Whaaaat? A scam yoga school? Can the words scam and yoga go together in one sentence?
Unfortunately, yes. We live in an age where money rules and even the kind-hearted and strong-willed slip every now and then. And that’s human; we are not perfect. But I like to believe we all start with good intentions and I hope everyone finds their way back.
An Unpleasant Experience
I had a quite an unpleasant experience with a yoga teacher training. The tranquil and peaceful beach spot was changed a few weeks before the training (without any explanation) to a busy capital city apartment. The two meals a day — organic, home-made, Mediterranean cuisine turned out to be the teachers buying the cheapest food from the supermarket and us preparing the food in the apartment.
"The teaching style" philosophy embraced "look at me and repeat, if you have any questions just ask." When we asked, the usual response was "you are not ready" or "I don’t want to scare you." But if I was about to list all of the issues, this article would have taken at least five minutes of scrolling down the screen.
So hopefully these points help any wannabe yoga teacher avoid the situation I ended up in, and therefore have an amazing yoga teacher training.
1. Check the Teachers Thoroughly and Look for Their Reviews
When I say thoroughly, I mean dig the deepest hole on the Internet and find everything you can. If you can’t find any reviews there’s probably a reason.
If the only reviews you see are the ones on their own website or the reviews they gave each other on a yoga website (yes, that happened) there’s probably a reason. If they have 5 star reviews on Facebook - look at them. No comments just the 5 stars? Hmm, really, no one had anything to say about their amazing trainings and retreats?
2. Check Other Events the Teachers/School is Organizing
Check their website and also their social media, such as a Facebook page.
If the events they scheduled overlap, that probably means they are just trying to advertize as much as they can in different locations and then pick the one where the highest number of participants sign up. Then you could end up with an email a week before the training saying the training is cancelled. There is no refund, but you can fly to the other side of the planet because they have a training there (true story).
Also if the events are stacked one after another, you may ask "When do they prepare for the event?" And the answer is "They don’t."
3. Check the Photos on Their Facebook Page
Facebook seems to be the go-to social network for marketing these days. Usually the marketing strategy is to put up engaging photos that show only what they want you to see. Beautiful photoshopped versions of the environment with people in yoga poses and smiles on their faces.
If you see a teacher training with photos of the teachers practicing while the students are practicing there should lit a light bulb in your head — who is teaching the students? Exactly… no one. The teachers are busy taking photos and getting into the advanced poses for the photos.
4. Check the Photos and the Event on Facebook
This is a tricky one, but I noticed that the school I went for had about twenty participants on their Facebook event page. However, none of those people turned out for the training.
I assume it’s their friends and family who help them to scam other people. Sad, but true. So if you look up an event they are running or ran with twenty people "ticked as going" and then see photos with five people in the training instead of twenty, that might raise at least few questions.
5. Email the Teachers/School and Ask as Many Questions as Come to Mind
I made the mistake of buying the training from a third party website and was only in touch with them. Those were lovely people and I had no suspicions.
However, after purchasing the program and getting in touch with the actual school, I found their communication immature, and full of Namastes and empty words. If you communicate with the school and something feels odd, it probably is.
Listen to your gut, a.k.a. instinct, and find another program!
6. Think About Their Marketing Strategy
They are trying to sell you more? There’s nothing wrong with that of course. What matters is the way they are doing it.
Each of the students of my training got an email to buy their own special oval yoga mat. And because no one was really interested in the overpriced item, the school sent another email saying, "All the other students bought one. I don’t remember hearing from you. Did you want one as well?"
Peer pressure is a cheeky practice. Do they really have to try that hard? If something is good it sells itself, right? Also if there are only five star reviews on Amazon that’s a little bit suspicious as well… I don’t think I ever heard about a product that everyone would be 100 percent happy about.
There are other clues, but they are hard to spot, especially if the scam school has a good marketing strategy as my scam school does.
I hope these few tips help someone with choosing a yoga teacher training. And hopefully every future student in a yoga teacher training ends up only with a positive experience full of magic and life changing moments!