It was suggested to me that I should write an article on how to become a yoga teacher. I have taken some time to reflect on my own process in becoming a teacher, which has given me some curious insights on the struggles and fun that I had. I won’t bore you with the details, but they made it fun for me putting this together.

Why? Understand your motivation to become a yoga teacher.

All these questions are important. This one will stick with you through your whole career as a teacher. Are you planning to open a big yoga studio and become a world famous yogi? Are you happy to teach small groups of friends and family in your home? Will your local bylaws allow you to do this?

By becoming a yoga teacher, will it augment what you are currently doing in your work? Or are you simply wanting to deepen your yoga practice, and any teaching that you do is a bonus?

Where? Do you need to be close to home or can you travel to a Yoga Teacher Program?

Immersion programs are wonderful experiences. As we say, you get to live your yoga as you would in “Ashram Life,” learning and deepening your practice without interruption. Some advantages to an immersion training are it removes you from the distractions of home while you study, the training is completed over a shorter period of time, and you create long lasting friendships in this environment.

On the flip side, there are additional financial considerations for travel, accommodation, meals, and taking time off work. If you have a partner and children, are they comfortable with you going away for this amount of time, and do you have their support?

Trainings that are held on weekends or evenings may help alleviate some of the extra financial concerns. These types of programs are geared to integrate into most people’s lifestyle. Hopefully there is one in your community or a short drive away. That being said, if the training is held a bit of a distance away, then you may still need to invest in accommodation for those weekends. Some trainings, like SOYA’s, offering billeting with fellow students/teachers at an economical price.

Online Yoga Teacher Trainings have been developed due to COVID-19. Up until now, online training was not accepted through Yoga Alliance, but now they are so people can learn and be safe. Online trainings should deliver the same curriculum and quality of instruction as an in-person training. In addition, you should learn a lot about how to teach online as one of your future teaching skills! Online trainings should be much more interactive than just staring at videos. You will interact “live” with your teacher and fellow students in discussion groups and even breakout rooms. Then after-hours discussion forums are there to help you communicate with fellow students. You won’t have to travel or pay accommodation fees, but there are certain issues that do have to be addressed. For some people learning on a computer is difficult – there will be a technological learning curve for them. If kids are home, they won’t always recognize you are “unavailable” and in class – trying to carve out a quiet space at home may be challenging. In many cases these concerns can be resolved fairly easily.

In several of our online trainings the students bonded together so deeply, they made the effort to finish the training in-person with a weekend retreat. After spending so much time together online, they wanted to be together in person. How wonderful!

When? What is the best time of year to receive your Yoga Teacher Training?

Depending on the type of program you are taking, (immersion or on weekends) travel is a bit of a consideration. If you are taking a program in your town, driving may not be an issue at any time of the year. If your training is a distance away and running through the winter, are you going to be able to attend all sessions under winter conditions? With an immersion you have options on getting to and from a destination, and are only doing it once.

Back to the family, are there times of the year where everyone is less busy, making it easier for them to handle your absence?

Who? Who is it that inspired you in yoga?

We always recommend trying many different types of yoga classes. Notice what you like about the teachers and what you don’t like. Is there a particular style that you want to teach, or do you want to be able to teach many styles? Remember that different teachers may teach the same style but in a completely different way, which may inspire you or disappoint you.  

Ask your teachers where did they took their Yoga Teacher Training. Then check out that school where they studied. Does the curriculum for that program seem right for you? What is included in the curriculum? If it is just asana based, then you may be limiting your education. Check on the Yoga Alliance standards page and be sure all the required curriculum content is included.

How? How do you know which school to choose?

Wow, there are so many yoga schools to choose from today. Not all schools are the same, and not all schools are reputable. It is important to do some homework before you invest. Is the school registered with Yoga Alliance? If so, there will be a 1-5 star rating for that school’s performance based on feedback from the graduates, which is visible to read (if it isn’t visible, it is because the school chose to not show student feedback). Take note how many students have given feedback… 25 or 300? How many years has the school been registered?

There are other registering bodies besides Yoga Alliance, although it is the largest international non-profit teacher/school registry in the world, so it is a good place to start.

When you narrow down a few schools of interest, send them an email or call them and speak to the teachers. Get a feel for how you will be welcomed. Google them and make sure there are no scandals related to the school or the teachers. Check on their website to see if they have also posted feedback from students (of course they will only post the best feedback, but you can still get some insight). You can also check on the Yoga Alliance site for feedback from grads for each school. (Check here to see feedback from SOYA Teacher Training grads.)

Financials? Do you have the money for this? Will spending this amount of money cause you stress?

As with all things in life, becoming a certified yoga teacher does cost a bit of money. A 200hr Foundation Training is the place to get you started. The key word here is “started”, as there will likely be a yearning to learn more. Once you start learning you will find out there is so much to learn! You may want to attend workshops to increase your knowledge and deepen your practice. Or you may want to take a teacher training upgrade to the 500hr Professional certification.

It is never too late to become a yoga teacher, so if finances are a little tight, look for a training that allows for payment plans. If you can, register for the program well in advance of the start date so payments can spread out over many months. Or, it may be best to wait and start putting some money away till you can afford it.  Do a price comparison for schools, and don’t assume the cheapest is the best.  These options will help you feel ready to go and not feel indebted when it is time to start your training. There is no need to rush into it – rushing never seems to work out.

Depth of Practice? What is the current state of your personal yoga practice?

Do you want to become an asana teacher or do you want to become a Yoga Teacher? Are you on a beginner yoga high and all you want to do is asana and forget about the rest? Are you integrating yoga into everyday aspects of life, meaning are you only a yogi on the mat in a studio, or is it becoming a way of life?

Creating a well-rounded practice and sticking with it will help support you through this decision making process.  It will help you understand what you want in your Teacher Training program.

I hope this article helps anyone out there that is thinking about becoming a yoga teacher. It is truly a gift guiding your students on their yoga journey, and every question they ask you will enhance and teach you more about your own journey.

Yours truly…………Robert McConnell

The South Okanagan Yoga Academy (SOYA) has been training yoga teachers for over 25 years. We are a registered school with Yoga Alliance and the International Yoga Teachers Association. To visit the listing and read reviews for the school, please visit the link below