When I enrolled in my 200-hour yoga teacher training program two years ago, I didn’t put much thought into it. I knew I wanted to study yoga, so I did some research on the best programs in Toronto, called Downward Dog Yoga Centre, and as fate would have it, the program was starting that day—within the hour, actually. The decision was totally divinely inspired, so I didn’t overthink it, I just went along with the flow.
Looking back, I didn’t want to enroll in a program to be trained as a teacher, per se. I just wanted to expand my knowledge, develop my own practice, and learn more about spirituality in a way that wasn’t as solitary as reading or watching videos alone.
I dabbled with teaching yoga for a couple of years, but I ultimately decided that it wasn’t for me. In my TT program, we learned about every aspect of yoga—spiritual, philosophical, and historical—and I felt that I was personally more aligned with the mental and spiritual aspects of the tradition. I still love the movement side for myself, but I learned that facilitating movement classes wasn’t the best way I could put my skills to use.
Even though I don’t teach yoga now, I’m still so glad I did the program. It felt irrational at the time to be spending so much money on something I wasn’t sure I was going to do as a career, but I can see now that it was a key element of my journey.
Above all, yoga is a spiritual tradition and a lifestyle, but I think this message gets lost easily in our culture because we’re so over-identified with our bodies. We tend to see it as a means to get fit, tone up, or de-stress, and it is all of these things, but it’s also so much more. It’s about connecting with the divine and coming back to your spirit, and all the poses and postures are designed to help us purify the body so we can sit in meditation and focus on truth.
If you’re pulled to study yoga (which you probably are if you’re reading this post!) I would say go for it. You’ll never regret doing anything that expands your spirit, improves your health, or brings you back to yourself, and a yoga TT program is a great way to do all of these things and more. In fact, I wish I could go back and do my program again. Before you make a decision, keep these suggestions in mind when searching for the right program for you:
Consider whether you would rather enroll in an intensive or extended program. Most yoga schools offer programs in either a part-time, weekend format (in my case, it was every second weekend) or intensive format (everything is crammed into a two or three-week period). I ended up enrolling in a weekend format program, and I felt like it really gave me a chance to integrate all the teachings over an extended period of time. However, you may find that an intensive program fits with your schedule, or maybe you’re the type of learner who thrives through immersion. This is definitely something to think about when choosing a program, so be sure to keep in mind that there are plenty of options to choose from.
Determine whether you want to go abroad or stay at home for your program. I stayed at home for my TT program, but if I had had the funds at the time, I think I would have chosen to go abroad for an intensive program somewhere beautiful. Going abroad will definitely add a few digits to your TT price tag, but I think if you have the means, it’s so worth it. I already felt like I was on cloud nine going to yoga school all day, so I can’t imagine how it would have felt immersing myself in the practice in a location like Costa Rica or Hawaii.
Think about the style of yoga you want to study. If you’ve been practicing yoga for any amount of time, you probably know which style resonates with you the most. Whether you choose to study hatha, ashtanga, kundalini, or another tradition of yoga, each path has its own virtues and will connect with you in a different way. Even if you’ve been practicing a certain style of yoga forever, you may still want to do some research on other paths. When I enrolled in my program, I don’t even think I knew what ashtanga vinyasa yoga was, but as a more active, athletic style, it ended up being perfect for me. If I were to enroll in another TT program, I would definitely try kundalini next because I love all the mantras, music, and magic of this style of yoga.
Check out the energy of the studio before you enroll. Obviously, I didn’t do this, but it ended up being a perfect fit anyway, which was super lucky. However, if you’re planning ahead and you want to make sure you make the right decision, I would say it’s essential to check out the energy of the studio and the teachers who work there before you enroll in their TT program. I think it’s important to feel aligned with a school’s values and teachings if you’re going to study there, so pop in for a class or a visit before you commit to anything.
Think about why you want to study yoga. Again, I really didn’t follow my own advice when I enrolled in a program—I just took a leap of faith and it seemed to work out. In hindsight, though, it would have helped if I had admitted to myself what my real aim was in studying yoga. I wanted to learn more for myself and my writing, but I somehow got wrapped up in thinking I should teach yoga, even though I didn’t really want to. If you want to take a TT program just for yourself or for another aim besides teaching, consider this your permission slip. It’s so worth it, and when you work on yourself, you actually do more for the world around you than you know.
Are you thinking of enrolling in a yoga teacher training program? What’s holding you back?
P.S., read this post on how to be a lifelong learner next!