10 Question To Ask Before Investing In Yoga Teacher Training

This is an article I have been meaning to write for a long time as I think it may help students in asking some hard and valuable questions before they sign up for yoga teacher training. Training to be a yoga teacher is a huge investment of both time and money and I believe it is best to be sure of why you are doing it, as well as who you want to do it with rather than just jumping in. At the same time do know that no one teacher training program is complete in itself and you will need to invest in a lifetime of learning and practice in order to become a skilled and passionate teacher. I myself have invested in well over 1000 hours of formal teacher training, and I don’t intend to stop anytime soon as there is so much to learn and I value learning over fine furniture and fancy clothes!  However, if you are not keen to spend a fortune on a program that may not be suitable for you then this article may help. I hope that the topics I have brought up below will offer some food for thought to those of you considering teacher training and support you in making an informed choice. If you have further questions or want to chat more about this topic please leave comments in the section below, as I love to hear from you.
 #1 What do you want to get out of your teacher training experience?
This is the first question you need to ask yourself, as it will help you greatly in choosing a program. Do you have strong intentions to teach right after you graduate and want to gain the skills to do that? Or are you primarily looking to deepen your practice? Do you want a more academic experience? Or are you more interested in having an immersion into yogic philosophy and lifestyle?  These are all very different intentions and while there is some crossover it can be very helpful to get clear on what you want most and then look for a program that has a curriculum that will offer you that.
#2 What style of yoga do you most want to teach?
This is another really important question. I feel that many students end up disappointed in their training program because they were unclear about what styles they had been practicing leading up to teacher training, or were unclear about what style the school they chose focused on. Ask questions of the proposed school to find out more about the style of practice taught, and whether or not that is what you truly want to teach. Are you interested in teaching therapeutics, or pre-natal? Is your interest more towards meditation or stronger styles of power yoga? The more clarity you have ahead of time the easier it will be to pick a program that will offer you what you want.
#3 What is your philosophy?
This is obviously a big question, but an important one to ask. Knowing what your philosophy is in regards to yoga practice, and life, will help you in choosing a program or teacher that has a similar philosophy. There is nothing worse, for both student and teacher, than to find yourself in a program that is at odds with what you value.
#4 What kind of learner are you?
Knowing how you learn best will also help you pick a school. If you learn through conversation and questioning but you choose a program that has 30-60 students in it and there is very little time for group discussion or one on one with the teacher you may find yourself struggling. Do you learn best when doing? Listening? Or seeing?  Are you good at taking in a lot of new information all at once? If so a one month or three week intensive program may work for you.  If not then look at a program that breaks the learning into smaller chunks delivered over a greater time frame.  Do you learn best in large groups, or do you prefer a more intimate environment? Is the program delivered live, or is there an online component and which is better for you? Ask these questions of yourself, and then use the answers to find out more about the program you are looking into.
#5 How much time do you have to devote to learning this new skill?
Even the best yoga teacher training program in the world cannot transform you into a gifted teacher unless you practice your new skill.  Learning something new takes time. Ask yourself how much time you have to devote to studying new information such as yoga philosophy, anatomy, teaching methodology, and practice. You will also need to create time to practice teaching. Be honest about this as teacher training is a big investment and you want to make sure you get the most out of it.
#6 What is the curriculum of the school you are interested in?
Yoga is an unlicensed profession, which means there are no universal education standards that all schools must comply with. For this reason, there is a huge amount of variance in regards to curriculum between various schools. Be sure to do your research and get as much info about the curriculum of the program you are interested in as possible. Ask questions if it is not clear. Do you want to learn more about the anatomy of yoga, its philosophy, or its practice? Do you want to dive into meditation, the business of yoga, or yoga for special needs groups? How many hours will be devoted to each topic and how experienced are the teachers teaching at the school? These are all very important questions and any school you are researching should be able to give you detailed answers when you ask.
#7 What is the philosophy of the school or the teacher who is offering the training program?
Just as you must be clear on what your philosophy is you should have a fairly good idea of what the context of the school or teacher you are planning to study with is.  Context can be even more powerful than content! You will be spending at least 200 hours learning from them and being influenced by their viewpoint so ask questions and get a feel for where they stand. What are their primary values? What is their approach to practice? Where have they studied and how might that effect how they view yoga? You certainly don’t  have to be 100% in agreement with everything, but you should feel that the context that your teachers are offering will be valuable to you.
 #8 What kind of support will you receive during, and after, the training program?
Again knowing what kind of learner you are will help you know what kind of support you may desire both during, and after the program.  Will the teacher be available to answer questions in person or online? Will there be a format in which you can connect with the other school participants in order to support each others learning and ask questions? Is there an opportunity to observe or assist the teacher’s classes during or after the training, and is that something you would like to do? Does the teacher provide continuing education or one on one mentoring after training? Think about what you might need or desire and then ask questions to find out what is available to you.
#9 Do you resonate with the teacher of the training program?
This is different than knowing the philosophy or context of the school you are looking at. This has to do with whether or not you are a right fit with this teacher and whether or not they are the right teacher for you. I myself have studied with teachers who were incredibly knowledgeable, but whose approach to teaching did not work for me at all. And while I still got some value from the experience it is not something I would want to make a significant investment in. If you cannot take a class with the teacher you are considering studying with then inquire as to whether they have online classes or lectures available so you can get a feel for their style. And barring that at least pick up the phone and request to have a conversation with them. I am always surprised at how few students do this when signing up for training with me and always appreciate the ones that do as I am more assured that they know what they are getting themselves into.
#10 Why is the teacher leading teacher trainings?
This final question is a really big one, and certainly one you should not be afraid to ask.  You can ask the teacher directly, and you can also get a feel for the why by observing everything else they do. Are they passionate about education? Are they generous in the way they give their time and energy to their students? Do you sense that they have a genuine interest in the topics that they will be teaching? These are all good indications of whether or not someone is truly suited to leading teacher trainings. The truth is that the skill set needed to train teachers is sometimes entirely different than the one needed to lead a drop in yoga class or an inspiring yoga retreat. Someone may be a great teacher on a large stage at a yoga festival, but have difficulty working with students in the more intimate setting of a teacher training. They may have a passion for practice, but not be patient with beginners as they learn new skills. I have personally found that there are some teachers I will study with in the context of asana practice or philosophy, but other teachers that I go to when I want to learn new skills in the arena of teaching. So though this last question can be a very tough one, I suggest trying to get a sense of why a teacher may be choosing to work with aspiring teachers so you can be assured that you are going to invest in training with someone who is there to support you fully.