Everything you need to know about training to become a yoga teacher

Do you want to be a yoga teacher? With so much information available, it’s hard to know where to start. We speak to Brian Cooper, co-director of Yoga Alliance Professionals, who answers some of the most common questions.

How much experience do you need?

We recommend that practitioners have a minimum of 2 years of practice experience before signing onto a yoga teacher training course. Your practice needs to be at a relatively high standard before enrolling on a yoga teacher training course so that you can focus on developing your teaching skills, expanding your knowledge of yoga and the many other aspects that comprise foundation training. 

A yoga teacher training course isn’t really the place to develop your yoga practice, rather, it should be a place to advance your understanding of yoga so that you can teach the practice effectively. If you are keen to develop a career as a yoga teacher, it’s best to find teacher training that requires a minimum amount of practice.

How much should yoga teacher training cost? 

The cost of yoga teacher training can vary depending on what’s included in the course. For example, some training courses will include the cost of flights and accommodation abroad, whereas other “local” courses will not have that additional expense.

For the most part, you’re looking at spending upwards of £2,000-£2,500 for in-person training. This cost includes your time on the course, useful resources, access to the knowledge and experience of your trainer, additional guests on the training and any intensive sessions. Be wary of paying much below this for foundation teacher training, as the quality of the course will likely be compromised. If the fees are significantly below the figure above, it’s worth asking yourself why this may be? What has been cut in favour of a lower price? It’s worth doing a cost-benefit analysis. If I pay more what extra do I get? Do I want the extra or need it? 

Often, cheaper courses are cheaper because student numbers are higher. It is commonplace for some schools to have up to 40 people on the course. Students on such training events will not get the same attention as those with smaller class numbers. Is this something you can live with? 

Online yoga teacher training does tend to be slightly cheaper as there are fewer expenses and again, are not restricted by studio space, so you may find you’re training alongside many other students, or are doing a lot of the work independently.

Should I do yoga teacher training online or in person? 

In-person yoga teacher training

Online and in-person teacher training courses are immensely different, each offering its own benefits and disadvantages. 

In the last year, the number of online training courses has increased due to the national lockdowns. However, traditional yoga teacher training is carried out in person. One of the reasons for this is the very physical nature of yoga. Trainee teachers are taught how to perform, lead and adjust every asana, the physical postures that we practice in a typical class. This requires analysis, observation, physical practice and adjustments – areas that are much harder to replicate online. For this reason, we always suggest having at least one module of the course in person, even if the rest of the training is held online. 

On the whole, we recommend spending plenty of time in the presence of a Senior Yoga Teacher to fully grasp their approach to teaching and effective techniques. Training face-to-face also allows the students to practice teaching the rest of the group and receive instant feedback. 

What’s more, yoga teacher training courses are also a great way to connect with other like-minded individuals. It’s common for trainee teachers to establish strong friendships with each other as they study for the qualification. When you graduate, you have the added benefit of having a lovely network of qualified teachers who can support you throughout your teaching journey.  

In this way, in-person courses tend to require a much greater commitment from the trainee teacher. However, it does often seem the case that those who make this big commitment end up graduating with a much greater degree of satisfaction, accomplishment and real-life teaching experience.

Online yoga teacher training

Understandably, the sheer scope of online yoga teacher training is hugely appealing. While in-person training courses are limited by geographical factors, going online opens up a wide range of opportunities for training. This allows you to study under trainers who live further away, without having the expense of travel or accommodation. 

Online training is also potentially more accessible as it can fit around other responsibilities. Whereas an in-person course requires hours of training at a time, often in the form of long weekends or week-long sessions, online courses are broken into smaller chunks, and therefore much more adaptable. Because you can access or return to areas you have missed on-demand, this new type of training is often seen as more suitable for modern life. 

How long does it take to become a certified yoga teacher?

Depending on the time you have available, you can either go for an intensive or non-intensive training course. Intensive training courses last around three to four weeks, with typically 10 hours a day spent training. These courses are designed to fully immerse students in the yoga experience – those four weeks are dedicated to practice, teaching practice, study, theory and little else. 

While intensive courses can be a truly transformative experience, trainees should be prepared for the challenge and have the discipline to stick with it. You should have a very high level of self-practice in order to focus on refining your teaching abilities. 

Non-intensive courses, on the other hand, can last between six months to two years. These typically require attendance on weekends and sometimes one/two-week mini-intensives. One of the benefits of such courses is the opportunity to practice in between sessions, allowing you to fully digest the previous lesson. 

You may be encouraged to start teaching throughout the course, perhaps to friends and family, which is a great way to build your confidence in running a class. Non-intensive courses work better for those who cannot take significant time off to attend in-person training, and therefore may be more suitable to individuals with other commitments or responsibilities.

Undertaking a yoga teacher training course can be a transformative, life-affirming experience. To make sure this is the case, be very clear about what you want from your training course, and do the research to make sure you find the right one for you.

Yoga Alliance Professionals is the leading professional body for yoga teachers and trainers, working with over 8,000 members to raise the quality of yoga teaching for practitioners worldwide.

If you’re interested in becoming a yoga teacher, head over to the Yoga Alliance Professionals website for further guidance on choosing a course, including the steps to consider and potential pitfalls to avoid.

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Written by Brian Cooper
Brian Cooper is co-director of Yoga Alliance Professionals, the leading professional body for yoga teachers and trainers.
Written by Brian Cooper
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