So, I wanted to share my thought about this for a long time. And I think the time is right now. Next week I am starting on my third teacher training. I took my first yoga teacher training back in 2011, and finished my second one in the beginning of 2012. Since then I have received a lot (and by a lot, I mean A LOT) of questions about choosing a teacher training and every time I have been taking time to think about it on that persons behalf. Don’t get me wrong, I love to help and helping another person in the right direction on the yoga part is a great feeling. It do take a lot of time for me to write people personally, and since it’s often people I don’t know that well, and it can be a hard task if the person haven’t done any research themselves. So my aim by blogging this, is to do a general guidance. We are all different, we see yoga from different views and we connect with certain styles differently. And for that reason, I think it’s very important to do your own research before signing up for a yoga teacher training. All of what I am about to share, is based on my own experience and my own approach to becoming a yoga teacher, and now being one.
What to consider before signing up for a yoga teacher training?
First of all;
Why are you doing yoga? What motivates you to do the practice? And what do you consider as a practice?
Do you feel comfortable in your own practice and are you ready to share it?
Find out, what is your motivation for becoming a yoga teacher? Look deeply within and explore! Do you want to become a yoga teacher, because you want to deepen your own practice? Is your main reason that it would look (and sound good) on your resume? Do you want to be a yoga practice because you want to share the magical practice and philosophy?
Are you ready to invest in it?
One of the things I often hear is ‘where can I do the cheapest Teacher Training?’ or ‘which schools in India can you recommend because it is so much cheaper there’. Yes – yoga schools in India are much cheaper that in Europe or America. When I took my first teacher training I also chose to take one in India. And it was cheap! I think the money wasn’t such a huge deal, but it did make a small different in choosing it. I wanted to go to India, because I like to go to the root when I study a subject. But you need to have it in your mind, that there are some really good schools in India, and less good ones. Since yoga is rooted in India, there is a great yoga-tourism. When there is a great tourism – people get greedy. When people get greedy weird things happens. I have heard people (Indians – western people) talking about opening a yoga school with yoga teacher training, the person who is saying it has never tried yoga before. So what they want to do is open a school, hire a yoga teacher and offer yoga teacher trainings. They might be really lucky they get a really experienced yoga teacher, but this is a huge issue. There is schools/retreat centers where the yoga is just a business. And unfortunately these places are doing very well moneywise, because it’s controlled by business (wo)men.
Another issue with yoga teacher training in India (or anywhere else in the world) is the teachers on the course. I have seen a lot of yoga schools (mainly in India because I’ve been there a lot – but it’s also happening many, many other places) having teacher who just finished their own teacher training, and then they get hired to teach on a teacher training course. GREAT if you are a person with 20 years of personal practice who are living a yogic life and reading Bhagavad Gita before going to bed. What I have seen isn’t the case. It people who have done a few years of yoga practice, signing up for a 200hours teacher training and then start teaching other people how to teach … in my world this doesn’t make sense! A teacher whom is teaching on a teacher training should be a teacher, whom is deeply rooted in their own teaching. A teacher whom have many, many teachers of teaching experience. A teacher whom know how to share this knowledge.
You can get a certificate by doing a 200hours teacher training (even 100 I see somewhere), but does that mean you are a teacher? I did this – I took a 200 hours teacher training, and realized on the last day of the course, that this is SO much bigger than just taking a 200hours TTC. Straight away I took another 300hours teacher training. And that was the moment I realized more than ever, being a good yoga teacher requires thousands of hours practicing, studying and reading. Of course I started to teach straight after, but it’s amazing how my teaching (and my practice) has evolved since then. My yoga journey started 7 years before taking my first teacher training. I was rather young when I became a teacher, and I was probably mainly focused on the physical yoga practice, the asanas. My first course was in Ashtanga Vinyasa, and I loved, and still do this practice. Its 99% practice, 1%theory. When I look back now, and can see I wasn’t ready to absorb the philosophy, somethings did get in – but it’s incredible what I have learned since then.
Anyway, I am pointing all of these things out just to tell you – do your research!
What kind of teacher/teachers are teaching on the course? What is there background, and can you relate to them? My advice is to try to practice with them before taking a course. Personally I have been on a lot of shorter or longer courses, where I didn’t know the teacher. Sometimes you get a wonderful experience, and get surprised by the teacher – and sometimes you might regret (But remember nothing happens without reason).
What kind of style would you like to practice (and teach)?
What are the requirements for going on the course? (some schools don’t check up on you, some schools will like to know you practice timeline/maybe even see your practice)
When you have done your research, then follow your heart. You know deep inside, where you are supposed to be!
Before going on a teacher training
So it’s all booked, and you are waiting in excitement for the course; here are a few recommendations to do before starting.
Practice, practice, practice. If you not used to practice 5-6 times a week, your body will be chocked and you will spend a lot of time being sore! I will recommend you to start practicing yoga 5-6 times a week. Flexibility doesn’t matter; it’s the consistency that matters. As well as the physical practice, build up a pranayama and meditation practice. It is all about being prepared.
Do some pre-studying. Read yoga-related books. It all depends on the teacher training which books they recommend, but here are some of the books I find essential;
The Yoga Sutra of Pantanjali Bhagavad Gita Light on Yoga – B.K.S Iyengar Light on Pranayama – B.K.S Iyengar Yoga Mala by Sri K. Pattahbi Jois (if you study Ashtanga) Ashtanga Yoga: Practice and Philosophy by Gregor Maehle (if you study Ashtanga)
Yoga Anatomy by Ray Long (You get different books, depends on the body area)
After finishing your teacher training ..
I the middle of my advanced teacher training I had to leave India due to the visa rules. Back then you had to leave the country for two months before being able to get in again. So I had to break up my training (it was quite flexible, since I was the only doing the 300hours at that time). My teacher told me; “as a part of these 300hours I want to practice with as many other teachers as possible while you are away. It will give you confidence in teaching yourself”. I probably looked my one big question mark, but I did what he told me to. I went to Ubud, went to as many classes as I could handle, and then I understood him. By practicing with other teachers you learn a lot. Not only will you be inspired by their approach, but you will also go to classes, where the teacher might not be an inspiration, (s)he might not be structured or maybe not so good at explaining. All this gives you a better understanding of how to teach, and how not to teach. So my first advice for you is the same. Get out, and try other teachers. Second of all, keep up with your own practice. You can only preach what you practice! You might understand something in theory, but if you don’t know it in practice – please keep it out of your teaching. It will make everything smoother.
From here I just want to wish you good luck in finding what you are searching for. Remember to follow your heart and your dharma.
Love and laughter, Stine Brink
Ps. I have never regretted doing any of my courses – it has been a great journey where it’s been taking me. I just see very clearly how much more I have and can learn. I am so excited for my TTC with Suzanna Faith – starting next week.