If you’ve been practicing yoga for any amount of time, then chances are you have experienced first-hand the total mind, body and spiritual effects that yoga can have. And when you start to experience the transformational power of yoga, then what follows is often the idea that maybe it’s time to take the next step by investing in a yoga teacher training program.
But how do you know if you’re ready for such an important step in your yoga journey?
Contrary to popular belief, whether or not you should invest in a yoga teacher training program, has nothing to do with how “advanced” you are in your yoga practice.
Big life changes are scary, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe it’s fear of quitting your job to travel the world. Maybe it’s fear of letting go of past relationships that no longer serve you. Or maybe it’s the fear of following your passions and becoming a yoga teacher. Whatever it is, often the fear is the very sign that it’s time for us to dive in to whatever scares us. There will never be a perfect time to get started, so don’t let fear get in your way.
We all have insecurities about our age, our weight, our flexibility, our knowledge… the list goes on and on. But if you remember that there is no such thing as being “good enough” for a yoga teacher training program, then you might find all of the other barriers standing between you and a yoga teacher training program disappear.
Still, deciding whether or not you should invest in a yoga teacher training program is an important decision that warrants careful thought, reflection and meditation.
If you are wondering whether or not you are ready, then these eight questions will help.
8 Questions To Ask Before You Sign Up For A Yoga Teacher Training Program
1. Do you currently have the emotional, physical and mental space in your life?
A yoga teacher training is a massive commitment. And embarking upon your journey to become a certified yoga teacher will take up a lot of your energy — be it emotionally, physically or mentally.
There is a lot to learn about the ancient tradition of yoga, and while you won’t be expected to ‘master’ it all in an introductory class, it’s important to make sure you have the time you need to whole-heartedly learn about the practice.
What’s more, yoga has a way of bringing up past trauma and baggage that we haven’t fully dealt with yet. When these emotions rise to the surface, it can be a very beautiful experience that allows us to fully grow and learn more about our deeper selves. But finally dealing with emotions we have buried deep within is, of course, an emotionally intense process.
If you are trying to balance a yoga teacher training program with a stressful career, busy schedule, time-intensive relationships or other important life responsibilities, then you might find that your yoga practice and teacher training experience suffers.
If you know that you will have difficulty in separating outside responsibilities with a yoga teacher training program, then you could consider an immersion experience.
There are countless 30-day yoga teacher training immersion programs around the world. These programs allow you to step away from your everyday responsibilities and take the much needed time to focus on you and your yoga practice.
What would happen if you stepped away from your job and responsibilities for 30 days to focus on your own well-being?
Immersion experiences are often extremely powerful, and a particularly great option if you desire to pursue a yoga teacher training to deepen your own practice. However, it’s not possible for everyone to retreat for a month.
What’s truly important is that no matter where or how you decide to take a yoga teacher training program, you create a sacred space in your life that is purely for you to focus on your yoga practice.
2. Are you committed?
Yoga teacher trainings are incredibly fun, and you’ll likely walk away from it with some of the most memorable experiences of your life. But teacher trainings are also quite challenging.
When you are embarking on the journey to become a yoga teacher, there will be countless times when you are mentally and emotionally exhausted.
If you have to wake up at 4:30am every morning for meditation, are you going to be up to the challenge? When your struggle to understand the ancient yoga texts, will you keep pursuing knowledge or close the book and walk away?
Only you know why you are considering a yoga teacher training program. One of the easiest ways to stay committed when times get tough is to refocus on your initial goals.
Do you want to become a yoga teacher? Do you want to learn more about the ancient yet ever-evolving practice of yoga? Do you want to deepen your practice and learn more about your true self?
Take time to reflect on why you are thinking about a yoga teacher training in the first place. If you are passionate about these goals, then chances are you will stay committed to them throughout the yoga teacher training program—even when it’s not easy.
3. Are you ready to invest in yourself?
A yoga teacher training program is a serious financial investment, but it is also an investment in your time and energy. Are you ready to take your resources and use them on the most important investment of all…you?
Many yoga students say that the only thing holding them back from a yoga teacher training program is financial abundance. It is true that teacher trainings are expensive. Luckily there are more and more low-cost trainings popping up around the world that are making it easier for yogis of all economic backgrounds to pursue this amazing experience.
But if you do find that the money is continually a block for you, then ask yourself why. Are you using it as an excuse because you are scared of taking the time to learn about yourself? Can you cut back on other expenses to make saving easier?
Many yoga students have made teacher training programs possible by asking for financial support from family and friends; coming up with creative barter arrangements; diligently saving for years; or finding scholarships or other low-cost community oriented programs.
The point is, if you really want to pursue a yoga teacher training program, then you will find a way to make it possible. But if the financial burden is something that keeps coming up, perhaps it is a sign that now is not the best time for you to invest in it.
4. Have you found a studio or yoga program that speaks to you?
All yoga teacher training programs are unique and different. Before you sign up for the first program that looks cool or trendy, it’s important to know if the program aligns with you and your yoga.
That’s not to say that some teacher training programs are better than others; rather, each program will resonate with different people for different reasons.
To know if a teacher training program is right for you, ask yourself what type of yoga you normally practice. What type of yoga do you want to teach? Do you want the program to focus on deepening your knowledge of specific yoga pillars, books, or teachers? Do you want the emphasis to be on deepening your personal practice, or do you want to walk away with very specific skills to lead classes? Who is the instructor, and what are their credentials/motivations for leading the course? Is the program certified by the Yoga Teacher Training Alliance?
It can seem like a lot, but all of these questions will give you better insight on the program and whether or not it is right for you.
When you do find a yoga teacher training program that interests you, take time to first meditate and reflect on the program. Your heart and soul will guide you to the program that’s meant for you.
5. Are you ready and willing to be of service?
In our age of ‘instafamous’ yogis and trendy Lululemon, it seems that just about everyone wants to become a yoga teacher. If you just look at the photos of yogis striking a handstand in gorgeous locations around the world, it can easily look like a fun, glamorous and even easy career.
But one of the most important characteristics of a yoga teacher is the desire to serve others. If becoming a yoga teacher is one of your primary goals for pursuing a yoga teacher training program, then ask yourself if you are ready to serve others on their yoga journeys as well. It will involve continually learning about the ever-evolving practice of yoga. And it should involve leaving your ego at the door in favor of listening to your students and meeting them where they are on their journey.
Teaching can be emotionally draining, but it can also be extremely rewarding. Yet if being a yoga teacher only sounds fun to you if it is on a beach in a tropical location, then you might want to take some time to practice yoga longer before making the investment in becoming a teacher.
6. How long have you been practicing yoga for?
This is a difficult question because there is no right or wrong answer to it. You might only take a few yoga classes and then feel a deep longing to dive in and learn more. Or you might practice yoga for years and years, yet never feel the calling or need to pursue a yoga teacher training certification.
However, if you are new to yoga, it is worth investing in a few trial experiences before diving into a full program.
Consider finding a weekend workshop or a mini-retreat that allows you to immerse yourself in yoga. See if the experience is right for you. The short trial will often let you know if a full-fledged yoga teacher training program is the next step for you right now. If it’s not, continue practicing yoga for a few months and then come back to reevaluate the timing.
7. Do you know that yoga is more than the practice of asana?
When most people think about yoga, the first thing to come to mind are the different postures associated with the practice. But yoga is truly so much more than downward dog or dancer pose.
The practice of yoga actually consists of eight limbs, of which the limb of asana (the postures) is only one. The other seven limbs include:
Yama: Morality and Ethical Standards
Pranayama: Breath Control
Pratyahara: Control or Withdrawal of the Senses
Dharana: Concentration and Inner Awareness
Dhyana: Meditation, or Uninterrupted Flow of Concentration
Samadhi: Union with the Divine (Whatever Divine means to you.)
Don’t feel like you need to master all eight limbs before signing up for a yoga teacher training program.
But are you willing and excited to explore all of the limbs of yoga—or is your only goal of yoga teacher training to leave being able to do a handstand?
8. Are you ready to find your yoga family?
There is something to be said for sharing the experience of a yoga teacher training program with a special group of people. The bond that you will create with these fellow yogis will likely be unlike any other friendships and relationships in your life.
If you’re looking for a community of people who will encourage you in your yoga practice, call you out when your ego is getting in the way, and share your laughter and your tears, then you might find that a yoga teacher training is the perfect way to find that special yoga community.
In the end, the only person that knows whether or not you are ready for a yoga teacher training program… is you. If you feel the calling, then it is your heart and soul telling you that this is the next step for you. There will never be a perfect time to start a yoga teacher training program, so don’t let all of the excuses get in the way of following your true calling. And if nothing else, a teacher training program is an excellent way to learn about yourself on a whole new level — one you certainly won’t be disappointed by.