What to look for when choosing a yoga teacher training?
Look out for the following when you choose a yoga teacher training
There is no lack of offers for yoga teacher trainings, especially in Switzerland, let alone in the yoga hotspot Zurich! The offers range from multi-year trainings to short trainings that can be completed within 4 weeks. There are yoga teacher trainings online, as a hybrid format or in pure face-to-face classes and the price range varies from a few hundred francs to a few thousand francs. Now... which one would you like?
The right decision
In order to make a good decision for yourself, there are a few things you should pay attention to. A math teacher once explained to me the following about financial calculation models: "Garbage in = Garbage out". This means that if you fill your calculation model with wrong numbers aka garbage, then garbage will come out in the end. That's how I see it with yoga teacher trainings, no matter if they are in Switzerland, Zurich or abroad.
Personally, I have always been very selective about who I train with. I am willing to pay for quality and performance and do not want to waste my valuable time with superficial knowledge. I want to be taught by people who are experienced, have in-depth knowledge and are authentic.
Which yoga style suits me or what do I want to teach later?
This is a fundamental question! If you don't have much experience in yoga, you might not even know that there are different styles. I won't list all styles here (I might do that in a separate blog post), but for the sake of simplicity, let's distinguish between flow yoga and yoga styles that are static.
In flow yoga, you do the yoga postures quickly and in a flowing change. Many flow yoga teachers originally come from ballet and therefore the style seems very dance-like and graceful. There is not much time for clear, detailed instructions or corrections during the classes, on the part of the teacher. The yoga teachers usually stand in front of the group and demonstrate the exercises.
Correct alignment is often neglected in yoga teacher trainings
Many yoga teacher trainings offer flow yoga. However, what is often neglected in these yoga teacher trainings is the correct alignment in the yoga postures, the anatomy and how to verbally instruct and teach correctly. The focus in these yoga trainings is on demonstration. No yoga aids are generally used.
Our Alignment based Hatha Yoga, which we teach in our yoga studio in Zurich (Alignment Yoga for short), is a static style of yoga. You take the yoga postures (asana) slowly and consciously, staying longer in each yoga posture so that they can fully develop their positive effect on body and mind. The yoga teacher will correct you if necessary and make sure that you are correctly aligned so that you do not injure yourself during the yoga class. Yoga aids are used so that the yoga exercises can be adapted to your body and not the other way around!
Demonstrating is not the same as teaching
In our yoga teacher trainings the focus is therefore clearly on correct alignment, anatomy and you learn how to teach and not just demonstrate the yoga postures - these are elementary and are two completely different skills! Just because someone can demonstrate the yoga exercises well, does not necessarily mean that this person can competently pass on yoga to future yoga teachers!
So here it is worth to research a little deeper and decide for yourself what is important to you. For example, it is important to me personally that I know who is going to teach me when I decide on a training. Is it multiple teachers or one person? How experienced are these people and is teaching yoga a hobby or do they do it full time like we do?
Hobby or profession?
Joey and I, for example, both teach several hundred classes a year and have been doing so for many years, so there is of course a big difference in experience compared to yoga teachers who teach 1-2 yoga classes a week. Of course, we also pass on this experience 1:1 to our future yoga teachers in the training courses. Joey is originally from India and has been involved with yoga and spirituality since he was a teenager. And I used to work in the financial industry and then got more and more involved in yoga and have now been teaching yoga full-time for almost 12 years. In the meantime, we have both adopted different qualities from each other and a good mix of "East meets West" has emerged! This also carries over into our yoga teacher trainings.
Is an online format better or face-to-face classes?
Again, it depends on your own preferences and what exactly you want to be able to do after the training. Personally, I like an online format for theoretical knowledge and I like to continue my education in specific topics. However, if I want to learn a "craft", such as how to properly instruct or correct participants, then a pure online format is not sufficient in my view. Also how I perform in front of a physical group, speak etc. is quite different compared to an online format. A yoga teacher training also lives through the group dynamics and the exchange between the participants. This works quite well online to a certain extent, but the joint break conversations or the partner exercises cannot be picked up online. Also the training of the yoga teacher's eye, as we often do in our alignment yoga teacher trainings, cannot be conveyed online as accurately as in physical face-to-face classes.
How much does a yoga teacher training cost or how much do I want to spend on it?
There is no free lunch out there! That's what we used to say in the trade (I used to be a banker ;-) ). That means, if you value quality and experience, you must be willing to pay something for it. If you only want to get a certificate as fast as possible for little money, you will find many offers on the net. There I say again: Garbage in = Garbage out!
What is better; a long or a short yoga teacher training?
Consolidating knowledge and putting it into practice takes time. As well as the transformation of the personality and the development of spirituality, which are part of a yoga teacher training. If you attach importance to such topics in your training, short trainings of less than 2 years do not make sense for you or only if the school offers different modules on which you can build, as we do with us.
For example, with us you can start with the 200h yoga teacher training. Many do this to just do something for themselves, to develop a better understanding of yoga and to learn more about correct alignment.
Honestly "manage" the expectations of the participants
This yoga teacher training provides a solid foundation. You can build on this foundation training in yoga later with us if you choose to do so. We are very honest with our participants about what they can and cannot expect after these first 200 hours of training. We tell them that after the 200h Alignment Yoga Teacher Training they can teach simple yoga classes, but they should not expect to teach as solid and experienced as our graduates who have completed all 3 modules (750 hours in total) with us.
This honesty is important to us, because here too, providers often promise something that is not reality afterwards. A 200h yoga teacher training does not make you an expert in yoga. However, if these first 200 yoga teacher training hours provide you with a really solid and firm foundation, your way up the ladder will be easier, if that's what you want at all. As I said, many just want to do something for themselves in the beginning. "But if, then properly!" is my motto there!
How important is a yoga teacher certificate?
For many it is important that the training is registered with Yoga Alliance. Yoga Alliance is the best known and largest yoga teacher registry and is based in the USA. In the meantime, however, it is also recognized internationally; in Switzerland, too, there is an increasing demand for it. If a yoga teacher training is registered there, it doesn't mean that the content of the training is of the same quality as what you are looking for, but there are certain standards and a framework.
The standards that should be met have recently been raised by Yoga Alliance, which will hopefully raise the quality in the whole yoga market a bit more over time. Because when I see advertisements for yoga teacher trainings that only last 4 weeks and best of all in an online only format that is being peddled for a few coins, I do have a few question marks in my head....
Clarify for yourself what certificates you will get from your school after graduation. Also a training certificate, with a detailed list of subjects and hours, should be handed in for a well-founded and longer training.
Our yoga teacher trainings are registered with Yoga Alliance and all successful graduates receive a detailed training confirmation from us in addition to the certificate.
In my opinion, these are the most basic considerations and points that should be taken into account in a yoga teacher training.
If you want to get more specific and find out which training is right for you, download our free questionnaire on this topic (the questionnaire is in German!).
Text: Tanja Lenger Mascarenhas, Expert in Alignment based Hatha Yoga