The best yoga teacher training

There is no doubt that there are oodles of yoga teacher trainings out there, everywhere in the world. It seems like every little tiny village has them. Where there is yoga, there is a 200hr yoga teacher training program. And that’s not a bad thing. More yoga teachers, more yoga, and more teacher trainings, then even more yoga. 

After completing a few yoga teacher training programs, more hours of taking workshops with great teachers, and leading my own teacher trainings, I recently realized something; it’s not which 200hr program you take. It’s what you do after any teacher trainings. Trust me, I’ve taken some super famous yoga teacher’s trainings, only to be completely disappointed with the lack of his presence in the actual training (things were mostly taught by his “master” level teachers, not himself) and I’ve also taken some great trainings with yoga teachers who have less than 300 followers on Instagram. The question we should all be asking is not which 200hr program you should take, but rather, what do you do after?

I believe that one of the most important things I’ve had as a young yoga teacher back then and even now is this network of absolutely brilliant, generous teachers who supported me constantly from the very beginning. They did it by being available. They gave me space to teach, opportunities to experiment, letting me ponder my questions by asking more questions, and they told me never to stop teaching even if I doubted myself a thousand times. And with a million trainings being available all over the world, that kind of old school mentoring is disappearing because teachers are too busy teaching the next teacher trainings. 

But my friends, I did not come to where I am now by taking gazillion trainings (which I did) but it’s because of these teachers who mentored me. Some only a few months, some only by texts, and even some, I owe my entire career to them. I was so very lucky to have that kind of support and I know that I still have that support. And the most important thing I learned is, to teach and teach, then teach some more and teach again. 

I always tell this story towards the end of my trainings. When I first started teaching, I had lost my day job and I told the studio owner and my teacher that I would be coming to classes a lot more because I lost my job. Then she offered me a job at the studio being a receptionist. It was a dream come true. Ever since then, every subbing opportunities I got, I took it. Soon, I was teaching more than 20 classes per week. Then one of the teachers at the studio couldn’t teach for a while so I was offered to take those classes. I had regular classes and I was so happy to take them. But then, what was 20-student minimum class became a three-student class in one week. Then, those three students became one student, then zero. I had many weeks with no one showing up to my classes. My class time slots were right after my teacher’s popular classes that had easily 30 students. So with my head down, I would quietly pass by what felt like a thousand students to prepare for my class. I remember my teacher’s classes made the room always so humid, warm and a little messy on the prop shelf. As I hear her students walk down the stairs, eventually the whole building would come to an absolute silence. Three minutes before the class, I hear footsteps coming up. My heart would skip a little but then the footsteps disappear. 10 minutes after the class was supposed to start, I would call my boyfriend at the time and tell him to pick me up earlier because no one showed up. 

This lasted for at least six months in a city full of yoga teachers that are at least five years senior than me. I’m not sure how I didn’t get fired. The studio owner’s generosity kept me as a yoga teacher, quite literally. But then, one student started coming to my class. The same time, same place, twice a week. He would show up again and again. He didn’t say much and my classes at the time were less than graceful. Maybe the time was perfect for him. Maybe the location was convenient for him. But he kept coming for weeks and months. Then more students started coming. Slowly but surely, people came to my classes. Mind you, there were a lot of three to five-student classes for months. During these times I taught small group classes, I learned so much. I learned how to touch people, I learned using different words to cue, I learned how to flow right, I learned when to encourage strength and when to soften. I learned how to use my voice. I learned how to teach beginners to experienced students all at the same time. Then I practiced. I went to my teachers’ classes, I practiced on my own, I practiced cueing all by myself when no one was around. I learned how to stand in front of people, be in the silence, together with my students. I learned to stay, I learned to move on. In those early days of my teaching career with a handful of patient and generous students, I learned so much. It was such a fertile ground for me. It was a time-consuming, slow and patient process. 

So, it is in this experience, I believe, that the real path of yoga teacher gets carved out. It is not in the mere 200hours. It’s in a few months of teaching zero to five students, in the moments of real raw intimacy, exposing yourself of failure, awkwardness, simple imperfection that we start to become a real authentic, impactful and relatable yoga teacher. 

The question is not which yoga teacher training program you choose. The real question is what would you do after the first training. 

About the author: Tomomi

Tomomi

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