How to Choose a Yoga Teacher Training:
Top 10 Tips to Keep in Mind
by Margit Selsjord
After almost 10 years of practicing yoga I finally felt brave enough to start looking for my first teacher training, and as a person who dreaded the idea of talking or teaching in front of people, it felt like the scariest thing ever.
But after finishing my first Yoga teacher training I asked myself why i hadn’t done it earlier?
Overcoming a fear is so thrilling and liberating, and the fear can be hiding a passion you had no idea about before facing it.
After the first training I completed, I started teaching free classes at my work place, and had a enthusiastic group showing up every week, most of them where new to yoga, and I was new to teaching, but together we grew more confident and brave.
I quickly signed up for my next teacher training, this time with my favourite yoga school – Pure Flow Yoga, and I feel proud to have been a part of the first training held by Francie Fishman and Atira Tan in Thailand.
In the list below i will share 10 important aspects when choosing and following trough with a YTT, things is wish I knew, what I’ve learned, and other experiences that i hope you will find helpful.
1. Check in with yourself/reflect/meditate
My first tip is to really check in and be real with what you want from a teacher training.
If something is holding you back from taking the plunge, it can be a good idea to meditate, find some stillness and reflect on these thoughts and feelings.
For me it was the fear of not being good enough, worthy or experienced enough to be a teacher, so then i had to investigate within where this fear came from, and if it had any validity in this moment and decision.
When something feels scary it might be because it is important.
2. Find your WHY
The Why is what personally drives you in life, and it also means being clear about your reasons to deepen your yoga practice, trough a Ytt or maybe start teaching.
What is it about yoga that is important to you, or what is it you want to contribute with in this world.
Why do you want to do this?
Ask yourself this as many times you need.
Ask this and wait for an answer, write it down and revisit it a few times, then state it out loud.
Finding your Why will help you keep up the motivation when in doubt or when having a rough day during an intense teacher training, helping to bring you closer to the core of your purpose.
When i choose my first YTT I choose an Ashtanga Vinyasa training in Oslo, Norway.
I didn’t exclusively practice Ashtanga at this time, but was drawn to this style because of the thorough and structured style and sequence.
The teacher leading the course was very highly recommended due to her extensive background and experience. I had attended a few of her classes and knew I liked her personality and style.
This is important, because you need to trust and respect the person who is in charge. So testing out the teacher or knowing the school is a something i recommend.
The style of yoga you choose is often based on what you prefer to practice, but it can also be a style you want to learn, choosing the latter will affect how challenging the training will be, depending on having to learn a whole new style or just continue in the same style as you already practice.
4. Form, length, intensity
Thera are a few forms and ways a teacher training is conducted. The most well known type is the 1-month 200 hour intensive training.
This has become very popular, giving the students a certificate and diploma in as short of a time as possible.
What many forget to consider is that you will never become an experienced teacher in 30 days or so.
In fact many seasoned yoga teachers often attend teacher trainings on a yearly basis to get fresh inspiration and new input and knowledge.
There are no short cuts to deep and hard learned experience, it can take years and decades to become a truly good teacher. The good thing about a 1-month YTT is that it throws you in the deep end, and gives you a great toolkit to start your teaching, or simply deepening a practice.
My first YTT was a 4.5 month long part-time training adding up to 200 hours. This was great for me since i at the time had a full-time job. We met up every other weekend for two full days of workshops and practice, and we where expected to practice as much as we could outside the training. On top of this we had homework and wrote 6-7 essays about yoga philosophy.
If you have family, obligations or work and there is no free time to take 1 month away from everyday life, this form of training is highly recommended.
The downsides is that you get less space to concentrate on just the training, and it takes more effort to get back in. Also the classes are often on the weekends -which with a full time job- normally is for relaxation, rest and social meet ups, so you might end up feeling a bit depleted in these areas.
5. Reality check – Logistics of taking a month off
Now that you have become more clear about how, why, where and with whom, it is time to sit down and check out your finances, ask the boss for time off from work, and talk to you family and partner about what you want to do, so that you get the support and freedom you need to make it happen.
Many teacher trainings offer an early bird discount if you can commit a few months in advance, which lets you save some money.
After you have secured your YTT spot, the studio/school will most likely send you an welcome email with information about what you can expect and what to prepare/read etc.
If you don’t receive this kind of info, don’t be shy to write them first and ask.
Start researching the place/space for the training so that you are mentally prepared, letting them know dietary any preferences, book a flight, hotels, get that extra pair of leggings and get excited!
6. Prepare and read
One or two months before the training starts it is a good idea to start deepening your own yoga and meditation practice so that your body and mind is ready for the intense training, while getting enough sleep and food.
There will be so much going on at the training, so the more you can read and cram beforehand, the less you have to spent your precious free time at the training.
There is an extensive reading curriculum prepared for you to finish before the exam, so getting a head start is recommended.
Buy a journal and start writing.
7. How to get through successfully
Before the training starts. write yourself a motivational letter, with why you are doing this, what makes you amazing, and how you can make the world a better place by just being you, and keep this letter for those hard to get out of bed days.
There will be lots of emotional and physical ups and downs during a training, and I can almost guarantee tears, but also lots of laughter and fun.
So prepare yourself to be pushed out of your comfort zone, and let go of the idea that you are in control.
There are many uncontrollable elements that can happen as a part of a training such as group dynamics, weather, female cycle, upset stomach, sleep deprivation and monkeys (yes really, at Pure flow yoga, monkeys happen, and they will steal your attention, and bananas!).
The trick is to meet each challenging situation seeing it as a teacher, lesson or friend, and ask yourself what is it within you that makes it hard?
These lessons can be the most powerful teachings you are left with after a training.
8. Overcoming nerves and expectations
No matter how experienced you are or how many trainings you have done, there will be pressure or nerves surfacing at some point or many during the training.
In my experience this can be caused not just by you, but also by the group you are spending your days with. This is almost unavoidable when being this close and sharing space and practices together.
When, and if you feel contagious nerves or pressure from the group members, try to get some space and shield yourself until you have calmed down.
Going for a walk, swim, being alone, dancing in your bungalow or talking to loved ones can help you get back to yourself, don’t forget there is a world outside your yoga training bubble.
Read your motivation letter, and remember who you are!
9. Preparing for exams
When the last week is arriving, the pressure will be on. You might be expected to teach a small group, half a class, know the names of poses/asana and basic philosophy and history. This varies greatly from training to training.
My tip here is to re-read all your own notes a few times, underline the core of the lessons. Then focus on the teaching skills, practice projecting your voice, and ask as many questions as you can.
Remember what your WHY is, and be mindful about what you came here for, and what you want to take back with you.
Find a way to have fun, this way you will remember more of what you learned, and your love for yoga will shine trough.
On the exam day, take some time to meditate before it all starts, have your white clothes ready(some yoga schools uses white garments for opening- and closing ceremonies).
Stay with your breath and trust that you know much more than you think.
Then take the photos with the teachers, co-students, celebrate, eat a great meal, have a dance party, and call home to let them know you did it!
10. What to do after: Integration
First you might need a break, taking a teacher training savasana so that the heart/body/mind can soak up and integrate all the goodies you have learned.
Then revisit your why and see if this have changed, or developed.
You might have gone from thinking you will never teach, to being super excited about the thought of teaching. If so, get in touch with studios that you like, and ask if they need a fresh teacher.
Often the way to go is to teach for free or by donation until you feel confident, and comfortable with the teacher role.
Patience is the key.
Look for interesting spaces you can rent cheaply or use for free, look for places where you can volunteer, or a spot in a park near by. Make a public account on a social media, make a mailing list, or the old school way of hanging up posters in the area where you want to teach.
I hope this helps you to find and complete your perfect YTT!
As always, we LOVE hearing from you. Please let us know below:
Which tip you found most valuable?
Do you have any other tips?
Margit started her yoga journey over 10 years ago in Norway when she was looking for a way to befriend her anxiety and depression. She quickly noticed how a regular yoga and meditation practice improved her life quality tremendously, and want to pass on the knowledge that have helped her in such a profound way.
Margit`s mission as a yoga teacher is to inspire people to live from the heart; being courageous, honest, vulnerable and compassionate, and to discover how powerful meditation and yoga practices can be, and to experience how a steady practice can reduce suffering and bring more lightness and consciousness to the whole being.
In her practice she is passionate about using the breath to go deeper in yoga asana, and combines inspiration from different traditions like Ashtanga, Yin yoga and Hatha to teach a balanced and mindful class for every levels and bodies.
With her background as an artist and photographer she sees yoga and meditation as a tool that everybody can use in their own life, making more space for creativity, clarity and happiness.
She believes in a holistic yoga lifestyle on a plant based diet, and is a enthusiastic vegan cheese maker and home cook.
– 200 hour YTT Ashtanga Vinyasa, Hiyoga, Norway
– 200 hour YTT Hatha Vinyasa, Pure Flow yoga, Thailand
– 4 x 5-day Vipassana meditation retreat with Christopher Titmuss, Germany
– 7-day new year Vipassana at Gaia House, England
– 3 x 5-day Yoga Retreat, Pure flow yoga, Thailand
– 2 x 5-day Yoga Retreat, Blooming lotus yoga, Thailand
– 12 hour yoga sadhana intensive with Gregor Maelhe, Hiyoga, Norway