There are many benefits associated with hosting your own yoga teacher training (YTT) program, including a significant increase in revenue and a new pool of talented teachers to teach at your studio. In the past, we’ve gone through some critical considerations for holding a YTT program in hopes of helping you make the decision whether or not to do it. Today, we’re covering the steps you need to take to start a YTT program at your school.
Decide Whether or Not You’ll Register as an RYS
To start, you’ll want to decide if you’re going to register your program with the Yoga Alliance and be a Registered Yoga School (RYS). This is a big decision, and what you decide impacts just about everything else that follows.
If you do work with the Yoga Alliance to become an RYS, they will require you to submit your training materials for approval. You must also set up your program per their requirements in terms of who is eligible to teach your YTT classes and what must be taught in them.
Advocates for the Yoga Alliance and RYS programs say the RYS distinction lends credibility and reputability. Many teacher training candidates want to register with the Yoga Alliance once they complete their YTT program, but they won’t be able to unless your school is an RYS.
Build or Buy a Manual and Curriculum
The next step is establishing your training materials, which brings you to another decision – to build them yourself or to buy them. You’ll need a manual, a curriculum that corresponds to the manual, and any worksheets or handouts you think will support your instruction. Manuals also need professional photographs explicitly demonstrating poses and hands-on adjustments.
To give you an idea of the labor involved in creating a manual, we’ve learned from studio owners that their manuals are upwards of 400 pages and have taken nearly 80 hours to write and assemble. The best advice we have regarding creating a manual is to use the Yoga Alliance 200-hour and 300-hour standards as a reference to keep you on track, regardless of whether or not you are going to become an RYS.
For instance, the standards for a 200-hour program include: teaching methodology, anatomy, physiology, philosophy and a practicum. Using those broad categories, you can break down topics into individual modules. Many studio owners who create their own manual have great success using Microsoft Word or Google Documents, or you can use more advanced programs like Adobe InDesign.
If you choose to buy your manual and curriculum, there are some great choices out there. Train Yoga Teachers, Yoga Teacher Central and Ambassador Yoga are a few that we’ve heard good things about. One important note is that even though you can buy a manual and curriculum that’s are already written, they are usually customizable to fit your unique studio branding and style of yoga.
Set Your Training Schedule
While you’re working on your manual and curriculum, you’ll want to set your training schedule. The way you set up your schedule can impact how you arrange your curriculum. For instance, if you decided to hold your YTT classes on weekends, you can probably expect to have anywhere between 8 and 12 weekends worth of classes. Accordingly, you could arrange your curriculum modules to align with the number of weekends you’ll meet.
Of course, your decision regarding whether or not to become an RYS is a consideration here too. The Yoga Alliance mandates a specific number of contact and non-contact hours, with a number of contact hours specified for each of the standard categories mentioned above.
Using the 8 to 12 weekends worth of classes as a base for calculations, if you’re planning a 200-hour program, you’ll need about 15 to 23 hours of contact instruction each weekend. Using an estimate like that, you can sit down with a calendar and plan out your schedule.
Consider Protecting Your Intellectual Property
If you decide to create your own manual and training materials, you might want to become familiar with copyright laws and protections. This suggestion comes from hearing studio owner stories of training materials being used in an unauthorized capacity for competing YTT programs. If you’re not worried about this or are using purchased materials, disregard this suggestion.
Figure Out the Financials
Next, you should determine your payment policy. Will you allow your students to make installment payments for their tuition? And if so, under what terms? If allowing your students to pay in installments, it’s common to add a small finance charge to the total amount due and expect all payments to be remitted before a student graduates from your program.
Alternatively, options like PayPal’s six months, no interest payment plans work well because you get paid in full up front. Your student then makes installment payments to PayPal, which removes the hassle of having to collect multiple payments from your students.
Set Expectations with a Contract
After you create your training materials and have your schedule planned, it will be time to set appropriate expectations with a contract your trainees will sign. This might sound like an extra step, but the truth is that outlining your expectations on paper will reduce misunderstandings later.
Things to consider in your contract include attendance expectations, the cost for make-up instruction in the case of absences, requirements for graduation, your financial policy, any out-of-pocket costs for students beyond the program tuition, inclement weather plans and any non-compete parameters you feel need to be outlined. (If adding a non-compete clause to your contract, consult with your attorney for legal guidance specific to your state’s labor laws.)
Plan Your Instructor Schedule
One of the last things to do is to consider if you’re going to pay any of your current teaching team to lead YTT classes. Of course, if you’re going to become an RYS, you’ll need to be aware of the Yoga Alliance guidelines for who is eligible to lead a YTT class.
Set Up Registration in Your Software
Finally, you’ll be ready to set up your YTT classes in your yoga studio software. Your software provider shouldn’t charge you more for this functionality, even though we’ve heard that’s sometimes the case. You should be able to set up your classes or each meeting on your schedule but restrict registration to only those within your YTT program.
It takes work to launch a YTT program, but there are many benefits to doing so. We hope this comprehensive list of steps helps if you decided to launch a program. Of course, once you complete these steps, you’ll need to market your YTT program. When that time comes, we have additional resources to help you. We also help yoga studios reach more students with lead-generating websites and pay-per-click advertising assistance.
See how the top yoga studios approach teacher training in our industry-leading Yoga Studio Benchmark Report.