New Post I wrote for Yoga Shala Charlotte. Go here to read it.
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New Post I wrote for Yoga Shala Charlotte. Go here to read it.
Video of the day:
Yoga teacher trainings do a lot of good. Mine was amazing. However there are people out there just looking to make a buck or to keep their yoga studio from going under. Your well being & success was the last thing on their mind when they put it together. They cut corners and will provide you with a sub par education and leave you $2500 in debt.
An ugly truth about teacher trainings is that, the The Yoga Alliance is unorganized and does not check the documentation being submited. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can have a yoga teacher training. The only way you can be insured a good program is to ask the right questions. The fact that they are registered with the Yoga Alliance means NOTHING expect they are good at sending in documents & following directions.
Here are some things to consider when choosing your program.
1. They can only teach you to be as good as them. Take a look at their practice, their business, their classes, their studio,class attendance, their life and see if that is what you want for yourself. A student can definitely grow beyond their teacher's knowledge but these are the people who are going to give you your starting place and you need a good one.
You want a teacher trainer who has went through the fire and came out on top. If they are still going through the fire themselves, they cannot train you on how to get through it because they themselves do not know how. You are not looking for perfection, however, they cannot teach you anything about success if they are not successful themselves. It is like me trying to teach you how to succeffully raise a teenager, when my daughter is only eleven. It is all theory at this point. You need the facts on success not the theory.
Questions to ask:
Things to see with your own eyes:
2. Make sure the style of yoga they teach is what you want to teach. You will be behind the 8 ball if you study Bikram and then work at a Vinyasa studio.
3. Talk to people who have trained in the program. Don't get a recommendation from them They are going to give you their friends name or the teacher's pet. If you don't know of anyone, go to the Yoga Alliance website, do a search for your city or the city the teacher training is in and then contact the teachers and ask them about their teacher training. When you talk to them, you want to ask:
4. Make sure the teacher training actually has the authority to certify you in that style. Many forms of yoga like Bikram, Baptiste, Iyengar, Ashtanga,& Para to name a few, have a very systematized way of training and they only give a few schools/people permission to certify teachers. Some schools, like Asthanga, do not give anyone permission to certify at all. You have to go straight to the source.
This is important because, for example, if you do a Baptiste training that has not been recognized by the Baptiste organization as a training school, you can not teach in a real Baptiste Power Yoga Studio & you also cannot use the Baptiste name. If Baptiste is where your heart is and you know this is what you want to do, you wasted $2500 because you will have to train again with the Baptiste organization and pay another $2500. The best way to check this is to go to the official website or give the organization a call.
5. Is it Marketable- You don't want to spend $2500 for yoga that you cannot use. For example, the most popular style of yoga in my town of Charlotte is Vinyasa. If I take a training in Integral Yoga, for example, I will not be very marketable here. If I wanted to blaze a path for Integral yoga and was willing to start small with very few students and potentially open up my own yoga studio, that training would be fine. If I wanted to walk into a Charlotte studio and have a job by next week, that would not be the training to take.
6. You cannot learn how to teach yoga on the internet-If you have questions about this, send me an e-mail. Just trust me. You can't. Run from anyone who says that you can. Run really really fast.
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One of my teachers often talked about McYoga. At McDonald's the workers are given the recipe for making a great hamburger. They don't have to think about it. If they just follow the directions they were given in their training, their hamburgers will be consistent and in line with McDonald's hamburgers. They have no clue how to make a McDonald's hamburger from scratch. They don't know what is in the special sauce but they don't have too. They sell billions every day & many people find them tasty.
Many yoga teachers are the same way. Awesome classes but they really don't know much about yoga. Just like the McDonald's employee can stack the lettuce, tomato, two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun and make a damn good product. The McYoga teacher can pick music, set the temperature, call out the poses in the suggested sequence with a few variations, speak well, get people in and out of yoga poses semi safely and teach a rocking class but if you ask them specific questions you will get some really general answers.
Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for all the Big Mac trainings I have had & I have grown in leaps and bounds because of it. They grew my confidence and gave me great tools . I love having the ability to teach a great class without really too much thought. It opens doors for many teachers & gives them a strong foundation to grow their unique intrinsic talents. It also brings many students to yoga & opens the world to its many benefits. However, it is what it is & many teachers will never go beyond this point. They never step into the true roll of a teacher and are happy dishing out cool choreography with a few yoga words thrown in for good measure.
Then there are those who have a true understanding of what they are teaching. They know what the special sauce, the bun and the patty is made of, how to make them, & the benefits and risks of consuming them. Either they have put in the sweat equity with a daily practice and exploration of their chosen yoga, studied scriptures and texts for a better understanding, or have a strong link to,parampara, the lineage from which their yoga comes from. They embody the practice in their words, deeds and actions. In the words of another one of my favorite teachers, they embody the spirit of a true teacher. They are there to bust through that ego & remove the barriers to transformation rather you like it or not. They give you what you need and not necessarily what you want. This is what I felt from Kino Macgregor.
Kino recently did a 3 day workshop here in Charlotte, NC. I knew a lot of the attendees & it was amazing to watch her peg people, me included, immediately without even knowing them. Many talk about how Pattabhi Jois, the father of Ashtanga Yoga & Kino's teacher, had the ability to give students exactly what they needed. He was a stern fiery force for some & for others he was gentle and nurturing. Through being fully present with his students, he was able to read them & know exactly what they needed to burst through the ego and grow strong mentally and physically. Kino had the same ability. It was interesting to watch how her tone and stance shifted as she addressed individual students. For some, her words were tinged with humor, for others they were serious and full of purpose, & for a few they had a little bite. This ability only comes from being present while teaching.
She had a deep understanding of the asanas and taught us to approach them from an internal stand point. The poses were no longer just kick ass external shapes. We learned how to connect to them more deeply by using the muscles of the pelvic floor & engagement.
Unlike the McYoga teacher or McDonald's employee, who has to get everything in the class or on the hamburger bun in a short amount of time, she was not in a hurry. While every segment of the workshop had a physical focus, she took her time speaking on sutras & telling funny, encouraging and inspirational stories that introduced another layer to our asana practice. When we actually did move our bodies, her words melted together with the movements and brought clarity to the actions.
For me, she reawakened my love of Ashtanga. I am going to admit this on this post and hopefully it does not bite me in the ass. I have been practicing since World War I (joke, go ahead and laugh). I get my ass kicked often, but that is not the same as being challenged. Ass kicking comes from the sequencing, the holds, the heat, & the pace. Challenging comes from the poses, the breath and the technique itself. Challenges take you beyond the realm of your limits and give you a new threshold to reach for. Maybe it is a pranayama that blows away the thoughts, a text that opens the mind or a totally insane pose that humbles you.
A practice can be challenging, but not kick your ass. For me, ass kicking is a side benefit of the yoga, but not the main reason I come to the mat. It is the challenge that I like and grow from. As Kino says, yoga makes the impossible, possible. That is what floats my boat. Kino did this. I felt my understanding of the yoga and the practice grow.
My Second Series practice was stuck. I hadn't made much progress in it for years. My metaphorical balls were getting busted at the same poses every time. She gave me amazing pointers and extra homework to do to help me get past the plateaus I was hitting.
I highly recommend that you practice with her if given a chance. And don't just do the Led Primary series part of the workshop. The magic was in the individual attention that happened during Mysore practice and during the technique workshops. In the second part of this, I will list specific things she said that may resonate with you.
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Many of the most prolific teachers who changed the world started out with no students and no money. Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher and author, hit rock bottom and pretty much existed off a park bench before writing two successful books & going on Oprah. Pattabhi Jois, the father of Ashtanga yoga, was respected for his knowledge but his system of asanas was pretty much viewed as a freak show until Westerners came over and spread it like wild fire.
Popular yoga teacher, David Swenson, who teaches to packed rooms all over the world and whose books are used in teacher trainings across the country, often tells the story of how he was fired at a yoga studio because they hated his class and was so poor that he begged them to let him stay on and they paid him to make wooden yoga blocks. I often wonder, if that yoga studio is still in business and what they think about his current accomplishments. When we hear about success, we rarely hear about the years of struggle before it. Keep your head up. Keep believing in yourself. Below are some words from BKS Iyenger, father of Iyengar Yoga, about the years before his fame.
Excerpt from The Tree of Yoga by BKS Iyenger
Yoga was unknown when I first began teaching. I had to ask people to give me a meal in exchange for a lesson. At times I would practise yoga, drinking only tap-water, without any food for days. When I did get a little money, I used to live on bread and tea, because that was the cheapest nourishment I could get in India in those days. When I married, I did not have any way of looking after my wife. In my heart of hearts, I said to myself, " I am suffering, and now I am making my wife suffer with me." One of my pupils gave me a kerosene stove, another pupil gave me kerosene, and I bought only one cooking utensil and two plates to eat from. My wife would cook rice and when it was done, I would take it on a plate while she used the same utensil to prepare the dal.
I have struggled inch by inch, not only to free myself, my wife and my children, but at the same time to develop this most misunderstood subject of yoga, which in the 1930s was accorded no value, even in India.
The one thing that has lifted me to the level I am at today is the practice of asanas. I taught them as a physical exercise in the 1930's, not knowing what I should teach and what I should not teach, but with determination to come up in the world and to bring respect to this little known and misunderstood art.
If you strongly believe teaching yoga to be your dharma, the thing that you can give that brings order to the world, which in turn brings you happiness, then don't be sidetracked if what you see in front of your eyes does not match your mental vision. Don't be discouraged by being fired or having classes taken from you. Don' t be disheartened by empty rooms and small pay checks. Don't get angry when you put your time in but are still getting passed up. Know that the universe is conspiring for you to have what you need to be impactful. Keep going.
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