1. Where is the course taking place ?
A lot of people choose YTTC's schools due to where they are located. It is quite common for people to take a yoga teacher training in goa or in the mountains to experience those touristic spots for example. Goa satisfies the tourists that prefer the beach, a warm climate and the laid back environment that the Indian state is known for. The mountains, on the other hand, provide a different scenery: a cooler climate and an environment that requests tourists to be more aware of their behaviour, their clothing, etc.
Though it is a must to know which touristic (or non-touristic!) spot we'd personally prefer to be for a month that is definetely not the only information needed to choose a school and a course well. One other thing that we have to look into is the school’s structure. Where is the course offered? In other words: where exactly are we sleeping, eating and living for a whole month? After all the course itself is demanding and India can be a handful. India is known for simply not having the western's standards of comfort, cleaningness and privacy. Usually, westerners that are visiting India for the first time prefer staying in a place that helps them feelling at ease and that is surely advisable if you are taking an intensive training which by itself can be overwhelming. In other words, go for a place where you have your own bathroom, where meals are well prepared and where things are clean! Having an Internet connection to reach family members usually help people feeling supported. However, it's good to consider that it is very good to be offline while deepening our yoga practice.
3. Is the course Certified Internationally?
If you are attending a course in India (and you are not Indian) you should be certain that the course and the certificate they give away are accepted worldwide. After all, people want to be able to teach in their home countries (at least!). One organization that certifies international yoga teacher trainings is Yoga Alliance. However, there are other organizations as well (for example, Yoga Alliance UK ). So, if you want to be able to teach internationally a yoga alliance certified course is a good choice; however, it's good to check if your country values other organizations as well. Sometime, schools do offer courses that are certified by more than one organization for example!
3. Which styles will I practice and which ones will I be able to teach?
There are people that join a YTTC without being aware of the styles that they will practice or of the styles that they will be able to teach after the course. A more common approach of those who are searching for multi style courses is to check the yoga styles that are taught without checking what they are becoming teachers of. Does it seem weird that there's a difference between which styles are practiced during the training and which styles students are certified to teache? Well, it's quite a common practice in India. One good example is when a school offers practices of ashtanga vinyasa in their trainings while they actually certify students to teach only vinyasa flow style (that happens because the later is a style derived from ashtanga vinyasa). A whole lot of courses also offer yin yoga in their practice sessions but do not certify students as a yin yoga teacher! So, be sure which style you want to teach when the course is over and what does the school certifies you to teach... In this way, you can choose with no frustrations.
4. Who’s teaching what in the course I'm attending?
It's quite complicated to choose a course without having practiced with the teacher trainers before. The usual problem is: we rely on the internet for getting any info and that seems not to be enough. We do have to do our best to know the teachers of the schools we are interested in and though it might not be perfect, we should use the tools that we have in hand! Read all of the teachers profiles, check what other students say about them (search for video testimonials, they are far more reliable) and ask for the team’s curriculum. It’s good to know which institutes and schools the teachers attended and for how long they are teaching. Another very important detail is to be sure about who is going to be teaching specifically in your course. Unfortunately, a lot of schools have an army of teachers on their website when actually some are not really teaching in every course. Another quite common frustration is when senior teachers are the face of the school but they are hardly present during a course as well. It's really important to be very straight when questioning the program of a school and the contact-hours that students do spend with each teacher of the school's team. If you are pleased with the information you get and with what previous students are saying about their own experiences in the same course you are interested in… Way to go!
5. How is the program following Yoga Alliance Standards? (If it is!)
People usually trust the school is following yoga alliance standards just because their course is certified by that organization. Unfortunately, though Yoga Alliance tries to regulate the business it can't guarantee the school is actually following its standards. It’s very enlightening to ask each school about their program and how do they try to accommodate their program while also complying with yoga alliance's guidelines. For example, in a 200-hour YTTC, Yoga Alliance requests schools to have:
- 100 hours of Techniques, Training and Practice
- 25 hours of Teaching Methodology
- 20 hours of Anatomy and Physiology
- 30 hours of Yoga Philosophy, Lifestyle and Ethics for Yoga Teachers
- 10 hours of Practicum
That's the amount of hours for each subject; however, those hours are devided in :
- The non-contact hours: These are spent away from the classroom or without the presence of a teacher (for example, homework is a non-contact hour that is counted in the program).
- The contact hours : These are spent in class with a teacher or with the lead teacher of the training. The lead teachers are the ones that are registered with yoga alliance as experienced (E-RYT) and there are also a minium amount of contact hours that should be spent specifically with them. In a 200-hour YTTC students should spend at least 65 hours with a lead teacher while in a 300-hour course, they should spend 135 hours.
Though the amount of time with the lead teachers can be an issue the part of the program that usually fails to comply to Yoga Alliance's standards is the practicum. This part of the training requires each student to be the lead teacher during a class for 5 hours at least. It's important to know that those 5 hours do include the time teacher trainers are giving the student a feedback; however, we can expect that students will have to be a lead teacher of two classes at least... Why is it a potential issue for the school? Not all courses can manage that in a month or so without letting go of other important topics of the program that are a must as well. After all if you have 5 students, there have to teach at least 10 classes in a course. Doesn't it sound a little bit tricky to accommodate once there are bigger groups? Though it is hard, it is not impossible to find schools that do deliver a program that respects all yoga alliance standards: different practicum timings, multiple yoga halls and a commited team of teacher might take good care of it. Ask around and check for yourself: be very direct in your questions and don't be afraid to pick up the phone and ask straight for the coordinator of the course. If you do not hear back clear answers don't even bother with the school's program.
That's it! It's timetaking but really worthwile to deepen your yoga practice in yoga's birthplace! Ready to choose your yoga teacher training in India wisely?