The “Why yoga teacher training?” Question
When you ask someone, “Why yoga teacher training?” The answer is pretty much always a variation on 1 of 3 things:
- I’m so in love with the practice, I feel compelled to share this with others and teaching is the best pathway for doing this.
- I want to be of service to others. Teaching yoga is my way of helping others.
Teaching yoga has become incredibly popular in the U.S. There are over 5300 yoga teacher training programs in the United States alone according to Yoga Alliance. And it’s become the norm for yoga studios to offer teacher training a few times a year. Plus, there are intensive trainings all over the world where in 3-4 weeks, you can become 200-hour certified.
Becoming a yoga instructor sounds like a dream job. It promises freedom, meaningful interactions, fun, and a downright lyrical existence, right? Yoga teachers have an opportunity to inspire students to take themselves on in profound ways. You can travel, teach at resorts and participate in programs such as Yoga Trade where you teach in an exotic locale in exchange for lodging and food. If you’re able to teach full-time, you get to abandon the 9-5 grind and a desk, exchanging it for a wardrobe of bare feet and tank-tops and a variety of locations daily. And you get the chance to meaningfully connect with other people and offer positive messages. That’s legitimately one of the most lovely things about this gig.
It’s really not at all surprising why it’s so appealing to so many. And in the yoga world, more and more students are on that path, some after only a few months of practice.
Let’s dig a little deeper. Upon further reflection, many of us may come to understand there are lots of other reasons that factor into the decision to teach yoga. I’ve been long fascinated by this phenomenon, so very intrigued by the why yoga teacher training question. My interest led me to write a novel about it called Yoga Train. So many of us are attracted to living the life of a yoga teacher, but are the reasons above truly the driving force behind what makes us want to teach?
I’ve interviewed over 100 yoga teachers and students in the process of their own yoga teacher training to get to the heart of the underlying logic that lead each of them to ask the question why yoga teacher training?
The main reasons listed above were where most of them began. Upon further consideration, these were some of the additional reflections offered:
- It was the first thing they ever felt they were good at. This is powerful. It’s no fun to walk around feeling like you have nothing special about you, and no real skills to offer.
- It seems glamorous, and it really kind of is. Candles, intense and sensual music, moody lighting, aromatherapy, and the offering of profound insights and dance-like flows that give students the feeling of floating once class concludes is very sexy. The work wardrobe can’t be beat, and tattoos and piercings are appreciated. It’s a beguiling dream to give up the office job. It feels like a much freer way to go about life than selling insurance or technical writing.
- Many truly revere their teachers, putting them on pedestals and developing a bit of hero worship in their direction. And they want others to feel that way about them too. It’s human and it makes sense to want the respect and admiration of others.
- It’s meaningful to them and they want to spend their time doing something that matters.
- They get to do it their way. The teacher chooses the music, the vibe, the theme, the sequence. You have a captive audience for 60-90 minutes and get the chance to offer a class exactly as you want it to be. This feeds anyone who has even a little bit if a control freak living inside of them (so yeah, everyone).
- I really appreciated the perspective of one young teacher I interviewed. She was very clear that she loves attention, and this was the perfect avenue for her to make sure she got enough.
- Several people said they went through yoga teacher training to help them find their public speaking voice and to move past the fear of speaking in front of others.
- This one is big. Most people do not have jobs where they get to meet new people every day. It’s a joy to help others find moments of happiness for themselves. Offering nurture in the form of words, environment, and touch is a wonderful way to move through life.
So yes, teaching yoga is pretty damn wonderful. And it makes a lot of sense why so many students decide they just must teach. But the education a 200- hour program offers is just the beginning of what needs to be a life-long education if teaching yoga is a choice you’ve made or plan to make. Along with all the alluring qualities teaching yoga offers is a great deal of responsibility.
Yoga teachers need to be knowledgeable, offer correct and effective cueing, hold space for others, and offer safe modifications so every student can participate. There is a great deal to know, and it doesn’t matter how many years of teaching you have under your belt. The learning process never ever ends.