Tips for Selecting a Yoga Teacher Training Program

What should you look for when selecting a yoga teacher training program? We get asked this question frequently. There are many training programs out there and there is a big difference between them. Here are some tips to help make the best selection for you.

1. Program Approved by Your State
In Illinois, any institution that claims to offer yoga teacher training must be approved or recognized by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Programs are approved by the Board of Higher Education based on compliance with quality criteria. Prairie Yoga is an approved school in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

2. Registered School with Yoga Alliance
Is the School Registered with Yoga Alliance? Yoga Alliance registers both individual yoga teachers and yoga teacher training programs (schools) who have complied with minimum educational standards established by the organization. Look for the RYS 200 or RYS 300 symbol on advertising and double check the school on the Yoga Alliance website. If a training is not registered with Yoga Alliance, your certification may not be recognized by professional yoga organizations, making it more difficult for you to get hired or accepted into a registered advanced training. An exception to this is the Iyengar certification, which holds very high standards. A registered yoga school does not guarantee the quality of a program, but you will know that it at least meets the minimum standards. For a listing of registered yoga schools in your area, visit

3. The Teacher Trainer's Experience
Once you have confirmed the school is registered with Yoga Alliance, then look at the teachers. How much experience does the primary teacher have training others? Teaching others how to teach is a unique skill and, to be honest, not many yoga teachers have all the qualities necessary to be an effective teacher trainer. It requires: a mature level of knowledge and experience; the ability to articulate clearly and inspire others; organizational skills; coaching ability; and a high degree of ethical responsibility. The primary teacher trainer should be highly respected by their peers in the yoga community. They should care more about developing students to their full potential than promoting themselves.

4. The School's Reputation
What is the reputation of the teacher and the school? Credentials can look good on paper, but more important is the actual experience others have had in the training. Ask yoga teachers that you respect which school they recommend. Ask the school for references from former trainees so you can hear first-hand from someone who has experienced the teacher training.

5. The Content of The Training
The content of different training programs varies greatly. Inquire into what style of yoga is emphasized. Does this style resonate with you? Does the program encourage the development of your own teaching style or does it emphasize the alignment with one system of yoga? What topics will be covered in the training? Trainees who enter our advanced training come from a wide variety of 200 hour programs. Some have had very little exposure to pranayama, meditation or teaching skills. If this is important to you, ask former trainees how much of this information is actually provided in the training.

Ask the school if you can review their syllabus and training manual. When you view the course materials, does the program appear organized? Does the content cover what you want to learn? 

Make sure the training teaches you how to "teach" yoga, which is different than practicing. You will want to learn how to provide effective visual demonstrations, verbal cueing and manual adjustments. Does the training provide opportunities for the trainer to view your teaching skills and provide specific feedback? To become an effective teacher, one needs direct, honest and compassionate feedback. Is student teaching and apprenticing required? This is how yoga was taught for many years, working directly under an experienced teacher. Is there a manageable amount of homework that supports what is being taught in the course? You will learn a lot more in your teacher training if the school supplements the classroom experience with outside study.

Another effective way to review a school is to look at their graduates. Are their graduates inspiring and skilled yoga teachers?

6. The Cost of the Program
Look at the total cost of the program and see what you are getting for that money. How many hours are spent directly with the primary teacher? Are you getting support outside of the training? Are you able to contact the teacher with questions? Does the teacher reply in a timely manner? What is the refund policy? What if you enroll and decide the school is not a good match for you--are you able to withdraw and receive your money back?

7. On-going Support After Graduation
A good training program will help you build relationships with others in the yoga teaching community. Does the school support you after the training is complete? Does the training have a mentorship program you can participate in? Does the school provide local yoga teaching opportunities once you have graduated? A school that is deeply connected to the community will often have a network of organizations that contact them looking for yoga teachers.

Yoga is a lifetime of study. A good program will deepen your own personal practice; give you the knowledge and skills you need to teach yoga safely and effectively; help you see your path more clearly and inspire you to learn more. Use your head and do your homework, but in the end, follow your heart. It will lead you in the direction that is best for you.