In the previous blog, I discussed how online reviews can help you determine the right yoga teacher training for you.  It is a simple and convenient way to start. To go deeper, I suggest you speak with any programs Lead Yoga Teacher Trainer. 

The Yoga Alliance requires that there be one specific person who teaches the majority of content – the “lead teacher”.  This person also plays a key role in designing the overall program and it’s content as well.

They have a watchtower view of the flow of the program and be able to highlight its strengths and weaknesses.  Think of them as the conductor of the orchestra of peer-teachers, the content of the training.  Truthfully, some people are more masterful at holding that much space, and all those moving parts, than others. In part, you need to gauge their ability in your one on one conversation.

The lead yoga teacher trainer can tell you what they are good at. They should also be able to tell you they don’t emphasize in their training. Furthermore, they should be able to articulate what they look for in a student. Remember, you are not the only one in the training, your peers will be a critical part of your experience as well.   

I’d be dubious if the lead yoga teacher trainer speaks in overly generalized terms.

If you want to learn about meditation, ask exactly how long you can expect to meditate. Or ask the underlying philosophy behind their approach to meditation. What is the range and average amount of time you spend in meditation?  I’d be dubious of a program that cannot see its own biases and claims to do it all.

Ideally, this will not be their first time a lead-instructor has offered a yoga teacher training.  In my view, lead yoga teacher trainers should have at least five years of experience teaching before instructing a YTT.  It takes years to refine the content of a training.

Furthermore, there will probably be 3-4 additional teachers present in the program. One teacher who focuses on anatomy as a simple example. Or another who specializes in philosophy. The lead yoga teacher trainer keeps the beat of the program and additional teachers add embellishments, color and flavor.

It is worthwhile to speak with those instructors as well. Ask how they see their role in the flow of the course and how many actual hours they will teach. You may love what they have to offer and they may only be there for three out of 200 hours. Ask how many hours they plan to teach.  A bit of math will clarify exactly what you sign up for.

In summary, there are lots of ways to assess if a yoga teacher training is right for you.  A direct conversation with the lead yoga teacher trainer will be very informative and help determine which training is best for you.

Many people anticipate yoga teacher training for years before they commit to a program. Understandable, It is a big moment in their life. As a result, I suggest a thorough exploration of possible schools and options.  One powerful way to get to know a program is to attend regular classes and consider online yoga teacher training reviews.

Most people will spend time on the school’s website and or attend a few of their regular classes. More than likely, the class instructor of that class attended that studio’s training.  If so, approach them and ask them how it went.  It is likely they will speak well of their experience and you might be surprised by their answer. More seasoned teachers will have studied elsewhere and have a broader understanding of your options. (Here is a list of people who taught DYU’s instructors)

In our digital age, another obvious method to evaluate a program is to turn to online reviews.  This will be the most convenient way to conduct your research, though it does come with limitations.  

I suggest you take online yoga teacher training reviews cun grano saliz

I suggest you take online yoga teacher training reviews cun grano saliz (with a few grains of salt). Sometimes people use the internet as a sounding board to vent anger on others rather than self-reflect on their own shortcomings. It is much easier to blame and criticize others than to cultivate insight, compassion & tolerance.

(As a side note, my own yoga practice led me to speak well of others, rather than disparagingly. It is a dedicated practice and I still have much to learn.)

Negative rants are probably less of an issue in yoga circles but something to be mindful of just the same.  For whatever it may be worth, you can read our particular Google reviews here and testimonials here. Personally I think they are a fair representation of what I aspire towards. And the number of them, over 35, will help you identify particular trends and patterns.

Another thing to consider, online reviews only represent individuals who have an affinity for writing online reviews. For every person who makes the effort to review a yoga teacher training, there are many, many who don’t, for whatever reason.  Maybe they are more introverted?  Maybe they are content with their own experience and feel less inclined to broadcast it? Or maybe they’d rather keep their ego in check rather than complain to the world.

In summary, online yoga teacher training reviews will tell you what to expect in the most general terms from a specific set of people. In my next post, I will discuss how to get a more direct insider view of any yoga teacher training.

As part of our YTT, students conduct a yoga teacher training exercise to enhance their skills outside of the classroom.  New teachers often experience a lot of anxiety about their new found role and the responsibility it entails. And they may even hesitate to get started.  Once they do get started, they typically find that teaching is not as scary as they’d first presumed.  By the end they feel relieved and event enjoyed their experience.  Here is a sample of one students experience.

As a first step, I set my intention for the assignment. This did not come easy, I have a history with wanting to control outcomes. However, I am can draw on my yoga experience and adjust to get the job done regardless of old anxieties. 

I had the following goals.  Number one, provide a safe comfortable place for students to have a wholistic yoga experience. Number two, the students leave class rejuvenated and to inspire student to continue their yoga practice. And number three, students learn to deal more effectively with their own life challenges.

Students leave class rejuvenated and to inspire student to continue their yoga practice

As I assumed the role of yoga teacher, I contended with my own insecurities around control and a lack of trust in other humans. I doubted if they would even show up and I procrastinated doing the assignment for at least 10 days, until I realized that all teacher probably started with some doubt and reservation. 

Once I was able to overcome this low point, I found teaching my students to be a fun and rewarding experience. In particular, I appreciated the chance to work with novice yogis. I remember my initial teachers and it felt good to be able to support others people who just started the journey.  This yoga teacher training exercise revealed that I do have love in my heart and desire to grow as a teacher, despite my initial doubt.

 

Over the years, hundreds of students participated in my yoga teacher training. All of them were joined by a common love of yoga and a desire to deepen their yoga practice or teach. The latter can be more daunting. How to be a good yoga teacher.

Be A Dedicated Student

Yoga teacher walks in the classroom

We believe that effective teaching is rooted in being a dedicated student.  Teaching then becomes an organic extension of your committed practice.

To say it another way: if you aren’t a dedicated student you have no chance of becoming a teacher with depth. Your personal practice is the foundation for the house of your teaching.

Of course this same line of thought also pertains to your personal relationship with yoga.  If you practice on a daily basis your mind and body will seamlessly adapt to a more complete version of yourself.  It will happen naturally.

Regularity is the key. Practicing a little each day, or on a regularly scheduled occasion is more effective than “stop and go.” Consistent practice builds momentum over time and eventually takes on a life of its own.

I suggest that students build a dedicated practice and find delight in it also.

Developing a personal yoga practice is a little bit like growing a tree, at first you have to be very diligent to make sure it gets enough water, nutrients and sunlight.  You may also have to put some kind of barrier around it to prevent it from getting stepped on or eaten by insects. Eventually the tree comes into its own, is able to fend for itself, provides shade, fruit and intrinsic beauty.

Being a dedicated yoga student entails both regular practice and natural curiosity.  As you learn and apply new methods and self reflect on their effect, you discover how to shape your experience of life towards one of less fear and towards more joy.

Create a Strong, Deep, Personal Practice.

Dedication is an attitude. Your personal practice is the laboratory in which to apply the attitude. Personal practice will reveal how to be a good yoga teacher.  Like any craft, the more time you spend with it the further you progress.  If you want to master the violin, you need to practice.  If you want to get better at painting, then practice. The same applies to yoga. The only way to receive the benefit is by regular practice.  In order for the practices to work you have to do them.

How to design a yoga teacher training? A program might have great content but if it is disintegrated, you may be in for a rough ride. The design of a programs could be the difference between feeling lost and finding your life’s path.

You need to assimilate the content you study.  

It takes years of experience to work out the kinks in any training – to integrate yoga theory and practice into a smooth and continuous flow.  Every hour of training is a precious opportunity and you do not want to waste time backtracking or feeling lost. Imagine reading a book in which the chapters were arranged in no particular order?

Imagine reading a book in which the chapters
were arranged in no particular order?

 Some programs take the McDonald’s approach and offer many, many homogenized yoga teacher training sessions a year.  It’s a business.  On the upside, the program will be predictable.  They may even have a nice brochure.  On the downside, the presenters may be hemmed in by too many rules and you lose out on the magic of yoga.   It may still be a good experience but not live up to its full potential.

ven diagram showing the three parts of an integrated yoga teacher training.

A cohesive and integrated training has three components:

  1. The actual content of the training.  Most interviewing students zoom in on this part.  It’s important and there is more you should know.
  2. The quality of the teacher’s knowledge and their ability to present effectively.
  3. The overall architecture of the program (how individual topics fit into the whole).

Denver Yoga Underground takes all of these components into consideration to deliver a cohesive and integrated training.  The architecture supports the students to gradually assimilate the content, and the teachers deliver the content to the student. This combination supports the student’s growth and are essential parts of how to design a yoga teacher training.

women in a yoga training do a twisting postureWhat is the content of a yoga teacher training. This is a foundational question for any training.  It is right up there with what style of yoga do you teach.  I suggest you approach this question with some idea of what you are looking for in a program.  

Are you only interested in the asana?  Classic theory?  Do you want to know the Sanskrit names for the poses? Are you looking for a more contemporary or contemplative approach?

Spend some time with this question and be as specific as possible.  Some programs might say they cover meditation but what does that really look like?  How long do you meditate and for how often? 

If you don’t know what you want out of a program you might end up with ‘buyer’s remorse’. It’s a big investment, have a clear idea of what you want out of the experience before going in.

Have a clear idea of what you want out of the experience before going in.

Denver Yoga Underground is more holistic than most, we focus on yoga as an entire system.  This includes: asana, pranayama, meditation, traditional theory, diet, and lifestyle.  Every aspect of your life will be touched by a dedicated and integrated practice.

We present many yoga practices and principles and you are also a big part of the curriculum. At its core, yoga is a process of self experimentation and self discovery. The content of a yoga teacher training will profoundly shape your ability to see yourself.

 As you consider a yoga teacher training and what kind of teacher you aspire to become, I invite you to consider what makes an excellent yoga teacher? Instructors come with varying degrees of knowledge and direct experience.  Some simply make stuff up (think goat or bar yoga) while others are steeped in tradition and personal revelation. 

Many teacher trainers are relatively new to the practices while others have studied their whole lives.  As obvious as it may sound, the depth and history of a lead instructor has a big impact on the final outcome of your training.

The way I see it, teacher trainers ought to be a dedicated student for at least a decade before they offer a YTT.  What’s more I suggest that they have at least 5 years of teaching under their belt.

As a rule of thumb, a teacher should to have 10 times the knowledge as those whom they teach. This may seem like a lot and I think it is a reasonable standard/expectation, particularly if you want to accelerate and deepen growth. In many ways, this is the point of a yoga teacher training.   Teachers with that level of training and experience exist though they are less common.

Consider, where did the teacher study and under whom?

If you read trainers bios they may reference a long list of everyone they studied with. It’s questionable how much time they may have spent with any of these teachers.  Maybe it was just a one time workshop?  Good enough, put them on the list too.

I think that depth is more important than breadth.  Tradition is sometimes shunned as archaic or impractical, which may be partially true. And we should consider that with heritage often comes depth and wisdom.

It is better to dig one deep well than many shallow ones that never strike water. As a loose guideline, I suggest that students and teachers have no more than two primary influences and study with those influences for a decade or longer.

Consider what your standards are and what makes an excellent yoga teacher before you embark on a particular training.

 


Back in the day, there we’re very few yoga teacher trainings to choose from. That has changed drastically over the past 10 years, and now, with the advent of the Corona Virus, you can find many, many trainings online. So, how do you select the best
yoga teacher training?

Best is a very relative term. From a yoga philosophy perspective, “best” is entirely subjective. There is not definitive standard by which we can say one object or concept is superior to another.


Most people would agree that a Tesla
is “better” than an AMC Pacer, however….


Yes, most people would agree that a Tesla is “better” than an AMC Pacer, however it is not 100% agreed upan and the distinction between the two is in the mind of the beholder. (Personally, I have an affinity for the Pacer, a classic in its own right!) This is distinct from a Universal Truth such as “everything changes”. 

Philosophy aside, some yoga trainings will resonate with you more than others, and your subjective like or dislike of a program has merit.  Afterall, YTT is a significant investment and – potentially – has much to offer you in the way of personal and spiritual enrichment.  Not to mention a career life path.

Back to the initial question, how do you select the best yoga teacher training for you?

The first step is to identify what you want in a program.  Some programs just focus on the postures and are ignorant of the traditional roots of yoga or actively reject those teachings in favor of their brand message. No Om Yoga is a clear example of this.

Other trainings, will embrace the rich heritage of yoga and present it as a holistic system. Denver Yoga Underground falls into the latter category.

Start with self inquiry. Ask what you ultimately want at the completion of the program? I recommend you explore this and other questions with a free-write journal exercise. Move the pen for 5 to 10 minutes.

Some questions to get you started:

  1. In a perfect scenario, how would things be different at the end of the training?
  2. Reflect upon teachers who inspired you. What was it about their demior or the content the presented, that was most enriching. Be as specific as possible.
  3. Are you more interested in personal growth or actually teaching?

Over the next few months I will continue to post thoughtful questions and reflections to help guide you on your path to select the best yoga teacher training.

 

This is the 4th part of an ongoing series that explores the different kinds of language a teacher uses to shape their classes.  In this segment, we look at invitational language when teaching yoga.

Invitational language is a subset of subjective language.  Subjective language asks the student to self reflect (or observe themselves) from a neutral perspective.  “Be aware of how you are breathing” as a simple example. Invitational Language invites students to become aware of their particular needs and gives them free will to act upon them.

Both subjective and invitational instructions ask students to reflect on their experience and sense of self.  This awareness teaches people to be less reactive and more empowered.

This awareness teaches people to be less reactive and more empowered.

Invitational Language is often used in “trauma sensitive” yoga classes. It has been proven to be effective for people for whom agency over their lives was forcefully taken; such as a car accident, combat, or growing up in an abusive household.

In many ways, “Invitational Language” is the antithesis of Directive Language, which emphasizes specific alignment cues and implies a “right way” to do the pose. Invitational Language, freely presents possible variations and encourages students to make choices for themselves.

There are many different ways to best communicate with students, depending upon one’s ability as a teacher and the needs of the students.  And there is an optimal place to use invitational language when teaching yoga. Gradually, a yoga student becomes a seasoned teacher, and learn when to use the appropriate style of language to best meet the needs of students. (You can find out more about our yoga teacher training here).

Examples of Invitational Language:

  • “If you feel like it……”
  • “When you are ready.”
  • “If you want to…”
  • “I invite you to try and _________”
  • “As an alternative, you can bend your knees”
  • “You don’t have to do any of these postures, you have free will”
  • Give people the option to participate or not