Thinking about Yoga Teacher Training?

Are you considering training to become a Yoga teacher? If you find yourself unsure of which course to choose, here are some tips that may help you. It is many years ago since we ourselves were students about to embark on a Yoga Teacher Training Course, and what we are going to share with you now are things we would have liked to have thought about back then. With the benefit of more than 30 years of practice and teaching behind us now, including 12 years of training teachers, we have put together this little guide to share with you that which we have learned by experience, as you set out on your journey. We hope it will save you some time and some soul-searching and help you to become clearer about what your goals are in becoming a Yoga teacher. The world needs committed and inspiring teachers, and so choosing the right course for you is vital. This leads us to the first and perhaps the most important element in the process of finding the right training course for you.

Tip 1: Inspiration

We have been lucky enough, over the last 30 years, to have met teachers who have inspired us with to go deeper into Yoga, to experience more, to share our experiences and to try to inspire others. The word inspiration has many interconnected meanings, all of which are related to the process and purpose of Yoga.

Inspiration: ‘To be stimulated to do, or feel something, especially something creative’.

What is motivating you to undertake Yoga teacher training? Being a Yoga teacher is an incredibly rewarding but also a very challenging life choice. It is a way of helping others, as well as being on your own journey of self-discovery. You can only share what you experience yourself. As Leonardo Da Vinci said: ‘Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.’ It can be difficult, but also exciting. Do you feel ‘inspired’ to explore what it means to be you; to be an example to others of how to live a healthier and happier life? You do? Great! Then on to the next inspiration.

Inspiration: ‘A person or thing that inspires us.’

Developing a committed Yoga practice, and even more so, training to be a teacher, takes effort, energy and perseverance. If we are supported by the example of an inspirational teacher, it makes it so much more manageable. Your relationship with your teacher is incredibly important. This has been a cornerstone of Yoga for millennia. An inspiring teacher will help you find the inner resources you need to keep on, even when the going gets tough. They know the pitfalls and have experienced all the doubts and difficulties that you may go through. So, find a teacher with whom you feel a resonance; ideally someone with depth of experience, for whom Yoga is more than just a physical practice, someone who lives and breathes Yoga.

Inspiration: ‘The drawing in of the breath, or inhalation’.

Breathing practices, or Pranayama, are an essential aspect of Yoga and should always be part of one’s practice. We recommend that you choose a training course, with Pranayama as a core element of the training and where the teacher is sufficiently experienced in the practices. The same can be said for Yoga philosophy.

Inspiration: ‘Spiritual or Divine Inspiration’.

The traditional Yoga texts are sometimes described as being divinely inspired. We advise finding a course where these texts are ‘unpacked’ in such a way as to make the depth of wisdom they contain relevant for today’s world. It is true that human nature has not changed over thousands of years and the traditional teachings of yoga are not just esoteric writings suitable only for academics. They are as pertinent today as they ever were, as they deal with the emotional and mental tendencies inherent in all of us. If we are to teach Yoga, we should know what Yoga is in its fullest expression; a science for optimising ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

So, in summary seek a trainer and a training that inspires on all of these levels. Ask questions of the trainer about the course, content, about their own practices, their experience, their teachers. If they are not already your teacher, take a class with them before committing to the training course. Do they inspire you?

Tip 2. Course duration and cost.

Our advice is ‘Don’t be in a rush.’ Yoga is not a short-term thing. Yoga is a system of progressive development and awakening and we should be patient and accept that it takes time to assimilate the teachings. We need to experience things ourselves before we can share them with others, and we need to be firmly established in these experiences to be able to share them with ease and clarity. Look into courses where you have time to really digest and process all the information that you will be exposed to, and ideally where you have regular, ongoing contact with the trainer(s), and can rely on them for mentoring after the course finishes. So, we recommend that you commit to a course which takes place over a longer time. Shortest is not necessarily best when it comes to yoga.

The same can be said about the course fees. Least expensive is not the criterion we should   use to find the best course for us. Look rather at the teachers, their experience and the content and remember that this is an investment in yourself, and that you deserve to give yourself the best training available. Our experience is that when we choose in this way, we will be supported so that the financing of the course becomes manageable.

Tip 3: Look at the science.

As we are all aware, stress in our society has reached epidemic proportions, and the concomitant health problems that go with it are huge; high blood pressure, reduced immunity, poor digestion, cardiovascular disease, to name but a few. Poor diet and lifestyle contribute to these ills. Yoga provides a complete system of self-care that helps to mitigate the pressures of modern life, while its sister Ayurveda, helps us cultivate a practice-supportive lifestyle and diet that is suited to our individual constitution.

We spoke above about the traditional teachings of Yoga. For many, when they think of Yoga they think of it as a system of stretching, or relaxation or meditation, all of which tell a part, but not the whole story. As Yoga’s popularity in the West has boomed, so too has the scientific research into the efficacy of the Yoga practices increased, with incontrovertible evidence that yoga techniques work, just as they claim to. A key finding is that Yoga improves parasympathetic nervous tone, alleviating the impact of stressors, and helping prevent ill health associated with chronic stress.

If you are going to train as a Yoga teacher, check out the Anatomy and Physiology elements of the course you are thinking about. Seek a course where these are taught not just as a module to fulfil a course approval requirement, but as a fundamental part of Yoga, so that you learn what is required to be a teacher who can really help students to have positive self-care habits and health awareness in terms of practices, lifestyle and diet.

Tip 4: Meditate on it!

Yoga teaches us that true happiness, which is independent of the circumstances of life at any given time, is available to all of us, when we understand how the mind works, why it disturbs our ‘happiness’ and how we can steady it so that this is no longer a problem. Look at, and ask about, the meditation sections of any course you are thinking of. Yoga is very systematic in its approach. We deal with body, senses, emotions, and thoughts. Learning to meditate is one of the most powerful tools Yoga offers and being taught how to approach this is essential. In fact, when you are contemplating a course, meditate on it! Sit, relax the body, steady your breathing, and visualise yourself doing the course. How does it feel in your body? What response do you feel around your heart? Do you feel a sense of ease and openness, or one of constriction? Let your heart and mind open and ask for guidance. In stillness, listen for, and feel the response of your inner wisdom. As Rumi said “There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.”

Tip 5: Feel free to ask us

This is sort of a pocket guide to what we think are key things to look at, contemplate and ask about when deciding on a Yoga Teacher Training Course. In summary, any course should make you feel inspired. Seek experienced teachers with whom you feel a connection. Look for a course that covers the key pillars of Yoga, i.e. postures, breathing, meditation, relaxation, lifestyle and nutrition. It should also be rooted in the traditional philosophy of Yoga and have a comprehensive A&P element. Allow yourself time to assimilate the material. Short courses make this less easy. Patience really is a virtue!

If what you have read here provokes any questions for you, feel free to call us and we will happily share our experience with you. You can read all about us and our background, and find our contact details on the About Page. If you would like to download our syllabus as an e-book, you can do so here: teacher-training-syllabus-yogaveda-living.pdf ( We hope this has been helpful.

Namaste. David and Paula