by Dannah Cahn, Zuna Yoga 200 hour graduate
So you’ve made the decision to take your yoga practice to the next level.
You open your computer and type in “200 hour yoga teacher training,” or even “yoga teacher training bali.” Just like that, your browser window floods with not hundreds but thousands of results, each promising a transformational journey. Smiling faces, white robes, and spiritual buzzwords fill your screen. From personal experience, this stage can be incredibly overwhelming.
Whether you intend to teach yoga or simply want to enrich your personal knowledge, the decision to pursue your 200 hour yoga teacher training is no small step. Give yourself some love for choosing this bold path, and then take some deep belly breaths - because what comes next will require some focused research.
To narrow down your options, it will be helpful to first answer the following questions:
Intensive yoga teacher training or a “non-intensive” yoga teacher training?
Like anything in life, there’s a list of pros and cons to for each route.
An intensive course offers its participants “full immersion”. As the name implies, this format is very intense and challenging. However, the opportunity to completely step outside of your normal routine can be a life-changing experience, allowing you to hit “reset” mentally, physically and spiritually.
A “non-intensive” 200 yoga teacher training (for lack of a better term) is a course that covers the same curriculum but at a much slower pace, usually meeting at weekends over a period of several months. This is a great option for individuals who don’t have the luxury of dropping everything for several weeks and jetting off to an exotic location. Another plus is that it gives students more time to absorb, digest and practice everything they learn. However, all the daily distractions and demands of your normal life are still pulling at you, and your ability to dive deep into practice is limited.
Where do you want to do your yoga teacher training?
This question is mostly relevant to those who decide to go with an intensive style training. 200 hour yoga teacher trainings are offered all over the globe, with a higher concentration in destinations like India, Bali, Thailand and Central America. Is there a location that sets your heart on fire? A place you've been dreaming of going to? Or maybe one that is more convenient for you to travel to?
What style of yoga do you want to study?
This article is far too short to go into depth about each school of yoga and their various differences and philosophies. I encourage you to do this research on your own and don’t just read about it — go to classes, speak with teachers and get a holistic sense of the colorful spectrum that is yoga.
While style is a consideration for choosing a yoga teaching training, it is not a lifetime commitment. Once certified, you are free to teach and practice any type of yoga. For example, getting an Iyengar certificate does not mean you can only teach Iyengar. There is always continued education and the flexibility to transition between different styles. Consider this the foundation of your yogic education rather than a commitment to one school of thought or technique.
What sister disciplines interest you?
While your yoga teacher training will be mostly focused on yoga (asanas, yogic philosophy and teaching methods), the majority of yoga teacher trainings also include a secondary emphasis. This might be Ayurveda, Tantra, Chinese medicine, Thai massage or any number of other subjects.
It is worthwhile to look into these disciplines and see if one really speak to you, as this could be helpful to further refine your search. At the same time, stay open to the possibility that a discipline that doesn’t necessarily strike your fancy could end up opening up to a whole new world for you.
How much do you want to spend?
If you have done any preliminary research before stumbling upon this article, you’ll be aware that yoga teacher trainings can cost a pretty penny. Before you start drooling over the stunning retreat centers in Costa Rica or Bali, do some budgeting and set yourself a realistic boundary for what you are willing to spend. Keep in mind that most trainings will cost you around 3-5K USD without factoring in the flight.
While it is possible to find cheaper trainings, especially in places like India, the tuition cut often comes at expense of quality. Yoga teacher trainings have become a lucrative industry and there are no shortage of people intent on taking advantage of spiritual seekers. Be vigilant with your research and source reliable recommendations to avoid ending up at a second-rate school.
Why are you investing in this training?
Setting intentions and goals from the beginning will help you find the training best suited for you. For example, if you are planning on teaching, you’ll want to find a school that gives you experience teaching your fellow students. Do you want to open a yoga retreat? You might want to study at an intensive style program where you can learn how a retreat style training operates. Even if your goal is just to learn more about yourself, just setting that intention with yourself is good practice.
Factors to consider
Accreditation from the Yoga Alliance
Yoga Alliance® is the largest nonprofit association representing the yoga community. They set certain standards detailing what a yoga training should entail. Students who enroll in a course that meets Yoga Alliance standards will be recognized worldwide. This is an elementary differentiator, but worth noting, especially if you plan on teaching in the future.
The maximum number of students will vary from course to course. A smaller size will offer a more intimate feel but don’t assume that larger courses are lower in quality. Look into the instructor-student ratios before you jump to any conclusions.
Instructors and facilitators
Forget the infinity pool. he humans who lead you through this journey are without a doubt the most important factor of any yoga teacher training. They are your “guides”, and their unique knowledge and style will influence you for years to come.
Do your research. Read what they write about themselves online — the course website, public social media pages, blog etc. While this isn’t a science, it is often possible to get a sense of who a person is by what they choose to share of themselves. Check in with your intuition and notice when something resonates with you. Don’t be afraid to reach out directly, as most will be more than happy to answer questions from potential students.
Reviews and feedback
Read reviews from past students
Individuals who have experienced a program are, unsurprisingly, one of the best ways to source feedback. Look for reviews, especially on third party websites. However, keep in mind that unless you know the writer and their personal history, their recommendation could reflect a different set of needs and desires than yours.
Harness the power of Instagram
If you are anything like me, your Instagram is mostly handstand inspiration, memes and poetry. However, this platform is quickly becoming a powerful tool for research and connection. One way to find trainings is to also hashtags such as (#zunayoga, #ytt200 or #yogateachertrainingbali). And then once you have your eye on a specific program, give them a follow to get a little peek into their day-to-day.
Talking to people you trust is hands down the safest ways to find the right yoga teacher trainings. Ask friends, ask your family, ask around your local yoga studio and yoga community. Once you get the word out, you’ll be surprised how answers will trickle back to you through the grapevine.
Reach out to alumni
When I was looking for a 200 hour yoga teacher training, I found some students tagged in social media posts #zunayoga and reached out with “Hi, I am considering attending Zuna Yoga's 200YTT, I am wondering if you would mind sharing a little bit of your personal experience.”
For this method to be effective, state what you are looking for or ask a specific question in your message so that the unsuspecting stranger will be able to provide value in their response. For example, “I am looking for a more philosophical approach” or “I am looking for an emphasis on anatomy.”
The final step: Practicing acceptance and trust
For me, the search for the perfect yoga teacher training became a little obsessive. At some point — probably around the time I started dreaming about it, and not in a good way — I knew I had to change my mindset.
I realized that nothing is perfect, myself included, and this overzealous perfectionism wasn’t serving me. Committing to my training and letting go of expectations was the first step in what I have no doubt will be a transformational journey. I am very excited to participate in Zuna Yoga’s 200 hour yoga teacher training next month. If you are in the market for a training of this kind, I recommend checking them out.
Already signed up with Zuna Yoga for your training? Awesome! Check out our blog with practical plannign tips on How to Prepare for your Bali YTT