Choosing the right yoga teacher training course: 6 questions to ask yourself

Since completing my yoga teacher-training course (YTT for short) so many friends and family members have asked me about how and why I decided to study with my chosen school. This post is for you guys!

It was truly one of the most wonderful experiences of my life: even if I had never actually ended up teaching yoga I learned so much about myself in the process that it would have been 100% worth it anyway. I met some seriously awesome humans who I am still in touch with now.

There are so many reasons for wanting to embark on a yoga teacher training course, so the first thing you have to ask yourself if you are thinking about taking the leap is:

1. What do I want to get out of this?

Are you becoming a teacher because it’s your passion and you want to live and breathe all things yoga forever and ever Amen? Or are you hoping to earn a bit more cash on the side of your day job? Maybe you just want to be able to teach yoga to your children and have no interest in earning money from it.

Once you know the answer to this question, everything will become much clearer! These were the 5 things I asked myself once I was clear on the reason I wanted to become a yoga instructor:

2. Which style of yoga do I want to teach?

My thoughts on this are:

  1. Follow your passion

Since you are thinking about becoming a teacher, you have probably already found a style of yoga you enjoy most and this is a great place to start. By choosing the style you’re most passionate about, you will undoubtedly have more success as a teacher as your love of the subject will shine through to your students.

     2. Be sure you can earn a living (if you need to!) 

Something else you may wish to consider is the market demand for teachers in your chosen style and the amount of competition in your area. If you choose to study Kundalini yoga, for example, but nobody in your area is interested then you will probably find it difficult to get work.

Some styles of yoga are very specific, which is fine if that’s the style of yoga you are passionate about and you are sure you have a market base interested in learning. But some styles are more broad and can be adapted to suit a wide range of students (I’m thinking Vinyasa and Hatha yoga in particular) so if you’re aiming to appeal to the masses this could be a good place to start your teaching career.

3. What kind of schedule would suit my current life situation?

Option 1: long term study

When I initially started my research I found a London-based course where you attend classes every weekend for 3 months. At the time I had a 9-5 job in London so knew I would have to fit in my training at weekends.

These kinds of courses can go on for even longer (e.g. one full weekend once a month for a year) so they are suitable for people with lots of commitments. The added benefit of studying over a longer period of time is that the material has more of a chance to sink in and you have more time to practice between each session, so when you graduate from your training you’ll be ready and raring to start teaching!

Option 2: intensive study

If you are lucky enough to have some extended free time then you might consider an intensive YTT course in the form of 200 hrs (about 4 weeks) or 500 hrs (about 6 weeks). I decided to go with this option because I wanted to immerse myself fully in the world of yoga for the time I had off work!

Some people turn their noses up at intensive trainings like these and I can kind of understand why – it does seem a bit crazy that you are qualified to teach others after just a few weeks worth of study. Even though there will be many opportunities to practice teaching your fellow students during the course I still think it’s very important to continue refining your approach afterwards by practising with your friends and family before you even think about charging for a class. I did this for a good 8 months before I started a paid teaching position.

4. Where do I want to study?

The world truly is your oyster when it comes to choosing where you want to study your yoga certification. A simple Google search of “yoga teacher training in ….” will show you just how much is out there.

My thought process for choosing a good location went something like this:

  • I have 5 weeks off so I definitely want to combine my YTT with travelling
  • India is the home of yoga so I want to go there
  • Mysore is the home of Ashtanga yoga so I kind of want to go there
  • But Mysore is a city and I would rather relax by the beach in my spare time
  • Goa seems to be very popular with yogis, I’ll start with “Ashtanga yoga teacher training course in Goa”

It really depends what you are looking for! I would say that location isn’t everything and it’s more important to find the right teachers than location. But if you are spending 4 weeks of your life there it makes sense to take location into account.

5. How much am I willing to pay?

There’s so much variation in the prices of these courses! When you start your search you will see anything from £1000 to £4000 but the things that are sure to bump up the price of your YTT include:

  • If you want fancy accommodation and food
  • If you want to study with a famous yoga school
  • Where in the world you want to study

I generally found that Indian schools were a lot cheaper than European schools, which also impacted my decision to study in India. I paid £1700 for my 200 hr course, which I thought found to be reasonable. This included all food, accommodation, books and other study materials; I just had to pay for flights.

6. What do I want to learn about?

Yoga is so much more than just physical postures and different YTT courses will have focus on different aspects of it. Are you keen to advance your knowledge of the physical postures? Are you interested in learning about breathing and cleansing techniques?

I found that western schools seemed to focus more on asana whilst Indian schools offered more holistic teaching which included lots about meditation, pranayama and study of the Yoga Sutras (ancient yogi texts).

Although I was keen to develop my knowledge of the asanas and learn all the key adjustments when teaching, I also wanted to learn more about yoga beyond the physical postures. I decided to study with Indian teachers who had lived and breathed all aspects of yoga their whole lives; after all, if I was going all the way to India to study I didn’t see much point in choosing a school led by teachers from the west! (No discredit to western teachers, of course! Simply my personal thought process.)

This was just my preference of course, but when you read the descriptions of the courses you will get a feel for which one suits you best.

Other things to consider

  • What size of teaching group would you feel most comfortable with? With a large group you will have more yogi friends to learn from but you will also receive less attention during the classes.
  • How will you be assessed? Some courses require you to pass an exam whereas others will just assess you as you go along.
  • How much is included in the price of your course? Are all of your books, exams, food, accommodation, airport pickup etc. included or will you need to budget for those separately?
  • Is your school registered with the Yoga Alliance? If you want to teach in the UK/US you will definitely need to study with a Yoga Alliance-registered school – it’s the industry standard for yoga accreditations. Double check the requirements of the country you are intending to teach in before signing up for the wrong course!
  • Don’t be afraid to ASK QUESTIONS! Write a list of all the things you need to know and if you can’t find the answers on the school’s webpage, why not set up a call or Skype with the teacher to get all the information you need? You’re spending a lot of money and time on this course so if the teacher doesn’t have time to answer your questions then they probably aren’t worth your energy!


Here are some other blog posts I found useful when choosing my YTT course:

  • This one by the Journey Junkie tells you about the basic topics that will typically be covered in a yoga teacher training course
  • The Yoga Journal have also written a post on the topic, which is more high level
  • Another blog post on the topic by Yoganonomous gives you some criteria to consider whilst you are selecting your course

My yoga teacher training

Here is a little bit more info on my personal yoga teacher training course:

Yoga school: Yog Nisarga (you’ll see my face on the front page if you click through!)

Style: Ashtanga vinyasa yoga

Instructor: Prem Sandip Chaugule

Location: Mandrem Beach, Goa, India

Price: £1,700 which included the following:

  • Ayurvedic consultation by Ayurvedic doctor
  • A uniform for the certification ceremony – flattering white leggings and a Yog Nisarga t shirt 😉
  • Ashtanga yoga teacher training manual
  • A Yoga Alliance certificate
  • Airport pick up
  • 25 nights accommodation
  • 3 vegetarian meals per day apart from lunch on Sundays
  • And of course, 200 hours’ worth of yoga teacher training from the masters!

That’s it for now yogis! Good luck on your quest to find the right yoga teacher training course. If you have any questions please feel free to comment and I’ll do my best to add more information 🙂

yoga teacher training

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  • Reply
    October 11, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    Out of interest, what is your answer to question 1? What did you want to get out of YTT?

    • Reply
      Ashtanga Yoga Girl
      October 15, 2016 at 6:48 pm

      Thanks for your question Ade!

      When I first decided to do YTT I was only really looking to work on my own practice and YTT seemed like the most economical way to do it!

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