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In January 2026, we'll kick off our sixth 200hr Hatha yoga teacher training in Chicago! Our training is Yoga Alliance Certified and focuses on sequencing, hands-on assists/adjustments, and practical teaching experience. Over the 12-week training, we will delve into the practice of yoga, anatomy, pranayama, meditation, the history of yoga, Sanskrit, and the style taught at Big Shoulders Yoga. Make 2024 the year you deepen your yoga knowledge and take on a new challenge!

Ready to take the next step towards becoming a yoga instructor?

Apply for our 2026 training

The training is designed to fit around work schedules, with sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and all day Saturday. It is led by Nicolette Downs (owner of Big Shoulders Yoga) and Claire Harper who have 20+ years of combined yoga experience.

Schedule a YTT Info CallYoga Alliance Certified

What makes our training special


Learn how to craft unique Hatha yoga sequences that combine art and science to engage students and keep them safe.

Hands-on assists

Support your future students, by providing skilled, safe, and effective hands-on assists and adjustments. We'll dedicate time to learning and practicing alignment-informed assists.


You'll teach to your fellow trainees and leaders mock classes, and benefit from feedback that hones your teaching style as you're developing it.


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Hear from our graduates

"I went into the Big Shoulders Yoga Teacher Training wanting to deepen my practice and learn more about proper alignment, but ended up with much more than that: I felt empowered by what I learned and the support of not only the TT leaders Nicolette and Claire but my fellow trainees and other teachers to start teaching myself. Teaching has become a highlight of every week and I am so grateful that I got to take on this opportunity because of the BSY TT."

Graduate of BSY's Spring 2020 YTT

"Teacher Training at Big Shoulders Yoga was far and away the greatest yoga experience of my life. I had been practicing with the teachers at Big Shoulders Yoga for years and was always amazed by their strength and flexibility and wanted that for myself. Teacher Training not only made me the instructor that I am today but also equipped me with the knowledge and skills to help me go where I want to in my practice. If you have any interest in becoming a teacher or just want a more experienced practice, do it now!"

Graduate of BSY's Spring 2020 YTT

"I can't recommend the YTT at Big Shoulders Yoga enough! This program was so well-rounded from anatomy, to hands-on adjustments, to the history of yoga. Nicolette and Claire did a great job of also acknowledging and being sensitive to the westernization and cultural appropriation that can occur in the yoga community. Both teachers arm you with the tools to truly feel CONFIDENT standing in front of a room, instructing students safely. If you're looking for a program that prepares you to be a working yoga teacher this is it! — Helena B.
Graduate of BSY's Fall 2020 YTT."

Graduate of BSY's Fall 2020 YTT

"Big Shoulders Yoga teacher training was an awesome experience. The instructors' explanation of sequencing, anatomy, and adjustments was thorough and engaging, and the hands on work around adjustments, both verbal and physical, prepared me to guide students of varying practices with appropriate pose variation. Finally, the community of teachers at Big Shoulders Yoga is inviting, welcoming, and supportive."

Graduate of BSY's Spring 2020 YTT

Learning objectives

A group of yoga instructors



·Structure and organization
of a sequence

·Sequencing around a theme

·Hatha and Restorative sequencing

·Different styles of yoga and their characteristics

Adjustments & Anatomy

·Adjustment/hands-on assist techniques and practice

·Anatomy and alignment

·Asana variation to accommodate a wide variety of practitioners

Practical Experience

·Teach weekly mock classes

·Receive constructive
feedback to help hone your teaching

·Create an ideal class environment for your students


·Sanskrit language study

·Cueing exercises

·Verbal adjustments

·Inclusive cuing and trauma informed teaching

·Tone and energy

Meditation & Breathwork

·Meditation and mindfulness exercises

·Breathing and pranayama exercises

·Chakra study and meditation

Yoga Philosophy, Ethics & Culture

·History of yoga

·Yoga Sutras and Eight Limbs of Yoga

·Westernization of yoga and cultural appropriation

·Business of yoga

Start your yoga teaching journey

Apply Today!



What is the YTT at Big Shoulders Yoga like?

It is highly practical and hands-on! Our training will deepen your knowledge of yoga, improve your personal practice, and equip you with the skills to teach the unique style taught at Big Shoulders Yoga. We emphasize practicality in our training and want trainees to walk away feeling confident they can write a sequence, lead a class, and provide safe and effective hands-on assists to future students.


What is the schedule for the training?

The training will begin on January 13th, 2024 and run until Mid-April, 2024. It will be a hybrid of virtual and in-studio meetings. We will meet virtually on Tuesday & Thursday evenings and in-person on Saturdays.


How much does the training cost?

The total cost is $2,900 and includes our training manual and unlimited yoga classes for the duration of the training. Save $200 if you apply before December 1st! Payment is usually due at the start of training, but we can offer payment schedules to meet your needs - let us know if you need such accommodations during the application process and we will set up a payment schedule.

If costs are prohibitive, we will do our best to offer a small amount of need-based partial scholarships and partial scholarships for BIPOC folks each training. Please inquire via email.

In addition, students in past training have received grant money through The Accessible Yoga Association to help cover their training costs. You can apply for their grant here.


What is the application process like?

Fill out the application questionnaire.

PREREQUISITES: We require you to take 10 classes at BSY to familiarize yourself with our style prior to the start of training.


What will a typical day look like?

Here’s what a typical Saturday or Sunday session will look like:

Yoga class with lead teacher


Lecture and discussion (topics will include a rotation of; anatomy, history of yoga, Sanskrit, yoga philosophy, meditation, breathing exercises, etc.)

Sequencing: theory and exercises


Adjustments/hands-on assists: technique and practice or a trainee taught class


Who will I be learning from?

Nicolette Downs is the owner of Big Shoulders Yoga.
After completing her 200hr YTT in a style of Hatha yoga called, 'cYoga' in 2012, she jumped right in and began teaching multiple group and private classes each week - however, it wasn't until years later that she actually began to truly love and feel passionate about teaching yoga. Nicolette believes that your YTT is just the first step in your journey as a yoga instructor and that the vast majority of your education takes place once you begin to teach. For her, it was the connections with her students and learning how to help and empower each individual that pushed her to develop her teaching into what it is today.

Over the last 11 years, Nicolette has taught students of all levels, abilities, ages, and backgrounds, learning from each and every person and class. She is equally enthusiastic helping a first-time student understand the alignment of Down Dog and spotting a seasoned practitioner as they gain confidence jumping into Forearm Balance.

In 2019, Nicolette opened Big Shoulders Yoga with the goal of creating an inclusive and accepting yoga community in which she could share her love of yoga and empower other teachers to do the same. Plus, there were no other Hatha yoga studios and she refused to practice and teach anything else.

When Nicolette isn't running BSY, prepping for the YTT, or teaching, she is working her full-time gig as a marketing director for City Colleges of Chicago.

Additionally, Nicolette has had a consistent yoga practice for over 10 years and has drawn inspiration for her practice from a number of styles including cYoga, Baptiste, and Power Hatha. She believes that every yoga instructor should be a practitioner first and a teacher second. Teach what you know. She is continually broadening her yoga knowledge and is currently enrolled in a 300hr YTT certification with Dianne Bondy.

As a YTT instructor, Nicolette brings her passion, breadth of teaching experience, and background of owning a successful yoga business.

Claire Harper has been a teacher at Big Shoulders since day one. She started a consistent yoga practice as a teen over 11 years ago. Claire completed her 200hr teacher training in 2011 with Carmen Aguilar and is a Yoga Alliance E-RYT 200hr teacher. Claire has taught in both studios and gyms across the country. She has experience teaching students of all levels through both Hatha and Restorative practices. By day, Claire is a Registered Dietitian and has taught workshops on Mindful Eating and Yoga and for Digestion. Claire’s practice draws from a number of styles including Ashtanga, Forrest Yoga, Restorative Yoga, and cYoga. As a TT instructor, Claire brings her unique teaching background of both physically advanced and more subtle yoga practices.

In addition to Claire and Nicolette, our training will pull in a few of the BSY teachers for their expertise on certain topics.

Yoga Alliance 200hr Yoga Teacher Training
More Questions Or ready to start the application process? email us at

Highlights from past YTTs

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