Season 3 :: Episode 5yogipreneur radio

Racheal: Welcome back to Yogipreneur Radio. I’m your host, Racheal Cook. I’m so thrilled to be joined by my cohost, Francesca Cervero.

Francesca: Hi, everybody!

Racheal: Today, we have an Ask the Yogipreneurs question. I’m really excited about this one because when I shared it with Francesca, she was jumping up and down like, “Yes! Yes! I have an answer for this one!”

We’re going to go ahead and answer this from our dear friend, Cathy Burke::

“Hi Racheal. My name is Cathy Burke. You can find me at My question is about furthering education. I’ve been teaching for about 8 years, and feel that I want to pursue the yoga therapy side of this awesome practice. But I’m hung up on which type of education to pursue. I had a great deal of anxiety about how this will pan out since most people don’t know what a yoga therapist is. But I’ve seen the impact of yoga on so many people, and I think its use therapeutically is sort of a missing link in our approach to health today. My question is: Do I pursue a more traditional degree, like a Master’s of Science in Yoga Therapy, with the assumption that this will be more widely respected in a society that understands what a Master’s entails, or do I seek out a Certification–which comes with a much lower pricetag so I’m not so concerned about my return on investment as I get things rolling. Alternately, does it make more sense to pursue a completely different degree, something like Nutrition or Psychology–both which interest me and I have a bit of background in, and then include Yoga Therapy as a sort of add-on or niche area. I’m thinking big picture here and feeling fairly stuck in this part of the process. Thanks in advance for any insight you have and for all the resources you provide us heart-centered entrepreneurs.”

Francesca: I love this question, Cathy. Thank you so much for calling. We really appreciate your voicemail.

I have several thoughts about this. My first thought is I think a lot of people do actually know what yoga therapy is.

Racheal: I would agree with that.

Francesca: Yeah.

Racheal: So many people are learning about yoga therapy. I think most people, especially in the US, already view yoga as therapeutic.

Francesca: Totally.

Racheal: So it’s not confusing.

Francesca: Yeah.

Racheal: It really is not confusing.

Francesca: I don’t think that it is. My sort of general answer is there’s no doubt in my mind that the only education you can pursue is the education that you’re really excited about. I recommend that you do a ton of research about yoga therapy programs — because there’s lots of really good ones out there — and also some of the masters in yoga therapy programs at universities.

I know those are just kind of new and have started to crop up, so I would do a little research about those.

If you’re excited about nutrition, then you can research those programs as well. But, what you initially said was yoga therapy and I think if that’s what you’re excited about, then that’s what you pursue. You can pursue it in any of the realms that feel like a fit for you. If you are excited about what you’re learning, then it’s going to be useful for you for sure. You are not going to be able to create a really successful business doing something that you thought would be a good business idea.

Racheal: Oh, my gosh.

Francesca: That’s just never…

Racheal: Yes.

Francesca: That just doesn’t work.

Racheal: Especially for yoga teachers and heart-centered entrepreneurs because, at the end of the day, we’re doing this because we’re passionate about something and we have a purpose behind the work that we’re doing, not just because we’re in it for the money. If the ROI is the first thing leading the decision-making, then generally that leads to people having a horrible experience; they lose the passion and they feel like they’ve lost the purpose because they were going at it from the wrong priority.

I totally agree. Go for what makes you most excited. One of the things that I would have to say adding into this — and this is where I think, Francesca, you’ll have a lot to talk about — continuing education is huge for yogis. Let’s face it. A lot of yoga teachers are spending a lot of time, energy and money on continuing education, whether its —

Francesca: Yeah. As they should because 200 hours is not that many hours.

Racheal: No. We already talked about that one before. It’s one of those things like if you’re really going to be a skillful yoga teacher, continuing education is so crucial. You just need to go into this career knowing that there is going to be a lot of continuing education. It needs to be planned into your annual, “This is the type of stuff I want to go after this year.”

But, it often is kind of approached from a very haphazard way. Like, “Oh, that sounds fun!” Or, “Oh, this is interesting.” I often see the result of that is yoga teachers who have 20 hours here or 50 hours here in so many different topic areas, so many different modalities and, as a result, they’re trying to do everything for everyone and they’re feeling like they’re lacking focus.

I think that’s what you’re trying to avoid by saying, “Should I go after a master’s program,” which is obviously more time consuming and much more expensive and a bigger commitment in general than something that’s just a few hundred hours.

Francesca: A real, accredited yoga therapy program is over 1000 hours.

Racheal: Yeah.

Francesca: It takes several years. I don’t know that it — it might be cheaper, but I don’t know that it’s that much less time consuming than a master’s degree. I’m not sure. I’ve only done minimal research into this myself, but I think the thing to do is to research the programs and find the teachers that you resonate best with. Because that’s the work that you’ll do best in the world.

Racheal: I think what you just landed on there is so important. Find the teachers that you think you’ll do the best with. There was an episode I did last season about starting a yoga teacher training and how you figure out which one. It’s the same thing. You need to research who’s running the trainings. Who are you going to be spending your time with? How much time are you actually getting with them looking at you and looking at your teaching versus how much time are they just lecturing? Or, are they just a figurehead on this whole thing?

Especially when you’re looking at this type of program that is so time intensive, I wouldn’t necessarily start with the return on investment, but I would be smart about where you decide to go with it. If you’re really concerned about the time commitment and the money commitment of a master’s degree or a thousand hour yoga therapy program, I would be really doing my due diligence. By that, I mean doing a lot of research and maybe trying it on a little bit where you can and where it’s appropriate right now. Maybe that means going out there and finding people who are yoga therapists — working yoga therapists — and saying, “Can I come shadow you for a week? Can I really get a feel of what it looks like to do what you’re doing right now?”

Francesca: That’s a great idea.

Racheal: Just getting out there to experience it. I think, often, we hear about something and we think it sounds really awesome and then we’ll go through all the training and all the schooling to do it and then we get to the other side of that and realize, “Oh, that wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.” That can be really disappointing and that’s where people get worried about spending money that they didn’t need to spend.

Coming from the person who has a performance background with French horn and piano and…

Francesca: BFA in Modern Dance Performance.

Racheal: A BFA in Modern Dance Performance. At some point, yeah, you might have something that you go after and ends up not working at all. It will still be useful and valuable later down the road, but anything that I’ve gone after that was a very expensive investment in my continuing education — whether that was getting my MBA or, at one point, hiring very expensive coaches or whatever it might be — it’s always come down to spending time with those people that I’m going to be learning from, making sure they absolutely are the right fit and being okay with doing the ground work, doing the due diligence, doing the research, talking to people. Talk to their other students! Get the real scoop on what it’s like.

Francesca: That’s what I was thinking. Talk to other people who have been through those programs. They’re all pretty different.

Racheal: Yes!

Francesca: There’s the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Program, there’s an integrative yoga therapy program, the American Viniyoga Yoga Therapy Program. They all have slightly different styles and different takes. Since you’re going to be spending so much time learning these styles… I think Kripalu doesn’t have a yoga therapy program, or do they? They have a 500-hour teacher training that focuses a lot on therapeutics.

Racheal: On therapeutics.

Francesca: There’s lots of different places that you can go. I think what’s most important is what you resonate most with. What are you so excited about? Then, you’ll do that work in the world more skillfully because you care about it.

If you’re thinking about return on investment… I think the question is always, “What am I most excited about?” If you’re excited about the way that they do their yoga therapy program, then you’ll be a better yoga therapist than if you’re just doing it because you think it’s a smart, good thing to do.

I work exclusively, for the most part, with private clients and I have this whole business teaching yoga teachers how to work one-on-one with success. People who have yoga therapy backgrounds instantly are so much more comfortable working one-on-one because they’re taught all these skills that regular yoga teachers aren’t taught.

If you love the work that you do as a yoga therapist, but you’re not sure that people will resonate with what that is, then you don’t even have to necessarily call it that right away.

Racheal: Exactly.

Francesca: I had a teacher who just went through my online teacher training and she has a yoga therapy background and she also teacher group Asana and she took my The Science of the Private Lesson Teacher Training. She had on her website two different kinds of sessions: a private yoga session and a yoga therapy session. They were priced differently. I was like, “Don’t do that. You don’t have to do that. You are worth this higher price point. You can just call it a private yoga lesson or you can just call it yoga therapy, but you don’t necessarily have to call it something different.” You get in there, you work with your client, you do the great work that you do with them. They have amazing success, they tell their friends about it and you build your business.

Racheal: Love it.

Francesca: That’s how it goes.

Racheal: I love that.

Francesca: We’re excited for you! To be excited about yoga therapy and the therapeutic applications of yoga is an amazing service to offer the world. It’s also an industry that’s going to continue to grow and become more mainstream and more popular. I think having those skills is going to be extremely beneficial as you move forward in the work that you do.

Racheal: I know you and I have talked about the way the yoga industry is right now, especially in the United States. Anybody can go out there, basically, and create their own yoga teacher training. I think this is where yoga therapy is going to be amazing because, unlike a lot of other yoga stuff going on — a lot of other yoga certifications and trainings — this is going really deep and will instantly set you apart from people.

I do think the time will come when there will be a reckoning. There is going to be a day where all of the teacher trainings run by inexperienced people and they’re not very good trainings, they’re going to disappear because as trainings come about that are 1000-hour teacher trainings or master’s in yoga therapy, these things are going to set the new standard.

Francesca: Yeah. I hope so. I hope it does set the new standard.

Racheal: I do too. I think it will set the new standard and it will raise the professionalism of yoga a lot.

Francesca: You know how I feel about that. Racheal knows how I feel about that.

Racheal: Yeah.

Francesca: Very strongly.

Racheal: Very strongly. I think it will set yoga teachers to be on par with other professionals like physical therapists or…

Francesca: Acupuncturists.

Racheal: Acupuncturists. People who have done intense schooling and intense study for longer than six months.

I think that’s something to be aware of and just kind of looking into the future, seeing the way this industry is going, seeing how other holistic health-related fields have gone, I feel very strongly that going after this type of education will serve you in so many ways and you will have a strong return on investment.

Francesca: No doubt.

Racheal: No doubt.

Francesca: It can only be beneficial.

Racheal: It can only be beneficial.

Francesca: That’s what I think.

Racheal: Absolutely.

Francesca: Education is only beneficial no matter what, but in particular, a yoga therapy continued education is only going to —

Racheal: I would agree with that.

Francesca: Be helpful.

Racheal: I would totally agree with that.

Francesca: Congratulations. Onward, Cathy. We’re excited for you.

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