yoga teacher training

SHOPPER'S GUIDE

Get clear, get focused, and find the very best program for you!
by Eric Walrabenstein
(five minute read)

o you’ve decided you want to become a yoga teacher. Now what?

S

The truth is that shopping for the best yoga teacher training program for your unique needs can be a daunting task.

 

Any quick online search for yoga teacher training will likely reveal an overwhelming number and variety of programs: everything from five-day intensives to year-long programs; online classes, weekly classes, and intensive retreat-style programs in exotic tropical locales and on and on it goes. 

 

So, how do you intelligently select from the mind-numbing array of programs available? Listed below are a few valuable steps that can help you in making this most important decision. 


1. Know Your Goals


First, be clear on why you want to become a yoga teacher. Consider the fact that being a yoga teacher is no small thing—it can carry with it a tremendous responsibility. Let’s assume you’ve considered this, and determined that teaching yoga is indeed your calling. Ask yourself the following questions, and begin to formulate a checklist to help you select the best program for you:

  • What does being a yoga teacher mean to me?

  • Am I interested in teaching yoga as an authentically transformative spiritual practice or am I more interested in yoga as mindfulness-based exercise?

  • Am I doing this as job training or for my spiritual evolution or both?

  • What is it about yoga that has had the most profound influence on my life?

  • Do I feel drawn toward a particular style or aspect of the practice?

  • What are my expectations for yoga teacher training?

  • What course content do I feel is important?

  • What kind of relationship do I want with the teaching staff?

Finally, ask yourself: If there was no recognized teaching credential awarded at the end of the program, would it still be worth my while?

 

These questions and others, will help you hone in on the type of program that will help you meet your goals.

2. Recognize the Facts


Despite the claims of many programs, yoga teacher training programs do not create yoga teachers. Powerful teaching doesn’t come from attending a program, no matter how comprehensive; powerful teaching is forged as a result of the experience of one’s own yogic transformation. It comes from a combination of practice and study. So regardless of how many facts, quotes, and teaching techniques are crammed into your head, it is the practice and corresponding experiences that are going to arm you to change lives.

 

That’s why yoga practitioners earnest in their desire to teach will dive deeply into their own practice, investing time in a thorough and well-constructed teacher training program. 
 

The best programs recognize this and are designed to lead their student-teachers in their own experience of yoga’s power. This is done in tandem with the more expected classes on yogic philosophy, anatomy, asana theory, and a whole array of teaching techniques that are unique to the art of teaching yoga. 
 

3. Open Yourself to Possibility


Your journey to becoming a yoga teacher can unleash immense unseen possibility in your life, but to get the most out of the experience you need to educate yourself.

 

The fact is that unless you’ve taken a yoga teacher training program before, it’s difficult to even know what to look for...
 

  • If you don’t know that the some of the most potent practices of yoga have nothing to do with postures, you’ll make no effort to learn about them.

  • If you don’t know that the most profound benefits of yoga come from taking your practice out of the studio, you won’t even seek out training programs that can help you master this aspect of the practice.

  • If you don’t know that there are proven techniques that can make yoga relevant and powerful for people from all walks of life and all religious traditions, you won’t seek them out.
     

Yes, lack of knowledge can cause us to settle for less than we deserve—much, much less. And nowhere is this more true than it is in the field of yoga. 

 

The fact is that too many of us remain completely unaware of vast portions of the science of yoga—and this is true even of a great many yoga teachers.

 

For this reason it is crucial that you educate yourself about the process of yoga—as well as the various aspects of the teacher training process. 

 

Not only about those things that you know you lack knowledge in, but also about those things that are completely off your radar as well. 

 

And this is no easy task, because after all, how can you know to educate yourself about some aspect of the practice you don’t even know exists?

 

Well, our next step can help do just that.
 

4. Shop Around

By this time you should have a clear understanding of your own motivations and needs, and you can begin sorting your priorities. Make a list of the programs you are considering based on geography, program type, length, cost, and any other criteria important to you. Once you’ve accomplished this, it’s time to comparison shop.

 

Here are some of the areas you’ll want to evaluate before making your choice:


Program Intention:

  • What is the program’s stated intention?

  • Does the program seem to have been well thought-through?

  • Does it seem to be motivated by spiritual liberation, teaching yoga-based exercise, or simply churning out graduates?
     

Course Curriculum:

  • What are the credentials of the course designer?

  • Does the program seem concerned with student development or simply running people through a course of study?

  • Is the course geared toward meaningful life transformation or simply the imparting intellectual knowledge?

  • Are mentoring opportunities an integral part of the program?

  • Is the curriculum rooted in an established tradition?

  • Does the course of study include all of the elements you feel a well-versed yoga teacher should be knowledgeable about?

  • Does the course provide you with a nationally-recognized certification (e.g. Yoga Alliance)?

  • How does the course curriculum (including hours devoted to each topic) compare to other programs?
     

Teaching Staff:

  • Take classes from the course director and primary teaching staff.

  • Does the teaching style speak to you?

  • Are you comfortable with the teachers and their style?

  • How are students treated by teachers and staff?

  • Are these people you would like to emulate?

  • Are the teachers and course director accessible, and genuinely interested in the students?


Track Record and Reputation:

  • How long has the program been in operation?

  • How many people have graduated from the program?

  • Where are past graduates teaching?

  • Have any past graduates gone on to more senior roles (studio owners, teacher trainers, etc)?

  • What is the program’s reputation in the community?

  • What do past graduates and current students say about the program?

 

Studio Environment:

  • How does the studio look and maintained?

  • Does the environment seem welcoming, non-judgmental, and safe for the delicate work of transformation?
     

Course Director:
Getting to know your primary teacher is more important than any other single factor. Ask questions. Some questions to ask:

  • What is the goal of yoga?

  • If yoga is spiritual discipline, why so much focus on the body?

  • What is enlightenment?

  • How does performing physical postures bring about the enlightened state?

  • How can one make yoga accessible to persons with strong faiths in other traditions?

  • What is your view on the role of the teacher?

  • What does the teacher impart that can’t be obtained through books or self study?
     

Be thoughtful with your questions and ponder the answers. Don’t just accept whatever is given, and don’t be fooled by baseless spiritual rhetoric. Think the answers through for yourself. If you still don’t understand, ask more questions. Don’t be shy or intimidated. This is a test drive, and you want to make sure you’re getting what you need.

 

In today’s fast-food culture influencing even the teaching of yoga and the training of yoga teachers, the wise and careful selection of a teacher training program is more important than ever. Your thoughtful approach and proper preparation will greatly increase the chances that your teacher training investment will reward you richly for a lifetime.

Eric Walrabenstein is an author, speaker, and ordained Yogacharya (master yoga teacher) and is the founding director of Yoga Pura in Phoenix, Arizona.

 

For over 25 years, he has dedicated himself to the practice and teaching of the ancient sciences of yoga and specializes in making its power practical and relevant for our modern world.

In addition to his work at Yoga Pura, he is the president of BOOTSTRAP Yoga Life Skills which offers customized yoga-based programs for addiction recovery, trauma recovery, and military stress management.

 

His work has been featured widely in the media including on NBC, ABC, Yoga Journal, Success Magazine and more.
 

LEARN MORE ABOUT YOGA PURA'S

YOGA TEACHER TRAINING &

LIFE MASTERY PROGRAM