BY SUZANA ALTERO
Choosing the right teacher training is a daunting task. And if you are doing it abroad, it can be even harder. It’s usually an intensive course, where we have probably never met the teachers or even someone who has really attended it! There are great articles giving tips on how to better analyze the possibilities and choose the best. Tips vary from checking the course’s curriculum properly, taking the lead teacher’s class, checking faculty’s credentials and so on. Surely this analysis is a great part of the whole deal. After all, a great yoga teacher training will have less chances of disappointing any attendee, than a mediocre one.
However, that is surely not enough. Knowing what to expect from the 200-Hour YTTC it is also vital to be able to truly enjoy our journey and learn to the best of your potential. Here are a few common expectations that get us frustrated in an intensive 200-hour yoga teacher training abroad and in our home country!
- Where are my Yoga physiotherapy sessions?
Yoga as complementary physiotherapy is surely a great tool. However, yoga trainers can hardly focus on tailoring their course to address students’ injuries, simply because the course has quite an intensive schedule. This does not mean that joining a yoga teacher training with an injury is a bad idea. Not at all! Actually if the student is open, it’s a great opportunity. In a good training we can learn how to deal with our injuries and it certainly helps the entire group to learn better on how to modify and address different issues as well. Moreover, injuries have the blessing of driving our interest into anatomy and alignment, which are a must for yoga teachers. In short, joining a good YTTC even with an injury is not an issue but expecting the whole training to be about how to heal us (once and for all) is a recipe for the perfect disappointment.
- Where is the Guru?
This type of expectation can easily happen in a yoga teacher training in India. Travelling to India is quite a big expectation. Although India is wonderful, we have to be very careful when counting on people for that type of emotional support. Students frequently project onto yoga teachers and trainers all kinds of roles and one of a psychotherapist is the most common one. Again, a good yoga trainer surely has empathy and an open heart (and mind!). However, they are hardly trained psychotherapists and we should be very careful with those that call themselves guru as well. A guru, what some perceive as a natural version of psychotherapist (or ultimate life advisor), is more difficult to find and their place is hardly in a yoga alliance teacher training. It is important to say that a Yoga TTC will surely bring up some unresolved emotional issues and it is rather beautiful to watch the blossoming of each student while they deal with insecurities, honest doubts and also begin to accept themselves. Surely, a YTTC is an opportunity for a lot of healing and transformation to take place. But that is not its main goal unfortunately. Jumping into a YTTC is not the right choice if what you are looking for is strictly healing something like a deep depression or an ongoing panic attack crisis for example. The healing and the transformation in a YTTC is a potential and probable but not its guiding star.
- Why to take a Yoga retreat? At least after a yoga training if I ever decide to teach I’ll already have the certificate!
Ok, I do understand the wish to enjoy amazing nature in an exotic country while we also deepen our yoga practice. It is common to think that if we are going to invest in ourselves maybe it could at least be in something that can give us an alternative career. However, a Yoga retreat is very different from a yoga teacher training! In a yoga retreat there are a whole bunch of attractive culinary treats, touristic activities and probably quite a fancy room with an awesome view. Great, right? It is true that nowadays a lot of YTTCs also offer the same, but the most important difference is the goals in each program. In a yoga retreat the goal is to deepen the practice along with enjoying yourself, focusing on wellness and of course, having fun. In a yoga teacher training we obviously deepen our yoga practice (a lot of people join because of that!), have fun. But the ultimate goal of a YTTC is to transform into a good yoga teacher. That means studying a whole lot of anatomy, alignment and teaching methodologies. Those disciplines are hardly part of a yoga retreat (they may be the themes of an intensive or workshop!) Moreover, there’s usually not much time for touristic tours in an intensive YTTC.
- I really want to master all those crazy poses! I took my whole month out just for that!
Generally, students in their ordinary life do not practice intensively. However, some practitioners when taking an intensive 200-hour YTTC expect drastic physical achievements. The fact is that yoga teacher trainings are able to focus a little more on advanced poses mostly in a 300-hour course. Honestly, if a great part of the course was about improving asana practice the whole course raises a red flag alert. Maybe it’s not a good YTTC at all. But, beyond that, the 200-hour course is the first step of a yoga teacher’s journey. Its program should focus on guiding their students to learn how to teach safely and effectively, be it beginners or intermediate level students. For teaching advanced postures we need to train more and have enough experience simply because in those poses teachers can place others in quite dangerous situations. In this sense, people looking for mostly developing or improving their advanced postures would be frustrated in a 200-hr YTTC. Those are better off taking special intensives or workshops that address this type of goal specifically.
- I’m so relieved! At last I will know everything that I need to know about Yoga (or to teach Yoga)
To be honest, that is not the majority of the cases. But this mindset is present quite often. First of all, yoga is a universe in itself: philosophy, anatomy, history, therapeutic aspects, techniques, etc. A yoga teacher will learn the fundamentals of all of those and more. However, they will choose a couple of subjects to truly dive into in their yogic path according to what inspires them and touches their hearts. In other words, we will hardly know it all right after the course. In one way or another we naively expect to have it all just delivered to us in a platter. As with any path, to become a yoga teacher, a 200-hour YTTC is a great beginning but we have to take responsibility for our own growth as well. An amazing YTTC is a strong foundation and we usually are able to teach afterwards but we have to be committed to keep learning and investing in ourselves as better teachers (and yoga practitioners!).
- I’ll learn how to open, market and manage my studio in a successful way
That is basically a catchy and empty advertisement. Anyone that has opened a business (tiny or huge) knows that you will not learn to be successful in only one month or even a couple. We all need experience! Marketing itself is going through tremendous changes along with every change that happens in the Internet world. How can we expect to learn how to be a successful as a studio owner or yoga teacher just like that? Well, we sometimes just hope. The bad news is that a 200-hr yoga teacher training already has quite a demanding program. The business of yoga is only a part of it and mainly takes care of the fundamental steps and tips. Besides those, the only aspect of the business of yoga that a school can really help their students with is by giving internships and offering support after the course. Keep in mind that if a 200-hr YTTC focuses on the business of yoga too much in their program it is bound to sacrifice essential topics in its schedule for something that needs time and experience.
In short, join a YTTC with an open mind, an open heart and a true desire to spread the yogic lifestyle. If you choose your training wisely, only then there can be truthful growth.
Suzana has lived in India for more than 3 years and is married to an Indo-German who is also a yoga geek. She is a passionate yoga teacher and co-founder of Turiya Yoga, where a wonderful team of passionate teachers offers Yoga teacher training in India, Goa. She is a world traveler and a yoga, psychology, mythology and theology geek. Fully in love with teaching and learning, she has been into mystic paths for over seven years and yoga for more than five. Her students know her as a gentle, warm-hearted teacher that is a clear bridge between East and West knowledge. You can connect with her through Facebook or Twitter.