Wait! Consider this list of 5 things before you put down your YTT deposit:
1. What Is Your Intention
What better place to deepen your personal yoga practice and create the foundations of a yogic lifestyle than in a yoga teacher training. But before enrolling in that carefully selected training course [see blog post Choose the Right Teacher Training for You] get clear on your intentions.
Do you know what you're getting into? And do you know why?
Most training programs will accept you regardless of your intentions, and most trainees will graduate as long as they complete the requirements. But this doesn't guarantee your goals or standards will be met. Nor does it guarantee a certain level of proficiency of ability as a practitioner or teacher come graduation. By knowing what you want to get out of a YTT, you can better select the right training, trainers and program. And by knowing more about what it takes to make it as a yoga teacher, you can better define your intentions to be sure this is what you want to do.
Yoga is on a rise in the western world with more yoga teachers graduating from training programs than ever before. This also means there are more yoga schools than ever before with vast differences in what they offer to trainees. And while most training programs teach Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga, attempting to embody these yogic guidelines are not mandatory in order to receive your certificate of completion. To some, that may be a relief. To others, appalling. But most future yoga teacher trainees haven't even the slightest idea what kind of content consists of a yoga teacher training. So how can they sift through the options and choose the best fit?
Do you want to study with a trainer who's got swagger and a banging playlist? Or is it important to you that you're trainer not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk? Do you want to teach physical alignment or would you rather teach from the subtle body and energetics? Would you prefer to learn multiple styles of yoga or are you better at focusing on just one? When you know what your options are, you can better determine your preferences and from there choose the best program for you.
2. Consistency is Key
A yoga training takes commitment, consistency and accountability. Be committed; do your best to be present and participate in every aspect of your training. This will bread integrity and will ripple out into your teaching. Be consistent; when you begin to teach, show up to your own regularly scheduled classes. Be accountable; teach quality classes so your students can depend on you. When you are consistent with showing up and teaching quality yoga, your students will reciprocate your consistency with their consistent attendance. Life happens, vacations happen, illness happens. But you can avoid committing to a weekly class if you'll want 50% of your classes covered so you can go swimming or watch a movie. Otherwise, you’ll lose all complaining rights when you only 2 students show up to your class, or worse, you may lose the class all together when the studio owner decides to give it to a more reliable teacher.
You get out what you put in. If you plan to put in your all, then you will be successful in this industry. But if you can't get passed your Vata dosha, impulsive behavior, or desire to escape responsibility, then don't invest financially or otherwise into becoming a yoga teacher. Because at the end of the day teaching yoga is a job and those who succeed treat it as such.
3. Finding Your Niche
How does the training program of interest help you find your unique, authentic inner teacher? Krishna teaches in the Bhagavad Gita that it is better to live your own truth imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s with perfection. New teachers often start out copying what they’ve heard from the trainers in their YTT, or worse, they're handed a script to memorize in their training. But in order to successfully attract students and fill classes as a new teacher, you will need to be unapologetically you. It’s true, your vibe attracts your tribe. And mimicry or phoniness will be spotted a mile away, repelling the students you wish to draw. If authenticity is important to you, choose a training that fosters self exploration, choose trainers that encourage individuality, and choose a curriculum that offers diversity.
4. Wearing All the Hats
Check to see if the training program you plan to attend includes the business aspects of yoga. If you're set on becoming a yoga teacher, you will want to learn about all the hats sole proprietors wear to successfully run a new business. In addition to being a teacher, you will also be your very own promoter, accountant, financial planner, manager, etc. Depending on where you'll be teaching, you may need produce personal waivers, review contracts with studios and gyms, select the right insurance coverage, make posters and fliers, create a website and run social media platforms, in addition to planning classes, continuing your yogic studies and committing to your personal practice. Are you a self-motivated business savvy individual? If not, are you looking for a training that will teach you the business side of being successful in this industry?
5. Stay on the Pulse
Yoga teacher training courses are a financial commitment, but don’t expect that to be a one-time, initial entrance fee into the world of teaching. Like a professor at a distinguished university, sabbaticals and continued studies are a must. When you repeat the same phrases class after class, year after year, your teachings become stale. Your students will gravitate towards a new teacher who will continue their growth. Plus, redundancy leads to boredom which leads to disembodiment which leads to feeling yucky. Yoga teachers know this, but still they occasionally get in a rut.
Stay current and present through additional training courses and continuing education classes. This is a great way to fill in any gaps from your first training. You can deepen your understanding of specific subjects and study with a variety of teachers. But be sure to properly integrate new teachings before sharing them with others to ensure your comprehension both intellectually and experientially. By keeping your finger on the pulse of newness you are sure to stay a forever student, forever enchanted by the wonderful perplexities of yoga, and forever deepening your resources from which to teach. This is yet another aspect of becoming a yoga teacher, one that you might not think about when enrolling, but one that's important for being successful in the yoga industry.
Amanda C Correa is the founder and program director for Spira Yoga School. She began practicing yoga while in high school and has been teaching for 10 years. Her love of learning and truth seeking continues to drive her in all of her endeavors. But what she loves the most is shaping unique yoga teachers of the future. You can train with her (and additional trainers who live and teach their yoga) in an upcoming YTT or CE course, or practice with her in a future Workshop or Retreat.