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21 January 2009

my next yoga career move


It's the beginning of 2009 and I've pretty much decided that I will not teach in yoga studios anymore. Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know why. I should never say never, things can always change, but as of this moment it's a better idea to run my own workshops and classes and not teach for anyone else. My yoga persona is not conducive to teaching in gyms or health clubs. I'm not saying that there aren't good teachers in those venues, but it ain't me, babe. I can't teach to someone who is looking for a "work out" in yoga. I mean, I can, but I don't want to. I can kick your yoga ass and leave you dripping with sweat if that's what you think makes a great yoga class, but I don't want to. It's good to know that because knowing who you are in the yoga world saves you a lot of hassle and heartache. Advice to newbie teachers: don't try to be someone you're not. Teach what you know, not what you THINK you know. It's a gift to know who you are.

With the experiences I've had in the last two years with studio owners, I've paid my dues. I've been teaching for 7 years. I've studied three times at one of the most prestigious yoga schools in the world and I am an ongoing student of three yoga masters. I've been a student of Buddhism for 30+ years. The next logical step for me, as it has been for other long-time teachers I know, is training yoga teachers. Maybe that's not the next step for some of you reading this, but I have moved on from teaching group classes. I have private students and I only teach two group classes where I teach for other entities. I call the shots in the rest of my classes.

Many yoga studios in the Chicago area run their own teacher trainings. I have no idea where all these new teachers are going to teach because there are more teachers than there are students, but yoga studios keep cranking out the yoga teachers. Any yoga studio that wants to make a buck comes up with a teacher training program. Let's be honest -- the yoga bucks aren't in teaching group classes. As I was taught in India, personal transformation for a student only begins in a group class; it is accomplished by working one-on-one with a teacher, in the traditional way. At a yoga conference workshop I heard a show-biz yogini say (and I've learned better than to name names anymore in this blog) that she'd rather teach to the two students who get it than to the 10 who don't. I feel the same way. Her statement was honest and real.

For the last six months I've been going back and forth about doing my own teacher training. Frankly I think my training would be unique because it would include Buddhism. Not one training in my area includes that subject. Nor does any teacher training include yin yoga. I've studied with the two American yin yoga masters for the last 5 years.

But first I have to get it on with the Yoga Alliance. Yee-ha. I'd love to know what the Yoga Alliance does for yoga teachers other than take their money, but this culture being what it is, everyone looks for that seal of approval to study with. Five years ago I registered at the 200 level and I now have enough hours to be an "E-500" level, that is, an "experienced" yoga teacher. I never wanted to play the game of getting a higher registration, the mere thought of filling out their form gave me hives, but now that I'm thinking of training teachers it's almost a requirement, future students look for it.

I emailed the YA and asked whether I could apply for E-500 instead of being a plain ol' 500 hour level yoga teacher. The answer was no, I have to be a 500 hour first, for FOUR YEARS (WTF?!?), before I can apply for E-500. I totaled all my teaching hours since 2004 and according to their own rules, I'm already E-500. As far as I'm concerned, this is just a scam to get more of my money. And for what? The Yoga Alliance does nothing for me. As they say in Texas, that ol' dog won't hunt.

So what's the big deal about being registered with Yoga Alliance in order to train teachers? Unfortunately, for the sole reason that people think Yoga Alliance registration really means something. It's all about marketing, nothing more, nothing less.

The master teacher I trained with 7 years ago was not, at that time, registered with the Yoga Alliance, but he trained with Pattabhi Jois twice and at an Iyengar institute and lived with his guru for almost 10 years. When I trained with him he didn't care about being anointed by the Yoga Alliance. As ridiculous as it was he was not an "approved" school when I registered with YA. But over the years he grandfathered into the Yoga Alliance registration -- only because people think it really means something. My teacher Ramaswami who studied with Krishnamacharya for 30 years has recently become Yoga Alliance registered -- as if someone would not study with him because he wasn't.

One year from now I'll be living in an ashram in India studying yoga therapy under the personal guidance of a a swami, after which I will receive a yoga diploma certified by the Indian government. I really think that trumps anything the Yoga Alliance can give me.

I will look to training yoga teachers in the near future. But not in America. In India. I can do a 200 hour training, 8 hours a day, in 5 weeks. People study astanga in Mysore, Iyengar in Pune, viniyoga in Chennai, and travel to Rishikesh all the time to study yoga in general. British ex-pats run yoga teacher training programs in Goa. Why should I not teach yoga and yoga teachers in my beloved Tamil Nadu, India? I've been told that with my India experience I should do "sacred temple tours." That would be a perfect thing to do after a teacher training -- a temple puja blessing the new teachers.

I must finish some of my own training first because then I will be fully seasoned. A good cook knows when the seasoning is just right and a smart vintner knows when the wine is aged to perfection ready to be uncorked.

My time has come. The events of the last few years have certainly been in tune with what my vedic and western astrologers have said, both have been right on. So I'm putting it out there and I'll go with the flow. Buddhism teaches me to detach from the outcome, not to cling but to let go -- if it happens it happens. I'm giving it up to something that is greater outside myself.

If you want to study with me, tell me your interest. Just because you take a teacher training doesn't mean you must teach. Many yogi practitioners take teacher trainings only for the deeper knowledge. I already teach workshops, so doing a teacher training is merely taking it a step further.

Besides...my teachers in India told us that if we do not teach what we have learned and take it out into the world we are nothing more but thieves.



14 comments:

Amanda said...

Linda, I'd love to learn Yin Yoga and yoga therapy from you in India. I love India (and Nepal). I'll email you from work. I've been out bush for a couple of days, so I haven't responded to your query yet.

This is a wonderful post - I have been teaching yoga for 4 years and recently undertook a teacher training solely for the purposes of registration and insurance. I did not enjoy the style of teaching -churn out more teachers and teach only the basics with an emphasis on teaching at the expense of the philosophy of yoga, anatomy & physiology. Anyway... watch out for an email.

Namaste & much courage.

Linda-Sama said...

YAY, my first teacher trainee!

Random Thoughts said...

Linda,
I sincerely wish you LUCK and SUCCESS.
BUT keep in mind that marketing is everything is todays world(whether we like it or not). I agree with you about YA. I have no clue what they do for teachers registered with them...

Linda-Sama said...

thanks, and true what you say about marketing. in my experience, the best teachers (or gurus) are the ones you never hear about....;)

"I have no clue what they do for teachers registered with them."

that's for a future blog post....:)

Anonymous said...

Completely agree with you Linda re: Yoga Alliance. A couple of years back I started studying for a YA registered training course (teaching yoga to children) and the organisers changed the course structure just after I started it and demanded more money! I chose to walk away from the whole thing and lost $2000 and am still annoyed with myself for signing up with them. The whole experience has made me extremely wary of what teacher training courses I sign up for. I already have a 500 hour well respected training that I took in England. When I moved to Canada I was very surprised at how quickly people can become yoga teachers here. It took me 4 years to get my teaching diploma in England and it was hard work but worth it. It's a very different culture this side of the pond; I think that yoga has become a byword for money for some people which is a shame. Not that yogis shouldn't earn to support themselves but there's that line one crosses where (I think) some just see it as a money making venture.

Kristin said...

Linda,

I couldn't agree more with the sediments you expressed regarding "certification".

I've also been teaching yoga for 4 years, but did the teacher training for the purposes of registration and insurance because my studio was moving in that direction. I was sadly underwhelmed by my instruction.

If life circumstances were different and I lived closer to Chicago, I would be knocking at your door with mat in hand!

Best wishes to all of your future endevors!

Linda-Sama said...

wow, I really struck a nerve about the all-knowing Yoga Alliance! thank you everyone for reading and for your comments....I will definitely blog about YA now!

Random Thoughts said...

Linda,
Do check out the yoga island website which is a studio here in flower mound tx(www.yogaisland.com). They do invite people to teach for their trainings. Yin Yoga wold be a nice to have workshot. And besides, how else will I get the opportunity to learn from you :-)

I had a Aahha moment when I read your line that best yoga teachers are the ones we have never heard of..I have been very fortunate in that regard to have learnt from 3-4 teachers who fit the bill...

margaret said...

Hi, you dont know me, but I'd love to take your training, especially if it teaches Buddhist principles too. I'll be in India for a few months this year at an ashram to focus on my practice, and find your path to be an inspiration. please keep me updated on your plans.

Brenda P. said...

Yeah, I made the "mistake" of studying one-on-one with my teacher in DC. She was Iyengar trained, altho what we did was informal, personal ...more of an apprenticeship than anything else.

None of it was YA-certified, so I don't have any numbers or letters to list after my name, concerning my teaching/yoga experience (20 yrs. practice, 7 yrs. teaching).

I'm loathe to shell out $3-4K and travel a couple of hours to the nearest "approved" teacher. I guess I'll stick to what I know (and what my students have come to appreciate).

I love studying--and, lord knows, I should do more--but I just don't have the funds/interest/energy to study with some one who has shelled out to be a YA-approved trainer of teachers. As you say, that seal of approval doesn't mean much except that money has been exchanged and paperwork signed. Sigh.

Linda-Sama said...

"that seal of approval doesn't mean much except that money has been exchanged and paperwork signed. Sigh."

exactly. and it's something that mainstream yoga media (ahem, YJ) should be discussing.

Fernanda R. Lima said...

Great news! Of course i´m totally interested .. if this really happens it will be fantastic!

I wish you all the best! Good luck!

Sirensongs said...

I like your attitude; look forward to seeing you in India.

laughingyogini said...

Linda Sama, I'm TOTALLY with you....in fact my hubbie caught your post on my'puter and said - Oh you gotta read this - it's just what you've been saying - there's someone else who is disenchanted with the studio scene and the yoga rock stars.

Anyway, I'm here and you're here (at least until you head to mother india). I'm not making $$$$ (readers, feel free to drop some on my site ;-))

BUT I am so happy with my life now and feel a deep authentic connection with my 15 or so students. They come to my house for class, which often lasts nearly 2 and a half hours.

Yoga becomes integrated into life seamlessly.

PS sending a TRIPLE AWARD your way! Keep up the great work.

om shanti