How to Choose The Right Yoga Teacher Training Program

From learning postures, the anatomy, to exploring traditions, masters and yogic principles, there’s an abundance of trainings to choose from across the world – where to start with so many options can seem a daunting task, so we have compiled here a go-to checklist for you to run through your criteria and questions, to help guide you in your search to find that ultimate life-changing experience.

With the myriad of options available to us yogis interested in deepening our practice or teaching yoga to others, here’s a list of the most important things to consider and ask in your search to find which training to attend.

1. What curriculum focus are you looking for?

It’s important that the structure of the training meshes with your overall interests. A study will include a balance of hours in anatomy, asana, philosophy of yoga, and teaching practice.

And teachers will spend time focusing on additional subject matters. This creates the focus of the course. If, for example, you know for sure that you’re particularly interested in a subject area like yoga therapy, Ayurveda, meditation or anatomy, then look for the schools that offer the speciality.

And there is the yoga style to consider. A good idea is to start by observing what classes you are drawn to and what interests you about them. Is it the teacher, the style, the teaching philosophy or what else?

2. Which style(s) of yoga to focus on?

Most people select their first teacher training in the style that they are practicing the most in and are most comfortable with at the time. But it doesn’t have to always be this way. Exploration can be very rewarding here.

If you enjoy the flow then Vinyasa and/or Ashtanga could be your choice, or if you enjoy the relaxation in your practice then maybe explore Restorative, Yin or Nidra.

It’s a great idea to explore all the options of styles by attending different studios, classes and teachers, to give you a good feel of all the different types and approaches out there. As there is usually more than one style and can be many styles mixed into the practice classes.

Always stay true to yourself and what you’re passionate about. Choose a the style(s) that you love and truly speaks to your yoga heart.

warriror pose open air

3. What are your plans after with your certification?

If you are interested in teaching afterwards and are attracted by the idea of teaching abroad then possibly participate there as a student too. The coming together of a tribe on a training and attachment to the school and instructors could possibly lead you on a journey of joining them as a teacher.

If teaching abroad is your calling, spreading your gift to others for them to learn, practice and qualify, and go on to spread their gift to others too, this could be an amazing path for you. There really is so much reward and joy in being a teacher on a training.

Or it could be you have something specific in mind for your future teaching journey. For instance if you want to explore healing and anatomy then it could be that Yoga Therapy is something for you to explore, or Iyengar Yoga for technical instruction and alignment.

teaching practice class

If a future life of teaching is the aim then your competence and opportunities will vastly benefit from completing the RYT 500 pathway, there are two routes to do this – the first involves completing the 200 Hour intensive then following up with the 300 Hour advanced training afterwards sometime.

So it is worth checking if the school you are thinking of attending the first stage with offers advanced courses, because it is often the case that graduates create a strong bond with the trainers, their content focus and teaching philosophy.

Qualifying in both levels with the same school will make your whole journey consistent and comfortable for you. Otherwise you will have to complete the second stage at a different school that could feel like starting all over again.

It’s worth noting too that to be a teacher on these certification courses you need the 500 RYT level. And so it could become a consideration for you in the future. These are always important questions to explore before investing the time and energy into this adventure in the first place.

If teaching isn’t on the cards for you, or at least for the time being, and you are just looking to have an awesome time, meet new people and make an adventure of hitting the mat all the time, then it’s probably best just to go with your most comfortable yoga style(s), that way you just get heaps of great practice in and deepen your understanding and technique.

If you are short on time then the idea of a 100 hour is a good option, either as a short introduction to the experience, or as a way to learn more about a particular school and teachers, with a view to then committing to a more intensive retreat with them afterwards.

4. What’s the experience of the teachers?

How long have they been teaching yoga? How long have they been an instructor for trainings? What are their personalities like? What is their teaching philosophy? And style of teaching practice?

Maybe attend some of their classes or workshops, if you can, to get a feel for their teaching style and the energy they bring to their students to make sure it’s a good fit for you. Also past graduate reviews are of great benefit here.

5. How much will it cost?

The cost for most teacher trainings start at around $3000 although you can find them cheaper in India.

Before committing you’ll need to know what the cost includes. Accommodation? Shared or Private? Food? Excursions? What textbooks do you need and how much do they cost? Will there be any workshops or retreats where your attendance is required?

Then there is the travel cost and this can change significantly based on the time of year too.

6. Where to attend?

Do you want to deepen your practice on a training near home? Or does the thought of getting out of your everyday environment and traveling to a location for an intensive retreat experience to take part in. Here you will find all the options which are endless and you can check out all the different curriculum content and requirements.

You will find programs run by professional schools in Costa Rica, the biggest destination for these in the whole of the Americas. Then in Central America there is popular Mexico.

Many say the place with the most diverse range of courses and experience is India, the true home of yoga and where you can seemingly immerse yourself in a spiritual journey of your practice and deep learning.

Here you have many choices too, beachside in Goa, best visited outside of the monsoon season (June to September is when the heaviest rains come through), or in the north in the foothills of the Himalayas, in enchanting and unforgettable Rishikesh, which has comfortable weather all of the year.

Then there is Dharamsala which can be visited all year round too, due to it’s altitude it can be colder in winter (which is October-May).

India can be more affordable with lots of other attractions like Ayurveda, diverse meditation workshops, ashrams, gurus, and with amazing vegetarian food. And the immense spirituality of the land and place. The downside is that it is not easy to travel inside the country and sometimes it can feel like nothing is easy, it can be an assault on the senses too.

yoga teacher training program class

If you are looking for a tropical resort style training this may not be your best first choice, especially if you have never been there before, there are many other options open to you though.

In South East Asia you have Bali, a yoga hub with studios and retreat centers everywhere, and a wide array of health food shops and practitioners in everything you may be interested in.

It is easy to travel and is full of comfortable retreat centers with all the amenities you can imagine. There are two main options here, near to the surfing beach of Canggu, or in Ubud, the green heart of Bali, in the middle of rainforest and terraced paddy fields.

The beauty and the calmness of the people and environment will shine through here. Their hinduism pervades everything and can make a stay near idyllic. The driest times of year are May to September, but a good tip, it can be very busy in July and August for moving around the island and costs.

yoga class in open shala

Or if you fancy rustic beauty in a beach hut then Thailand could be your go-to destination. With centers with yoga shalas on cliff-tops with panoramic views, or directly beachside under coconut trees.

In Thailand the yoga trail leads directly to the islands in the south, mainly Koh Samui and Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand. There is a monsoon but the reality is that the weather is mostly good all year long; so get yourself on a scooter too and feel the freedom of exploring a tropical island. And bonus, it’s cheaper than most other options, except for India.

open-air mountain shala

Based in Europe and don’t really fancy traveling too far? Well that’s no problem either as the yoga world has you covered. There are trainings in all the different countries offering you the opportunity of convenience and ease in travel, accommodation, and a culture you may well be comfortable with already.

Think the rugged coastline and picturesque towns of Portugal, the vibrancy of Spain, the different regions in France, the countryside of the UK or even the beautiful hillsides all over Italy. There is so much to consider here.

Still not sure? To make the decision easier for you we have compiled the best programs into a super easy list for you here that covers many different destinations worldwide (abroad and nearby to your home).

Wherever you decide on, be mindful that while intensive retreats held in far-flung places offer a beautiful backdrop, most of your time will be taken up with group classes, workshops, teaching practice, study and then practical and theoretical exams. Usually there is one day off a week.

QUESTIONS FOR SCHOOLS

7. Is the course Yoga Alliance certified?

Yoga Alliance is a non-profit organization that represents the international standards for all yoga teachers and certifications. In order to become a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT), students must participate in a teacher training with a school that is registered with the organization. This ensures your training and teaching experience meet the Yoga Alliance standards and establishes your credibility.

8. How many students will be attending

To get the right amount of teaching attention and to also be part of a vibrant tribe that comes together for this one amazing purpose, it is worth finding out what the student numbers will be.

Best would be medium-sized, say 25 students or less is about right. Up to 30 absolute maximum. This way you get all the advantages of group teaching opportunities and enough people to create interesting and informative input and energy in the your classes and workshops.

9. How long does it last for?

Trainings can range from one-month intensives where you’re meeting everyday nearly all day, to being spaced out over 6-months or a year of weekends.

It’s important to consider your current commitments and work out what’s best for you, dedicate the time and focus you can to absorb all there is to learn, to allow you to enjoy your experience.

10. Practice and Study

Most of us benefit from choosing a well-rounded training program balanced between classes, workshops and reading up; it does depend on the yoga style too as something like Yoga therapy requires a lot of study. Find a course that strikes a balance and gives you what you are looking for, a good amount of time on the mat for teaching practice is always good.

MOST IMPORTANT THING TO DO

11. Ask for Reviews

This is probably the best thing you can do in your research – read real graduate reviews and even speak to past students, maybe go by referrals from yogi friends at your local studio, at least for your research stage. The reputation of the school is important and you will be looking for an established school that has taught many trainings, certified hundreds of students, and is immersed in the world of yoga alliance certification.

Lastly, what are your ultimate goals?

What do you hope to get out of attending your training? Are you interested in becoming a yoga teacher, to deepen your own practice, or simply having the most awesome yoga-focused holiday ever?

Ask all the questions you have, and ask as many as you like, in all the different locations that could interest you.

It’s a big adventure for you and so don’t be afraid to ask away and research all the possible trainings that could be potentially right for you. Just from the conversation you have with them you may well feel their vibe and approach. That alone could say a lot.

Wish you well on what could be the biggest adventure of your yoga life.

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Jaimee Ratliff
Jaimee Ratliff

Jaimee Ratliff is a writer, traveler, yogi and passionate advocate for living a life you love. She can be found writing on all things travel and inspiration over at This Way North. Jaimee is also the author of Party of One: An Inspirational Guide to Letting Go of Fear and Loving Solo Travel.

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