You've decided -- it's time to take the leap and enroll in a Yoga Teacher Training Program! That decision alone is huge, invigorating, thrilling. And overwhelming. With as many Yoga Teacher Training Programs out there as there are Starbucks on every corner, your head may begin to spin with all of your options.
Here are some helpful tips that will lighten your load when looking at different yoga schools.
Do Your Research
If you have a regular practice at a yoga studio, that's a good place to start, because you're already familiar with the location, the desk staff, and many teachers. If you're not married to one specific studio, talk to your favorite teacher(s) about what program she or he would recommend -- and why. Also, candidly ask your teacher what program she or he wouldn't recommend and why. Although these answers are obviously your teacher's personal opinions, they might offer some insight from someone already in the industry.
Obviously the internet is also an amazing resource. Do a search for Yoga Teacher Training Programs in your area to start with, then expand your search to adjoining cities. If the results are limited, try looking for local yoga studios to see if they offer a training that just isn't popping up in the search.
Once you've narrowed your options down to a few solid candidates, this is the time to delve deeper into the research.
*Is the school part of a studio or independent? Some yoga schools run independently of a studio and need a brick-and-mortar location to hold the trainings at.
*What location is the training being held at? And is it held there for all of the classes? If not, where else will you be training? This is important, especially if you're leaning towards this program because it's close to home or work. If the program includes many fieldtrips, find out if carpooling is available to help save on extra expenses.
*What are the specific start and end dates? Obviously this is a key element when choosing a program. Take the time to look at your calendar and scan it for possible conflicts.
*What days of the week will the meetings take place? Make sure the program's schedule fits into your life. If you're stressed out trying to get to the classes, you're doing a disservice to yourself.
*What hours are the training sessions held? Some schools offer weekend classes, others weekday intensives or month-long retreats. Know exactly when you're supposed to be there so you don't have any scheduling conflicts down the road.
*Is the school registered with Yoga Alliance? This national accreditation designation indicates if a school (in theory) complies with Yoga Alliance's requirements to certify teachers. Check out YogaAlliance.org for more information.
*How long has the school been doing business? As with all businesses, the length of time a yoga school has been in existence can be an important detail for you to consider. However, just because a school has been around for a long time doesn't necessarily mean it's top-knotch. And having created a new Yoga Teacher Training Program myself, don't rule out the newbie!
*Who is the lead teacher? Find out who is going to be teaching the majority of the Training Program, and then go take a class by that teacher. Make sure her or his style resonates with you, because this teacher will have a big influence over what you learn and how you teach. Think of this as test-driving a car before buying it.
*Find out about as many of the Program's details as possible. Is this school known for its emphasis on anatomy and pose alignment? Or is it more of a home-study course, where you spend a lot of time reading about pose details on your own? Are you exposed to other types of yoga (for example Kundalini, Yin, Restorative, Prenatal, etc.)? Does the school's elective interest you? Possibilities there might include Ayurveda, AyurYoga, Vedic Astrology, Reiki -- the list goes on and on.
*Talk to former students who have already completed the program. Get the inside scoop on what the training really is about. Again, this is only that person's opinion and sometimes should be taken with a grain of salt.
*If one school offers trainings at many different locations, research each location individually. Oftentimes these trainings, while offered by one school, are led by completely different teachers, each bringing their individuality to that training. Learn who will be your guide at your location of choice. Also, find out if that trainer has some flexibility about what he or she teaches, and make sure that teaching aligns with what you'd like to learn.
*Look at different schools' Teacher Training Manuals if possible. Because each program is so different, it would be very beneficial to peruse several manuals before deciding on your training program. In this case, size doesn't matter, but detailed and concise information does. While this option might be difficult to do, it's just one more way for you to try before you buy.
*And speaking of buying, what is the complete financial obligation required for the program? Many schools quote an early registration price, and then after a cut-off date the price increases. It is financially beneficial to enroll during that earlybird time, if possible. That alone will save you hundreds of dollars. Also, find out what other fees are associated with the training. Extra expenditures might include books, a retreat, fieldtrips, etc. Get the exact amounts in writing before enrolling if you can.
Once your research is complete, and you've decided which school to enroll in, CELEBRATE! Words cannot describe the level of bliss, intensity, wonder, and fulfillment that you will feel as you embark on this journey. Savor every moment of it...