Choosing your Yoga Teacher Training school? Here’s the ten must-ask questions
Price, duration and hours are probably top of your mind, but what are the other key questions to ask yourself before pouring time and money into a Teacher Training course?
by JOY CHARNLEY
1. Do I want a general or tradition-specific course?
If you are already seriously committed to a specific path (Iyengar, Ashtanga, Sivananda, Satyananda etc), it may well make sense for you to pursue that route further and deepen your practice. If, however, you enjoy all sorts of different approaches, do not want to have to teach in a specific style and like the idea of having some freedom to find your own way, a more general training is likely to suit you better.
2. Exactly what is included?
For example, does the course fee include any residentials? Is there a First Aid component? What about other more specialist topics such as Yoga for Pregnancy? Is insurance to teach included? Are teaching assessment fees extra?
3. What is the ethos of the organisation and does it fit with my own values?
Some organisations are not-for-profit, run by volunteers, whereas others are more commercial and it is a question of finding one that you feel happy with. You may for example feel that a bigger, more commercial organisation gives you greater scope and more opportunities for networking, or alternatively you may be more comfortable with a smaller one, where you can know people and be known more easily.
4. Who are the tutors?
Indoor yoga, via Bikram
Attending classes or a retreat with your potential tutors, talking to them and checking them out online will help you get a sense of what they are like and how they teach. You also want to know about their qualifications and experience as teacher trainers. Your class teachers may have views too.
5. How will A+P and Philosophy be delivered and what emphasis is placed on them?
Costa Rica Teacher Training, Anamaya’s Resort
Some courses have one tutor delivering all aspects of the course (which can work well when that person is highly skilled), others bring in specialist tutors as required, for example for A+P and Philosophy. It is worth thinking about which format suits you, your needs, personality and way of learning best and you should also check how many hours are devoted to these subjects.
6. How are students recruited?
Questions you may wish to explore here include: What are the criteria, the minimum entry requirements? How many apply and how many are selected? Are students expected to have done Foundation Course first? Is the course easy to get on but hard to fail?
7. How will I be assessed and who will assess me?
The Yoga Space
The written work may be 100% continuous assessment or may involve some examinations and it is worth knowing which approach is taken. In addition a good course will have experienced external verifiers to check that the level being attained by students is appropriate.
8. How is teaching practice done and assessed?
Students generally find it helpful to have plenty of mini teaching practices, right from the beginning of the course, in order to develop their skills. When it comes to the final teaching practices, there are all sorts of possible approaches and it is worth asking about this: will you be assessed on teaching a few postures to your peers? Will an assessor come and observe you teaching a full class? Will I be expected to teach a class of ‘real’ students? Are the assessors the TT tutors or are they external to and independent from the course? Having an external assessor increases the robustness of the assessment procedure.
9. Can you speak to any former students?
You will probably find glowing testimonials online, but there is nothing to beat talking to former students if you get the chance, to find out what they really thought. They will also be able to tell you what mechanisms (if any) there are for providing feedback on the course – face-to-face, online or paper questionnaire – as this can give some clues to how seriously the organisation takes its course review.
10. What happens after the course?
Heather Neilson Photography
Will I continue to be part of a Yoga community, getting contact with other teachers, access to ongoing training, insurance and further courses? Or does my connection to the organisation stop after the course? Bigger organisations can offer this kind of support and network, whereas it is sometimes harder for smaller Yoga studios to provide the same range and variety.
About the author: Joy Charnley is a yoga teacher and was Chair of Yoga Scotland, the Governing Body for Yoga in Scotland.
Yoga Scotland has a network of around 300 qualified, registered and insured teachers.