What a Yoga Teacher Training is & What it isn't

Many ask about Yoga Teacher Training. What it's like, what is learned, how to go about it, and what the overall journey is like. Below, some teachers share some insight about their training and what they think the TTC is and what it isn't.

Hannah Cooper

What a Teacher Training is: To me, it is in the everyday lessons I find myself encountering - whether in my self-practice, with fellow students, with my own students or with my teacher. Keeping that beginner's mind churning. You can go and meet brilliant, inspiring teachers and pay for those training experiences - walking away having gained more insight, sure. You can also find many programs that are a complete waste of time, money and energy - capitalizing on the quick consumer yoga fan base. It took me years of practice to finally attend a 200hr Yoga Alliance certified program in India and while I gained some valuable information, the most valuable was the importance of consistency, dedication, and community.

What is isn’t: Attending a month or two of training and assuming that gives one the readiness to teach is one of the biggest misconceptions around yoga today. Teacher training should not be a fast food prescription to enlightenment or teacher superiority - as it is often treated. Knowledge is not transferred once and retained for a lifetime. Knowledge is practiced, questioned, and so it goes. Work hard, choose trainings and teachers wisely and don't stop learning.

Sarah Gobran

What it is: An eye opener on the philosophy and anatomy of yoga. It was a good exposure to other practitioners and different experiences within the yoga path.

What is isn’t: Definitely taking a TTC does NOT mean becoming a teacher. It's a responsibility for someone to teach and take someone else's journey on their shoulder so unless there's a steady self-practice and a continuous learning process, a teacher will have nothing to give. A teacher must have a teacher and must learn continuously to be able to teach. Risk of injuries is high if a teacher doesn't have the proper know-how of alignment and anatomy. 200 or 500 hours are not enough to become a teacher, years of practice are needed as well as a lot of humbleness. Bottom line is, you can be a great teacher without TTC and you can take all TTCs in the world and still not be a good teacher.

Jenny Osman

What it is: To me, my teacher training was life changing. It taught me so much more than I thought I would learn. It changed me as a person, it made me so much more self-confident as a person and teacher. It is so important if you want to teach others to take the teacher training to understand the poses, the breath, the anatomy of the body as well as the spiritual side to yoga. Yoga is life changing, it balances your life, it makes you more mindful about yourself and those around you, it's grounding, it's beneficial for the health, it’s centering and it brings inner peace to the mind, body and soul.

What it isn't: To me it isn't the end of learning, we as teachers are still students and we should keep pushing to learn. It also doesn't make you the best teacher, what makes you a good teacher is your dedication to the practice, to your students and to learning more. The teacher training is just the beginning.

Ohoud Saad

What it is: It was a life changing journey. At least it was one for me. Everybody will experience it differently, I’m sure, but it was incredible for me. Not in a way where I was happy, inspired and doing great yoga poses though. On the contrary, I was vulnerable, down and physically and mentally exhausted. I had been practicing yoga for almost 5 years and went on the course to deepen my knowledge. The course ended up unearthing so many things within me I didn’t know existed. And it didn’t fix them. I didn’t find the answers I thought I would. I didn’t become a great yogi there. What it did is it gave me the tools I needed to fix things myself, to explore and answer my own questions, to try and become a better version of myself. It taught me a lot about the potential of yoga and the potential of me. It gave me light. How I used that light was up to me. I wrote a lot about my experience here.

What it isn’t: It’s not easy. It really isn’t. It’s tough, mentally and physically. It’s also definitely not the end of the road. I had several students with me who were repeating the course again because they didn’t make proper use of the teachings they learned the first time. The certificate we took at the end of the course meant nothing, it is not the end of learning or training. What we do with what we learn, that’s what makes us students of the practice and that’s what could potentially make us teachers.

Hibbah El Sayad

What it is: The teacher training course was a way for me to have a better understanding to many areas of yoga. I had been practicing for a couple years beforehand and upon completion of the training, everything made much more sense. The poses, the philosophy, sequencing and how yoga truly touches on the mind, body and soul creating a union upon which one becomes more aware and grounded in their life.

What it isn’t: It’s not the end of learning, it's just the beginning of starting to understand yoga. And the true learning comes from one’s individual practice.

Marla Starr

What it is: At some point along my journey as a yogi, I realized I really want to share my practice. I wanted others to feel the space and peace that yoga has helped me find. Through the course of my yoga teacher training, I discovered that what I needed to become a teacher wasn't really so much about technical skills, alignment, or fancy names for bizarre asanas, but rather the peace of mind and emotional stability that my out-of-balance daily life threatens to strip.

What it isn’t: It was not about learning the real names for poses. Yes, the Sanskrit names sound cool, but different schools use different names and I think some gurus just make them up. Real yoga is about preparing the body to allow the mind the space to be aware of the latent joy of life. It was not about becoming perfect in meditation. I started my course determined to get the most out of my money, and become the best meditator on the face of the planet in four weeks. I quickly found that militant meditation was only netting me frustration. Finally, one day I got mad at my teacher, stormed out of class, and went to sit on a rock in the middle of the river. That was where I learned to meditate. It was not really about learning to put my ankles behind my neck. I will admit that's part of what I wanted when I went there, and I got a lot of 'likes' on that photo. Now that I practice only three or four times a week, even thinking about this makes me cringe, but that certificate still hangs on my wall, and the lessons are still in my heart. Yoga teacher training was not, unfortunately, a four-week magic cure for all the ailments in my life. As a matter of fact, the hours on the mat made me more aware of even more imbalances in my life. It is up to me to cherish the beauty of the imperfections.

Sandy Sawiris

What it is: Well, TTC was a totally new experience for me, first time to India, first time to travel on my own. It was a perfect mix of cultures as you get exposed to different people from around the world, each with his/her own way of living. It opens up the mind and made me rethink different aspects of my life. It was a way for escaping and getting away from the routine I got used to. We learned a lot about adjustments and alignments so we can have a deeper practice afterwards, and we learned about what our bodies actually needed. I learned to improve myself and it was great having professional teachers available on a daily basis teaching us all about yoga and the philosophy behind it which was quite new for me.

What it isn’t: As much as I enjoyed it, it wasn't a relaxing trip as I expected at all. It was intense exercising physically and mentally. It was a hard commitment. You do learn how to teach but you’re not given a specific sequence or style to teach. You only learn how to prepare a class. During training, they would criticize the way of teaching and tell you what needs improvement but they never show how to improve it. It all comes with practice and that's the beauty of yoga.

If you have your own insight about YTTC, you can share it with us below. If you have an questions also, comment below and we'll answer to the best of our knowledge :)