A Little Rant: Yoga Teacher Trainings

Oct 31, 2016 | XTeaching, Yoga Teacher Training | 8 comments

Yoga teacher trainings photo of eve adjusting jane in a pose.

From Eve’s book The Art of Adjustment

I feel happy that there are so many people doing yoga around the world. When I began yoga, the general population didn’t know what yoghurt was, let alone this thing called yoga. The ancient discipline has gone from fringe to mainstream in just several decades.

This phenomenon of interest in yoga is, I think, related to countless yoga teacher trainings occurring all around the globe. The more who do yoga and become impassioned about it, the greater demand there is for yoga teacher trainings. This generates more teachers, more yoga classes, more studios.

I’m saddened, though, when I hear stories about of a certain kind of factory-style yoga teacher training.

These are the ones where students get two weeks of training, or perhaps a month, and then off go with their piece of paper. The next short yoga teacher training starts up as the previous one finishes. Trainees who completed their coursework and have been assessed as competent to teach often say they feel inadequate to the job. Understandably. The programs are likely to have imparted a colossal amount of information in a short time. But there was virtually no time for the students to digest the material.

Worse, the trainees may have been left high and dry if they did their training far away from home. Training locations like Bali, Fiji, Thailand, or Spain are exotic and offer a holiday atmosphere. But it’s all-important for trainees to have established a connection with their own local yoga school. A relationship with a trusty mentor is vital. It’s unrealistic to take up the responsibilities of teaching if a trainee doesn’t have this fundamental support.

Some who complete teacher trainings will begin their teaching straightaway but many of these won’t have enough confidence. They may put off teaching or decide they are unsuited to the profession. Or, they feel a need to do another teacher training, a different one, a better one. This may help. But they’ve already made a big financial outlay in their original training, not to mention the time and energy they’ve invested.

Why fast-track learning? Dedicated yogis will never stop practising and learning. Yoga is a vast subject is worthy of study in its many aspects over years. It will pay back on one’s engagement with health-giving benefits and may even confer long-life.

Year-long or even longer yoga teacher trainings, give time for trainees to pace their studies. They can embody the practices and form relationships with teachers and mentors. Perhaps the issue is that not enough value is given to the old-fashioned quality of patience.

(Says she who is still learning! and only sometimes practising patience.)

8 Comments

  1. Dear Eve, I am a teacher in training nearing completion of my 350 hour teacher training. I feel ready, competent and able to teach but I am also very aware that this is the beginning of very special apprenticeship, which I suspect will hold an infinite timeline. I chose a highly respected yoga school with a longer term because I have read and studied the ethics and standards of teachers such as yourself.
    Thank you for showing up and sharing your knowledge.
    Namaste Fyona

    Reply
    • May your yoga teaching journey be long, deep and fulfilling, Fiona.
      Thank you for your wise comments!

      Reply
  2. I was encouraged to teach a class by my own teacher when i had been a student of yoga for about 6 years (that was the way it was done in those days – no TT courses). I was honoured, and excited, and taught a term or two – but I didn’t really feel that I yet had a deep enough grasp of the subject. I was attending two or three 2-hour classes per week and practicing daily – as I had from the beginning – but it is a deep subject, and later I learned that traditionally a student studies for 12 years before giving teachings. As it happened, it was six years later that it was again suggested to me by my teacher that I teach (a different teacher, as I had moved). This time was completely different: I found that I wasn’t trying to remember what I knew, or thought I should say; instead it was as if I was standing on a vast (infinite) expanse of understanding and awareness which I didn’t own, or hold in storage – but which I could draw on moment to moment. It wasnt always like that; but it was like that enough, that I had a chance to be present, and channel the ancient wisdom at least some of the time. And over time it was this way of teaching that I turned to more and more. And in that way of teaching there is no right and wrong, correct and incorrect, but rather the offer of a guide in the exploration of own experience. I had excellent teachers – but it wasnt something that could be imparted in less than a dozen years!!

    Reply
    • Hi Jenni,
      Your comments are just the best! Thank you!
      I think that when getting certified became such a thing that commercialisation was inevitable.
      Making yoga into an industry was inevitable.
      Is yoga in its current form here to stay?
      I don’t know. There are still so many forms and so many expressions of teaching.
      As I’ve gotten older and more seasoned as a teacher, I find myself reflecting on the question, ‘what is yoga’?
      I don’t always have a ready answer and that is good because I have to think ‘what am I doing’ and ‘why’.

      Reply
  3. I agree the longer the teacher training program the better for the student. Practicing yoga is about more than asana and so the longer you have to digest and integrate the teacher training the bigger the difference to your teaching and also your life in general. I remember one of my teachers saying to me, if you want to be a good yoga teacher, keep teaching yoga for 10 years.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Rochelle. Yes, ten years, or twenty, or thirty-six ☺️
      Not just a matter of hanging in but learning and practising.
      Kind regards.

      Reply
  4. I agree with what your saying Eve and also others response. I find it noticeable within the proliferation of yoga, that yoga teachers everywhere delve into the psychology of living and in this I feel there is such a need for deep learning. It’s a big responsibility engaging in other people’s mental , emotional well being. And also so easy to interpret and teach from our own bias or limited understanding. In some traditions for example Tibetan Buddhism there is a really big emphasis on the lineage that traces right back to the Buddha and the authenticity of the teachings. I’m not suggesting that is the only safe way to learn to meditate and grapple with our existence but I feel that direct guidance of “masters” is important, especially if we are teaching others. Like you said Eve the link to teaching school and mentors! There is a statement that struck me from the Dalai Lama ….. that we can only understand the world and its meaning from within the perimeter of our own confusion and that that our teachers lead beyond those confines.

    Reply
    • Well-spoken, Kate. And, I’m pretty sure that what you’ve written comes from your own experience of grappling with these issues.
      Kind regards, E

      Reply

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