7 Steps To Choosing a Children's Yoga Training Course
Updated: Dec 23, 2019
It's a minefield, so many excellent children's yoga teacher training companies of all shapes and sizes and all pitching their training courses on Google. But how do you choose? And how do you know if you fit the bill?
Once upon a time in the late 90s and early noughties there was a handful of children's yoga teacher training companies all offering something slightly different from each other. A quick search on Google today will reveal a 21st century interest in children's yoga and mindfulness demonstrated by the explosion of teacher training courses that are now in existence. Like anything, too much choice can leave one feeling confused.
So once you've decided you want to train in children's yoga and mindfulness techniques how can you be sure that you're picking the course that is right for you? And how do you know that you'll be right for the task of teaching children's yoga and mindfulness? Here's a guide, that I hope, even though I am myself a children's yoga teacher trainer, is received for what it is: information-specific, issue-focused, and based on my observations.
1) Well, the first thing to do is to speak to the person who is going to be training you. That way you can see if between you both you establish a connection. Intuition will play a big part at this stage. So often we browse pages without really listening to the message that is being relayed but it's hard to ignore that message when you can actually hear the voice of the person who is relaying it.
2) The second thing to do is to establish the course's pedigree. It is understandable that people looking to train require some reassurance here, as in any industry there are some training courses that are better than others and although there is no requirement for graduating students of a children's yoga teacher training course to join any registration body after they have trained, the 'trainer' badges sold by the registration bodies to the yoga teacher training companies go some way to offering that reassurance. However, the badges are not a sign of pedigree, but a sign that the training company has successfully managed to match their syllabus to a set of subjective rules and timings. However, the fact remains that you do want to be trained by a qualified yoga teacher and one with experience in teaching yoga day-to-day, especially to adults; for it could be surmised that if the trainer runs adult classes then the chances are that during the training you'll learn a lot about the principles of alignment and posture because adults paying for a yoga class would expect no less. The conclusion should not be drawn that children's yoga requires less attention to the detailed instructions on how to hold a yoga pose or teach breathing techniques, if anything it needs more and the trainer should have the experience and lexicon to transmit this in a way that children understand so you can follow their lead when you're teaching. So examples of questions you could ask include:
Is your course accredited?
Are you a fully qualified yoga instructor?
Qualified by whom?
What experience do you have in teaching yoga?
Do you teach adults?
If so, can I attend a free class so I can meet you and get a feel for your experience?
3) A training company should be judged on its intellectual and practical content and on how much of the training material is authored by the trainer as these pioneers will have genuine enthusiasm to portray their ideas to their audience, Yoga is a 'practice' therefore it should follow that the training should be practical. The internet is now full of online learning, begging the question why not train whilst relaxing at home? Well, one could argue that a training course is not meant to be relaxing, it should be challenging, it should be offering deadlines to motivate you. Practical face-to-face courses develop interpersonal skills and grow your confidence and allow physical interaction with your trainer and other students so you can question, be inspired and get valuable feedback at the exact moment you require it, It also means you have a strong connection if you need support after you've graduated. All of these skills set you up to be a success after you've completed the training. You should also examine the course structure and syllabus to ensure it covers those elements that you're most likely to want to implement in your teaching of children and note any pleasant surprises that are incorporated in the course that you hadn't considered. So examples of questions you could ask include:
How much of the course is practical?
How much of your course is taught face-to-face with you?
How many students do you have on each training?
What qualifies you to teach children's yoga?
Have you done children's yoga teacher training yourself?
If so, who did you train with?
How long have you been teacher training?
Is your training material unique and authored by you?
What is the syllabus and structure of the training?
What is your maximum number of students?
What post-training support do you offer?
What sets your training apart?
4) Fourthly, the trainer and training course should be judged on how well they align with the ethics and morals of yoga, if you get the feeling the trainer has a genuine care for the future of yoga, i.e. protecting it as a spiritual practice, then put their company at the top of your list. If you get the feeling the core values of yoga are overshadowed by a drive for profit and status then perhaps consider not putting them on your list. Having said that never discount a training course on price. In such a competitive marketplace there will probably be undercutting, some companies may also be running their training as a loss leader, others may be taking on lots of students to keep the price down but this will have an affect on the amount of attention you receive.
5) There is little point learning how to teach yoga postures (asanas) to children if you do not already have a passion for yoga and a strong practice, in fact, you open yourself up to litigation if a child was to sustain an injury. So it is important that you have an established practice before embarking on a children's yoga teacher training course that predominantly trains you in asanas, courses that focus on storytelling, for example. The recommended amount of practice you should have is two years (as set out by some registration bodies but as you will see below this type of standardisation has its pitfalls), but this is dependent on what that practice involves. For instance, if you have been attending yoga classes three times a week with an experienced, registered yoga teacher (such as an Iyengar teacher) for a whole year whereas another person has never attended yoga classes but for two years has done all their practice online or by following a book at home, then it could be surmised that you are more qualified to attend the children's yoga teacher training course than they are. So here are examples of questions you should expect to be asked by the trainer and you should ask yourself:
How long have you been practising yoga for?
Do you attend regular classes with an experienced yoga teacher?
6) There is also little point in teaching children's yoga if you are not willing to connect with your inner child and drop your inhibitions. In order to make yoga attractive to children it is important to tone down on the authority and get down with the kids and enjoy yourself. The authoritative tone you might use if you are a schoolteacher in the classroom or at home with your kids could undermine the spirit of the yoga principles you're trying to get across to the children. I would be lying if I said you'll have no discipline issues when teaching a children's yoga class but before embarking on a teacher training course ask yourself if you're willing to be less didactic, more authentic and responsive and learn along the way with the children.
So here are examples of questions you might like to ask yourself:
Am I doing this simply because it looks good on my CV?
Do I have a real interest in teaching children's yoga and mindfulness to help make children live more meaningful and manageable lives?
Do I have a genuine commitment to practice the principles of yoga and mindfulness to improve my connection with children?
7) Finally, analytically meditate on the answers to all of the above questions, i.e. deeply contemplate. Eventually a conclusion will arise and from here you can concentrate on it single-pointedly for as long as possible to become deeply acquainted with the answer. Final clarity to your decision will probably come from a mixture of what you've absorbed and your intuition (step one), the validity of which can never be under-estimated.