We are truly living in a golden age of yoga. Since its spread to the west, yoga has boomed. It’s grown into a billion-dollar industry made up of more styles of yoga practice than ever before. And as of 2008, September is even National Yoga Month!
With more people flocking to yoga classes, the need for yoga teachers – and yoga teacher training (YTT) – has increased. You may have even already seen a 200-hour training offered at your regular yoga studio or at one around town.
Suppose these trainings have piqued your interest, but you’re not so sure about the teaching part. That’s actually pretty common; the 200-hour basic teacher training is just the tip of a very large iceberg when it comes to teaching yoga. In fact, most program graduates who do go on to teach will continue to go to other more in-depth and stylized yoga teacher trainings to build on their knowledge and teaching methods.
This means a fair amount of people come out of a 200-hour YTT having learned a lot, but for some reason or another aren’t ready or able to take on teaching. And that’s okay because, as this non-teaching, 200-hour certified yoga student can attest, a yoga teacher training course will greatly expand and deepen your own personal practice. This better understanding of yoga and your practice can be reason enough to take the training on.
Naturally, one of the main topics covered in YTT is the physical aspect of yoga. Not only do you learn new postures and the breakdown of proper alignments for them, you’ll learn various pose modifications and assists for different body types with a focus that can be attained in a regular yoga class. Teacher trainings also tend to be a physically strenuous endeavor; they usually last a week or cover a span of weekends, and will include practices that challenge and push your practice forward like never before.
A 200-hour YTT course is also usually a yoga student’s first real, in-depth look into the components of yoga outside of the physical poses. Well, as in-depth as you can get with 5000+ years of yoga history, theories, and philosophies. While you may have touched on things like the Eight Limbs, mantras, Sanskrit words, and other aspects of yoga throughout classes as a student, YTT provides you with the lessons and guidance to deepen your understanding of the broader context of yoga.
This understanding of yoga, believe it or not, will typically influence a better understanding of yourself as well. Yoga, ultimately, is a journey that begins by going inward. In order to help others with their journey by teaching, by committing yourself to the practice of yoga, YTTs will help you along yours. In an emotionally intense (but safe!) space like a good YTT session, you may find feelings bubble up – some you may not have even been aware of – only to acknowledge and accept them, maybe even finding empowerment in them with the help of your YTT support system.
Even if you go into YTT with the mindset that you probably won’t teach, you’ll still have to do some practice teaching. Believe it or not, public speaking is one of the most prevalent phobias in today’s society. By practice teaching in a supportive environment, you’ll learn to address groups of people more clearly and how to better manage that group while speaking from the heart. And, who knows? Maybe practice teaching will even make you realize you do belong in the teacher role of a yoga class.
Whatever your reason for taking a YTT course, there’s no doubt that it’s a serious financial and time commitment. However, even if you don’t end up teaching, you are making a significant investment in your practice and yourself by taking on yoga teacher training.
Kat Wiseman is a content writer for Span Enterprises in Rock Hill, SC. She has a B.A. in English-Creative Writing from Winthrop University and her RYT 200 from Yoga Alliance. When she's not writing or doing yoga, she enjoys Netflix marathons, mystery novels, and being at the beach.