5 Tips for choosing a yoga teacher training

As yoga grows in the UAE and not least, in Dubai, there are many more teacher training opportunities coming up. But like anything, like a decent degree, you want it to have value. You want it to come with credibility and recognition, something you can travel the world with and open up beautiful new doors for you in ways some other ‘careers’ cannot. Like a degree, you want to know that it’s accredited, that you can get it attested and there will never be any uncertainty about how qualified you are to be teaching this amazing art. This resonates with me even more after having done another amazing teacher training, this time with Jade Wood, focusing on Yin yoga and its relation to TCM and anatomy. As a teacher, we must always seek to learn more, not only from our teachers, but from fellow teachers and our students too.

So as my great friend and the teacher who inspired me to take the step to teaching for myself, I will leave it to Liz Terry to guide you through the maze. After three years, Liz is now a qualified teacher trainer with one of the most respected bodies in the US, YogaWorks, through which I did my own eRYT200 training.

From my experience, it’s not enough to say a training has the Yoga Alliance seal of approval. Not all trainings and not all teachers are created equal. As someone who has reached the pinnacle of teaching, I will leave it to the teacher trainer herself, Liz, to explain what SHE would say when looking for a teacher training.

“In the past seven or so years that I’ve been teaching Yoga and the 11 years I’ve been practicing, people ask me all the time “what should I look for in a teacher training?”.

First of all, let’s make one thing clear. In my opinion, unless you’ve been practicing Yoga for at least a year (on the lower end), and have a meditation practice along with an asana practice, you should probably not be thinking about teaching Yoga. If you want to deepen your practice, delve right in but unless you have a lot of knowledge about anatomy and body mechanics, you should continue with your practice until you’ve grasped more awareness about your own body and how you move. Because the physical practice of Yoga is the most popular aspect of Yoga nowadays, and people want to teach the physical practice, it is essential (and I mean ESSENTIAL) to understand bodies and how they move.

If you want to teach meditation, or philosophy or other aspects of Yoga this is another discussion entirely.

The reason I say this is because asana is a movement modality in which people can get injured. When it comes to movement, you should know what you’re doing, and until you can teach from a foundation of understanding this I highly recommend you keep practicing.

Here are my five tips on what to look for in a Yoga Teacher Training if you in fact want to teach asana:

1.  Anatomy, anatomy, anatomy. Make sure that the Teacher Training teaches anatomy not only from a book, but APPLIED anatomy and how to integrate it into the yoga practice. It’s really great to know where muscles and bones are, but it’s more important to know how important they are to know in the yoga practice.

2.  Intention. What is your intention of participating in a Yoga Teacher Training? Think about it. Make sure you know exactly what it is you’re interested in learning about, what you want to focus on, and then make sure that the training you’re looking into has what you’re looking for. A Yoga Teacher Training is expensive, and you want to make sure it’s worth your time.

3.  Direction. Find a teacher training where the teacher has a direction of what and why they’re teaching what they’re teaching. If you pay for a training and the teacher has no direction of what they’re teaching, you should find another training to be a part of.

How to know if the teacher has direction? Ask them what their main focuses are within the asana practice..and see the next point.

4. Sequencing. It is ESSENTIAL to learn how to sequence intelligently. There’s so many teacher trainings that have very little to no focus on sequencing. It’s like taking all the ingredients for the salad and then not making the salad!  Sequencing is SO important in understanding how to teach a safe and conscious class.

5. Get to know the teacher trainer. I can’t emphasize this enough. Yoga is such a personal experience and knowing the teacher, via classes, via their website, via conversation…whatever it is that you can do to connect to your teacher is so important. Whatever training you decide to take, whether it be extended or intensive, you will be spending a lot of time with your teacher. Make sure you like their vibe.

Lastly, I know that it takes courage and a leap of faith to move toward the direction of yoga teacher. Sometimes we can be impulsive and just go for it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but whenever you choose to take that step, I recommend that you make sure you know what you want and why you want it. Yoga is a never-ending path as a student, and we are constantly learning all the time. Body-mechanics improve, anatomy becomes more understood, injuries are constantly on our minds. If you’re ready to jump into this ever-changing world about yourself, well then, I think you’re ready.”

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