Choosing a style of yoga for yoga teacher training

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Ok, back to the subject of yoga teacher trainings. I knew I had some criteria in mind when it came to choosing which yoga training and adventure I’d ultimately find to suit my desires. 

And while we’re on the subject of desire, which has a reputation of getting a bad rap within the spiritual teachings of yoga and Buddhism, I’d like to share this quote by prolific artist Tom Waits.

There’s no prayer like desire. 

Desire is key when it comes to taking any kind of grand leap. And for most of us, finally making the decision to travel someplace far away and dedicate yourself to an intensive month of yoga teacher training, is a grand leap indeed! When I was in my globetrotting 20’s, this may not have felt so grand. Although, my intentions for travel were typically centered around academic study, travel for the sake of travel, or romantic love. 

Now that I’m 41, and haven’t flown on an airplane since moving from Washington wine country to Kansas City in 2011, a yoga teacher training abroad is definitely a big deal. While I lived in Hawaii for a year in 2010, I haven’t been out of the United States since 2005. (That was a whirlwind European adventure with my sister that involved a few nights in London, a night in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, 10 days of intensive flamenco dance study in Seville, and a week in Italy.) Oh yeah, then a really strange month in London with a good friend’s mother who suffered a stroke the day after I arrived—lots of time walking the hallowed halls of a British hospital there.

Anyway, this was a really big deal. And this really big deal needed to be fueled by desire. Otherwise, I wouldn’t do it. 

So, I say—take some time to get intimate with your desires. Do this by meditating on your desires for finally taking the yoga teacher training leap. Keep a journal with you in meditation and write it all down. Beautiful journals inspire me to really get down to the act of reflecting, writing, and journaling. 

In all my desire-digging, this is what I came up with. This is what I felt was essential for me when it came to choosing a yoga teacher training course of study. 

I’ve always danced, and I’ve always loved music. So, I need to learn how to teach a style of yoga that’s open to creativity. Not to say I couldn’t integrate some of the more regimented styles of yoga into my teaching. But, for a yoga teacher training, I wouldn’t choose, say, a 200-hour training entirely focused on Bikram yoga. I never liked the classes I took in this particular style, anyway. They were too intense. Too drill sergeant-like. And a heated room? Don’t even get me started! I became severely dehydrated post-Chicago Bikram class in my 20’s. Sure, I’d had a couple beers the night before and was going through a rough couple of weeks looking for love in all the wrong places—with a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, baby-faced musician. But, still.

Thus, a Bikram-style yoga teacher training was out of the question. 

I needed openness and room for artistic freedom if I were to teach yoga. And while I love kundalini yoga, and will most definitely include kundalini kriyas into my teaching, it wouldn’t make much sense for me to sign up for a kundalini yoga teacher training. The same goes for a Mysore style ashtanga yoga training. While I enjoy taking an online ashtanga class from time to time, it’s not a style I’d want to train in—too orderly. Too systematic. I like a bit of chaos.   

As I write this, I realize the yoga teacher training that’s going to suit me and my desires, is one that allows for freedom, creativity, and self-expression. This means a yoga teacher training centered around hatha and vinyasa yoga. Finally! That narrows the search down a bit.

I would continue to look…

Now, what’s the best style of yoga teacher training for you?