There has been some recent discussion to suggest a decline in the number of 300-hour teacher training courses available. As is the case for all marketable products, such fluctuations in availability are often a response to the consumer market.
The reason for such disinterest in further training is widely debated: un-incentivised yoga teachers who simply want the minimum qualification to be able to teach, the ever-rising cost of training courses, the inconvenience of undertaking 300 plus hours of training while juggling the demands of the day-to-day.
From my perspective, the changes we are witnessing reflect a modern urge for instant gratification. Hence the recent ascent of online and intensive teacher training. When so much of how humans now operate is “automatic”, anything that requires an extended commitment of time is deemed archaic, tedious and ineffective. Yoga, despite its mindful reputation, is not immune to these same tendencies.
The traditional path of shadowing, studying and learning from a guru is virtually non-existent. Modern life does not permit it…the majority of people do not have the resources to up and leave their daily commitments for a yoga ashram. While this evolution in the creation of yoga teachers brings me great sadness, it is true that in order for yoga to survive it needs to be able to adjust to contemporary culture.
Perhaps then it is not the quantity but the quality of the training provided that needs to be addressed. Is it not better to have a minimum of 200 hours of outstanding yoga training compared with 300 hours of its antithesis?
You will no doubt find 300-hour courses carried out by “trainers” who themselves have only been teaching yoga for a year. The course quality is poor, the material provided basic and the knowledge shared limited. The same can be said for online courses.
Compare this to a 200-hour course carried out by a trainer who has been in the profession for twelve years. The course is meticulously planned, educational materials thorough and examination peer-reviewed. It seems evident that the latter is the better choice. In this case the course duration becomes somewhat arbitrary, no?
Perhaps, instead of judging the quality of a teacher training by whether it surpasses 250 hours, we should be focusing on the experience and qualifications of the yoga trainer; on the time they spend with their students: how many students per course; the prerequisites for the course; if there is an entrance-assessment for the training and whether the trainer offers a follow-up or mentorship scheme (the closest resemblance we have to yoga teacher trainings of old).
Ideally, a foundation course should inspire the student to invest further in their learning. A successful yoga trainer will instil in their students the importance of developing their skills…The foundation serving as just that: the beginning of their learning journey.
While I agree that the lack of interest in 300-hour plus training is a cause for concern, I for one would much prefer a yoga teacher invest in 200 hours of thorough training than 500 hours with an inadequate trainer. It is through the former that trainers can motivate their students to invest in those additional hours of career development. By ensuring the quality of those initial foundation courses the interest in further training will inevitably increase, and that modern urgency to obtain one’s goals will prove to be (as yoga gurus have long recognised) a farce.