Image credit: Antanas Kaziliūnas
Forward bends can be seated or standing. When your legs are straight in the bend, practice the same alignment points as you would in Tadasana. You fold from the hips and not the waist. On inhales, practice lifting in the abdomen and the pelvic floor, broadening across the chest, and on exhales, folding deeper into the posture while keeping the core engaged. Remember to keep the neck long and shoulders relaxed away from the ears. Focus is on lengthening in the front body versus rounding in the back body. When going from a forward bend to a counterpose like a backbend, offer a transition pose in between (like supta baddha konasana in between paschimottanasana and setu bandha sarvangasana or bridge pose).
- Standing forward bends are considered inversions since the heart is above the head. You get all the benefits that you would get from practicing an inversion (increases circulation of body’s different systems, reverses effects of gravity, improves digestion, can heighten mood, has respiratory benefits, as examples).
- You get an amazing stretch for the calves & hamstrings (with straight legs & active muscle engagement).
- The back of the body receives the stretch as well.
- Digestion is improved not only from the inversion effects but also from the compression on the abdominal organs.
- Folds have a calming and relaxing effect, which can lower blood pressure or relieve headaches.
- They aid in helping people let go mentally and emotionally of blockages.
1. Prasarita Padottanasana series (Intense Spread Leg Stretch)
Bend knees slightly to help elongate spine.
2. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Newer to the practice? Start with feet hips distance and parallel for easier balance and if hamstrings are tight. Use blocks under hands to help get the back flat.
3. Padangusthasana (Foot to Fingers Forward Bend)
It is ok to bend your knees versus rounding in the back. As flexibility develops, slowly work to straighten your legs.
4. Padahastasana (Hand Under Foot Pose)
Bend the knees as you're starting out to really get the benefits of the wrist stretch – toes should be pressing into the creases of the wrist.
5. Upavistha Konasana (Seated Wide Legged Forward Fold)
Turn this into a restorative pose before bed by adding a bolster or pillow under the torso for support.
6. Paschimottanasana (Intense Side Stretch)
Try with bent knees or use a strap with straight legs if hamstrings are tight.
7. Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Seated Cross Legged Forward Fold)
For extra opening in the hips! Make sure you switch the cross of your legs and do it on each side.
8. Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)
To add a shoulder stretch, clasp opposite elbows behind back or take reverse Namaste.
Image Credit: Pandu Adnyana
Welcome back for Sanskrit 101 part 2! We’re going to discuss pose names in more depth, and explain common modification names.
In the first part of this series, we introduced the names Trikonasana, (a.k.a. Triangle Pose), Uttanasana (a.k.a. Standing Forward Fold), and Dhanurasana (a.k.a. Bow Pose). I’ve found that a great technique for memorizing names is learning about their separate elements!
The name comes from the Sanskrit words trikona meaning “triangle” and asana meaning seat.
The name is derived from the Sanskrit words ud (a prefix indicating superiority), tana meaning “stretched”, uttana (meaning “straight” or “stretched”), and asana meaning “seat”.
This name comes from the Sanskrit words dhanura meaning “bow” and of course asana, which of course means “seat”.
Some poses have an extended variation that uses utthita in the name. One example is trikonasana (triangle pose), which is sometimes calledutthita trikonasana (extended triangle pose). Different schools of yoga disagree about the difference between trikonasana and utthita trikonasana, though it seems to depend on the placement of the hand and where the torso is. Trikonasana may keep the bottom hand off of the ground, whileutthita trikonasana may have the hand placed on the floor or holding the front big toe.
Another pose using utthita is utthita parsvokanasana (extended side angle pose). This pose has a wide open-pelvis stance with the back leg straight and the front leg bent. The torso extends over the bent leg and the top arm extends forward over the top ear.
Utthita hasta padangustasana is a standing balancing pose with one leg lifted and extended forward. The big toe of the raised leg is held, and the chin is brought forward to rest on the shin.
Many poses have a revolved variation to deepen the stretch and incorporate the detoxing benefits of a spinal twist. Parvritta trikonasana(revolved triangle pose) is one example of this, in which the torso turns to face backwards and the opposite hand is placed on the floor.
Parvritta parvokanasana is another pose that is revolved. The legs are the same as in utthita parsvokanasana, but the torso twists so that the torso faces backwards and the shoulder meets the outside of the bent knee.
“Bound” poses are with the arms wrapping around and one hand clasping the opposite wrist. Baddha trikonasana is one example, in which one arm reaches behind the back while the other wraps under the front leg. The hand of the bottom arm clasps around the opposite wrist to complete the bind.
Baddha parsvokanasana is a very similar bind, with one arm behind the back and the other wrapped under the leg. The difference is in the position of the legs since baddha parsvokanasana is a wider stance with the front leg bent than baddha trikonasana.
Supine poses are poses done laying down or reclining. One example is supta padangustasana which is a hamstring stretch done lying on the back. One leg remains flat on the ground, and one is raised and brought towards the face. The fingers of one hand hold the big toe, and the chin is brought towards the shin. This pose is very similar in shape to utthita hasta padangustasana (described above), but takes place lying on the floor instead of standing on one leg.
Supta baddha konasana is another reclining pose done lying on the back. The soles of the feet come together, and the knees fall to the sides towards the floor. It is a version of a seated pose called baddha konasana that has the same position of the legs and feet, but folds the torso forward over the legs.
Ardha is used to indicate in the name that the pose is modified, usually in a simplifying way. For example, ardha padmasana (half lotus) is a common modification for the hip opening pose padmasana (lotus pose). Instead of both feet resting on top of the crossed legs, only one foot is up while the other remains on the ground. This modification is great to use when beginning to open the hips for deeper stretches.
However, in the pose ardha uttanasana, the modification is used to actually deepen the stretch in the hamstrings and legs. From uttanasana(the standing forward bend), we lift the torso up while keeping the hands down on the shins or floor.
Many poses have multiple variations to deepen or change the pose’s effects and benefits. These variations often change the Sanskrit name of the pose, in the same ways that they would change the English names.
Ultimately learning Sanskrit pose names is about memorization so will require you to put in the effort needed to remember the individual sounds. The most helpful thing for me has been taking classes with teachers who use the names in class, since hearing them repeatedly makes memorizing easier. Also, trying to use the names on social media posts has encouraged me to read about Sanskrit since I don’t want to write it wrong!
In case you missed it, check out Sanskrit 101
Image Credit: Susanica Tam
Recently, while deepening my own practice as a yoga student and expanding my knowledge as a yoga teacher, I began thinking about what qualities are often found in our favorite yoga teachers, and what makes a good teacher “great?” Over the past few weeks, I had the chance to visit many different studios, spanning into multiple provinces and one state in Canada and the US. I didn’t just take the classes at these studios, I experienced them. How did the teachers make me feel, how did they cue, what words and phrases did they use, did they integrate touch and adjustments in their class? Every class was different, and every teacher taught me something new about my own teaching and how I differentiated between sub-par guiding and great yoga experiences.
In my journey, here is what I have found that to me, really makes a great yoga teacher:
1. Energy & Presence
When a teacher with great energy walks into the room you know it-because you can feel it. They make you feel welcome, they make you feel uplifted if you weren’t feeling so great, and if you’re lucky, their energy may rub off onto you as well.
What did they say? Some teachers talk with such a soft voice you’re constantly straining to hear what they said, or you’re spending the whole class looking around at the others to see what pose you’re supposed to be in. Having a voice that is calm and clear is very important when leading classes and makes a big difference for the students that are attending.
Have you ever experienced a class that moved so quickly you practically got tangled up in your limbs? Or so slowly you barely had the energy and enthusiasm to get into the poses? A teacher that leads their class with a natural, smooth and flowing pace makes a big difference in how you experience the class and how you feel afterwards.
Since we all know that bad habits and painful consequences can be a result of poor alignment and form, having a knowledgeable teacher to adjust and guide you can be a huge benefit for your practice. When a teacher works the room, it should not be an anxiety-inducing moment for students thinking they’re going to get “corrected,” it is the teachers showing that they care and want to help us in every way.
When teachers make themselves available before, and especially after class, it says a lot about their teaching. They truly want to help you and are willing to make themselves available for your questions, concerns or simply just a friendly discussion. When teachers offer their time to you after they’ve taught the class, it’s showing their compassionate nature for each of their students.
Making eye contact, and especially smiling when you’ve made eye contact, creates great connection between students and teachers. I love when I happen to catch a teacher’s eye and they fill me with energy from their beaming smile and kind gestures.
Having a prepared class is pretty critical in a great experience for yoga students. As a teacher, making sure you’ve prepared the structure of your class ahead of time, and remembering it is very important in whether students decide to return to your class or not. No one wants their flow disrupted by a teacher that forgets what comes next.
Have you ever been in a class and the teacher exactly the right songs at just the right time? I feel so grateful when a teacher takes the time to create playlists for their classes so that in each sequence the right type of song will be playing. Sometimes this can be hard to do, as we all know that things don’t go as planned and sometimes a cue needs to be extended or something needs to be explained, but for the most part, a great playlist designed for the certain style of class is a wonderful treat from the teacher to the students.
The type of language used in a class can make a big difference in one’s practice. Sometimes a teacher uses phrases and cues that seem too soft, and therefore no one in the class is inspired to actually do the pose, and sometimes a teacher uses too abrupt of cueing, making you feel like you’re in gym class again and are just waiting for the time to be over. When a teacher uses languages that involves the perfect mix of suggestive and inspiring cueing, therefore motivating you to go deeper into the pose, and offering modifications in a way that won’t make participants feel as though they aren’t practicing “right” or are strong enough, the class experience can change ten-fold for students and can make you want to keep enjoying that teacher’s classes again and again.
Who doesn’t want to have fun? When a teacher leads a class that isn’t so serious, participants are able to relax and therefore start to have some fun. Whether it’s telling some jokes or funny anecdotes at the beginning or end of class, playing upbeat music that makes you feel like moving, or simply throwing a few smiles or laughs in here and there, you start to have some fun. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
There are some yoga teachers who are gifted enough to have many of these attributes, and most of us are capable of bringing at least one or more of these qualities into our yoga classes. Perhaps as a yoga teacher you already have these qualities, but if there are a few that you think you could deepen or improve upon, why not try? You may create an even better experience for your students and you may see your classes filling up soon enough. Now that I’ve shared what I personally find to be the distinguishing qualities between what makes a good yoga teacher a great yoga teacher, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please share in the comments below.
Image Credit: Dejathoris
You just finished an intense Vinyasa Flow class. Sweat is dripping from your face, your muscles feel rejuvenated, and your mind is clear. You think to yourself, how in the world can you begin sharing and helping others experience this surreal feeling one experiences after a yoga class? The rest of the students leave the room, and you consider taking a moment to speak with your instructor.
Finally, the two of you are the only ones that remain and you ask your teacher: Where did you get certified to teach? Do you have your 200 hour or 500 hour certification? How did you know when you were ready to be in front of a class?
This experience happens to many yogis, young and old. They become blindsided by the idea that yes, you can indeed turn your teaching into a full time career. Some people up and quit their day job to pursue teaching yoga, while others consider teaching yoga on the side of another fulfilling yet demanding career. Unlike many corporate or other teaching jobs that require a 2 or 4 year college degree and send you on your way, the world of teaching yoga is very, very different. Rather than going to a 2 or 4 year school, yoga certifications are broken down into the number of hours you've studied (200, 300 or even 500 hour certification programs). So the question is, can you begin teaching right after you've done your first 200 hour course?
The short answer, yes.
Heres your plan: Just. Get. Certified. That's it.
Many studios around the nation simply require you to have your 200 hour Yoga Alliance Certification. In addition to this, to promote furthering your education in yoga, some studios might even hire you while expecting you to simultaneously teach and go on towards your 500 hour certification within a certain number of years. 500 hour programs aren't required to teach yoga to the public, but they do allow you deepen your own understanding of yoga, and after you've received a 500 hour certification, you'll be certified to teach teachers and award 200 hour certifications yourself.
Depending on what studio you see yourself teaching at, it helps to check with them first about what type of certification you should get. For example, Baptiste-Inspired yoga studios require a Baptiste certification in order to teach with them. The style of yoga taught at these studios is consistent, challenging and helps to assure practitioners that they'll know what to expect before walking in. The same goes for studios such as CorePower Yoga, which offer their own teacher trainings in order for you to teach within their studios.
Nowadays, competition is growing fiercer by the day. More and more people are becoming interested in teaching yoga. Do you need to be worried? The fact that more teachers out there means that more people might start practicing and begin to reap the benefits yoga has to offer, but for us as teachers, it can seem a little scary. Putting all of your time and money into a certification that doesn't always guarantee you a steady job is a risk. If teaching and sharing your practice with others is truly a passion of yours, getting certified is a no brainer. Even if you don't end up teaching consistently, having the knowledge of a certified yoga teacher is an incredible attribute, something you will carry with you throughout this life long practice.
In closing, know this: Once you get certified, the world is yours. Instead of thinking of your yoga certification as a "one and done" notch on your belt, treat it as if it were a life long education. When you finish your first certification, teach. Teach often. Get as much experience teaching, and you will begin to find out what style of yoga you are most comfortable with teaching. There will always be more certifications you may be interested in achieving, and when you are ready you should go for them! Teaching is a life long journey, just like the practice of yoga. You are always learning, adjusting, and seasoning yourself as a teacher. When the time is right, go ahead and get your aerial yoga certification, or restorative certification, or even prenatal yoga certification! This only adds to your repertoire of what you can teach, and helps to build your resume. Stay humble, seek experience, and try to view your teaching as a life long journey just as you would your own personal practice.
Image Credit: Matt Madd
As a yoga teacher, there’s plenty of room for creativity within your sequencing. How you put different poses together and why you choose to put them that way will ultimately define your teaching style and attract a certain type of practitioner. There are some essential or traditional elements to a flow, especially when you’re starting out and learning how to sequence your class – elements that leave the student feeling well rounded mentally, physically, and emotionally. You can imagine that a class is like a story, with a similar flow to that of a movie. In most movies, we have the introduction, which leads to the rising action. This brings us to the climax, falling action, and finally the resolution.
How does this relate to yoga? In class, we take students on a journey – a mindful, soulful, physical, emotional journey. Students experience a roller coaster of emotions throughout a yoga class, and the structure is a nice way to effectively and safely take them on this journey, with all its highs and lows, a slow introduction, a physically and mentally challenging middle, and closure at the end to tie it all together.
I was trained in YogaWorks style sequencing and per our training, there is a certain style that the Vinyasa Yoga Flow classes tend to follow, which is one I find to be very fulfilling and well-rounded. The following guidelines will derive from that inspiration but with my own words. Classes I take are typically 90 minutes so it allows for all elements of the following – most classes in typical studios these days tend to be 60 – 75 minutes, so you have to adjust the times according to your needs. Please note these guidelines generally wouldn’t apply to certain styles of yoga like Yin/Restorative, Iyengar, or Ashtanga.
1. Tuning Inward and Focusing (5 minutes)
Most people come to yoga and bring the rush of their day with them. It’s important to take a few moments to acknowledge the beginning of practice, the quieting of the mind and body, and the coming to the mat. Here you will teach: breath work (or pranayama), how to focus the mind inward, and skills to help students stay present in each moment, regardless of the external situations (or poses). You can invite students to set an intention (like staying present with each breath) or you can talk about the theme or peak pose for the class. Some poses that you can start with are Savasana, Balasana, Tadasana, or supported bridge pose.
2. Warming Up the Body (20 minutes)
This is a place for a cardio-intense full-body start to get the breath and blood flowing and the muscles warm. It's well-known in most athletic or bodywork communities that a cardio warm up is essential to accessing different parts of the body and performing more efficiently throughout the practice. Think Salutations here (all kinds – Sun, half, As, Bs, Cs, Moon, with variations!). Core and abdominal work can be added here as well.
3. Warming Up/Teaching The Parts You’ll be Focusing On (30 minutes)
Here, you sequence together a different kind of warm up. Some teachers teach the skill and introduce easier poses that open and strengthen areas that will be needed for the peak pose. For example, if you’re taking student towards handstands, you’ll want to teach core engagement and warm up the shoulders and chest. You’ll introduce certain actions/areas (called component parts) in these more accessible poses that will be used later on to build to advanced poses. Sequencing actions or movements needed in the body to access harder poses are also taught in these easier poses. This helps to create muscle memory while the practitioner is able to maintain a calm and steady mind and breath versus when they are in a challenging position. You will include many variations of poses here including hip/shoulders openers, downward facing dog variation, chaturanga dandasana, and more, leading to standing poses. You can take spins on Sun Salutations by adding elements related to your focus for the class. An example is adding Utkatasana Twists in Sun Saluation B if you're working on detoxing, or add humble warrior in Virabhadrasana I if you're working on opening the shoulders and hips. Then you can lead into more standing poses like Trikonasana, Virabhadrasana II, and Prasarita Padottanasana variations. Depending on the level of class you can throw in transitions to Bakasana and Sirsasana II (tripod headstand) from a number of poses.
4. Peak Pose and/or Inversions (5 – 15 minutes)
Within your standing series of flows, you will lead students to the peak pose (maybe ardha chandrasana, natarajasana, or bird of paradise). If you are teaching inversions, you will break after to the wall and teach inversions that you have been building up to. Think also forearm stands, headstands, dolphin, forearm plank, and side plank.
5. Backbends (5 – 10 minutes)
Time for Bridge pose, wheel pose, camel pose, locust pose… take your pick or choose a few! By this time, students should be warmed up in the shoulders, thoracic spine, and hip flexors in order to access these poses. Think Urdhva Dhanurasana, Ustrasana, or Salabhasana.
6. Cool Down/ Resolution (10 – 15 minutes)
This is the time when you bring it to the ground for your seated poses - think cooling poses like Shoulder Stand, final meditation & breath work, and everyone’s favorite pose: Savasana. Think Pigeon variations, happy baby, halasana (plough pose), or Marichyasana C.
General Tips to Consider
- Ask students about any injuries or pregnancies before class and be aware of your students’ safety foremost. Adjust your class when necessary to fit who showed up that day. Also, base your instructions on what you see in the room.
- When guiding through standing poses, in general, it’s advisable to start with easiest poses to hardest poses. This would be externally rotated --> neutrally rotated --> twisting poses.
- Within categories of poses, move from easier poses to harder.
- Compensate between poses and bring the spine back to neutral in between. For example, a Tadasana between a backbend and a forward bend. Speaking of, the combination of the backbend with the forward bend is known as “counter poses”, taking the body in opposite directions to achieve balance.
- Twists also complement backbends. They release the body after a backbend, and they also warm up the body for the backbend and vice versa.
- Take students into child’s pose after most inversions, and encourage students to take child’s pose and downward dog in between and during series instead of constantly doing flows, especially when they stop breathing.
My best advice for anyone heading off to Yoga Teacher Training regarding expectations is, quite simply, to not have any.
Easier said than done, I realize, as there are so many things to consider. Before you register for a program, make sure you are aware of your ‘logistical’ expectations.
Appropriate Lodging/Destination: clean, comfortable and safe
Dietary Needs: vegan, gluten free, etc.
Leaders: well trained and emphasizing the topics you are most drawn to
Cost: can you comfortably afford the program and what is included?
Timing: is this the right time for you, truly?
Ask lots of questions before hitting the ‘buy’ button to ensure there are no (or very few) surprises waiting for you when you land. Beyond logistics, consider what you might experience in the personal, emotional and spiritual arenas. Much of the ‘work’ to be done in yoga teacher training is very personal and powerful - and it is this work that needs to be done first, so you can be your most powerful self as a teacher. Many of us who are brave enough to seek out the life of a yogi have backgrounds and histories that compel us to move more and more towards spirit, compassion and non-harming. Either because we have trained as body and energy workers or health advocates, or because we are approaching it from a place of personal healing and growth through our own battles with addiction, stress, depression, etc. In either case, we are looking for an opportunity to guide and be guided along the path to health and healing, transformation and expansion.
Yoga Teacher Training, although not specifically designed to create emotional responses and releases, (from tears to fits of laughter, to feelings of anger triggered by a chakra workshop) will force the trainee to look at different aspects of their life and personality where there may be room for growth and change in order for them to emerge fully as a confident yoga teacher and leader in their community.
For some, it is this energetically charged experience that they seek out in a training, for others it may be unexpected and unwelcome. This reinforces my suggestion of asking lots of questions and being true to who you are coming in to the training - NOT who you hope to leave as.
Therefore - if you are someone who appreciates ‘beyond the creature comforts’ (and this does not make you a bad person!) then do not choose a training that is rudimentary in its accommodations. If you tend to be more body-centric in your approach, maybe your first yoga teacher training should not be a ‘bhakti-heavy’ training. If you are not comfortable with travel or new people, then maybe you should look at a first training closer to home, with people you know.
Usually the first to encourage people to break out of their comfy boxes and expand into the world, I do maintain some reservation when it comes to something as important (personally, financially and spiritually) as this undertaking. Spreading your wings and testing the uncharted sky is exciting! Do not let all of your decision making be based on the most extreme, challenging or different experience available.
You will want some comfort and familiarity to fall back on when the heart starts to stir and some fears start to surface. Beyond the emotions, insecurities and stories that may rise for you, there will also be incredible joy, levity, humor, and straight up really good times waiting for you at your yoga teacher training - and these will mean far more than any painful stirrings you may encounter.
The beauty and celebration of the emerging teacher inside will create room for even greater potential as you witness and celebrate that expansion with your yoga teacher training family. Together you will build a solid community of trust and awareness.
Fatigue: At some point you will be tired: tired physically, tired emotionally, tired mentally, tired socially. Know that this will build strength, stamina, compassion and wisdom.
Questioning: You may find yourself questioning facets of your life from how you eat to who you date and that the responsible decisions and choices you make will be a great example to those you lead.
Immense joy: As you immerse deeper into your Yoga Teacher Training and your own Self, be prepared to feel a deep joy, a real connection to spirit. This joy will become a magnet for those looking for something ‘more’ from their practice, something ‘more’ from their teacher, something ‘more’ from their lives.
Quiet: You will become quiet, without realizing or asking. It is a natural side effect to inner peace and expansion.
A new-found voice: Your voice will become sacred, without violence, and will speak for those who can not. Your ears will be more attuned to words that feed and serve, and close off to judgement, gossip and insult.
Fun side effects: People have experienced all kinds of ‘bonuses’ with immersions from improved vision (both physically and intuitively) to optimal systemic function and enhanced memory and concentration.
Now that you have a ‘list’ of things to expect, let us return to my opening statement regarding expectations - don't have any!
The journey through your yoga teacher training is yours alone and you need the freedom to experience the training to your full capacity. This will be challenging if you are in a constant state of expectation. When packing for your yoga teacher training, bring your tooth brush, bring your yoga clothes (half of what you think you will need), bring your journal ~ leave behind fear, ego and expectation.
Enjoy and be engaged in every step of your journey. You are embarking on an adventure, realizing a life passion, shifting into a place of steady and able leadership and mentorship. Part of you has already made the decision to do this. You are ready, you always have been.
So okay - maybe expect one thing - to come out of it with everything you already have. Hari Om!
Namaste and Welcome!
Do you think you're ready to attend a yoga teacher training? Click below to learn more about the Yoga Travel Tree Yoga Teacher Training program!
If you have been practicing yoga for a while, you may find yourself in a place of longing for something deeper. You may want to learn more, to travel deeper into the world of yoga, and you may want more than your regular yoga class is providing you. You can deepen your practice through various workshops and retreats, but perhaps the best way to deepen your yoga path is through a Yoga Teacher Training. "But I am not planning to become a yoga teacher!" you may think. Don't let this stop you from considering a teacher training. Besides being able to teach, Yoga teacher training can give you a surprising amount of additional value!
So what can you expect from a Yoga Teacher Training?
1. A break and quality time for yourself
Do you ever dream of leaving it all behind for a while and escaping to a tropical location to focus on your wellbeing? Even the longest yoga retreats are usually not longer than few weeks, but with a Yoga Teacher Training you are getting the ultimate yoga retreat - four to five weeks of pure yoga! You will spend your days practicing yoga, learning about the history and philosophy of yoga, exploring different areas of yoga such as Meditation, Pranayama , Kirtan and Yoga Nidra just to name a few. For these weeks your world will revolve around you and yoga. There is nothing quite as relaxing for a yogi as forgetting the rest of the world for a while and only focusing on yourself.
2. Intense journey into yourself
Yoga Teacher training is not just about how to teach yoga to others. It is first and foremost an experience into yoga, and a deep, often quite transformational journey into yourself. When you practice yoga and meditation daily without any other interruptions pulling you back into real life, you reach a whole new level of clarity in life.
For the first weeks of my teacher training I was in a continuous state of bliss. I was in a tropical paradise, surrounded by people sharing the same love and interest for yoga, and because of that everything went a level deeper. My meditation, self reflection and my practice. Yoga Teacher Training takes you on a trip in many senses of the word.
But don't be fooled, the training is also hard. It takes you to your edge and shows you your weaknesses. At the same time you are in a supported environment where it's OK to break down, if needed. Although the days are not always comfortable, it will be more than worth it in the end.
3. Deepening your own practice
When I started my Yoga Teacher Training, I was not yet 100% sure whether I would end up teaching. But there was one person I was desperate to teach - me!
During the training you will do just that. You will teach yourself, which is the most important teaching experience you will ever have. Only when you have taught yourself, and experienced your own learning curve and development within the world of yoga, can you teach others. During the Yoga Teacher Training there is finally time to really get into the specifics of it all. Where does the practice stem from, why do we do certain asanas, what alternatives are there, and what are the internal and external benefits from the practice. After a teacher training you will look at yoga from a different place of understanding and affection.
4. Learning the individual nature of yoga
Yoga was essentially a practice between a guru and a disciple. Yoga practice was geared for the individual, taking into consideration the unique physical characters of the disciple. In a classroom full of students this element is often lost, and it takes some practice for you to find what really works for you. From this knowledge you can build an effective practice for yourself, a practice which not only benefits your character, but also your unique physical frame.
During a teacher training you will learn how yoga is more internal than external. You will learn how yoga applies to you as an individual, how your body reacts to the different exercises and asanas, and how you can modify your practice to benefit you. This knowledge makes all future yoga practices feel quite different.
5. Long lasting friendships around the world
Last, but certainly not least, during a Yoga Teacher Training you will end up with amazing friendships with like-minded people from all over the world. You are united by yoga and by the unique journey you take together. It is a bonding experience, one that will last a lifetime.
As you can see, Yoga Teacher Training is not just for those who want to teach yoga. It is for those who want to know more about yoga, and for those who are serious about this beautiful practice. The training gives you more confidence in your own practice, it guides you and supports you. And if you end up sharing your love for yoga in the process of it, wonderful!
For those who do want to teach yoga, teacher training is purely a beginning. It gives you the perfect starting point, a scratch on the surface. It ignites a spark in you that hopefully will turn into an eternal flame lighting your life long journey.
Choosing a yoga teacher training is the beginning of a whole new career and a whole new you! Here are 7 things to know before taking the leap.
One of the most important things is to find a training and teachers that resonate with you and inspire you. Look for teachers that are experienced, passionate about yoga -on and off the mat- and that will inspire you to dive deep, stretch your edges and to discover more about yourself and the many layers of yoga.
Start with Why
Get clear on your why. What is your intention for embarking on a teacher training adventure? Are you hoping to make teaching yoga your full time job? Part-time career? Or do you want to deepen your personal practice and learn more about the philosophy of yoga? Maybe all of the above? Take the time to discover your why and seek a training that supports your intention.
There are many types of yoga styles and trainings out there. Which one is right for you depends on your personal practice and intention. Each training is required a minimum number of hours dedicated to things like anatomy, history, teaching methodology and philosophy—but each training is going to emphasize different areas that highlight their style. Pick a program that emphasizes your passion whether it’s alignment, philosophy, Ayurveda or Bhakti.
Is the training school Yoga Alliance registered? YA is the international governing body for yoga and sets the standard for certifying teacher training programs. If your intention is to teach, you want to make sure that the training you choose is Yoga Alliance Certified; otherwise, you may not qualify for insurance or it may limit you in finding a teaching gig.
How does the training structure fit into your life? Whether you choose a weekend program taught over many months or a multiple week immersion style training make sure you can dedicate the time to necessary to fully commit to your training.
Find out how many students are in the training. What is the number of teachers to students? Will you feel seen, heard and supported? It’s important to feel that you will be able to connect to your fellow trainees and teachers. Lasting connections and friendships are often forged during teacher trainings. Will you be able to connect and create community or will you get lost in a crowd?
Follow up and Support
What happens after the training? Is there support outside of training days or after the training is complete? Does the training provide a mentorship program or a way to stay connected post training? Do they provide a directory of their teachers?
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What is Yoga Teacher Training?
Yoga Alliance Standard designations for teachers include:
- RYT 200 (200 hours of training)
- RYT 500 (made up of 200 hour and 300 hour program)
During a typical 200 hour yoga teacher training you will have the opportunity to experience the incredible breadth of yoga, and develop your skills to present and instruct inspiring classes. You will be given the information needed to teach group classes, private sessions, and the skills that you need to expand your mind, your own personal practice, and to find opportunities within the business of yoga. [wp_ad_camp_1]
Yogis first complete a 200-hour program, which most yoga studios require as the minimum training for their teachers. Some teachers then choose to continue their studies by undertaking a 300-hour training (taking them to the level of a 500 hour teacher). Teachers can then register as an RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance. Once registered, a RYT 500 is able to provide continuing education classes and workshops to other teachers.
More about Yoga Alliance
Teacher-training programs that meet certain standards are registered by the Yoga Alliance, a nationally recognized organization.
Upon completion of a Yoga Alliance registered teacher-training program, teachers are then allowed to use the acronym RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) after their name.
Who is it for?
The YTT programs are designed for the yoga practitioner who is ready to take the next step and dive into the life changing experience of becoming a yoga teacher. For people who are super excited and committed to the idea of taking their love of yoga and embarking on a journey from student to teacher. It is also open to those who may not wish to become a teacher but have a deep interest and love for yoga and the desire to deepen their own personal knowledge and practice.
Do I need to have a strong yoga practice already?
No formal experience is required to enroll in the YTT programs. However, it is often recommended that you have had at least one year of regular practice prior to the start of the course to help to get your started on your journey.
Contrary to belief, a flexible body free of injuries is not a requirement for this training! Yoga is a practice of meeting the body where it is, and then working with the body to slowly and respectfully move deeper. The struggles and challenges you will face through the course of your training will only make you a better teacher. If you are waiting for the day when you can finally get your foot behind your head, to become a teacher or commit to take your practice to the next level, you may be denying yourself the opportunity of a lifetime!
Structure of a 200 hour YTT
A 200-hour YTT must incorporate training hours in the following educational categories:
- Techniques, Training & Practice – 100 hours
- Teaching Methodology – 25 hours
- Anatomy & Physiology – 20 hours
- Yoga Philosophy, Lifestyle & Ethics for Yoga Teachers – 30 hours
- Practicum – 10 hours
The remaining contact hours (55 hours) and elective hours (15 hours) are to be distributed among the five educational categories above, but the hours may be allocated at the discretion of each Registered Yoga School based on their program’s focus. You will find that each school has a different educational focus, some may include pre-natal, yin yoga, nidra yoga, or yoga for children for example. So it is important to check the details of each program to make sure that it is what you are looking for, or if you want to find a specialty area in which to learn more.
Structure of a 300 hour YTT
A 300-hour advanced training is designed to build upon and deepen the trainee’s understanding of the fundamental concepts of teaching yoga that are generally taught at the 200-hour level. A 300-hour advanced training prepares its trainees to teach principles and techniques of yoga that are more advanced, more detailed, and/or more subtle, and the training enables them to teach with greater skill than could reasonably be expected of a RYT 200.
A 300-hour YTT must incorporate training hours in the same educational categories, but with a slightly different focus on distribution of hours:
- Techniques, Training & Practice – 50 hours
- Teaching Methodology – 5 hours
- Anatomy & Physiology – 15 hours
- Yoga Philosophy, Lifestyle & Ethics for Yoga Teachers – 30 hours
- Practicum – 10 hours
The remaining contact hours (190 hours) and elective hours (170 hours) are to be distributed among the five educational categories, as above.
Topics Typically Covered Through Study
- Asana - physical practice of yoga
- Pranayama (yogic breathing) – its application to postures and meditation
- Meditation - developing skills as a meditation teacher is an important part of filling your classes with meaningful content
- Yoga Philosophy and History - an exploration of the many traditions and their philosophies.
- The 8 Limbs of Yoga
- The Chakras – developing an understanding of the energetic body
- Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras – learning about the lineage and history of yoga
- Yoga Anatomy and Physiology - in-depth study of postures, alignment, energetic and health benefits, adjustments, and modifications. Along with an anatomical dissection of poses
- Sequencing - learning how to use the tools of asana, pranayama and meditation to create your own meaningful sequences
- Assisting and Adjusting – learning how to help your students to receive the most that they can from each posture
- The Art of Teaching Yoga – mastering the tools that allow you to take your students on a journey of self-discovery, through both the physical body or inner exploration
- Practice Teaching – opportunity to teach and refine your ability to deliver a meaningful class, while learning more about your responsibilities in the classroom,
- The Business of Yoga - creating exciting and meaningful workshops/ private sessions
- Develop a Yogic Lifestyle - understanding how to incorporate the tools and philosophies of yoga to map out a life of purpose and fulfillment
In the western world you can expect to pay anything upwards of $2,000 with an average price being $2,500 for a 200 hour YTT program and $3,000 for a 300 hour YTT program.
This will, of course, change according to how well known the teacher is. Teachers with both a strong reputation and following within the yoga community, will charge a higher price for their teacher training programs given their experience and brand.
The prices are significantly lower if you choose to study in India. For example a typical teacher training in Rishikesh, in the North of India, will cost you approximately $1350 for a 200 hour teacher training and $1800 for a 300 hour training program. Both prices normally include both food and accommodation (normally a private room with attached bathroom).
It is important to remember to check whether the price you are quoted includes training materials, manuals, exams and training. Another consideration is whether accommodation and meals are included.
There are so many ways in which to study for the YTT programs.
Below is a sprinkling of the ways:
- Part time modules over 6 months (weekends and/or evenings);
- One month full time;
- 6 weeks full time;
My personal favorite is the complete immersion approach! There really is no better way than to go deeper, faster into the vast sea of yogic tradition, especially in terms of fast tracking your personal practice and progress. Being separated from normal everyday concerns and responsibilities allows you the freedom and space for a rewarding inward journey.
Yoga Alliance accredited
Check that the school you want to study at is a member of the Yoga Alliance, so that your certificate will be recognized over the world.
Other Things to Consider
- Personality – Make sure you like and respect the head teachers; you will be spending a lot of time with them.
- Check what style of yoga is taught - vinyasa, iyengar, ashtanga, hatha.
- Is there a specialty on the course - Yin yoga, pregnant yogis etc., child yoga, acro yoga, and aryeveda.
- Check how many students are accepted - No more than 16 is ideal.
- Most schools allow you to attend classes for free - To help you deepen your practice Yoga Tree offers unlimited free yoga classes in select classes during your 200 Hour Yoga Tree Teacher Training. This provides a great way to deepen your own practice while at the same time refining the skills you are learning in your training.
You will never regret signing up for your yoga teacher training program, and Yoga Travel Tree offers a 200 hour Teacher Training in Mexico that will rock your yoga socks right off! Remember that fabulous quote from the Bhagavad Gita - "Yoga is the journey of the self, through yourself, to yourself".
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