How To Choose A Yoga Teacher Training School

When I decided to embark on my yoga teacher training RYT 200 course I had no idea just how difficult it would be to find the right place. Making the decision to embark on the training is a big one; it costs a lot of money and requires a lot of thought; particularly if you are going abroad to do an intensive course, to make sure you get the most out of the experience and come home happy and healthy.

In February I will be flying from London to New Delhi, India, to do my RYT 200 in Rishikesh and after searching for so long, I am confident I have found the right place to spend my month learning. Since making my decision a lot of people have asked how I decided on the school, and for me there were a lot of factors to consider.

Here’s a few tips I have pulled together if you’re thinking about it yourself:

1.     Decide where?

If you’re planning on doing your training abroad you’ll need to decide which part of the world you would like to do it. There are so many beautiful locations in which to study yoga now so the choices are endless. For me, India has always been somewhere I want to travel to, so the decision was easy; what better place to study than the home of yoga? Bali is also a popular destination for western yogis; and very tempting to those of us who have read Liz Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love!.

Other popular destinations include Thailand, Morocco and Nepal and when you make your decision you need to think not just about the climate and scenery of the destination you choose, but the culture and the food as well (4 weeks of Indian food might not be for everyone!).

Once you decide on the country, there might also be a choice to make between which region you choose. For me, in India, there were three main regions to choose from: Goa, Kerala and Rishikesh. A simple Google search on Rishikesh will tell you that the region claims to be the ‘home of yoga’; a very spiritual place in the north of the country in a meat and alcohol-free state. The climate is cooler than the south, and the landscape is mountainous, situated in the foothills of the Himalayas. Goa is a very popular tourist beach destination; equally as beautiful, but for me too touristy as I wanted a more authentic experience. Kerala was my second choice; in the south of India in lush green rainforest and wetlands.

OK to you’ve narrowed it down to one, or two cities; now you need to find the school!

2.     Narrow down your priorities

Google ‘yoga school Rishikesh’ and you will be absolutely inundated with the options presented to you; in order to narrow it down you’ll need to think about your priroties for the school. I’m a serial organiser so I made a spreadsheet with my priorities across the top, and then filled in the columns for each of the schools that I found and emailed which fit the bill. To give you an idea, my priorities were:

·       Price

Most yoga schools in Rishikesh are pretty similar when it comes to price, but some do range, and you’ll find those with the fanciest websites also tend to be the more expensive. In my view, there didn’t seem to be much difference in what you actually learn or get out of the course, so the main difference will likely be the quality of the accommodation or the food.

If you have a very strict budget, or alternatively if money is no option, then you may pay more or less attention to this than I did.

·       Accommodation

A lot of the schools vary in the type of accommodation they provide. Often a private room will be provided, but sometimes it might be a twin option. If you are travelling with a friend then this might be preferable, but if you are travelling solo, you might prefer to have some time to yourself in a private room. Remember, you are studying yoga from dawn until dusk for 6 days a week, 4 weeks straight, and if you have a particularly chatty room-mate this might affect your experience.

Another thing to bear in mind is that not all schools provide accommodation; this might be why it seems to be a cheaper option! Make sure accommodation is provided 7 days a week and if it matters to you, that the accommodation is on the same site as the yoga school. This was important to me, but you might prefer to actually be off site and travel to and from the school each day.

·       Qualification

Most schools will be registered with the Yoga Alliance USA and will have the Yoga Alliance emblem displayed clearly on their website. If they don’t then don’t bother, as this is the main body which will give you certification to actually teach yoga when you get home.

If you are from the UK or plan to teach in the UK then you will want to look out for a school which is also certified by the Yoga Alliance UK or the British Wheel of Yoga.

·       Wi-Fi

Yes it’s true that a true yogi should want to disconnect from the outside world and focus only on their practice during their time away and for that reason a lot of schools do not provide Wi-Fi, or charge for it. My trip will be my first time travelling by myself, and I will be leaving my long-term boyfriend behind who will absolutely want to know how I’m getting on, that I’m safe, and happy, and vice versa. For me this was a priority; don’t take connectivity for granted when you’re on the other side of the world!

·       Size of class

My final priority was class size. I am going there to learn, so I want to have as much teacher-time as possible. That said, I don’t want the class to be so small that there aren’t enough people to interact with over the 4 weeks I’m there. For me, it was important to strike the balance; I didn’t want to be 1 of 5 students, but I also didn’t want to be anonymous in a class of 30. Think about what you want from the experience and make sure you ask the school when you contact them about class sizes.

3.     When you know, you know

My final piece of advice would be: contact as many schools as you can. Send a quick email, asking about what the school is like, what the curriculum will be, class size, accommodation, etc. Many will have this information displayed on their website and will direct you straight back to the info page and most probably give you a link to book.

For me, that just wasn’t enough; I struggled to decide between them until I finally received a response from Chandra Yoga International. The information I received back from them was so personal, direct and informative. Dr. Sushil Yogi anticipated a lot of my fears about coming to India by myself and reassured me before I even had a chance to express them to him! He did not direct me back to the website, or ask me for money. He sent me photos of recent courses, of the accommodation, the food and the town so I could get a feel for the environment, and even sent me a list of things I should consider packing, tips for getting a visa, and information about travelling from Delhi to the school.

Immediately I got a good vibe, and after a couple of emails back and forth in which he answered all of my questions patiently and in great detail I just knew it would be the right place for me.

You’ll get that feeling too; so don’t just plump for the first one that ticks all the priority boxes and has the swishiest website. You’re about to leave home and spend a lot of time in this new, different environment, learning about your body and your mind, so you need to do that somewhere where you feel safe, comfortable, secure and relaxed.

When you find it, you’ll know.

Well that’s all very well, you might say, but you haven’t actually done the course yet, maybe you chose the wrong place? Well, maybe. I’ll let you know when I get there.