Seven Common Mistakes People Make in Choosing Where to do Yoga Teacher Training

Have you been thinking about doing a yoga teacher training course but when you look around there’s just so many different choices?  It can be super confusing and a little scary these days because you need to commit not only your time but also your money to a school that you may not know a lot about.

It was much simpler when our school began. Being Yoga started training yogis in 2002. Back then it was us and pretty much one or two other schools. Now, it seems that just about every yoga studio is offering some type of yoga teacher training course.

To help you make a great decision with your next yoga teacher training course check out this list of the 7 most common mistakes people make in choosing where to do their yoga training. We’ve had so many disgruntled students coming to us to finish their yoga courses over the years.  This is such a waste of time, money and energy. We hope this helps you find a wonderful school to study with.

  • 1. All yoga teacher training courses are essentially teaching the same thing

This is without doubt the biggest mistake students make when looking around. Perhaps they just go with the school nearest to them, the cheapest or the one with the most convenient times thinking that there’s not much difference in quality.

There’s a massive difference in what is being taught in the modern yoga world. Unfortunately, the certification standards are pretty low so just about any school who has been teaching for two years can start a yoga teacher training. This would be like going to Uni and being taught by a second year graduate!

Some schools focus a lot more on the physical practice of yoga. Others focus mostly on the philosophy or the spiritual aspects. Some schools just teach what they learnt.Others are just handing down an older style of yoga that hasn’t evolved.While some schools are trying too hard to be modern and hip without honouring the thousands of years of history.

Questions to ask:  First find out what you are looking for in your course.  Then find out if your school has a long history of education and continual learning because it’s truly only through years of experience that all of these different aspects of yoga can be put together and effectively taught to others.

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  • 2. I should do teacher training with my local studio

While this might make sense initially and you want to show loyalty to your weekly teacher, the effect of this can be disastrous.Your local studio may offer good weekly classes but it’s a whole other thing to step up into education. Not only does the teacher need to be super knowledgeable about anatomy, health, diet, yoga philosophy, meditation, brain training, sequencing and motivation. They also need to know how humans learn best. Learning is an art and to be honest, doing yoga teacher training should be one of the peak experiences of your life. You should definitely trust this to professional educators who specialise in this field. Unfortunately, this is not always the regular yoga studio owner.

Questions to ask:  How long has this school been doing education.  What is their background in the areas you most want to learn about e.g. anatomy, meditation, running a yoga business, health. 

  • 3. Doing loads of regular classes will help me learn

Many yoga training schools cut a lot of corners by making you take loads of regular classes at their studio as part of the course. They give these to you for free, so it looks like a good deal. However, we just haven’t found that doing classes helps you become a great teacher.I’m sure you’d agree that in regular classes, you kind of ‘zone out’ and just follow along. We’ve seen people do regular classes for 20 years and have very little idea about the basics, let alone how to teach yoga to others. Make sure your learning is hands on and you get plenty of time to refine your skills with students practice sessions.

Questions to ask:  How much actual hands on learning time is there in the course.  How is the student teaching organised.  How much actual practice teaching and adjusting time will I have. 

  • 4. I don’t need a retreat or immersion as part of my experience

Only some yoga courses offer immersive learning or longer retreats as part of their course.While this can seem convenient it does not lead to your most memorable yoga experience.All the research says that the best and quickest way to learn is to immerse yourself fully, dive in and have periods of time when you don’t do anything but this.Imagine 5 years of learning a language in school compared to 5 months living in a foreign country!Which one will help you the most?Retreats are such a huge part of the yoga tradition and so you really owe it to yourself to find the time on your course to disappear from life for anywhere from 4-10 days and just devote yourself to getting really healthy and super inspired.

  • 5. Structured learning versus feel good learning

Many yoga teachers do genuinely want the best for their students but just aren’t ready or skilled enough to develop the structure for a really powerful course.They just need more time, more experience and more development.Also, teaching all the ‘feel good’ things about yoga is great but human brains need structure and systems to learn well.I’m sure you’ve all been to those courses or workshops where the presenter is full of great stories and funny jokes.You have a good time but at the end you kind of scratch your head thinking that you didn’t really learn anything!

This is one of the main challenges we hear from yoga students.Their course just didn’t have a good structure that made learning easy.It may have had plenty of heart but just not enough substance

Questions to ask:  .It’s super important to quiz your school about their structure and systems for education and their experience in delivering this programme.  A great question to ask is how many of your graduates are out teaching and where are they teaching. Without good structure, loads of yoga students finish a course without the confidence to actually go out there and make it happen.

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  • 6. Going overseas and doing the whole course in 20-30 day block is best.

Many people do their yoga teacher training this way. It sounds so romantic to disappear to India, Bali, Costa Rica or Thailand for a month and do nothing but yoga.The reality is though that not many people leave these courses feeling confident that they can go out and teach.It’s just too much, too soon.

Learning needs a period of immersion and periods of integration and refinement.To just do it all in one hit can be like a tsunami of information that goes in one ear and very quickly out the other!

It’s been rare for us to see really good teachers come out of these full time courses. There’s just no integration time.

The other thing that can happen is that people really blow fuses while they are away. It gets pretty intense living with a group everyday. What’s worse even is if you find that you just don’t dig your teachers after a few days with them. Then you’re stuck!

Questions to ask:  Is there a refund policy if I decide within the first week that this course isn't for me?  Can you tell me how many students leave the intense training and start teaching straight away.

  • 7. Learning one class plan is enough

We can’t tell you how many schools run their whole yoga teacher training course around learning one main class plan.This has been shocking to us but it happens again and again.You enrol for a course and you basically learn how to teach one class and style.You basically read from a script over the whole training. For sure, you will become good at their model and style but this just won’t empower you to go out there and be your own person.You’ll just be really good at someone else’s thing.

It’s really important to ask what you will be learning and whether you will be able to teach your own style of yoga at the end or will you just be a Power Yoga or Bikram style teacher for example.A great school will teach you the fundamentals of yoga and then empower you to go out and be your own voice in the world.

Questions to ask:  What will I be able to teach at the end.  Is it just one main class structure or do I learn how to teach a lot of different styles and levels.

Here’s a final added bonus:

  • 8. Going with the cheapest school is best

There will always be those people who will go to the cheapest option.That’s totally fine.However, I’m sure you’ll agree that dinner in a classy restaurant is always nicer than a romantic night at Macca’s!

A good school will value themselves by charging accordingly. Some people think that $4000 - $5000 is a lot of money for a yoga course.Yet, consider that you are getting 200 hours of hands on education, a potential new career and very likely, a life changing experience.I know that I paid over $3000 for my training in 2000 and after 18 years of teaching, this is not even slightly relevant.In fact, if I’d know the type of life yoga would give me, I would gladly have paid $10000.

We hope this clears a few things up for you in making your choice.  Being Yoga, as one of Australia’s oldest and most successful training schools has made it their primary business to produce not only great teachers but great human beings through their level 1 & 2 yoga teacher training courses plus transformational retreats. We’d be so happy to chat with you about your needs, answer your questions and help you find the perfect fit for your training, whether with us or another school more suited to your needs.

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