200 hour Online Yoga Teacher’s Training

Yoga has been my love and passion for sometime now. I have jotted down my journey so far in my other blog. I recently completed a Yoga Teacher’s Training course and got certified as a yoga teacher. 😇

In this blog, I wanted to share my experience about it.

One of my goals, going into 2020, was to do a Yoga Teacher’s Training course (YTT). It was time for diving deeper into the practice of yoga. Ideally I wanted to do this training in one of India’s age old Ashrams, but like everyone’s plans for 2020, this plan came crashing down with the global pandemic, as everything turned remote. After 2 months of research, I found a completely online 200 hours teacher’s training course with Yoga Farm Ithaca. Initially I was hesitant about doing an online certification — not knowing or having met the teachers in person, but there were a few things that helped me decide —

  1. It was a non-profit organization and being a regular volunteer at the Women Who Code non-profit, I was very happy to know that.
  2. They had been taking online courses even before the pandemic. So it was not something completely new for them to adapt to.
  3. They had already done 2 YTT’s and ours was the third batch. That made me confident about the structure and coursework.
  4. They were Yoga Alliance approved — not that I knew much about Yoga Alliance before I started, but I had heard the name a lot during my research, and so having that was a plus.
  5. But the most important and deciding factor for me was that it was a self-paced course. The live classes were 8 weeks and we could continue to work on our material as long as 1 year after that.

So I decided to go for it. And I must say it has been an incredible 2 months! The best summer I spent at home! ❤ I have learnt a great deal not just about yoga but also about all other aspects that go with it — human anatomy, mindfulness, body constitution — how the things we eat and the way we breathe affects our daily lives — to name a few.

Our curriculum was very well defined over 6 modules and each week there was one module that would open up, giving us the required material, readings and recommendations, along with some extras for those feeling ambitious. We also had 2 live classes each week:

Wednesday’s class with Daniela who specializes in Jnana Yoga which is all about Awareness, Spirituality, Relationship Dynamics, Mental & Emotional Health.

Saturday’s class with Christopher, who specializes in Raja Yoga, Poses, Meditation, Breathwork / Pranayama, Sequencing, and Jeannie, who specializes in Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Mindfulness Education, School programs, Kundalini Yoga.

The live classes were completely optional and we could watch the replays later at our own leisure, depending on our availability for the live classes. That itself was such a stress-reliever. The anxiety of missing a class and then lagging behind, fear of missing out, all that was taken out of the equation right from the start of the course. The expectations set by the teachers were very clear and forgiving in the current situation, with the stress levels people have — especially parents with kids/teens at home.

Live classes in particular were more about getting together as a group and learning how to prepare yourself as a teacher. Daniela helped us with having the right mindset and asking the right questions — not just of your students but also yourself. She also helped with inquiring and looking inwards to seek the wisdom within. Christopher & Jeannie’s classes fascinated me since that’s where we practiced with our fellow trainees about how to teach and cue the yoga poses. It was amazing to see everyone in the same boat — initially being nervous, and then, as we practiced each weekend, gaining confidence and clarity in teaching. We had the onus of self-learning and regular practice, which was a huge part of this since it was all remote. We were in complete control of deciding how to go about this coursework.

Weekly readings of a minimum of seven hours was one of the things I didn’t particularly look forward to, when I first found out about it. But the more I read, the more I was intrigued by the knowledge I was gaining. In the first couple of modules, we began with the history and philosophy of yoga and understanding why there are so many different types of yoga, especially in the US today. Compared to yoga in India which is derived from traditional lineages of ancient gurus, in the US, it is looked upon as a form of exercise. The sole focus is on the poses (asanas), which depicts 1 part of the 8-fold path to yoga. We were also introduced to the mindfulness and meditation practices early on, so that we could start adding them to our daily routine.

Three books which were a part of our coursework, along with a special YTT handbook put together by Yoga Farm Ithaca, were very helpful to give a good foundation to our knowledge.

With the first two books we went into the depths of different poses, breaking them down for various human body types. What sequencing should be followed for a yoga class, why the sequence matters, adjusting and assisting in the poses and many more things, that I couldn’t have thought of before, were part of the modules as we progressed further. Now I am keener than ever to learn about the science behind these poses, and don’t dread having to read a book for it.

Another interesting part of the coursework, and something loved by most of the trainees, was learning about Chakras. In traditional Indian medicine and spiritual science, the physical body is more than merely bones, muscles, and organs encased in the skin. Instead, it includes layers of energy fields that surround the physical body. These create what is known as aura or spiritual body. It’s a very fascinating aspect of the human body and we were given a high-level introduction to it. We had a fun little chakra art project as part of an extra curricular activity, but most of us found a reason to do it anyway.

My chakra project hanging on the left side of the altar in my yoga room

As we progressed through the class, we also learned about various modifications yoga teachers can provide for differently abled students. As much as traditional yoga is meant for all types of humans, creating diversity and inclusion is not a part of yoga classes these days. Currently the way yoga is promoted and marketed, it only appeals to a certain age and body type, and even a gender type if you think about it. We learned how to decolonize yoga and make it available for everyone. We need to break these chains and molds to which yoga is being confined to these days.

Apart from all the readings, three times a week of yoga practice, daily self-practice of meditation, and completing 10hours of in-person or online teaching to one or many students was a major part of our certification process. We had smaller groups created among the trainees to keep us accountable, and for us to lean on if we needed to discuss anything outside the live classes or the office hours offered by the teachers. I personally loved sharing and connecting with all the members of my smaller group. It kept me motivated and focused, without getting lost in all the things we had to do each week. As for my 10 hours teaching practice, I had recruited my husband as my full-time student/guinea pig. He has been the most sincere and dedicated student I will ever teach!

Ayurveda — the sister science to yoga — which includes doshas (body constitutions) and how the food you eat affects your mind, body and energy levels, was yet another absorbing topic that was introduced to us at a very high level, giving us a basis to explore further. This is something I have known about from my mother, and I plan to learn more about it. Being aware of these simple habits of proper eating and sleeping, affects our mental health and helps foster mindfulness in our living.

Going into this course, my intention was not to teach yoga but to learn more about it. The past two months have really helped me understand the need of yoga, especially in today’s world, where we are very focused and associated with the external aspects of life. This course has revealed to me a structured approach towards yoga. I can’t thank enough, all the teachers at Yoga Farm Ithaca, for offering us this opportunity. They helped us explore and embrace our body and soul, making us capable and confident, to continue learning, and spreading the knowledge of yoga and its innumerable benefits to humankind. *Namaste*🙏

The mind is everything. What you think, you become!