September 16, 2014

Sobering Advice for Those Considering Yoga Teacher Training. ~ Mathew Bergan

Mathew Bergan for article

Can a 200-hour yoga teacher training program really super-inject body intelligence?

I have been teaching Hatha yoga since the early 90’s and training yoga teachers for over five years.

We are in the midst of a commercial yoga explosion, which has prompted an unprecedented desire throughout the West to become the next celebrity yoga teacher —the quickest way possible.

If you are practicing yoga today then there is a 99 percent chance that you are practicing Hatha yoga. Many people don’t realize this, they have been enticed by the “quick-fix” world of Insta-gra(m)tification. The concept of process and self-discovery seem far far away.

A recent 200-hour teacher training graduate said to me “I thought during the four-month course you would’ve told me more about my body, and how I could improve my yoga skills.”

Some disappointing news: you might spend the rest of your life learning about your body and the energies that govern it!

Is it possible to skip your Learner’s and Provisional drivers licence and instead apply for a mega truck licence?

Here’s some sobering advice for anyone considering yoga teacher training:

Before you consider handing your precious dollars over for a training program do your research! Spend as much time as possible with your potential yoga teacher trainer, getting to know their style and personality. Attend as many of their group classes as possible to find out whether their methodology is right for you. Forget about ‘gym yoga’ for now, this is another blog altogether!

Seek out an authentic teaching program that honours Hatha yoga’s Indian lineage and offers a solid background in asana (body postures) as well as Patanjali’s eight-limbs philosophy (codes and ethics for living).

Under the guidance of your teacher, you may discover many disappointing things that make up who you are. Don’t despair, this is brilliant news in the universal law of disappointments.

When on the yoga mat, consider this crash course in self-identification:

Body: your relationship to your body will change on a daily level just like the weather. Some days you will have control and command over your movements, other days you may be fighting to stand up like a drunken sailor. Observe, persevere and strengthen.

Mind: the mind can be as fickle as the wind, wandering from one pair of sexy Lulu Lemon encased legs, to the hot daddy in headstand with the tight buns. Or simply, your anxiety prevents you from being at ease with the strangers around you. Observe, persevere and strengthen.

Self Identification: you crash out of a full back bend and land on your head, in full view of others. Embarrassed, you shake like a wet puppy in the rain. Observe, persevere and strengthen.

Ego: you have courageously mastered 200 asanas depicted in Mr Iyengar’s Light on Yoga, and while doing so, injured your spine from too much force and not enough ease. Observe, persevere and strengthen.

Many of these disappointments are divine lessons that make up who you are and define where your learning begins. From this place of disappointment your choices will arise.

To all aspirants of yoga, I share with you my body intelligence learned through 33 years of dance and yoga practice.

Unfortunately there is no YouTube video or book in the Amazon library that teaches experiential body intelligence. Through practice, and your teacher’s touch, your bones and muscles become reprogrammed and your nervous system strengthened.

  • Through observation you’ll discover your body and your inner self.
  • Through perseverance you will discover your willpower.
  • Through strength you will master your cellular body.

Master all three and you are on your way to a thinking body.

Some teachers may see you have a special something to offer and take you under their wing, nudging you deeper into the experiential. Or, disappointingly, they hold you back to digest, sensing you have more work to do.

Self-learning, self-discovery and the art of process are a solitary journey along an unpredictable path, with celebratory highs and disappointing lows.

On a clear summers day I am standing with my teacher on a mountain summit, together we ponder the breathtaking view. She points across the mountain ranges and says, “your future lies that way.”

The terrain is captivating and impossible in my eyes to traverse. “Use your gut as your compass and your heart as your map,” she says, and then pushes me into the void.


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Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: author’s own

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