Yoga Teacher Training | How to Get the Most out of Your YTT
*An interview with Tam Terry, Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher, B.S., ERYT 500, YACEP
You have been a yoga student for a while and grown to love your yoga practice. After doing the research and asking all the right questions like: Is yoga teacher training for me? How much is yoga teacher training? How to choose a yoga teacher training? You finally decide to take the plunge and join an affordable yoga teacher training course.
As your research has probably shown, yoga teacher training (YTT) isn’t as simple as just signing up with your local yoga studio and paying a registration fee. In order to make the most of your yoga instructor training, you should show up prepared and have a game plan in place for yourself, once you have received your yoga instructor certification. Being prepped ahead of time for both the yoga teacher training experience and what to expect after training commences will set a solid foundation for your yoga teacher career. Tam Terry has taught as a yoga instructor for over sixteen years, and is certified as an Advanced Teacher of Yoga Therapy through Kripalu School of Integrative Yoga Therapy. I had the chance to speak to Tam, where she listed her top tips for having a positive yoga teacher training experience below.
On choosing the best yoga teacher training program for you: Be honest with yourself about what kind of time commitment you can give. Terry notes that what you get in a compressed YTT format will be very different than what you get in a yoga program that takes a longer time. Meaning, that a condensed yoga teacher training weekend course will be a different experience than a YTT program that allows you to learn and practice at a more relaxed pace. Terry says that another component to consider is whether the yoga teacher training course takes place online, in person, or a combination of the two. She says that completing an online yoga teacher training may not offer the full benefits that an in-person YTT does. “You are going to have a completely different experience. In large part, yoga is about creating an experience of connection. There’s an energetic connection between yoga teacher and yogi student. You’re not just memorizing scripts of yoga sequences or guidance. You’re not memorizing yoga poses. There must be a human quality to it.” Whichever option you take, Terry says to be mindful that what you get out of it is correlated with the focus and time you put into it. “Understand that outcome is commensurate with commitment. That’s not just in yoga, but for all of your life.”
On being clear about your goals throughout the yoga teacher training process: Knowing the main reason that you’re going through the yoga teacher training will make your training experience more positive. Terry advises teachers to be clear about their intentions for the course. Is it to deepen your yoga practice, or as an eventual career path? If it’s for a career in yoga, Terry advises to ask plenty of questions at yoga studios you’re considering, before you make the jump. “Studios can’t employ everyone who goes through their trainings,” she says. “The reality of this is, will the studio where you did your yoga teacher training hire you? Look at how many past yogi trainees are on staff, how often the staff turns over, and whether the business grows at a rate that allows entry level teaching opportunities for new graduates.” Knowing your goals ahead of time and asking the right questions will set you up for success early on.
On continuing your yoga instructor education: After the yoga teacher training courses are completed, the learning continues. Terry explains that the next step is a mentorship. This usually takes place at the yoga studio where you completed your yoga instructor training. Terry cautions to ask up front if the mentorship will cost extra. Some yoga studios will charge as much as an additional $2,000 for a three to six-month apprenticeship. Terry explains that apprenticing is a way for a yoga teacher trainer to assist in classes and gain real time experience with students and class dynamics without the pressure of leading the class.
“[Instructing as a new teacher] is a lot of responsibility. One must prepare the class theme and sequence in advance, commit it to memory and deliver it with confidence and skill while moving around the room, knowing that changes may be needed at any time based on participant issues or injuries. Additionally, they must create a safe and inviting classroom environment by holding space for all to feel welcome and safe while manipulating the HVAC, music volume, and the various unexpected things that always arise. It’s really helpful to assist in class and watch a senior teacher do what they do, without the pressure of having to lead yourself,” Terry says.
On taking time to absorb the yoga philosophy and information: Terry advises new yoga teachers to take time to let the knowledge sink in. She notes that they need time to digest the materials, and practice on their family and friends. “The best teaching develops from your own practice,” she says. “For me, I took my time. I’m really glad I did. I apprenticed for a year. I kept assisting, and assisting, and assisting until I felt comfortable enough to step in front of the room.” Allow yourself time to synthesize everything you’ve learned. Understand that completing your yoga training isn’t a finish line to becoming a yoga instructor. It’s the beginning of a lifelong journey.