So you want to be a yoga teacher! Or maybe deepen your own yoga practice? Whichever it is, I applaud you as doing yoga teacher training is an incredible opportunity to grow, learn, and feel amazing in your mind, body, and soul. Yoga teacher training is truly a life-changing experience. Picking a YTT (yoga teacher training) is no easy feat though. Be prepared to give yourself lots of time to research because this is a big decision!
To get you started on how to choose a yoga teacher training I’ve detailed my top tips, mostly questions, to ask yourself before considering joining a training program. Some may be obvious, others may surprise you. Either way, all should be considered and will most certainly help you narrow down what yoga teacher training course to choose.
9 Tips for Choosing the Right Yoga Teacher Training
Why do you want to become a yoga teacher?
There are two main reasons why people do yoga teacher training. One is because a yoga student wants to teach yoga, the other is that a student simply wishes to deepen their own practice.
Neither is right or wrong, they’re both excellent reasons for wanting to do a yoga teacher training course but if you’re thinking of learning about yoga, I believe it should also be because you’re interested in deepening your own practice and knowledge. We are always students.
Becoming a yoga teacher is not a one-and-done course. Yes, you can take a 200-hour course and be done, but there is a difference in teachers who complete their 200-hour course and those who are forever students, continuing their education. You notice this in their classes, in their passion, and in their skills as a yoga practitioner and a teacher.
So before you begin researching which yoga course is best for you, what is your intention for completing yoga training?
Know that your intention can change as you move through the course as well, mine did! I had no intention whatsoever of becoming a yoga teacher. I simply wanted to deepen my own practice, to be able to make adjustments for myself in my own practice, and mostly because I was curious about yoga philosophy. It wasn’t until we started practice teaching that I realized how much I loved it and that it was something I would want to continue doing after.
What do you want to do with your knowledge as a yoga teacher?
Think of this as your purpose for becoming a yoga teacher. Are you doing it for it to become your full-time job and income? May I gently suggest that you avoid becoming a yoga teacher then? Unfortunately, it is difficult to make your full-time income off of teaching yoga, though that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible! Think of teaching yoga more like a part-time job. If you’d like to become a teacher because you’re passionate about yoga or about helping other humans feel good then those are amazing reasons to want to become a yoga teacher.
Do you want to teach online? Create a YouTube channel? Host workshops? Teach at a studio? Incorporate yoga into another part of your business? Run retreats?
You don’t even have to want to be a yoga teacher, but knowing your purpose for wanting to do a YTT will help you be able to choose which course is most suited for your needs now and in the future.
READ MORE: How to Become a Yoga Instructor
What is the balance of subjects?
Yoga is a practice that has been around for thousands of years that was developed and practiced in the east way before it made its way to the west. It’s important to find a YTT program that acknowledges this and doesn’t brush over the history and origin of yoga.
Look for a course that covers what’s important to you but also all that there is to learn about yoga. Anatomy is not the only important part of yoga. The philosophy is just as important and can greatly influence your teaching style and make you a great teacher. Learning about the philosophy of yoga (more than just the chakras!) can help you help your students feel great not only in their bodies but also in their minds too.
Some yoga teacher training courses also include a section on personal development and the business of yoga, maybe even social media. These are also great aspects of a course that I would encourage having included in a program.
I recommend opting for a course that honours yoga’s roots, dives deep into the importance of anatomy, and also focuses on the practical part of teaching not just alignment but philosophy and theming as well.
What style of yoga do you want to teach? Or practice?
It can be confusing to decide which style of yoga you’d like to learn more about, especially when many studios have classes that are just labeled as “flow”. It can be difficult to know what exactly you’re practicing. For me personally, I didn’t understand the different styles of yoga until I did my 200-hour training. And I’m still learning! There are a few different lineages of yoga but the most common is Hatha, which is where most yoga styles stem from.
A Hatha-style course will most certainly cover the basics without any extras. A vinyasa-style course is Hatha-based but will be more fluid as vinyasa is usually what “flow” classes are referred to. Ashtanga or Inyegar courses are typically focused on one of these separate lineages so if this is a style you love and want to learn more about then opt for a course with this as its focus.
Many courses also combine different styles of yoga. It’s not uncommon to see yin yoga, restorative yoga, yoga Nidra, or even aerial yoga combined into courses. For your own practice, it may be beneficial to learn about more styles of yoga, especially if you practice them. But as a teacher, I would recommend focusing on these other styles after your 200-hour training. These courses can usually be done separately or are included in a 300-hour training.
Most people opt for a YTT course that is in the same style that they practice but know that just because you love to practice a certain style doesn’t mean you’ll love to teach it, so don’t be surprised if your personal style and teaching style change or are different.
What is your learning style?
There is so much to take in during a YTT that it’s important to know how you like to learn. In today’s times, you have a few options, especially as online yoga teacher training is growing rapidly in popularity.
There are benefits to taking a deep dive in an immersion program where you complete it in a couple of weeks to a month. Immersion programs are intense as your training will be your sole focus (believe me, you won’t have time for anything else!). But they are also life-changing.
Extended programs are great because they give you more time to take in what you’re learning and incorporate it into your own practice, though, they will of course take you longer to do. These are typically done over the course of multiple weekends or sometimes evenings.
Online YTT has even more options with some training offering online teachings, followed by in-person to finish a course or to supplement. Some are completely self-paced, while others are done with a group where you meet online once a week, for full days over the weekend or evenings.
If you’re doing an online course I highly recommend doing training where you have live meetings with your instructor and/or other people, especially if it’s your first yoga teacher training program. Yoga is, obviously, a hands-on practice, and while I will always recommend in-person over online, online does give more opportunity for those who can’t take more time off or travel for training.
The same goes for in-person immersions as well. Keep an eye out for how much time is dedicated to self-study. Self-study time contributes to your 200-hours. For some this might be great and give you more time to take in the information on your own, for others they may need more time with a teacher talking or demonstrating.
READ MORE: Best Online Yoga Teacher Training Courses
How expensive is yoga teacher training?
If at all possible, do your best to not choose your training based on price. Some of the most expensive courses are not the best, and some of the cheapest share invaluable knowledge. I understand that not all of us have the luxury to not think of price, but do your best to look at the courses before price to get an idea of what will work for you. It is worth saving for longer to opt for a program that is better suited for you, your needs, and wants.
Keep in mind the additional costs that come with doing yoga teacher training abroad, such as flights. Be mindful of if accommodation and/or food (if any or all meals) are included. Personally, I loved doing training where breakfast, lunch, and snacks were included so I didn’t have to think about food while I was studying but having dinner on myself so I could opt for time alone, with fellow trainees, and eat where I pleased.
Why this instructor or school?
If you love the studio that you’re practicing at or the teachers and they offer yoga teacher training then it’s pretty easy to make your decision! But if you want to do your training elsewhere, abroad, or have no idea where to start then it can be challenging to decide.
You can always ask your favourite teachers where they did their training, which is a great place to start, or take recommendations from friends who have done a yoga course. Use these recommendations as a place to start and know that just because one person loved it doesn’t mean it’s ideal for you.
I will always recommend Odyssey MVMT (tell Erin that Taylor sent you if you decide to train with Odyssey MVMT!) to others because it’s where I did my 200-hour and 300-hour training but I know it was great for me because I loved the teachers and they teach very much my kind of style of yoga that I adore.
If you find a training that you think you’ll like, try a few classes with that teacher, in-person or online, to see if you like their vibe. Many online courses also offer free trials so you can take a peek and see if how the teacher teaches is in a way that you like.
Don’t forget to read reviews too! While not all schools or training are listed on BookYogaTeacherTraining, this can be a great site to see feedback from previous students. If a school is listed with Yoga Alliance, there is a directory where students can leave reviews too. Keep in mind that reviews are often written right at the end of training when everyone is excited and glowing so they can be a bit biased!
Is the YTT course Yoga Alliance certified?
Do not let the fact that a school is Yoga Alliance certified or not be the reason you select a training program. Yoga Alliance is a nonprofit association that sets standards for teachers and training. There is no regulating body for yoga schools or training, but Yoga Alliance is the closest thing that comes to it. The benefit of Yoga Alliance is that it does set some standards (though low, but getting better) for yoga teacher training. Some amazing YTT courses are not Yoga Alliance certified.
It is important to keep in mind that many studios do require that you are certified and many insurance companies will not insure you if you’re not certified.
200-, 300-, or 500-hour? What’s the difference in levels of yoga certification?
In short, a 200-hour YTT is the bare minimum required to teach, as defined by Yoga Alliance. This is what most studios and insurance companies will require you to have in order to teach because it ensures that you have at least a basic knowledge of how to teach and safe and sound practice.
A 300-hour is an advanced training program that builds off of what you learned in your 200-hours as a prerequisite. It continues your yoga education and often combines other styles of yoga such as yin, pre/postnatal, kids yoga, and more as a part of the training. A 500-hour YTT is usually a combination of 200-hour and 3oo-hour courses, sometimes it’s a combination of smaller or shorter courses but typically includes 200-hours.
You will also find 25-, 30-, 100- or any other number of hour courses that usually dive into more specific styles of yoga as continuing education.
200-hours is the top recommendation for those interested in a YTT as it’s the easiest to build off of and is a great start point. It is also recommended to do this course on it’s own first. 500-hour yoga teacher training courses are available too but they are intense and often rushed!
This is also how you become a certified yoga instructor, you take a certified course and then apply for your certification through Yoga Alliance.
Time to pick a YTT for you!
I know that this is a lot of information to take in, but your first training will become the basis that your teaching style and your own personal practice grows from. Not all teachers or training are made equal. Be selective, research all, reach out, and ask questions. You are spending a lot of time and money on this, don’t rush into it! And remember that just because a training looks fancy or has a nice site, doesn’t mean it’s going to give you the yoga education that you’re after. Yoga teacher training is a business too, and while most teachers are passionate about what they do, it is their livelihood as well.
Enjoy your yoga teacher training, I’m so excited for you to embark on this journey!