The Yogi Muse on Choosing Teacher Training, Certification & Famous Teachers.

Via Michelle Marchildon
on Jan 18, 2013
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yoga teacher training


Dear Yogi Muse,

How should I choose a Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) program? There are so many to pick from, and I don’t know what to do. Do you have any advice?

Perplexed Power Yogi


Dear Perplexed:

This must be January because in addition to losing weight and exercising more, lots of people decide it’s a good time to become a yoga teacher. A Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) could be the greatest thing you’ve ever done, or a waste of time. So it bears serious consideration before you plop down a wad of money and commit a ton of hours to your enlightenment.

For some of us, knowing which YTT to take appears like a burning bush. For example, I spent a week with Amy Ippoliti, and I knew I had to take a Teacher Training from her. But if the answer is not as clear to you, then here are some things to consider before signing up.

Do you admire this teacher and is this the style you want to teach?

All yoga is not the same, and even teachers who practice the same style of yoga are not the same. Choose the one you know and like.

Do you plan to actually teach?

If so, then ask your YTT what they offer to help you find a job. Do they have a database of community options looking for yoga teachers? Do they hire from their own TT program? Do they offer mentoring? Know what the job prospects are like before you spend $2,000 to get one.

Does the YTT need to be registered with Yoga Alliance?

For example, you are planning to teach at Pop’s Yoga Studio and Pop said he will hire you, so does it matter that it’s not affiliated with a recognized Yoga School or Yoga Alliance? It may not. But if you move, or if Pop goes out of business, then another studio may not accept your training as equivalent to a 200 RYT. You will have to start over and repeat your training. Om Namah Shivaya.

Do you need to register with Yoga Alliance?

Personally, I support Yoga Alliance and the effort it is making to regulate our business. I know it is not perfect, or even close to perfect. But when I joke in my blogs that “everyone is a yoga teacher,” well, just about everyone is also offering a Yoga Teacher Training (especially when this is a major source of studio income).

If you are being trained to work with people’s bodies; you should know what you are doing. You wouldn’t go to a doctor or hire a lawyer without a license, but some are quick to dismiss establishing standards in yoga. In my opinion, I would take a YTT from a known yoga school, with a certified teacher, and I would register with Yoga Alliance or at least another regulatory agency. And my opinion is what you wanted.

Does the YTT teach you about the poses, or does it teach you to teach?

There are really two kinds of trainings. One emphasizes how to teach, to lead a room and to cue the breath and postures. Another will teach you the poses. I have had both kinds of training and I’ve never regretted either one. However, I often see new teachers who know one or the other. If you are looking to deepen your practice, then learning how to move a room efficiently is not where you should be spending your time. And if you are looking to teach, be sure the program you select will give you those skills.

Should you take a YTT from your local teacher or travel to be with a famous one?

TTs range from $1,500 to $5,000 with the higher priced programs usually involving world famous teachers. If that is what you choose, be sure your famous teacher is actually going to be doing the teaching and not farming it out to his apprentices. Meanwhile, your local teacher, who has brought you this far to enlightenment, might also appreciate if you show up for her.

The bottom line is that your first YTT will probably not be your last. Yoga is endlessly revealing and where you start is only that, where you start. My own path has taken me from Ashtanga, to Power, to Anusara, to Iyengar. I am currently interested in therapeutic yoga as many of my students are older. But that is not where I started! As I like to say, there are no bad decisions. Only some decisions will lead you to others sooner than you expected!


Like elephant yoga on Facebook.


Ed: Kate Bartolotta


About Michelle Marchildon

Michelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She’s an award-winning journalist, and the author of Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga. Her second book, Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga, is for yoga teachers who want to inspire their students. Michelle is a columnist for elephant journal and Origin Magazine and a contributor to Teachasana, My Yoga Online and Yoga Journal. She is an E-RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance and teaches in Denver, Co where she is busy raising two boys, two dogs and one husband. You can follow her on Facebook at Michelle Marchildon, The Yogi Muse. You can find her blog and website at And you can take her classes on


31 Responses to “The Yogi Muse on Choosing Teacher Training, Certification & Famous Teachers.”

  1. rob G says:

    Being registered with Yoga Alliance may affect your ability to get General Liability Insurance.

  2. Good information to consider. Thanks for sharing your insights! – K

  3. West Anson says:

    hmmmm….I have a "skewed" opinion on YTT and the YA as I have never attended any "Official" Teacher Training nor do I feel the need for the "toothless" YA. I teach more hours than many of the local Teachers and the YA is basically a irrelevant entity.

    I am convinced TT has become simply THE primary "revenue stream" for studios allowing them to remain viable options for Studio Yoga. What I see are simply "Yogi Mills" taking +$2000 from young people, predominately impressionable Yoginis, in swaths of 20-30 at a time. Six months later, when they "graduate", they realize there are not enough jobs out there for them to teach. The cycle starts all over again for the Studio as they have little concern for the "puppies" they churn out.

    Eventually the bubble is going to burst, if it hasn't done so already. So sad, as when it does people are going to be left with a very negative view of the Yoga Community and Yoga in-general. <sigh>

  4. Michelle Marchildon says:

    As an aside, I have been practicing for 15 years, teaching for 8, I'm an E-RYT 500 and I've studied several different types of yoga. Only this year have I felt ready to take the seat in various teacher trainings. I am amazed at the confidence of many teachers who feel ready to teach a YTT after 6 months. AMAZED!

  5. Coconut Blossom says:

    I have just completed a 200hr YTT. I took it to deepen my own practice and potentially create an alternative career. It has done amazing things for my personal growth and my perspective on life. I was taught asanas and adjustments, meditation techniques, yogic philosophy plus how to teach a class. However what was important to me was the spiritual awareness that it brought. I had a strong asana practice before so I was confident in my knowledge of the physical side but getting inside myself and learning to come from the heart was priceless. Yes YTT are a source of revenue but we all need to make a living somehow. Surely it is not a bad thing having more people out there spreading yoga to the world? 200hr YTT are basic trainings and it should be down to the individual to take personal responsibility for how safe their delivery is.

  6. giuseppe says:

    I would like to add that there is a major difference between a yoga teacher who went through a one month or number of weekends and a yoga teacher who went through a full certified course tha can work first for your yoga path giving you the skills to become first a yogin than a teacher…yoga is not a joke or the next fashion, one should consider that will work with the pranic body, the mental body and also the physical body…pranic, mental,,,,is not a joke….if done in a superficial way can affect people's life…..Consider to start from the traition and than move once you are sure to have the true nature of yoga made yours…Hari Om Tat Sat

  7. Michelle Marchildon says:

    I certainly didn't mean to write an infomercial for YA. But I am tired of seeing YTTs offered by teachers and studios with less than a year of experience. I don't have the answer. But at least requiring more experience, even if it is toothless, has to be better than nothing.

  8. HeatherM says:

    Hi, Here's my teacher Yogacharya Venkatesha's view on teaching programs today ~

    So far, no other Master teacher or Yoga institution has recognized in such a public way the inherent problems with YTT's and the on-going trend that is spiraling into more factory-made training programs.

    This kind of 'statement' may not be popular for many. However, it will guarantee that those who study under him are not seeking mere 'certification' but understand the path and the responsibility of teaching, studying and being a good practitioner first.

    Despite Yoga Alliance and other governing bodies, in the end, it will be up to individual teachers and schools to set the mark and protect what it means to be a teacher and student of yoga.

  9. Nick says:

    "Personally, I support Yoga Alliance and the effort it is making to regulate our business." – Michelle Berman Marchildon

    According to Yoga Alliance's about us page, it "exists to confer credibility on qualified yoga teachers and schools so the public can have confidence in the quality of yoga instruction they receive. The organization maintains an online directory of yoga schools to recognize yoga teacher training programs that meet defined 200-hour and 500-hour standards."

    They offer a "do it yourself" online system to track your teaching hours. Studios pay money to get the yoga alliance rubber stamp. That's it. There's no regulation of our business there. The good news is, some of us can be trusted to self regulate. But Yoga alliance?

    Yoga alliance is a business oriented towards deceiving the public. They're basically pretending to be a regulatory body on an industry that doesn't have one.

  10. Michelle Marchildon says:

    In my next life, I want to come back with a name like "Coconut Blossom." Love that.

  11. Michelle Marchildon says:

    My first yoga teacher passed out in the room. PASSED OUT! And I thought she was the bomb. So I guess we really never know who is reputable, and who is not. If she hadn't of passed out, I'd still be in the health club doing silly leg lifts.

  12. […] Choosing a yoga class to regularly attend can be difficult. It’s important to know what one is throwing themselves into, and as these current generations come into yoga without parental or peer guidance, those sanskrit words can look pretty intimidating. […]

  13. Nice Blog…
    I got all information.

  14. […] mentor had gone out of her way to get me the job. I had just finished my teacher training and was unsure if teaching was my forte. I had always had a fear of speaking in public, even though […]

  15. carolwilliams24 says:

    Great interview! Two thumbs up! What a great resource! In short if you had to teach make sure that the learners will surely get what they paid for that I believe what matters most…

  16. Yogalife says:

    Yoga and meditation were designed to go together: the yoga helps strengthen the body for long meditation sessions; the meditation helps the mind get into the peace. yoga make you fit and energetic all the time.

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