The Retreaters

Annual retreat at Brahma Kumaris Centre at Wilton, NSW

There’s a lot of controversy in the yoga world about the quality of yoga teacher trainings right now. It was inevitable. The explosion in the popularity of yoga has meant that not only do more people want to do yoga but more want to teach it. 

So, we see the proliferation of yoga brands with the various ‘styles’ offering their own spin on yoga teacher training. There are short courses, long courses, on-line courses, part-time, diplomas, advanced diplomas, and I don’t know what-all.

For my part, I have a teaching certificate from Martyn Jackson (1980), another from B.K.S. Iyengar (1986 or so) that has lapsed, a Nature Care College diploma (2002) and a senior teacher qualification from Yoga Australia. 

However, the best yoga teacher training course I’ve done doesn’t have an imprimatur. The ‘standard of approval’ I carry is the 45 plus years of yoga practice and 35 years of teaching that I’ve put in. 

You see, in the beginning, we yoga teachers, no matter how much training or what kind we’ve done, are know-nothings. That’s just the way it is and you can’t do anything about it. After a decade or so the practice you do starts to get in to your bones and tissues. Another few years and you find your voice. Even with plenty of life experience and embodying yoga practice, you are still in training. 

I was fortunate to be asked to lead an International Yoga Teachers IYTA retreat recently. I’ve seldom spent three entire days in the presence of 48 or so yoga teachers. It was inspiring for me to experience the level of commitment these teachers have to their yoga practice and to on-going training. 

The IYTA is the oldest yoga association and training body in Australia. It is represented in 20 countries and is a non-profit organisation. I’ve been a member of the B.K.S. Iyengar Association from its inception, Yoga Australia for many years and now, I’m about to join the IYTA. 

I believe these associations are committed to encouraging the highest standards of yoga teaching: continuing professional development, ethical behaviour and safe practice.

While the core values of an association are important, the collegial emphasis is even more vital. Sometimes as yoga teachers we may feel unsure of our abilities and doubtful of our levels of knowledge and skill. It’s when we come into the company of other teachers, old and young, though, that we feed our souls.

Immersed as I was at the IYTA retreat in the presence of other teachers, I kept saying to myself: I am Eve Grzybowski, a yoga teacher, standing in the company of other yoga teachers, with the lineage of all my teachers who’ve gone before, and being an influence on the teachers of the future.

It may be that there is indeed a surfeit of yoga teachers and of yoga teacher trainings, but I feel confident that yoga is a big enough umbrella to include all.