"There are so many Yoga trainings!! How do I know which one is the best? Or even which one is right for me??".
This is a question that students have asked me time and time again when considering taking a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training. My answer is always layered with a multitude of considerations that will mean different things to different people, but ultimately will help to narrow down the options.
A 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training can be a life-changing experience, especially because it is likely the first teacher training that most Yoga practitioners experience. However, it is a huge commitment (time and money) so I always advise my students to research their options thoroughly and to select a training that resonates with them. If you're starting your research process, this article will walk you through my top 11 considerations for choosing a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training program:
1. ESTABLISH YOUR INTENTION.
Many of us set an intention at the beginning of our Yoga practice. Why? Because it gives the movement meaning and purpose and therefore makes the practice more impactful. Likewise, I set an intention before I start anything new: my day, a collaboration, teaching a yoga class. Setting an intention helps us to get clear on our "why" AKA the reason or purpose behind what we are doing. As we move through our experience (whatever it might be) we can check back in with our intention to ensure that we are still on track and still operating from a place that aligns with that purpose. In the context of a teacher training, this is especially important as trainings can be really challenging mentally and physically. Having a solid intention to remind yourself why you started, can be a powerful motivator.
2. DECIDE IF YOU PLAN TO TEACH YOGA AFTERWARD.
Knowing how to "do" the physical practice of Yoga and knowing how to teach Yoga are completely different things. While the root of the knowledge (Yoga) might be the same, the application of that knowledge requires entirely different skillsets. It is important to establish if you plan to teach afterward so that you can select a training that will equip you with the skillset to do so. Some of these skills include:
how to verbally instruct a class (general alignment cues, target areas of sensation, inclusive and positive language, etc.)
how to sequence a class
how to conduct a demonstration yourself and with the help of a student
modifications for injuries, movement limitations, pregnancy
performing hands-on adjustments
Now here's the crux of the matter: not all 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings actually TEACH you how to teach Yoga. Some Yoga teacher trainings simply hold space for you to deepen your own knowledge of the practice. Think of them like a long, really in-depth, Yoga class: you will graduate having refined your own personal practice but not necessarily possessing the skills to teach the practice to other people. This is fine if you have no plans of teaching Yoga to others. But if you do, it can be seriously problematic (possibly even dangerous in the case of hands-on adjustments or working with individuals with movement limitations or injuries).
So it is really important to select a school that offers an education that will best support the path that you plan to pursue. If you plan to teach, my advice is to examine the curriculum of the school that you are considering. It should list out the exact teaching skills (similar to how I've listed the examples above) that they will be teaching you. If it's not clear, then email the studio to clarify. They should be able to tell you.
Finally, if you do not plan to teach, but you select a school that has a strong teaching focus, do not be surprised if there are several practice teaching exercises or evaluations (also known as teaching practicums) requiring completion to pass the course. All of the students that attend our 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training at OMOLOGY YOGA are required to submit a teaching practicum to graduate whether they intend to teach or not. I do this because as soon as they graduate they are technically "certified" to teach Yoga and so I believe it is my responsibility as an instructor to ensure that they have the skills necessary to do so.
On that note, it is equally important to understand that not all 200 Hour Certificates will be accepted equally worldwide. Presently, Yoga Alliance is the most internationally recognised certification. Schools who are registered with Yoga Alliance (like ours) have undergone a screening process which requires them to adhere to certain prescribed standards in their training curriculum. These standards include allocating a certain amount of training hours to learning:
to practice Yoga
the philosophy/history of Yoga
the anatomy and physiology of the human body
ethical standards for practicing and teaching Yoga
In many countries around the world, Yoga studios will only hire teachers who have trained at a Yoga Alliance accredited institution. So, if you are planning to teach, this might be something to consider when selecting a school. Schools who are Yoga Alliance registered will usually say so, or they will have the RYS logo on their website (ours is here on our 200 Hour YTT page). You can also verify by searching for them in the Yoga Alliance Directory.
3. PICK THE STYLE OF YOGA THAT YOU WISH TO LEARN.
There are so many different styles of Yoga: Ashtanga, Hatha, Hatha Vinyasa, Iyengar, to name a few. By the time you are researching teacher training programs, presumably you have been practicing Yoga for some time (our 200 Hours YTT requires a minimum of 6 months practice experience) and have developed an affinity to a particular style of practice. I usually suggest training in a style that you are familiar with and enjoy as you'll be spending (in most cases) an entire month practicing only that. If you're not sure exactly what "style" you are currently practicing, just ask your teacher (don't worry, this is a more common question than you think!).
4. FIND YOUR TEACHER.
Most trainings have a lead teacher (this is the person who will teach the majority of your classes including your daily Asana practices) sometimes accompanied by assistant instructors. Each teacher has their own unique "style" that is made up of their personality, their signature teaching methods, their humour, their philosophy on life and Yoga, their life experiences, etc. No two teachers are exactly alike. I suggest learning from someone who's teaching style resonates with you (remember: you are going to spend a lot of time with this human!) and who you admire.
When selecting a training for myself, I like to look for a teacher who:
is up to date in their knowledge and still learning
believes in teaching Yoga classes that are safe, balanced and that honour each individual body's needs
is skilled at holding a safe space for students' personal growth and development
has a strong knowledge of the key Yogic texts and founding philosophies of Yoga, and integrates them in a thoughtful, accessible way into the studio practice
teaches a consent-based, skilful approach to hands-on assists
Most students will, to some degree, emulate their teacher. So choose to learn from someone who's teachings you would be happy to pass on.
If you are attending a local training, try to get to know your faculty by attending their classes (if you haven't already). If you're joining from abroad, check to see if your teacher(s) offers an online sample class that you can try so you can get to know them and their teaching style.
I mentioned in the beginning that a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training is a huge time commitment. And it is. So you will need to consider how much time you have to dedicate to this experience (for example, if you are currently working full-time, you might look into how many vacation days you have available and whether you can use them all at once, etc.). Although 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings are just that: 200 hours, the amount of days that the training hours are spread over can vary. Most in-person intensive 200 Hour courses will be 20 to 30 days long. Sometimes within those days there are allocated off-days. Sometimes there aren't and it's 20 or 30 days straight of training. You need to check with the school to find out their full training schedule.
Online 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings are sometimes more flexible with timing as they typically offer a longer timeline for completion. For example, our online 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training at OMOLOGY YOGA has a 6 month deadline for completion so students can engage with the material at their own pace throughout that time. This can be a great option for students who do not wish to take time off of work (or can't), or for stay-at-home parents/caregivers, etc..
6. CHOOSE A LOCATION.
Depending on where in the world you live, you might have up to three different options when it comes to attending a Yoga Teacher Training:
1) attend a local training in the area where you currently reside
2) travel out of town/abroad, or
I myself have learned at one point or another in some combination of these three methods and can tell you that they each have their merits.
Training at the studio where you are currently practicing is always my first recommendation if it is available. In this case, you are familiar with the space, the teaching staff, and the style of practice. You obviously like them (or you wouldn't be practicing there). Because so many variables are familiar, I think there is less chance of disappointment or surprises with this option. And let's be honest, getting to practice with your favourite teacher for 30 days...how fun is that?! Additionally, having your home space and things that are comfortingly familiar around you during this time of growth and transformation can be really grounding.
Travelling abroad can be wonderfully immersive, but it is usually also the more expensive option. If budget permits though, and you're up for a change of scenery, my preference would be to stay at the same location as the Yoga Shala (where all of the daily classes will take place) or very close by. This is because Yoga teacher trainings are long, really tiring days (that sometimes run late) and having to commute to and from the Shala (possibly through an area that you are not familiar with, could be really daunting by the second or third week of the training). If you're considering a Yoga training out of town or abroad, research the area where the Yoga studio is located and be sure to map out nearby options for transportation, grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. before committing.
Another thing to consider is that Yoga can vary regionally. For example, a Vinyasa class in the UK might be taught in a slightly different way than a Vinyasa class in Malaysia or Canada. The vibe can even vary between studios in the same city or neighbourhood! So, if you are considering travelling abroad or training at a studio that you've never been to before, I recommend first taking a few classes with the studio/teacher you'll be studying with, to ensure that you enjoy (and connect with) their style of teaching.
Online trainings have definitely become more popular in the last two years (not like we had much of a choice) but they are maintaining popularity because of the flexibility that they offer to attendees to learn at their own pace and from the comfort of their home. If you're an online practitioner, or you don't have access to a local studio, or you just enjoy learning in your jammies, then this could be a great option to consider.
7. CONSIDER YOUR LEARNING STYLE.
Are you a social butterfly or more introverted? Do you like the accountability and interaction of an in-person classroom, or do you enjoy learning at your own pace? Do you like a full day of intensive learning, or do you prefer smaller doses of information spread out over a longer period of time? These are some of the things that you might consider when you are selecting a 200 hour Yoga teacher training.
Intensive, in-person YTT's are often full days of learning beginning early in the morning with an Asana practice, followed by several 2-Hour lectures throughout the day. There is usually lots of socialising via group work, class discussions, and practice-teaching exercises.
Online trainings on the other-hand are often broken down into smaller, pre-recorded lectures that you can access at a time that suits your schedule. These often have a smaller social element sometimes in the form of a livestream Q & A or livestream classes. It is important to understand how you enjoy learning and to choose a format that will help you thrive.
8. READ REVIEWS.
Most schools will have a testimonial section on their website. We have one. And it is fine to read these, but take them with a grain of salt. They are the "highlight reel". No one is going to post a shit review on their website to advertise their training.
So, when you're looking for reviews, try to consult a more impartial place to gather a less biased view of the school you're considering. Google reviews can be handy for this. People tend to be pretty blunt there! Another place that I would check (if your school is registered) is Yoga Alliance. Whenever graduates register their 200 hour certificate with Yoga Alliance they are given a short survey about their experience at the school they trained with and their responses go toward the school's rating. You can see ours here for example.
If you're thinking of attending a YTT at your local Yoga studio, try to connect with some of the past graduates (either after class, or via social media, etc.) to hear about their experience. They were once looking for a training themselves, so it would be good to hear about their decision-making process and what made them decide to practice at that particular studio. Hearing about their training experience can also give you some idea of what to expect if you choose to train with the same studio.
9. CONSULT YOUR FAVOURITE TEACHERS
I still do this! And as I mentioned at the start of this article, I too have been approached by many a student for advice on how to select a 200 hour Yoga teacher training. And each time, I offered the insights above which came from my own lived experiences and learnings. I think it can be so insightful to check in with a teacher that you are currently practicing with, or that you admire because they've been through the process themselves and likely have a nugget of wisdom (or two) to share with regards to their experience and what they learned from it. They also might know of a teacher that they think you will vibe really well with (this was the case with the pre/postnatal training I attended most recently!).
While your teacher may not have attended the exact same training you are considering (other than my considerations above, I never give advice or my opinion about trainings that I have not attended), they might know of someone who has and can potentially put you in touch with them.
10. CONSIDER YOUR BUDGET.
Look, I'm not going to feed you the "you get what you pay for" saying because that is not always true in the case of Yoga teacher trainings (although sometimes it is, so beware!). But I will say this: budget has and always will be my LAST consideration when I am selecting a training. Hear me out on this.
Firstly, the price point really doesn't tell us anything about whether a training will or will not resonate with us (just whether it vibes with our pocketbook). That said, it is okay for price to be a consideration, just maybe not the only one or the first one. Sadly, I have encountered many a student who has selected a training based solely on the price point, only to graduate without obtaining the skills they needed to teach Yoga, resulting in the need to take additional trainings (and spend additional money) thereafter to fill the gaps.
Furthermore, a 200 Hours Yoga teaching certificate is a professional certification for a profession that you might pursue as a career. So this is an investment in your growth and your future.
When I am considering investing in such a certification, I take into account all of the above information first, then I consult my budget. Most times I can justify paying extra for a great quality training that I know will deliver all of the information that I am seeking and will set me up on the best possible path in my career.
Now, I know that 200 Hour Trainings are typically not cheap and I am also sensitive to the fact that the cost of tuition coupled with the (often) intensive nature of 30 straight days in training might not be accessible to all interested applicants. In the event that you find your dream training, but it is not financially doable, two things you might look into are:
Scholarships: sometimes schools offer them, and there are opportunities on Yoga Alliance as well.
Payment Plans: many schools offer the option to pay for your tuition in smaller payments (sometimes even after the training).
11. LEAVE THE REST TO THE UNIVERSE, MY LOVES!
We have to accept that we can only do so much research. At the end of the day, you will have the experience that you are meant to have (not to go all philosophical Yogi on you). And honestly, there is only one thing that will definitely ruin a YTT experience and that is stressing the eff out over it. So, once you've picked the Yoga Teacher Training that you're going to take, let go and allow yourself to immerse fully in that experience.
Happy learning my loves.