Tag Archive for: asana

The Top Must-Ask Questions Before Choosing a YTT


Some have called Colorado the mecca of yoga. And as the popularity of both yoga and Colorado as THE place to live have grown, the number of certified yoga teacher training programs have skyrocketed. A quick internet search will turn up dozens of training programs throughout the Denver-Metro area. But it can be challenging to determine which yoga teacher training program is right for you.

Below is a list of 10 must-ask questions you can use to evaluate the programs you are considering. The answers will not only narrow down your search, but will also help guide you to the training program that meets your specific needs as a yoga practitioner and future yoga teacher if you choose to go that route. A representative from the Denver program that you are considering should be available via email, phone or even face-to-face through open house events. If you are having difficulty getting your questions answered, this could be a sign that the program may not be a good fit.

Download and print the comparison worksheet here to help make narrowing down your selection easier.

With the answers to these questions, you can find the Denver yoga teacher training program that best aligns with your values. Remember that the benefits of your training will feed you well for the rest of your life, far beyond the length of the program. I’m excited for you and the amazing journey you are about to embark upon.


Derik Eselius
Founder, Axis Yoga Training
Denver, CO

10 MUST-ASK Questions Before You Pick A Program in Denver

  1. What is the size of the training class? Ask what the capacity is for their typical training class and if they fill that class to capacity. Take a moment to consider how you would feel being in a class of 20 versus a class of 60+. Ask to talk with the primary teacher about the level of individual or personalized feedback they will provide on your practice, teaching, sequencing, and other assignments. Smaller classes allow for more customized instruction. The way you are received as a prospective student will reveal how you will be treated once in the class. If the teacher makes time to address your questions, that’s a good indication they will value you as an individual rather than simply someone on their class roster.
  1. Is the program certified? Ask if the program is certified specifically with Yoga Alliance. Yoga Alliance has become the authority in the yoga world and most all legitimate yoga teacher training programs are registered with them. In all honesty, it may be tricky to find teaching job after graduation if you haven’t attended a Registered Yoga School (RYS) and obtain the Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) designation, all affiliated with Yoga Alliance. As a member of Yoga Alliance, you have the opportunity to receive valuable member benefits and resources such as health insurance, liability insurance, educational webinars, and more. Even if you are not sure you want to teach, it’s better to enroll in a program that will allow you to so if you choose. To ensure you can get your RYT designation upon graduation, verify that a prospective program is listed as an RYS on Yoga Alliance’s website.
  1. Does the program offer on-going support after graduation? This is important (though all of these questions are important)! Attending an intense 3-month yoga teacher training really can and will change your outlook on life in addition to giving you the skills to go on , if you desire, to teach your own classes. If after training, you’re kicked out of the nest without on-going support available, or access to the teachers you could end up stuck or wondering what to do next. Before you sign up for the training, make sure you ask, after the training, can I email my teacher questions that arise about my own personal practice and about how to go about starting to teach. Are there additional “booster” or “refresher” classes or even retreats for graduates that I have the opportunity to attend? Is there an online “alumni” community that I can be part of?
  1. What is the style of the training? Knowing what style(s) of yoga will be taught will help you narrow down your search. While demonstrating respect for the broad tradition of yoga, the program should focus on one or two particular approaches that resonates with you rather than providing a sampling of every possible yoga style. Keep in mind the notion that being a jack of all trades means becoming a master of none. On the other hand, consider whether the program’s teaching certificate will make you a well-rounded instructor who can teach in a variety of settings, or whether you will only be qualified to teach a branded, scripted class in a particular location or for a particular company. Yoga is diverse in how you approach it. Some programs may focus on the Asana more exclusively than others. Determine what is best for you.
  1. How long has the program been established? With so many yoga teacher training programs popping up in every city (Denver is flooded with them), it’s important to know how long the program has been in existence and even approximately how many graduates the program has produced since it’s inception. The longer the program has been around, the more likely it is that they have grown, learned and matured over the years to produce the highest quality curriculum. Like with any course or curriculum, it takes some trial and error to work out the kinks. It also takes time to respond to the needs and feedback of the students they are serving. In addition to asking how many graduates have completed the program, a follow up question would be if they survey their graduates and take action steps to apply that feedback to make the program better.
  1. What is the culture of the program like? Understanding the culture of the yoga studio will help you get an understanding if you and the program are a good fit. Just like finding a new job or attending a university, cultural fit plays a role in your decision. Is the yoga teacher training program a large part of the focus of the studio offering it, or is it something they do on the side as an added stream of income? Is the program offered by a large national chain or a smaller company local to Colorado? Is their culture more community-based or corporate focused? More importantly, ask yourself will you feel more comfortable in a close-knit group or in a large, sprawling network.
  1. What does the curriculum consist of? We already asked about the styles of yoga taught, but it’s also good to know the various elements that make up the program’s curriculum. Are a variety of benefits of yoga discussed (physical, mental and spiritual)? Is the program holistic and comprehensive? Will you be learning a combination of traditional theory, meditation, Pranayama (breathing) and Asana (postures)? Is there a list of required reading? Will there be guest speakers? Is there just one teacher or multiple? Having a well-rounded program that uses a multi-faceted approach to teaching brings depth to your training and practice as both a yogi and teacher.
  1. What prior experience is required before the training? As a person interested in becoming a certified yoga instructor, you may come from a variety of levels in your own yoga practice. From being hooked after only taking a handful of classes, but wanting to learn all there is to know about yoga and its benefits. To having practiced for many years and wanting to deepen that practice and take it to the next level. A big part of knowing if a specific program is right for you is understanding if they have any requirements or prerequisites. If a program requires no previous yoga experience for applicants, this may raise a red flag. It could mean that you will receive a less-thorough education because your teacher trainers will need to spend more time instructing newer students in the basics of alignment and technique. Getting a clear idea on the program’s expectations of you before signing up can either set you up for great success or failure.
  1. Is the school fair and upfront with their pricing? Price is often one of the biggest variables when searching for the right yoga teacher training program. However, if the answers to the previous questions aren’t right for you then price really doesn’t matter. Choose quality over affordability. Most 200-hour teacher training programs range anywhere from around $2,000 – $5,000. Some schools have additional costs for workshops, makeup classes, manuals or even guest speakers. Find out all fees that are associated with completing the program so you know what your true cost will be, and be sure the program has their attendance, pricing, and refund policies in writing.
  2. What do graduates say? Word of mouth and referrals are a very powerful thing. What better way to know what a program is all about than hearing it from those that have experienced it themselves? Read the testimonials on the program’s website, research reviews on Yelp and even go as far to see if you can reach out to a recent graduate to hear their experience first hand and point-of-view. If you have the opportunity, ask a former trainee what their personal transformation was like and what they decided to go on and do after graduation.
CLICK HERE to download a full PDF version of this guide along with a comparison worksheet to help you as you research local training programs.

200 Hr. YTT Open House – Aug. 13

Come find out more about Axis Yoga’s ongoing yoga teacher trainings. This will be a great opportunity to experience a class, meet graduates, get your questions answered and get a taste of what Axis is all about!

Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017    9:30-11am
Sixth Ave. UCC – Upstairs
3250 E. 6th Ave, Denver – 80206

What makes a yoga pose an authentic yoga pose?

Here are several answers to this question. Can you guess which one it is?

A.You look like, and are able to smile like, the model on the cover of Yoga Journal

B.You are one of the elite few who can do handstand in the center of the room

C.You are hyper flexible, and therefore able to go deeper into the poses

D.You actually present and attuned to whatever posture it is that you are doing


The answer is D!

As a yoga teacher I sometimes hear would be students say “I would like to try yoga but I am not flexible enough”, as though the ability to touch one’s toes were a prerequisite to the practice.  The assumption is that success in yoga can be measured by one’s ability to bend.

Even dedicated practitioners can fall into this assumption and miss out on the deeper purpose and potential of any given asana.  In fact, it is possible to seemingly grow more and more proficient at yoga poses without ever actually practicing yoga.  If our practice is motivated purely by external appearance, than we are missing out on a fundamental aspect of yoga.

Many can attest that there is an implicit value in the postures, that is not to be discounted.  And, let us consider that the postures, along with other even more sophisticated yogic methodologies, are a means to a much greater end -Union with one’s inborn spirit.

While this may sound very lofty, it is something that can be gradually discovered and ultimately realized.  The postures can be a means to begin to approach this ideal provided we are practicing with the correct orientation.

The crown jewel of both asana and meditative practice is awareness-itself.  How attentive are we to the quality or pranic essence of our breathing?  Attuned to the quality of the vital breath, are we able to make fine adjustments to the body to accommodate a more compete experience of the breath itself?  How do subtle or overt changes in our breath affect our mind?

Through this detailed process of repositioning or repatterining of the breath, body and the mind through the postures, new neuro-pathways are built and the yogi experiences deeper and deeper levels of peace and perception.

The Sanskrit term for the joining of breath, body and mind is triputi or the uniting of three energies.  Bringing these three aspects fully to bare on the physical pose greatly magnifies the power, potential, and inborn wisdom of any given posture.

From this perspective the ultimate goal of asana is not to contort oneself into the most exotic position, but rather, to use the posture as a fuel for developing inner awareness.

Using the posture as a tool to become more conscious of ones breath, body, mind, spirit connections the essence of yoga practice is brought to life.


This month we are hosting an exclusive community yoga class in Denver that focuses on this topic of authenticity in yoga poses as well as “Asana and the Gateway to the Inner-World.” Join us on Sunday, Oct. 16th from 9:30-11:30.

Click here for more information.

This experiment helped me deepen my own personal sadhana practice and I become comfortable with meditating alone. Of course there were days when I struggled to relax or questioned if I was doing it “the right way”, but I just reminded myself of an Iyengar quote I had heard “Breath is the king of mind.” That quote took the strain and pressure off focusing my mind and allowed me to just sit in silence and focus on my breath, and things fell into place from there.

Starting a pranayama practice separately from my asana practice helped me grow and strengthen a piece of my practice that was once weak and deficient.  I gained the peace and clarity I had hoped, while discovering pieces of myself I had left unexplored. This experiment helped me to see my life’s path more clearly and strengthened my emotional immunity. I feel I have more love, patience and understanding for others because I have more love, patience and understanding of myself.

People find their way to Yoga through many avenues. Some through meditation. Some through breath work. Some through spiritual study. And many, like the student in this account, through a physical asana practice. The posts below describe an experiment to deepen a physical Yoga practice to include more of Pantajali’s eight limbs of Yoga.

At the beginning of the experiment I brainstormed a list of different activities (see Table below) that I could try in order to enhance the spiritual connectedness I felt during a typical studio-based yoga class. My usual asana class schedule is three times a week (outside of Axis training times), split between Core Power Yoga and Advanced Asana classes at Samadhi. I systematically went through the activities listed in the Table during the asana classes I participated in throughout the weeks of the experiment (including both at Axis training and studio classes). Following each session I journaled about how the various activities affected me spiritually.

The Table below lists the different activities that were tried during the experiment period and their results.  NE = not effective, SE = somewhat effective, VE = very effective.


Table.  Spiritual Activities Tried During the Experiment, and Their Impact


Where   Tried


Bringing   “prayer hands” to third eye instead of heart




Devotional   focused practice



Prone   supplication during practice

Core Power


Doing   asana practice with eyes closed

Core Power



Using   Anjali mudra during practices as much as possible, even if not cued by   instructor



Meditating   after asana practice

Core Power


Setting an   intention to honor God during practice

Core Power


Picture of   religious icon next to mat during practice



Saying a short   prayer with each down dog hold



Meditating   before asana practice

Core Power



Overall I found this to be a very useful experiment as I was able to identify some simple maneuvers that I can take with me into any studio-based class to enhance my spiritual experience.  This experiment also prompted me to think in depth about how I might, as a yoga teacher, incorporate some spiritual practices into my classes, being mindful of creating an environment that is not threatening, and meets people wherever they are spiritually.

Based on this experiment I plan to continue to use Anjali mudra, prayer hands at third eye, and prone supplication throughout asana classes I attend.  It is heartening to know that these three simple actions can increase my spiritual connection in any asana class environment, even during classes that are highly physical (my favorite type!)  In addition, the devotional practice that Brenna introduced was a lovely experience and one I plan to do periodically do on my own. I would love to share a devotional practice similar to what Brenna taught with others.  Thank you for introducing me to it!!!

Axis Yoga Teacher Training students’ series of experiments culminates with a “personal” experiment. Taking into account all they have learned, students examine any piece of the yogic puzzle on a personal level. This student came full circle as she realized that what she had been aiming for in the beginning of her experiment came around to surprise her in the end. And it was an enriching journey along the way.

When I began this personal experiment I was certain that I wanted to do a project revolved around meditation and/or spirituality. Lately, I have been very drawn to Bhakti yoga, and for some reason the name and entity of Shiva has been popping up into my life. It’s been happening so often that I can’t ignore it or dismiss it as coincidence. I felt like I was being told to meditate and pray to Shiva for my personal experiment. It seemed perfect! It made total sense! Everything was fitting into place so nicely…until I couldn’t find a book to go along with my plan.

Try as I might, I could not find a book on the mythological legends of or guided meditations on Shiva. Besides being surprised, I felt almost hurt that I couldn’t find the type of book I wanted. Everything seemed so neat and tidy so why was this part of the plan not working out? Discouraged I went to yet another library to search for my ideal book, which I didn’t find. Instead I found The Inner Life of Asanas by Swami Lalitananda. I decided that if my personal experiment was ever going to get done that I would need to scrap my initial proposal, and so I picked The Inner Life of Asanas to base my personal experiment off of.

The Inner Life of Asanas is comprised of different yoga poses described by a personal story of the author (or mythological tale she’s heard regarding the pose), physical ways to practice the pose, and reflections on the pose. I found the little stories fun and sometimes beautiful. The physical how-tos on how to practice the asanas were nice but nothing new since I have spent so much time in the teacher training learning how to do asana. What I ended up enjoying about the book were the reflection sections on each pose. It’s there that I realized what my personal experiment really was.

After practicing the pose I would write down my answers to the reflection questions. An example of such a question about bakasana (crane pose) was, “ Visualize a crane and try to embody its qualities. Ask: What are you afraid of? When you work with Crane pose, can you peer beneath the surface to see the root of the fear?” The book describes bakasana as, “the yoga of falling on your face” which I thought was fitting since I can barely do bakasana before I panic at the thought of crashing head first into the floor. When I did the reflection writing I was sort of surprised that I wrote, “I’m afraid of failing.” I wrote failing, not falling. Freudian slip initiated by a yoga pose. It’s true though; I’m terrified of failing in my life.

What my personal experiment became was, as the book suggests, was finding the inner life of asanas. Even though I knew that asanas were more than just physical poses, the book helped me to really see the spiritual and psychological core behind the actions. It also helped me to become sensitive to emotional and spiritual reactions I had to each asana and how my feelings manifested themselves in my body. After a lot of meditating on why I was afraid of failing, and accepting that I if I fell over in crane pose then I fell over, I was able to do a very beautiful and sustained crane pose.