Updated: Mar 18
How to choose a yoga teacher training that is suitable for you and what to look out for. It's an investment, but make sure you invest in the right ethical person or business. Experience and wisdom take time! There are too many offering yoga teacher training only after a few years of teaching themselves.
When you are looking for Yoga Teacher Training Courses in the UK or fact, anywhere else, there are many courses to choose from. A yoga teacher course can be life-changing and immerse you in yoga's philosophy, art, and science. Before you sign up for yoga teacher training, I would recommend the following:
- Get to know the teacher(s) on the course. Meet the teacher for one-to-one and discuss any issues you may have. Come to a class, workshop or retreat. I have met some trainees beforehand, and over a cuppa, we discussed life and got to know each other as a person rather than only in the classroom. Does the Yoga Teacher Training course resonate with your values? I am not suggesting you need to be good friends, but it's helpful to see if they are on the same wavelength.
- How many years’ teaching experience has got the teacher on the course? Sometimes other additional experience is valid, such as does the teacher strike you as a mature person with life experience? How distant or warm does the teacher feel to you. In my teacher training(s), I felt there was a lack of mentoring, and even thus, I appreciated the freedom I was taught; I would have liked some more support in the beginning and even later on. Find a teacher that empowers you rather than binds you. I heard a teacher saying the other day," my students don't want to come when somebody covers for me " - that's binding and does not encourage freedom. It's good to try out different teaches and not to be too attached to only one.
- Don't fall for the statement; this is the "best intensive teacher training". "We employ the best" is so patronizing! There is nothing wrong with being happy to have excellent teachers employed, but maybe a bit of modesty does not harm? Marketing does not have to be like that! In my opinion, it's useless pride.
- Find a yoga practice that is suited for you and your body. I really believe that any practice should take into account "modern bodies" and adapt. There is a fundamental principle called "vinyasa krama", that is, step by step progression. Are you ready for a dynamic practise every day? or do you feel your body also needs time to restore? What style does the teacher training teach? I believe there has not been ONE style that would satisfy my body and mind on its own and is ever-changing; it is important to like how yoga is taught.
- Life is full of abundance, so why not give an academy that is starting up, your money and time if they are "ethical" and with "integrity" and has plenty of year behind them as a teacher? We all know about the difficulty for startups. The teachers on that course may have a lot to offer! In my opinion, it does not matter if an academy is boasting with years or just started. There are pro and cons for both. I advise against people who, as soon as they are certified after only a couple of years, start their own certification process. Please give it a bit of respect.
There is definitely a problem with the overall trend to get certified and then immediately begin certifying others. It takes years for the depth of what one learns in training programs to bear fruit, and overall knowledge comes from experience, and that takes time.
- You can find out about the values of the teachers/studio by asking yourself, "Does the studio or teacher speak about not to worry about size, not to worry about being not flexible etc. but then the only pictures you see on their social media are slim young stereotyped flexible people doing all sorts of contortions? Can only certain "stereotyped" people (often fake) make it to the top?
- Yoga is not regulated by one authority (I actually think that is a good thing), but there are different boards. Ours is regulated by YAP (Yoga Alliance Professionals UK). Check out which one appeals to you. The YAP has some high standards (I believe higher than the Yoga Alliance US - see above), and at the end of the day, it depends on a little what you think is the best for you. My first yoga teacher training was not affiliated with any authority, and this did not make me feel like "huh, I don't trust him", on the contrary, he was well experienced, and I certainly learnt a lot from him. I went to a few workshops and liked what I saw. But then this teacher had 30 years behind him and not only 3 - 4 years!
- Don't believe "quality comes automatically with experience" yes, the experience is certainly good, but there is so much more to it. What kind of experience are we talking about? We don't learn by having it all; we actually learn most by not having it and mastering painful situations. Quality has nothing to do with being a "Starbucks". It's up to you how to judge "experience" and "quality". In the end, the coffee also tastes very good at Starbucks, but do I want to support them?
However, wisdom takes time and more than a couple of years. Believe me! It's marketing to say, "I have always been interested in yoga" I practised since a little kid", but then there are no names of teachers or people to refer to, but the parents? On top, I know of one of these people who don't even handle their own family and don't speak to one member but pretend from the outside to be professional and loving. Kindness, compression etc., can become all too quickly part of marketing jargon.
- Ask yourself if you are ready to give this commitment. To attend an intensive course can be quite demanding, especially if you have to work full-time or have a family to attend to. Are there other aspects in the teacher training that might be useful, e.g. marketing skills, mentoring? Chose what fits you. I have done most of my teacher training emerging myself (at least the first two). I stayed for 1 year in India, the second one 6 months, and the third attended weekends in Barcelona. Pro/cons are doing it both ways.
- Seva and Volunteering - Some want you to give Karma lessons and invite you to work for free!! They offer you community classes so that you get teaching experience! Really? I am not saying this is all wrong, but all I say "discern". Life is expensive, and if you invest in yourself, don't let them take advantage of that. This model might have been appropriate in old times, but if the owner is well off and makes their money, there is no reason for you to give for free unless you receive the apprenticeship free of charge or decide so.
- Does the yoga teacher training take place close to you, and/or are you required to travel elsewhere? In our teacher training, we actually also offer a week in Italy. We chose 11 full weekends because we believe it takes years to become a good yoga teacher, and really with a 200 course, you are only laying down the foundations.
- Does the studio mainly employ their own teacher trainers or make huge promises to you regarding earnings and employment and pay their teachers a breadline wage. You will learn how to discern and direct your energy in the right direction with the right teacher training. The teachers will care for you and not only take your money, and off you go into the wild west.
- When you go to a studio or class, how do people embrace you into their community? Or is it a tribe with a secret handshake? I personally warn against belonging to a tribe that demands you to be vegan, wear white clothes, work as a volunteer, and the leaders are rich and travel all around the world ( it is certainly more and more appropriate to live a "vegan" lifestyle, no doubt and abolishing slavery for all sentient beings, but travelling from workshop to workshop with a plane pollutes our planet. Again I am not saying that it is wrong to be vegan (on the contrary). Still, people with extreme opinions telling people how to run their lives often fail in other aspects. It is nothing wrong with being vegan either, wearing white clothes and doing some volunteering, but is it your choice? ...or do you a simple urge to be accepted within that tribe? By the way, I prefer the word "community" to "tribe".
- How are the people/students who go to the classes? Kind? Do you get ice-cold looks in the changing room? I mean, it does not mean that everybody has to be a hugging hippie, but a little kindness in this world cannot harm, especially if we define yoga as some "unity". For me, this unity is all-embracing and not concentrated on a branded "tribe".
- Yoga is freedom and not binding! You would not go to a hairdresser for one year before applying to be a hairdresser in that saloon? or do all your shopping at that store before you are allowed to work as a shop assistant? So why should this be different from applying for a yoga teacher job? Believe me, and I was told to come to the studio and take out classes before teaching. I don't think it isn't good to see if you like the studio and offered classes; I just have not had the luxury of money to sign up for one year before earning some money.
Teaching yoga can be potentially tough and should be seen more like a life-changing experience, and you can teach part-time or full-time afterwards. It is certainly the most fulfilling activity that I have done in my life, and to see people's transformation after a class speaks for itself. This does not mean that you cannot earn a full-time wage after a while, but it is so much giving of your self, and certainly, nowadays there are lots of teachers out there. Make sure the teacher training you chose helps you to be an authentic teacher from the start. Will they support you afterwards? We offer to mentor afterwards.
- Commitment - this is important for the teacher as the student. The top of absurdity is that when you remind some of their commitment, they say sorry or not and sign love and light, so make sure the person you give your trust to walks the walk and not only talks the talk.
- Yoga (at least for myself) is integrity and ethical behaviours throughout. It is important to offer your services to only those who will appreciate it if you put your heart into it. If not, it becomes just another commodity. I personally cannot care less about how well somebody performs difficult postures but more about how respectful and honest this person is.
Self - enquiry of what is good for us rather than what is pleasant or feels pleasant is so important. Think really about what it is you want and need, and then commit! Good luck.
Sundara Yoga Teacher Training offers authentic teacher training in Brighton and Hove; get in touch for more information or come to a taster session at Upstairs at Six or online. Limited spaces in 2021. Finding a yoga teacher training that is suitable for you depends obviously on what is also important to you. Can you tell me what is important to you? Please send me an email or comment below.
Namaste and with love
Claudia - Sundara Yoga Flow