One of my dear friends recently asked me how I chose a yoga teacher training program. I didn’t really put so much thought into it, so I’ve decided to write up my thoughts below about what I wish I had known before.
So you want to teach yoga?
Here’s everything I wish I had considered before deciding on a yoga teacher training program.
Before you sign up for a yoga teacher training or YTT for short, decide why you want to teach yoga.
Do you want to make money / a career out of teaching yoga?
Then I’d recommend a YTT that is part of a larger tradition with a well-known “brand” behind it. It doesn’t have to be a trademarked brand like Jivamukti; Ashtanga and Iyengar are also styles of yoga that are very well-known, is part of a larger community and tradition, and so they function like brands. It’s like going to the Ivy League equivalent of YTT :
Students and studio owners know what you trained in as well as the YTT’s quality.
There is most likely a yoga studio of that style in cities you might want to live in in the future so you can move without worrying about building your teaching reputation and student base from scratch.
If you do go with a YTT that’s part of a chain like Jivamukti, hopefully the chain is growing and needs more yoga teachers trained in its style so you can move into a teaching position at a new studio as soon as you finish your training.
If you decide to teach independently, you don’t have to do as much marketing on your own — the brand does the marketing for you.
One caveat is that being a good yoga practitioner does not make a good yoga teacher necessarily. Teaching is hard. Explaining to people something new in a way that they get it is hard, especially if it’s a room of 30 students of different backgrounds and experiences. Make sure the YTT gives you actual experience teaching.
By the way, there’s not that much money in teaching yoga. Even if you get a high hourly wage (30 students x $20 = $600 !!), you can’t teach classes for a full eight hours. The studio takes part of that money. And some parts of the teaching are not paid: no one pays you to design the class, practice the class before teaching it, and to commute to and from the studio. Don’t forget all the paperwork that comes with being self-employed! That’s something else you have to do on your own time.
Do you want to deepen your yoga practice?
If you want to teach yoga to deepen your practice, that’s awesome. Teaching yoga forced me to break down all the postures, especially the ones that were easy for me. I had to get to know them all over again from a beginner’s perspective. I thought about yoga a lot more, and I dove deeply into the history and texts. I even started learning Sanskrit at the local university.
In this case go with your heart and body to choose a yoga teacher training. You’re not here for the money anyways, so go where you can learn the most. Go where the challenges are hardest. That’s where you’ll be transformed.
Yoga teachers new to Berlin email me lots of questions, even though I don’t teach yoga anymore.
Recently one new yoga teacher emailed me to ask (personal information edited out to respect her privacy) where she can rent a room in Berlin in which to teach yoga and Pilates:
I am interested in renting a room to teach my classes.
For now I have a class every Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
I wonder if it is possible to rent a room in your Studio, know the price i have to pay and know if we can talk in person. I also offer my services to teach in Spanish and English for Yoga or Pilates classes in your studio if you need a professional, I have 5 years experience and have certification for EHFA in Pilates mat and Pilates elements.
I expect a prompt response on your part, happy week and thanks for your kind attention.
When I was teaching yoga, I rented a room at Heilehaus in Kreuzberg 36.
They have two rooms for movement classes. The room which I rented was on the upper floor. I chose it because it was sunny and cozy, with a wall full of windows and wooden floors.
The room on the lower floor also has wooden floors and a wall full of windows but also a wall of mirrors across from the windows. Because in my yoga classes I emphasized the feeling of the positions rather than how it looks, I deliberately chose against the room with the mirrors.
Other places where I considered renting rooms in which to teach yoga included the following:
Gelber Raum is mostly used by dancers and actors in which to practice. I’m not sure if they are still active, as I can’t find their website anymore. They are located at Mariannenstr. 48, 1st backyard, 2nd floor, in Kreuzberg 36.
Kurz und Klein is a children-centered activity center in Reuterkiez. They have a cafe space in front of one or two private rooms. They are at Nansenstr. 2, right on Reuterplatz behind the pizza shop.
I actually considered a few other places in Neukoelln and Kreuzberg, but they no longer seem to be around anymore.
Other good places to ask include acting or dance studios, because dancers and actors also need space in which to practice–and they might be interested in yoga too as students!
The same reasoning applies to martial arts studios, especially places where the practices taught include aikido or tai chi, because those are “gentler” practices.
Hope that helps, V.N., and let me know where you end up teaching.
Even though I practice yoga mostly at home and strongly support my students to do so, we all need a yoga teacher.
We all tend to get used to a certain habit of doing things that may or may not serve our bodies.
Maybe this way of doing things once served us, but it no longer does, like an old sweater we’ve loved to death and is now coming apart at the seams, too small, and no longer represents our true style.
It takes an outside perspective to challenge us on our habits. For your yoga practice, this is your teacher–someone who watches you with no judgment and only wants you to try another, and perhaps better, way.
Watch the video below to learn what habit I’ve had for the last TWELVE years of my yoga practice that I recently learned to see with new eyes, thanks to a discerning yoga teacher.
ACTION STEPS TO FIND YOUR OWN YOGA BLIND SPOTS :
1. Bring your attention to all parts of your body after you practice. Notice where you may still feel tight or somehow stuck.
2. In your next yoga class, ask your yoga teacher to give you feedback about this part of your practice.
For example, if your wrists hurt, are your hands not aligned every time you come into downward-facing dog?
Your teachers’ outside perspective can help you unlearn habits that don’t serve you (anymore).
Like many other entrepreneurs, we yoga teachers get together to share business and life stories. When I met Erinbell Fanore, a fellow yoga teacher in Berlin teaching hatha and yin yoga, at one of these casual get-togethers, I was most impressed that she made her own yoga DVD on the sunny island of Malta. She talked about it like it was easy to pull off, so I had to ask how how she did it with such ease as one of my Yogis of the Month.
Even if you don’t want to make your own yoga DVD, listening to how simple and easy it is to tackle a big project once you break down into steps and ask for help is helpful for any project. You would imagine that producing a DVD would take months to do, right? But knowing that Erinbell produced hers in just two weeks completely changed my mindset of what’s possible. And expanding possibilities is always a good thing.
Listen to my interview* above with Erinbell (or download it!) to find out about:
her introduction to yoga through…Cindy Crawford in the desert?!
retraining your muscles through two somatics exercises she shares
I was really anxious when I interviewed Penelope Trunk. Not only is she internet famous, I had no idea what the conversation was going to be like. Actually, I had thought that talking to her would make me squirm uncomfortably.
Penelope Trunk is a big name in career advising. She’s got a start-up funded doing exactly that. So it’s no surprise that even though I called her to talk about her humane goat cheese project, we ended up talking about my career as a yoga teacher around 8 minutes in.
She told me right away that people don’t want to read about yoga. And it’s a waste of time to blog as a marketing tool, because only people in a three-mile will come to my yoga class. So she tells me I should quit blogging.
No one wants to read about my yoga successes, because it’s boring. She told me to force myself to fail and then to blog about that. Or else blog about how yoga can help you get a boyfriend, or how yoga can save your marriage, or how to make more money by doing yoga daily.
Instead of reading about yoga, people want an interesting experience. She, for one, started doing Ashtanga yoga because movie stars went to the Ashtanga studio. Any movie stars out there who want to come to my class? I teach yoga to the movie star equivalents of the Berlin start-up world. Does anyone get a thrill from doing yoga right next to successful start-up founders?
Listen to my interview above (or download it!) with Penelope to find out:
Why Penelope thinks I should go work at McDonald’s
Is it yoga if you’re pissed off while you’re doing it?
The difference between struggle and failure
Here’s what I wanted to tell Penelope on the phone but couldn’t: Penelope will grow in yoga by accepting the reality of her yoga practice. Her struggle with her current practice is her path of growth in yoga. It’s inner, not outer physical, work. Yoga is not just about putting your feet behind your head or holding headstand for 3 minutes. Yoga is also about how much you try and how much you fail and–the most important part—how you treat yourself after your failure. If you berate yourself and push your bodytowards injury during yoga practice, that’s not yoga. The yoga is in the compassion.
Be grateful for your limits. If we didn’t have physical limits, we’d have no opportunity to listen to our body telling us where our boundaries are for today. Maybe that’s a better way to describe yoga: playing with your physical and mental limits to keep expanding them.
Around minute 12 Penelope asked me how I got the courage to email her. I sent her an email without expecting any response whatsoever. The importance for me was in thanking her, not in getting any kind of acknowledgment. That’s how I do yoga too—I’m not doing it for weightloss or stress management. I do yoga for the sake of doing it—to connect my body, breath and mind. Does anyone want to buy that? The more I write about yoga, the more I think it’s unmarketable.
ACTION STEPS TO BEING COURAGEOUS:
Do yoga to feel strong inside.
Take a risk like sending an email to someone you admire.
Lately the yoga world has been really stirred up about the misdeeds of John Friend, leader and founder of Anusara Yoga. Even though I am not affiliated with Anusara, some really amazing yoga teachers have come out of that school from whom I’ve learned. I’ve also personally studied under John Friend in a three-day workshop. It was a good workshop where I took away many good things, some of which I shared on my video about John Friend.
All of the conversations about how to go forward as a community or simply breaking away made me start thinking about the role of a yoga teacher.
Watch my video below for my thoughts…
And I totally did not mean to make a pun, which I only realized after I made the video and am only now writing it up for this post.
QUESTION FOR YOU :
What do you think the role of a yoga teacher is? Let me know!
I keep hearing a few yoga myths circulating on the interwebs and from yoga students’ (and teachers’–!!) mouths. Once and for all, I debunk the top three virulent myths about yoga in the video below. I dare you to challenge your mind.
Have you heard any of these yoga myths before? Have you believed in any of them–or even repeated them yourself?
Do you agree or disagree with me about any of these ‘myths’ I present? Go ahead and challenge me; I’m here to learn too.
Any other questions about yoga, meditation, or healthy living running through your head all day? Let me know and I’ll answer you in next Thursday’s Q and A.