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How to choose a yoga Teacher Training Course

You love yoga? You want to become a yoga teacher? How do you choose a yoga Teacher Training Course (TTC) that is the right one for you? Here are eight tips.

Who is teaching?

I think this is the most important question. Who is or are your teachers on the yoga Teacher Training Course? Do you have one teacher or more? What is their background? How many years have they been teaching and how many TTC’s have they done?

Yoga is a combination of knowledge coming from books, from workshops and from own experience. There is a reason the Yoga Alliance (YA) wants teachers on a 200 hour Teacher Training Course to be at least and E-200 (Experienced 200) teacher. That means they have been teaching more than a thousand hours. The more and longer you teach the better you understand what yoga is, what it does and how to teach big groups.

It’s also good to have more than one teacher. A yoga Teacher Training Course involves and asana and pranayama and meditation and alignment and teaching skills and anatomy and philosophy. It’s pretty hard for one person to be an expert in all these subjects.

Make sure that the teacher on the website is really there and will teach the course. I’ve got friends who went to a TTC because of the great teachers on the website. Non of them were there. They informed and the school owner said that she asked all these teachers if they would do a TTC at her school in the near future. All said ‘yes’, so she had taken the liberty to put them on her site.

How intense do you want your training to be?

You can do a Yoga Teacher Training Course within a month or within four years time. For your first level – of a Yoga Alliance TTC – you have to do 200 hours of training. In the Netherlands there is an organisation of yoga teachers, that is not part of the Yoga Alliance. To become a member you have to do a four years teacher training. Shorter makes no sense, according to this organisation. If you do one with the Yoga Alliance you can do it within one month. There is something to be said for both approaches. As I said before, yoga knowledge is for a big part experienced based. You have to feel what yoga does with your body and mind overtime to understand it. So four years is a good argument.

At the same time: if you already have an intensive self practice, you know what yoga does with you. If you take an intense Teacher Training Course for a month you eat, breath and sleep yoga. You won’t have time to do anything else. You will get a big understanding what it does with you as well, being so fully focused on it.

The long courses (one year or longer) are mostly spread out over a few weekends. Daily life gets into your way. You want to practice, but there is so much else to do. Before you know it, you have to go to another yoga training weekend and you still haven’t done homework. If you recognize yourself in this, a short education might be an better option. If you’re very disciplined or can’t get away for a month, the longer option might suit you better.

What yoga style suits you?

Hatha, vinyasa flow, Ashtanga, Kundalini, yin yoga. There are many different styles of yoga. Before you start, ask yourself what style suits you and what style do you want to teach. This could be two different things. Hopefully it’s not. It will make your choice easier.

Research the style, do a class in the style your thinking about to sign up for as a Teacher Training Course. I work at Sampoorna Yoga; among others. Our 200 hour TTC is Ashtanga (see video) based. A lot of people come in, without Ashtanga experience; only to find out Ashtanga isn’t anything for them.

Do you learn how to make a yoga sequence?

A lot of Vinyasa flow schools teach you a standard yoga sequence. When you finish your training you can only teach the class they have learned you. You still don’t know how to make sequences that stand out and make your students come back for more. If your happy to learn just one sequence one of those schools might be for you. If you want to be creative and make your own sequences – that are not only fun, but make anatomically and spiritually sense as well – you might want to go to a school that puts a lot of emphasis on sequencing and theming.

Where do you want to do your Teacher Training Course?

You can do a TTC all over the world now. If you want to do it next to your work it’s a good idea to find one close by. If you want to fully immerse yourself into it, you can do one in another country. Just make sure your language skills are good enough when you decide to do one in another language. Philosophy and anatomy can be pretty complicated to understand; even in your own language.

A teacher can make a difference here as well. If you have one or more teachers who speak more languages they can explain some subjects after class in your language.

How much money do you want to spent?

You can go from really cheap till extremely expensive; depending on location, what is included and if you do your teacher training with a ‘big name’ or not. Teacher Training Courses in the West are mostly more expensive than those in countries like India. Food, accommodation is cheaper, which makes your TTC cheaper.

Big names are not always a guarantee for a good TTC. Some of the famous yogis will teach one or two classes and leave the rest to assistants. Some won’t even teach a class. I’ve done workshops with David Swenson. He’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever came across. But I’ve been to workshops of other famous yogis and hardly learned anything. On the 300 hour TTC at Sampoorna I work with Rachel Berryman. Known by the in-crowd, but not famous. Yet, she is by far the best asana teacher I’ve ever trained with.

There is now a new generation yogis out there: the Instagram famous ones. Some of them are really good teachers, but some are definitely not. Having nice photos doesn’t mean a strong practice and doesn’t mean good teaching skills. A friend of mine went to a workshop of an Insta-famous yogini at the Yoga festival in Goa. She came back really disappointed. It was by far the worst class she ever went to in her long yoga life.

How much philosophy will you get?

If you go to a Yoga Alliance registered school there is a minimum of philosophy hours you have to get during your training. Somehow not all schools make these standards. Yoga is a lot about asanas nowadays and often a Teacher Training Course focuses on the asanas. But yoga is so much more than asana. Even when you are not interested in teaching it, it’s good to have the knowledge somewhere in your head. Your students might ask for it. And to be honest: I think it’s beautiful to integrate it in your asana practice.

I’ve got a friend who had to read the Bhagavad Gita before her TTC. Every time the teacher was suppose to go over it during a philosophy class the class was canceled and the whole group went surfing. At the end of the course she had had zero philosophy classes. She could surf though, but that was not the reason she had gone on the training.

Where do you want to teach?

A lot of schools do a Teacher Training Course to educate their own new teachers. They will offer the best students a job. If you’re after a job at your school, this might sound as a nice option. As I said before: there is a Dutch society of yoga teachers. You can do a TTC with one of the schools who is registered with this society. Afterwards you can teach in the Netherlands. If you want to teach international, you are better of to do a TTC with a Yoga Alliance registered school. This also gives you the opportunity to teach your own TTC’s in the future. It might sound a bit far away, but it would be a shame if you’ve done all your education and you have to do it over again, because you choose the wrong institute to train at.

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