To Teach or Not to Teach? Knowing the Right Time to Become a Yoga Teacher

Going through a yoga teacher training will, without a doubt, deepen your yoga practice. That seems like a “no, duh” statement, but it will deepen your practice even more than you could possibly imagine. For the six months to a year required to complete your yoga training, you will be all consumed; you will eat, sleep, and breathe yoga.

Sounds like bliss, doesn’t it?

Once life returns to normal, you very well might find yourself chasing that yoga high, but while going through the training itself, that notion of all consuming can make for a pretty intense and wonderful experience. Here’s a few things to consider so you know when the time is right.

All About Timing

Many practicing yogis arrive at a teacher training when they have also arrived at a crossroads in their lives – in between jobs, empty nesters, a sudden increase in free time, in the midst of an existential crisis and looking for answers. Be prepared if you’re in the latter category. Chances are good, a yoga teacher training will get the energy flowing through your nadis and work to clear out the bad juju happening in your chakras. The path to enlightenment is definitely cleared a bit after hours upon hours of meditation, chakra balancing and asana practice. If you seek revelation, you could very well get it.

On and Off the Mat

A yoga teacher training is a time commitment, not only in the hours spent at the actual training, but away from the studio, as well.  A 200-hour teacher training usually requires fifteen hours spread over two or three days each week, every other or once a month.

yoga asana

However, a typical training also involves observing classes, going to classes, home practice, group projects, reading, and practice teaching. This could lead to your desire and presumed need to tell everyone you come into contact with about the power of yoga and how it’s changed your life. This could then lead you to come off with a potentially cult-y vibe, and your friends and family may actually wonder aloud whether you’ve joined one.

On the plus side, if you choose to participate in a yoga teacher training, you’re choosing to be there and, therefore, interested in the subject matter, thus making the work exponentially less daunting than any required undergraduate liberal arts course like Statistics that you would have to take or have taken in college.

You Can Talk the Talk and Pose the Pose, But Can You Do Both?

Talking while contorting yourself into yoga postures is an entirely new experience from simply practicing yoga. Remembering alignment cues, modifications, reminding students to maintain ujayii breathing, or to remain breathing, period, send the mind racing during the three to five long inhales and exhales (emphasis on the long) of an asana. Not to mention the fact that your eyes need to be scanning the room to ensure your students are avoiding injury.  It takes some getting used to.

Then there’s the matter of asanas. You don’t need to be able to get into handstand or every crazy arm balance, but it’s a good idea to know how far a student can go in a pose. Modifications work both ways, and your job once you become a yoga teacher, should you choose to accept it, is to be able to take your students to their edges, even if you, yourself, are only explaining the pose, demo free. You can push your edge, as well, which may endear you to your students and give them the courage to try, as well, when they see you exploring a pose you haven’t quite mastered.

Continuing Education

Completing a yoga teacher training is just the beginning. Getting that first certificate is like being given a toolbox, and it’s your job to fill until it is spilling over. If you register with Yoga Alliance, you will have to log 30-hours of continuing education, anyway, but you should always strive to see what you can bring to your students, whether it’s a reading, a workshop of a pose you notice they’re struggling with, or an asana sequence that you know will get them out of their comfort zone.

Cost Effectiveness

A yoga teacher training can be pricey, and runs anywhere in the $1,000 to $3000 range and above. Many studios offer payment plans, but even those monthly installments can be high. Do the research to find out exactly what you’re getting for the cost involved. If the studio or teacher isn’t already one that you are familiar with, meet with the teacher running the program. Interview them, converse with them, feel out the vibe and whether you think they are in line with what you are trying to accomplish. Take a class at the studio or with the teacher or studio owner overseeing the training.

Keep your options open, too. If there’s a particular teacher you absolutely love, try and do a teacher training with them. Many teachers spend their time traveling the country teaching workshops and offer teacher trainings in beautiful, exotic locales.

If you’ve got the time and money to do it, do it…and that goes for completely a teacher training no matter the location. If becoming a teacher or deepening your practice through a teacher training has been something you’ve always talked about, and you suddenly find you’re in a position to go for it – make it happen. It can be one of the most rewarding, fulfilling, soul-healing and self-nourishing experiences of your life.

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