Over the past few years, yoga teacher trainings have become ubiquitous. Whether one prefers a destination getaway that lasts for the length of the training or a weekend version that meets once a month close to home, it’s easy to find something that fits in terms of where and when. However, these classes are rarely inexpensive. For this reason alone, one should think long and hard about whether or not to pursue teacher training, and why.
The stark reality is that, because of the proliferation of trainings, there are many more yoga teachers ‘graduating’ then there are yoga classes to teach. Few newly trained teachers are able to teach immediately – or at all – in a studio. Many studio teachers take multiple trainings, and very often specialized trainings as well, before being offered ongoing classes. Often, other kinds of exercise certification are also required if one wants to teach at a gym, and possibly also in a community setting.
New teachers may find it difficult to attract students in large numbers. Class attendance may fluctuate significantly from week to week, which may affect one's pay. Private classes usually are not steady from week to week either. In other words, one will rarely be able to be self-supporting on the basis of yoga teaching by itself. For many, teaching yoga is a labor of love, with teachers working part-time and pursuing other careers at the same time.
With this reality in mind, the truth is that few people should pursue yoga teacher training if supporting oneself is the primary reason for doing so. Even studio owners are not generally financially secure due to the fluctuations in class attendance; this of course is one reason why so many studios are offering teacher trainings, which have a fixed number of attendees built in before the course starts. Given this reality, the truth is that there are still good reasons to take a yoga teacher training.
One reason, of course, might be that the training offers the chance to study with a particular teacher or in a particular style. Another good motive is to strengthen one’s knowledge of yoga philosophy and anatomy. All Yoga Alliance affiliated trainings cover a more or less standardized curriculum, imparting knowledge that one cannot pick up during one’s weekly yoga class. This kind of in-depth study will revitalize one's personal practice and deepen one's understand of yoga. It will also have effects on the rest of one's life as well, in ways that cannot be predicted at the outset.
Destination yoga teacher trainings have a somewhat different allure – they offer the chance to study yoga in an exotic locale. For those who can take the time, this allows one to immerse oneself in both yoga and a different culture at the same time, which again can be life-changing. Often, these trainings also offer the chance to study with a particular teacher as well.
On a philanthropic note, it is important to realize that many small studios are essentially kept going by teacher trainings, which guarantee the studio a fixed number of students for a defined number of months. By enrolling in a course which meets monthly over a year or so, one can deepen one’s own yoga practice and also help to finance ongoing yoga classes in a specific setting. One gets a look into the business of yoga in a way not possible outside of training, and can then decide whether or not to make the ongoing investments necessary to pursue yoga as a career.
Yoga teacher training is an investment of both time and money, and is rarely an easy experience. For those willing to make the commitment, however, it can be a truly transformative experience. If one keeps in mind that yoga is not a get-rich-quick scheme and that very few are destined to be the next asana celebrity, electing to pursue this training can be a very good choice.