Every yoga teacher begins somewhere.
That somewhere just might be your teacher training program. But, from evaluating applicants to ensuring their success after the program, there’s a lot to think about in giving teachers-in-training the best experience possible.
“Our teacher training program teaches students on how to weave yoga as a way of life into their existing lifestyle long term,” said Victoria Greene, the program manager at The Yoga Room in New York. “We cover all the necessary components required to teach them how to teach, but the emphasis is definitely on how to do what you already do well and add awareness and yoga teaching to that.”
Where to Start
Any applicants to the program will sit down with Greene. She does this for three specific reasons: to establish a line of communication, as Greene and the trainee will be communicating a lot; to allow her the chance to gauge their pre-knowledge and experience level based on the way they answer questions; and to make sure they understand the training’s focus to see if it’s a good fit. Greene then asks them to attend classes for a couple of weeks, led by her and some of The Yoga Room’s main team members who also play a role in the teacher training. “If they don’t feel connected to us as teachers, it will be a hard process,” she said.
Christa Stebbing, the owner of Kindred Yoga in North Wales, Pennsylvania, requires six months of yoga practice for those applying to her teacher training program. Plus, they must maintain a personal practice on top of enthusiasm for learning and a commitment to do their best. If they apply, Stebbing sets up a meeting. “We can get to know each other, clarify expectations and make sure all questions are answered,” she said. “This way, all trainees understand exactly what is expected of them as they prepare for the training.”
Mentoring Your Trainees
A unique factor of Kindred Yoga’s program is mentorship. Stebbing said it has been quite valuable for many of their trainees. It’s personalized, and at least 50 hours are dedicated to trainees. This experience and support allows confidence to grow, enabling them to feel able to teach immediately upon certification.
This type of individualization is seen in ChildLight Yoga’s children’s yoga school. Lisa Flynn, the founder and CEO, said trainees in the program work with the director of trainings to customize a program plan that best supports the participant’s individual teaching interests. Foundational experience with yoga is recommended in order to apply for the programs.
One thing that’s worked extremely well for ChildLight are its physical resources. “People love our teacher training manuals, which have literally been dubbed, ‘The bibles of kids’ yoga,’” said Flynn. “They are incredible reference guides, constantly updated and only available when attending a training.”
What Happens After?
After graduating, Flynn said they require grads to teach three community classes as soon as possible and report back. That, plus inviting them to join the ChildLight Yoga Instructors Circle Facebook group, has helped set trainees up for success, said Flynn.
With graduates at Kindred Yoga, Stebbing gives them the opportunity to teach as much as possible. She will continue to offer mentorship and support, as she believes it’s her responsibility to build confident and skillful teachers. Ultimately, she wants her trainees to learn three things: gain a deeper connection with their personal practice, know they are special in their own way, and being themselves is enough.
While Greene can’t guarantee graduates of her teacher training program will be ready to teach at The Yoga Room — a very busy studio — she will do all she can to help them succeed. Whether that’s offering a closing one-on-one session with them, reviewing resumes and offering advice, or inviting graduates who have been actively seeking opportunity to teacher trials, the door remains open.
For Greene, the teacher training program allows for its students to apply all they’ve learned to their practice and their life. Ultimately, it’s growing them spiritually, mentally and physically, all powerful things for the yoga teachers of the future. And her goals for what trainees learn in the program are quite clear. “That by becoming a yoga teacher, they are carrying a flame of legacy forward and will hopefully honor that legacy,” she said. “They become responsible as teachers who recognize they are in service to the students who come to them.”