6 Steps for Selecting the Perfect Yoga Teacher Training Program

By Lisa Bertke, E-RYT, YACEP, Certified Level II ParaYoga Instructor, Certified Ayurvedic Specialist

6 steps for selecting the perfect yoga teacher training program

What should you look for when selecting a yoga teacher training program? There are many training programs out there and there are some big differences. Here are some steps to help you make the best decision for YOU!

Evaluating 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Programs

1. Registered School with Yoga Alliance

Yoga Alliance registered Yoga School mark

Is the school registered with Yoga Alliance? Yoga Alliance registers both individual yoga teachers and yoga teacher training programs (schools) who have complied with the minimum educational standards established by the organization. Look for the symbol RYS 200 on advertising and double-check the school is on the Yoga Alliance website. If the training is not registered with Yoga Alliance, your certification may not be recognized by professional yoga organizations, making it more difficult for you to get hired —or accepted into a registered advanced training. There are exceptions to this, such as the Iyengar certification, which holds very high standards. Note: a registered yoga school does not guarantee the quality of a program, but you will know that it at least meets the minimum standards. For a listing of registered yoga schools in your area, visit www.yogaalliance.org.

2. The Teacher Trainer’s Experience

Once you have confirmed that the school is registered with Yoga Alliance, look at the teachers. How much experience does the primary faculty have training others? Teaching trainees how to teach is a unique skill, and to be honest, not many yoga teachers have all the qualities necessary to be an effective teacher trainer. It requires a mature level of knowledge and experience, the ability to articulate clearly and inspire others, organizational skills, coaching ability, and a high degree of ethical responsibility. The primary teacher trainer should be highly respected by their peers in the yoga community. They should care more about developing trainees to their full potential than promoting themselves.

3. The School’s Reputation

What is the reputation of the teacher and the school? Credentials can look good on a website, but more important is the actual experience others have had in the training. Ask yoga teachers that you respect which school they recommend. Ask the school for references from former trainees so you can hear first-hand from someone who has experienced the teacher training. Look at the school’s reviews by graduates on Yoga Alliance. Google “name of the school reviews” to see what pops up.  Have you taken classes at the studio to get a feel for yoga center? If their classes are high quality taught by senior teachers, it is more likely their yoga teacher training program will be too.

4. The Content of The Training

The content of different training programs varies greatly. Inquire into if one specific style of yoga is emphasized or if they teach an all-inclusive approach. Does the program encourage the development of your own teaching style or does it emphasize one system of yoga? What topics will be covered in the training? Will the program include yoga philosophy, pranayama, meditation, and teaching skills? Ask former graduates of the program how much of this information is actually provided in the training.

Ask the school if you can review their syllabus and training manual. When you view the course materials, does the program appear organized? Does the content cover what you want to learn?

Make sure the training teaches you how to “teach” yoga, which is different than practicing. You will want to learn how to provide effective visual demonstrations, verbal cueing and manual adjustments. Does the training provide opportunities for the trainer to view your teaching skills and provide specific feedback? To become an effective teacher, one needs direct, honest and compassionate feedback.

Is student teaching and apprenticing required? This is how yoga was taught for many years, working directly under an experienced teacher. Does the homework supports what is being taught in the course? You will learn a lot more in your teacher training if the school supplements the classroom experience with outside study.

Another effective way to review a school is to look at their graduates. Are their graduates inspiring and skilled yoga teachers? 

5. The Cost of the Program

Look at the total cost of the program and see what you are getting for that money. How many hours are spent directly with the primary teacher? Are you getting support outside of the training? Are you able to contact the teacher with questions? Does the teacher reply in a timely manner? Does the school offer a sampler class or an information meeting? 

6. On-going Support After Graduation

A good training program will help you build relationships with others in the yoga teaching community. Does the school support you after the training is complete? Does the training have a mentorship program you can participate in? Does the school provide local yoga teaching opportunities once you have graduated? A school that is deeply connected to the community will often have a network of organizations that contact them looking for yoga teachers.

Bottom Line

Yoga is a lifetime of study. A good program will deepen your own personal practice; give you the knowledge and skills you need to teach yoga safely and effectively; help you see your path more clearly; and inspire you to learn more. Use your head and do your homework, but in the end, follow your heart. It will lead you in the direction that is best for you.

Most importantly, once you’ve enrolled in a yoga teacher training, get excited! The road to becoming a yoga teacher will lead you to greater self-awareness, better health, and a world of self-discovery – so congratulations, you’ve already taken the first step!

Registration is now open for the 250 Hour Yoga + Ayurveda Teacher Training at Prana Yoga Center. Class starts Sept 28, 2019. Enroll by Friday, Aug 30 and save $250. Learn more.

Feel free to contact me, Lisa Bertke at info@pranayogacenter.com with your questions