Will Yoga Teacher Training Help You Deepen Your Own Practice or Share Your Love of Yoga?
5 Things to Consider Before Signing Up
A Yoga Teacher Training program is a significant investment of money and 200 or more hours of time. Read on to learn 5 things to consider before signing up.
Explore your "why" for yoga teacher training
Do you want to share the benefits of yoga with others? Deepen your understanding of yoga beyond asana? Grow your own practice?
Before exploring training options, take time to reflect on your intent, motivation, and expectations. Most yoga teacher training program applications require you to provide this information anyway.
Pamela Ronstadt of Radiant Spirit Yoga says the first question she asks potential trainees is why they want to do teacher training, “This is truly the first step to understanding the journey they want to embark on and, importantly, if the training offered is what they need.”
Capturing your “why” is key to determining if you’re ready for a yoga teacher training program and which program is right for you. If your “why” doesn’t include teaching, don’t worry. The majority of yoga teacher training programs encourage leveraging their training for personal growth purposes.
Evaluate your practice as a base for yoga teacher training
Does your personal practice include asana, pranayama, and meditation? Do you practice only one style of asana? How many years have you practiced? Many yoga teacher training programs have yoga experience prerequisites and ask you to provide personal practice information on your application.
As you prepare to explore training options, evaluate if your personal practice has physically and mentally prepared you for 200 or more hours of yoga teacher training. Then, decide if you would be comfortable in a program that covers pranayama, mantra, and other traditional yoga techniques in addition to asana. Finally, determine if your “why” includes exploring yoga styles that are new to you.
Be honest with yourself. If you primarily practice yin yoga and want to become more confident with the asana, a 10-30 hour immersion class may align with your needs more closely than a full 200 hour program. While some immersion classes have an RYT 200 prerequisite, many are open to the public.
Ronstadt says that understanding where you are with your personal practice and journey helps insure that the yoga teacher training experience will meet your needs and expectations. “If someone wants to take a training because they find healing through meditation or yin yoga, but the program they’re looking at offers neither, the experience may fall flat. If they’ve only ever done restorative yoga, would they benefit from a power program?”
Taking the time to assess your own practice, including comfort zones and growth goals, helps you determine your readiness for the yoga teacher training experience.
Assess your yoga teacher training options
Can you commit to a 4-week intensive or full weekends? Do you want to stay local or do you prefer a destination? Who are the yoga teacher training faculty? What does the program cost? As you explore available programs, also keep your “why” and personal practice evaluation top of mind.
When searching for yoga teacher training in Arizona, I found it useful to prioritize criteria such as timeframe, faculty, class size, curriculum, apprenticeship, and cost. Then, I created a spreadsheet and evaluated yoga teacher training programs based on those criteria.
Next, I compared my “why” and personal practice evaluation to the program curriculum and philosophy. Finally, after I narrowed my selection to two programs, I spoke to graduates of each about their experience.
If a school you are interested in has an open house while you are assessing options, make time to go. You also can attend a faculty member’s studio class, if offered. Most yoga school teachers are happy to answer your questions about their programs. Speaking to them directly and taking a class helps you get a feel for the studio and your potential fit with the faculty and yoga teacher training program.
If you plan to teach, it’s advisable to choose a Registered Yoga School from the Yoga Alliance website (www.yogaalliance.org) since most studios and gyms require teachers to have RYT certification. Ronstadt’s perspective is that “when making this decision that is a huge physical, emotional, and financial commitment, both sides must feel comfortable and safe, as well as have a clear understanding of what’s being offered and expected.”
Revisit the investment in yoga teacher training
Although I mentioned cost as a criteria for assessing options, it warrants a deeper look. For those working full-time at Arizona’s $11 per hour minimum wage, a 200 hour yoga teacher training program will cost more than a month’s worth of wages.
At the time of writing, prices for 200 hour yoga teacher training in southern Arizona range from $2,250 if paid in full up-front to $3,200. Two schools offer scholarships or work study opportunities, and several more offer payment plans.
If you plan to teach and register with Yoga Alliance, your investment is not done when you complete your yoga teacher training program. Currently, you are required to complete 30 hours of yoga-related continuing education training every three years. At least 10 of those must be contact hours in the physical presence of a qualified Continuing Education Provider. Workshops vary in length, number of CEUs offered, and cost. Recent offerings in southern Arizona ranged from $160 to $1,200.
You also will need to carry liability insurance if you plan to teach. The cost is $130-$200 per year, depending on the coverage selected.
A yoga teacher training program matched to your needs can be a life-changing experience of self-discovery and development. Only you can decide if the investment is in line with your goals.
Consider outcomes if you plan to teach
As of this writing, Yoga Alliance shows 1042 registered yoga teachers in the Tucson and Phoenix metropolitan areas. The list does not indicate how many currently teach in studios or offer private instruction. However, as is the case nationally, the number of students receiving 200-hour certification continues to grow. In other words, there is competition for teaching slots.
Teaching group yoga classes will not replace a corporate salary…and maybe not even that of a full-time, minimum wage job. According to payscale.com, the median wage for a yoga instructor in the United States is $25.07 per hour. You would need to teach 18 one-hour group classes per week at that rate to better an $11 per hour full-time job.
In addition, most studios engage yoga teachers as independent contractors, which means no guaranteed hours or paid time off. Teachers also are not paid for time traveling between class locations, promoting classes, or building rapport with students after class.
It is not surprising that the 2016 Yoga In America Study found that 67% of yoga teachers surveyed worked fewer than 10 hours per week as a yoga teacher, and only 29% cited yoga as their primary source of income.
If your dream is to teach full-time, approach that goal with your eyes open. After completing a 200-hour yoga teacher training, you will need to teach group classes at least part-time to gain experience and build up a following. Once you have advanced your teaching skills, you will need to leverage your entrepreneurial spirit. Marketing yourself and teaching private sessions, workshops and special events, and even on-line yoga classes can help you make the full-time teaching gig a reality.