…and why I’m glad I did Choosing a yoga teacher training program isn’t easy, especially if you live in an area saturated with options. I actually had to create a spreadsheet to organize all of my choices!
However, Yoga Travel Tree easily stood out as the program for me. Here are 10 reasons that Yoga Travel Tree worked so well for me before, during, and after training:
1. The Yoga Travel Tree website is welcoming.
Yoga Travel Tree is all about yoga and travel. I checked out a lot of yoga studio websites that had solid training programs, but that was just one of many offerings (as it should be at a studio).
When I found Yoga Travel Tree, I felt as though I was being spoken to directly because they are specifically in the business of yoga training.
2. A three-week immersion program was exactly what I needed.
At the time, I was looking for a program that I could start – and finish – sooner rather than later. I know that most people can’t take three consecutive weeks off from their responsibilities, and, for most, a program close to home works best. There was a long time during which this was the case for me, too. However, last spring, I found myself at a transition point, and I wanted to take advantage of having the time to immerse myself in the training and complete my 200-hour program as soon as I could.
3. I have a major travel bug.
The idea of an immersion program in Mexico was too good to be true. I wasn’t at a point where I could take a vacation, but given that the Yoga Travel Tree teacher training tuition was comparable to other programs in my area, plus going to Mexico meant getting out of town and would force me to clear my head, well, this was too good to be true. When else would I have a chance to do something like this? Yoga Travel Tree combines two of my great loves – yoga and travel – and getting my 200-hour certification in this way was the perfect fit.
4. I got positive feedback on my application.
That’s right, my application. I knew that applying to a teacher training program would mean answering questions about why I wanted to be a yoga teacher. However, my intent was to deepen my practice and my knowledge; I wasn’t even thinking that I wanted to teach. I didn’t know how well-received this would be, so I certainly didn’t expect to get an email back from Yoga Travel Tree saying “we loved reading your application.” I felt welcome from the beginning, and this reinforced that wanting to obtain more knowledge, to whatever end, is always a worthy endeavor.
5. Yoga Travel Tree attracts diverse yet like-minded people.
My training cohort came from Canada, the U.S., and Mexico; spanned a 30-year age range; and had very different backgrounds. However, I remain amazed at how similarly we all viewed the world, our passion for yoga and for travel, and, most importantly, the compassion we all shared for wanting to help others. I have no doubt that I will stay in touch with this group for the rest of my life, trainees and teachers alike.
6. Yoga Travel Tree has the best teachers. Ever.
Satyam Yoga School, which provides the teaching certification under the auspices of Yoga Travel Tree, is second to none. I am very particular about my yoga teachers when I take a class, and doing my yoga certification with teachers who I had never met before felt like a gamble. However, Kate Towell and Kim “Ganga” Taylor are a dynamic duo with the ultimate respect for each other and their students. Their individual and collective knowledge was staggering. They were completely in the moment with each of us, making sure that we were getting what we wanted out of the program and that the experience was setting us up for our journeys once we returned home.
This may be true of many yoga teacher training programs, but I feel so fortunate that Yoga Travel Tree places such an emphasis on how much there is to learn beyond the physical poses. Yes, my physical practice got stronger, but so did my meditation practice, my interest in Ayurveda, my knowledge of the deities and the influence of Hinduism on this part of yogic philosophy, and so much more.
8. It was an intense curriculum, but we all made time for fun and enjoyment.
Though I’d read the agenda in advance, I wasn’t prepared for what it would feel like to start the day with 6am meditation and end the evening session at 8:30pm.
However, we all made time for dips in the ocean or the pool, which were both mere steps from our yoga studio and outdoor eating area; reading in the hammocks on the beach; and blasting our favorite music during study breaks for impromptu dance parties.
The site of Yoga Travel Tree’s program – Mar de Jade retreat center – was the ideal setting. It was a blend of adventure travel (lizards in the bathroom? OK!) and having the amenities to last in the heat and humidity for three weeks (I love you, air conditioning). Mar de Jade also made meals easy for those of us with food restrictions; all of the food was fresh and locally-sourced, and there were always vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free options. Also, our designated yoga space had a 180 degree view of the ocean. You know it’s a good day when the biggest problem is not being able to hear your teachers’ voices over the crash of the surf below.
10. Yoga Travel Tree is incredibly supportive of and active with its alums after the program is over.
One of my concerns about a program that wasn’t based locally was that no one would know who I was and what I was now capable of doing when I returned home. However, after departing Mexico, there were still 20 hours of practicum hours to complete, and the Yoga Travel Tree teachers and staff were available via email and phone to support us if questions arose or just to check in. Even after becoming a registered teacher with the Yoga Alliance, I am in constant contact with my teachers and the other students as we navigate our way.
For me, that has come in the form of beginning a certification program as an Ayurveda Wellness Counselor and beginning to volunteer and substitute teach with local programs. It’s difficult to break into a saturated market, yet Yoga Travel Tree has provided endless, alternative ways of keeping connected with alums by providing opportunities to act as Ambassadors, write articles, and network within the yoga community.
From the beginning to the present, I am so grateful that I trusted my instincts and selected Yoga Travel Tree for my yoga teacher training. My three weeks in Mexico were life-changing, and I continue to reflect on and learn from the experience.
Becca Stoltz pursues her love of yoga as an extension of her work in public health and stress. She completed her undergraduate education at Tufts University, earned her masters at Boston University School of Public Health, and is enrolled in the Kerala Ayurveda Academy for her Ayurveda Wellness Counseling certification.