Yoga Teachers – Continue Education

A two hundred hour training is not very long to learn an ancient practice of the breath, body, mind, and spirit, yet that is all that is required to be yoga teacher, and really it is not absolutely required because as of right now there is no licensing required to be a yoga teacher. That is why it is beneficial to the teacher and therefore to their students to attend as many classes as they can, go to workshops, and if possible attend multiple trainings.

That being said, yoga teacher trainings are expensive. The cost of mine in 2013 in Nicaragua was around $3,000, not including flight. The cost of my most recent training in India was much less, but still at least $1,000. Those prices may look high, but they are pretty low compared to what else is out there. When I was researching trainings I found some for as much as $3,000 for a two week, two hundred hour training (how you can cram 200 hundred hours and thousands of years of knowledge into two weeks is beyond me) which did not include any accommodation or food. The trainings listed above were both month long intensives that included room and board for the entire month. The current, official Bikram training, held at a fancy resort is $16,600 USD for a single room, the training is around two months long, therefore double the length of either of my individual trainings, but still very pricey.

Examples of costs of trainigns are to emphasize that I realize that most people cannot afford to take multiple trainings. That being said, what teachers can do is attend workshops, join studios, find a private teacher, and/or study online. Finding classes and workshops that are designed to be continued education. YMCA, power yoga classes are not what I’m talking about. Those are fine for a teacher to take to get ideas about sequencing, playlists, and cues, but in order to learn more about yoga, teachers must practice themselves and continue to study as much and as often as they can.

Workshops are great because they break poses down and actually teach how to teach, if geared towards teachers. Even if a workshop is for the general public and not towards teachers then teachers are still likely to learn something more than they would in a workout-style class.

A teacher could take every workshop and training available in their area and still not learn yoga in totality. That is impossible. What you can do it specialize your practice and teaching skills. Take workshops that are geared in what is needed in your local market or that you have a keen interest in. Areas of specialization might include prenatal, vinyasa, alignment, etc.

Once you get to a workshop make it worth as much as you can, ask questions, introduce yourself to the teacher and other students, network, and practice hard. Take handouts and study them. Take a notebook and pen and take notes. Treat your workshop time as you did your teacher training time and study.

Self study and being a forever student is what a yoga teacher needs to do to better their own personal practice and therefore to improve their ability to teach their students and to continuously offer more. A stagnated teacher leads to stagnated students, and yoga is about progression.

 

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Ashram Life

It’s been just about two weeks now that I have been living, as best to my ability, a yogic lifestyle in an ashram, here in Indore, India. The reason that I’m here is to advance my 20160314_090203studies of yoga, better my asana practice, learn about India and her beautiful people, and of course drink all the chai I can get my hands on (you gotta be fast, it runs out quickly!)

If you’re considering doing a YTTC or retreat at an ashram, here are some basic considerations of life at an ashram. My course is with Paramanand Yoga Institute, in Indore, Madhya Pradesh which is centrally located in the peninsula of India. Living a simple lifestyle won’t be for everyone, so do your research and contemplate if you’re up for life at an ashram before deciding to study one.

 

  • Yoga – It’s what I’m here for. In my advanced studies I’m learning a lot not just about the postures but about the other aspects of a yogic lifestyle, and it’s very much encouraged to go as deep as you can into it. That means trying to limit social media time, self practicing asana and meditation, and loads of personal reflection. If you go to an ashram to do a training be sure to look into the style of yoga that they practice and teach, as it’s very likely that it will differ greatly from the western, vinyasa flow/hot yoga that you’re used to. Go with an open mind and take as much as you can out of the variety of yoga styles that there are.

 

  • Vegetarianism – Ahimsa, or nonviolence, is a part of Yama, or self conduct, which is part of the Eight Fold Path of the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, and this  might include vegetarianism in most ashrams. If you stay here in India, then you won’t even miss the meat, because the food is good. My friend forewarned that I’d probably even put on some pounds from all the ghee (purified butter) and sugary chai (both made from dairy, so let someone know if you’re vegan ahead of time) and she might be right.

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  • Karma Yoga – This is no hotel living. No one is going to clean your room for you or do your laundry, living in an ashram means doing things for yourself and taking joy and responsibility in your duty (dharma.) Not only will you be expected to care for your own space, but everyone is required to maintain the common areas. Personalized projects that cater to your interests are a possibility as well, i.e. – blogging!

 

  • Lectures – Whether  you do a yoga training, a short retreat, or a temple stay, remember that time spent in a new environment is time to learn and grow. At Paramanand Yoga Institute, there is a tightly packed schedule with classes on everything from Yogic Philosophy to Asana class.

 

  • Modesty – From attire to behavior there are rules here. 1. Shoulders must be covered, and only loose fitting pants (so leave your MPG at home.) 2. Opposite sex should not embrace/Don’t enter the rooms of the opposite sex. In a way you could almost think of an ashram as a monastery, essentially it’s religious, but before you wrinkle your nose too much, consider how a regulated day, diet, and schedule can be really good to push the reset button on your life. It’s also an integrated cultural experience that likely won’t be happening at a beach side resort.

Like everything outlined here, this may not be the case at the ashram that you find, but scour their website or send an email asking outright about style of yoga and behavior guidelines. If it sounds too intense, then look into a weekend visit or shorter trip than a month long training. Whatever length you choose, it’s beneficial to at least dip your toes into another area of yoga beyond asana.

Choosing a Yoga Teacher Training – Where to Start?

Becoming a yoga teacher is a popular thing to do these days. Sometimes a training is attended simply to better personal practice or with the hopes of going out into the yoga world and teaching. With increase in demand comes an increase in supply. Studios and retreats offering yoga teacher training courses are innumerable, which makes the decision process of where to train quite daunting. Not only is there the question of where, local or even international, but what style, what time of year, is it yoga alliance certified, etc. Here are some considerations that helped me chose a 200 hr yoga teacher training.

First, decide when in is the right time to do your training. With a simple google search, you’ll be able to find a training at any time of the year, so there’s no pressure about when you’ll be able to get off work or what aligns with your schedule. In my case, I had a two month window to work with which I am grateful for because it narrowed down my options right away. Time-wise there are a few options. There are intensive trainings which range from two weeks to a month or six weeks. Personally I think, anything less than a month would really be rushing it with thousands of years of knowledge to skim. The other option, which would have to be local, is to find a long-term training. I have seen these look something like this: 9 months of training on Saturdays for a few hours with breaks for holidays.

The next consideration if it isn’t already blazingly clear to you is to decide upon a style of yoga to train in. Ashtanga, Anusara, Hatha, Vinyasa, Bikram, and the list goes on. Maybe you already have a preferred style of practice, and even better, a well-loved studio, great! Decision made. But if you just read that list with a wrinkled brow, then I suggest you do a little research. Chose a style that you enjoy practicing and one that you think will be employable in your area (teaching Bikram to seniors isn’t going to fly.)

Once you have your heart set on a style, seek out a well-respected studio or teacher. Again, google searching is oh-so-helpful. This is where location plays another key role. If it’s feasible and you’re fortunate enough to have abundant studios in your area, then hopefully you can find a training close to home so that you can save money on room and board. On the other hand, you could turn your training into a little vacation in some beautiful place (Costa Rica or Thailand for starters.) Do a cost analysis, in my case it made more sense to buy a plane ticket and train in a far away location than in the US.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few- do more google research! Check out who your potential trainers have trained with and in what styles. Send emails or call and ask as many questions as you wish. You’ll be investing a large sum of money, so get some facts. If possible, by all means go attend some classes and then stay after class and ask more questions! If you can’t go in person then search for an online class on YouTube or iTunes or email and ask for available resources.

Most importantly, after all of the research, contemplating, pros and cons lists, emails, long talks with yoga teachers and friends, and you have made a decision, then the final thing to do is to let it go. This was the best advice given to me before my training by a former yoga teacher. We had a long talk in the parking lot after class and I think she could tell that I was nervous to train, wondering whether I was personally ready, worried how I would compare to other students (I know I shouldn’t have , but it’s natural,) and she simply told me to go into it with no expectations. That really calmed my mind and anxiety.

Hopefully these tips have helped you in your path to a training. It’s an amazing thing to do and with so many trainings out there, you’re sure to find the right fit for you. Take it seriously, but at the same time remember that you’ll be doing and learning about what you love.