Why build an online teacher training?
One of my core beliefs is that yoga is for everyone. It’s the cornerstone of The Kaivalya Yoga Method. There are a lot of people in the world who are prevented from participating in an in-studio training for many reasons; they live too far away, they have very demanding jobs that don’t let them take an in-studio training at the times they are offered, they’re busy caring for children or relatives. We wanted to be able to bring them a training that would remove the boundaries of distance and scheduling constraints.
This program has been running for more than a year, have you seen evidence that this program has made yoga teacher training more accessible to people who otherwise would not have access?
Totally. In fact, even more than expected. We have some really heartwarming stories from people who always wanted to take a teacher training but were never able to do so, and now it’s possible for them. Some who are professionals working with the underprivileged or severely ill, who want to learn in their time off and bring that practice to those individuals. It’s been great to hear it. And geographically, we have people from pretty much every continent apply (not too much yoga in antarctica, that I know of), but some examples are Zimbabwe, Hungary, Norway, and the remote island chains of Alaska. It was really so rewarding to see such a wide span of replies. And a lot of them don’t even ever want to teach, they just want to learn more than what’s available where they live, others are teachers already and they want a refresher or to learn things they might not have come across in another training.
Right, which leads to the next question, do people need to have a lot of experience to sign up?
No. It’s designed so that novices can learn alongside those who are more advanced. If you missed something, you can back it up and play it again. Also the fact that we have individual mentors allows for really focussed attention, and they take the student’s skill level into account.
Can you explain how the training proceeds, and how the students interact with the mentors?
Sure. We utilized the best software programs, like the ones universities use for their distance learning curricula, and I reconfigured my full 500 hour program into an online format which includes hundreds of hours of video and audio lecture along with written content that complements and enhances those lectures. Students progress through various courses within the program, learning about topics including anatomy, adjustments, sequencing, chakras and subtle body, teaching techniques, concise cueing, philosophy, mythology, and more. There are 7 courses within the 500 hour program that students complete at their own pace, and as they do, they are tested on their knowledge via video uploads and individualized feedback from our team of mentors. When a student uploads an assignment, one of the mentors carefully watches the assignment and provides skillful feedback that helps the student further develop their teaching skills and understanding of the core concepts.
So basically, students might actually get closer attention in this method of training, even though it could be maybe thousands of miles away?
Yes. It’s personal attention, one-on-one, with a highly qualified teacher. Every single one of our mentors has more than 500 hours of training, and each has their own extraordinary passions and specialties that bring even more richness to the training. In an in-studio training, it is rare that a lead instructor has the opportunity to watch, critique, and support every single step of the learning path. In this case, the online learning model excels because we are there every step of the way to evaluate progress at every single level.
How did you choose the mentors?
They’re very experienced, dedicated, talented individuals whom I’ve taught and who have been teaching others for years and have been successful in their own contributions to yoga. I find them inspiring in their own rights, and I know they’ll inspire others to join them as excellent teachers.
Tell us about the content of the program, how similar is it to what students would get in an in-person training? Did you have to modify it a lot?
This program is the 500 hour teacher training that I’ve offered in the past, plus other content that I was able to include because of the online format. In an in-studio training, you’re really limited in the content you can offer because of timing constraints. But, with this online format, I am able to offer all the content necessary for a new teacher because they can review it as much as they’d like to, and because they can take their time to really absorb it. It’s very exciting.
That said, the courses within the program–there are seven in total–present the content and training necessary for someone to become a qualified, certified teacher of yoga.
Students start with Anatomy and Alignment through a distinctly yogic lens. They learn the ins and outs of how to teach Vinyasa and Sequence safely but cleverly, as well as the dynamics of the energetic body including chakras, koshas and prana. There is a course on the Art of Adjustments where students learn to think outside the box on how to assist asanas and connect with students, and every step of the way, they are asked to upload video of themselves adjusting someone so we can check for accuracy and give feedback. Students also learn various key teaching techniques like concise, effective Cueing, how to build a class from the ground up and strategies for Developing their Business and starting to teach in their communities. Courses five and six focus on Philosophy and Theming and Myth and Meditation, respectively; those are the things that make the classes deeper and more fulfilling for both the student and teacher. Lastly, after completing all the other modules successfully, the student will develop his or her own 60 minute sequence, submit that to be evaluated and, if all goes well, will then be a certified Kaivalya Yoga Method Instructor with YogaDownload.com.
What do you say to those who think teacher trainings require in-person contact?
This online program is person-to-person contact, it’s simply not in-studio. And today, so many things are done remotely: college educations, graduate degrees, even robotic surgery, where the physician is across the globe from the patient. We live in a society and a day and age where technology allows us to be far less bound by time and space. So many other areas of our lives have utilized these capabilities, we’re simply bringing that to yoga teacher training, as YogaDownload has with taking classes.
Are you trying to take people away from in-studio trainings?
No. There are a lot of great teachers out there and I’ve met so many over the years. This is simply another option for those who find online learning more preferable, for whatever reason.
What is a student qualified to do, upon completion?
Upon successful completion of this course, the teacher will be qualified (and certified!) to safely and successfully teach yoga to others. All new teachers will be listed in our online teacher registration and there will be no additional registration or yearly fees. We are committed to changing the way that people learn to teach yoga, as well as the standard for what a yoga teacher learns. This training provides substantial accountability with extensive testing and feedback and everyone involved has their heart set on making sure all of our graduates exceed common standards of training. Further, the students we have taking the course are taking their learning very seriously and are studying so hard and demonstrating their knowledge with extraordinary video uploads of themselves teaching and doing yoga. We want to honor that by showcasing them in our registry and offering future students a place to find our teachers so that they can learn from them.
Have you had successful graduates from this course?
Yes! Absolutely! We’ve had dozens of wonderful people graduate from this course and go on to serve their communities with yoga in a variety of different ways. While many of our certified graduates teach in studios or at gyms, we also have some people with clever applications of their teaching practice. One teacher is serving autistic youth, another is teaching in her retirement community, while another combines her yoga skills with her passion for the water and has created classes in the pool! We have folks also donating their services in Doctors Without Borders and in the Peace Corps. It’s exciting to see how our graduates apply their skills in the world!