Bullet Points – We give you the points, concise and fuss-free, straight up as it is.
Brutally Honest – These are THE critical determining factors, as surveyed among newly-graduated teachers.
A Brief Overview:
With yoga studios and classes popping up on literally every other street in Singapore, you might wonder where did all these teachers come from? You could even be half-contemplating to invest your time to take up the basic 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Course as well. But which style of yoga? Which school does it best, value for money? How sincere and authentic would the teaching be? And most importantly, whom can you ask for a genuine and useful guide on this? In merely a few years, the number of Yoga Teacher Training Courses available has mushroomed in Singapore, obviously due to a rising demand as yoga gains mass awareness and popularity. But not all programs are created the same, even if they are certified courses with Yoga Alliance, which is the authority on this. And with the huge time and money investment required, not to mention mental and spiritual, you really need a brutally honest opinion on this that cuts through all the murk. That’s us.
1. Class Size
Be it in Singapore or other countries, you would frequently see Yoga Teacher Training Courses comprising anywhere from 10 to 30 participants for each intake. That seems fine if you merely sit and take notes or practise a sequence. But what about adjustments of poses? Understanding the structure of your own body first? Having the space to voice out your queries and concerns? A Yoga Teacher Training Course is much more than just being a proficient practitioner – you have to be actively aware of the holistic nature of yoga, as it applies to you first, and then to others who would be your future students. It is personal growth that extends beyond the self to that of developing others. And guess what, the traditional setting of yoga is one of a small and intimate class size, akin to a mentorship. The teacher closely monitors the personal journey of each and every individual, with much interaction and guidance. So yes, having a smaller class size matters.
2. Style of Yoga
This would have been a laughable point in the past as Yoga is simply Yoga, peculiar to the place and culture, but traditionally authentic. However, modern society has chosen to categorise various styles of yoga, which is a reflection of how widespread it has become, and we are fortunate to be able to access such a great variety in Singapore. Hence, most practitioners choose the style they are most familiar and comfortable with. And as you narrow down your Yoga Teacher Training choices, the best way to determine if you like their teaching style is to go for a trial class! Try a class as a student, and that should be loud and clear if it speaks to your heart. If you are able to, try a few classes by different teachers, and that would give you an even better idea of the synergy of the studio, which you would be part of once you join the course.
3. Credibility of the Teacher
Most Yoga Teacher Training programs would highlight the teaching credentials, vast experience and expertise of the teacher conducting the course – which essentially makes or breaks the whole experience. We say, have a good chat with the teacher in person to suss out how you feel about his/her credibility, and whether you feel comfortable to be placing all of your 200 hours of training in his/her hands. Even better – attend some of the teacher’s classes and that should demonstrate if he/she walks the talk. If the teacher is able to clarify all your queries and even dispel those lingering doubts in your mind, that’s the one you’ll feel reassured to be spending all those hours with for the next few weeks or even months. And if it’s true to tradition, only one guru guides his/her students closely for the entire course, so he/she is able to holistically integrate asana, anatomy and physiology and even yoga philosophy for you. If we expect to be trained in an all-rounded manner, shouldn’t we expect our teacher to be able to teach as so too? Many Yoga Teacher Training Courses have different ‘master teachers’ to teach the different aspects of the course. But think about it, yoga is nothing unless embraced as a whole, and when yoga learning is divided into disparate parts by different people of different styles, it’s left to you to piece them together somehow.
4. Teaching Internships
This is a rare one. Many new graduates finish their course feeling…lost. Sure, they get in lots of asana practice and sheets of teaching instructions, not to mention all that theory. But they frequently have little to zero chance of actually having hands-on opportunities to teach. Whether it be role-playing in class, or observing and co-teaching the actual classes at the studio, such practical hours are rarely part of the Yoga Teacher Training Course. Most of the time, it’s up to you to find your own ‘students’ to practice on them or to find time to practise with your course-mates. So zero in on the ones with internships, and even better if it’s part of your assessment, as it means you would be evaluated on your teaching and that is valuable feedback to get you started already!
This is the last one, only because if you’ve got the first 4 points all covered, then that already paves a solid foundation for a curriculum that has depth and exciting challenges in store for you! With the personal growth in mind, the curriculum should go beyond the standard aspects (asanas, anatomy and physiology, philosophy), and take you to discover your own spiritual awareness as well. Spirituality is not Religion. It is simply about realising your own purpose in life, and how you relate to others as we are all part of a bigger whole. And it’s also about giving back to others – that’s why we aspire to teach, isn’t it? So meditation and mindfulness should be a grounding part of the curriculum, and that is really how a yoga teacher is able to understand oneself and others better for a life-long journey.