Three little words, one short phrase ‘Yoga Teacher Training’ can represent an entire spectrum of feelings, such as excitement, passion, freedom and of course fear.
The desire to take a Yoga Teacher Training course is felt in the heart, but the head’s response is usually to create barriers made of ifs, buts and should nots. Let’s work through these ifs and buts to see if we can find a unity between the heart and the head which can unlock the door to Yoga Teacher Training for you.
Let’s begin with no fixed notations just a curiosity . . .
To be a teacher of yoga one must forever and always be first a student of yoga. Let’s begin there . . .
Come into a comfortable seated position, softly close your eyes, bring your hands into chin mudra, thumb and index fingers lightly touching. A mudra focuses your mind and channels your energy. Feel the contact of your thumbs and index fingers, let this represent the wisdom and knowledge you already have, feel the circle your fingers make here, a circle of possibility, feel the openness in the palms of your hands and allow an openness to possibility. As you think to yourself, I am curious. Stay here a few moments and breathe. Take a few gentle stretches luxuriating in the feeling of yoga. Simple yet powerful. Accessible yet profound.
Return to stillness and ask your heart ‘Why am I curious? What am I curious about?’
When considering Yoga Teacher Training, the first question to ask is of yourself . . .
Why am I interested in yoga teacher training? Do I . . .
- Wish to deepen my own knowledge and personal practice of yoga?
- Do I wish to share my knowledge and the practice of yoga with others?
When first enrolled in a Yoga Teacher Training course in Hampshire I had recently finished a Yoga Immersion Course, purely to deepen my personal practice, I loved this course so much that I wanted to study more. I loved the depth, the dedicated time, and the community of like-minded people that I had been able to connect with in a way just not possible in a weekly 1 hour class. So I enrolled in Yoga Teacher Training, saying to myself I had no intention of teaching yoga. But in hindsight, I can see that it was a ruse created by my head, rather than fessing up to the limiting beliefs that were getting in the way of me hearing my hearts true desire to teach.
If you can honestly say that you have absolutely no intention to actually teach in any capacity my advice to you is don’t take a teacher training. Instead invest your time, money, and energy in your personal journey, find an immersion course, read books, go on retreats, connect with as many different teaches as you can, and digest as much yoga as feeds your passion.
But . . . if you notice you can’t help but ‘share’ your love then let’s explore a little further. When a colleague grumbles of back pain do you find yourself extolling the virtues of child’s pose, if a friend tells you their feeling anxious do you find yourself demonstrating a breathing exercise from class? When you have felt for yourself the life-changing effect of yoga it can feel selfish to not share the teachings with those you care for. This is your inner teacher yearning to step forth. It’s from here that the spark is lit, I’m curious about Yoga Teacher Training, but then too often the ifs and buts blow out that spark.
Lack of self worth is the biggest spark blower outer I know. There isn’t a single person that I have taken through teacher training or mentored that hasn’t struggled with self worth. It shows up a little different in each person but usually something along the lines of . . .
I’m too old, I’m too young
I’m not strong enough or flexible enough
I’m too fat or not fit enough
I can’t do advanced postures like headstand or wheel
I don’t know enough
I can’t remember the Sanskrit names etc
Or they compare themselves to their current teachers, who’ve probably been teaching for years and can’t imagine being able to do it, but did you see the evolution from trainee to now?
Let’s pause here . . . what is your spark blower outer? Now let’s consult your wiser self, that self that’s in your heart. If you’ve been practising yoga for anytime at all, you know it has nothing to do with your body size, flexibility or fitness level. Say that statement again to yourself, smile and say So What? That’s not yoga!
Now let’s continue . . .
So we’re ready to admit that somewhere inside of us the teachings of yoga desire to be shared. Let’s ignite that spark and let it burn bright. What do you dream of doing as a Yoga Teacher?
- Travel the world as a nomadic teacher
- Share your passion as a paying hobby
- Find freedom in retirement with teaching as your project
- Supplement your current career by giving back to your community as a teacher
- Set up your own business as a full or part time yoga teacher
Your answer to this question helps you select the right type of teacher training course for you. Let’s look at the specifics in some detail.
Types of Yoga Teacher Training Courses
The standard Yoga Teacher Training Course worldwide is 200 Hour Accredited Course. 200 hours is the minimum number of hours to qualify to teach. Many 200 Hour Courses will end up being more than that though, once you add in practise teaching, homework and homestudy. For instance my 200 hour course is about 215 contact course hours, plus 20 hours recorded class attendance and around 1-2 hours home study each week for the duration of the 9 months which totals around 300 hours, but it’s still called a 200 Hour Teacher Training.
200 Hour Courses as accredited by self-appointed governing bodies such as Yoga Alliance Professionals, Yoga Alliance USA, British Wheel of Yoga, The Independent Yoga Network and Friends of Yoga. They are all organisations that aim to set standards and quality within the Yoga Teacher Training world, they are competitors’ of one another and will all argue their case for why they’re the best. The top two in the UK are Yoga Alliance Professionals and the British Wheel of Yoga, who both have qualification criteria and high standards for both their Teacher Trainers and potential Teacher Training Students. For instance, to run Teacher Training with Yoga Alliance Professionals you must first be a Senior Yoga Teacher with them which means you must have been teaching for 8 years and 4,000 hours and to be accepted on a Teacher Training course your need to have been practicing yoga consistently for at least 2 years. This is not the same as all the accrediting bodies.
How Long is a Yoga Teacher Training?
So we know the courses are 200 hours but the length of courses can still vary a lot. Intensive trainings range for 2.5 weeks to 6 weeks, now you can do the maths on this that’s going to be tough to just fit the 200 hours in, with little time left for further reading, assimilation and practice. Medium range courses are 6-12 months and there are some longer courses that take 2- 3 years to complete.
Consider the balance here of how you’ll fit the course around your current life commitments, how much time you want to absorb and assimilate that experience and what you end goal is. Intensive trainings are fine, honestly, but they will leave big knowledge gaps as you simply can’t learn and absorb as much in 3 weeks as you can in 9 months. If you are aware of this then you can fill the gaps with Yoga Teacher Mentoring or specific further trainings and CPD courses.
Many people are attracted by the intensive trainings in India as they crave an authentic experience and really living the yoga; but this is unlikely to be your experience simply because of the intensity of completing the 200 hours in a short space of time, you will be in trainings, lectures and on the mat every waking hour to tired to experience the local culture. Instead if this authentic Indian experience is what you crave book yourself and extended retreat at an Ashram in India, travel to Rishikesh, where you can devote your days to practising yoga and the yogic way of life as opposed to learning to teach.
Location of your Course
If you’re not doing an intensive, it’s likely your training will be in the UK and you may need to travel for it. Teacher Training courses are usually long and tiring so consider the implications of traveling both in time and financially.
Online Yoga Teacher Trainings
Online teacher training courses have been around for a while but never accredited by Yoga Alliance Professionals or British Wheel of Yoga. The effects of Covid have meant that more online courses have started or blended courses. You need to consider if this suits your learning style well and if you are self-motivated enough to really make this work. I personally don’t feel that a 100% online training works for yoga, to me it would be like learning to drive a car online and then going out on the roads.
Yoga Style for Training
Some teacher training courses are focused on one style of yoga such as Vinyasa Yoga, some go as far as to tie you in to teach their style such as Bikram Yoga or Forrest Yoga and others are more broad qualify you to teach Yoga and then empowering you to find you own style and your own voice as a teacher.
200hr Yoga Teacher Training Course Syllabus
The accrediting governing bodies tend to leave it open to the Course Directors to set their own syllabus which means they varying windingly between courses. Look at the course syllabus to see if it aligns with your interests and also your intentions. If for instance, you want to set up your own business as a teacher make sure the syllabus includes the business of yoga in detail, which is quite rare.
A fully rounded syllabus should include:
Yoga Asana, Pranayama & Meditation, both developing your own appreciation and the in’s and out’s of how to actually teach
The History & Philosophy of Yoga
Teaching Methodology – how to sequence, how to lesson plan, voice and language, modifications, injuries, how to creating a safe and inclusive yoga space
Anatomy – a thorough and broad overview, relevant to teaching yoga
Business Methodology – how to set up class, how to set up your own business, marketing etc
Teaching Experience – each other, real students, how often?
What to expect: However you choose to train it is going to be an intense journey. There will be tears, you will form friendships that will last a lifetime, you will find it challenging, there will be massive heartfelt highs with such joy but also fear and doubt will bubble up a lot. Teacher Training is a journey of self-development and professional development but there will be a lot of support from your teachers and your fellow trainees.
This is what you can expect from training with Laura Green Teacher Training Yoga School in Southampton, Hampshire
A 200+ hours accredited course with Yoga Alliance Professionals
A 9 month journey, with 8 full weekends in the UK and a 1 week intensive retreat at the end.
Me, Laura Green, present and connected with you throughout and teaching 70% of the course plus a small faculty of teachers and experts in their field.
10 homework assignments directly related to your growth as a teacher.
8 real world real student teaching experiences at my Community Classes
A tough, intense and life changing journey, check out the course testimonials here.
A broad experience in all yoga, giving you the tools to teach Vinyasa, Restorative, Yin, Chair & Hatha so that you can get out there are really teach in your community.
No cookie cutter teaching, you will be challenged and inspired to bring you, your uniqueness, your voice and your magic to your teachings.