In her blog Grounding Thru The Sit Bones, Brenda posted “So You Think You Can Teach,” which spurred good questions about the qualifications and scope of today’s yoga teachers. She asked whether the average yoga teacher is qualified to teach more than asana.
Here, I step back and ask whether the average yoga teacher is qualified to teach any yoga. In North America, the predominant (but not preeminent) certification standard is the Yoga Alliance 200-hour or 500-hour “Registered Yoga Teacher” registration. To me, it’s not preeminent because there are many respected, established, and more-rigorous training programs have no connection with Yoga Alliance.
Indeed, many Yoga Alliance-affiliated centers offer come-one-come-all training programs that are a joke because there is no selectivity. Centers accept all who are interested because training fees generate profit.
There are no strict prerequisites for acceptance into the majority of teacher-training programs. To enter graduate school, you need bachelor’s degree, high marks, and glowing recommendations. To take a yoga teacher-training course, you need … $3,000 to $4,000.
Many enrollees have under five years of yoga practice. Blogger Linda-Sama of Linda’s Yoga Journey comments that we have “babies teaching babies” today. It astounds me when an obvious beginner announces, “I want to be a yoga teacher.” Today’s training programs are stepping stones for eager novices to develop a home practice, rather than the final leap for seasoned practitioners!
Run-of-the-mill training programs (and some are run like mills) last from three to six months, while superior programs require two or three years. I also see month-long immersion crash courses and year-long courses for out-of-town weekend warriors. I have nothing against a variety of course formats, which accommodate careers and families. But it is obvious that they’re meant to widen the net, to catch more students.
Of course, training programs with high standards do exist. They’re the exception, however.