4 things to consider when you're looking into yoga teacher training courses

By Sarah Hammond

I get asked this question once a week on average and I get it – the choice in where and how you do your teacher training is overwhelming these days! With so much to choose from it’s good to know a few key points..

1. Get clear on your why

Interested in strong asana? Want to learn how to sequence creative flows? Keen to study philosophy? Only want to teach yin or restorative yoga? Or prenatal? Or kids yoga? Looking to create a regular meditation practice or be a meditation teacher? 


The more specific and clear you get on these points, the easier it’s going to be to eliminate courses that don’t fit your needs and hone in on the ones that offer what you want. 


Is there anything you’re not keen on studying? I believe the students that do best in teacher training are those that keep an open mind towards learning all aspects of the practice, the parts they’re familiar and excited to study as well as the parts that are less known or boring or they’re less confident about. If you love your hot power flow class but the idea of studying philosophy and energetics makes you yawn, ask yourself, am I going to be open to studying this if I take a teacher training? While every course is different, you’re going to be hard pressed to find one that has 100% of the content you know want to learn – there are always going to be unknown elements. The question is are you ready to embrace that? An open mind is key for learning.


2. Research Research Research

Google is your friend! Collect those course outlines and study them from start to finish (no skimming!).  Make sure the cost, course dates, subjects, assessment criteria, contact hours and the required attendance to pass suit you. Most are available on the website or by emailing the studio or teacher.


Do your research offline as well.  Most studios will offer free teacher training information sessions and most solo yoga teacher trainers will be available for a meeting over coffee or by phone to discuss the course details and answer your questions. When possible, it’s great to speak with graduates from the course and get a first hand account of how they found the training. Questions to ask would be how they found the workload, how were the group dynamics, did they do much practice teaching and what were there stand out moments.


You could also contact the good people at Yoga Australia. These guys are an excellent Australian based professional body that give advice to yoga trainees plus teachers and they’re an excellent source of non biased information on teacher training. If you have a lot of questions about insurance, teaching in Australia versus overseas or just about the yoga industry in general they’re worth a phone call and are here to genuinely help.

3. Meet your teacher trainer


It sounds obvious but speak to enough yoga teachers and you’ll find out a lot of them didn’t enjoy their first teacher training due to personality clashes with the people training them, differences of opinion on teaching and learning styles, or they had a different expectation of the training than what it was in reality.


If you’re considering a course local to your area get to a class with some, if not all, of the yoga teachers who are teaching in the course and see if their style resonates with you. Ask yourself, can I see myself teaching in this way? Is this person / class inspiring and can I see myself doing this? If possible, ask the teachers where they studied and what teachers they have learned from.


If you’re looking at an overseas training with a teacher/ teachers you have not met or cannot practice with, contact them and setup a time to call or Skype. A short conversation should give you a feel for the teachers communication style and gives you the chance to ask any questions that you might want to know. Most overseas teacher trainers will also have youtube or online classes that you can checkout so look out for these too. If you can’t find any, ask them directly for a link to an online practice of some sort. 


4. Make the most of it


Found the one? Great. If you enrol early, most courses will have a discounted rate. If it’s close by to your home or work, start practicing there regularly (if you don’t already). Purchase your required reading texts early and get your preliminary reading done. We all have busy lives and guess what, they don’t stop once you start teacher training. In most cases, the study and self development you’ll go through in teacher training will be a catalyst for more change in your life not less. Sticking to a homework and study schedule, regularly attending classes and being at 99% of the contact hours, is the best way to make the most of your teacher training time.


If you feel overwhelmed or that you’re falling behind with course work, ask your teacher trainers for help. They are there to support you and they absolutely want you to have the best experience, so ask for help as soon as you need it, not 1 month later when you’re floundering in work and trying to catchup.


Sarah is the studio manager and a teacher training facilitator at body flow yoga. You can talk to her about all things yoga anytime before or after class.