So you want to be a yoga teacher...Part 2
So you've decided becoming a yoga teacher is the right thing for you. Bravo! If you haven't already, then check out my last post giving you a few things to look forward to on the amazing journey you're about to take. The next step is to find a school to learn from and there's a lot to consider before signing up. Here's my handy guide to finding the right teacher training for you.
There are many teachers out there who don't hold qualifications. There's a lot to be said about experienced but non-certified teachers, and that's another blog post for another time. My advice is to make sure your course is a minimum of 200 hours. This is the standard basic level. It might sound like a lot but there's also a lot to learn. It's tempting to take a week long 50 hour course, but please, don't skimp on this. If this is your dream job then take the time to learn it properly.
Make sure that whatever school you're parting cash with is registered by some 'regulating' body. In actual truth, yoga regulations are a grey area to say the least, but you might find peace of mind by going with a school who are registered by Yoga Alliance or the British Wheel of Yoga (for example), not to mention finding it easier to get insurance
Hatha? Vinyasa? Ashtanga? Yin? Jivamukti? Kundalini? The choice of yoga styles is endless and it can be confusing, especially if you're new to the practice. My advice? Experiment. Attend different classes with different teachers to find out what you like and, more importantly, what you don't. It'll be easier if you have some connection to the style of yoga you want to learn to teach, not to mention more fun. And remember, you don't have to pick one style and stick to it forever. If in five years you want to switch from teaching Ashtanga to Yin, then you're free to do it!
Research, research, research
Every decent yoga school will have some kind of online presence, whether its a website, Facebook, YouTube or Instagram. Research everything you can about them. What's their outlook on yoga? Do you like the teachers? Where have the teachers studied? Do they specialise in a particular area of interest such as anatomy? How do they interact with followers? Do they have follow-up courses? Make sure you feel comfortable with them before signing up. You'll be spending a lot of time together.
Traditional or modern?
Some schools are very traditional, while others will have a new take on things. This will become important when you start learning things like philosophy and how to structure classes. Figure out if you want to learn somewhere that's more fluid and allows the possibility to leave your teaching open to new influences and styles, or if you want to be disciplined and teaching a tried and tested, years old sequence.
Let's get spiritual...or not
If you're someone who's heavily into chakras, kundalini energy or reiki for example, then going for a school that doesn't include such things on their curriculum to the extent you'd like may leave you disappointed. Don't take it as a given then these such esoteric topics are automatically covered, or even believed in by all yoga teachers, because they're not. Investigate what's on the school's curriculum to see if it's a match for you.
Intensive or Long-Term?
A big thing to consider is how long the course should be. Do you want to go on a five week intensive course, or would you rather learn over a space of 2 years? Do you have the means/money/availability to do one over the other? A lot of people stick their noses up at intensive courses because they feel like graduates don't have the time to learn properly but the truth is, the amount of learning hours is the same whether you do a part-time weekend only course or fly to India for a few weeks. If you're ready and willing to eat, sleep, live, breathe and even poop yoga for a few weeks, I highly recommend an intensive. If you'd rather take your time or have commitments that prevent you from doing so, then spread it out. The important thing to remember, is that a certificate doesn't mean you know it all. A yoga teacher will always be a student too, so take the amount of time that's right for you.
Location, Location, Location
This applies a little more to intensive courses than longer-term ones I guess, but it's an important point to consider. If you're someone who hates tropical heat, then are you really willing to spend 5 weeks in India, Thailand or Bali? And once you've found the country to learn in, drill it down to location. If there are full moon parties happening around you the whole time, it might be difficult to get a good night's sleep at best, or keep your discipline to lay off booze/drugs/vice of your choice during the course. And the last thing that links to the location, is the cost. Intensives can be expensive, especially if you have to fork out for flights, accommodations and visas too.
Looking for a yoga school can be overwhelming. The most important thing to remember is to take your time! Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and this is a huge investment you're making. No need to hurry!
I did both my 200 and 300 hour courses with Ashtak Yoga School, who I can highly recommend. For more info about their upcoming courses, check them out here.