People often ask if they should do a 200-hour yoga teacher training even if they don’t plan to become a yoga teacher. I always answer with a resounding, ‘Yes!’ A foundational yoga teacher training is a wonderful opportunity to experience the vastness of yoga that is difficult to experience in a 60 or 90-minute class. But it’s important that you choose a high quality program.
If you know me at all, you know that I have strong feelings about what to look for to ensure you enroll in a topnotch 200-hour program. Here’s just a sample of what to look for. And if you’d like to learn more about my upcoming 200-hour teacher training with Adam Hocke and Adam Husler, you can find details here.
200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training: 6 Things to Look For
1). Safe, Up-to-Date Asana Practice
Yoga is a wonderful, beneficial practice when done safely. And yet, it’s no secret that yoga injuries have been on the rise in recent years.
As a result, I’ve made changes to the way I sequence vinyasa yoga classes (read: we’ve changed things up to reduce repetitive stress) and my co-teachers and I don’t teach asana alignment in a “traditional way” just because it’s traditional. We believe that there are instances where traditional asana alignment should be re-examined to help facilitate a safer practice.
Bottom line: A topnotch 200-hour yoga teacher training will teach safe alignment, balanced sequencing that reduces repetitive stress, and perhaps most importantly, the idea that yoga postures are not one-size-fits-all.
2). Essential Yoga Anatomy
Learning anatomy is an essential part of a 200-hour yoga teacher training program. Building your anatomy knowledge is an inroad to heightening all types of awareness. Your experience of the poses will deepen, your proprioception will increase, your understanding of how your breath affects your physiology are just a few examples.
It’s important to know that yoga anatomy is both art and science. There are some outdated instructions and cues that have been baked into yoga culture (one example that comes to mind is that twists “wring out toxins”).
In my view, the best yoga anatomy teacher for a 200-hour teacher training program is one who welcomes questions — and challenges — of all kinds. I’ve spent the past 10 years working with professionals across several modalities — from physical therapists to surgeons to doctors of sports medicine — so that I can present an evidence-based anatomy program that applies to yoga in a practical, relevant way.
Bottom line: Make sure you know who is teaching the yoga anatomy hours of your 200-hour program before you sign up — and find out who they were trained by. When in doubt, email them with questions! They should take the time to answer.
3). Philosophy and History
A thoughtful yoga philosophy program will give you a fuller picture of aspects of the practice that you can’t cover in day-to-day yoga classes: You’ll dive into Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, unpacking important verses and the eight limbs. You’ll come to understand how asana practice has evolved, and you will gain an experiential understanding of how to weave these teachings into your own practice and your life.
Bottom line: Look for a yoga teacher training that covers the foundational texts: The Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra and more.
4). Skillful, Intelligent Hands-On Adjustments
Most modern teachers have re-examined how to offer safe manual adjustments to students. I do not do deepening adjustments. Instead, my teachers and I offer stabilizing adjustments. You can learn more about my approach to hands-on adjustments by reading this blog or listening to this Yogaland podcast.
Bottom line: The days of lying over students’ bodies to get them to go deeper are long gone.
5). Practice Teaching
Even if you are unsure if you want to teach when the training is over, learning to teach in front of a group is an incredibly valuable skill! The goal of practice teaching is not to be perfect out of the gate. Instead, think of practice teaching as an opportunity to overcome your fears in a community of supportive peers and to learn to receive constructive, compassionate feedback.
Bottom line: An experienced 200-hour lead teacher will endeavor to create a safe space where everyone feels comfortable and supported as they learn to teach.
6). Life Skills
Going through 200 hours of training in a mind-body discipline like yoga can be transformative and also intense. Ultimately, though, when you finish your program, you should feel like you have gained insight into yourself and tools to live balanced life
Bottom line: A good yoga teacher training will give you the tools to observe your patterns and tendencies, and why you suffer and react the way you do. The training will give you the life skills to show up and handle the same situations in a healthier, less stress-inducing way.