yoga teacher

Please Don’t Call Me a Yoga Teacher

It never fails.  I am settling into my seat in coach when the nicely dressed businessman sitting next to me asks, “traveling for business or pleasure?”  A deceptively simple question, that I usually answer with a simple “both.” Then comes the question I dread the most, “what do you do?”  To encapsulate this answer with a simple statement falls short of explaining my profession.  Yet, inevitably I say it.  “I am a Yoga Teacher. ”  He then tells me how his niece/daughter/friend is also a yoga teacher and begins the usual talk about how tight his hamstrings are, how he can’t touch his toes, or (my favorite) how fit I must be doing Yoga all the time. This is a gross misrepresentation of how I fill my professional hours and my personal time, but the task of redefining what it means to teach yoga seems insurmountable.

Mr. Businessman’s idea of yoga isn’t a totally inaccurate perception in the yoga industry.  I go to yoga classes from time to time that are simply physical fitness classes.  But that’s not all that’s out there. Some Yoga teachers guide their students to do more than open the hips or broaden the collar bones.

Some Yoga teachers are using the asanas (physical postures) to help students develop an understanding of themselves at the deepest level.  These teachers are helping us to understand the body as an intricate part of the whole system of our humanness, and they are helping us to see that in working with the body, we are also working with our mind, our heart, and our spirit.

So the term “Yoga teacher” is starting to fall short of the truth of what I (and many others like me) do “for a living.”  The problem is that to relegate a vast and multifaceted philosophical and scientific system to a physical workout is a mistake. The postures are the catalyst to discovery of deeper truths and a more meaningful relationship with what is real and true. They are not exercise. The breathing is a tool to experience our life in a different way, more connected and more complete.  The sensitivity to alignment is more than a way to keep the body safe, it’s a way to move and express the energy within and around us that is always working to shape our experience.

It’s time to change the conversation. For all of us who study and teach Yoga as something that is much, much bigger than physical fitness. It is time we work to reframe what it means to be a Yoga Teacher in the world today. It is time that we own the full scope of what yoga can offer and not stop short by limiting its benefits just to the body.  

What are we afraid of?  If you are a practitioner of Yoga (and not simply doing a Yoga workout), then let’s start talking about that. Can we take back the label of Yoga Teacher as source of integrity and authenticity and not just another YogaGirl YouTube spoof?  Can we revive the understanding and practice of Yoga  to be more than just our hamstrings?  

Can we bring back the term “Yoga Teacher,” and not cringe at the thought of telling Mr. Businessman what we do for a living and a life practice?

 

So You Want to Be a Certified Yoga Instructor?

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This is the time of year we all start contemplating our contribution to the world, right?  We start thinking about our blessings, our connections, and our gifts. The holiday season is practically an invitation to re-assess and re-engage.  Not to mention that it comes on the threshold of one year ending and another one beginning.  We start reflecting on where we are in the world and in life, and making plans align our desires with our efforts.  Currently, there seems to be a massive push toward getting out of the conventional box of "success" built by our baby-booming forefathers and huge shift toward Self Fulfillment and the pursuit of lasting joy. 

Some people are pursuing this by showing up on their Yoga mats and the end of a long day, or taking mini-meditation breaks at their desk to increase focus and productivity. But there is another group of people who are looking for more than simply the traditional 9-5. They are seeking more meaningful work, and prioritizing joy over achievement.  Everyday I work with people on this spectrum.  In my weekly Yoga and Meditation Classes, I encounter busy people who are making a choice to manage their stress through ancient physical and energetic practices.  In my Yoga Teacher Trainings, I see countless yogis who have had a glimpse of the possibility that joy feels different than success, and they want to learn how to make that their path.

Seeking a Yoga Teaching Certification is process of re-definition.  You may think you are starting a program that will teach you how to communicate safety and movement in Yoga asana (postures), but what you also get is something that many people don't expect.  You get an opportunity to put your life, your choices, and your actions under investigation.  You get to reveal you habit patterns and encounter your stories.  You get to look deeply into what is and isn't meaningful in your life, and discover that who you really are.  All of this exploration happens alongside learning the mechanics of asana and the breath, studying how to structure a yoga class wisely, and often deciphering some of the Classic texts of the practice.  Sounds amazing, right!?!

Well, it is amazing.  And excruciating.  It is fulfilling and gut wrenching.  It is beautiful and ugly.  And often it's all of these things at once.  Becoming a yoga instructor is like being thrown into a hurricane, sometimes its the deepest calm and peace that you can imagine, and sometimes it is total chaos.  The process of becoming a yoga instructor is about learning how to dance, weave, and surf it all.  And much to the frustration of many Western educated minds, it's not a liner process.  There are no bullet points for success, no number lists of steps.  The best Yoga Instructor Trainings are simply guidebooks on the path of your own discovery.  They inform you, point out fascinating landmarks and dangerous curves along the way, and then send you off to discover the power of this ancient practice for yourself. 

What do you get in return for all of this hard work?  You find your voice.  You experience the profound power of being present and truthful. You unearth your unique expression and relationship to the physical body and the breath.  You become inspired and, with practice, inspiring. You start to speak with the understanding that you longed to discover when you stepped onto the path.  You begin to embody the very things that you yearned to experience.  When you walk into a class, you recognize the faces of those people who are seeking a deeper meaning, who are on the threshold of pursuing joy, and you sing to their hearts.

If 2016 is your year to become a Yoga Teacher, let's get started. Click here to learn more about our 2016 Yoga Certification Programs.