I`m sure you`ve been through a situation before when you`ve signed up for a course, or went on a trip, or bought a certain make of a car, etc, and later, now knowing what are the important aspects, you wished you knew them before making a decision. This can easily happen when one is taking a foundational 200 hour yoga teacher training. Most people make a decision with a lot of questions in their heads left unanswered, or even not even knowing what questions should they be having. Of course it doesn`t mean that you must overthink all your decisions, there is definite beauty in spontaneity, but we also have to be realistic about the aspects of the trainings that are important for us. Let`s go through the main points that have to be considered before making a decision and also highlighting some aspects that you might not expect to be part of a teacher training course. My aspiration here is that by the time you reach the end of this article you`ll be a few steps closer to picking the training that`s really for you, and knowing what kind of journey are you embarking on.
My story in a nutshell
I`d like to share my story with you – not in a sense of making any objective judgement about the school I studied with, but more for you to get a picture of what can be important at a training that you might not even think about.
The way I signed up for my teacher training at the time felt well thought through but as I look back I have to admit, the main three points that I even considered were: money, place, and style of yoga. That`s all. Even about these I didn`t do a thorough research. I found one that kind of matched my needs and I just wanted to make a decision. I guess my pet peeve is indecisiveness. And let`s put aside the technical details. Oh boy have I had no idea what journey I signed up for!
Luck was on my side, but I know many people who planned to have the time of their lives and returned home from their trainings with some resentment instead. In order for this not to happen to you, let`s dissect the main points you have to know before signing up for a training.
Let`s get the technical details out of the way first.
1. Your budget:
Do some research on the type of training you had in mind, and take notes of the average costs. When you feel like you had a thorough research, check with yourself what price sounds doable for you. At this point also consider all the other costs that will be part of this trip. What are these?
- The course fee (check what is included in this price. Tuition? Accommodation? Food? All of the above?)
- If your course fee doesn`t include full board, check how much it`ll cost you to organise this for yourself
- Travel costs – flights, travel insurance, any other transportation you`ll need
- Check with the yoga school if you have to bring your own yoga mat, and if yes, get a travel mat
- Make sure you know your visa options for the country of your destination, and if anything needs to be purchased and/or arranged in advance
- Do some research on what kind of gear you might need in the country of destination that`s best to buy in advance (backpack, electrical adapters, clothing, mosquito spray, etc)
2. Travelling to a tropical country
If you`re going to a tropical destination, you`ll definitely have to prepare for your travels a little differently than travelling somewhere close to home. Here are the things you should go through before entering the journey:
- Travel vaccination. Your government`s or health provider`s website should have detailed information about this
- Familiarize yourself with the country of your destination, and do some research to know how much pocket money is good to have with you
- On a similar note, also research if it`s better to have cash or ATM cards with you
- Check if you have a backpack or a suitcase that`ll suit you for this trip
- Do some research on what kind of clothing is most suitable to wear at your destination and what weather conditions can you expect at that time of the year
- Get ready for hot and humid weather – bring sunscreen, bug spray, protective clothing, etc.
3. Do you need Yoga Alliance certification?
Yoga Alliance is basically a quality control in the world of yoga. Being Yoga Alliance certified just simply means that the school that certified you went through a process of quality check. As we all know this is great, but also doesn`t mean that the ones that haven`t yet done the check are all awful. To be Yoga Alliance certified is important if one wants to pursue a career in the yoga world. If you`d like to officially track all your future certifications, track the hours you taught, over time become teacher trainer – then yes, being Yoga Alliance certified is important and only enrol to a training that provides this kind of certification.
If your goal with taking a teacher training is to deepen your practice, to know more about your own body, to connect with like-minded people, to learn more about meditation, philosophy, spirituality, you don`t really need a Yoga Alliance approved certificate. It is of course useful to have, but even if you don`t have one, you can still potentially teach at studios in the future – it is not a must!
About the more personal side of the journey
This journey you`re planning to embark on is not merely a journey of your physical body. It actually is much more about the journey within. As always with a self-enquiry type of journey, there are some ground rules that are great to set before the start.
1. Do it for yourself
In today`s world we see a lot of competition going on wherever we go, we keep comparing ourselves to others for no good reason. Also we are taught that our worth is equal to the amount we can make ourselves useful. So we end up getting lost in competition out of a need to always be doing something productive. Let me invite you to a world where you are doing things just because they feel good, because they make you happy. Dare to step out of the comfort of the known, and do something for yourself without comparison, and without needing to prove anything. I`m confident that you`ll enter a magical place within you - enjoy every moment of it.
2. Make mistakes, keep going
As every time we are learning something we are making mistakes. A lot. And actually the more the better. A smart person once said if you aren`t making mistakes, you are not doing anything. Embrace not knowing, and embrace making mistakes on the way to knowing. Without the mistakes you`d never find out the right way!
3. No expectations
I know it sounds impossible but try not to have expectations going into this teacher training. You will learn things you wouldn`t have known you ever would. You will feel things you didn`t know you ever would. You will meet new people who will bring new things out of you. You will be in situations where you`ve never been before so what it`ll bring out of you is also something that`s never happened before. It is absolutely impossible to predict what`ll happen and how will you react to everything, so sit back, and enjoy the journey step by step!
4. Stay humble, you`re always learning from everyone
Being put together with a group of people and working with them intensely on a daily basis for a longer period of time can be challenging at times. It is almost unavoidable that someone will annoy you, or at least you`ll feel uncomfortable sometimes. That is all ok if you have the attitude of looking for the lesson in everything. Old patterns don`t create new perspectives, so whenever something disturbs something within you, it`s time for self-enquiry. Check in with yourself, what is the reason you`re feeling the way you`re feeling. You might find some answers in there in the most unexpected ways.
5. Don`t do it to become a teacher
Don`t go to a teacher training with the only motivation of becoming a yoga teacher. This plan is beautiful and there really isn`t anything wrong with it. But I`d like to invite you to take a step back and first take time to embody this lifestyle we call yoga. A teacher isn`t someone who can shout chaturanga the more times in a class, but the person whose whole presence reflects their inner knowing of their own practice. Whose words are in line with what their lives represent. Become your practice and teaching will naturally emerge from that place.
6. Let go of the need to “master advanced postures”
This is a similar point to the previous one – basically, don`t count the level of you as a teacher by the count of advanced postures you can perform. No one is ever going to a yoga class because they want to see a teacher showing off some crazy moves that none of the students can. A teacher is someone who guides others gently, with deep knowing of the human body, the postures and their effects on body & mind. In your personal practice it is beautiful to work towards postures that today seem impossible, but slowly, with gentle practice as the body opens up and gets stronger, will become possible, and beneficial for you. But as a teacher you only have to know how to show the postures to your students that you are teaching them – and you know what they say: practice what you preach, and preach what you practice :)
I`m sure you`ve read things in this article that you were expecting to be mentioned, and some info that got you by surprise. Hopefully the picture is getting clearer for you what matters for you and what are the key points you have to keep in mind before embarking on this journey of taking a yoga teacher training.