Over the years, one of the topics I’ve been asked about most consistently is yoga teacher training. I’ve received questions on everything from “am I ready?” to “how do I pick a program?” to “what should I expect?” and more.
Given that I now co-lead twice yearly 200-hour yoga teacher trainings and play a part in the day-to-day operation of a yoga studio, I think it’s about time that I dedicated a post to yoga teacher training!
Buckle up…I have a lot of information and thoughts to share! I’m going to address the information in a Q&A type format for ease of reading.
What is a 200-hour yoga teacher training program?
First, let’s address exactly what a 200-hour yoga teacher training is. You spend 200 hours learning about the following topics with experienced teachers/trainers who run a Registered Yoga School (RYS) through Yoga Alliance.
- Techniques, Training and Practice
- Teaching Methodology
- Anatomy & Physiology
- Yoga Philosophy/Ethics/Lifestyle
180 of those hours must be “contact hours,” meaning they are done in the presence of your teacher/trainer. The remaining 20 can be completed through things like observation, homework, book reports, etc.
The idea is that when you graduate, you are ready to teach a class to a general adult population. Note, if you want to teach kid’s, seniors, prenatal or a specific style/audience you’ll probably need to do more training (a weekend certification might work for this versus another 200-hour).
What is the schedule/flow of the trainings? How do you fit in 200-hours?
At our studio we offer two trainings per year. Our winter training takes place over the course of four months in 8 weekend sessions and our summer training takes place over the course of three months in 5 weekend sessions. For most studios that offer weekend programming like this, you can expect to have an evening session on Thursday or Friday night (depending how early your weekend starts) and then all day sessions on Friday (if it’s a 3-day weekend)/Saturday/Sunday with plenty of time built in for breaks for showers/food/etc. The weekends are long, immersive and draining at times but also so wonderful, rewarding and fulfilling. I definitely recommend bringing things like jackets/blankets/wraps, bolsters, snacks, etc. to make your days more comfortable.
I have also seen 200-hour trainings offered as retreats where you do a 2-3 week immersion and you’re done. Asheville Yoga Center does a ton of these, you can read about them on their website.
I personally prefer to stretch it out over a few months because there is just SO much information you’re learning and relationships you’re developing that it’s nice to have more time to nurture all of it.
What will we be doing during training? Will I be practicing the whole time?
I find training weekends to be a nice mix of movement and lecture/talking. Yes, you will practice a lot of yoga (in both taking classes and teaching each other) but you’ll also do a lot of sitting and listening/discussion as well.
Here are some of the things you might do regularly during your 200-hour training:
- Daily class/practice together
- Learn about the history of yoga
- Discuss the Yoga Sutras
- Learn about the yamas, niyamas, chakras, vayus, koshas, etc.
- Anatomy lectures
- Yoga class sequencing deep dives
- Learn how to provide different types of assists
- Brush up on your posture alignment, engagement and how to cue postures effectively to others
- Practice teaching in small groups
- Personal development exercises
- Book discussions
- Learn about the business of yoga, running a studio, finding teaching jobs, etc
And much more! Hopefully this gives you a good idea.
Will I have reading and homework?
Most likely yes but it should be manageable. I usually see most TT programs assign anywhere from 3-6 required reading books and 5-10 optional reading books. Some of them are more reference books than books you have to sit down and read from cover to cover. You may also have homework such as reading and writing book reports, writing class sequences, assisting or observing classes, etc. Again, it shouldn’t be too overwhelming and if the extra work is something that concerns you, be sure to get a clear picture of what’s required before TT.
Tip: if you find yourself short on reading time, audio books are SO helpful!
That sounds like a lot. How will I fit that in with my already packed work life/personal life?
I don’t know how else to say this but you just do. Teacher training becomes your new normal you figure it out. I think it’s important to have support from your partner if you’re in a relationship because they will definitely feel the effects of training. If you’re dating, they’ll have to understand that you might be unavailable or just too wiped out on training weekends to do much. If you’re married, they might have to do a little more of the heavy lifting when it comes to cooking/cleaning/house stuff on training weekends. If you have children, I think it’s even more essential to be sure your partner is on board because you will definitely have to work together to be sure everything is taken care of. Rest assured that we have had MANY moms with children ages 12 months to teenagers complete our trainings so it is possible. You’ll just need good support.
And as far as work goes, if you feel comfortable let your supervisor know that you’re doing yoga teacher training. Not as any excuse to why your work might be compromised as a result (it won’t be!) but just so they know what’s on your plate in this season of life. If you usually work late nights or weekends, you’ll definitely want to make sure that you run the dates by your supervisor so you’re all clear on your availability up front.
When I completed teacher training I was working full-time in advertising and teaching group exercise on the side. It was a lot to negotiate but not overly stressful. I loved the TT experience SO much that I was willing to figure it out.
There will never be a “perfect” time. Start before you’re ready.
How do I choose a 200-hour yoga teacher training program?
I recommend using Yoga Alliance as a resource for searching for Registered Yoga Schools. Once you’ve made a list of programs that interest you, I think it’s important to do your homework/research to make sure you’re getting what you’re looking for. Be sure to practice at the studio so that you can get a feel for the vibe of the studio/style. Speak to the teachers who will be leading the training and ask any questions you might have. Talk to past graduates to hear about their experience.
How much does teacher training cost?
The tuition for most 200-hour yoga teacher training programs through Registered Yoga Schools is between $2,000-$3,500 with the average being somewhere around $2,700-$3,000.
Trust me, I know this is a lot of money and I remember going round and round with how I could possibly pay for it when I was contemplating TT. Most studios offer early bird specials and payment plans, so be sure to ask about that. We even offer a scholarship each training where we award 50% off tuition to one TT needing assistance so be sure to ask about that as well.
I would love to do yoga teacher training more as a way to really learn about the practice of yoga, improve my form, establish a routine practice and strengthen my sense of community in the yoga world. I do not, however, think that I will actually want to teach yoga. I am really not sure whether it makes sense to do the teacher training if I do not actually want to teach. Do you have any thoughts on this?
Personally, I 100% believe that if yoga teacher training is something that is speaking to you, you should GO FOR IT!
Yoga teacher training is about so much more than just teaching yoga. It’s a radical journey of deepening your knowledge of the practice and yourself. We always have people who go through our training that have no desire to teach. I will say that many of them find at the end that they do want to teach but not everyone wants to teach in the same way. Teaching doesn’t have to be the traditional studio path. We’ve had past grads end up teaching in schools, homeless shelters, prisons, corporate offices, etc. There are so many ways to serve through yoga.
I have been practicing yoga for 9 months only. Is it long enough to do teacher training?
I have seen some schools require “x” amount of years of yoga practice in order to enroll but at our studio, we leave it up to the student to decide when they’re ready. For some that’s 9 months into practice. The bug bites hard, they feel things changing and they want to understand more about it and immerse themselves in all things yoga. Others might be comfortable as students for years and then decide 5, 10, 15 years in that they want to do a training.
I always like to remind people that 200-hour yoga teacher trainings are repeatable. Just because you’ve done one doesn’t mean that you’ve learned it all. You could easily enroll in another 200-hour program down the road with a different teacher/focus and get a totally different experience. Don’t feel like it’s a one and done thing. Keep your options open!
There are also 300-hour programs to pursue after you complete your 200-hour as well. I like to think of those as the “grad school” of yoga.
But seriously, don’t stress if you feel like you’re not “advanced” enough. Trust me, you do not have to be able to do headstands/handstands/crazy arm balances/splits/whatever to do yoga teacher training. We always have a variety of practice levels in training and it all works out perfectly.
All that said, you might want to hold off on teacher training until you’ve established a practice and know it’s something you’re interested in. It’s not a, “I really want to get into yoga so I’m going to do teacher training” kind of thing! 🙂
I am 49 years old. Am I too old?
In our teacher training programs, we have had participants as young as 16 and as old as mid-60’s and everywhere in between. We’ve had stay at home moms, college students, retirees, 20-somethings, new moms…you name it. The most amazing thing is to see these seemingly diverse people come together and realize that they have so much in common and so much to share with each other, regardless of age.
You are not too ANYTHING to sign up for teacher training. You are ready as you are today.
I think that’s a good start! I’m more than happy to answer any additional questions or even to write a part two of this post if I get enough interest/questions/thirst for more info. Seriously, any questions you guys have…send them to me. I’m an open book and happy to answer openly and honestly.
Do you have any other questions about 200-hour yoga teacher training?
For those of you who have completed your 200-hour, it would be SO helpful for those reading this post if you could share a little about your experience. How did you make the decision to do it? What held you back? What was your biggest takeaway from it? What advice do you have for others considering TT? What do you wish you would have known going in?
More yoga posts?