Everything you need to know about training to become a yoga teacher

In the last year, the number of people searching for “yoga teacher training” skyrocketed – increasing by more than 500%

The popularity of yoga teacher training is seemingly ever-growing.

Since 2018 Yoga Alliance Professionals, the UK’s leading professional body for yoga teachers and trainers, has experienced 41% growth in the number of registered yoga teacher training providers.

But what really makes a good yoga teacher training course? And what should aspiring yoga teachers look for when choosing a training provider?

With more than 50 years in the business, Yoga Alliance Professionals – based in Edinburgh – sets standards for the yoga industry to ensure the highest quality of yoga teacher training.

Here are the Alliance’s tips for choosing the right yoga teacher training course for you:

Do your research

Before enrolling on a yoga teacher training course, you should have an established yoga practice and a good grasp of some of the more complex poses.

As a minimum, it’s recommended you have at least 2 years of practice experience before taking on a training course in order to keep up with the syllabus.

Many training schools will assess their students’ practice to ensure it is up to scratch before signing up for their foundation course.

A quality yoga trainer will have invested in their professional development and spent years perfecting their craft so as to deliver the very best training experience.

Yoga Alliance Professionals requires all yoga trainers to have at least 8 years of teaching and training post-graduation.

So, when looking for a yoga teacher training course, it is vital you spend some time researching the trainer’s background to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to meet your expectations.

This is particularly important if you aim to teach a specific style of yoga, say Ashtanga yoga or hot yoga, where the trainer should have committed to additional training to be able to deliver the course effectively.

Where did they study? How long have they been teaching? What additional qualifications do they have? What do they specialise in? And crucially, what do their students have to say about the course?

Make sure you are comfortable with the answers before moving forward with your application.

It’s great if you can spend time with the trainer before the course begins to get a sense of their teaching style and personality.

A thorough training course will create opportunities for prospective trainees to work with the lead teacher to give you a good insight into whether you will work well together.

Likewise, you should ask to see an outline of the course content to get an idea of what you can expect from the training.

While there is no set syllabus, generally speaking, a foundation teacher training course will include modules on yoga philosophy, history, theory, anatomy and physiology, practice and teaching skills. 

Online or In-person?

In the last year, the number of online training courses has exploded.

Online offers you a much greater deal of flexibility and offers you the option to “catch-up” on any missed sessions. And, with lesser expenses and greater capacity, online courses tend to be cheaper.

Nonetheless, the constant analysis, observation, physical practice and adjustments required of yoga training are much harder to replicate online.

Opting for the traditional in-person method of training creates a much deeper level of understanding of the physical form and graduates tend to come away with a higher level of satisfaction.

For this reason, Yoga Alliance Professionals recommends that the practical elements of the course be carried out in person, even if the rest of the training is held online.

Whichever option you choose, making sure that the majority of the course (at least 70%) is spent in the presence of the lead teacher is a must.

Working directly with the trainer facilitates more effective learning and development through observation and instant feedback. 

Intensive vs long-term course

The next big decision to make is whether to go for an intensive training (around 3 to 4 weeks) or a long-term course typically spread over 12 months.

While the former is an attractive option for those who may have little time available, intensive courses are often gruelling, with roughly 10 hours a day spent in training.

Over the 4 weeks, you are fully immersed in the yoga experience, which is at once transformative and challenging.

Non-intensive courses, on the other hand, require attendance on weekends and sometimes one or two-week mini-intensives.

One of the benefits of such courses is the opportunity to practice in between sessions, allowing you to fully imbue the lessons of the previous class.

A good yoga trainer will also encourage you to start teaching throughout the course, perhaps to friends and family, to boost your teaching ability and confidence.

Follow up support

Post-training follow up is an often overlooked area of training, but potentially one of the most important elements to consider.

As a new teacher, having someone to turn to for advice is invaluable. A thorough training provider will provide guidance to their graduates, supporting new teachers through that tricky first year of teaching.

Finding a course that prioritises this will stand you in good stead for the future.

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