Updated April 16th, 2018.
If you already practise yoga regularly then you may have thought about training to become a Yoga Teacher. Asia is a fantastic place to get qualified with many great schools offering training programs at excellent prices and beautiful surroundings. You can leave Asia with a toned body, a fascinating insight into an ancient science and a certification to teach Yoga anywhere in the world!
Some people undertake the course simply for personal discipline and fitness reasons, aside from those who to use the course to teach yoga professionally. Many students claim life-changing results following their TTC.
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The Basic 200-hour Teacher Training Course (TTC):
Your first stage in becoming a yoga teacher is to complete the 200-hour basic teacher training course (TTC), which will give you the foundation that you need in order to teach people asanas and pranayama safely. Normally, the 200 hours is spread out over a period of 4 weeks, with 6 days on and one day (usually Sundays) off. I’m not going to lie to you, set over 4-weeks, this is an intense course, challenging both physically and mentally (we did ours back in January last year), but when you hold that certificate at the end and a whole new world of possibility opens to you – it’s worth it!
What will you learn during the Yoga Teacher Training Course?
Yoga Teacher Training Courses may differ in what they teach and what they focus on. For example, some may focus more on meditation, Buddhism, or a certain type of yoga, such as Yin or Ashtanga. However, in general, each 200-hour course will cover: asana practice (postures), pranayama (breath work), alignment and teaching guidance, yoga anatomy and physiology, philosophy (history of yoga), mantras, chakras and meditation. By the end of the course, you should have a fully rounded view of what yoga really is. (Yoga = Union).
What are the average costs of a Teacher Training Course?
The average cost of a Yoga Teacher Training Course varies from $1,500 USD to $2,500 USD. However, you can find Yoga Teacher Training Courses that are $5,000 plus. The cost depends on:
- Accommodation: The cost depends greatly on the type of accommodation you will be staying in. (Are you sharing a room or do you have a private room? Is the accommodation luxury or basic? Is there a swimming pool on the grounds) Nowadays, TTCs are held at luxury resorts and you must remember that what you are paying for here is the accommodation rather than any special teaching. However, if you do wish to take the course in more comfortable surroundings, there is much on offer.
- Food: Does the Yoga TTC include meals? (Many of the TTCs include three meals a day. Make sure you check before you book or enquire if you have any special dietary requirements.)
- Duration: How many hours is the course? Most TTCs are 200 hours, but you can find some that are longer, 230 hours or 250 hours, which go into certain aspects of Yoga more deeply. The basic 200 hours is what most people complete in order to gain their certification.
- The Location: Southeast Asia and India are some of the cheapest places in the world to take a TTC. When you are spending a lot of money on something like a Yoga TTC course, you will ask yourself – does cheaper mean lower quality? In this case, I would say that it is not always true. A really expensive course does not necessarily mean that it will be better than a mid-range one. As I’ve mentioned above, the course cost depends on several variations and if you’re willing to take your TTC in more basic surroundings, you can still find excellent teachers and gain a qualification that is valid. See more on locations to take your TTC below…
How experienced do you need to be in Yoga before taking a TTC?
Many schools state on their website that you should have practised yoga regularly for one year prior to taking the course and you have a good level of fitness. This is mainly for your own safety. If you are out of shape or have had a long break in your yoga practice, with 2-4 hours yoga practise/day, your body is going to feel it! Injuries to knees/shoulders/wrists often occur if someone goes from doing a low level of yoga to a high-level yoga every day. Many schools offer a ‘Pre-Teacher Training Course’ to get you in better condition to take the full 200-hour TTC.
Other than that, you will not be expected to know every single Sanskrit name for the postures, be able to do a headstand or even be able to get your feet right down to the floor in downward dog! (I still can’t) People of many levels of yoga take TTCs every year and the secret is being true to yourself and where you are at in your practice.
What is the daily schedule like?
As I’ve already hinted at, a Yoga TTC is an intense experience with students expected to commit to full attendance 10 hours per day, six days per week, for four weeks. A typical schedule will have you up at 5 am or 6 am chanting, meditating or doing cleansing practices, followed by a yoga class, all before you’ve even had your breakfast!
A typical daily schedule during a TTC:
- 07.00 – 09.00 – Pranayama & Asana practise
- 09.00 – 10.00 – Healthy vegetarian breakfast
- 10.00 – 11.15 – Applied Anatomy
- 11.30 – 12.30 – Alignment
- 12.30 – 03.00 – Lunch and rest
- 3.00 – 4.15 – Philosophy
- 4.30 – 06.00 – Asana/Art of Teaching (alternate days)
- 6.00 – 07.00 – Meditation/Yin Yoga
- 7.00 – 8.00 – Dinner and rest
(Taken from Parimukti Yoga School schedule in Goa, India)
How do I choose a yoga school?
Taking a TTC is a big undertaking, physically, emotionally and financially. Make sure you research the yoga school fully and read plenty of testimonials, before deciding and paying for a course. Your chosen school should be registered with an official yoga standards association, such as the Yoga Alliance. This means that once you have gained your certificate from your chosen school, you can register yourself as an official teacher with the Yoga Alliance. (What they actually do, we’re not quite sure – but you send them your certificate and pay them some money they will deem you official!) Read more on their website here.
Is there an exam to pass the course?
At the end of the 4-weeks, you will have to pass a written exam (on anatomy, philosophy, alignment and teaching theory), as well as a practical exam. (On our course, which was a yoga and meditation course, we also had to guide a 10-minute meditation to pass our course, but this is not always included.) The practical exam consists of teaching a one-hour yoga class to the rest of the students. This sounds really daunting at first, but don’t worry, little by little you will find that your confidence will grow and you will be able to do this comfortably! (With a few butterflies in your tummy!)
Where is the Best Place to take a Yoga Teacher Training Course?
Yoga Teacher Training, Thailand
Thailand has long been popular with people wanting to experience yoga, meditation and other spiritual pursuits. There are many yoga hubs across Thailand from the north to the south, where you can find classes, retreats and courses with experienced teachers. Why else might you want to do your TTC in Thailand? The weather is fabulous, the food is cheap and delicious, it’s really safe and the people are welcoming and friendly. Plus, travelling life is a lot easier here than other parts of Asia, with great WIFI, excellent hospitals, clean restaurants and many other Western amenities on hand.
If you’re going to do your TTC here, you may need to apply for a longer visa than the 30-day regular pass. You should apply for a 60-day tourist visa before you arrive at a Thai Embassy in your home country or a neighbouring country. More on visas here.
Yoga Teacher Training, Chiang Mai, Thailand
The popular city of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand is brimming with yoga schools and yoga teachers. With an abundance of vegetarian cafés, cheap accommodation, twinkling temples and beautiful countryside on the doorstep, the city attracts yogis and yoginis from all over the world, many of whom end of making their base there for a few months. The city is also a hub for digital nomads who you’ll spot working away at their laptops in many of the trendy cafés in town.
OUR PICK! Wise Living Yoga Academy offers 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Courses based at the peaceful Doi Saket Yoga Centre, near Chiang Mai. Ran by wonderful husband and wife team, Daniel (from Brazil) and Jeenal (from India), their style of teaching is true to yoga’s classical Indian roots, following the teachings of Patanjali’s Sutras, Samkhya philosophy and the Bhagavad Gita. Accommodation and vegan meals are included in the one-month training course. Check out all of their dates for 2018 here.
Buddho Yoga’s 230-Hour Yoga & Buddhism Teacher Training in Chiang Mai: (Currently awaiting 2018 dates) This course combines Buddhist meditation with alignment-based Hatha Yoga over five weeks in a peaceful resort in northern Chiang Mai province. The founder of the school, the lovely Dali, says “The yoga we do will emphasize strength and intelligence in order to develop awareness, reach your potential, and become empowered to pursue a life and a practice with purpose and meaning.”
Yoga Teacher Training, Koh Phangan, Thailand
Did you know that Koh Phangan, the island that’s infamous for the Full Moon Party, is also a wonderful place to practise yoga and meditation? While the South of the island is aimed at partying backpackers, in contrast, the quiet and beautiful West coast has many schools that offer Yoga Teacher Training Courses in heavenly surroundings.
Yoga Teacher Training, Bali, Indonesia
Bali was the place for yoga and alternative arts long before Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about it. The tranquil setting of rice fields, beaches, waves and a creative arts scene attract budding yogis from all over the world. Whether you’re looking for a luxury TTC or you’re looking for a more budget experience, Bali has everything that a backpacker, or a flashpacker, could want.
Yoga Teacher Training, India
Okay, so we’re called South East Asia Backpacker, but we just couldn’t write a page about Yoga Teacher Training without writing about India – the birthplace of Yoga. Here, you will find so many Yoga schools and Teacher Training Courses that it is difficult to know where to start! As well as the two hippie hubs listed below, you also may want to look at Mysore in Karnataka, particularly for Ashtanga Yoga (being the home of the founder of Ashtanga, Patabbhi Jois). Also, Dharamshala (and particularly the hippie hub of Bhagsu), the home of the Dalai Lama, where you will find many Buddhist led Yoga Teacher Training courses.
Yoga Teacher Training, Rishikesh, India
Arguably the world’s capital of Yoga (some say the original birthplace of yoga) Rishikesh, which lies at the foothills of the Himalayas, offers every type of yoga training that you can think of. If you’re thinking of taking a Yoga TTC here, there are a crazy amount of yoga schools to choose from and the prices are very cheap! There’s an International Yoga Festival here every year in February and many of the city’s ashrams house yogis all year round. The entire city is ‘holy’ which means no meat, no alcohol and no drugs during your time in Rishikesh.
Yoga Teacher Training, Goa, India
Since the hippies made Goa famous in the 1960s, the smallest state in India has been a magnet for yogis and yoginis. The combination of excellent climate, amazing beaches and cheap living are a big draw!
One of the most popular “new age” hubs these days is the northern beach town of Arambol, where yoga schools line the beach and spill out into the nearby luscious countryside. Practising yoga here during the warm sunny days and cool evenings is a delight. Other popular places to get certified include the beachside towns of Anjuna (the original hippie haven, now rather commercialised) and Agonda (which is an absolutely gorgeous bay in the south of Goa).
Last year, we took a Yoga TTC with Parimukti Yoga School in Arambol. The Dutch/Indian run school offers 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Courses over a 4-week period costing 1,300 Euros including accommodation and food. The classes take place in the surroundings of Jungle Dance, a peaceful resort with a focus on permaculture and sustainability, with the added bonus of a swimming pool on the grounds!
To find out more about our Yoga Journey at Parimukti, you can read our Daily Diaries of our Teacher Training via the links below:
- Part 1 – A journey of 200 hours starts with 1 hour.
- Part 2 – No one said it was going to be easy…
- Part 3 – The final week and qualifying as a yoga teacher!
Further Yoga Training and Meditation Teacher Training Courses
Once you’ve completed your 200-hour basic Yoga Teacher Training Course, you can build on your foundation in many ways, depending on what you would like to specialise in. You may like to take one of the following courses:
- 300-hour Advanced Teacher Training – This is the second stage of your training as a yoga teacher, and you must have completed level one in order to take this course.
- Yoga Therapy Course – A shorter course for those who want to use yoga and meditation to help particular physical or mental ailments.
- Further Meditation Courses – If you’re hooked on the meditation side of things, there are many courses that you can take in order to deepen your practice.