In this episode, I’ll answer a listener’s question as part of our Ask the Yogipreneur segment.
This week, I have another great Ask the Yogipreneur Question from a listener and an answer with some juicy action steps for all the yogis out there looking at training and certification programs so that you can turn your yoga passion into your yoga profession.
Here’s this week’s question from Pilar:
“What trainings and certifications can really help me turn my passion into a yoga career?”
Racheal: Thanks, Pilar, for this great question. I know so many passionate yogis are wondering the exact same thing as they’re trying to navigate the wild, wild west of yoga teacher training.
Yes, I did just say it was the wild, wild west of yoga teacher training.
We know that yoga, as an industry, is growing exponentially. More people are stepping onto the mat than ever before, more people are interested in starting a yoga practice than ever before and the demand for yoga teachers is continuing to increase and it will only continue to increase as the industry as a whole increases.
The challenge is — from a teacher training perspective — that we don’t have any real oversight or regulations as to who can start a teacher training program. What I mean by that is there’s basically nothing stopping anybody who wants to start their own teacher training program from starting a teacher program.
Yes, Yoga Alliance registers yoga schools. They have guidelines for those schools, they have to apply and pay a fee to become a registered yoga school through Yoga Alliance, but they don’t actually certify those yoga schools.
What that means is, while they’re getting an RYS (Registered yoga School) designation — it’s saying that they’ve met these basic requirements — Yoga Alliance really doesn’t provide a ton of oversight as to quality control. They don’t actually go in and monitor the yoga schools, they don’t actually go in and make sure that the quality of the school is as high as you might want it to be.
It’s kind of creating this interesting Catch-22.
We want to create as much flexibility as possible for more yoga teacher trainings to be available and Yoga Alliance is trying to provide enough guidelines without being too strict, but it also means — when pretty much anyone can start a yoga teacher training program — that there’s a lot of yoga teacher training programs out there right now that may not be as high quality as we really need as an industry.
What do we do? What do we do when we’re navigating the wild, wild west of yoga teacher training?
I want to start with this concept that I learned from Tony Robbins. It’s one that I think of whenever I’m about to make a big investment of time or energy in working with a teacher or a mentor or a coach.
What this means is when you’re looking at making a major investment of your time, energy and money to increase your skill set in something, to learn something new or to work closely with somebody to further advance your career, you really want to do your own due diligence and make sure that this program and this teacher is a perfect fit for you.
If you’re not willing to do that due diligence, you might find yourself disappointed when they don’t really deliver on what they’ve promised to you.
When you’re thinking about success leaving clues, the first thing you have to start with is what your criteria are.
- What are your criteria for success?
- What is it that you want out of a yoga teacher training program?
The first question that you’ll want to ask yourself is: Are you looking at this becoming a full time career path for you or a part time career path? There are some implications around this. We know from the research that about 80% of yoga teachers are part time.
That doesn’t meant that it’s not possible to go full time.
In fact, we are huge advocates here at The Yogipreneur for helping you make this a full time career path. But, there will be some differences in how you approach your teacher training and the expectations you have of those first few years.
What I know after working with hundreds of Yogipreneurs is that most people start out part time and it takes, usually, a year, two years, three years or more in order to build up both your teacher skill set, your yoga business skill set and to build up your following — the people who actually are your paying clients — before your teaching career can be a full time income source.
If you’re thinking about this being a part time career — maybe something you’re doing less than 10 hours a week; you’re really teaching because you want to teach, you want to be practicing yoga, you want to be engaged and involved with your community — you’re probably not going to be spending as much time, energy and money into getting a yoga teacher training as someone who wants to go full time.
If you’re wanting to go full time, you do want to know up front that your first teacher training will likely not be your last. You will probably spend a lot more time, energy and money into getting a 200-hour, maybe even a 500-hour.
Maybe you’ll go after some specific specialties or niche certifications to help you build up that skill set and maybe you’ll also invest in things like your yoga business. Maybe you’ll invest in getting some yoga business coaching, some yoga business training, maybe you’ll invest in a website. Those are real expenses that you’ll want to consider as you’re looking at your teaching training and planning this whole thing out from a bigger picture perspective.
Another thing that you might want to consider is, “Do you want to be more of a local yoga business or will you be global?” Something to think about here is that your yoga teacher training program — the teacher you’re working with, the students who are in the program with you — they will be the springboard for your yoga teacher career.
I often hear from people that those first connections they made were what got them their first teaching jobs or what helped them find those first private clients or what helped them get on sub lists, get recommended for different types of things.
Make no doubt about it, the teaching training program you choose is part of building your yoga business network and that network will be really important for you in helping establish yourself as a yoga teacher.
You want to think about if you need more of a local network or are you looking for a global network. If you’re looking to establish yourself as a local yoga teacher, you know you want to work in person, you want to work closely with your students, then you’ll probably be looking for a more local yoga teacher training program.
But, if you know that you want to not be bound by geography or you want to have the freedom and flexibility to travel or to build a bigger yoga platform down the road, then you might want to train with somebody who has done what you want to do.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t take a more local training, but maybe you work with somebody who is teaching internationally who has developed more of a global presence for themselves.
Another thing to consider:
- Do you want to be more of a general yoga teacher and a broader yoga style, like Vinyasa, which is incredibly popular?
- Or, do you want to have more of a niche specialization? The difference between the two could have a big impact in your yoga career.
If you are maybe in a saturated yoga market, there’s lots of yoga studios, there’s a lot of people graduating teacher trainings, you will benefit from having more of a niche specialization. What I mean by this is let’s say there’s 100 people graduating yoga teacher trainings in your city every year and the most popular styles are Vinyasa yoga or Bikram or whatever they might be.
If you go to somebody who has a very specialized niche, such as Curvy Yoga — which is what my friend and Yogipreneur alum, Anna Guest-Jelley certifies people in — then, instead of being one of 100 general Vinyasa yoga teachers trying to find teaching jobs in your local city, now you’re one of one, maybe two, Curvy Yoga teachers in your local town.
If you want to stand out, a specialization can really help you do that because there’s just not going to be much competition and there’s not going to be a lot of people trying to do the exact same thing.
I will say, though, that there is an inverse relationship between how saturated your local market is and how specialized you want to get. If you are in a very saturated market, going a little bit more niche will always be in your benefit because it will help you stand out from dozens or hundreds of other yoga teachers.
But, if you’re in an area — maybe a smaller town — where there’s just not that much yoga, getting too specialized might actually work against you. You’ll want to think about how that works for you in your town, in where you want to be in your yoga career in your yoga business.
Another thing to consider is how fast you want to get your yoga teacher training. There’s so many ways that teacher trainings are delivered.
Everything from going to do a one month immersion where you’re basically living and breathing yoga for three to six weeks to having it stretched out over the course of a year or even several years where maybe you show up for weekends and train in extended weekend workshop styles.
These are the types of things you want to think about. How fast do you want to get that teacher training? It’s usually about the same number of hours, it’s just how it’s spread over time.
Now, if you are single and you don’t have any responsibilities and going off for a month or six weeks is workable for you, that could be a great option. There’s a lot of amazing trainings where it’s really an immersive experience.
But, if you’re like me and you have a family or you have a job and you’re trying to do this while you’re still working your regular full time career, you might look for something that’s a little bit more flexible and works with your schedule. It just means it’s going to take a bit longer to get certified.
The other thing that you’ll want to think about comes down to how big of a program you’re going to take and how much money that really is going to cost. Most programs start at about 200 hours. Now, to be completely honest with you, if you’re going to make this your full time career–
I want you to know that that 200 hours is just the beginning.
That’s just the very beginning. That’s like getting your high school diploma verses going off and getting a Master’s degree with you start to get 500 or 1000 hours of teacher training underneath your belt.
If you know that you want this to be your full time career, know that this is just the beginning. That might be the first step and you want to plan to get more continuing education, more underneath your belt to really build that teaching skill set.
You’ll expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 for a 200-hour teacher training. There’s also bigger numbers there. There’s 500-hour training programs. If you start getting into things like yoga therapy, you could be looking at 700, 800 or 1000-hour teacher training programs.
Often, those can take many years. I’ve heard from many established yoga teachers that have made this their full time career that spending upwards of $10,000 on their yoga teacher training, continuing education, and certifications in those first few years is not unheard of.
The other thing that you want to think of if you’re wanting to develop your yoga teacher skill set, but if this is going to be a full time career path for you, you will want to develop your yoga business skill set.
You’ll also want to be considering what type of business training you need to get.
- Do you need to learn about marketing?
- Do you need to learn how to promote yourself?
- Do you need to learn how to create your own programs and packages?
You can expect to spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars if you’re just going to read about it and get a bunch of books. If you’re going to hire a coach or take a higher level training program, you could expect to spend $2,000 to $5,000 on that.
You’ll also want to consider what types of yoga business materials you will need. You’ll probably — if you want this to be your full time career — you’ll spend money on a photo shoot, which could be hundreds to thousands of dollars. You’ll want to have a beautiful website created, which depending on if you do it yourself or hire somebody, it could be hundreds to thousands of dollars.
There’s some big things that you’re going to want to be thinking about in terms of your overall investment into making this your career.
Before I scare you off and make you think, “Oh, my gosh. It’s going to cost me so much money to make this my yoga teaching career.” I want you to know that, again, if you want this to be your full time career, most people spread this out over several years.
My job here is to just give you realistic expectations so you don’t graduate a 200-hour program and then realize it’s going to cost me so much more time, energy and money to establish a yoga business.
Those are some things — criteria — that you want to think about.
- You’ll want to think about how much you want to invest,
- How much time you have available to invest
- How much time you want to take to develop your yoga business, your yoga teaching career
- How much training you’re going to get
You’ll want to kind of plan that out as you start to look at teacher training programs to figure out which ones will be a right fit for you.
Then we’re going to want to do due diligence on each teacher training program.
Due diligence comes back to, again, success leaves clues. We want to go back and make sure that this training program is going to help us get where we want to go. It’s going to kind of check off all these criteria and make sure that you’re on the right path and that you’ve had the right training from the right teacher.
The first thing that I would always do is spend some time doing some research on the teacher leading the program and the program itself. This isn’t just reading their information page on their website. This is asking questions. This is talking to graduates, talking to people who have actually graduated that teacher training program.
I highly recommend spending some time interviewing those graduates. If you’re not sure who’s graduated, you can ask the trainer who has recently graduated this program, who has graduated in the last few years. Would you mind sharing with me their email or their phone number or where they’re teaching now so I can ask them a few questions?
I would do the same thing, honestly, if I was looking for a college. I would want to know who’s graduated, what has their experience been like.
Then ask them questions like:
- What did you love the most about the training?
- What do you wish the training would have covered?
You’ll want to ask them, not just about the good stuff. You’re going to want to ask them about the gaps in the training.
Something else that you might want to do if you’re not sure which training programs are on your list is just pay attention to the teachers that you really love.
Most of us don’t start looking for a teacher training program. We actually start just taking classes with the people that we love as teachers. If you love somebody’s style, maybe you’ll ask them:
- Where did you do your teacher training?
- What was your experience?
- What did you love the most about that?
- What do you wish it had that it didn’t?
You will get so much great information just from asking you own favorite teachers what their training experience was.
The next step, once you start to figure out which trainer you want to work with, which teacher training program you want to go to, is to start paying attention to that teacher. Who is going to be guiding you? Who is going to be teaching you?
What I recommend before you shell out thousands of dollars is to get a taste of how they work and how they teach.
Hopefully, you’ve already interviewed some of their graduates, you’ve already talked to some people, and you’ve already figured out that, yes, they are a good trainer of teachers. But, you’re going to want to take classes from that teacher.
Please don’t sign up for a teacher training program with someone who you’ve never actually taken a class with.
You might be surprised that the style that they have, the way that they teach, just isn’t something that resonates with you.
I recommend spending a few months taking their classes. Take some workshops. If they have immersions or deeper level things that are a little bit more like a teacher training than a class, spend some time taking those with those teachers.
It will help you so much to figure out if they are a fit for you, if you like their style, if you like the way they break things down, if you really like the way that they explain and their teach. Their workshops and their immersions will be a great way for you to figure out if it’s a perfect fit or not.
If you’re looking at taking a teacher training program and maybe it’s one that requires travel, there’s really no way for you to work with them in advance, you’ll be surprised. If you get online, maybe they have videos that you can take, maybe there’s a way that you can go to actually take a workshop with them in person.
I would say it’s well worth the investment to, say, fly to New York City or fly to LA for an immersive experience before you commit to a full teacher training program.
It’s very worth it in my opinion to spend a little bit of time, energy and money up front to get a taste of what they have to offer before you really sign up for the entire thing.
Before we wrap this whole conversation, I feel like because this is the wild, wild west of yoga teacher training–
I need to share some red flags and some things that you should be watching out for before you invest your time, energy and money into an expensive teacher training.
The first thing that I would watch out for that would be more of a caution to me is:
Is this a brand new yoga teacher training program?
Like I said, this is the wild, wild west. There’s really not much stopping anybody from creating their own yoga teacher training program.
If this is the first year of that teacher training program, then you’re kind of limited. You don’t have much research available, you’re not having any success stories to hear from, and you don’t have any graduates you can talk to.
You’re really going on, at this point, your own experience with that teacher trainer. You’re going to want to pay attention to that. Is this the first year for this teacher training program? What is this teacher actually like?
If you’re not familiar with this teacher, you’re going to want to spend some time getting familiar with who’s going to be leading the teacher training. You’re going to want to take as many classes as you can with this person, take some workshops with them, some immersions with them.
Another red flag would be:
Is this teacher a brand new teacher?
If they’ve been teaching for a less than, honestly, two to five years, I would be a little hesitant to sign up for a teacher training with them. You’re going to want to ask them questions about how many hours they have been teaching yoga.
Every teacher keeps track of their hours because they can submit them to Yoga Alliance — if they’re registered with Yoga Alliance — to get the RYT 200, RYT 500, et cetera, et cetera. They can get their ERYT, et cetera.
You’re going to want to ask them how many hours they have been teaching. Are they teaching full time? Are they teaching part time? You’re going to want to get as much experiential knowledge of this teacher as you can to figure out if they are really qualified to teach this teacher training.
If they are a newer yoga teacher, there’s many who are super talented and would probably be incredible trainers, but it is a valid question. You do want to make sure that they have enough experience under their belt and that they are going to be a good fit for you. The more time you spend really researching them, the better.
The final red flag I would share is:
- Is that teacher willing to talk with you?
- Are they willing to answer your questions?
- Are they willing to sit down with you for 20 minutes — an hour even — to really go through your concerns?
This is a high value offering. Teacher Trainings are not inexpensive, so you do have the right to ask questions of the person running the teacher training. Really think through all of your questions. Ask as many as you want. Ask about their experience, ask about their credibility, their own training. Ask about their lineage.
If they’re not willing to sit down and talk with you or share with you some of their other students who’ve worked with them, that would be a big red flag for me. That tells me that they’re not as concerned about you as a potential trainee and your experience.
I always think, again, success leaves clues.
You have a right to do your own due diligence and to ask questions about the teacher running the training and the training itself.
If you’re ever made to feel like you’re asking things that are inappropriate when it’s related to something you’re about to spend thousands of dollars on, I would be hesitant to sign up.
My biggest gold star.
On the opposite of all those red flags, though, I want to share my biggest gold star. This would be something that weighs super heavily in who you should choose as your teacher trainer. Like we said, success leaves clues.
You’re going to want to ask yourself:
“Has this person that I’m about to learn the art of teaching yoga from, have they done what I want to do?”
If they are a local yoga business, do they have full classes? Do they have students who rave about them? Do they have an impeccable reputation in the community? Do people know who they are? Do they have the type of yoga business that you are looking to create for yourself?
Or, if you’re looking to go online or be more of a global or national yoga teacher, do they have that in their yoga business? If you’re looking to become a traveling yoga teacher or if you’re looking to create an online yoga business, it is definitely a huge plus to get your training from somebody who has done what you want to do.
For show notes and transcripts, head over to TheYogipreneur.com/episode9. I hope this episode serves you and your yoga career. If it does, please let me know with an honest rating and review in iTunes. When you leave me a review, I’ll make sure to give you a shout out in an upcoming episode.
If you have a question that you’d like answered during Ask the Yogipreneur, visit TheYogipreneur.com/ask.
As always, thank you for listening, subscribing and sharing. I want to give a shout out to Tammy Hackbarth for her iTunes review and Casey Bergland for your blog comments. Your comments and review help me to reach and serve more yogi-hearted entrepreneurs. I’m so grateful to you for helping elevate our yoga community.
Thanks and I’ll talk to you soon on Yogipreneur Radio.
Episode 9 Show Notes::
What To Do Next?