A Q&A with Yoga Teacher Training Instructor, Crystal Gray

To this day, the most common question we get is some form of, “Am I ready for yoga teacher training?”

Or, “How will I know if I’m ready for YTT?” The follow-up questions have to do with picking the right yoga teacher program for them and then preparing for it. And these days, there are questions about whether an online yoga teacher training is worth doing.

In our epic quest to help you navigate the decisions around yoga teacher training, we sat down with YTT leader, Crystal Gray of the Yoga Goddess Academy and asked her a few questions.

In your opinion, what is the number one thing students should do to prepare for yoga teacher training?

The main things that a student should do to prepare for a yoga teacher training are:

  1. Start a daily asana practice (even just ten minutes counts!) – practice tuning into your body and what you really need that day. It can vary from day to day!
  2. Start a daily meditation practice – this one can be harder for students that have only really focused on the physical practice but it’s SO important. Meditation helps to release anxiety, tension, overwhelm, stress and many other negative outcomes of our daily life. Asana does too but mediation takes it to a whole other level.
  3. Get on the phone with the lead teacher trainers of the programs you are most interested in. YTT’s are NOT one size fits all so you need to know what the main teachings are in each training as they all vary so much depending on what the lead trainer deems important.
  4. Get involved in their communities – you want to see what kind of tribe they foster. Do you resonate with their teachings and with the other people in their community? This is a big decision and you want to be able to be a part of their community after finishing the program so you have continued support.

Who should take YTT?

In my experience leading yoga teacher trainings, anyone can take a YTT if they are willing to do the work. It’s a big commitment, not only to the teachings but to doing the inner work that always comes up during a YTT. Part of learning how to teach is learning how to deal with what yoga can really stir up in you and then the benefits of what comes from a committed practice.

You don’t need to be able to do handstand or splits or any other advanced pose.

You don’t need to be in peak physical condition.

You don’t need to be thin.

You just have to have a desire to deepen your own personal practice, to grow as a person or to help others feel better through the power of yoga. That’s all.

What are the benefits of taking an online YTT?

I started adding an online YTT to my offerings because I see so many teachers go through programs that are in-person and they didn’t learn what they needed to be confident, proficient yoga teachers. I have also written a book (Goddesses Fart Too: A modern guide to spiritual enlightenment for increased happiness, patience, and inner peace) and have a large online community (the Yoga Goddess Collective on Facebook) and wanted a way for my tribe to take my YTT. I’ve had people take the online version then continue on with an in-person training in Costa Rica (which I offer twice a year).

A lot of women are too busy to fit in a standard local training. An online program usually works with busy women’s schedules more easily. In my training, for example, we meet every Monday night for about 7 months on a free app called Zoom.

Another reason is that you can find a community that you TRULY resonate with – not just taking the training closest to you just because it’s convenient, then realizing you don’t like it.

Finances can be a big hindrance to those wanting to start a YTT as well. Online versions vary in price but I highly encourage you not to choose the cheapest one just because of the price. This is an investment in YOU and you should choose the one that fits with your needs most. (Refer back to the first question asked in this interview.)

People think that you can’t get the same benefits as an in-person training though on Zoom, you can easily practice teach others and you actually have to get even MORE proficient and precise with your cueing because you can’t be lazy and just go move their body into the right shape. It’s important the student learns how to do that themselves anyway.

The downside is that the Yoga Alliance doesn’t yet give registration to online YTT graduates. This may or may not be a problem for you. The Yoga Alliance is ONLY a registry. It doesn’t check to make sure programs are really doing what they say they are or that the teachers coming out of the programs are good teachers. You don’t need to be registered to teach. The main reason you might want this is if you plan to teach at a studio that requires it (if this is your plan, ask the studio and then ask why they have that rule just so you know). Otherwise, no student is going to ask you if you are registered. They just care that you know how to teach and that comes along with certification and commitment.

Thanks, Crystal.

You can find Crystal in her Facebook group Yoga Goddess Collective or online at www.yogagoddessacademy.com. May your YTT quest bring you purpose and joy. And just like Crystal says, anyone can sign up for yoga teacher training. You just have to be willing to do the work! 

And, if you want guidance in preparing for your yoga teacher training, check out our free eBook, 108 YTT Tips and our online yoga teacher prep academy

We’re proud to have Crystal as an active member of the Yoga Teacher Prep Facebook Group and love to shine a light on what our members are doing through this blog. If you’d like to share your story or have some valuable advice for yoga teachers or aspiring yoga teachers, please connect with us.

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