Yoga instructors should be life-long learners. Education schools like YogaFit, as well as studios themselves, are making that happen across the industry.
YogaFit hosts Mind-Body-Fitness (MBF) Conferences, teacher trainings and retreats worldwide open to instructors, teacher trainees, and yoga enthusiasts for levels one through five.
“YogaFit believes that most studios want their teachers to continue learning and growing as much as possible,” said Beth Shaw, the founder of YogaFit.
YogaFit held more than 600 trainings in 2016 and Shaw explained host studios independently gauge the needs of their student communities to determine which courses make the most sense for their teachers to take. “For example, one of our hosts noticed an increase in women asking for prenatal yoga,” she said. “To ensure that her teachers were well-equipped to accommodate that population, she requested to host a YogaFit Prenatal training and invited all interested teachers to attend.”
Shaw said recently the industry has shown an increased interest in yoga for specific populations, like pregnant women, so YogaFit encourages its hosts and their teachers to keep their anatomy knowledge current. “To help them do that, we offer advanced anatomy and physiology trainings several times a year,” she said.
According to Shaw, one of their most popular offerings has been YogaFit for Warriors, a training that helps teachers work with those struggling with PTSD, ADHD, autism and childhood trauma. “Throughout its long history, yoga has always changed to accommodate the population it serves,” she said. “As the needs of the population change and increase, the tools in a yogi’s toolkit must also change.”
Shaw added teachers cannot serve their students effectively if they get stuck in only one way of doing things, or one teaching style. “Not only that, but it’s hard to stay excited and engaged if you’re not learning anything new,” she emphasized.
The bottom line, said Shaw, is all teachers should get the training they need to provide a safe and appropriate classroom and one-on-one instruction for everyone. At least, that’s the mission at YogaFit, and that mission has led them to become one of the largest yoga education companies in the world.
Ashley Spencer Clauer, the owner of Wanderlust Yoga Austin in Austin, Texas, would agree about the fluidity of the industry and the importance of teachers and studio owners staying up-to-date on continuing education.
“I want Wanderlust to be at the highest standards and there’s always ways to grow,” said Clauer. “To do that we have to keep being curious, we have to keep studying, we have to keep learning, because it’s always shifting, there’s always more or a different perspective.”
Wanderlust Yoga Austin proves you don’t always have to send your teachers outside the studio to continue their education. The studio offers a 200-hour Yoga Alliance registered teacher training program and in 2016 launched its first 300-hour teacher training program.
“My biggest tip with launching a teacher training program is you have to be prepared that if you’re creating your own training, or you’re having a team from the ground up, financially it will cost you, which you have to always keep in mind before you launch the program,” cautioned Clauer.
Clauer explained you should aim for a minimum number of participants to ensure that money is made back on your investment. She also highlighted the importance of operating a credible program. “Make sure that no matter what you develop, making sure you’re Yoga Alliance certified, I think that really enhances your credibility,” she stressed. “Right now there’s a lot of programs on the market that have not submitted to Yoga Alliance, so you don’t really know the standards.”
For Wanderlust, a Yoga Alliance certification is mandatory, and Clauer noted the Yoga Alliance accreditation can also be used for marketing purposes.
Ultimately, according to Clauer, the goal should be to provide teachers with the opportunity to pursue different paths past the completion of their level one or level two training. “I don’t want it to just stop at the 200-hour level. I think that’s where it just begins,” she said. “Give people opportunities to continuously study, because the only way to be successful as a teacher, or as a studio owner, is to make yourself a student first and foremost.”