June 7, 2013

Why You Shouldn’t Be a Yoga Teacher. ~ Jen Donnell

Like you, I love yoga.

First of all, before you wonder if I’m part of a new anti yoga league, I’m not. If you ask me, most everyone in the world could benefit from yoga’s asanas or physical postures, and pranayama or breath work. Yoga’s benefits aren’t simply opinion—they are increasingly proven by science. Yoga is shown to help those with arthritis, back pain and even asthma. Additionally, the practice of yoga can significantly lower blood pressure and aid in treating insomnia.

With all of this good stuff in mind, it might seem as if the natural evolution of one’s practice would be signing up for a yoga teacher training program. After all, most studios use that idea within their marketing: “Become a yoga teacher” or “Deepen your practice.” Considering yoga’s breath control and alignment in poses can benefit both the young and the old, why shouldn’t we all become yoga teachers?

Answer: Lots of reasons.

Though yoga teacher training is a tempting and viable option as one’s love of yoga blossoms, it isn’t for everyone.

During most 200-hour teacher training programs, you will learn the history of yoga, alignment and modifications, anatomy, and get detailed insight into the poses one already enjoys during yoga class. The flip side is that you’ll also likely begin thinking about yoga class as a choreographed routine with detailed instruction and about the business element.

This means you might want to delve a bit deeper into what yoga means to you, before signing up for a teacher training program. Especially if:

  • 1. Yoga is your escape.

I know, I know—one might think that yoga is an escape for everyone. To some extent this is true, but if yoga is the main way you unwind from life, give careful thought to whether you want to think about the business aspect of yoga and how to diversify your teaching style. One “side effect” of yoga teacher training programs is that they can take you out of the role of student. You might begin to notice things you didn’t notice before, like how the teacher uses his or her verbal cues and makes adjustments. This can disrupt the peace and escapism of your practice if one isn’t prepared for it.

  • 2. You are a lone wolf.

One thing I didn’t think much about, before commencing my yoga teacher training program, was how I’ve never been much of a “joiner.” Though I love being around people, I’ve always related to Groucho Marx’s comment about never joining groups which would have me as a member. The thing is, during yoga teacher training, a person spends a lot of time with the same people. Friendships form, while other people end up being (loosely, or not so loosely) at odds with one another. There are many different styles and personalities to navigate. Yoga teacher training might help people who prefer the company of a few close friends and tend to shy away from groups of people or parties overcome this—or they might end up really hating it.

  • 3. You enjoy “Americanized” yoga:

Granted, there are some yoga teacher training programs that are specifically designed for fitness-based yoga, but most trainings will include a history of yoga’s origins and discussion of everything from Ayurveda, to the Yamas and Niyamas. If you’re the type of person who can’t sit through a lesson about the Chakras with a straight face, then yoga training might be a struggle for you—unless you choose the school you attend very carefully.

  • 4. You are (really) sensitive.

I’d venture to say that most people who begin practicing yoga with any seriousness are fairly in touch with their feelings and emotions or become so over time. However, for those who truly dread public speaking, or hearing feedback, yoga training is a test in both capacities. During my teacher training, one woman quit the training after a 500 Hour Teacher suggested she project her voice and sound more confident. It was hard on all of us to see her get so upset over relatively benign feedback, but it’s something to consider in advance.

That said, if—in your heart, soul, or inside whatever part of you makes decisions—you have a calling to become a yoga teacher, gladly throw out any or all of the reasons listed above. The most important thing is that you have a desire to learn, expand, and grow. Most yoga teachers consider their yoga teacher training as a time of transformation.

Whoever you are now, it’s only a glimpse of who you might become.



Jen Donnell is a writer and yoga teacher from Southern California. She likes chocolate, wishing on dandelions, and is passionate about natural food and the environment. She can be found at:www.betteryouyoga.com



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Ed: K.Macku & B. Bemel

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