When I first started teaching Kundalini Yoga in the mid-1980s there were not a lot of Yoga Teacher Training courses around. In the early 1990s, the Kundalini Yoga organization 3HO grandfathered in those who had been teaching via a lengthy essay exam.
Fast-forward to 2021, the Covid era. Yoga has been popular online for years now, even before Covid-19. However, with the forced stay-at-home life Covid brought to many of us, more Yoga teacher training online courses have popped up. Since 2000, when Yoga Alliance, the mother organization of requirements for Yoga Teacher Training, was formed, live training has been offered in abundance. Studios offer teacher training as extended learning over a 6- or 9-month period, often on weekends to accommodate students’ work schedules.
I think there are two primary reasons to take yoga teaching training. The first good reason to become a yoga teacher is the obvious one — you think teaching yoga is something you want to do. The second reason for taking yoga teacher training is to immerse yourself further into the philosophy and lifestyle of yoga, whether you plan to teach or not.
One of my friends who has been teaching yoga full time for years says that his response to students who ask him about being a yoga teacher is, “If you want to limit your social life, change the way you eat and treat your body, get up very early and sometimes work late, then consider being a yoga teacher.”
When I first started to offer Yoga teacher training at Sewall House it wasn’t something I was looking to do in particular. There were already many Yoga teacher trainings available globally. But one of my yoga retreat guests really wanted me to offer a Yoga teacher training that included Kundalini Yoga, as it had helped her with some mental issues.
I applied to Yoga Alliance via their curriculum requirements, not sure if a Hatha Yoga teacher training with Kundalini Yoga would be acceptable, When they accepted my syllabus in 2009, the Sewall House Yoga teacher training program was born. Since then we have offered two small-in-size Yoga Teacher Trainings per season, sometimes adding an extra as we did this past winter.
Does teaching yoga limit your social life? It doesn’t have to! A lot of great teachers I know are very friendly with their students, creating a loving community. Others do not fraternize with their students at all, keeping that professional distance that they see as a way to teach most effectively.
Will you change your lifestyle if you teach yoga? Not necessarily either! I know really good yoga teachers who eat meat and drink alcohol, something that other yoga teachers choose not to do as part of their yoga lifestyle tenets.
Then the question is, in this time of Zoom and YouTube and other online content delivery systems, is it better to learn online or in person? I think learning yoga in person is best way to do a Yoga teacher training, if your goal is to actually become a teacher. But if you are only seeking information, online can be a great way to learn the philosophy, anatomy, and other things that are required by Yoga Alliance.
Yoga Unified is a new organization that offers more specific areas of Yoga teacher training. After all, the initial 200 hours teacher training required by Yoga Alliance is simply the beginning of lifelong practice and study.