For about one-tenth of the price of average studio training, Orange Coast College offers yoga teacher training and certification that can be completed in one semester.
Yoga instructor training and certification is a 200-hour course, taught by Ashley McKeachie, an OCC alumna who is also a yoga therapist for people suffering from chronic pain.
McKeachie is a part-time faculty member through the kinesiology and athletics department at OCC. She said she created, developed and is the lead trainer for the yoga teacher-training program.
The course recently had its first class of graduates. It has more than 30 students enrolled, including OCC students, faculty and staff, and a two-semester waitlist.
“You don’t have to want to be a teacher to want to go through the training. This is about you learning more about yourself and finding more balance, confidence and joy in your life,” McKeachie said. “What we teach here are so many life skills.”
McKeachie has created a program that provides an affordable alternative to private yoga studio training. Instead of paying anywhere from $2,500 to $3,500 at a private studio, at OCC, students pay less than $300.
The courses include Theory of Yoga and Yoga Methodology, both lecture classes for three units each, and Hatha Yoga Levels I and II, one unit each.
After completing the course, students are certified and able to teach in health spas and yoga or dance studios. It takes only one semester to complete the 200-hour program, or students have the opportunity to spread the courses out over a few semesters.
“I took the class on a whim. I ended up coming a week late and asking her if I could join the first yoga class. I ended up loving it,” Miranda Lennert, a 21-year-old liberal arts major said. “It transformed me completely, mentally, spiritually. I got in touch with myself.”
This training is not only for students wanting to teach yoga, it is also for those wanting to deepen their practice of yoga.
Daniel Alavi, a 34-year-old natural sciences major who wants to pursue nursing, thinks yoga can be used to alleviate many problems.
“I feel like yoga is good practice for anybody to have, and I have it in mind to be teaching some of the other nurses while we’re working because there’s a lot of issues that come up with (it), such as physical issues and stress, that I feel like yoga can address,” he said.
McKeachie, meanwhile, said that yoga helped her recover from her own health problems. In 2010, she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that results in thyroid overproduction.
At the time, McKeachie said she didn’t feel comfortable or happy because of her hormone levels, which caused her to suffer from anxiety and depression.
“I took my first yoga class and I felt like a brand new person,” she said.
McKeachie said her first yoga teacher gave her great feedback when she was feeling down, which inspired her mission to become a yoga therapist and instructor.
After living in Italy for 10 years, McKeachie decided to return to Costa Mesa and enroll at OCC to study Italian, where she graduated with a linguistics degree.
She obtained her master’s degree in yoga studies from Loyola Marymount University and was hired as an adjunct instructor at OCC in fall of 2014. She also works at Orange County Pain and Wellness Center in Santa Ana where she is a yoga therapist.
She created the teacher’s training program, which was implemented last fall, with 30 students graduating from the course. She hopes the same number will graduate later this month.
Jacob Vetter, a 19-year-old mechanical engineering major, said that McKeachie’s class has helped him relax.
“I just felt like I needed a time to calm down, and to be able to know how to calm myself and to take a breath and let life go instead of being frustrated by all my school and my work,” he said. “I have been doing (yoga) for a year and a half. I’m planning to instruct on the side to help out my friends and my mom. My mom has Graves’ disease and I want to help her get active in her life, because I know she wants to but it’s hard for her.”
McKeachie said that she eventually wants to expand the yoga teacher’s program to 300 hours so that it will include more advanced training, and to have more classes with fewer students so there can be more one-on-one instruction time.
“The most challenging part of yoga is to do that, to redirect your mind, to remember that it’s a gift to be alive and to have friendships and relationships. That’s what makes life worth living,” she said.