January 18, 2013

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


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!


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Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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