So if you are interested in taking a Yoga Teacher Training Course (YTT or YTTC or TTC) here is a little history of modern innovations in to how Yoga teachers training courses have been conducted. The very concept of a 200 hour Teacher training is quite new.
Apprenticeship: Once upon a time a Yogi would spend many years training with a teacher or school before considering to teach others. After many years and having developed trust the student would one day be chosen to act as a teacher. The student would learn to assist the teacher with other students and perhaps stand in when the Senior teacher was not available. The beauty of this arrangement was the time it took to become capable of basic skills. Being a fly on the wall to other students experiences builds a repertoire of experience. Back in the 90’s this model was adopted by the Iyengar and Ashtanga communities to foster teachers in existing local programs. Although these guidelines could be interpreted in many ways the kind of timeline ran like this. After practicing in a studio for at least 3 years an apprenticeship would then take 3 years to work with a senior teacher.
Advantages: Slow and strong development in the very real environment of a Yoga School. This is the traditional approach and emphasises consistency over creativity. Rote learning comes to the fore. Memorising sequences, instructions and adjustments by repetition to keep the form of the practice strictly formal. Day in and day out a student would take in the basic elements, learn essential terminology and observe the outcomes personally and fellow students. Learning happens in small steps.
Disadvantages: This approach makes for very solid teachers with a stable base of required learning and experience. But it tends to result in a long phase of copying and may produce in an unindividuated student, a clone of the teacher. It was quite common for nepotism and favouritism to influence the choice of which students get handed an offer to become teachers. Prone to grandiosity and insular secularisation and sometimes very afraid of external influences. Frequently students would not graduate to teaching whole classes.
Modular: This type of training is composed of a series of typically 4 or 5 day workshops spread over a year. It requires students who have advanced to a basic level of understanding of practice at least two years. The modules may involve a team of teachers who cover different topics in the teaching curriculum. Each teacher bringing a special department and hopefully one or two core teachers who carry the personal practice development of students throughout the term of the course. These courses would frequently include a one week practice intensive. Modules are held every one or two months with the expectation that students attend classes and keep up a self practice. Students learn from each other during modules taking turns to be student or teacher. Homework is assigned throughout the course and a reading list suggested.
Advantages: This type of training can be more organised and better structured than an apprenticeship. It gives designated time to develop and examine the teaching syllabus. Specialised classes cover key subjects in an introductory way and may encourage further study. Good for students who do not have the ability to attend a regular practice at a yoga school.
Disadvantages: If such a program is not connected with a Yoga school the eacher trainees are left too much to there own devices. Practicing teaching without a senior teacher present can result in bad habits and a lack of critical supervision. Although key concepts can be introduced comprehensive study may not occur without a great deal of self directed learning. The teachers usually do not develop to teaching real full length classes.
Intensive: This type of Yoga Teacher training course combines an immersion in Yoga practice with a teacher training syllabus. The normal time schedule has a duration of one month. It may consist of a single teacher or a panel of specialised subject teachers. The size of the student body anywhere from 3 to a hundred. The best results are from groups of 12 to 36. With enough students available its possibility to learn about a variety of body types and personalities. Though it takes a very talented teacher to handle classes with 18+ students. It gives the possibility to live the Yoga lifestyle with early morning practice and vegetarian diet. To facilitate the learning environment an intensive course may include meals and accommodation to maximise the time available for students. In the best case an inspiring teacher has the time to devote to the students giving a prime example of teaching in a special situation. With such a long time together the main teacher students can absorb a great deal of personal attention.
Advantages: Having a focussed team devoted to
Disadvantages: The major and valid criticism is that one month is just not enough time to really become a teacher. Frequently the guest teachers are not really Yogi’s and can’t relate the philosophy or anatomy to students needs. Many students take these courses more as a practice intensive. If the teachers pander to the students ambition the environment can become competitive and lead to injury. So in an ideal world we would be able to choose a program that combines all the course models which Ive described. Luckily these days there are a great deal of learning tools, literature and video content available. Still nothing beats real time with a talented teacher and no shortcuts can achieve the same results