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April 13, 2015

How the West will be Won: An American Yoga Story.

Robert Bejil/Flickr

And on the 8th day, there were 9 million yoga teachers in the West.

Okay, so this isn’t actually in the Bible, I was merely making a point that there are more yoga teachers than you can shake a stick at nowadays.

Around every corner there is a teacher training, some “reputable,” some not. One in five women ages 20-50 have taken a teacher training, started teaching classes without having been certified by an organized program, or have thought about it.

It’s difficult to have a conversation about modern yoga without hearing the common gripe that “yoga teacher’s are being pumped out of teacher trainings like factories.”

Not all studio trainings have the same take, experience, motivation or guidance as the next, it’s true, and there are places where you can become certified in “like a week.” Maybe all of these yogis and yoginis don’t realize “how hard it is to make it as a teacher,” and maybe some of these trainings are not “acknowledged” or “accredited.” Some are not acknowledging enough yogic tradition, they are pulling yoga from its traditional roots and making it something unrecognizable from what it was, as it so powerfully and beautifully served the ancient Vedic and Indian cultures.

It’s true, as a culture we take things and make them our own, that’s pretty much what we have always done with everything—we are Americans.

When I finished my own teacher training and decided to move back to teach in the little community in the mountains that I call home I was already hearing about how my little town was “over-saturated” with teachers—Every girl in town is a yoga teacher. How are you going to find a place to teach, isn’t there going to be too much competition?”

And to all of that I say…

Yoga is not a competitive sport, neither is teaching yoga.

I can’t tell you how joyful I am to live in a town that is “over-saturated” with women who want to teach what speaks to their hearts. These beautiful women, and men, who may or may not have taken a training that was “acknowledged” or “accredited” are making the world a better place.

Whether they are making a living or doing karma yoga, whether they own studios or teach for free at the public library, I would much rather live in a world of teachers, healers and peace makers, than one of people trying to figure out how to dominate other people, hoard material wealth and rape our natural resources. A world where it is not only acceptable but over-saturated with people learning and wanting to share ideas about peace, love, compassion, stillness and health.

In my grandparents world women were discouraged to even speak, let alone share their incredibly healing and loving wisdom. Many of them were forced to leave their obligatory housewife duties to go into the factories to make weapons while the men were away sacrificing their lives for killing that not many understood.

Compared to that, I feel blessed that I go into my local coffee shop and can’t avoid a conversation about love or yoga, happiness or healing.

So bring on the teachers, healers and peacemakers—if we are going to dominate something, let it be this. Yes, we will change yoga, we will not be perfect, we will Americanize it, but we are Americans and we are different. We have an intensity that will need to be healed and honored from a different angle and we are on our own journey to find out what that angle is.

There is a desperate need for a shift in our culture and it won’t happen perfectly or overnight, but it is happening.

So I am not writing an article to discourage and warn new teachers (like myself), or someone contemplating a training. I am not going to tell you how difficult it is to make money, or how new and untrained teachers are out there injuring people, because I can guarantee you that there are a lot less casualties in yoga than in war, hatred and violence.

No, instead I am writing an article to encourage you, if there is a desire in your heart to share love, light, yoga or healing, to take a training, or just start sharing.

Be responsible, don’t take advantage of people, understand that you never know everything and that people are delicate and they can be injured, but with all that said…teach on my friends, teach on!

 

Relephant Read:

A Message from the Youngest Certified Hot Yoga Instructor in the U.S.

 

Author: Sara Ward

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Robert Bejil/Flickr

 

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Sara Ward