Being a Yoga Teacher
I love my job.
I realise saying it out loud might prompt you to check for any hint of sarcasm, perhaps meant in a moment of frustration or exhaustion. But no, luckily and gratefully I do.
Maybe ‘work’ is the wrong noun to describe how I feel about teaching Yoga, which, I hope, is a sign I’m doing what is right for me.
In this blog, I’ll try to unpack my feelings and thoughts around my journey and becoming a Yoga teacher.
It was never a long-held ambition to become a Yoga teacher and I’ve found this is true of a lot of my teachers.
For me, it is led by a love, passion and perhaps (initially!) obsession for Yoga, and the want and need to deepen my understanding.
So far, it has been twenty-year journey, sometimes clearly lit and sometimes moving slowly forward, through teacher training to becoming fully qualified… acknowledging of course, that the learning never ends.
It is a journey of wonderful experiences, discoveries, friendships and admittedly some self-doubt and reflection. But, perhaps any journey without self-doubt ultimately offers few rewards.
I read somewhere that the ripe fruit lies out on the thinnest bough… dare we climb out to pick it?
I began practising Yoga in my early twenties but It wasn’t until my thirties that I looked into studying further and more formal training.
I had my own business at the time and worked long and unsociable hours. This meant that attending classes regularly was a constant negotiation so I committed myself to a twelve-month foundation course with The British Wheel of Yoga.
It was a safe, guided way to immerse myself and deepen my understanding. My only goal at that stage was to develop my personal practice.
The year flew by, lifelong friendships were made, eyes and ears opened and as the course drew to a close, I was kindly invited to continue on to the 3-year teacher training program.
The dye had been cast.
I have often been asked by students if I would offer a teacher training program. It isn’t something I have ever felt qualified/experienced enough to do and many of my students have gone on to take teacher training and have become wonderful teachers. I’m always delighted when a student is inspired to teach.
If you are considering taking a teacher training perhaps the first question to ask is….
Why do I want to teach yoga?
You may find if you look a little deeper, that you want to learn Yoga and practice Yoga for yourself and not for others. That of course is a worthy goal in itself.
I have heard it said that ‘the worst thing you can do for your own practice is to become a teacher’.
I must admit that during my Yoga Teacher Training, I worried that I would fall out of love with my practice and it would start to feel like a chore…
Without any doubt, your own practice does become compromised by the needs of your students, travel, planning classes, paperwork, marketing, social media etc. And it does take discipline to maintain… especially where we find ourselves currently.
Which yoga teacher training should I choose?
There is very little regulation when it comes to teacher training programs. Basically, any Yoga teacher can offer teacher training and disappointingly many do, merely as a way to supplement their income or to sustain the running of a yoga studio.
Now more than ever, as we have all been forced to transition our work online, access to training is made easier but not necessarily better.
No doubt in the reading of this you might sense my concerns around the quality of some study being offered. It’s only borne of having taken a journey and being conscious of how the easiest route offered can mean the hardest compromise.
Online Yoga classes and Teacher Training do have a lot in their favour. I’m experiencing that now, both as a teacher and a student.
Access to teachers all over the world. No needless travel. No travel expenses or hotel bills when staying away from home. No hire fees for venues.
Things to bear in mind when choosing Yoga Teacher Training
What is the teacher’s lineage? (Who did they study under?)
How long have they been practicing and teaching Yoga?
Have you practiced, or is there the opportunity to practice WITH the teacher before signing up?
Has Yoga been the main focus of their journey to teaching or is their qualification in another movement modality e.g. fitness instructor ? Not a bad thing in itself obviously but is it merely ‘another string to a bow’?
Any teacher in any field that claims to know everything, might be treated with some circumspection. ‘Perhaps, maybe and I don’t know’ are in my experience, words that a good teacher uses with ease.
Non-dogmatic teaching. Dogma isn’t usually a close friend of learning.
Trust your instinct. Is this a business-led or a vocational teacher?
These considerations are also relevant when it comes to choosing a teacher and which classes to attend.
Over time I have seen inexperienced students become teachers and teachers with very little experience become teacher trainers.
Some cause for reflection on where that might lead, for all involved.
Of course, happily, there are many, many wonderful teachers out there, offering safe, authentic and comprehensive trainings. Yoga teacher training programs can and should be a life-changing experience and teaching Yoga is extremely rewarding.
Do your research.
Choose slowly, wisely and journey long and well.