Becoming A Yoga Teacher
Did you know that anyone can be a Yoga instructor? Anyone at any time can say that they know how to teach Yoga and can easily begin selling Yoga classes. There is no certification required, no registration, no education.
Of course, we know that this is not what makes a person a Yoga teacher. The ability to instruct people to move through various postures does not necessitate special training. However, the skills needed to guide people through a Yoga sequence that intentionally creates physical, energetic and emotional change requires depth of study and practice. The Yoga Alliance provides us with a set of guidelines to follow in our training.
Self Study is one of the most important practices a Yoga teacher must do. While studying the texts, philosophies and practices of Yoga we must apply that which we learn to our lives. We must move with the intention of noticing how it effects our own bodies and live as witnesses and observers of our own thoughts, speech and actions.
Teaching Yoga requires constant practice and study. It requires self awareness, continued study, growth and development. A Yoga teacher is always practicing, but not always posing. They are developing deeper awareness of themselves in order to gain a better understanding of the practitioners whom they guide.
Intense, but not Intensive
The training required to become a Yoga teacher is intense, but it should not be intensive. The quality of the training a blossoming practitioner attends can make the difference between them becoming an instructor or a teacher.
The most common initial Yoga teacher training program is 200 hours in length. A comprehensive program includes everything from history to anatomy and should also cover the philosophy and practices of traditional Yoga. To fully grasp these concepts it is important that a budding teacher apply them to life. To do this, we must walk the walk and talk the talk, everywhere. We must take the time to understand and apply everything we learn. A quality Yoga teacher takes the time necessary to develop themselves, their knowledge and their own practice.
Everyone has their own special set of skills. A quality Yoga teacher does more than instruct poses. They absorb themselves into the practice and radiate their passion into the studio as well as out in the world. Every aspect of their life is dissolved in Yoga. Listen to how your teacher speaks, watch them move, notice what they do while demonstrating or moving through the room. Listen for their unique set of skills.
Learn about your teacher. Do they have a degree? In what field? What lives did they live before they became a Yoga teacher? How does their past effect the way in which they teach? Each one of us applies that which we had learned before we became Yoga teachers to the way in which we teach and live. When you practice with a quality Yoga teacher you will be able to see, hear and feel who they are as a result of their past experiences.
Value Your Teacher
Standing on your head, jumping from downward dog to handstand and being able to wrap your legs behind your shoulders does not qualify you to teach Yoga. In fact, many teachers lack the flexibility to access many of the party trick poses you will find on Instagram. In addition, just because your teacher can do these things that does not mean they can teach you to access the positions in your body or that your body can move in those ways.
Think about your favorite teachers in school. What qualities made them memorable? A quality Yoga offers more than instruction during a work out. They offer space, energy, guidance, support, instruction, direction, passion, enthusiasm and themselves. The practice of Yoga is their way of life and they share their life with you every time they teach.
When you find your quality Yoga teacher let them know how much you value them by paying full price, letting others know what makes them different and showing up to support what they do and to learn and grow with them.
If you just chose this blog because of the title, take a moment to reflect upon that which you were hoping to get from reading it. Begin with these two words: “Yoga” and “Brand.” These two words inherently do not fit together. A brand is something that had been manufactured. Yoga is a practice that was discovered thousands of years ago. A brand is owned, distributed and sold. Yoga is none of these. It is everywhere, to be lived by anyone, for free. Yoga is not a product.
[The first space in which Raja Hatha Yoga was practiced in Lake Tahoe.]
Location, Location, Location
A brand is all about looking good. The right location, models, lighting, attitude, motto, all matters. You have to consider the demographic and customer you are trying to reach. You have to sell.
This is not Yoga. No matter how hard I try to sell you on trying for the first time, second, going somewhere new, attempting a different approach, or convincing you that it will change your life, you have to be ready to become a Yoga practitioner.
No matter how pretty or new or shiny the studio space. No matter how sexy, strong or flexible those joining the class may be, you have to be ready to change yourself. Yoga is not about location. It is about mindset.
No matter how good you are at posing you will still need practice in order to discover Yoga. Sure, you may look good in your Lululemon pants and your Athleta top while you are handstand floating to the front of your mat. Regardless of your ability to access Virabhadrasana Eka or Ashtavrakasana we all have to keep practicing to work within.
Yoga is not a show. It is a practice of mindful movement, breath, and ultimately letting go of expectations. When you practice it may be with a large group, small group or individually. The space in which you practice, style that you choose and those with whom you join in are not what matter. It is your attitude that makes the difference.
Are you here to be seen or to See?
Who are You Following?
A brand sells because you desire to be like that which you see. Fit, strong, relaxed, affluent, happy, whatever it is you desire, the company selling is doing everything they can to convince you that their product will change you. We all know that it won't. No piece of clothing, yoga mat, block, strap, or new tool is going to make you a better person. Only you can do that.
Before beginning, trying again, or returning to the practice consider what you are seeking in a teacher. Seek out a guide who is knowledgeable beyond Asana and who understands and practices the philosophies of Yoga. Find someone who is authentically themselves all of the time. Your teacher should be real, dedicated, truthful, vibrant and fearless to be themselves no matter what. For this will encourage you to do the same.
If you are considering beginning, trying again, or returning to the practice and would like advice, guidance or assistance please reach out to Jenay. Whether choosing Lake Tahoe Yoga or another location in which to practice she is happy to provide support to anyone interested in practicing Yoga.