11 Important Questions to Ask Before Choosing Your Yoga Instructor Course

Congrats! Embarking on a yoga teacher training course will absolutely change your life, and that’s why it’s so important to choose the right yoga instructor course for YOU. I have personally taken a handful of yoga teacher training courses that have ranged from really freakin’ awesome to ugh… what a waste of money, time, etc. I want to make sure you find the yoga instructor course that works best for you, your needs, your lifestyle, and your practice.

Here are eleven questions you should definitely ask any yoga school before signing on the dotted line.

1.) Is the yoga instructor course registered with the Yoga Alliance?

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Yoga Alliance provides the minimum standard for which a Yoga Alliance registered yoga teacher training must meet. The Yoga Alliance outlines a minimum number of hours to be spent on each topic: philosophy, anatomy, practicum, methodology, etc.

I’ve heard horror stories where yoga instructors were duped into taking a yoga instructor course not registered with the Yoga Alliance and their teacher training fell way short.

While Yoga Alliance isn’t a perfect organization, it does provide a bit of necessary accountability to instructors leading yoga teacher training courses.

2.) Who are the lead yoga instructors? What’s their experience? What style(s) do they teach?

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You will spend a LOT of time with your yoga instructors and your fellow yoga teacher trainees. I recommend chatting with the lead instructors before the teacher training begins. Find out what the lead yoga instructors are passionate about. What do they love to teach?

If possible, you should take a class with the instructor before the teacher training. Do you actually enjoy their class? Would you like to teach the way they teach? Some instructors will invite you take a class with them at a local studio or give you a video link to preview. Familiarize yourself with their teaching style and explore other styles too.

What type of yoga will you be learning? Vinyasa? Iyengar? Bikram? Ashtanga? Restorative? Yin? Hatha? Integral? Kundalini? Make sure their teachings align with what you want to learn AND with what you want to teach.

3.) Where is your yoga teacher training course located?

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Will the training be in your home town or abroad? Is the training held at a yoga studio, retreat center, or conference room? Will all of your class sessions be in the same place? Are portions of your teacher training done online?

What time of year is the yoga instructor course? Is it in the summer or winter? Is it during rainy season or dry season? I personally wouldn’t throw out a yoga teacher training course just because it was in the off season… you’re doing yoga and learning the whole time anyway, but if it’s important to you, then take note.

4.) What are the expenses associated with your yoga instructor course?

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Typical 200 hour yoga teacher trainings cost between $2300 and $4500 USD. Sometimes these trainings are all inclusive, other times it’s just the training that is included.

There are often additional expenses associated with yoga teacher trainings. Examples of additional expenses include: books, manuals, private lessons for missed hours and registration with the Yoga Alliance.

If the yoga teacher training course isn’t in your home town, then you will also need to factor inĀ accommodation, meals, and possibly flights.

5.) What is not included in the training?

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Make sure you know exactly what is included and what is not included in your yoga teacher training.

Also, note that your registration as a Yoga Alliance registered yoga instructor is typically not included in your course fees. The Yoga Alliance registration isn’t much, so don’t let that deter you from becoming a yoga instructor.

Books are often not included either…. which is a good thing. You can often find used copies for cheaper online on Amazon or similar.

If it’s a destination yoga teacher training, then accommodation and meals are frequently included, but not always. You might as well double check.

6.) How many teacher trainees do they accept?

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There are benefits to both larger and smaller yoga teacher trainings. In larger groups you have an opportunity to connect with more like minded people and see more bodies in their yoga practice. In a smaller group you will receive more one-on-one time from your instructors, develop closer relationships with your classmates and have more time to practice teaching yoga. What do you value most? Choose accordingly.

7.) How long will it take to become certified? What is required to receive certification?

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Some yoga teacher trainings are done in an intensive format, typically around three weeks long, others are spread out over a few months or even a year. All formats have their benefits. In an intensive you are fully immersed in the yoga lifestyle. In a longer training you have more time to integrate between sessions.

Are there any additional papers or online classes that you will need to complete before you receive your certification? I didn’t look into this for my 300 hour yoga teacher training and I realized that I was going to have to essentially write a masters thesis to receive my certificate. Whoops! I learned my lesson.

You will also likely be required to attend a certain percentage of class hours to reach the minimum requirement set out by Yoga Alliance. The lead instructors for your yoga course will also have their own standards of attendance.

8.) What’s their policy on attendance, cancellation, etc.?

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Each yoga teacher training course will have different policies regarding attendance, cancellations, etc. Some teacher trainings allow you to make up time with private sessions (usually at a cost), extra book reports, or self study.

Know the yoga teacher training course’s policies. If you know the policies then you won’t be surprised when something does come up.

9.) How much yoga experience is required to participate?

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Many yoga teacher training courses require you to have a minimum number of years or hours of practice under your belt. Some yoga instructor courses are more flexible on this requirement and some are more strict.

A few courses may even require that you practice at their studio for a certain number of hours/months/years before acceptance into their yoga instructor course.

10.) Will the program teach you how to modify for those with injuries? How to teach beginners? How to teach all levels?

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No matter where you end up teaching after taking a yoga teacher training course, you will end up with beginners in your classes and you will end up having people with injuries in class too. It’s important, from a safety standpoint, to be able to teach both of these populations.

11.) What are the yoga instructors passionate about teaching? How do they teach?

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Are the instructors passionate about teaching anatomy? Are they passionate about story telling, theme-ing, philosophy? Do they teach from their mat? Do they walk around the room? Do they demo? Do they use their hands? Do they use their voice to speed class up or slow things down? Do they teach pranayama and meditation? Do they teach the business of yoga?

You should find out as much as you can! It’s okay to ask to see their syllabus too. You’re paying good money to enroll in their training, so they should be happy to answer your questions.

I hope this blog post helps clear up some of your questions. I also recommend that you reach out to your yoga instructors in your community and ask them about their experience with teacher trainings. In hindsight, what would they have done differently?

If you’ve read this far, you might be interested in checking out the Ambuja Yoga 240 hr. Intensive Yoga Teacher Training held in Bend, Oregon in August 2018. As always, Toni and I are happy to answer your questions.

Have you already completed a yoga teacher training course? If yes, please share your experience below.

Love and Light,

Autumn