Happy 2020! Not only is it a brand new year, but it's also a brand new decade. Along with this new cycle around the sun come plans for new endeavors, projects, activities and practices. For me, one of my endeavors for 2020 is starting a new chapter in my yogic studies: I enrolled in a 300-hour advanced Yoga Teacher Training at Asheville Yoga Center and I'm attending my first training module today! Over the weekend I'll be immersed in studying one of the sacred yogic texts called the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Thinking back to when I first started practicing yoga 10 years ago, and I reminisce on how I was a complete beginner--just we all were at some point. Besides the major milestone of showing up to a yoga class for my first time, I reminisce on my first major "aha" moment in my practice: the more I came to yoga and practiced the more things kind of shifted in my body and in my mind. I also noticed that the more I practiced, the more questions I had about what exactly yoga is; Why does yoga make me feel better? How does yoga work? Where did yoga come from? Who came up with yoga? Why is yoga called "yoga"? Are there different types of yoga? Why do we do these different things with our breath? Why is everything in another language? How do I learn more about yoga?
One big question that kept showing up for me was how do I become a yoga teacher? However, we'll explore yoga teacher training for the person who wants to teach in February's newsletter. Let's dive into why attending yoga teacher training is still a good idea even if you don't want to be a yoga teacher.
If you find yourself nodding in agreement to all the questions I found myself asking, well, myself--and my teachers and the internet--when I was still a new student with 1-3 years of somewhat consistent practice, and you want to learn how to lead yourself in practice at home, you are a good candidate for yoga teacher training.
Lovingly called "YTT," Yoga Teacher Training is typically a minimum 200-hour certification program that immerses students into a basic understanding of the philosophies, history, lifestyle and practices of yoga, while also establishing a foundation for how to structure and sequence a yoga asana class. In other words, YTT answers the general "who, what, where, when, why and how?" of yoga, plus teaches you the basics on how to lead a class--and yourself--through practice. So, for yoga students that don't want to teach, but want to learn more about yoga and want to establish a home practice, YTT is a very valuable experience.
The beauty of attending YTT is that you get to be in a group with other like-minded students who are ready to go deeper into the practice, plus you have access to experienced, seasoned, knowledgeable teachers that are able to answer your questions about yoga. In my personal experience, the YTT program I attended required students to have a minimum 2 years of regular practice to be eligible for the program, so we were all at about the same level of ability, experience and curiosity.
When choosing a YTT, do your research! While most yoga studios offer 200-hr YTT programs that are required to include so many hours of various topics in their training curriculum as mandated by a certifying organization called Yoga Alliance, not all YTT programs are the same. Some programs are geared more toward preparing YTT grads to be able to lead a specific style of yoga, such as Hot-26 Yoga, Baptiste Power Yoga or Buti Yoga. Some programs a geared more toward preparing YTT grads not only to be able to lead a class but to have a foundation for how to live a more yogic lifestyle and establish a home practice.
Most YTTs will cost $2,500-$4,000. Some, such as the YTT I attended, go beyond the minimum 200 hours to expand upon the basic curriculum. There are programs that are 30-day intensives, while other programs are 3-6 month immersions--I attended a 6-month immersion. Some programs are destination YTTs held at international locations. Some YTTs are not a part of Yoga Alliance at all and create their own curriculum based on other standards, such as a number of Ashrams in India. One program might accommodate larger groups of 20-30 students while another program might have a cap of 10 students, such as the YTT I'm on the teaching faculty at Kali Yuga Yoga. All programs will require you to complete so many practice teaching hours, and some programs, such as the YTT I attended, will have other requirements such as establishing a home practice and keeping a daily practice journal to submit at the end of your program.
While all the options may feel overwhelming, knowing that you're not intending to lead group yoga classes is one major criteria that can help you in narrowing down what YTT programs may be a good fit for you. Beyond that, start talking to the YTT faculty at your local yoga studios and email other regional, national or international programs that resonate with you and what you'd like to learn in order to become a wiser student and develop your home practice.
Next month we'll dive into "Yoga Teacher Training For The Person That Wants To Teach" and explore how to choose a program that's best for you intention to lead others in practice!
Now the practice of yoga begins
~The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (1.1)