What you should or shouldn’t do in as a yoga teacher.. in my humble opinion..
Call it like it is
I recently started enrolling a new group to my TTC program and got a few interesting phone calls of people inquiring to become a certified Ashtanga yoga teacher. I found that extremely funny, but suppressed my laughter (as this wasn’t the callers mistake) and explained that this can be done only at the source – in Mysore, India. ‘’But in other schools with other certified teachers..’’ said the voice on the other side.. I can’t blame the voice on the other side… Students call it as they see it. The problem is in teachers calling themselves something they are not. And calling their school program something it can’t be.
I am not saying that, if a teacher has a good training in Ashtanga, he/she should not teach Ashtanga classes. That would be such a shame for so many yoga practitioners, so many people getting the benefits from this wonderful practice every day. If you know what you’re doing, then, by all means- do it!. Ashtanga was my first practice and I have been practicing it for almost 12 years. I have been teaching yoga for five years, but started teaching Ashtanga classes only few years ago. I felt I needed more education before I started teaching Ashtanga. But, I never called myself an Ashtanga teacher. Why? Out of respect. For the rules, tradition and all of those crazy people that can call themselves certified ashtanga yoga teachers.
So, this is what you had to do to become a certified Ashtanga yoga teacher:
1.) Travel to India every year for longer periods of time (sometimes six months)
2.) Repeat number 1 for at least five years in a row
3.) Proficient practice of at least full second series
4.) Ones you get invited to- learn how to teach the series Mysore style (counting every vinyasa in Sanskrit the way and at the paste taught in AYRI)
5.) Plus much more like getting over injuries, India bugs, Indian way of teaching, complete brakedowns etc.
This is how the 1-5 rules above sounded to me when ones, when I was a serious Ashtangie and I thought I could pop -down to Mysore for a few months to get certified (I was young and naive than:):
1.a) No job, no partner unless he’s a yogi looking to get certified in Ashtanga, no life really besides yoga, not much social life (just your yoga friends which is great, but one needs diversity), no clubbing (Mysore is not really known for the house scene).
1b.) Also, not possible unless I rob a bank (hm, braking all Yamas there – I guess not an option). Ok, finding a rich man to support this crazy idea? No, I had that but he wasn’t into supporting a girlfriend in India for half of the year while he’s in London. And supporting her in London when she gets back as it’s not easy to find a job after you’re known for quitting every six months. No rich relatives on a death bed.. Well, no Mysore for me than..
2.) See number 1a and multiply by five years.
3.) Really?? Bloody Karandavasana (grrrrrrrrr…) or as I call it now Stupidasanahatmademfrustratedenoughtoetakeabreakfromashtangaasana
4.) Even if I managed to get to number four.. WHAT? Who’d remember all that??
5.) No, thank you..
So, my dear colleagues, if you haven’t been verified or certified by AYRI, or now KPJAYI in Mysore, don’t, for the love of God, call yourselves certified Ashtanga yoga teachers. It’s simply not fair to those who were crazy enough to invest so much time, money, effort, sweat and tears (I’m sure there were tears!) etc. and sacrificed relationships, careers, friendships, good apartment lease deals etc. to actually deserve that title. For a full list of those click here.
So, this was a short:) example of getting certified to teach Ashtanga. It’s a good example but probably the most extreme. Even so, getting your Iyengar certification, Jivamukti, Anusara, Prana flow, etc. is no walk in the park either.
I have been studding to get certified in Prana flow for the past three years and can tell you it ain’t easy. Especially if you’re from Europe. I can finally travel every year (however not for six months), have a job to come back to (as I set the rules;), have a partner that understands I need to go away a lot (and comes with me sometimes) and don’t need to rob any banks (yet.. ), but it took and still does much time, money, effort and dedication.
I know, we didn’t make the rules.. And let’s face it, they can be pretty rigid and, dare I say – stupid sometimes. Also, what’s with all this branding, registering and trade marking yoga anyways? (An issue I will write about soon..) But, respecting the tradition and somebody’s intellectual property is not only a lawful, nice and yogic thing to do, it is also respecting yourself and being true to who you are. And if you can call yourself a yoga teacher, in my opinion, one of the best titles out there:), isn’t that enough? Be true to yourself and teach what you really know. Teach yoga. What a bliss just being able to do that!