Pro’s and Cons of Different Yoga Teacher Training Programmes (intensives v longer duration; local v overseas)
So you’ve deliberated and meditated on enrolling yourself on a yoga teacher training course. The next step is to find the right course. That’s the simple part, right? With countless styles, locations, prices, and time formats, it may prove more challenging than you first thought. Don’t despair, the journey is just beginning so breathe and embrace it.
The Where – Home or Away?
If you’ve got the luxury of escaping completely, heading off to an exotic destination to train as a yoga teacher may sounds like a no brainer. But before you reach for your passport and repellent, remember that earning a qualification from an accredited training school is no Savasana in the park.
‘Living yoga’ from 5am till late, six days a week will not leave you much time to enjoy the destination, if that’s one of the reasons for going abroad, unless you can stick around after the course. Several of my students have headed off to India or Thailand only to return a month later exhausted and frustrated, saying there was little free time or energy to experience the local culture and explore the destination. There’s always the option once your qualified to enjoy overseas courses without the pressure of coursework and final exams.
If the additional living costs and time commitments are not a luxury you can afford at the moment, consider a more local yoga school which offers a 6 or 12 month training programmes. Non-residential courses offers you the opportunity to continue your family and work obligations while you train, earn money and take in the wealth of information at a more relaxed pace.
If you choose a overseas residential training school, be sure to find out the standard of accommodations, food and what’s required of you. Karma yoga duties, rustic living and getting up before dawn for chanting doesn’t suit everyone’s tastes. You want to enjoy the journey as well as feel confident to teach at the end of it, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Intensive Vs Longer Courses
Ask yourself how soon you see yourself teaching and how long you want your journey to becoming a yoga teacher to take. The quickest route in my experience does not always yield the best teacher. Yoga studios hire teachers who can teach with confidence and demonstrate teaching skills. Consider teacher training as the first step to building your yoga CV.
Take into account how you best learn, and play to your strengths. It may have been a while since you were cramming for an exam or wrote an assignment. Just because you can perform well under pressure, doesn’t mean you want it on this particular journey. You’ve waited this long, so why the rush? Immersions will require you to do yoga all day long, every day with many tests within a very condensed time frame.
Six or 12 month extended program formats are popular for their digestible nature and allow more learning time between modules. This in my experience is particularly true when it comes to the practical aspects of teaching and applied anatomy. Learning what function the postures serve, how to plan classes and how to teach them is challenging enough, and can be easier to digest over 6 or 12 months.
Take into account how you learn, and how much your job and commitments at home could also serve as a distraction from your learning. From there, you will have a better idea on what length of training will suit you best.
What Style of Yoga Do You Want To Teach and Who’s Going to Teach You?
Don’t choose a yoga teacher training just because the dates fit your schedule, or it’s affordable. Rather, train in the style that you want to teach with teachers you want to learn from.
Traditional schools may focus on teaching one set sequence while other schools teach you to intelligently create your own sequences. Ask yourself which classes you enjoy attending and what style of class you want to teach when you qualify, and in the future. Yoga is forever evolving but also honours the traditions of the past. Consider what style of classes will be well received in your home town and who your clientele is likely to be?
Do your homework and if practically possible, attend at least one class with the teacher(s) who will be training you. If you don’t already know the director of the program, ask to talk with him or her so you can ask questions. Don’t be shy; you’re considering a big commitment, and its part of the decision making process.
As a course director of Banyan Tree School of Yoga I begin by asking potential applicants why teacher training appeals to them and why this one in particular. All applicants are invited to see the training school and experience a class after which we take time for informal questions and to go over the details of the programme. Our duty as teachers is to guide you towards the right training programme. A good yoga school produces confident happy teachers who support their students long after the certificates are handed out.
As teachers and student’s we are all here to enjoy the journey and to inspire. Isn’t that after all the point?