In this fast-growing age of technological advancement, especially during the past two years of lockdowns and travel restrictions, the world has seen a huge rise in virtual educational platforms. Online classes are now widely available and easily accessible – all you need is your laptop/phone/tablet, a working Internet connection, and you’re good to go!
Similarly, the yoga world is also riding the wave of virtual classes – not only are regular yoga classes available, even workshops, seminars, and even yoga teacher trainings are being offered, fully online.
Getting certified as a yoga teacher online, hmmm kinda piques one’s interest, especially when we’ve already got so much going on in our daily lives! But it does beg the question – surely there must be some pros and cons of doing a yoga teacher training online?
Here’s a concise list of pros and cons to help you decide whether online or in-person yoga teacher training is best for you!
Online Yoga Teacher Training: Pros.
- Cost-effective. Travel cost takes up a large chunk of an in-person yoga teacher training budget, especially if the teacher training course of your choice is not being held locally in your city, but instead in some idyllic location on the other side of the planet! Destination trainings also come with accommodation, food and facility fees, and since you’re already travelling there, you may also want to consider setting aside some finances for some sight-seeing and/or shopping. All these factors combined, your travel and accommodation costs may be higher than your tuition cost itself!
- This one’s for my fellow introverts! Comfort and privacy. Ah, learning and exploring new worlds, thoughts, and perspectives, all in the comfort and privacy of one’s own home…the perfect combination…no hassle of traffic, flight stress, no need to mingle and mix with people…home is where the heart is! Need I say more?
- Time flexibility. Unless they are live online sessions, most online yoga teacher training courses are pre-recorded, meaning you can access the recordings in your own time. This self-paced study structure makes it easier, especially if you have work, family or other commitments to consider. The self-structured schedule also gives you more time to properly digest whatever you are learning, and you can revisit the recordings if you need to.
- Access to a broader range of international teachers. The beauty of the virtual platform is that it allows everyone to be connected, regardless of wherever they are physically. This makes it possible for you to finally learn from your favourite international teachers!
Online Yoga Teacher Training: Cons.
- Potential technological challenges. While we have come a long way from the dial-up Internet connection and big-buttoned box-like mobile devices of yesteryear, there is always a possibility of ISP (Internet service provider) and device issues popping up every now and then. This could prove a huge challenge, especially when it comes to live online sessions.
- The self-paced course structure requires greater self-discipline and motivation to complete the training. With a physical course, you would have to adhere to the pre-determined daily routine and classes, and you have already allocated time to be fully present in all sessions. A self-paced course means there is always leeway for you to play hooky from class, ‘Ah, I can always do it tomorrow’! There will also be no one to give you that extra nudge whenever you need it, so it can potentially take a long time to complete the course.
- Limited hands-on guidance from trainers. Until we’ve developed the technology to allow our teachers to reach through screens and provide us with hands-on adjustments, we will have to make do with verbal and visual cues. Sometimes, these cues may not be enough for us to understand how to perfectly align ourselves into a pose, either due to lack of self-awareness, or incomprehension of the cues. This is where hands-on adjustment is an invaluable learning tool.
- Reduced social interaction. Self-paced studies mean that you start whenever is convenient for you. Which means you will most likely not have coursemates who are walking the exact same path you are at any given moment of time, and if there are, your interaction is again limited to virtual platforms, which cannot provide the same level of connection as face-to-face interactions.
In-person Yoga Teacher Training: Pros.
- The full, immersive experience. You know that saying, ‘it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it?’ Things are never as straight-forward as they may sometimes seem, the same goes with yoga teacher training – it’s not only about formal education through listening to and attending classes. It’s also about imbibing the yogic lifestyle, and personally experiencing it for yourself. Experience is always more valuable than knowledge, especially when it comes to something practical like yoga. With an in-person yoga teacher training course, you have already committed to the process by completely setting aside all other commitments, and placing yourself in an environment that has been specifically designed to take you deep into the yogic experience.
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- Intensive learning. Another difference between online and in-person yoga teacher training is that the specially structured, full-on daily schedules of an in-person course means that there’s no room for slacking! 200 hours sounds like a whole lot of hours, and boy oh boy do the hours slip by fast when you’re learning and having fun! Besides the intensive learning, a structured schedule is also the perfect opportunity to break away from old habits that are not serving you anymore.
- An integral part of yogic studies, especially when it comes to the asanas, is the hands-on learning. With online courses, you are limited to auditory and visual learning. Having a trainer present in-person who can provide hands-on adjustments, and with group sessions aimed at learning and applying the concepts of alignment and adjustment on each other, is immensely invaluable in a yoga teacher training course. This way, you not only learn more about your body, you also learn to train your eye to analyze different bodies in different poses, and also improve on your teaching skills.
- Face-to-face interaction. Yoga is about the journey within, yet it is also about being with others. Having peers who are on the same path in this unique journey means you not only create lifelong, deep connections, but also have a support group to look to if you are facing any challenges in your practice.
In-person Yoga Teacher Training: Cons.
- Due to the additional expenditure of travel and accommodation, attending an in-person yoga teacher training course incurs higher cost.
- Schedule flexibility and time commitment. Because the venue and lodgings have to be booked ahead of time, and the team of trainers have to synchronize their individual schedules accordingly, all in-person yoga teacher trainings start and end on specific dates determined by the yoga school. This means you will have to adjust your schedule in order to fit in the dates provided, and since almost all in-person trainings happen for at least 3 consecutive weeks, you would also have to work out all your work/family and other commitments before signing up for a training.
- Potential distractions. Being in a group setting may also create distractions, not only amongst each other, but also if the training takes place in a new, foreign land, the local attractions may seem more tempting to explore than just focusing on your yogic studies!
At the end of the day, it really is up to you to decide whether an online or in-person yoga teacher training course is best for you. What’s right for someone else, doesn’t necessarily have to be right for you. Take into consideration where you currently are in life – what are you priorities, what are your goals; more importantly, what is your heart telling you?