Having just graduated from Samyak Yoga’s 200 hour teacher training course, accredited with the Yoga Alliance, I can honestly say that the month I spent studying in Kerala India was probably the best-spent month of my life.
Since I was a child, I have been interested in ballet and gymnastics… when I neared adulthood, I even tried my hand at pole dancing. I loved the grace, the routine, the flexibility in all three. So when my Mom suggested in 2013, a year of much stress and discomfort for me, that I attend a yoga class in order to relax myself, I simply thought, ‘Why not? I will probably be good at it…’
The top three reasons why people take up yoga are as follows… 1) To get into better physical condition 2) To become more flexible and 3) To reduce stress. Whilst yoga definitely helps with each of these aspirations, when you look into it in more detail, you start to realise that there is so much more to it than that!
People often assume that yoga is religious and cower away from it. Perhaps it is the use of the ancient language of Sanscrit to describe the postures, or the chanting of ‘Om’, or the paintings and sculptures of Hindu gods. After reading a lot about yoga, and picking the brains of my yoga teachers, I understand that yoga doesn’t have to be religious. The reason Sanscrit is used is because yoga in itself is an ancient practice and Sanscrit was the original language. ‘Om’ isn’t a prayer, but the buzzing sound that one would hear if they were stood just outside our universe or inside our bodies. Yoga doesn’t require its practitioners to dedicate their practice to Shiva, but legend has it that this figure was keen practitioners of yoga and there are lots of stories behind the postures (which you are invited to take as fiction or non-fiction depending on your belief systems) which denote the practice of the gods.
So I have been practicing yoga intensively since May of 2013, and in October I decided to quit my job and train as a yoga instructor. I feel like the benefits of yoga are so great that I want to be able to share them with others. And although many TTC programmes might have turned me down due to my short time in practice, I believe that even if a person only knows one yoga posture, or one mantra, or one bit of yogic philosophy which they would like to share for the right reasons, they should be allowed to study and practice and ultimately, teach. I was happy to hear that Samyak agreed with me!
There are literally thousands of yoga teaching courses worldwide now, so having been through the extensive research that went into my choosing Samyak, I would like to give a bit of advice based on how I made my selection. So here is my guide to choosing the right Yoga TTC for you…
1) Ask yourself where you want to study. I knew that I wanted to go to India because this is where yoga originated and I wanted to learn about the purest, most traditional form as a good foundation, Hatha. I had already visited India in 2013 but I hadn’t visited the state of Kerala which I had wanted to go to. So I started hunting for TTC’s in Kerala!
2) Decide what kind of yoga you would like to practice. There are hundreds of types of yoga out there now, from Bikram (yoga in what is essentially a sauna) and Anusara (a Hatha based flow) to children’s yoga and Kundalini (mostly focused on chanting and pranayama), from Ashtanga Vinyasa (a fast cardio-vascular flow) and Doga (yoga for dogs) to Acro Yoga and even naked yoga! If in doubt I would recommend choosing Hatha as it gives you a great foundation to the original form of practice.
3) Once you have decided a geographical location and style of yoga, go on the Yoga Alliance website and find accredited schools. Anyone can give a 200 hour YTTC qualification, but not all of them are registered with the Yoga Alliance, and many yoga jobs will specifically request for your course to have been registered. Choosing an accredited course won’t only boost your job prospects but will ensure that your curriculum is as well rounded as it needs to be for you to confidently be able to teach after graduation.
4) Think about your personal requirements. How much money do you want to spend? TTC’s based in the West are often at least double in price in contrast to those based in Asia and the Asian ones often include food and accommodation (although you pay for flights as well, I found I still spent about £1000 less than I would have if I had trained in the UK!). Would you like an intensive course spread over four weeks or a part-time part-distance learning course which can last up to three years? Do you have enough freedom of responsibility to be able to dedicate a whole month, six days for four weeks, to learning about yoga?
5) Try to understand a bit more about the environment and atmosphere surrounding your school. One school I emailed boasted the fact that they churn out hundreds of yoga teachers each month, which is no doubt a testament to their success but also gave me the fear that there would be too much of a ‘factory’ atmosphere… I was looking for a programme where I wouldn’t have to fight a bunch of other students to ask a question at the end of the class!
6) Check out the curriculum. Depending on what your reasons for signing up are, different schools will have different things to offer. Some people go on TTC so that they can get a more in-depth understanding of yoga, but they might not have a specific plan to teach. I, on the other hand, was very passionate about teaching, so it was important to me to choose a TTC which gave a lot of practicing opportunities. Each day for the four weeks with Samyak I would teach five postures to my peers and on the final week of the course I presented a 40-minute class to the group of 18 people. Not all TTC’s offer this. Similarly, some people want to learn more about the business of yoga, and some TTC’s assist with branding, business start-up and so on. This is your future so choose what is right for you.
7) Get in touch! Don’t just go to the TTC website and decide on the spot to hand over your hard-earned money. Email the programme, ask some questions. When I was searching for my school, I emailed five or six different programmes and Samyak really stood out as having the personal touch in their replies. I asked about a million-and-one questions and we were emailing back and forth for months… I really appreciated the time they put into replying to me and the patience they had!
8) Dig deeper… Once you have a sneaking suspicion that you have found the right school for you, go and check out their social networking pages. Not only will you find more videos and pictures and testimonials but you can also see what image they want to portray and interacting with both prospective and previous students. Everyone that I contacted had only good things to say about Samyak, which supported my gut instinct to sign up.
9) Take a leap of faith. It was scary for me to book a flight to India for a month of learning about yoga with up to twenty strangers from three Indian guys who I had never met… and fork over $1300 in the hope that it would be what I was looking for. But if you do your research in the initial stages of choosing your TTC, it will pay off a thousand-fold for years to come.
*This was ABSOLUTELY worth all of the effort I put into finding the right school!*
I really enjoyed my time in India. Although my muscles were aching on an almost permanent basis, I was exhausted from the heat and I missed home a little bit, I would recommend Samyak Yoga to everyone and anyone who is looking to become a yoga teacher. My teachers Trupta, Aravind and Rakesh were three of the nicest guys I could ever hope to meet… they literally became like big brothers to me and nothing was too much to ask. Samyak is a growing company with a personal touch unlike any other and it couldn’t have been more right for me!
Have you ever been on a yoga TTC? Are you considering going on one now? What would you look for when searching for a course?