How to choose your first yoga TTC
'The light of yoga, once lit, is never dim.' ~ BKS Iyengar
You could say I was somewhat of a yoga training junkie. I have done courses and read avidly for the last 15 years about: the lineage of yoga, the philosophy, meditation and energetics; the incredible science of the human body and mind and how to look after it in yoga; deepening and challenging my asana practice; self enquiry; professional and teaching skills. As a full time teacher for years now, being a student for a period of time each year is nothing but complete pleasure. I entirely owe the success of my teaching career to many varied teachers who i have had the privilege of studying under.
Choosing your very first teacher training however, feels like a huge decision. It seems and for many people is a massive amount of money. I saved up for 2 years for my first one, so I relate to the hugeness of this, but remember with a good training, you are receiving the opportunity for a new profession, new revenue stream and lifestyle. Don't scrimp!
Having now studied under many varied teachers I feel very secure in my ability to listen openly to what my teacher at that moment is offering, and that I learn from it whether I agree or don't agree or have no opinion. That first teacher training you do, you want to feel that you agree with your teacher on everything, and feel conflicted if you don't. As a seasoned student and as a teacher training leader, know that its totally OK and in fact a huge part of your self development to be able to listen openly and critically discern content that is being shared and take a unique position on a subject without needing to shut down or diminish your teacher or any co-students' point of view. A 200 hour training should be comprehensive, balanced and a springboard for your teaching and practice... as well as being the beginning of an unending journey of study and discovery.
So how do I choose a training?
1. Know what inspires YOU to get on the mat. Energetics? Mindfulness? Pure alignment and anatomy? What style of yoga do you like to practice and would you like to teach? Yoga is incredibly wide a discipline - you could spend a month literally meditating, chanting and breathing... or a month as an acrobat pressing to handstand and knocking back bullet-proof coffee... and both would be totally valid yoga trainings. For a 200 hour training I would recommend training in the wider discipline of what you love to practice (such as vinyasa, or hatha, or hot yoga, or ashtanga) rather than a specific school or style so you have scope to specialise as an advanced training once you have learnt the nuts and bolts of practice and teaching. This will mean you avoid dogmatic or biased teaching and can make your own decisions about your teaching voice, style and specialisms once you have a balanced background understanding.
2. Know the teachers - make sure you have been to a class online or preferably in person with your lead teachers on the training. It's important you love their teaching style and what they are passionate about as a teacher. Trainings work as a community, you want to feel the support of your teacher and you to support the teacher back as a student to get the most from the course.
3. Choose the structure that is right for you. Having trained in most of the varied structures here's my list of pro's and cons:
a) the month intensive - on the + side this is the best for an experience; being immersed in yoga-land for a month with other like minded folk is amazing and will probably both induce a small crisis and a euphoric sense of transformation! On the -ive side it can be overwhelming and emotionally destabilising if you're not in a strong place. In terms of teaching and your practice you will take in a lot in a short amount of time but its a very short time to be able to improve your practice and give the teaching skills due time to develop and practice. You will be bursting with the yoga love, but may want to prepare to feel a little dropped or in a yoga cum-down on your return back to 'reality'!
b) the modules/weekends over 6 months: In terms of developing teaching skills and a sense of community with your students this is the best - you meet regularly enough to practice consistently and build friendships, you are supported in a studio which you will continue to feel as home, you can continue with work and family commitments (albeit with a few short term sacrifices). The -ive here is assuming life can go on exactly as normal. You must make proper time for yoga practice and study and to give to your yoga community to get the most from this structure.
c) the long haul: a 2 year training: this is a typical Iyengar structure - and is the most thorough for those that are of the more patient ilk. You will benefit the most from development of your own practice, be part of the fabric of your hosting studio and likely build lifelong friendships. If you're keen to teach NOW though, this wont be for you!
4. Find out as much as you can about curriculum, content, materials and how you will be taught. There is a huge range here on TTC's. Does your course have a great manual that you will have to refer back to for years to come? Will lectures be interactive, using power points, handouts and 3D apps? Is there homework and how is it assessed? DO you get thorough feedback throughout and especially after your final exam? You want to be on a training where the teachers really care about you being the best teacher you can be individually, not part of a yoga machine or cookie cutter!