14 thoughts on “yoga teacher training standards debate

  1. KB

    This raises some really important issues. The thing that worries me especially are those TT programs which are over a short amount of time (eg 200hrs over 30 days or whatever). Isn’t the value of yoga itself allowing digestion and absorbsion over time? Not cramming things in. My training was over 15 months. I really valued the breaks in between, as time to let everything sink in, integrate things into my personal practice, and basically just EXPERIENCE stuff myself.

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    1. Linda-Sama

      yeah, I don’t get that 200 hrs. in a month. that’s just cranking out teachers, “hurry up and teach.” as you say, things have to integrate. I call it “marinating.”

      thanks for reading….

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  2. I think where my doubts about YTT programs come from is why pay all the money for beginner-level information I can get from a book. The stuff I would want to learn that I think would make a good teacher are barely touched upon–the deeper spiritual aspects of yoga and how to teach to unique individuals. How to communicate in the role of a spiritual guide of sorts–although I guess you would also learn this over time. It seems like the YTT approach sees the teacher more as physical therapist and sidesteps the spiritual guide part. Am I wrong in thinking that there is (or should be) a spiritual guide component in yoga teachers? Perhaps I’m just “off my rocker” here.

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    1. i should probably clarify. I know there are lots of good trainings out there taught by teachers with lots of experience that a student could benefit from more than books, but there seems to be many more who are doing it to make money or who have little experience.

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    2. Linda-Sama

      As my teacher Paul Grilley said once in a workshop, spirituality was stripped out of yoga many years ago to make it palatable for the West (he was speaking about the resurgence of yoga as “trendy.”) Think about it: if yoga was taught in the West as it was traditionally taught (for example, as Krishchmacharya taught with mantra, pranayama, the yogic texts, etc.), I doubt yoga would be maintream now (which I don’t believe it is anyway.) My teaching is old-school because I expect my students to be committed to yoga as a path of transformation — of course, I teach privately.

      So yours is a loaded question, Grace! Someone will say, “my spirituality is not your spirituality, I don’t need a guide.” For a LONG time I did not talk about Buddha or Buddhist philosophy in my classes because I was afraid of turning people off yoga. I thought that in my locale people wouldn’t come back. But I also felt I wasn’t being real or true to my myself. So I asked one of my teachers who said “teach from your heart. those who want you will find you, those who don’t want to hear what you say will leave…and you don’t need or want those students anyway.” Great advice.

      And frankly, if people see their 200 hr. trained yoga teacher as a physical therapist, that’s frightening! Because in a YA approved 200 hr. training, the anatomy requirement is only 20 hours, and only 10 of those hours need to be contact hours!

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      1. I guess physical therapist wasn’t the best analogy given that it takes, I think, 8 years of university to become one!

        I understand that it is hard to keep the spiritual part of yoga in the West and I don’t blame teachers who leave it out, b/c honestly, I don’t know how I would handle it either. But I am a little tired of hearing someone say “God ” and following that up with “or whatever you want to call it.” I will assume that you are not trying to shove your beliefs down my throat if I know you are speaking from your heart! Just don’t tell me your way is better and we’re ok:) The West seems to have a very immature perspective on religion and spirituality, not everyone of course, but if one was to make a generalization. It is a very difficult topic and I don’t have the words to talk about it properly. Like you say, the best you can do is to be yourself.

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      2. Linda-Sama

        you’re right, I don’t shove my Buddhism down peoples’ throats. In yin classes, I also do dharma talks on mindfulness, which certainly has no religion! each one of my students has their own beliefs and most have been with me since day 1 of my teaching! for which I am very grateful!

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  3. Hello Linda,
    Really enjoy reading your blog, (I think I linked here from a discussion on IAYT or LinkedIn), really appreciate your authentic open expression. I can relate to much of what you’re saying though have far less experience actually teaching. My training for TT was with Integral Yoga S.F. (200hr) this was mainly to have a “certificate” I had been practicing and training for several years and wanted to pursue Yoga Therapy certification which I did through Loyola Marymount University Extension (RxI&II 2 yr. prog.) Most of the teachers there have studied under Desikachar. I loved the program but when finished realized I had no actual experience with individuals. Thus began the tortuous (glad it’s behind me now) journey of teaching group classes and building a private practice. I remember substituting at “Planet Granite” a climbing gym(!) to get some experience, so excruciating. My heart and psyche have always been deeply attracted to the aspects of Raja yoga and yoga as transformation and I finally feel that I am following a path of service and sustainable lifestyle. I live very (!) simply, I volunteered for a year at a treatment center before getting paid, I offer a $7 class for seniors and I charge the going rate now for privates. My private practice is growing. I hear all the beautiful qualities of a fine yoga teacher in you, perhaps it is your locale that has been frustrating or perhaps you have been getting ready for this trip to India either way you sound to me like a wonderful wise teacher. I look forward to following your blog here and would love to connect.
    Malinda

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    1. Linda-Sama

      I’ve heard good things about that program at LMU, lucky you! My teacher Srivatasa Ramaswami teaches a 200 hr. vinyasa krama TT there.

      Yes, I believe it is my locale, but I don’t plan to stay here forever. feel free to connect by emailing me….

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  4. Yes, its a perpetual question whether 200 hrs is enough. It depends on what you are seeking to become with 200 hrs. If you think you can become an expert guide teaching people how to become evolved yoga practitioners, that’s not going to happen. The true spirit of 200 hr programs is to know & learn enough to impart the basics to other interested people, so that each (the teacher as well as the student) can perfect their journey further and perhaps independently of each other beyond a point. Unfortunately, this spirit is misunderstood OR misrepresented and that’s where you have the problem of “over-promising” and unscrupulous schools. So, how should a student choose which school is right? We, at HealthAndYoga are attempting to address this by educating prospective students through articles (See: http://www.healthandyoga.com/cert/yoga_training.aspx) as well as offering a platform where student experiences form an important part of the fabric in evaluating TTC courses listed on the platform (http://www.HealthAndYoga.com/ cert). The idea is to help people make an informed choice on where they stand & where they will stand, which unfortunately is seldom the case.

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  5. Great discussion. What I find astonishing about yoga teacher training is that so many teacher training programs accept pretty much anyone, regardless of how long that person has practiced yoga. I’ve met people in the middle of their teacher training who had practiced yoga maybe 6 months before they started the TT. How can you teach something you’ve only recently started learning yourself? I’m not sure what the minimum amount of practice should be before you start to teach…5 years? 10 years? But I would not want to learn from someone who has only studied yoga for 6 months.

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  6. What I find striking is that so many teachers or would be teachers out there share this same opinion. And yet no one has said to YA, hey just wait a minute! Seems like there’s no pause on the capitalisation of yoga (as one of the speakers on the video called it).

    Yoga in 20 years time is going to have two very distinct camps, I suspect – the traditionalists and the commercialists. It’s gonna be interesting, that’s for sure!

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  7. Thank you for sharing the video. For some strange reason, I thought there was a (YA) guideline (at one time in the past) that stated you had to reach an E-RYT status before being accepted to a 500-RYT advanced training program, I think it is a good standard- but yoga training schools could not make money with that model.

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