Quite frequently I receive inquiries from students regarding choosing a yoga teacher’s training course (TTC). In the blog post I’ll give some tips & pointers as to what to look for when selecting your TTC.
- Certification/ credibility
- Which type of yoga?
- Where to go?
1.) Certification. First of all, the TTC needs to give you a certification that’s recognized by the international yoga alliance (Yoga Alliance for the 200 hours standard for a Registered Yoga School (RYS200)). 200 hours is the first level, there is also 500 hours: +300 hours in an advanced TTC, or special certifications for prenatal and kids’ yoga.
The RYS200 level is a requirement for most studios if you want to work somewhere as a teacher afterwards.
Even if you don’t want to become a teacher (just yet), the credibility of your TTC depends on whether or not it’s a certified course.
- =>>> The Yoga Alliance accreditation is a way to find out if the course is serious about its teachings.
2.) Timeframe. Some TTC are organized during a full month gurukula-type intense course: you’ll spend the entire time in an ashram immersed in yoga. Other programs offer the TTC spread out over 2 years or more. Either way, you never stop learning, you learn most when you begin to teach.
- =>>> The type of TTC that works for you is a personal choice. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
3.) Which type of yoga? First consider which type of yoga you like to do and then which type of yoga you would like to teach (if you consider doing the TTC in order to become a teacher). You’ll naturally be drawn to the yoga you’re doing right now, however, is that the yoga you should be doing? Is it the yoga that suits you best? You might want to try different styles of yoga to see if there’s one that’s more your type. Also look at where you’ll want to teach, what type of teachers are most in demand?
- =>>> I would recommend doing a hatha yoga TTC to correctly learn the basics of traditional yoga: the philosophy, asanas, breathing & meditation techniques, chanting, teaching techniques, … Afterwards, you can take other certification courses such as yin, prenatal, flow yoga, kids, acro, Vinyasa or Ashtanga yoga.
4.) Where to go? Talk to your current teachers, as well as to other teachers and listen to their experiences and recommendations. If possible, go and visit several ashrams to find out whether the energy of the place suits you. Call or email the ashrams that you are interested in but that are too far away for a short stay and ask them all the questions you have. Try to find reviews online (such as on yogatrail or even on Tripadvisor).
- =>>> Don’t be afraid to ask questions, it’s your time and money and energy that you’ll invest in their course. Go to the ashram or the course where you feel there’s a connection between the place and its teachers and yourself. Try to take enough time to be able to make a well-informed decision.
My own experience was definitely a life-changing experience.
Based on my preferences, availability and budget I chose the 1-month intensive TTC in the Sivananda Yoga Ashram Camp in Val Morin, (Montréal) Canada. What I loved about this TTC is that there’s an option to continue with an advanced TTC anywhere in the world in a Sivananda yoga ashram or center.
I chose this 1-month intense program, as it was the best way to get my certification during my holidays from my fulltime job. A lady I met while in San Francisco told me she’d done this TTC and that she absolutely loved it. It is traditional Hatha Yoga and I’d been doing that for a couple of years already.
I chose the Sivananda ashram yoga camp outside Montreal as this TTC was the first of its kind outside of India, it has existed over 50 years and in this time delivered lots of graduates all around the world. It was actually Swami Sivananda’s disciple Swami Vishnudevananda who started the first ashram outside of India right there in Canada !
In order to prepare myself for my TTC I’d gone to the ‘sister’ ashram in France beforehand. This way I became familiar with the daily schedule, the asana classes, Satsang, the philosophy, the teachers, the food. The beautiful and peaceful ashram inspired me to choose their TTC.
The yoga camp in Val Morin (just outside of Montréal, Canada) is simply amazing. The energy there is so powerful and pure. The grounds are splendid, well taken care of by the karma yogis), the accommodations are really good: I stayed in the dormitory which had recently been built and we each had our own little room with a bed, table, lamp, cupboard and window. You could close it with a big curtain to have your privacy. The vegetarian/ vegan food is amazing and the teachers are too. There’s an Indian temple on the hill where we went for certain pujas (Indian ceremonies) as well as an outside pool. Nearby is the small town of Val Morin where we would go on our ‘day off’ to stroll or have some brunch. There are washers and dryers. We would often go for morning meditation silent walks at 6AM and that was such a great way to start the day.
During the actual TTC, I disconnected from Internet for 21 days. This social media disconnection helped me to immerse completely in the teachings, without any unnecessary distractions. Living in a big (75 people) group, having a strict schedule every single day (except Fridays) and hardly having any time to myself was equally intense. Additionally, Karma yoga is part of the TTC and I found myself cleaning the washrooms every single day… A wise Swami explained me that it was intended to teach me something and in my case it was most likely learning to let go: clean, and then offer the clean washrooms to the community and NOT get upset when somebody would soil it. I can share here, that it wasn’t that easy to do.
Living together with people you didn’t know beforehand is not always easy, but it turned out to be a very enriching experience. To start with, there was already the yoga connection between us. I’ve met some truly wonderful people in the ashram that I continue to cherish and consider as friends wherever they may be around the globe.
The TTC days were long and filled with lots of information, knowledge and actions. It was sometimes tiring, but always inspiring. It taught me to be more in the present moment, to be humble as a person, teacher as well as a student. That we never cease to be students of life and yoga. Yoga = life.
I sincerely hope that if you’ve taken the time to read through my story, that it’ll help you to decide on your TTC and that your own experience will be at least as good as mine.
Don’t hesitate to share your personal story here or to drop me a message if you have any questions or remarks.