Yoga can bring great Joy into oneʼs life. It is a path that very much supports the possibility of living life more fully and with greater freedom and a newly found appreciation and respect for life. It is a gift to be called to the mat. An even greater gift if you really feel the call to teach. I will be offering a training this coming fall. It is sponsored by Yoga Sakti. Even if you shouldnʼt take my training, I encourage you to read what is written to serve you in your path. I have watched the yoga “scene” now for about 20 years or so and have some beneficial experience and observations that may be of use.
In the last few years, a great influx of trainings has arisen. It is important that the consumer/ student (you) who is seeking a training comprehend that while there are indeed some effective trainings offered by honorable and qualified teachers, perhaps a greater percentage of those trainings offered are, well, just a side-show carnivals.
Yoga “Certifications” are being handed out like candy. Far too frequently, well-intentioned students with a passion for yoga are not trained so well and these newly “certified” teachers just arenʼt skilled. This is not any fault of their own necessarily but rather those who take their money. Also “Yoga Alliance” is not recognized by any governing agency as an authority on yoga, so be wary of that label...it is relatively easy to acquire. For instance, memorizing a fixed sequence, being bendy and likable, doesnʼt necessarily make one qualified to teach yoga.
You must consider that trainings are a good way for existing teachers to make money. Some make a lot of money. The temptation for teachers to offer trainings without having acquired the skill to do so effectively is a disservice to those involved, and to the practice of yoga itself. Ultimately, not very yogic! Find those teachers with experience and ask around. It is important that the teacher, your teacher, has the integrity to know what he/she is expected to give the student in return for those whose money and time, (and above all,) trust will be invested in the process. Be sure to know the value of your offering (your studentship) to the teacher.
There exist several challenges when trying to decide upon the training that is best for you. Some things to consider are explained in the following paragraphs.
First, and above all else, it is necessary that you begin by having a clear intention as to why you want to become a yoga instructor. Be VERY specific. Keep asking..”and why is that..” until you get to the purest answer. In fact, I recommend putting this reason on paper for your eyes to read, your lips to speak, and your ears to hear. Ask yourself...”Does it sound very true?” Could it become even more clear if you just took a few extra steps of contemplation?
Once you clarify this intention, you have now created some criteria upon which you may take your next step.
Finding a Teacher
There are at least two things one must consider when searching for the “right” teacher with whom to train.
What is the primary style of yoga? Do you think this style aligns with your intention to become an instructor? Does the style support not only the body, but what it means to employ asana as a tool (called ʻMOKSHAʼ in yoga) for liberation?
Has this teacher you are considering the years of experience and skills required to guide and transform your practice to that of the level needed by an instructor? These are valuable questions and ones to consider carefully as you will be investing not only your money and time, but your very life.
As the yoga scene has “exploded” in the west, there are a number of teachers that have incredible personalities. It is however, more beneficial if they are of “good character.” Teachers of good character care. They care and demonstrate that care by assuring that the student understands the foundational aspects of yoga.
Yoga Asana is a physical practice. When done with awareness and care, a student heals the body and expands their practice. Proper attention to the alignment of asana is a priority. Yoga Asana is a real and corporal practice. Without the understanding of physical and energetic alignment there is little progress to be made and likely, as I stated prior, great potential for injury.
It is important to understand that, as an instructor, you will be responsible for the safety of your students. Respecting the body is key, the blessing in this is, it teaches us to respect ourselves, both as great and as limited as we may be, and to do our dharma.
There are teachers who have taught a very long time and know little, there are teachers who have taught only a short time and know little, there are teachers who know a lot. Find one of those! Check out their classes, at least 5 or more, and see you like there approach, style, and philosophy. Really watch to see if the students in the room are responsive, friendly, and skilled.
Some trainings will show you sequences but not much else, explain the eight limbs of yoga and a couple other bits, but a good training will do more. Learn the essentials (alignment, energetics, philosophies, cosmology, meditation and how to really teach to who is in the class.) Select a training that will give to you a solid foundation from which you may expand as a beginning teacher. A great “bag of tools” goes a very long way.
Teaching is a constant practice of cultivating your ability to serve your students. The art of your teaching is an on-going, never ending experiment. You must however intend to gain a keen sense of observation, tact, compassion, and an adaptable and articulate approach, so that will serve your students well.
Teaching is a service. It is a wonderful way to contribute to the community and world around you.
Be thorough, investigate, it is an important step that will serve as the foundation for your future as a yogi. Good Luck!
Marc St Pierre