It's a romantic dream that has made its way into numerous books and movies - to leave the weary world of commuting, office work and the daily grind - and dedicate yourself to your passion, preferably coupled with adventure, self discovery and exotic locations. Many undoubtedly have this vision in mind when they sign up to do their first yoga teacher training - I know that I had images of myself in my own luxury yoga studio in a tropical landscape. And let me say that I would absolutely encourage you to go ahead and carefully pick a teacher training that will help you discover a great deal about yourself and the rich diversity and history of yoga. It's a good thing to take time out for self development and connect with the world on a deeper level. But will you be ready to teach at the end? Hmmmm...
There are some things that they don't tell you about the 200-hour trainings that you should really know. First, let's look at the time frame: you will have 4 weeks to cover and absorb philosophy, anatomy, asana workshops, Kriya practices, study of the ancient texts, class sequencing and management and whatever else the organizers decide to include. This means that relatively little time is dedicated to each component and even less is given for exploration and experimentation. I would argue that it is only by playing with an idea yourself that you really internalize it.
Take teaching practice as an example. In some trainings you spend as little as 5-10 hours actually teaching another person. Let's take a look at the Yoga Alliance's requirements for the 'practicum' element of training:
- Practice teaching as the lead instructor (does not include assisting, observing or giving feedback)*
-Receiving and giving feedback
-Observing others teaching
-Assisting students while someone else is teaching
*Each trainee must spend a minimum of 5 Contact Hours of practice teaching as the lead instructor. These hours may include the time during which the trainee is receiving feedback on his/her teaching. Time spent assisting, observing others teaching, or giving feedback to others is excluded from these hours.
(See here for the original document.)
Ask yourself a quick question - how much confidence are you likely to gain after a whole 5 hours teaching? What's more is that you will probably be teaching one on one with another trainee who is familiar with yoga practices. This does not translate to being in front of a class of 20 beginners - a situation in which you might find yourself in real life.
According to one trainee, only 5 people out of the 30 in her teacher training are actually teaching six months later. Some have taken up to 4 separate trainings and still do not have the confidence to lead a class.
So what's the answer? It's important to recognize that yoga teacher trainings are a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with the rich history and philosophy of yoga, and to develop your personal practice. But don't expect to come out ready to teach. You will need to look for other opportunities to get out there and lead classes - take a look at our article on how to get started as a new yoga teacher.
Or, if you are interested in an internship that gives you plenty of space to explore, experiment and share under the guidance of experienced teachers, why not check out out internship program. We provide a month living and working in two yoga studios, coupled with further education. It could be the chance you need to find your confidence teaching.