Thinking about yoga teacher training (YTT)? If so, likely you have a few questions about what YTT really is and how to choose the right one.
In today’s world, there are hundreds, if not thousands of yoga teacher trainings. All promising similar, but somehow different things. So how do you choose? YTT is a huge investment and it takes time to sift through the different options to figure out which one is right for you.
Before beginning your yoga teacher training, it is important to think about what you want to get out of your YTT. The most important thing you can do when deciding if you want to go to yoga teacher training and subsequently which one is right for you, is to first do some self-inquiry…
Why do you want to do a yoga teacher training?
Do you want to teach yoga professionally? If your goal after yoga teacher training is to teach professionally, there will be a few specific things you want to be sure is included in your training such as accreditation and style. Do you already know what studio you want to teach at? Talk to that studio about their yoga teacher training program. How do they choose the teachers at their studio?
Do you want to further your personal yoga practice? Yoga teacher training is a powerful way to deepen your personal yoga journey. It will delve into the philosophy, history, and physiological aspects of yoga. Have something specific you want to dig into? Be intentional about ensuring that the specific topic you are interested in is included the curriculum of the yoga teacher training you choose.
Are you looking for a transformational experience? There are so many yoga teacher trainings that offer more than just ‘how to be a yoga teacher’. There are yoga teacher trainings provided all around that world in an intensive, life changing environment. Are you interested in ayurveda too? Find a training that also teaches you about that.
Take the time to think about what you want your yoga teacher training to provide to your yoga and life journey. There are so many reasons to explore a yoga teacher training. Choosing your perfect yoga YTT starts with asking yourself, ‘why do I want to go to yoga teacher training?’
Once you have ‘the why’ figured out, you will need to do a little research. In this guide, we will help you figure out what to look for, how to prepare, and what to do after your yoga teacher training.
What is yoga teacher training?
Yoga teacher training provides the basis and foundation of yoga as a lifestyle practice so that you can then apply that knowledge and use it as a yoga teacher. YTT will require a commitment of your time, your energy, your money. On top of that, it will require an emotional investment as well.
Most YTT requires a certain amount of hours studying a specific set of topics and a certain amount of hours taking and teaching classes. Most yoga teacher trainings will have homework assignments as well as tests to ensure you are retaining the information. The Yoga Alliance outlines that yoga teacher trainings must include a certain amount of hours dedicated to philosophy, meditation, ethics, teaching methodology, and more.
You get to decide what you want to do after graduating from your YTT. There is no requirement to teach after you graduate. You have the option to jump right into teaching, continue your education, use your new knowledge just in your own yoga practice – or do all three.
How to choose the right yoga teacher training for you
When you begin to look for the right yoga teacher training there are a lot of factors to consider. Again, before beginning the search for your perfect YTT, take the time to think about what you want to prioritize and get out of your YTT. Once you have that figured out, it will be easier for you to pick the right yoga teacher training for you. A few of the things you will have to consider when choosing your YTT include location, length, style, cost, and more.
200-hour vs. 500-hour training program
When researching yoga teacher trainings you will find that there are different levels of training programs. You will find trainings that range from 100-hours to 500-hours. The shorter the time the more novice the training. 100-hour trainings will outline the basics of yoga and can be perfect for someone looking to deepen their practice, but not necessarily teach.
Most yoga studios require a 200-hour level certification for teaching. You can think of your 500-hour training as ‘grad school’. In many scenarios, yoga teachers will start with their 200-hour training and then later further their training by going to and 300-hour or 500-hour training.
Choose the right yoga style
Some yoga styles have very specific requirements if you want to teach in that style. For example, bikram yoga has a very specific set of required poses & your training will be focused on that sequence. Vinyasa yoga teacher training will differ from that of a Hatha yoga teacher training.
If you know that you want to teach hot yoga after your training, take a yoga teacher training from a hot yoga studio and hot yoga teacher. Although all yoga teacher trainings will cover the same basics, they will differ based on the type of yoga style they are training. Not sure what the focus of a yoga teacher training is? Don’t be afraid to reach out the studio, school, instructors, or past graduates to ask.
While you are deciding on what type of yoga style you want to be trained in, also be sure to look at the curriculum of the yoga teacher training program. Some trainings will be more focused on anatomy and physiology while others will spend more time on the philosophy of yoga. Each teacher training will emphasize different areas and bring their own style to the program. One is not better than the other, again it just comes down to ‘what do you want to get out of your training’.
Keep in mind that although the style of your yoga teacher training is important, you can always specialize in a niche training such as Acro Yoga or Yin Yoga after. So, if you are not 100% sure on which style you want to go to teacher training for, stay away from strict specialized trainings with the knowledge that you can further your learning by specializing at a later date.
Choose the right length
Many yoga teacher trainings run over the course of 6-8 months with weekly classes. This is often built for the yogi who is working a full-time job or has other responsibilities that do not allow them to commit full days to their YTT. This can be a powerful way to do your yoga educational experience because it allows you to absorb the information at a slower rate.
The other type of YTT is called an intensive. This is often a 21 day or month-long training that has you learning the material for most of your day throughout that time. This option is often done abroad and can be a very life-changing experience.
No matter how you look at it, yoga teacher training will be a large time commitment. You need to determine which style of teacher training will be best for you learning style and lifestyle.
Choose the right teachers
When picking your YTT be sure to get to know the teachers who will be leading your training. It is inevitable that you will adopt the style of the teacher you are learning from. They will encourage specific language, style, and sequences. Yoga teacher training will likely require you to do some self-discovery. You want to feel comfortable and confident in the teacher leading your training.
If you can, take a class from the teacher and ask yourself, is that the type of teacher I want to be? Learn more about the teacher’s intentions and what they want the students to get out of their training. Be sure those intentions resonate with why you want to do the training.
Choose the right location & experience
Yoga teacher trainings can take place in an isolated retreat setting or in the middle of a big city. You will find trainings that provide lodging and meals throughout your stay, plus those that provide nothing other than the yoga knowledge promised. Think about how you will learn best. Is it better for you to completely remove yourself from everyday life? Or is it better for you to learn by training where you live on evenings & weekends?
Another thing to be aware of when choosing your perfect yoga teacher training is the size of each class. For example, some trainings may be limited to 10 people while others are opened to more than 100. A smaller training will inevitably be more intimate. When looking for the right experience, it can be helpful to reach out to graduates of the yoga teacher training you are interested in.
Choose the right price
Yoga teacher training is expensive. Price often can be the biggest factor when determining which training is right for you. The price of a YTT can range from $1,500 to more than $10,000. However, the cost of a training does not necessarily determine the quality of a training. It comes down to doing your research on each training program and looking into the certifications of that program.
When looking at price, be sure to check what is included. Are you doing an intensive, retreat style training? How expensive will flights be and are all meals included? If you are doing a yoga teacher training in your home city, how much will it cost for you to get yourself to the teaching location? Do you have to pay for books or the cost of their yoga studio membership? Before signing up for any yoga teacher training, verify if there are any hidden costs that you cannot afford.
Keep in mind that freshly graduated yoga teachers do not tend to make the highest dollar in the space. Experience plays a large role in the value of your yoga classes.
Choose a yoga alliance certified practice
Yoga Alliance is the largest nonprofit association representing the yoga community. They have laid out a credentialing system for YTT. Yoga Alliance has set the standard for what a properly constructed teacher training program must contain to wholly teach the students how to lead classes & understand the true purpose of yoga.
They ensure that there is integrity across yoga teachers & the trainings they take. By taking a Yoga Alliance certified training, you are ensuring that you cover the base of what is needed and expected of all yoga instructors to know. There are many good non-accredited trainings out there, just know that you limit your options after your training by choosing a non-accredited yoga teacher training program.
Remember, it comes back to the question of ‘what do you want to get out of your yoga teacher training?’ If you become overwhelmed by all of the options, always ground yourself with the intention behind your desire to go to yoga teacher training. This ‘why’ will help you choose which factors to prioritize and which ones don’t matter.
How to prepare for yoga teacher training
Once you have selected a YTT, there a few ways you can prepare yourself for the hours of learning and practice ahead of you.
Lay the foundation
One of the most valuable things you can do is lay a foundation before your yoga teacher training. Before you begin, read through the curriculum and talk to recent graduates of the training. Perhaps, begin to familiarize yourself with the terms that you need to memorize, ranging from anatomy, asanas, sanskrit, and more.
Start the internal-discovery
Internal-discovery will be a huge part of your yoga teacher training. Can you start being intentional about how you embrace or disregard the niyamas or yamas in your daily life? Perhaps, begin to shift the way you interact with your yoga poses. Ask yourself, what muscles am I activating? How does this pose affect me mentally? Being a yoga teacher is about cues & sequencing, but it also about being at one with yourself, so you can lead others towards that same oneness.
As you become a yoga teacher, you will begin to notice how much self-inquiry is a part of the experience. As you prepare to teach yoga to others, it will require you to notice what is going on in your own body and mind.
Intentionally create time
Yoga teacher training is a large time commitment. There is no getting around that fact. So, before your training begins, start to carve out time in your life. On top of your class time, you will need to study and practice teaching. It will be extremely beneficial to set aside time, before you have to, so you get into the habit of regularly dedicating time to your yoga journey outside a yoga studio or with an instructor guiding you.
Prepare to be transformed
Spiritually and mentally, prepare to be transformed. More often than not, your yoga teacher training with be life-altering. Your yoga teacher training should be about both transforming you into someone with the knowledge to lead others through a yoga practice plus, it will show you the skills to quiet your mind & the mind of others.
With that in mind, don’t worry if it takes you time to fully absorb your experience. Your personal transformation through your YTT may happen right immediately or more slowly as you come into your role as a yoga teacher. The truth is, yoga teacher training will just be a part of your life journey and transformation. As you continue to learn and practice yoga, you will be transform.
Internalize what the role of a yoga teacher is
Before you go into your yoga teacher training, think deeply about the role of a yoga teacher. From a first glance a yoga teacher’s responsibility is to guide and lead their students in a yoga sequence. But, the truth is, being a yoga teacher is so much more than that.
A yoga teacher’s role is multifaceted. They need to not merely guide their students, but also hold a safe space. As a yoga teacher, it is your responsibility to hold a space where students can be their best and truest self. More than just body awareness, a yoga teacher’s role is to help students connect their body, mind, and soul.
What do I do after yoga teacher training?
There are many opportunities your yoga teacher training will open up. You will be able to lead yoga classes and delve deeper into your internal practice. Depending on what you want, there are a few things you should do after your yoga teacher training.
Get CPR Certified
You will want to get your CPR certification if you plan on teaching after your YTT. Many studios require you to have a CPR certification before they will allow you teach. As a yoga instructor you are responsible for the students in your classroom and students will look to you to be in charge in times of distress.
Get Yoga Teacher Insurance
Many yoga studios require teachers to have their own yoga teacher insurance. Regardless of industry, liability insurance is recommended. The yoga industry is no different. No teacher wants or expects a student to get injured in their yoga class, but even with proper safeguards in place, injuries can happen due to a wide range of unpredictable circumstances.
There are many places that offer liability insurance to yoga teachers with different coverage at different prices. You can choose what is right for you.
Get Yoga Alliance Certified
Once you complete your YTT, if it was a Yoga Alliance certified program, you can get personally certified as a Yoga Alliance certified teacher. This is helpful when looking for new teaching opportunities as it validates your expertise. It is not required for you to become a yoga alliance ‘registered yoga teacher’ (RYT), but it will be beneficial.
There are also other benefits that come when getting a Yoga Alliance certification, such as discounts and access to workshops.
Find a yoga teacher job
After your YTT you will be able to begin applying to yoga studios. Create a yoga resume that shows your completed yoga training and certification. Offer up yourself as a sub to start, often, these can turn into regular teaching positions.
Also, don’t be afraid to think outside the yoga studio. Perhaps start teaching at a gym. Many places are looking for yoga instructors, so open yourself up to all kinds of teaching opportunities.
Often, it can be intimidating to immediately start teaching. If so, don’t be afraid to practice teaching with friends first. During your personal practice, give cues out loud. Tackle your fear with grace and kindness.
Deepen your personal practice
Yoga is a journey and despite now having a certification, we are all still students in our yoga practice. Allow yourself to continue to take yoga classes from other teachers and find time to bring your gaze inward. Maintain a personal yoga practice, this will not only help your teaching but allow you to stay grounded in your personal life.
Plus, there are always ways to further your teacher training through other workshops or full 500-hour trainings. Be intentional about continuing to learn. The best yoga teachers are the ones who are aware that they are also students. The truth is, when it comes to yoga, you could spend decades studying a specific aspect of yoga.
Also, don’t forget that life will move in waves. Teach to what is true to you through life’s waves. Being a yoga teacher is a large responsibility. It asks for your complete sincerity and dedication. So do not be afraid to take a break when you need it and as you guide your students… ‘to listen to your mind-body’.
In conclusion, at the end of the day, most yoga teacher trainings will cover the same topics, but vary greatly in overall experience and environment. When it comes to choosing the right one, you will need to do the research both internally and externally. You need to look inside yourself and ask ‘why am i doing this’ and then look into which training will fulfill that intention.