How To Pick A Yoga Teacher Training

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The question that most frequently blows up the various Donuts + Down Dog inboxes is how do I pick a good teacher training? Can you help me? I'm not joking, weirdos. I seriously get asked this question multiple times a week and every time I think I should really write a post about that. So, GUYS! It's finally here! I'm finally answering your question! And I am so excited to be doing it!

A little bit about me first.

I took my teacher training in the fall of 2013 at Corepower Yoga in Seattle. I discovered yoga reluctantly after an injury from rowing kept bugging me at my first desk job. I was introduced to yoga in the Bikram method, but I got really tired of doing the same thing all the time and fell in love with the diversity of Vinyasa. I love the athleticism, the musicality, and that it makes me feel like a sweaty badass. If you haven't already figured this out, sweaty badass is my preferred state. I've been teaching yoga for almost four years now and it has flown by. I love my students. I love getting bendy and sweaty and making other people feel badass. It is delightful.

Me! Fresh out of teacher training and feeling like one million sweaty bucks.

Me! Fresh out of teacher training and feeling like one million sweaty bucks.


Know what to look for.

In general, you don’t just want to sign up for a random training, right? I mean, it’s a lot of money, a lot of time, and a big life commitment. Look for a training that’s hosted by a studio you’ve heard of, facilitated by an experienced teacher (aka not somebody fresh out of training themselves), and one that will give you what you’re looking for. Yoga Alliance certifications are nice to have but- in my opinion- totally not necessary if you find a badass instructor with tons of experience who doesn’t have that mark on their training programs. Just make sure you know WHAT your training will provide you before you sign up!

Talk to teachers you love.

I can’t stress this one enough. Do you have a teacher whose schedule you stalk? Do you have a studio that you can’t get enough of? DING DING DING, my friends, THAT is where you should be looking for teacher training recommendations. When I was looking for a training my favorite studio (sadly!) wasn’t hosting any trainings, so I asked around. I asked every yoga-loving person that I could think of. I feel like I totally exhausted my resources and I still wish that I had asked more questions. Asking your favorite teachers for their honest opinions on the training that they did will give you a great idea of what’s out there, what it might take to get the same training as a teacher you love, and what you should plan for.

Shop around.

Ok, so you’ve found the training program of your dreams, right? I totally trust you, but just humor me here and shop around. Talk to one other training lead and ask all the same questions. It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all that you might be signing up for something you aren’t totally down with. For example, I’ve led my fair share of teacher trainings. I like to focus mine on creating competent teachers who know their shit when it comes to teaching yoga and keeping students safe, but I’ve definitely had people sign up for my trainings in the past that wanted something a little more touchy-feely. Is that bad? Not at all! Everybody brings something different to the table. Shop around and talk to all sorts of different training leads to get a feel for what most resonates with YOU.

Hone in on your favorite type of yoga.

If you live for Yin yoga, you should probably get certified in Yin yoga. On the same hand, if Bikram yoga makes you full of rage you probably don’t want to become a certified Bikram teacher. A lot of prospective trainees get so jazzed about the idea of becoming a yoga teacher that they will sign up for any yoga teacher training under the sun. Don’t let the convenience of timing or cost deter you from signing up for a training that really speaks to the kind of yoga that you love. If that means you have to hold off on making the leap for a while, that’s ok! It will just give you more time to prep and get excited for what’s to come.

Teaching yoga for my friends at Just Add Yoga. 

Teaching yoga for my friends at Just Add Yoga. 

Think about your goals.

Just like any kind of higher education, every yoga teacher training is going to leave you with a totally different end result. Some of them are centered around learning about the philosophy of yoga, some are centered around getting deep into advanced postures, and some of them are structured around giving you the tools to survive in the workin’ world of yoga. My training, for instance, was totally focused on creating competent and successful teachers. I learned a TON about language patterns, how to communicate effectively, how to navigate the business of yoga, and how to design a class. Did I learn a ton about yoga philosophy? Not really, but I have been able to study that a lot on my own time (and pace!).

Plan, plan, plan.

Let’s be real- yoga training costs a LOT of money. And it should! Teacher trainings are like the college of yoga, so they are likely going to cost a lot. Be prepared to spend a few thousand dollars. Try not to look for something super cheap because you get what you pay for. If the idea of paying thousands of dollars for a training sounds insane for you, then it truly might not be the right time for you to go on your yoga teacher journey! If you are ready, be sure to ask about payment plans, scholarships, and payment deadlines. Some programs have great ambassador programs that require you to work a few hours a week in exchange for a discounter training. You never known until you ask! What's the worst that could happen, somebody says no?

They also are a giant time commitment. I was lucky to find a training that was on weekends and evenings so I could work it around my 9-5 at the time, but it also meant sacrificing my free time for a few months and spending any hours that I had at home either sleeping or studying. Or falling asleep studying. On the flip side, some trainings are intensive style, meaning that you might bang it all out in the course of a few weeks without a break. There's no right or wrong training, just know that whatever you are about to embark on will likely take up lots of your time. Make sure you ask about attendance policies, too. Sometimes they can be really strict!

Get your feet wet.  

Weekend workshops are a great way to get your toes wet into learning more about yoga. This is also a great way to get to know your favorite teachers better! A long weekend of yoga might make you realize that you're not quite ready for 200 hours of training, or it might make you even more sure that you want to go all in. I've met so many great people within the Seattle yoga community through weekend workshops. They're also been an AMAZING way to explore studios that I might not consider otherwise.

Study up!

One thing that surprised me a LOT about my yoga teacher training was how much knowledge a lot of my fellow yogis already had. If I could go back and do it all again, I wish I had gone into my training with a little more knowledge so that I wasn’t drinking out of a fire hose, if you will. Some of my favorites are The Science of Yoga, Yoga Anatomy, Meditations from the Mat, and The Yoga Sutras.


What else do you want to know about teacher training? 

Stay weird,

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