People ask me all the time how I decided where to do yoga teacher training. Here’s the decision process that ultimately led me to do my 200 hour basic yoga teacher training with Yoga Tree in San Francisco.
Timing & Schedule
Honestly, with busy lives and narrow windows of time your decision may come down to timing and schedule and what works best in your life. I toyed with the idea of doing yoga teacher training for years, but it never seemed to fit in my schedule. When I quit my job at the end of last year, I searched for a month-long intensive program beginning shortly after my “retirement” started. I wanted the structure, instant community, and excitement of learning something new right away after my job (to keep me from watching hours of mindless television).
Another factor was schedule. I knew I wanted a month-long intensive, but for some people a 6-month extended program will work better with their schedule. There are benefits to both, and neither one is better than the other. It just comes down to what works best for you; all that matters is that you do the training, not how long the training takes you.
When shopping around, I noticed that in many schools the yoga teacher training was taught by two or three teachers. Again, there’s no right or wrong answer here. Some people love cultivating a close connection with a teacher, and having only a few teachers guide you through your teaching journey can give that to you. But the downside is that you may not like one of the teachers – which means you’ll have a lot of time with that instructor and it may tarnish your experience (this actually happened to a friend of mine).
For me, I like being exposed to diversity of opinion and style, and then forming my own preferences, beliefs, and practices with that information. I liked that Yoga Tree’s teacher training was taught by a variety of teachers. I wanted a well-rounded education, and the training drew the best, well-respected teachers in each area for our instruction. Having several teachers during your teacher training does not preclude you from having close connections with instructors; I formed very close bonds with a few of the teachers. With 200 hours of instruction, you spend a lot of time with your teachers!
Similarly, many schools teach a particular style or lineage of yoga. I wasn’t committed to a select style or lineage; rather I wanted a well-rounded education that I could draw from. As with everything, this is a matter of personal preference – but an important one to consider. The benefit of being schooled in a particular style or lineage is that it can make teaching a lot easier in the beginning, because the sequencing and alignment is more prescribed. However, when you are taught by several teachers who themselves draw from different lineages, there is no step-by-step guide to sequencing and teaching. In Yoga Tree’s teacher training, you are taught the principles of alignment and sequencing, which allow you to develop your own practices and style safely and with the desired energetic effect. Some people thrive in structure, others like having a strong foundation that they can build on. I prefer the latter, which is why I chose Yoga Tree’s program, particularly since it is taught by some incredible teachers.
200 Hours of Class Time
According to the Yoga Alliances standards for the 200 hour basic certification, 20 hours can be “non-contact” hours – time engaged in homework, self-study or practice NOT with a training instructor. Naturally every program out there is different, but many take full advantage of the “non-contact” hours by counting things like homework and personal study towards the 200 hour Yoga Alliance requirement.
Yoga Tree doesn’t count non-contact hours as part of it’s teacher training curriculum, even though there is no shortage of homework given. That means that you a minimum of 200 hours with the training staff, and therefore the training far exceeds the 200 hours required by Yoga Alliance. Yoga Tree’s curriculum was the most robust program I could find. To be fair, there are other programs out there like Yoga Tree’s, but they are the exception rather than the rule. If I was going to invest in the training, I wanted to find the program that would give me the most for my investment.
I don’t want to be a yoga teacher
I really struggled with the fact that I didn’t think that I wanted to be a yoga teacher when I was making the decision to do a teacher training. Since I had just quit my job and needed to figure out how I was going to make a living, I felt like every decision I made had to have a tangible correlation to my career. I waffled back and forth for weeks, knowing it was something I wanted to do, but didn’t feel justified doing because I knew that I didn’t really want to teach.
Finally, I just took the outcome of being a yoga teacher off the table and asked myself, “In ten years, will I regret doing this even if I don’t teach yoga?” The answer was no. Going through yoga teacher training was something I wanted to do for years, and I would probably kick myself for not taking advantage of the free time I had – who knows when I would have it again?
Many people ask me if they should go through yoga teacher training if they know they don’t want to teach. They are usually surprised to learn that two thirds of my class had no intention of teaching – they were all there because they love yoga and wanted to do it for themselves.
I tried out teaching yoga for a few months after teacher training. While I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it. So I decided to stop. However, the teacher training has had unanticipated effects for my career – I integrate yogic philosophy with my coaching clients and developed a new network and community. It has also advanced my personal spiritual practice. All valid reasons for doing a yoga teacher training.
I can’t do handstand
Neither can I, even after going through yoga teacher training. People in my class ranged from absolute beginners to people who could twist themselves into pretzels standing on one hand. Most of us fell in the middle. A surprising fact – you don’t do that much yoga during teacher training. Most of the day is spent in lecture and various exercises, but actual asana takes up maximum two hours a day. You don’t have to be an advanced student to go through teacher training, you just have to have a desire to learn.
What questions do you have about where to do yoga teacher training?
Let me know in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them.