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

Via elephant journal
on Jun 7, 2013
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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 DonnellJen 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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One Response to “Why You Shouldn’t Be a Yoga Teacher. ~ Jen Donnell”

  1. Mary Denaro says:

    While becoming a yoga teacher may not be for everyone, the right teacher training can certainly be beneficial to someone looking for more out of their yoga practice. I recently completed a 200 hour Yoga teacher training in March which has really deepened my practice, understanding of postures, and began a yearning to learn more. I had only been practicing for a few years to a Shiva Rea DVD, gym classes, or a very rare hot yoga class. I decided that this was not enough. For months I researched the available trainings in my area trying to figure out if teacher training was the right path for me. There were many to choose from: 2 week live-in intensive (which had you eating vegetarian meals and earning Yoga as the eastern tradition of spiritual awakening), Hatha Yoga, Hot Yoga, Ashtanga, Weekend trainings, Weekday trainings ETC. So it is possible to choose a training that is not suited to you. My choice to complete the teacher training was not to become the next Shiva Rhea or Kino Macgregor but, to really know what I was doing and why when I was practicing. I tried studying on my own using the internet but, there is just too much information out there. I chose to complete the training as a personal goal and signed up for a weekend training (every weekend for six months). I also worked Monday through Friday, full time. It was a life changing choice! Through my training I gained many things that I never would imagine such as confidence, friendships, healthy diet, stronger relationships, and an urge to be a good person. Because of the training Yoga BECAME my escape. On days where my mind was racing or I feeling depressed/clouded I can just get on my mat and work it out, not having to travel to a Yoga studio to find that same relief. It helped me break out of my shell and become more positive.
    It's not that teacher training is not made for everyone but, there are many teachers with different experiences, styles of yoga, or styles of teaching. So if one's tapas has begun to burn enough to entertain the idea of joining a teacher training I suggest doing the research. Call the director, ask questions, ask about the teachers, meet the teachers, take their class. Ask yourself questions, what are your reasons for wanting to begin this training? What are your expectations? What do you want to do after the training? I believe you can find the right training for you. I told one of my teachers a story of a friend who went to a yoga class once and hated, said she would never go back. Her response was "challenge her to 10 different classes with 10 different teachers, she will find at least one that she will love!" So by doing your research you can find a training that fits you or realize that training isn't for you.