I’ve had a lot of people ask me whether they should do yoga teacher training. They're curious about when they’ll be ready and how they’ll know, but there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer.
First, most yoga teacher training courses do not ask for any on-paper qualifications. They are likely to assess your suitability for their course through an application form or a personal statement, and you may need to provide references from your own yoga teacher. Some will interview, some will not, and some may want to check your fluency in the language of instruction. Expect to answer questions about the style of yoga you practice, the duration and regularity of your practice, as well as your motivation for taking yoga teacher training.
What they are assessing is your readiness to start the course, as well as your passion for yoga. They're not looking for you to already know everything there is to know, but they do need to make sure you're not a beginner and not just signing up for the course on a whim. They'll want to see evidence of your longer term commitment to yoga.
Really, the question of whether you’re qualified to take a yoga teacher training course is one that you are best qualified to answer. Leaving out any of the logistics, financial and practical considerations (which also need careful thought), and purely focusing on whether you are qualified to take the course, try asking yourself the following questions:
- How secure am I in my own yoga practice? Do you have a consistent home practice? This isn’t about being able to do the most advanced asanas, or hold a one-handed handstand for five minutes. It's about knowing, through experience, how yoga feels on the inside. What we share with others, we must know and feel first in our own bodies.
- How secure am I in my own knowledge of the style of yoga I am training to teach? You’re not expected to come to a yoga teacher training course already knowing everything: you are there to learn. But if you don’t know the names of key postures and every day of your training is full of unfamiliar content, you’re unlikely to get the most out of it.
- How do I feel about sharing the practice of yoga with others? This is probably the single most important consideration. If you are taking the yoga teacher training with even a vague idea of actually teaching in the future, check in with yourself and see how you feel about it. Feeling some trepidation or nervousness is perfectly fine and even healthy -- after all, to teach is a great responsibility -- but if the thought of sharing the practice of yoga fills you with absolute horror, perhaps you’re not quite there yet. (To help answer this question, try a Guided Meditation for Finding Your Life's Purpose.)
Remember, you’re just considering whether you’re ready to start the training. Your course will almost undoubtedly take you on a steep learning curve, so don’t worry -- you don’t need to be the “finished product” on the first day. It will definitely help, however, if you feel secure in your own yoga practice, secure in your own knowledge of yoga and excited by the prospect of sharing your practice with others.
Keep in mind that once you’re officially “qualified” at the end of your teacher training, you may not yet feel like a bona fide yoga teacher. That’s okay. You’re still learning and will continue to do so throughout your yoga teaching career. Be open to continual learning, receptive to feedback and reflective on your development. You’ll find that in teaching yoga, as in life, it’s the experience and the learning that matters far more than the qualifications. (Read on in 5 Qualities of a Good Yoga Teacher.)