Yoga Teacher Training Courses – a look behind the curtain

By: Yogacharya

I received an email a couple days ago that reminded me of a growing frustration out there.

Despite the burgeoning yoga industry, more and more folks are becoming disappointed with what they’re getting at the yoga studio. Yet at the same time, they’re having a hard time figuring out what to do about it.

The email I received, from a women named Isabella, echoed the growing sentiment not just among yoga newbies, but more among the emerging “I-wanna-be-more-than-a-yoga-newbie” crowd. In her email she said exactly what I’ve been hearing so often lately:

I was of the thought that ‘teacher training’ can be a means to begin to deepen a personal practice [and not just as a means to becoming a yoga teacher.]

Mention that to any teacher who runs a yoga teacher training program (I have), and you’ll get the response that “their course is for everyone, not just those who want to be a yoga teacher.” Yet they don’t really market their programs that way… and they certainly don’t price them to fit the budget of Average Joe.

I’m not fundamentally opposed to month-long yoga training courses. I think they can be a huge step up from the drop-in yoga class culture that has pretty much taken over yoga today. But I have an enormous amount of difficulty accepting these programs as qualified training grounds for new yoga teachers.

I think, deep down inside, many of those who run these programs also know that they are not doing justice to the subject of yoga in their 200 or even 500-hour courses. Personally I would prefer, as I’m sure many of these “teacher-trainers” would as well, to see these programs referred to as “Yoga Learning Courses,” and not “Yoga Teacher Training Courses.”

But that’s not going to happen. …

The acronym TTC (Teacher Training Course) is one of the most recognizable terms in the modern yoga lingo. … and it carries with it a lot of marketing and commercial weight.

Those who run these retreats know as well as I do that if they remove the word “teacher” from the title, then they’ll be hard-pressed to get even a handful of students signing up.

Although steadily growing in numbers, yoga enthusiasts like Isabella who have a genuine interest in exploring yoga for their own personal development pale in comparison to the number of people who want to get that 200-hour Yoga Teacher Certificate with their name on it. Which leaves people like Isabella having a hard time figuring out where to go?

Until the modern yoga community starts to take its persistent gaze off of creating financial opportunities for itself, and looks a little more intently at ways to bridge the gap between the horribly insufficient “yoga class” industry and the often prohibitively expensive residential Yoga Training Programs, Isabella and those like her, for the time being at least, might very well be left in a sort of yoga limbo.

Here’s another Great Article on Yoga Teacher Training and Yoga Certification …

Yoga Training Programs at International Yogalayam …


Yogacharya is Director of International Yogalayam and Editor of “The Yoga News

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7 Comments so far

  1. Norm on August 25th, 2009

    Hi Yogacharya
    ……reminds me of the cause we took on concerning Thai massage. I think you will make a difference but, like Thai massage, will be going against the grain of what your “customers” are really looking for; which falls far short of doing what you have done/doing.
    Besides, let’s not turn yoga into something resembling a religion – one does not have to take up funny postures and chant to connect with nature and one’s own spirituality.
    I’ll “follow” you anyway, even if it’s just to see which way you are heading :0)

  2. International Yogalayam on August 25th, 2009

    Norm … Thank Goodness for Twitter then!

  3. Rose on August 25th, 2009

    I feel like I’m in the same boat as Isabella. It’s nice to know that I’m not drifting alone! I agree with you about the need to “Bridge the gap between the horribly insufficient yoga class industry and the often prohibitively expensive residential Yoga Training Programs.” It’s nice to see a teacher who recognizes that (Thanks!). I hope that others start to see this too, and maybe some day soon we’ll start to see some more practical and useful ways of learning yoga develop.

  4. Joel on August 25th, 2009

    I agree with what you’re saying, but this simple view of yoga has been so overmarketed now. Do you think that the average person will ever come to see it as anything more than “taking up funny postures and chanting”?

  5. International Yogalayam on August 26th, 2009

    Don’t worry Joel. Attitudes about yoga ARE evolving, even though it may not seem like it sometimes. With anything, it’s always a very superficial view that easily spreads throughout the general public consciousness first. Those who have genuine aspirations to know more about yoga have and always will be in the minority. The fact that I get more and more people everyday expressing their appreciation for what I am doing at International Yogalayam makes me confident that the winds of yoga change are starting to blow stronger …

  6. Kember on February 3rd, 2010

    it is easy to learn Yoga although it seems difficult at first try. I practice Yoga mainly for relaxation and for improving my blood circulation.

  7. Nancy on May 7th, 2010

    I would eventually like to take up yoga teacher training not for a career move, but more as a means to deepen my personal yoga studies and to be able to safely teach a bit of yoga to friends and family. However, at the moment I am tremendously lucky to be at a studio with excellent yoga teachers so for now I don’t feel the need to shell out massive amounts cash in order to learn proper yoga alignment/philosophies. But it does seem like these programs churn out thousands of Average Joes with the designated title of “Certified Yoga Teacher” every single month which is kind of scary.