To start…here are some links to articles that have been in the yoga community lately.  If you do not have an understanding of the controversy/conversation, then you may want to skim or read these articles before reading my blog this time.

CNN

Huffington Post

New York Times

The conversation I want to have today really centers around what is good yoga and what is quality yoga instruction and how can we replicate it many times over.  I say that you cannot.  No one can develop a training manual, teach a group of students, and create a set of standards that will make a good yoga instructor.  Good yoga instruction does not come from knowing correct alignment.  Good yoga instruction is not being able to recite Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras forward and backward.  Good yoga instruction is not being able to demo every arm balance of yoga and calling ques from full lotus.  All of these things are good things for a yoga instructor know, be able to do, and be part of a practice, but it does not make you “good”.  Good yoga instruction comes from a teacher who authentically, mindfully, and truthfully teaches the philosophy of yoga as it relates to his or her students; guides the asana from a safe and effective point of view; and, encourages the student to find awareness and depth in their own practice.  This can not be taught, but is developed over time with consistent practice and self exploration.

There are thousands of different ways to approach yoga – different schools of yoga, different lineages of teachers, different styles.  We all connect to yoga in different ways.  I teach lots of atheletes.  For them, starting a yoga practice is sometimes easier in a power yoga setting because it mimics what their body is use to in their sport.  They feel an adrenaline rush, they get a little sweaty, they challenge themselves.  This makes starting the journey into yoga feel a little safer.  Once fully comfortable with the physical practice the mental and emotional depth the practice of yoga brings is then able to emerge.  I was much this way.  As a young yogi, I started in a hot class because my stiff, atheletic body felt better there.  I then found that the power moves made me feel accomplished like the way athletics had.  As my practice grew, I found my way to balance:  enjoying the gentler side of yoga at times, using restorative yoga for recovery, and learning that meditation helped me train just as much as the physical practices.  This was MY process.  This is how I fully found MY yoga.  I then became a teacher so that I could share that with others.

Other people do not have the connection to their physical body the way athletes do.  The arm balances and chaturangas are intimidating.  They approach yoga from the subtler side of the practice.  Exploring pranayama and meditation first with gentle yogic moves to awaken the body.  But, over time these people start to connect to their bodies in new ways.  I have a student now that I teach privately.  She started a yoga practice after not “working out” in over 10 years.  We started with lots of mediation, breathing, and restorative/gentle poses.  Over time this work has allowed to her find her “power”.  She is feeling stronger, balanced, and confident.  In this approach, yoga still found balance, but the path was a little different.  Neither one better or worse; neither one needing to be judged.

In the end, yoga is about union.  It is the joining of the physical body to mental clarity and ultimately spiritual awakening.  We cannot judge the path by which a person gets there.  As a yoga teacher, we can only be a facilitator of the process.  As a teacher it is our ethical responsibility to know what we are teaching and to teach what we know effectively.  We need to give our students the tools they need to succeed.  We need to live our yoga and be shining examples to the students in our life.  We need to speak truthfully with intention to never do harm.  Through moderation and balance in our practice and the ever-present act of self-study, we can know how to offer quality yoga to our students.  Practicing contentment will let us know as teachers that the students we have on any given day are just enough and exactly who we are supposed to be teaching.  And, with a pure heart, zeal for all of life, and a surrendering to the vast power the universe holds, we can approach our practice and our teaching humbly.  This is what makes good teachers.  This is why yoga can change your life and those around you.

If you are teacher, stay on your path and be confident in who you are and what you have to offer.  Seek out teachers that foster the innate abilities you already have and who will help to enhance your teaching.  Keep learning and growing everyday.  It will  happen for you – one day you wake up to teach and realize you have settled into what is authentically you and all is right with the world.

If you are a student looking for a teacher, it is an option to look to see if they have their 200 or 500 hour credentials.  But, that will not make a good teacher.  If fact, some amazing teachers do not have Yoga Alliance credentials.  But, that is a start.  Then it is trial and error process.  Go take from a variety of teachers in different styles.  Be mindful of your level of experience and ability and never do anything that doesn’t feel right in your body.  This will keep you safe from injury.  Find a teacher that speaks to you on multiple levels:  the physical practice seems to be the right speed for you, mentally and emotionally you “click”, and the spiritual tones to the class are in line with your beliefs.  But, be open to new ideas and ways of looking at the world and yourself.  If you go to class with an open mind, you will find the right teacher.  It is said, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

Don’t get me wrong teacher trainings and workshops are still great.  They are essential part of the process.  They just are not all of the process.  And, as I will discuss later this week, I think that the qualities mentioned above can be fostered in teachers before we need more regulations on the profession of yoga.

So, for what it is worth…this is my two cents on the conversations floating around in the yoga world right now.  There are a couple more facets to this argument I will explore later this week.  Then I’ll get back on board with my ramblings of yoga philosophy and my life 🙂

Namaste’

Advertisements