It’s a dog eat dog world out there when it comes to choosing your yoga teacher training. I was lucky. When I started studying to be a teacher there was no such thing. There was just me and my mentor. Lots of days spent watching, taking notes, carrying blocks and handing out straps. I learned through osmosis and was a complete novice when I taught my first class. ( I literally taught from a book I was reading on the fly)
In 2019 old style learning is not an option. Studios want to know your credentials. Where did you study? Are you 200, 300 or 500 hrs. certified? What style do you teach? How do you intend to keep up your continuing education? What’s your Instagram following? Do you have a website, a facebook page, a mailing list? Can you guarantee bums on mats?
It can be daunting and frustrating, to say the least. You may have decided to teach because you’d like to work in a profession which is healthier, more holistic and aligned with your personal views. You may just want to deepen your practice and be more motivated to practice daily. You might want to understand yourself better or even dive deep into the philosophy. Or you’re just someone who has gained so much personal benefit from the practice that you are passionately driven to share. No matter what your motivation, your trepidations or enthusiasm. There is a training that’s right for you. That’s why I put together this list of things I’d wish I’d known or thought about before taking the plunge.
No two trainings are alike
I consider this to be the single most important factor to consider when choosing a training. As much you might think “I’ll do my training wherever with whomever so I can get certified at the right price and the time and place it suits ” I would caution you to STOP and take a breath.
As appealing as a 200 YA TT for $500 on the island of Costa Rica sounds (I’m exaggerating for effect) it might not adequately give you the skills you need to teach in a variety of situations.
Imagine, you’re all fired up and ready to teach your first class when someone with a serious health issue and injuries comes into the room. You’ve learned a lot about how to lead the class from your mat but haven’t learned what to do when someone presents in the class with a major injury or health condition. You want them to feel safe but you’re not sure how to support them. Having that person in the class distracts you and makes you feel uncomfortable.
You might think, “No way! that won’t be me”. In my 30 years of teaching, I can attest to the fact that it happens a lot in fact almost every class and I for one am grateful I know exactly what to say and do to make that person feel comfortable in a class.
Experience and thorough training in how to modify and address injuries, what postures should and shouldn’t be done are so important. When you are researching a course you want to make sure they go into the details of each posture, that you have access to a range of abilities and ages so you can see common misalignments etc.
On that note, a yoga teacher training which has been around for more than 10 years, has teachers with at least 20 years of teaching experience and a lasting legacy of teachers that now teach themselves is a good starting point when deciding on a course.
Word of Mouth from long-standing teachers
Speaking with former trainees long after they’ve trained with a particular school is a great way to discover whether it’s the right course for you. It’s easy to grab testimonials from new students and post those on a TT website. When the course is fresh in your mind and you’re high from the intensity of doing yoga for 30 days straight you’ll definitely rave about it. But highs don’t last.
I know of people who’ve done training and started teaching and felt so inadequate that they decided they’d wasted their money on the course. You never hear about the number of dropouts when you’re doing your research online. I often get asked which courses I would recommend. My list is short but potent. I know, like and trust the teacher trainers personally and know that if a person trains there they will get the goods.
Teacher Training is no picnic
Diving into any form of Teachers Training isn’t all joy, bliss, and unicorns. It’s actually a lot of hard work and focus in a concentrated period of time. During the course you’re waking up before dawn, practicing up to 5 hrs. a day, expected to listen, take notes and apply what you are learning immediately. If you are in a longer course format ( like one weekend a month or one day a week) you’ll be expected to integrate the teachings in the down times, do homework, assist a teacher and most importantly keep up your own practice. That means if you have a family or work commitments everything will have to be factored in. In fact, that’s another reason why people often feel overwhelmed and undertrained. They went in assuming they could get a certificate and just start teaching only to realize there is actually so much more to being a yoga teacher. I can’t even measure the number of times a student finishes their TT and says, “ Wow I feel like I am just at the beginning of my journey.”
Learning to teach yoga is a truly a life-changing path of transformation that will revolutionize every aspect of your life. Once you step on the path there is no going back. You can’t unyoga yourself. In my opinion, it’s worth it.
The Politics of Style
What’s the first thing I get asked as a yoga teacher? “What style do you teach?” I always hesitate to answer. Firstly because I see yoga as yoga, not fixed in any style yoga for me is life and the nature of who we are.
On a personal note: I feel fortunate to have learned from teachers who focused on safe alignment and a holistic approach. As a yoga student, you may have fallen in love with Yin or Kundalini yoga. If that’s you then definitely train in the style you love because it’s easier to share what you love and know.
However, it’s also good to have solid training in a neutral style that enables you to teach to the individual. The more tools in your toolkit the better. You can always add more styles to your kit once you’ve got the foundation. Finding a non-dogmatic integral course with open-minded teachers who have a range of styles under their belt will give you the skills you need to nurture and support others.
Ready to do your teacher training in 2019? We’d love to support you in living yoga. Visit www.rachelzinmanyoga.com/teacher-training for our 2019 prospectus. Our early bird closes February 1, 2019