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Is Online Yoga Teacher Training for You?
If there is a silver lining in the pandemic, it is that the dramatic expansion of online yoga has opened up countless new opportunities for yoga teachers. Chief among them is the opportunity to take Yoga Alliance-approved online yoga teacher training. For the time being, at least, Yoga Alliance has modified its requirements to enable online yoga teacher training both at the 200-hour level as well as the 300-hour level.
This means that if you are a yoga teacher, you can get your full RYT-500 designation without the hassle of expensive traveling and time away from work. Yet many people are wary of online yoga teacher trainings and for good reason. While there are numerous plusses of doing yoga teacher training online, there are pitfalls as well.
On the one hand, the advent of online yoga teacher training creates an incredible opportunity to study online with top-notch yoga teachers you might never otherwise be able to study with. On the other hand, as always, it’s “buyer beware.” Not all programs are created equally.
Is A 300-Hour Online Yoga Teacher Training for You? Here’s What to Look For
A little background first. YogaUOnline started offering online continuing education courses for yoga teachers in 2010. We have been privileged to be able to host courses with leading yoga teachers like Judith Hanson Lasater, Donna Farhi, Doug Keller, Tom Myers, Julie Gudmestad, and many, many more for more than a decade.
As a result, we have ample experience with what works in the online yoga teaching space and in particular, what does not. So here are six key things to look for when picking an online yoga teacher training.
7 Keys to Effective Online Yoga Teacher Training
1. Is the Program Yoga Alliance Approved?
With the updated regulations from Yoga Alliance, all RYT-300 programs can apply for approval to offer online yoga teacher training. That doesn’t necessarily mean that all schools offering online yoga teacher training are Yoga Alliance-approved, however. There are still schools that opt to not get the approval.
It’s not unusual for such programs to fudge the issue, arguing that Yoga Alliance registration is irrelevant and not needed. Online yoga teacher trainings in this category are often marketed via attractive-looking youthful-looking influencers, and they spend a lot of money advertising online, implicitly giving the appearance of legitimacy.
But don’t be fooled. The main reason an online yoga teacher training program would opt to not create a program that complies with Yoga Alliance standards is that the standards generally force a higher level of service and quality.
As most yoga teachers know, the Yoga Alliance requirements set a minimum level of standards to begin with, so any program that opts to not even meet these minimum standards is not likely to give you the kind of training you are looking for.
To check whether a program is Yoga Alliance registered, simply go to the Schools tab at YogaAlliance.org and search for the school you are researching. If it’s not listed there, it’s not registered. And while you are at it, check the school reviews as well!
2. Is the Price Too Good to be True?
A yoga teacher training program priced way below regular market prices may seem tempting, but as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.
It takes time, effort, and careful planning to put a quality online yoga teaching training together. And that necessarily will be reflected in the cost of the program, even more so if the program features top-notch teachers.
If the program you are looking at is listed below market rates for online yoga teacher training, it’s usually a red flag that it may not contain the depth and quality of training you are looking for.
If money is an issue, most quality programs will offer scholarship options for people with limited means. So when you’re in the market for an online yoga teacher training program, look for early-bird discounts, special bonuses, or scholarships.
3. Who Are the Lead Teachers in the Online Yoga Teacher Training Program?
Who you choose to study with matters immensely. If you completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training program, you may recall that students often pick up the language and teaching style of their teachers as they begin to find their voices.
This same concept holds true in 300-hour yoga teacher training programs. To some extent, you are who you study with. The quality, experience, and reputation of the teachers teaching in the program will give you a good indication of the quality of the program itself. In fact, they are pretty much inseparable.
Look for online yoga teacher trainings with teachers you know and trust. Another option, before committing to a program, is to enroll in other online workshops or trainings with the lead teachers to be sure their teaching style resonates with you.
4. Is the Online Yoga Teacher Training Interactive?
Ever bought a book that you were super excited to read, only to have it languish on your bookshelf month after month, year after year? Of course. Bookshelves all over the world are littered with books that people never get around to reading. It’s not that different from online trainings. Most people start out with all the good intentions in the world. But then life happens, and they never get around to finishing.
Unless there is an interactive component. Programs that combine both synchronous and asynchronous learning, along with a schedule of accountability are essential to ensure success. They will give you the steps you need to take to be successful and all you have to do is follow along. But without this interactive component, far too many students end up not completing the program.
5. Do You Get a Chance to Practice Teach?
Many people think that online yoga teacher training offers a lesser training experience. And this can be the case if the program doesn’t include opportunities to practice teaching in small groups.
In these days of Zoom with easy access to breakout rooms, there is no reason that your yoga teacher training would not provide ample opportunity for you to practice teaching together with your peers. We learn best by doing, and this is an essential element to look for in online yoga teacher training.
6. Is There a Coherent, Unique Vision for the Program, or Is It One Size Fits All?
Although Yoga Alliance requires registered yoga schools to instruct a minimum number of hours for certain topics, beyond these requirements, schools have a fair amount of flexibility in designing their curricula.
This makes it important for you to decide what you’d like to learn during a 300-hour yoga teacher training program. If you have a specific niche in mind, look for a program that will help you get trained in this area.
It’s fairly easy to put a collection of knowledge together to meet the Yoga Alliance's minimum requirements. But unless there is a coherent, unique vision for the program, chances are that it will be a one-size-fits-all program that offers generic training. This doesn’t really give you the knowledge you need to stand out in the marketplace once you finish your training.
Look for a program that contains a vision and knowledge that inspires you. If you are inspired and excited about what you are learning and teaching, this will transmit to your students as well.
7. Does the Program Include the Power of a Sangha?
Even if you study remotely, an online yoga teacher training program is not a journey you’ll be on alone. In completing a 300-hour yoga teacher training program, you will be part of a community of like-minded teachers who will lean on one another for support beyond the program’s ending.
Look for the ways the program creates opportunities for building a sangha as part of the training. To see if it’s a good fit, you also can get a sense of the type of students the program will attract by attending info sessions or classes, or reading testimonials from previous students.
Lacey Ramirez works for YogaUOnline and is an ERYT-500 yoga teacher, global health researcher, and writer based in the California Bay Area. Through her work, she seeks to make yoga accessible, inclusive, and equitable.
Lacey discovered yoga as a tool for centering during her years as a competitive runner. Since then, yoga has served as a way to connect with her body throughout her experience of pregnancy and parenthood. She teaches because she hopes others can use this sacred practice for calming, healing, and transformation.
As a yoga teacher, Lacey specializes in teaching restorative, Yin, prenatal, and trauma-informed Vinyasa yoga. She has also completed birth doula and prenatal/postnatal barre certifications and trainings. Additionally, she holds a Master of Science in Global Health and Population from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. To learn more and connect, visit her website laceyramirez.com
Eva Norlyk Smith, Ph.D. is the founder and President of YogaUOnline. She is a lead trainer in YogaUOnline’s Yoga Wellness Educator program, an RYT-300 Yoga Alliance approved training that focuses on giving teachers the skills they need to offer wellness courses and work with older beginners.