Everything is not created equally...
It is that time of year when yoga studios, including PeaceLab, begin promoting and preparing for their fall teacher training programs. The increasing popularity of yoga has more people than ever interested in becoming yoga teachers, which creates a proliferation in teachers and studios offering trainings.
I get so many inquiries solely about the cost of our program, which leaves me a little disheartened. On one hand it makes sense. People are simply gathering information, and for a myriad of reasons, with one of them being the cost. On the other hand trainings are not created equally and it is really important to make a well-informed decision based many different factors, not just based on the price. Please read on for some of the questions you may want to consider asking before you commit to any program. Teacher training requires a big commitment of time and resources, and it is important to gather all the facts before you get started. (Disclaimer: these are only a few. Feel free to ask as many questions as you need!)
1. What is the format of the training? Weekend commitments, several weeks, several months, an intensive?
I see many places offering a 2-week, one month, or 3-month long formats. I get it, in today's culture we want it fast and we want it now, but it is a lot of information to take in over a short period of time. I have found that the students who go through a longer training period are able to let the information sink in and take root (and have found that to be the case in the trainings I participate in personally). The program at PeaceLab is a 9 month program and the feedback from students is the they appreciate how the program can fit in with their regular life off of the mat, and that they have time to integrate what they learn. Additionally, we invest in the trainees (as they are a reflections of PeaceLab) to help mentor them along the way. If the program were shorter in duration it would not allow us the time to develop this type of teacher/student relationship. I desire to assist trainees in moving their own personal practice forward and love to be available to help them with any questions or concerns. My teaching staff feels the same way.
2. What can I expect to learn during training?
Will you memorize a script designed to support a franchise, or will you possess the ability to skillfully teach and address the needs of any class or student? Learning how to sequence or create class plans is necessary to move towards actually teaching students how to improve their yoga practice and/or poses. Will you learn the history and lineage of yoga, study the Sutras (or Bhagavad Gita, etc), learn the poses in Sanskrit and English, be given exposure to meditation/pranayama/bhakti yoga, subtle body anatomy, anatomy.....? Will you be taught how to connect to a student's heart so as to inspire them to greatness off the mat as well? Please ask to have an overview of the curriculum so you can compare and find the training that best suits your needs.
Yoga is a vast topic (more like a lifetime endeavor), and to become a yoga teacher with deep knowledge takes time. I heard a well-respected yoga teacher once remark, "A 200 Hour Training simply gives you permission to learn MORE."
3. What type of yoga will I be able to teach once the program is over? Is this program Yoga Alliance Certified?
New students are generally surprised at how we teach vs. most of the other local studios, as vinyasa-based classes are currently the most popular style. We focus on providing the students several practice options. There is a common thread through all of our classes in that we are teach from a foundation of alignment (I was an Anusara-Inspired teacher before that system imploded). Students may choose between teaching-based classes (we call them Lab classes), restorative classes, and/or vinyasa classes. Students in our program learn to teach in each of these settings as well as prenatal yoga, yoga for special populations, chair yoga, and wall yoga. It is important you understand what style you will be taught and to know if you are comfortable with that style. I encourage anyone and everyone considering a training to take classes at that studio with the Program Director and a few of the other teachers so you understand for yourself if you jive with what they offer to their community.
Please understand that I know Yoga Alliance is not the be all and end all but our program does follow along with their requirements. If the training you choose does not align with Yoga Alliance it may cause issues later if you try to get a teaching gig somewhere else other than the studio you trained at.
4. How long has the Program Director been practicing and teaching yoga? Does he/she still study with a teacher?
On average, most studio owners/yoga teachers have a TOTAL of 3 years yoga experience! Now, I understand everyone has to start somewhere (as did I) but you should still ask the question. With the demands of managing the studio, teaching, and then training others it is important that I maintain a connection to that which first drew me to yoga. I still have a primary teacher, whom I connect with in person and in online classes. This relationship is an integral part of my daily life, and without it I would not keep myself filled up to offer to those around me. I am constantly grateful for the many teachers who have helped in someway to shape what is now PeaceLab Yoga. Especially when we are training others and giving so much of ourselves to so many it is imperative we have mentors also. Ask who the lead teacher studies with so that you can also understand the lineage of what is being taught in that studio.
5. What does the tuition include, and are outside workshops required in order to complete my training? Are weekly yoga classes included in the training?
We try to make it as easy as possible for training candidates to understand what is included in their tuition by making it pretty all-inclusive. Every studio has its own culture (again why it is so important to ask questions) and there are many ways to arrive at the final destination. One woman shared with me that she was disappointed that the program she chose included a lot of additional work (disclosed after she began their program) like private lessons, workshops, and assisting the lead teacher at workshops in other cities. Each of these required additional cost to her as well, yet she was too financially invested to back out. She shared with me that there were several younger trainees who simply did not have the financial resources to complete the additional work, and ultimately would not be able to finish their certification.
The PeaceLab 200 Hour Program includes unlimited yoga, and students can take class with anyone on staff. I have heard this is not the case with every program, and for different reasons. It ranges from it not being included with you needing to purchase classes to being able to take classes only with certain staff. If the training is being run by a 3rd party, you likely would need to pay for yoga and possibly not be mentored by the training staff or Program Director as they are not onsite with the exception of training weekends.
Make sure to ask if there is a printed brochure outlining all the costs of the program, if there are payment plans in place (we do offer plans through the studio, not an outside vendor), classroom requirements, refund policies, attendance policies, and what you can expect from the program itself. Read it thoroughly and ask questions if you need clarification.
6. Would those who completed the training previously recommend the program to others?
Seek out past participants of the training to gain inside knowledge. Did the training meet or exceed their expectations? If not, how did it fall short? How did it excel? Ask if they found the homework and reading requirements relevant and sufficient to prepare them for leading a class. What did they enjoy the most and what did they find to be the most challenging? If there were challenges, did the Program Director or teaching staff listen to their concerns and actively try to help, if possible? This can be quite telling of whether the aim of the program is to cultivate confident and skilled teachers or simply to collect tuition.
7. What is the general vibe of the studio and is there a sense of community?
As previously mentioned it is important to attend a few classes on different days/times to understand how the studio teaches and if you resonate, but is equally as important to assess the atmosphere and decide if you feel comfortable there. How well do the practitioners get along with each other, and is there a sense of community? Do they encourage each other to advance and do they provide support to one another? Do they cheer for the successes of others? Do the instructors and staff speak positively about one another? Do the instructors feel supported in their teaching and feel good about the studio owner and how the studio is run?
Admittedly, I am biased as I feel that PeaceLab has the best community, classes, and training programs around. In our training programs we aim for excellence and to provide world-class instructors. You don't need to take my word for it. Read the PeaceLab Facebook reviews (here and here) and on Google. Reach out to current and past students, chat with trainees and instructors, and better yet come out and see for yourself. Take a class, tour the studio, and ask questions. Lots and lots of questions. At the end of the day, compare and contrast the different teacher training programs and decide which one will ultimately serve you and your needs.
We'd love to meet you on the mat soon. We will save you a spot!
In service and love,
(Deep pranams to Jessica, Amy, Jim, and Kate who helped me edit and clarify my thoughts)