Why X + Y ≠ Yoga Teacher


I used to have a friend who had a masters degree in early education.  She had spent years in school, thousands of dollars on education and testing and certification.  She taught 5th grade, 4th grade, Kindergarten, and, at the time, was running the preschool for her city’s public school system.  Her biggest pet peeve?  Folks who ran daycare centers saying that they had the same job as she did, that they were professional peers.

I used to be a doula. I helped many, many babies come into the world.  I spent the money and took a long training, spent a year reading a huge required reading list, did loads of practice births for free, wrote essays and took exams, and eventually became certified through the most intensive (albeit now different) organization.  My biggest teacher?  A woman who had never had any formal training at all, but had been attending births her whole life because it was the natural thing to do.

I have been teaching yoga for a little over a year.  I have taught in gyms, in birth centers, in backyards, in parks, in yoga studios, in forests, in my pajamas, in campgrounds, and in homeschooling groups.  I’ve taught classes with 1 student and classes with 51 students.  If I took the time, I could probably count the hours I have spent teaching.  Heck, since I have the time, I’ll do an educated guess: I would say that in a little over a year, I have taught 285 hours of yoga that I have been paid for (upon 2nd thought, I bet that’s a conservative number.)  I have taught for cash, for credit, for food, for photography, for haircuts, for childcare, for charity, for the love of it, for the love of others, etc.  I have been quoted on the Yoga Journal website (thanks, @Jodim, for that,) in magazines, on websites, in newspapers.  My name is starting to be known in my town and in cyperspace (not that was ever my goal.)    My “official formal” training?  An 18 hour weekend course.

< pauses while the whole world gasps and freaks out.>

No worries, it makes my skin crawl, too.

My “unofficial informal” training?  17 years of personal home practice and  group yoga classes, 2 years apprenticeship (shout, Polita!, ) closing in on 17 years of spiritual study, workshops, one on one dialogue with master yogis (thank you, Twitter,) 10 years of meditation practice, and a life-long desire to go deeper and further into the dark so that I can stand more strongly, fully into the light.  I have read more yoga / anatomy / theory / Buddhist / Hindu / spiritual / meditation / personal growth books than most libraries have.  I have listened and learned from each of my students.  I have been present.

Does that make me better?  Nope.  Does that make me different? My students say it does.

There is no formula for a great teacher.  I have all this under my belt and it still is not enough. It NEVER will be enough.  I am leaving in a few weeks for The White Lotus Foundation to get my 200hrRYT status with Yoga Alliance.  Will that be the end of my yoga education equation?  NOT. A. CHANCE.  I will FOREVER be learning, forever be growing, forever be expanding.  If I am breathing, I will be learning.  If I am learning, I will be sharing. Some folks call that sharing “teaching.”

Fair enough.

I do not believe that there is an equation that one person can follow that will make them a Yoga Teacher.  I haven’t found it yet.  Am I a yogini?  Yep.  Do I share it?  Yep.

Am I still a student? OH, yes, yes yes yes yes.  Yes.  Forever yes.

An equation seems finite.  There is no “finite” in yoga.

I am a yoga teacher.  I am more than the sum of my parts.

So are you.



5 responses »

  1. Beautiful post! Reading your blog, I have no doubt your well is deep, RYT or not! One of these days I will make it to your class too!

    I just marked my first year teaching too, except I have nerdily kept track of my classes in an excel spreadsheet! Ha ha!

    Teaching has made my personal practice so much more important, because without it, I’m an actor, and who wants that? Some of my favorite teachers have been so memorable because of their potent authenticity, and that’s something I really admire.

    Have fun in California!

  2. Cool post. I don’t know if you’ve seen Roseanne’s post over at It’s All Yoga, Baby on yoga teacher trainings? But your perspective is one I think would be a good one to add into the mix.

    Although I’m all for more rigorous yoga teacher trainings, that’s probably in consideration of the number of people that do 1-2 years of yoga before they decide to do teacher training, with no prior spiritual practice or training.

    Your story goes to show there’s always another view. 🙂

  3. hiya ~ svasti posted a link to this post on it’s all yoga, baby. interesting perspective! there will be a yoga community conversation in toronto about yoga teacher training standards, and i think it’s going to be a fascinating convo. as your post wonderfully illustrates, what qualifies a person to teach yoga is very complicated. organized training programs are one thing, but personal practice and commitment make a difference, too.

    great post, thanks for sharing your story!

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