
Choose a format: Are you the kind of learner who needs to integrate things over a long period of time, or are you someone who is willing and able to travel for a month or more and live away from home to receive your certification?
Location, location, location! Ideally, you already practice at the studio where you are planning on receiving your teacher training, but if not, make sure you are familiar with all the parking requirements in the neighborhood, or how far away your hotel or host is from where the training is being held. Teacher training can be exhausting and any extra time and travel can take a lot out of you. Think about the time it takes to run out to feed the meter every two hours, and factor all that in when choosing a location.
Who are your teachers? Have they been teaching for a long time? How much experience do they have? Do they still have an active public class schedule in the community? A good rule of thumb is one person doesn’t know everything. Look for diversity, multiple teachers presenting different topics.
Interview your future teachers—make sure the teacher training has an interview process. A reputable school will have an in-person (not email) sit-down interview with you. Be prepared, and write down all your questions before you go into the interview.
How many students does the teacher training usually accept? It is harder to get individual attention in a larger group.
What are others saying? Social media is a powerful tool, so use it to find out what the previous graduates are saying, or go further and ask your potential teacher training to refer you to past graduates. Sit down for tea with a real person and ask them any questions you have.
Pricing and financing, that’s a big one! Between tuition, travel, living expenses, lost wages, and the cost of books, clothing, mats etc… costs can add up. Make sure there are no hidden expenses: extra workshops, printing fees, etc… Make sure you factor in even the smallest details. In one of my teacher trainings, I was asked to bring my own toilet paper and paper towels.
What is their refund policy? I have met a lot of teachers over the years who have dropped out of their teacher training. Please make sure you know all the details ahead of time. Is there a refund policy, and when does it apply?
Job placement. Does your teacher training affiliate with a yoga studio, and if ‘yes,’ do you have an opportunity to teach a few yoga classes in the studio to real students? One of the biggest dissonances is when new teachers start teaching a public class. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your prospects. Of course, yoga studios are not in a rush to give prime classes to new graduates. But, make sure there is some kind of arrangement for you to teach a community class if you choose to do so.
Is your teacher training registered with the Yoga Alliance? For me personally, the jury is still out. Yoga Alliance is merely a registry, one that does not provide any supervision or help. A yoga school submits their syllabus over the Internet, and it’s usually approved within a few days for a fee. The training is then listed on their site. Interesting fact: One of the most popular, most practiced yoga style in the world, Bikram yoga, has never been registered with the Yoga Alliance.