Everywhere you look someone wants to offer you yoga teacher training, but not all of these are made equal.
I attended my first teacher training in January 2015. It was a time in my life where I knew there was more to life than I was experiencing. I was moving into the next phase of my life and, I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but I was very hungry for more. More than I knew about life, more than I had experienced, more than I had been taught. Life was more than this, this was not it, there was more. More than wine, champagne, chocolate, shoes, family, friends, work and running. My very essence was crying out for more and I wanted it.
My first yoga teacher training opened my eyes to many things that made so much sense to me, here was ancient sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda being brought together. I was consuming books, couldn’t get enough. The teacher training course may have been for 200 hours, but I probably read at least an additional 1000 hours of teachings. I loved Ayurveda it made so much sense to me, and how it is all connected, the sun, the moon, our bodies, our minds. When we live in harmony with nature we thrive. I started teaching yoga after this certification, but a 200 hour teacher training does not qualify you to teach yoga, yes in our world of certifications and qualifications the box was ticked and I was qualified. But I didn’t know how to teach.
I read the books, I understood enough about the human body to understand agonist vs antagonist muscles, what was stretched then needed to be contracted. I understood enough Ayurveda to bring this into yoga, for pacifying too much heat in a person, reducing anxiety in a person. I had learned so much, from the power of the Sanskrit language to work specific areas of the body to the alignment of the planets and how this affected moods and circumstance. So much knowledge now at my fingertips. But I didn’t know how to teach.
Sure I could be at the front of the yoga class, I could do the practices along with my students, I could make them feel like they had a good stretch and I could deeply relax them with a fantastic guided meditation as they lay in Savasana at the end of the class. They left feeling peaceful, relaxed and stretched. Maybe I did touch their inner self. I did get some things right after all. Eyes closed while doing the practice, no touching the students.
I was following the formula of the West, but something was wrong with how I was teaching, my intuition told me something was amiss. I wanted to be at the front of the class instructing participants through their practice without me doing it, I didn’t want to feel into my body as I was doing the practice and then convey these bodily sensations to the students. Although I didn’t know why this was wrong, when the gut speaks the mind should listen.
Eighteen months after completing two different teacher trainings in Hatha Yoga with a heavy bias on Ayurveda I attended a yogasana workshop conducted by the Isha Foundation over a weekend. This was weird, weird in a good way, weird in a ‘it’s different’ way, weird in a ‘I don’t trust myself to get it’ way. The one thing that made an immediate impression on me though was the way the teacher conducted herself. How she sat up on stage and instructed the class, how easily she could answer all the questions, how well the demo person followed her instructions and could do each of the asanas and how I felt after the practice. There was something to this. Something I couldn’t put my finger on.
The process to learn the yogasana routine is long. We had 4 sessions over the weekend and learned the practice to a detail that allowed me to be able to continue with the practice at home. Despite my initial thoughts I found myself doing the practice once a day on most days. I then started incorporating elements of what I had learned into my teachings. Knowing what I know now I was a great liability to myself and others!
I wasn’t expecting this to happen but only 2 months after attending this yoga workshop I found myself in India at Isha Teacher Training for the next 21 weeks. Here I learned how to be a teacher. I think I was such a liability that Sadhguru worked his energy magic to get me out of harm’s way, for me and those around me. After entering the world of a guru you hear so many stories that don’t seem rational to our Western minds, but there is a whole way the world works that is beyond our understanding. I don’t need to know how everything works I just need to experience and then I believe.
I’ve experienced being a Western style Hatha Yoga teacher and an Isha Hatha Yoga teacher and I can tell you there is a world of difference. I’m not making up my own nonsense anymore, I’m no longer coming from a place where I thought I knew best, overthinking, talking too much, using mirrors and props. I now sit peacefully to teach and transmit ancient knowledge to participants who can experience a life transformation and tap into the pure power of this ancient science of yoga.
We are making a mockery of yoga, the subtle sciences are being undermined and the reputation of yoga will suffer. Yoga studios are surviving only by offering teacher training programs and like puppy farms churning out more teachers bringing their own flair to their teachings.
The biggest issue with most of these teacher trainings is the long term damage teachers are actually doing to themselves. Teachers are coming from an authentic place and want to offer these powerful tools to the world, but when you are trained in most Western styles, talking while in an asana, and touching people, for example, this is causing long term damage to the teacher. Yoga is about working the energies in the body in a certain way and the practices are very powerful, but when you talk while doing these practices you are creating disruptions in the energy channels, this is very detrimental to the body and mind. The impact will not be felt today but decades from now, disease does not happen overnight.
It takes a higher level of intelligence to transmit a practice in its original form without distortion, but we are trained to believe it is good to innovate. When you can just sit and transmit it brings a whole different power to you and the audience. This is my experience and I am proud to own it.
A true appreciation of the power of my yoga practice hit home hard to me just last week during International Day of Yoga. I was up on the stage as one of the demo teachers. The classes were being taught in the way I used to teach before Isha, it screamed against my teachings to actually be up there, but I went. The experience for me was so different than it would have been a few years ago. There was no inner connection during the practice, actually more of a disconnect. I used to love lying in savasana with the singing bowls, but this totally disrupted my system, it felt like the scratchings of chalk on the board. The whole experience made my heart heavy when I see what we are doing to yoga and how few people truly get to experience the possibility of yoga. Today everything seems to be getting the word yoga attached to it to sell what is being offered, yet true and pure yoga is struggling to be seen and heard above the noise of goat yoga, wine yoga, gin yoga, gymnastics yoga and all sorts of other boga yoga.
Yoga does work, but you need to step into Real Yoga. It can bring you to a whole different place, I have tapped into this power and benefitted with a life of ease and stability. While external situations in my life may seem chaotic the internal stability cannot be surpassed and brings amazing empowerment.
I am truly grateful to all my teachers and all they have taught me, but it’s all about the experience and for me nothing beats Isha Classical Hatha Yoga for what it can do for a person. Yoga that works! Yoga that allows you to experience higher dimensions of life.
Moving beyond books and stretching into experience and higher possibility!
If you are interested in doing Yoga Teacher Training I have seen this transform so many lives – The Making of a Hatha Yogi