Five years ago, I set out to write the curriculum for The People’s Yoga’s Teacher Training program. I interviewed a whole bunch of teachers, asked a million questions, and gathered their thoughts on what makes a teacher training great. While each teacher’s input was unique, everyone agreed on one thing: the standard 200 hour model was not enough.
So I vowed to create something bigger and better: a 300-hr foundational program that was as thorough as I could possibly make it.
I have now taught that program three times.
Each time, I think to myself, “My gosh, there is simply not enough time to teach everything I want to teach!”
Each time, I scribble notes of things that I simply must include next time.
And each time, at least 20% of the students choose not to finish the program.
The first time a student decided not to finish, I felt sad and highly self-conscious. I wondered if I had failed as a teacher - if there was something I should have done differently to keep them interested and motivated, or if maybe they didn’t feel they had gotten their money’s worth. I knew that I had tried my absolute best, but I feared that my best was just not good enough.
The second time it happened, I still felt sad, and briefly wondered if they hadn’t enjoyed the program. But this musing was relatively short-lived, for it was peak-pandemic - a time when everyone was constantly deciding not to do what they had originally planned. I didn’t sweat it too hard, but I still did wonder: Did I not do enough?
The third time, it was completely different. I honestly felt proud. Not proud for leading a program that was so long or rigorous that people “dropped out,” but proud of my students for listening to themselves and deciding to do what felt right. Even though part of me was sad to lose them before all 300 hours were complete, I trusted that they knew what was best for themselves. Plus, I knew that their learning would continue, far beyond “the end” of our formal hours of study.
Because here’s the thing about yoga teacher trainings: The vast majority of students who sign up do so without any plans of becoming a yoga teacher. They sign up in order to deepen their understanding of yoga, and to practice and learn in community. And those students who do plan on teaching don’t stop learning about yoga at the end of their first YTT. If they are truly dedicated to becoming good teachers, they go on to take additional workshops, mentorships, advanced trainings, etc. It’s not the training itself that makes an excellent teacher; it’s the excellent teacher who finds ways to keep learning.
I say all this, not to cheapen the experience of an in-depth training - I love my 300-hr program, and think it’s as thorough as a 300-hr program can be! But I am also well aware that, just as many teachers agree that 200 hours is “not enough,” 300 hours isn’t either.
So what is enough?
Enough for what?
To learn everything we need to know?
Let’s be real: Everyone who goes through a yoga teacher training (or really, any extended curriculum!) feels overwhelmed by all there is to learn. This overwhelm is part of learning. As Desikachar says, “confusion is a form of clarity.” So rather than try to design a program that covers everything, I am beginning to accept that such a program does not exist, and will never exist. All I can do is offer what I think is most important, what is most helpful, and to remind my students that there will always be more to learn.
In an effort to offer what I think is most helpful, I have decided to change up the way I lead teacher trainings. I am still very much looking forward to my next 300-hr program at People’s Yoga (though I’ll have to wait a couple years, since we have several teachers who rotate leading). But in the meantime, I am extremely pumped to offer a series of weekend immersions at The Breathe Building.
Each weekend will center on a particular region of the body (spine & core, hips, shoulders, etc.), and a few key aspects of yogic philosophy. While these will provide focal points for our study, the following topics will be explored and woven throughout:
Developing a sustainable self-practice
Infusing yogic philosophy into your everyday life
Cultural competency & community care
Offering skillful assists
Inclusive sequencing, language & cuing
Whether you have been practicing yoga for months, years, or decades, this program gives you a place to begin, to evolve, and to begin again.
If you like the sound of this, I’d love to see you at the free info session, next Thursday, May 11. And/ or, if you’d like a flavor of what the 200-hr program will be like, scoot on over to my series on the shoulders that starts on Thursday, May 25. Either way, I’d love to see you and talk yoga!