5 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Yoga Teacher Training School
Article by Lucas Rockwood
July 7, 2022
If you’re considering joining a yoga teacher training course and feel overwhelmed by all the options and offerings, this simple guide should help you make the best decision for yourself. I took my first yoga teacher training course in 2003, and I’ve since attended, co-taught, and led over 120 courses myself, so hopefully my experiences will be helpful for you.
What is your primary reason for training to teach?
People have very different motives for training. Some want to deepen their personal practices, learn something new, or travel the world with yoga. These are personal growth oriented students, and at least 90 percent of the yoga teacher training programs in the world are designed specifically for this purpose.
If you are among the remaining 10 percent of trainees who are career oriented, planning to grow personally, and your main focus is skills and credentials that will open doors and lead to job opportunities, there are only a tiny percentage of courses you should consider.
If your goal is to teach at a high level, look for courses where the trainers are working professionals themselves and where the graduates are active, publicly teaching, and clearly pursuing professional ambitions. A quick Google search is usually enough to very quickly determine if the course you’re considering is focused on personal growth or professional growth.
Are you looking for spirituality or mind-body fitness?
The majority of yoga schools integrate neo-Hindu ideas, pop Buddhist philosophy, and new age spirituality into their curriculum. Some schools are directly affiliated with organized religions and religious organizations. If you are a religious or spiritually-minded person, be sure to ask questions to ensure you’re picking a course that aligns with your beliefs.
If you are not spiritual or religious–or more commonly, if you prefer to keep your personal beliefs private–you’ll want to choose a course very carefully. One of the biggest complaints among yoga trainees is that they join a course that claims to be science-based only to be asked to participate in vedic chants, mantras, chakra studies, and other esoteric practices. If in doubt, ask.
Are the trainers qualified?
You might be surprised to learn that many people leading yoga training courses have never worked as professional teachers. As odd as this sounds, it’s very common for someone to take personal development style yoga teacher training, love the experience, and then turn around and launch a similar course six months later. In some cases, these teachers do a decent job, but their lack of real-world experience means you’ll be learning derivative material based on theory not practice. There is no shortcut for real-world experience, so if possible, opt for trainers who walk their talk.
Is the training course accessible and inclusive?
A lot of yoga teacher training courses are elite and cater toward the stereotypical yoga student: young, athletic, vegetarian females between the ages of 22 and 27 years old. As a clumsy non-athlete myself, I always felt completely out of place in those environments and preferred to choose training courses that welcome all types of people. You should be aware that most schools will publicly claim to have accessible and inclusive environments, but cult-like, group-think, and homogenous students are more common than not.
Will this course be worth my time and money?
Any yoga training course is going to require both a financial and time commitment, so you want to make sure you’re utilizing your resources in the best way possible. If you spend two weeks or two months studying and training on this program, will the end result be something you’re proud of and something that can serve you and your future clients? Are you able to identify clearly what you will walk away with in terms of real-world skills? If a course feels fluffy and foggy about its objectives, be careful. If there are lots of photos of graduates holding certificates but no indication that any of them are teaching after graduation, that’s a red flag. Your time and your money are always limited. Choose carefully before you invest.
YOGABODY Teachers College
YOGABODY Teachers College is a leader in science-based yoga classes and professional training courses with over 23,000 teachers in 41 countries. Founded by Lucas Rockwood in 2006, YOGABODY publishes weekly educational content for students and teachers alike. Find links to helpful resources below.
Lucas Rockwood is an internationally-renowned yoga trainer, TEDx Speaker, podcaster, writer, and entrepreneur. His early yoga and meditation teachers include Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Paul Dallaghan, Alex Medin, Gabriel Cousens MD, and SN Goenka. Lucas left the USA in 2003 and traveled and taught extensively before making Barcelona, Spain his home base. In a previous life, he worked in theater, publishing, and as a vegan chef and nutritional coach. He’s the father of three international kids and remains as passionate about yoga as when he first began practicing in 2002.