Normally, I start each yoga class by telling that I was trained to be a yoga teacher in India and that I therefore teach traditional Yoga. Why do I point this out?
Because here in Germany as well as in the US I have seen yoga classes that rather seem like an aerobic or some sort of fitness class. So if students would expect any sort of group fitness class from me, this would not be the case. Of course certain yoga asanas focus on strengthening muscles and on enhancing the overall fitness but yoga is so much more.*
Traditional yoga or modern yoga – What´s your intention?
Physical yoga is there to build a healthy house for your mind to reside in. Only when you are physically fit and healthy your will be able think clearly and to reach 100% of its capabilities.
Through yoga practice you shall pump blood into all tiny parts of your body, stimulate your organs, strengthen your muscles, make your joints mobile, enlarge tendons and enhance your balance so you feel stable in any position.
Additionally, a yoga teacher will always point out a certain breathing technique to unite it with your movements and to lead your inner energy flow. Also the teacher tries to drive the attention to the student’s concentration, to always bring back their attention to their own body and movements. This will somehow capture the student’s mind giving them clear thoughts.
And this, is the overall goal of yoga – to control the fluctuations of the mind. Physical yoga practice is there to establish a healthy house where the mind can comfortably reside.
More modern yoga classes have another intention (as it seams) such as the fitness body. Superficiality should never be the center of attention in yoga but should it be your overall health. But of course – fitness classes are absolutely great for your overall health too.
So learning first hand from original yogis who really know about the intention of physical yoga, who maybe grew up starting each day with a yoga practice in school and who were raised following the yoga philosophy – I think – this should be the goal of any yoga teacher who aims to spread this so valuable “lifestyle”.
Where to attend School?
If you are planning to attend a yoga teacher training I suggest going to India. Research beforehand on the gurus leading the teacher trainings. Are they really qualified? What are the ratings of the school? Maybe also ask former students who were writing public evaluations if they felt ready to teach after the YTT (that´s what I did back in 2018 when I went to India). Also make sure that the school will be able to certify you by the International Yoga Alliance afterwards.
Of course, there are for sure excellent schools in western countries offering YTT, however, it will only be beneficial for you to experience the cradle of what you´re trying to incorporate.
Your inner Journey
Please give yourself the time to let yourself grow into the position of a yoga teacher. It will be very helpful if you get out of your known environment so you can dive deeply into this world of yoga philosophy, ayurveda (which is part of the yoga culture), of simply learning to control your mind and to incorporate this healthy and balanced lifestyle. Regular physical practice is essential to it. Only if you have fully understood the theory behind this big world of yoga, then you will also be able to spread it properly into the world. And this, I believe, can only be done when you learn first hand of the best whose natural culture yoga is.
What I would like to point out additionally is the duration of the training. Normally you´d start off with a 200 hours TT to become a certified teacher. I see some schools offer a 3 week TT to complete the 200h schedule. This would mean that you´d study and practice every day for 10 and a half hours without any break. When shall you practice and digest all your impressions?
So for a 200h schedule I would recommend to attend a one month course where you have one day a week off. Trust me, you´ll also want this break to practice and prepare for your exams (or to just take some relaxed breaths).
Completing the YTT all at once or better splitting it up over time?
All at once, no break in between, definitely. It is an intense, so positive and valuable, inner journey you´ll go through when attending a YTT. If you´ll always have breaks in between that would take you back into your western life with your daily duties, I believe you won´t be able to absorb the lifestyle and practices fully.
Again, it is only beneficial, if you´d go to India learning from original yogis while living the yogi life.
Hope this was helpful to you in case you´re thinking about becoming a yoga teacher too.
Wishing you all the best on your personal yoga journey,
*New mixes such as Yogalates have developed. There are very interesting combinations and I totally get that they are also very beneficial, but due to these the ancient, original yoga styles blur. Resultantly, our modern, western world sees yoga solely as some sort of sports class – but it is so much more. It is sort of a culture that would guide you to a healthy and balanced lifestyle developing inner peace and fulfillment.