10 Universal Reasons to Take a Yoga Teacher Training – by Sarah Ezrin

One of the more common questions I get at information sessions for trainings is “what if I don’t want to teach?”

Believe it or not, about half the people who take trainings don’t actually want to teach! Some of you may be thinking, then why take a teacher training versus attending workshops or regular group classes?

At YogaWorks we’re famous for saying (and proving) that yoga teacher trainings transform people’s lives whether or not you ultimately teach yoga.

Here are ten universal benefits to taking a yoga training:

  1. Understand the poses more deeply– This is probably the most obvious of the benefits. Workshop style practices, detailed alignment, and in-depth anatomy lessons help practitioners to develop greater comprehension of the postures.
  2. Understand yourself more deeply- Through the work both on and off the mat, trainees look at their habits (samskaras) and tendencies and learn how to make shifts toward healthy patterns and improved self-care.
  3. Learn the whole yoga picture– Though the word yoga has become synonymous with the physical aspect of the practice, asana (posture) is a sliver of the whole picture. In training you will learn how to live your yoga, as well as different types of pranayama (working with energy through the breath) and meditation.
  4. Make lifelong friends- My best friend and I met in a teacher training. Taking an inward journey together profoundly bonds people. Sometimes family or co-workers don’t quite get the “whole yoga thing”. In trainings you’re surrounded by like-minded people who love and respect the practice as much as you.
  5. Back to school element- There is something fun about going back to school as an adult. In trainings we are not only learning poses, we also study anatomy. There are philosophy nights where yogic texts are discussed in a forum setting. Learning is like mental yoga for the brain and an active brain is a healthy brain.
  6. Learn how to communicate- Trainings teach people to communicate clearly. Regardless if you want to apply that knowledge to leading a class, running a business meeting, or talking to your husband, you will learn to speak effectively and with precision.
  7. Accomplishment- Projects provide a sense of purpose, especially when you finish them. Setting a goal and reaching it is good for self worth as it facilitates spiritual fulfillment.
  8. Doing something for yourself- When was the last time you did something special for yourself? Many of us are so busy taking care of other people that we do not take the time to care for ourselves. Unless our tank is full, we have nothing to give.
  9. You May Want to Teach After All– Teaching is fun and rewarding! It is not unusual for people to set out not intending to teach and then catching the bug while in training. Being a yoga teacher is a marketable skill and while you may not end up teaching full time, perhaps you will continue to teach friends and family.
  10. Do what you love- Clearly you love yoga or you wouldn’t be reading this article! Why not spend 200 hours fully immersed in what you love!

Sarah will be leading two 200 Hour Teacher Trainings toward the end of this year:

Beirut, Lebanon- August 4th-August 29th: One-Month Intensive Format; Breathe the Yoga Studio

Los Angeles with Jeanne HeilemanSeptember 5th-November 23rd: 3-Month Format; YogaWorks, Larchmont Village


IMG_0731Sarah Ezrin, E-RYT-500, is an energetic and humorous yoga teacher, writer, and YogaWorks teacher trainer based in Los Angeles. With a profound love of travel, Sarah runs around the globe leading trainings, workshops and retreats. For Sarah, yoga is not about the tricks or the postures; it is about finding one’s center amidst the challenges and chaos of the world. She believes that life is short and that it should be spent laughing, with the people and animals we love, and doing the things we most enjoy, like yoga! For more information on Sarah please visit her website or connect with her on Facebook.

That Really “Peaks” My Interest – by Sarah Ezrin

I’m a yoga nerd. When I am not doing yoga, I am teaching it. And when I am not teaching it, I am studying it. I love every aspect of the practice: the philosophy, the history, the anatomy, the physical poses (asanas). And being a teacher trainer I actually make a living talking about yoga all day! But my absolute favorite thing to teach during trainings is sequencing, or the order in which poses are placed. It is here that we teachers get to foster our innate creativity.1798212_10152038516223731_652768073_n

One of the (many) things that makes YogaWorks stand out amidst competing trainings is intelligent, yet imaginative sequencing. In the YogaWorks system, sequences tell a story. There is a clear progression towards a climax, or in our language a “peak ”. If you’ve ever practiced this style, you feel the difference in your body. A class that is nicely structured is well rounded, meaning all parts of the body feel touched upon, and it leaves students feeling energized, instead of depleted.

“Peak poses” are taught at the apex of class when the body is the warmest. However, before one reaches the mountaintop, one must traverse many steps along the way. At YogaWorks, we call these steps “component parts,” or areas of the body that need to be warmed up and specific actions that need to be taught in relation to the peak or theme. In other words, to truly understand something, it helps to break it down into smaller and more manageable chunks.

I like to think of component parts as pieces of a special jigsaw puzzle that you can cobble together to create different asanas. They educate both the body and mind so that when a student reaches that proverbial summit, they can practice from a place of deep comprehension instead of just making a shape with their body.

Also, for us teachers, this is where things get fun! Depending on the season, time of day, or, let’s be honest, sometimes our mood, we pick a pose to design a sequence around. Then we identify the easier and more accessible poses that help to reinforce the component parts along the way.

As one’s teaching matures, so does the creativity and sophistication of their sequence. Since the very first class I taught I write down my sequences in tiny journals that I keep in the car. I also use these journals to record inspirational things other teachers say and sometimes their sequences. I highly recommend this for those who want to cultivate sequencing skills. It is also incredibly rewarding (though sometimes embarrassing) to look back at your old notes and think, “what the heck was I thinking?”

Fancy poses can be daunting, and by breaking them down through intelligent sequencing we have an opportunity to make them not only more accessible, but also to provide students with a richer understanding of them. There is nothing like that moment when a student finally gets a pose. And by “gets” I don’t mean physically does the asana, but rather truly comprehends the mechanics and pieces that a pose entails. A well-sequenced class provides the map to that seemingly unreachable mountaintop.


Headshot Closer upSarah Ezrin, E-RYT-500, is an energetic and humorous yoga teacher, writer, and YogaWorks teacher trainer based in Los Angeles. With a profound love of travel, Sarah runs around the globe leading trainings, workshops and retreats. For Sarah, yoga is not about the tricks or the postures; it is about finding one’s center amidst the challenges and chaos of the world. She believes that life is short and that it should be spent laughing, with the people and animals we love, and doing the things we most enjoy, like yoga! For more information on Sarah please visit her website or connect with her on Facebook.


Breaking Down the Pose – Handstand

Have you ever been telling your friend about a yoga class you took and been annoyed when their response was “I just don’t think yoga is a real workout”. Well so have we, and we 100% attribute it to people not fully understanding the small intricate movements that force them to work a lot harder in each pose.

Our pose breakdown series shows a visual of the big cues you should be focusing on, as well as highlighting the benefits and risks of the featured poses. Feel free to share with your skeptical friends to help them advance their own practices.
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Handstand is a difficult pose to learn because it not only requires significant arm and shoulder strength, but it also requires a sneaky amount of core work. If you haven’t worked on handstand before, we recommend starting against a wall.

The foundation of the pose starts with the hands. Make sure they are shoulder width apart and flat on the ground. My teacher always had a great cue: “grip the mat between your thumb and pointer finger as if you are pinching the mat without raising your knuckles”. This movement also helps with firming the outer arm bones in.

Aside from learning or feeling comfortable with being upside down, one of the hardest parts of sticking a handstand is getting your hips and shoulders over your wrists. Most students stop themselves to soon because they feel like they are going to tip over. This is why we recommend working against a wall. This allows you to really feel what its like to have shoulders over wrists and hips over shoulders.

Mind Body Green has a great post, 6 tips to get into handstand that breaks down the movements to get into handstand, it’s worth checking out. You can also try David Kim’s online yoga class that aims to wean you away from the wall and guides you into finding balance in your handstand.

If you are just looking to get upside down you can try Mia Togo’s yoga video “Inversions with ease” which sets up your handstand in a sequential and gradual way so you can still feel grounded and supported.

Paradigm of Power – by Mia Togo

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What does it mean to be in your power? How does it feel to be empowered?  The word “power” has many meanings, and its often associated with control and force. Control implies the use of fear tactics and leaves little room for joy, empathy, and love. This paradigm creates conformity but kills creativity and intuition. So how do we shift it?

The choice to show up on our yoga mat everyday is an exercise in creating connection and explore areas in our bodies where we hold stress and tension. There is no separation between our body, mind, and spirit, so our bodies are receptacles of past experiences that when unresolved can hold our energy and our vitality hostage. We  feel so good after a practice because our energy channels open but more importantly we open to a different way of seeing and experiencing our personal power.

The ability to develop our personal power is directly related to our willingness to be exposed and to be fully seen. The choice to move through a pose with grace and acceptance of our limitations rather than forcing our way through, strengthens the inner muscle of compassion. I remind my students and myself, personal power cannot be bought, sold, or bottled, it is developed through the courage to face our struggles. Much of our culture  operates  in judgement and projection because its easier to release our yucky feelings onto someone else.  But it’s like a boomerang, it will always come back and smack us on the head.

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How do we shift this cycle? We have to let go of any notion of perfection. Forget about the perfect pose, job, partner, and be willing to own and love our imperfections. Surrender into the idea that we are exactly where we need to be and fully embrace and love our body,  our life, our experiences exactly as they are. Warts and all! Yes of course it’s challenging but these are the moments of growth, expansion, and this is how we cultivate our personal  power.

To live fully in our personal power is one of the greatest ways to be of service. When I was in high school I was a choreographer for the big dance production we put on every year. I loved dance and was very passionate about getting other students involved. Not long ago I received a Facebook message from someone I went to high school with. She shared that she almost quit the production because she felt clumsy and worthless. She also shared that I encouraged her to not give up and dance because she loved it. She said that moment changed the direction of her life. She went on to be a dance major and is now teaching dance.

That moved me to tears and reminded me of why I teach yoga.  Because I’m passionate about it, because when I’m living in my truth and in my personal power I’m living my purpose. When we embrace our personal  power and allow ourselves to shine,  we uplift the world and each other. When we seek to understand ourselves through our yoga practice we practice being more understanding of others.  The paradigm of power then shifts from control and competition to that of connection, cooperation, and compassion.  What world do you want to live in?

You can practice yoga with Mia Togo at YogaWorks or online with her online yoga classes with MyYogaWorks.

online yoga classesMia Togo grew up in the small town of Murrieta, Ca. She was an avid equestrian and dancer, both of which helped pave the way to her love and devotion of yoga. It was in the practice of Vinyasa yoga that she began to feel her body as a temple for healing rather than struggle. She studied with many teachers, finding wisdom from different styles and philosophies. With much respect for all forms of yoga, her passion is Vinyasa. She has been a Yogaworks certified teacher and teacher trainer since 2004. She is also a mentor for the 300-hour program at Yogaworks. Mia teaches with an emphasis on detailed alignment so there is an intelligence and a purpose to her sequencing. 

8 Things to Think About When Choosing a Yoga Teacher Training

Top 8 Criteria to Consider When Choosing a Teacher Training
By Nicole Doherty

The avid yoga student of today doesn’t have it easy when it comes to figuring out a path for themselves in the ever-expanding field of yoga. There is a lot of noise out there in the market and a tremendous amount of choice.  With countless styles, locations, studios, teachers, prices, and time formats, how does one go about picking a teacher training?

Below is a list of things to consider when you are doing your research not in any particular order. You will need to prioritize what means the most to you and then make your decision from there.

1. Is the Teacher Training Yoga Alliance Certified?

The regulating body for the Yoga industry is the Yoga Alliance.  Be sure to enroll in a Yoga Alliance Certified program to ensure that there is consistency around the basic information that you are receiving and a minimum quality standard set for the training.

2. What style of Yoga will you learn in the Teacher Training?

It’s important to know when enrolling in a program what style of yoga you will be learning, so that in the future you will know what you are able to offer your students as a teacher. As you are learning how to teach, most teachers will ask you to imitate their teaching style until you really integrate the information that you are learning. So you want to make sure that you really resonate with their teachings and style. If you aren’t sure what style you wish to teach at first, that’s fine, just get trained in something more broad based and general that teaches you a great foundation. When you have a great foundation upon which to build then you can add specialty trainings down the line and get creative.  Also, take as many classes from the teacher trainers to see if you like the method that they offer.

3. Are you learning one set sequence or how to intelligently and creatively sequence?

There are teacher training programs out there that only teach students one sequence to memorize and this sequence is specific to teaching just at that studio. This is fine if you plan to only teach at that studio or within that system, but if you have plans to move beyond that studio or teach private clients one day you may wish to get your training elsewhere.  Private clients have a variety of body types, injuries or illness and memorizing poses is a very limited framework that doesn’t teach you how to customize a sequence or teach with full intelligence about the anatomy of one’s body.  You may wish to learn how to teach to people’s bodies and create safe, intelligent and creative sequences so that you can take your training anywhere.

4. Will you get a teaching job after your teacher training?

There are many studios out there that claim they will offer teaching jobs after completing their training, but we all know that this is not a sustainable business model unless they can afford to continually open studios.  If you want a teaching job, you may want to ask what the career path is to getting on the yoga schedule as a paid instructor.  Find out how the yoga studio’s business is doing, what their turnover rate is, and if they have plans to open other studios and when that will be. Be diligent in your questioning of the business and the process of getting a job there.

5. Will the teacher training allow you to teach locally, travel with yoga or teach abroad?

This is an important question when it comes to your career path.  If you plan to stay in your local community, you may choose to train at the popular studio in your local area. If you plan to travel with your training and teach in the US or abroad, you may wish to choose a larger brand that is globally recognized and offers trainings in many cities or countries.

6. How long have the teachers been training and is their teacher training network growing?

It’s logical that you would want to learn from the best and most experienced teachers in your market, or maybe even travel to train with a very experienced teacher or group of teachers. Research teacher’s bios on the roster of your local studio and notice where they were trained.  Research the big name teachers out there too and see where they trained.

Ask about the teaching lineages of the trainers of your program and how much experience they have training students to become teachers. If these teachers are training students well, then their students will become great teachers too down the line.

Additionally, you can inquire how the teachers that are training you became trainers in the first place. Some programs out there just pick their most popular teachers to teach or the studio owner teaches everyone. In other programs, teachers need to go through very vigorous specialized trainings and certification programs for several years before becoming a trainer.

7. What is the price of your teacher training?

There is a bit of a range of pricing when it comes to training.  For a foundational 200 hour program you will probably pay anywhere from $2500 – $4000. Be sure to look at some of the other criteria when picking training other than the price tag. Quality trainings are usually carrying a higher price tag because they have to pay their teachers well since they are in such high demand.

8. What is the program format of your teacher training?

You definitely want to consider the format of your training so that it fits within your overall schedule.  Immersions taken over the course of the month are quick so ask yourself if learning this way fits your learning style, lifestyle and work or school schedule. Immersions will require you to do yoga all day long, every day and take many tests within a very condensed time frame.  Three to six month extended program formats are popular for their digestible nature. These formats allow students to learn the material more spaciously helping them with their integration process.  But again, this is up to you.  Some people also really love traveling abroad to take a training in another country, fully immersing themselves in yoga.

So when choosing a yoga teacher training there are many things to consider, so take the time to decide what’s most important to you.  Don’t get too overwhelmed either, going down this path is one of transformation no matter which way you slice it.  And, if you really love this path and decide it is for you, I promise you will take many more trainings and workshops down the line. Yoga offers lifetimes of knowledge.

Nicole Doherty is a 500-RYT Yoga Alliance Certified Teacher, singer and writer.  She is certified through YogaWorks under the tutelage of Joan Hyman and Jeanne Hieleman. Nicole is also the Marketing Manager for domestic and international YogaWorks teacher trainings.  She teaches private clients as well as public classes at YogaWorks, Goda Yoga and Hot8Yoga in Los Angeles. Nicole is the yoga expert columnist for American Athlete Magazine.  She also writes for a variety of health & wellness blogs, including her own at http://nicoledoherty.com. You can find her also on Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/nicolepresents] & Twitter [https://twitter.com/nicolepresents].