Episode 45: Seven Things That Make A Remarkable Yoga Teacher Training with Rachel Scott

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Rachel Scott is a yoga teacher trainer, instructional designer, and writer.  She regularly contributes to Yoga International and is the author of Wit and Wisdom from the Yoga Mat and A Yogi's Guide to Dating.  With over 4000 hours as a yoga teacher trainer, her passion for helping yoga educators create excellent trainings certainly shows through.  I am so grateful to have Rachel and her captivating energy on this episode!  You've probably guessed by now that the topic is all about Yoga Teacher Training.  In specific, Rachel helps us understand what separates an exceptional training from a disappointing one.  You're going to want to listen in whether you're considering taking your first yoga teacher training, continuing yoga education or playing around with the idea of being a teacher trainer yourself.  Rachel breaks down the reason why sometimes amazing yoga teachers deliver a less than satisfying training, prepares you with pertinent questions to ask if you're looking into taking a training, and lays out what makes a remarkable teacher training (spoiler alert: part of it falls on the responsibility of the student).

I wish I could tell the whole wide world about this one because so many people struggle to find a good yoga teacher training.  It's not something that you'd want to roll the dice on either, seeing as how each training is thousands of dollars.  Rachel's advice is worth its weight in gold!  So if you know somebody who would benefit from this info, keep the good vibes going and SHARE THIS EPISODE!

Many thanks to you for joining me.  Now, plug in those headphones and listen away!


Rachel's article on Yoga International: How to choose a yoga teacher training  

Rachel's free course on how to create a teacher training

Key Nuggets:

  • Even with all the training she's done, Rachel is still working on one of the first lessons of the yoga sutras: "yoga is the restraint of the fluctuations of the mind".  And that is yoga.  She’s an inspiring reminder that a patient, consistent practice is far more important than mastering anything.
    • Contemplating this concept further, it's about how to put the soul in driver seat so that the mind can be a servant.
    •  What Rachel's learned is that the mind goes in loops.  She used the terms “mind hamsters” or “brain loops” which I love.   She used to think that if she could rationalize the thoughts in her mind then everything would make sense.  But she eventually learned that true wisdom is outside of that.  It’s within our more essential nature.
      • So it’s about creating space between vrittis (fluctuations of the mind) and our deeper self.
  • Pain has helped her jump out of her mind and into another way to process information.  At one point in mental suffering, you just “can’t take it anymore”. And at some point, you must realize that your mind isn’t telling you the whole truth.  And maybe it’s not truth at all.
    • If mind told happy stories all the time, it’d be a great place to live.  But it doesn’t and that’s why we search for truth.
  • Your interest in yoga will ebb and flow.  That’s perfectly normal! The study of yoga is so vast and there’s so much to learn.  Rachel herself was first interested in the asanas (I feel like that’s where most of us start) then her interest flowed into anatomy, education and now she’s contemplating in digging deeper into tantric philosophy.  And that’s the thing, you don’t need to know everything at once!  A great reminder to seek as a lifelong learner.
  • Amazing yoga teachers might be tapped into an organic knowledge but that’s hard to distill into a course.
    • There’s a different between a great yoga teacher and a great yoga teacher trainer
  • What Makes an Remarkable Yoga Teacher Training
    • Teaching people how to teach needs to be more about being a sage on the stage.

 . Keep the learner in mind first, not what information you know.  This is an opposite approach to what’s instinctive.

  • The teacher trainer needs to consider teaching styles and teaching methodologies to create a comprehensive, understandable teacher training.

2. Consider how to take the concept of becoming an amazing yoga teacher, which is quite inspirational, and be able to break it down into practical chunks of skills that somebody can practice on.  Focus on skills, not just talent.

3. One of Rachel’s favorite trainings that she went through was a course she took with Chris Chavez.

  • She loved it for the Community, emotionally engagement, connection to teacher, connection to students.  It was a very joyful experience to be there.
  • How she thinks he did it aside from his natural talents is that he did a lot of storytelling, was positive (he meets you where you’re at and he elevates you from where you are), he can recognize where a student is at and celebrate where they are (never made somebody feel bad for not being further).
    • A great trainer doesn’t put their students down.  They trust that their students are doing their best.  Rachel’s seen trainings flounder when teachers don’t meet their students where they’re at or when they give a lot of negative criticism, completely slamming the door on a question.
  • What makes a great teacher trainer?

4. A teacher trainer needs to have the ability to break down the mystical into the tangible (skills).

5. They need to be able to be structured about things (ex. Learning objectives)

6. Be able to hold space beyond what would occur in a regular yoga class (ex. Breakdowns, people reaching their limits…)

7. One of the “great mistakes”, as Rachel calls it, that teacher trainers make is that they think about what knowledge that they can impart but they aren’t considering what they want their students to be able to do as a result of the training.

  • Online versus Classroom training:
    • Rachel’s view on online training is that it’s never going to be the same as in-person training where you can raise your hand and get immediate feedback for your questions.  With that said, it’s still a powerful platform for learning.
    • Some pros of online is that it you gives the teacher access to really build a community and to instantly share links and videos.
    • What determines a good online training?
      • Online courses that put students in contact with each other and where the instructor gives feedback.  Instructors that check in with students and allots time for feedback.
      •  It’s not a good training if it’s just something that’s switched on and left to run. There needs to be much more integration than that.
    • What kind of training just has to be studied in person:
      •  Hands-on assisting
      • Standard yoga teacher training to an extent (ex. 200hr or 500hr).  It could be a hybrid with some parts online but there really needs to be an in person portion so that teacher can watch you teach and give feedback. Rachel’s teacher training is a hybrid which is great. 
    • What kind of training is good for online?
      • Anatomy
      • Philosophy
      • Sequencing
  • How to choose a good yoga teacher training?
    • First start by understanding what you want.  What teacher training you should take is determined by what you want.  Do you want to go on a retreat, get out of your world for a bit?  Do you want to be more immersed in community?  Do you want to learn to be an excellent technical teacher?
    • While scheduling and timing are important factors to consider, you need to start with the first bullet point and be clear what your priorities are.
  • How to figure out if a teacher for a teacher training is right for you?
    • Go take the their class
    • Meet them
    • If this is a yoga teacher training retreat, they should be happy to get on the phone or Skype with you
    • Ask what their learning objectives are and how the days are structured.  You want them to be able to articulate what you will get out of the course and how.  They should also be able to explain how they will assess you. 
  • If you realize that you actually don’t want to take a teacher training and a retreat is actually more suitable for you, here’s what you can ask to make sure it’s the right retreat for you:
    • You should still skype or get on the phone with the teacher of the retreat
    • How are the days structured?
    •  Do I have to practice?
    • If there’s something in particular that you’re wanting to learn, ask if you’ll be learning it (ex. Yoga philosophy)
    • What style of yoga do you teach?
    • Do you do hands on assist?
    •  How much personal time can I expect from you?
    • What other activities are available?
    • Where is the nearest town/city?

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

 To show up in your yoga practice whether it’s a 5 minute or 1 hour practice.  This will eventually translate to all areas of your life.  The wisdom within yourself is a profound teacher.

Do this consistently because

“small daily acts change the world”

What is one nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are on this journey of growth and transformation?

Give everyone out there a hug and say “yes, you’re good...you’re good even with all your imperfections".  Then make sure that you say this to yourself as well.            


If you have any questions for Rachel or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:  www.rachelyoga.com

Facebook: @rachelscottyoga