August 6, 2013

5 Things to Ask Yourself Before Signing Up for Yoga Teacher Training.

As I recently shared, I did my yoga teacher training nearly three years ago.

I loved it, and I am not exaggerating when I say that it was life-changing. However, like many things, there were a few things I wish I had known before I accepted my place in the training program.

As anyone who has ever done it or looked into it, yoga teacher training is not cheap. It can range from a few thousand to well over $10,000 depending on the program. In most cases, anyone who has the money can be accepted into some program somewhere. Most probably have a good idea why they want to do the teacher training, but it’s important to ask yourself some additional questions as well. Doing so may make all the difference between a good experience and an awful one. Furthermore, you may come to the conclusion that teacher training really isn’t something that you want to do at the moment—or perhaps, even ever. So, without further ado, here are some things to ask yourself before you mail off that deposit.

1. How much is this going to cost?

Many never look past the tuition and registration fees. While those things make up the bulk of the expense, consider other factors including transportation costs, child care costs, etc.

If you decide to do the teacher training through a program where you finish those 200 or 500 hours all at once, it may be easier to determine the real cost. However, if you are enrolled in a program like I was that was spread out over the course of several months, it may be a bit more challenging.

For example, I knew I would need childcare for some of those weekends, but I did not factor into account that during the holiday seasons, most sitters would charge double or triple their usual rates. I also did not factor into the equation the amount of money I would be losing as I had to turn down some freelance writing assignments because I simply did not have the time.

One woman I trained with lived several hours away in another state and had to pay for accommodations and food during those training weekends. If this sounds like your situation, it may actually be cheaper to pay more for a program closer to home even if the tuition is more. This is especially true depending on what time of the year it is since a lot of yoga teacher schools are in areas where tourism plays a major role in the local economy. (I happen to live in such a place which is home to a major university, a popular tourism destination, and is an extremely popular place to have weddings. Sometimes, it can pretty close to impossible to find a hotel or motel room at any price range within a 30 mile radius.)

2. How many people are there going to be?

In my teacher training, there were three instructors and close to 20 people. Each one of us was assigned to a primary instructor as our main teacher. While this was far from a huge number of people, I still felt it was too many and would have been better off in a smaller group. You may feel similar or differently given your personality. Some people thrive in large groups while others need that one-on-one attention.

Some teacher training programs have a limit on how many students they will accept in a session. Ask if yours is one of them if that is a matter of concern for you.

3. Am I required to sign any sort of waiver or abide by any rules during training?

I was not required to do so, but I have known a couple of people who had to promise to follow the yamas and niyamas as set forth in the Yoga Sutras and/or not to eat meat or drink alcohol during the teacher training. While all said that this was based on the student’s word and no one was actually watching them to make sure they complied with the rules, ask yourself if you can honestly comply with any rules or regulations you are asked to follow.

Granted, you can always lie, but as a yoga devotee—even one who considers herself pretty non-preachy—I just find this so wrong. Better to be honest with yourself now than join the program, find out you cannot or will not keep them and risk the very real possibility of not getting your certificate at the end of the training.

4. What is my emotional and physical health like?

This is pretty important one and the one I happen to think is the question least asked and/or overlooked.

When I did my teacher training, my daughter was 15 months old. I was still breastfeeding and even though my body looked pretty much as it had done before I had given birth, it wasn’t 100% back to “normal.” I usually had someone bring my daughter to the training center or went home during my lunch breaks, but one time I couldn’t do either and had to deal with painfully engorged breasts. (Believe me, it’s really hard to focus on yoga or anything when your breasts feel like they are going to explode.) Plus, I was doing more yoga than I ever had done before which resulted in relatively minor shoulder injury becoming a huge, chronic problem. (To this day, it still nags me fairly regularly.)

Two people I know chose to do their teacher training while going through a divorce. One woman said it saved her sanity while another had to quit before she could finish. Even if you consider yourself non-spiritual or one of those types who takes the spiritual stuff with a big ol’ grain of salt, a lot of emotional stuff will probably come up during practice.

Also, as touched on in a tongue-in-cheek post I wrote recently, there are certain “types” who frequently flock to yoga teacher training. Even if you have to be in a group where you like most of the people, after 200 hours or more, people’s little ticks and annoyances are probably going to get to you at some point no matter how laid-back you tend to be.

In closing, deciding to enroll in a yoga teacher training program probably won’t be nearly as stressful as say enrolling in graduate school, but it is not without stressors. While it can and often is a lot of fun, it is a commitment and one that should be given as much care and consideration as one would any other sort of commitment.

My advice would be to sit down for awhile and consider the pros and cons. Just like law school isn’t for everyone, yoga teacher training may not be for everyone either.

However, if you feel you want to do it and have what it takes to deal with any major or minor inconveniences, then go for it.

Despite what you may have heard, the world can always use more good yoga teachers.

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Ed: Sara Crolick

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