How to pick a YTT

Picking a yoga teacher training comes with great consideration and can be quite confusing with everything that the yoga community is offering.

Here are some helpful questions to help guide you to the right training, whether it is with Mynah or another school.

Who are your influential yoga teachers? What style of yoga do they teach? Are they offering a training?

When we create a list of all influential yoga teachers that you have come across in your time of practice, it can help you build a better understanding of what you are looking for in a training. Especially if there is a very specific style that they teach or a focus they bring into their classes. Open this conversation with your teacher(s), if they are offering a training, then it could be the answer for you. If they are not offering a training, ask for their advice on which training to do or which training they did themselves.

Do you have a timeline?

If you have a timeline of when you want to finish or the amount of time you can take off, this will also help to narrow the your choices. The introductory yoga teacher training is a total of approximately 200 hours, minimum of 180 hours of contact time is required by Yoga Alliance. The advanced 300 yoga teacher training (must have completed a 200 hour generally) requires a minimum of 270 hours as required by Yoga Alliance.

Some schools will choose to cover these 200 or 300 hours in three ways:

1) Intensive: This is done with days that are back to back with usually 1 day off (depends on the school). Generally speaking, you can expect to start your days early and go into the evening. Whatever the length of the full intensive, the 200 or 300 hours must be completed within that time frame (usually the days start early and go into the evening). As these days are done consecutively, you may have to consider if work / school / responsibilities will allow for you to be away for that time.

2) Spread out: Some trainings will opt to break out the 200 or 300 hours in evenings and/or weekends. Each school is different and will have different programs to address their demographics. As the 200 or 300 hours is broken down in smaller blocks of time, these trainings will usually take a few months to complete. Which works for those who cannot take large blocks of time between 3-4 weeks off. But if you are in a timeline to complete at a certain time, this may be something you need to consider.

3) Spread out with intensive: Other trainings will have the 200 or 300 hours broken down in smaller sections (evenings and / or weekends) with a few days consecutively to finish. This works well for those who have commitments that they cannot step away from but can take a week off.

Should I do an intensive? Spread out? Or spread out with intensive?

We cannot answer that question for you.

Although, you will walk away with the same credentials, each layout offers a very different experience. Each of them equally as beautifully and dependent on what you choose to bring in (vulnerability, dedication, perseverance, curiosity, openness and receptivity to name a few).

Intensives are exactly that, intense. These types of training are nice in fully immersing yourself into the study and to remove life’s distractions to help you go deeper into the studies. Some intensives are held within a city and some are help in retreat / resort settings. City environments can give you the chance to maintain some connection to work, friends and family. Going aboard will take you away from day to day life and most definitely immerse you into living and breathing yoga from the moment you wake up to the moment you sleep. The one thing about intensives that are aboard is that you must also consider flight or gas and food/accommodations which will be an additional cost to the tuition.

Trainings that are spread out are helpful for those who cannot take extended periods of time away from work / home. They are designed to cover the material over the course of several months with some lengthened out to a year. Some trainings choose to spread out over weekends to accommodate for Monday - Friday obligations and some will choose evenings or a combination of the two. You can expect that when you meet, those days will be long and packed in order to satisfy all the requirements. Some people enjoy having the month to digest and some people may find that the time in between is long. This will have to be a question you will answer through self-inquiry if it is important to you or not.

Finally, the trainings that are spilt in spread out and intensive. There are some that will break down their training into modules (ex. 2 weeks in spring, 2 weeks in fall) while some will do a few weekends in the home city and then have a 1 week intensive at the end. There are many different combinations that schools can choose. In this way, a trainee can get the experience of both formats without needing to take one large chunk of time off or dedicating several months into it. There is an added cost for the intensive if it is done aboard that one must consider (flight or gas, food / accommodations).

The best way is gain insight is to ask people in your community who have done training on their experience to help shed insight. And to ask the schools how they will be breaking down the material.

What are your plans post-ytt?

Is your plan to teach immediately after training? Teach eventually at some point? Is it to deepen your knowledge? Or are you not sure at all?

It’s ok if you are not completely clear on the answer but starting to ask yourself the question might help you gain insight into which training you should do.

If teaching or any inkling of teaching is in the prospective future, ask yourself what style(s) would you like to teach? If there is a very specific style that you like teaching, is it a set series? If it is, then doing the set series training is best advised as most studios will want their teachers trained in that set series (though, this is not always a steadfast rule). Set series will narrow down your selection of YTTs.

If you want to teach in a way where every class is different, it is worthwhile to ask the school what style they will be concentrating on for sequencing and perhaps the style of yoga the lead teacher(s) typically teach.

For those who want to take this to deepen their practice and understanding of yoga, just be aware that you will still be expected to teach under most 200 hour YTTs are part of the curriculum. There have also been many cases of those who enter to deepen the practice but do end up teaching themselves.

What’s the deal with yoga alliance?

Yoga Alliance (YA) is an international organization based out of U.S.A that schools can register their courses with as a means to standardize the yoga teacher trainings being offered worldwide. 15 years ago before YA was formed, yoga teacher trainings were not governed and varied greatly from total hours, experience of teacher, topics covered, practicums, practice hours and methodologies. Thus, YA was born and brought in as a way to standardize all trainings to help create an expectation of what a school must teach. Out of that comes the 200 Hour teacher training standards and expectations as set out by YA.

A school that registers with YA has submitted their curriculum for review and approval and will pay a yearly fee to maintain their YA credentials. When a student takes a training from a YA certified school, they have the option of registering themselves through the YA site to become a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) for a fee paid yearly to YA (your name will then be entered into the site and will come up in search results).

Having said all that, different cities, states, provinces and countries may not need your YA certificate and will only need the certificate your school gives you. In the event that you do need your YA certificate, you can always apply into YA at a later date post-graduating 200 hr to obtain the necessary documents. Different studios in cities, states, provinces and countries will ask exclusively for your YA certificate in addition to liability insurance. It must be then forewarned that if your school offering the 200 or 300 hr training is not in the YA directory that they may need to register or renew before you start your training in order for you to have this option available.

There is controversy in schools (and teachers) registering and paying YA, to which the details are neither here or there. Some have chosen not to, and whether or not that is important is completely up to you. Being clear on what your long-term goals are with a YTT under your belt will be helpful in determining whether or not this is important to you. Once you have completed a training with a school that is not credited by YA at the time of your training, you will not be able to receive a YA certificate and will not be grandfathered in by YA even if the school does get certified at a later date. For those who have goals to lead yoga teacher trainings that are YA certified, they must have a YA certified 200 and 300 hour training completed with 2000 hours of teaching hours (Feb 2021 standards).

Do your research

Whenever possible, take classes with the yoga teachers leading the training if you do not know who they are. This will give you a great insight and that gut feeling. If you cannot take classes with them because they are in a different city / country, try to find something online from them (podcast, online class, etc…). Ask your questions to them and review their responses to you.

Ask how many people they expect to be in the training. It’s hard to know for certain the exact number of people that will be in the training but schools will generally be able to provide you with an average. There are some trainings that are hundreds of people, some around 60, and some that are smaller 30 or less. The quality of a training does not always correspond with a teacher : student ratio but you must ask yourself what size would you prefer and to ask the teacher(s) leading how they will cope with that group size. Sometimes, schools will have Teacher Assistants, Guest teachers, Mentors, etc…

As seen in the YA standards, there is wiggle room for what is taught in the curriculum. Do not be afraid to ask a school for more details on what will be covered in their training in philosophy, practicum, anatomy and whatever you may be curious about. For YA certified schools, they will have formally submitted their full curriculum to YA for review and approval. Some schools will be happy to share this with you.

If you can get direct feedback from a graduate from that school, that helps to give you first hand experience. This is tough if you are not in that community but if it is a YA certified school, you can read reviews and even see if there is a way to contact that graduate through the site if they have provided their contact information.