Yoga in OMerika. Things here always get curiouser and curiouser.
Over the years I have written a lot about yoga teacher trainings, babies teaching babies, and registering with the Yoga Alliance. As of today I am officially an RYT…again.
I did two teacher trainings in 2002 and 2003 and at that time my teacher was not Yoga Alliance approved. Suddha was one of the first yoga studios to open in Chicago in the mid-1980s. He brought astanga yoga to Chicago. He lived and studied with his guru Swami Narayanananda for years, studied with Pattabhi Jois three times, studied at an Iyengar institute, did his own teacher trainings, and he was never YA registered. He later grandfathered into the Yoga Alliance after I trained with him because he said that’s what people started looking for in teacher trainings. But he still thought YA was a bunch of horse manure.
I registered with the YA in 2004 just because. I started studying with Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers and Srivatsa Ramaswami in 2004 and in 2005 I started going to India and studying with Desikachar and his senior teachers at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram. After my first month long intensive at KYM, I returned to India exactly 6 months later and have been blessed to be able to return every year. Right now in 2011 I can say that I have over 1000 hours of training and about 2000 hours of teaching experience — but I stopped counting the exact number of hours years ago.
After my first few trips to India people started suggesting I should train teachers so one day I called YA and inquired as to whether I could apply for E-RYT 500 before being at the 500 level. I was told no, I had to be a 500 level for a certain amount of time. I said, yeah, but according to your own standards I am ALREADY an E-RYT 500, why should I pay FIRST for 500 level then pay AGAIN for E-RYT 500? Sorry, no go. That’s when I let my registration lapse.
I’ve gone back and forth on the YA registration for years. The only reason I started exploring registration again this year was because two studios where I teach workshops wanted to include my workshops into their YA registered teacher training programs. I guess technically they can’t if I’m not YA registered. This yoga iconoclast had never thought about that stuff before.
Then I had two conversations with teachers who train teachers. One said that I would not be compromising my personal yoga morals if I was YA registered, it’s only a formality — just renew and I can do my own thing like she does. I would still be a yoga outlaw, just one who’s registered with YA. She said if I was YA registered I could train teachers anywhere in the world, and isn’t that what I want to do, travel and teach?
Another teacher whom I met during the Erich Schiffmann weekend put it to me this way over dinner: she considers teacher training as a way of spreading yoga dharma, putting it out into the world. She told me she registered at only the E-RYT 200 level just to train teachers, she’s not interested in giving YA any more money merely for the privilege of having a higher designation. I recalled the words of a KYM teacher: teach what you learn here or else we are nothing more than thieves. Besides, she said, what’s wrong with the picture that “people with not even half your training are training teachers?” Babies teaching babies. She said if I was YA approved my TT program would draw more students than without it. She told me that where she lives the first thing people ask is whether her TT program is YA approved.
Valid arguments. So I called YA today and officially reinstated my registration at the 200 level. Now the studios can include my workshops into their TTs. I was told I could do teacher trainings at the E-RYT 200 level, after my TT program is approved, of course. I again asked about the 500 level telling the YA rep that I’ve studied in India five times, I have over 1000 hours, etc. Now here’s where it starts getting stupid. I mean, real stupid.
I can not register at the 500 hour level without having an “advanced training” 300 hour certificate from an approved yoga school. All my time with Desikachar and his senior teachers (including private classes), Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers (being one of the first certified yin yoga teachers in the Chicago area), Srivatsa Ramaswami, Mark Whitwell, my Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation Training at Spirit Rock, the Trauma Sensitive Yoga training, and every workshop I’ve taken since 2004 does not “officially” count. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking because I’m thinking the same thing.
No more piecing together trainings to add up to the required hours, no more being grandfathered in, and letters from people (like if Ramaswami wrote a letter saying I’ve studied with him since 2004) don’t count. “I’m in the wrong business,” my husband said. “I need to be in the certification racket.”
A yoga teacher friend called me not more than five minutes after posting my complaint on my Facebook page. “THAT SUCKS!”, was the first thing she said after I said hello. She said, “You of all people?!? Someone who has spent all that time not to mention money in your training?” Yup. I know. The irony is that with the right design software I could print up my own “official” certificate for that 500 hour designation and submit it because YA does not check credentials. But would I? Of course not. Yoga morals indeed.
Why does something that is supposed to be right feel so damn wrong?
From the original Karate Kid:
Daniel-san: Hey, what kind of belt do you have?
Mr. Miyagi: Canvas. JC Penney, $3.98. You like?
Daniel-san: No, I meant…
Mr. Miyagi: In Okinawa, belt mean no need rope to hold up pants.
Addendum: Comment from Facebook:
“When are they going to go after the charlatans? We had a woman show up at our studio, recently released of her corporate duties due to cutbacks, very saleswomany and self-promotional, wanted to know how to open a yoga studio cuz she thought it was a good way to make money but had never done yoga, and didn’t have “time” to do a full training. In the wink of an eye she had opened a studio, was promoting herself as an E200RYT (don’t even know how that is possible after a weekend workshop training) and get this: was offering teacher trainings at $3000/per. Checked her out on the Alliance and she was there, E200RYT. BULLSHIT is all I can say. I don’t think they check anything. It’s not worth a damn thing and its too bad that it seems to set the industry standard.”