Does Learning at Your Own Pace Yoga Teacher Training set you up to FAIL?

Are you experiencing Yoga Teacher Training choice overload?

Have you noticed there are so many options for where you can do your yoga teacher training?

Since your inquiry began, your google searches have pushed even options into your feeds. I remember how it felt to make this choice for myself; it was frustrating and overwhelming. And now, there is an added challenge of choosing between live and video-based training.

In March 2020, just like any other industry or community, Yoga schools faced a challenging decision. Each of us considered what we felt was best for our students. 

The result is a majority of schools now only offer online-only or predominately video-based training.

What I find concerning is that this option is being presented as better because you learn at your own pace. But will you actually get the same experience as in-person cohort-based training? Are you getting a deal? Or are you getting what you pay for? 

I also had this choice to make. Do I follow the video-based, learn at your pace trend? Or do I maintain our 100% live training method? 

In this post, I will walk you through how I made this decision for our school and why in hopes that it will help you make the best choice for you.

Time for research!

I want to share why I have chosen to keep our live and in-person training model.

My first step was to get informed. So, I spent weeks in Yoga Alliance discussion groups, listening to the experiences of other schools and the Yoga Alliance recommendations and expectations. Then, I spoke with technology experts about internet quality, lighting, and sound equipment. I continued until I felt I had all the knowledge and resources to manage the transition operationally.

The question I was left with was the most important; what is best for current and my students? 

So, I returned to why I founded the Life of Wellness Institute. At that time, two things were happening; the first was watching my students and teachers struggle with how the school I worked for was treating them, and the second was witnessing the decline of mental and physical health in my community. These experiences led to our vision: compassionately embracing our authentic selves as we navigate all of life’s experiences. 

As a yogi with 30+ years of experience, I watched and was personally impacted by studios and schools, making decisions based on profit margins, attachment to lineage, and lack of responsibility to ethics, agency, and autonomy. In addition, I was adding the insight from the Yoga Alliance’s working to elevate Yoga Schools by cultivating higher quality training, safety, accessibility, and equitable teaching of Yoga. Lastly, considering the experiences students and teachers had shared with me. The combination of these lenses, and more that I share below, made my choice easy. 

I found insight in an unlikely place.

Like many of you, I watched a lot of Netflix in the first weeks of the pandemic. Funny enough, it helped me.

Have you seen Nailed It? If you haven’t seen it, they challenge amateur bakers to re-create edible masterpieces after seeing a sample. As I watched it, I was pretty frustrated by how much they made fun of the difference between the original and the reality. But then it hit me; this happens when your training is missing or lacking quality! 

The same is true in Yoga!

Yoga Teacher Training challenges are not new

Over the past few decades, before the pandemic, I have watched yoga schools cram more students into the classroom and do more and more online video-based portions of the program. Video content is ultimately just more profitable for schools. They save payroll, studio usage, and operational costs. But, unfortunately, this decision is not for the student’s good or the training quality a priority. Of equal concern is the quality of the training students are receiving.

Acknowledging the lack of quality standards, accessibility and ethics issues in Yoga, the Yoga Alliance did years of reflection investigation and research. The result was Elevated School Standards. Under the new standards, schools must have more live training hours, and an experienced senior teacher is now needed.

Unfortunately, the pandemic slowed these new expectations, and we live with the results. The issues that the Yoga Alliance was working to resolve are still there. The pandemic has again caused declines in quality. School after school has chosen not to follow the Yoga Alliance Online Exemption recommendations to balance live and video-based content. 

Learners Need Access to Expertise

According to Andrew Ho, a Harvard University assistant professor of education, the problem is that, unfortunately, the completion rates for learning at your pace courses have traditionally been meager, with results anywhere from 0.5 percent to 10 percent

So, what makes your training successful? For this, I turned to experts in education and our students. A study by the University of Warwick found that one of the primary causes of the dropout rate was the lack of instructor support provided when the course becomes challenging. They say that live interaction with a knowledgeable instructor remains an essential component of learning for many reasons.

Harman Singh, Founder of WizIQ, explained one of the most common issues, “The real problem is when you get stuck, no matter how motivated you are, you can’t get through a concept. So, I need an instructor, a teacher, to help me get through some tough subjects.”

Our students all agreed. “Being able to ask my questions at the moment and experience the concept in my own body and mind with the support of Melanie was what I valued most about my training.”

Learners Need Community

Harvard Professor David J. Malan researched minimal in-class models and determined attendance is crucial for how it feeds student engagement. Telling Inside Higher Education, “enough former students reported something was missing, not just the students themselves but the energy of the audience, that we decided to bring live lectures back this fall.”

There is an important social component to learning; students enjoy and benefit from the participation of others in the class. In my experience, this is especially true in Yoga Teacher Training, where we learn to support a wide variety of students by sharing each other’s experiences and challenges in the classroom.

Our students all agree. “I learned so much from listening to my peers share their experiences with the practice, and it helped me to listen with curiosity and hold space for my future students.”


अहिंसाप्रतिष्ठायां तत्सन्निधौ वैरत्यागः

After completing this reflection and research, I turned back to Yoga. What would yoga do? 

The literal translation of Ahiṁsā is the cessation (tyāgaḥ) of hostility (vaira) (in one) coming close (sannidhau) to him (tad). Often described as do no harm to self or others. 

Truly preventing harm challenges us to consider the impact of our actions, words, and behaviors. It means considering what is best for our students, future students, and our school. But also your future students and so on.

The answer was much easier than I expected it to be. Without a doubt, the right thing to do was to continue offering 100% live training. To hold space for the highest quality learning experience and protect the life-changing and intimate experience of taking yoga teacher training together in a community. 

"Her trauma-informed training, therapeutic insights, and overall nurturing approach leads you through an experience of self-exploration and body confidence that is unparalleled."

Staying true to our values

We are a school dedicated to sharing Yoga, meditation, and holistic health through the traditions of Viniyoga, Ayurveda, current science, and neuroscience while embracing the Eight Limbs of Yoga. 

Our goal is to help you embody life with the peace of mind and confidence to share this gift with your students. We provide a safe, supportive, and caring community with unwavering compassion, and a place where people experience sustainable transformation, resolve and support their suffering, and learn how to help others do the same thing with confidence.

My experience with trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder has been transformed by yoga. It has genuinely saved my life, and this experience has grounded me in my stand for my students having the tools of yoga to support the tender experiences of being a human being.

This is where yoga truly shines and what the ancient texts of yoga focus on most. Our courses are designed to transform what it means to be human. To wage peace in the war, we have had with our bodies, minds, and spirit. Together we will discover how to return home to your true self in a gentle, compassionate, and loving way that uniquely fits YOU.

I have written and designed our courses with over 30 years of experience in Yoga, with more than 2500 hours of training and over 9000 teaching hours as a Yoga Teacher and Therapist. With a focus on cultivating health and bringing peace to living with stress, trauma, anxiety, and depression. They are grounded in the wisdom of Yogic teachings and current science, with a trauma-informed lens to prepare you to work with your practice and design practice for your students. 

I am genuinely humbled by the number of students who have reported that their life has changed due to studying with us! Where you choose to take your Yoga Teacher Training is one of the most important decisions you will make for your future with Yoga. We thank you for considering us.

"Melanie, I need to impress upon you what you are doing is profoundly important. You are giving women a new lease on life; the value is priceless—nothing but love and respect for you. Sometimes you light candles, and sometimes you light a firecracker. This time you lit a lighthouse that will endure and guide others as well." Lindsey C

We thank you for considering us

Where you choose to take your Yoga Teacher Training is one of the most important decisions you will make for your future. 

All our training provides you with an embodied experience of the content, mentoring, tools, resources, and a community to embody the training and life with peace of mind and the confidence to share this gift with others. Together we will discover the roots and wisdom of Yoga, combined with the advancements of science and neuroscience to address the complexity of living a life of wellness in the 21st century.


No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

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