Yoga teacher trainings make big money for studios and their teachers. Teaching yoga has become the Plan B of many yogis still in their honeymoon phase of practicing. Record numbers enroll in teacher trainings, graduating with hopes of leading retreats around the world or becoming the next hot yogi on the cover of Yoga Journal. Students desire certification so they can become apart of the five billion dollar a year yoga business.
It wasn’t always this way. Ten years ago there wasn’t much money to be made teaching yoga, and aspiring teachers often had to travel to India to study with their gurus to become properly certified. Only after years of practice would they teach yoga as a way to give back.
I had been practicing yoga for five years when I enrolled in the Yogaworks Teacher Training Program in Los Angeles with Ashtanga teacher, Maty Ezraty, and Senior Iyengar teacher, Lisa Walford. Both of these superb instructors were taught by gurus in India and walked the yogic path with a deep respect for the five-thousand-year-old practice of yoga. Both met with me first to determine if I was ready for the program. When the training was finished, Maty told us that we were at the beginning of the teacher’s path, not yet ready to teach, but with study and practice the teaching would come to us.
Ten years later I am still in Los Angeles at Yogaworks. I have had the good fortune to teach in faraway places like the Philippines, Brazil, India and Canada, as well as all over the U.S. I taught and practiced for over ten years before I truly found my voice as a teacher and learned what I had to give.
“Yoga is one percent theory and 99% practice,” said Ashtanga master Pattabhi Jois. Imagine if your doctor or therapist had only 200 hours of training before working on your physical or mental health? These professionals require continued education and internship before treating patients. For a yogi, our continued practice is our further education. It’s where we gain our power as a teacher and discover who we are. How can we teach without the tools gained from the introspection that is necessary in a daily practice? It is through our practice that we find our voice as teachers and connect with our students’ needs.
Teacher training can be a highly transformational experience. It is a path that helps deepen our understanding and appreciation of an ancient tradition. It makes us look inward, which can be difficult. It may also help us learn what we have to offer the world. The key is to be open to the outcome of the training experience, whatever that may be. Not every graduate may end up being a teacher, but a deeper love and knowledge of yoga can manifest itself in many wonderful ways, including the ability to live a more joyful and connected life. Perhaps then we may be ready to teach others and share our knowledge.
Joan Hyman is a distinguished Senior Yogaworks Teacher, who weaves her personal yogic journey into popular teacher trainings, workshops, and retreats around the world. Her teachings come from an organic intuitive place, as she draws upon joyful study of ayurveda (the science of life), chakras, and meditation. With over twenty years of experience, Joan is E-RYT 500 Hour Yoga Alliance Certified, and a dedicated ashtanga practitioner with over a decade of practice.
She recently took a group of students to the yogi’s Motherland India and will be leading Yogaworks Teacher Trainings in Philadelphia, Geneva, and Los Angeles this year.
Images Courtesy Fluid Frame Photography