Narrowing down on the best yoga teacher training program can often be a challenge. Questions such as the quality of the school, teachers’ experience, syllabus, course fee and what’s included, and number of students in a class, among other aspects are on top of mind – and they should be. Whether you’re signing up for a 200-hour yoga teacher training course (YTTC) or 300-hours YTTC, selecting the best yoga teacher training course plays an integral role in bridging your asana practice and expertise as a yoga teacher.
YOGA PHILOSOPHY IS AS IMPORTANT AS YOGA PRACTICE
When browsing through a plethora of yoga teacher training schools, take your time to assess whether the syllabus gives equal importance to yoga philosophy and practicals. The best yoga teacher training courses offer the right blend of ancient yogic philosophy with the practice of asanas, pranayama, cleansing techniques, meditation and more. In 300-hour yoga teacher training courses, you will also get introduced to bandhas (locks) and mudras (gestures) with some time spent dedicated to the actual practice. Yoga philosophy and the vast depth of knowledge yoga has to offer is explored in an understandable and applicable way as well.
WHAT’S INCLUDED IN YOUR YOGA INSTRUCTOR CERTIFICATION
Yes, yoga philosophy and the practice of asanas, pranayama, cleansing techniques, meditation and relaxation (yoga nidra) take up a significant number of hours in your 200 or 300-hours YTTC (the level of practice is more advanced in a 300-hour YTTC). However, it is good to note what is included under yoga philosophy – does the course cover the history and origin of yoga, styles of yoga, Prana (life force and its importance), Nadis (energy channels), Chakras (wheels of energy) and Panchkoshas (sheaths or layers in the body)? If it’s an Ashtanga yoga teacher training course, does the syllabus deep dive into the Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga?
Apart from this, take your time understanding what physical practices you will learn. If you can’t find details of the asanas or the types of pranayama you will learn, do not hesitate to reach out to the school. Another part to look for is how the course prepares you to teach. This is just as important as learning about yoga itself. Does the course have dedicated sessions where you get to teach fellow-students? Do you learn about sequencing, adjustments and alignment, ethics, teaching methodologies and the business of yoga? To go from practicing yoga asanas to becoming an expert teacher, these are a few critical topics to look for when selecting the best yoga teacher training course.
YOGA ALLIANCE REGISTERED SCHOOLS
Consider aspects such as whether you wish to teach globally, are keen on receiving the Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) label and would like to study yoga based on a global, standard curriculum. Schools like Sampoorna Yoga offer certified yoga teacher training courses where you graduate with a certificate that automatically makes you a 200-hours RYT or 300-hours RYT with Yoga Alliance. You need not register with Yoga Alliance separately and are eligible to start teaching worldwide. This elevates your credibility immediately, while also allowing you to level up to become an RYT-500 hours registered yoga teacher (upon completing a 200-hour YTTC and 300-hours YTTC) and gain continuing education points through certificate courses such as a 50-hours pranayama course, or a 50-hours yoga nidra course, and so on.
EXPERIENCED AND APPROACHABLE TEACHERS
Yoga philosophy places emphasis on a Guru (teacher). It is said yoga should always be learnt and practiced under the guidance of a Guru, making a teacher’s role extremely significant. The best yoga teacher training schools will communicate who their teachers are for a specific course. Some courses will have teachers who are specialized in specific areas such as yoga anatomy and physiology, yoga philosophy or practices like pranayama and yoga nidra. Moreover, try to understand how approachable and supportive the teachers are. You can look up reviews of the school or teachers, check social media handles, speak to past students or directly write to the school as well. A teacher from your course can go on to become your mentor on this incredible yoga journey, so there’s no harm in asking as many questions or doing as much research as you wish to for this.
A YOGA COMMUNITY
Many students when joining a yoga teacher training course look for the opportunity to practice and learn amongst a group of like-minded folks. Not only will you make friends with those who are on a similar journey as you, but you will also become part of a community that will support you throughout life. Some schools like Sampoorna Yoga foster a community with a global network of yogis, with past and present students. Students get to stay in touch with each other, look for support and guidance, as well as gain from work opportunities. For example, you could be teaching at a retreat in Europe and might want to tie-up with another Sampoorna Yoga student who you met through this global network. The most amazing outcome is you will have a community cheering you on no matter what.
BRIDGING THE GAP TAKES TIME…
This being said, remember that bridging asanas and expertise takes time. You may have been practicing asanas before deciding to embark on your yoga teacher training journey or you may be completely new to yoga, but developing a holistic approach to yoga practices, philosophy and teaching methodology takes time. Avoid being hasty or making impulsive decisions. Be open to accepting the help you get from teachers and fellow-students. When everything comes together in balance and harmony, you will find yourself stepping into the role of an expert yoga teacher.