Some Thoughts and Rants on Yoga Teacher Trainings (1)

‎A YOGA TEACHER TRAINING sounds like utter fun. It does sound so yogic to me. It’s like a trainee is soon ready to become a yoga guru in and out. Imagine the ultimate peace of mind, the warmth of mutual compassion, the relief of everyday grind, and the stillness after that. No one will hate it.

While the aforementioned stuff is somewhat true, the rest is not. I don’t know about others, but as for me any training is challenging‎. It’s the place where one must stretch to her or his limitation and boundaries of patience, tolerance, mental stamina, intelligence, etc. Break or make it, they say. Sometimes I break though.

‎For employees like me, taking a yoga teacher training requires strong commitment. Very very strong one, I must emphasize. And one has to put so much effort into the undertaking. It’s a serious business, ladies and gentlemen. You’re not going to feel like attending a drop-in class or a retreat yoga class you always enjoy with your favorite teacher because as you walk into the classroom, you have to start changing the perspective of students into one of teachers. Some would beg for their mama. I’m not being hyperbolic here.

To add to the list of challenges, there’ll also be a great deal of distraction, nuisance and disturbance along the way and boy, do we need to anticipate such things from early on! Not to mention the internal distraction. Take sloppiness, despair, bewilderment and ire as some latent examples.

Is the 200-hour standard adequate?
It’s a no brainer actually to say:”Of course, it is NOT.” I’ll tell you why.

Before getting to know yoga in 2010, I picked English as my passion long time ago. Maybe since my early years. Though I knew I loved English but that wouldn’t make me a great English teacher in an instant. There would be still years of learning at high school, undergraduate, graduate study and some informal courses I took before I managed to convince myself,”You can now teach English to others.”

The same thing applies in my yoga journey (I’m not going to talk about other people’s yoga journey or what ideal path one needs to take on their journey.) I take the liberty to enjoy this journey without haste. It’s not wasting time. To learn yoga slowly means you can learn more profoundly to eventually embellish the values and teachings of yoga and also interpret all those into your own understanding (because we’re humans, not a robot who can entirely acquire what it must do). We should stay ourselves while learning yoga. In other words, don’t be the human clone of your guru.

‎Besides, being labelled and called “guru” from the moral standpoint is a serious type of responsibility. And I take that earnestly because it’s not a matter of making money. My approach is different, and confusing, I admit. Perhaps because I involve heart, feelings, emotions and devotedly pour my soul into my yoga teaching (if I teach more professionally someday). I really want to do it right if I have to do it.

‎I support yoga teacher trainings in that they provide basic knowledge of yoga in a relatively shorter period of time. It’s therefore more efficient and effective in many ways for us to study yoga in a yoga teacher training than in a regular yoga class.

Yoga teacher trainings also cut some long learning curves we may otherwise experience in the course of unguided and unstructured self study. ‎There’re many beginners’ mistakes trainees can avoid from the very beginning, which at last makes their future class safer.

More yoga teacher trainings also translate to less money spent for studying yoga. Nowadays, everyone with some funds can access the knowledge and experience without having to fly to India, the place where it all began. So there are more and more people can benefit from yoga practice without staying long in ashrams.

With yoga teacher trainings, we can also expect there’s some degree of standards and requirements one needs to meet prior to teaching yoga. As shallow and superficial as it may seem, a certificate may help us — to a certain extent — assess someone’s mastery and expertise of yoga. At the very least, these hopefuls have already the credentials to show, which is a good start. But of course, there’s still more to show other than a heap of yoga teacher training and workshop certificates. For someone brand new in the yoga jungle (those practicing yoga only for months or a couple of years, or on-and-off practice) but with superfluous enthusiasm and a set of basic yoga teaching skills, yoga certificates surely are helpful for the initial impression as you are about to get clients or students or employers. Claiming a certificate is useless is hypocritical, as a matter of fact.

(to be continued)

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