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Do you love yoga and are you keen to deepen your practice and explore the tradition further? Have you been thinking about doing a 200-hour yoga teacher training, but with all of the options available, you don't know where to start? It's natural to feel overwhelmed - this is a big commitment! This article will help you step back and do your due diligence so that you can ensure you get what you want out of your experience.

Since the pandemic, many 200-hour yoga teacher trainings have gone online. Because of this, one of the first questions to ask yourself is ‘Do you want to take your training online or in person?’.

During my undergraduate degree, I took all my classes in person. However, when I earned my Masters in Online Education many years later, all of my courses were online. While I learned a tremendous amount in both situations, the educational experiences were very different. Here are a few important things to keep in mind:

Your Schedule

The number one benefit of online education is that you can study on your own time and make the schedule fit into your life. However, this can also be a challenge if it’s hard to find the time that you need in order to learn. For some folks, being obligated to show up at a certain place and time for in-person learning is a blessing, as it creates a pre-determined structure for their learning experience. 

However, if you have a demanding job, busy home life or prefer having a flexible schedule, the ability to work when you want can make fitting YTT into your life a lot easier. As you likely know, what you gain in flexibility will need to be compensated with self-discipline. If you’re considering an online program ask yourself “Am I able to be self-directed and commit to at least a few hours every week”?

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Learning In-Person or On Your Computer

Online programs inevitably involve a considerable amount of screen time. While this can be very convenient (take your laptop to your favorite café!), you also may feel ambivalent about spending more time on your computer. It’s a good idea to find out how much time the teacher training will take in order to assess if that will work for you.

The Ability to Revisit Materials and Lectures

Another great benefit of online training is that you likely have continued access to materials, which means that you can re-watch videos and review courses at any time. If you are someone who benefits from being able to review on your own time, having access to these materials may make online learning a plus.

Face-to-Face Time with Teachers and Peers

One of the challenges of online learning is that (obviously) you are not in the same room with other people while you’re learning. Much of online learning is asynchronous (pre-recorded) rather than synchronous (together, like on Zoom). Because of this format, online trainings can often fall short in peer to peer and faculty to student interaction. Simply put, we learn better when we have a good group of companions to keep us going and feel as if the teacher is invested in how we are progressing. 

In-person programs have a natural advantage in fostering these interactions. However, it’s also very easy to create relationships with your peers in an online setting, who will likely be like-minded people from all around the world. Because this is a crucial part of the overall YTT experience, before you choose your program (whether it’s online or in-person), make sure to find out more about how you will connect to students and faculty during the program. Ask how you will receive personalized feedback on your growth. Asking a few questions in advance will help you to make sure that you are getting the interpersonal connection that works for you.

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Learn In-Person Skills

To my delight, I have discovered that I can support students to learn almost all of the necessary skills for becoming an excellent yoga teacher in an online format. To be candid, I was a little nervous about it when I first brought my YTT online, but the miracle of videography and Zoom has really helped to bridge the gap between video and in-person teaching skills. I also recognize that there are some skills that I simply cannot teach online: namely, hands-on assists. As you consider if an online YTT is right for you, evaluate for yourself if there are any skills that you feel are essential, that can only be taught in person.

Final Thoughts

If you are a self-directed learner who wants a flexible schedule, enjoys continuous access to materials, doesn’t mind some additional screen time, and is willing to be proactive about making connections with your peers, then an online course may be right for you. If you prefer having a definite structure, enjoy the focus of being in a classroom, relish in-person interaction, and are excited about skills such as hands-on assists, then you may be better served by an in-person program. 

A word to the wise: whether you’re choosing an online or in-person course, keep in mind that not all programs are created equal. Give yourself some space and time to do research – as well as permission to ask lots of questions of your prospective school - so that you can make sure that you are getting the experience that will work best for you.

Rachel Scott is a trainer, educator, author and Program Director for DoYogaWithMe’s 200-hour Online Yoga Teacher Training.


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