Many yogis dream of taking the best yoga teacher training abroad in a dreamy location. They have visions of spending their days immersed in the life of a yogi and soaking up everything that has to do with their passion.
I get it! I’ve been leading yoga teacher trainings since 2013 and while I took a local training instead of going to an intensive abroad (honestly, I didn’t know it was an option!), I now lead 13 day, immersive-style 200 hour yoga teacher trainings every other year, as well as retreats.
At first, I wasn’t sure how it would work. 200 hours compressed into 13 days is no small feat. Some people probably think you can’t learn everything you need to know about yoga in 13 days but the truth is, you won’t learn everything you need to know in a yearlong program either! One of the first things you learn in a yoga teacher training is that you never stop learning and are continually a student.
During my time leading yoga teacher trainings abroad, I’ve found some key elements that should be highly considered before signing up because attending a yoga teacher training is a huge decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly!
- Length of the training. You need to find the right length of training that will work in your life. A lot of people can’t commit to a yearlong local training or even a 30 day training abroad. If you do have that time, then by all means, definitely consider those options, too! Most trainings abroad fall between 20-30 days while some are shorter, like mine, and some are longer. Be honest with yourself but also don’t underestimate yourself. I’ve had a mom of a young baby come to one of my 13 day trainings because she knew that her life was only going to get more and more crazy! She ended up saying that the training flew by.
- Have a relationship with the main teacher. I think this one is so important. Whether you find a yoga teacher or a training program first, make sure you can get to know the main teacher. You want to know you like what they stand for and also what type of teacher they are. If you don’t like taking their yoga classes, you probably don’t want to take a yoga teacher training from them. If you don’t like them as a person, you definitely don’t want to spend a huge chunk of time with them either! I always like to hop on the phone with prospective students to see if they think I’m a good fit and if they’re a good fit for my program.
- Main foundations of the program. Yoga Alliance-approved trainings all have to teach minimum hours on certain subjects, but the lead teachers usually teach the most of what they love and think is important. Do you love yoga philosophy and want to learn everything you can about it so you can share it in your teachings? Maybe you really want to learn about anatomy because it excites you. For example, in my training, I focus heavily on alignment, how to teach beginners and how to sequence. Some trainings give you one or two sequences that you always teach from and some, like mine, teach you how to sequence your own classes. There are benefits to both styles, just figure out what you want.
- Styles of yoga taught. Some 200 hour yoga teacher trainings abroad focus on one style of yoga, whether it be power yoga, Bikram, Vinyasa, etc. In my experience, I think it’s always a good idea to get a general 200 hour training under your belt first, then start to niche down after that. You may find that you like other styles way better! Also, I feel that sometimes you can “cut yourself off at the knees” by only learning one style. Not everyone can do power yoga. I like to teach my trainees how to teach beginners through intermediate instruction so they can meet their students where they are in their practice. This is just my personal preference, of course.
- Community. Does the school or lead teacher have a local or online community that you can remain a part of after the training is over? I think it’s really important to feel like you can always reach out to your teacher and have a tribe that you can continue to find support with.
- Location, location, location! This might be the most fun and easiest option. After all, if you are going abroad, you might as well choose somewhere you love or have always wanted to go. Of course, you’ll want to choose somewhere safe. I’d recommend asking people who have actually been to those destinations to see what they think. Most of the time, it seems that people who have never been there always have an opinion about it! Popular destinations for yoga teacher training abroad are Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, Bali, Thailand, and, of course, India. Do your research on your location options, be smart, and listen to your instincts!
- Travel insurance. This is definitely a smart idea. I’d recommend getting coverage for cancellations in case something unexpected comes up and you can’t make it to the training, or if you need to cancel a flight. Yoga trainings are a big investment and you don’t want to lose all the money you’ve saved for it! It can also cover you if you need medical attention while at your training. Travel insurance can just give you peace of mind so you have one less thing to stress about while you’re away!
- What your experience level needs to be. Some trainings want to make sure that you’ve been practicing for a certain time while others have very intense daily (or twice or thrice daily) practices. If you have a strong practice and really want to use the training to delve more deeply into your own physical practice, that is probably a fine option. If you don’t have a super strong physical practice, while it’s sometimes good to push yourself out of your comfort zone, you might want to find a training that has only one intense daily practice or caters to more beginners. For my training, I don’t mind if my trainees are beginners. Sometimes it’s easier because I don’t have to reteach them things they were doing incorrectly. This really all depends on the lead teacher/school’s outlook on the subject so see where you fit in.
Lastly, I wanted to mention some advantages to an immersive-style yoga teacher training abroad. Yes, it’s much shorter than most local trainings, however, there are benefits to both options. I’ll list a few.
- You can completely immerse yourself in a yogic lifestyle. You have the chance to eat delicious, usually healthy, foods, get plenty of exercise and be out in nature.
- Develop deep bonds with the other trainees as you don’t have any of your everyday relationships to turn to. They also get where you’re coming from - you’re all in the same boat!
- Have way less stress while training. Yes, you’ll be away from loved ones, but you also don’t have to take care of any of them! It’s a privilege to have a family, sure, but sometimes it’s good to focus on you! If you’re a college student, you won’t have to worry about school. Have a high stress job? Nothing to worry about while you’re on your training! It’s so nice just to focus on the task at hand. It really helps everything sink in so much more quickly!
- Be pampered. In a lot of trainings, you get all your meals included, you can get your laundry done for you, you don’t have to clean, etc.! Also, you may be able to tack on additional massages or other treatments!
- Do something out of the ordinary. It’s not every day that you will do something like this, so jump all in! Take a risk!
- You’ll get so much more out of the training than you ever thought possible. It’s a huge learning experience. Even things that you might not think went so well, probably happened for a reason and you grew because of it. Not only will you learn tons about yoga, but you’ll also really deepen your own practice and have tremendous self-growth.
Good luck on your journey yogi! If you feel the call in your heart to do it, go for it. Usually, no one will ever give you permission or tell you to do it. You have to do what your soul is calling you to do!
About the Author
Crystal Gray, E-RYT 500 and Yoga Club Tribe Leader, splits her work hours between working on her 20 acre organic vegetable farm and leading her Online Yoga Membership and free Facebook group, the Yoga Goddess Collective. She also leads retreats and yoga teacher trainings. In her downtime, she can be found cooking healthy meals and spending time with her family or out in nature. Learn more about her retreats and yoga teacher trainings at the Yoga Goddess Collective.