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Do you want to be a yoga teacher? Find out how to pick the right yoga teacher training course for you


Do you want to be a yoga teacher? It's time to take the lifelong journey

Credit: International Yoga Teachers Association

Yoga’s popularity has exploded. It seems that almost every studio is offering yoga teacher training. Yoga magazines are filled with one-month fast-track retreats where students leave proudly waving a 200 hours’ certificate and are unleashed to teach the public as “qualified” yoga teachers.

In a world where instant gratification has become an expectation, do we really expect to become “instant” teachers? Do we really think it’s possible to have information poured into students’ heads at lightning speed and have them be able to teach yoga safely and effectively to their students?

These fast-track courses have their place; they can act as a stepping-stone to open the door to expanding people’s knowledge and awareness of what yoga is, which is more than just the asanas. But do they prepare students to become teachers?

While yoga is not a replacement for the medical profession, it’s often recommended as a supplementary treatment for physical and mental issues.

With more and more people coming to yoga with an array of injuries and ailments, our obligation to be knowledgeable and qualified is increasingly important. While yoga is not a replacement for the medical profession, it’s often recommended as a supplementary treatment for physical and mental issues. The importance of being truly qualified, should these issues be presented in your class, cannot be understated.

Good education takes time. It needs to include research, lectures, assessments, inquiry, integration into one’s life, discussion with peers, case studies and learning from a faculty of knowledgeable qualified teachers. It also needs to make sure students have the right amount of base knowledge to attend the course. In terms of yoga teacher training, attending a few classes or even practising for a year does not necessarily translate to a solid foundation to be a good yoga teacher.

In an increasingly crowded marketplace, it can be hard to work out how to pick the right teacher training course. Here are a few questions to ask when you are doing your research:

  1. Is it a quick one-month course or is it run over 12–24 months to allow for a longer training period?
  2. Is the course recognised by Yoga Alliance and Yoga Australia?
  3. Does the course curriculum cover Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga as a solid foundation of yoga teaching?
  4. Who is teaching the course? What is his/her depth of experience? Be careful not to select your course simply because of the brand or celebrity of the teacher. Ask yourself, do they have sufficient experience to be teaching me to become a teacher?
  5. How many teachers make up the faculty? Yoga is rich and complex and it is not possible for one or two teachers to have the knowledge to deliver a whole course. Look for a course that has specialist lecturers in their specific subject.
  6. Does the school follow the ethics of yoga? Does it give to charity and provide scholarships? Is it ego and/or money driven?
  7. How is the course assessed? Does this ensure that you can teach a quality, safe class to your students?
  8. Does the school offer a mentoring program that runs during your training and beyond?
  9. How does the school support your continuing education?
  10. What are the pre-qualifications for the course? Is it simply having enough money in your bank account or is there a minimum amount of dedicated yoga experience required?

The biggest question to ask yourself is, “Do I really want to be a yoga teacher?” If you are serious about becoming a yoga teacher, do your research and make sure you pick a school that’s going to give you the best possible understanding of yoga, philosophy and science. Your teacher training is the first step in a lifetime of learning. It’s a wonderful journey that allows you to learn more, understand and uncover more about yoga and yourself. By giving yourself the best foundation possible, you have a solid base to build on.

If this is your journey, don’t be in a rush. Give respect to the science and teachings of yoga and resist the urge to take a quick holiday course. Allow yourself the time to enjoy learning the ancient science of yoga. You will emerge feeling qualified and well-equipped to teach in a safe and professional manner. Let’s raise the bar of the craft of teaching yoga.

About IYTA

The International Yoga Teachers Association (IYTA) was one of the first non-profit associations dedicated to the professional education of yoga teachers in Australia and is represented in more than 20 countries. IYTA has trained approximately 3000 teachers since it was founded in Australia in 1967. It provides diplomas, postgraduate studies, continuing professional development, mentorship and support for its graduates and members (from all yoga disciplines) around Australia and the world. It offers a career path to suitably qualified teachers through the development and training of its faculty of lecturers. Teachers from around the world can also join the association and become involved in interstate, national and international committee work and continued development of yoga teacher training courses and workshops.