If you got this far on the site you are probable already sold on yoga.  Maybe you want to take that next quantum step in your practice, maybe even teach, and finally do a YTT.  As you consider your options I’ll share two reasons to do a yoga teacher training.

Reason #1: Find and Live Your Dharma.
Living a dharmic life is a far greater measurement of one’s success at yoga than how long one can hold warrior III.  The word dharma means ‘greater law or order’, it is what gives a particular thing its unique qualities. The dharma of a pumpkin seed is to become a pumpkin, and the dharma of a swallow is to build nests from mud and migrate thousands of miles each year without getting lost.

Because of our capacity for higher reasoning and reflection, human dharma is more dynamic and complicated. Every thought, word, and action can express one’s highest dharma, or not.

women in a yoga training do a twisting posture

Every thought, word, and action can express one’s highest dharma.

Overstimulation, harboring resentment, fantasizing or neglecting one’s responsibilities undermine the ability to live in alignment with higher dharmic virtues.

Yoga helps us to discover and live into our unique dharma.  Yoga allows us to get still and quiet enough to hear the voice of our conscience and make peace with shortcomings. Following the path of dharma gradually leads one down the path of greater fulfillment and meaningful contribution – something everyone wants at their core.

Reason #2: Learn to Teach.  At some point yoga becomes a lifestyle.  It shapes how you eat, who you hang out with, how you think and even how you breath.  Teaching can be a natural extension of your values and your personal relationship to yoga.  It feels good to live congruently.

I consider it to be a blessing for both you and the students.

Many people are searching for some way out of their current working life and feel the need to make a greater contribution. Yoga could potentially be that outlet.  I suggest easing your way into the transition to becoming a full time yoga teacher.  What ever path you choose, there are at least two reasons to do a yoga teacher training.

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.

 

I wanted to take a moment and share our Yoga Teacher Training Covid Response Plan. Thankfully, Denver is reopening its doors and we hope it will not be an issue. While we are doing our best to be preventative, also recognize that there also factors that are beyond our control and may have to adopt an online format. Not my first preference, but possible necessary in full disclosure.

But here is the good news, we have a very robust yoga teacher training covid response plan in place:

  • Our rental space is separate from the rest of the building and is used minimally.
  • Regular cleanings.
  • Ample hand sanitizer, tissues, etc.
  • Personal prop kit (including blankets, blocks, a strap and bolster) for your individual use only.
  • Limited class sizes
  • Outside class sessions. (weather permitting).
  • Spiritual practice for protection and healing including mantra and meditation.

 

a path leads to a new destiny

I wanted to take a moment and share our Yoga Teacher Training Covid Response Plan.Thankfully, Colorado is reopening its doors and we hope it will not be an issue. While we are doing our best to be preventative, also recognize that there also factors that are beyond our control and may have to adopt an online format. Not my first preference, but possible necessary in full disclosure.

  • But here is the good news, we have a very robust response plan in place:
  • Our rental space is separate from the rest of the building and is used minimally.
  • Regular cleanings before class.
  • Ample hand sanitizer, tissues, etc.
  • Personal prop kit (including blankets, blocks, a strap and bolster) for your personal use only.
    Free immune boosting course prior to the start of the training.
  • Just nine students, to allow for ample space and maximize the chances of meeting in person.
    Outside class sessions, weather permitting.
  • Spiritual practice for protection and healing including mantra and meditation.

Our first yoga teacher training began in 2003.  And since that time I have worked with hundreds of students who come for two basic reasons.  They either want to teach or to deepen their yoga practice.

Be Inquisitive & Expand Your Options

Mainstream yoga focuses on the postures.  However, the potential scope of yoga is far more encompassing. A individual yoga practice is essential to your success as a student and a teacher.

I suggest expanding your options and be open to learning about other yogic modalities. Personally, I feel drawn to personal yoga practice that is rooted in tradition and I offer students the full scope of methodologies.

After some exploration into the deeper, often ignored world of yoga, you might realize that what you really want is to be an ayurvedic practitioner and help people with nutrition and lifestyle rather than teach asana classes. You may find that you really resonate with bhakti yoga (the yoga of devotion), or want to emphasize meditation in your personal practice.  Yoga has so much more to offer beyond the poses. 

There are many possible ways you could ‘do yoga’ in the world.

Find and Learn From a Teacher You Resonate With

You can read my in depth thoughts on the ethos of being a teacher, but I thought I would share some of the most essential aspects here as well.  Not all teachers are equally knowledgeable.  Some teachers will leave a much greater impression than others.

The teacher is there to guide the student on a journey from misperception to seeing themselves and life more fully.  They provide a living, embodied example of yogic principles and are also knowledgeable about the particular methodologies that best suit each student (including asana).  Of course the student is responsible for doing work, the teacher simply provides guidance.

In assessing a teacher see that they have a seasoned understanding of the various methods and also demonstrate a regard for the greater welfare as opposed to just themselves.  Personally, having a teacher who is deeply attuned to the spiritual aspects of yoga is essential.  I consider this to be essential for a student who wants to deepen their yoga practice.