The World does not Need More Yoga Teachers.

Via Rebecca Lammersen
on Jun 17, 2015
get elephant's newsletter

Rebecca Lammersen

The first thing I read this morning was an article written by Waylon Lewis (my “boss” and founder of elephant journal), The Yoga Industry is not Yoga.

A timely read after the decision I executed on Monday.

I couldn’t agree more with his sentiment:

“Sorry, what’s that I said? I meant yoga industry.

‘Cause this isn’t the yoga community. This is the yoga industry. An industry more worked up about paying for playlists than remembering the point of yoga: meditation. An industry that is all about money, and sex, and fame.

Which reminds me of every other industry.

But the yoga community? It’s fine. You won’t find it at the festivals, easily. It’s there. But you will find it, easily, in a mother’s bedroom, in the morning, where she practices her home yoga routine so that her body and mind open and relax enough to help her through a challenging day.”  ~ Waylon Lewis

The yoga I’ve been taught, and the yoga I teach is no frills. It’s functional. It’s prescriptive. It’s realistic. It is a means to an end and a beginning.

I don’t have an Instagram account. I don’t go to festivals. I don’t have a huge following. I don’t sell anything in my studio because buying is a distraction—it pulls us outside of ourselves when the whole point of yoga is to go in, as far in as we can. My job is to teach yoga, not run a boutique, or studio for that matter.

I made a decision this week, that I will no longer host public classes at my studio, other than my own, so that I can do my job, fully.

For a long time, I tried to create a teacher training program, but I never had the motivation or ambition to see it through. Actually, it wasn’t about the lack of ambition. I didn’t want to see it through because in my heart, I know it isn’t my job to make more teachers.

My job is to make more practitioners. 

I’m going back to my roots, to my original mission and dream—to create a private learning center where I can teach people how to be their own teachers, so they don’t need me anymore. My job is to equip them with the tools they need, in order to (as Waylon described) practice in their bedrooms, or on a business trip, or wherever and whenever they want to, without my guidance because I’ve taught them well enough to be their own guide.

I remember hearing someone say, “I know I’ve done my job when my students stop coming to my classes—it means I’ve taught them well.” 

Being a yoga teacher is similar to being a healthcare practitioner: my mission is to find the origination of my clients’ (patients’) problems, and help my clients heal themselves, so I can send them on their way, out in the world with the ability to maintain their health, on their own.

The world does not need more yoga teachers. The world needs more yoga practitioners.

Many teachers are so enraptured by the fame, following and fortune, they’ve forgotten to teach. They’ve forgotten the point—to teach their students how and why to practice yoga, assisting them in creating a safe, functional practice to fit their needs, which they can take home and into the future.

Yoga studios are popping up like Starbucks, and so are their teacher trainings, churning out new teachers in 30 to 60 days (this is material for another article, another time) unequipped and unqualified to offer their students the education they need to begin a self-prescriptive practice.

This is a call to the teachers who are qualified: it’s time to do the work. Let’s make more practitioners.

The more practitioners there are, who have been taught safe, effective, aligned, prescriptive posturing, the healthier our communities will be—mentally, physically and emotionally. Not only will the well-being of our citizens increase, so will the welfare of our workforce and economy—less sick leave, more productivity; more productivity, more money; more money, more programming; more programming, more resources for education; more education, more awareness; more awareness, less suffering; less suffering, more peace; more peace, more freedom.

How do we get there?

This way: “In a mother’s bedroom, in the morning, where she practices her home yoga routine so that her body and mind open and relax enough to help her through a challenging day,” all because she had a teacher who taught her how to be her own teacher, so she could do her yoga, in order to do her job well, and help make the world a better place.




Solo Yoga is Essential: 8 Alone-Time Practice Tips.



Author: Rebecca Lammersen

Editor: Cat Beekmans

Photo: Author’s Own


About Rebecca Lammersen

Rebecca Lammersen is the founder of Yogalution, an intimate, boutique style yoga studio in Scottsdale, AZ. I love being alive. I love being a mother. I love teaching yoga. I love to write. I love to know. I love to not know. I love to learn. I love to listen. I love to read. I love to swim. I love to travel. I love to dance. I love to help. I love to serve. That pretty much sums me up. For daily inspirations, check out Rebecca's website. Visit her yoga studio website and peruse her articles at The Huffington Post. You can also find her on Facebook. Subscribe to Rebecca's feed and never miss a post!


17 Responses to “The World does not Need More Yoga Teachers.”

  1. Jay says:

    YES! YES! YES!

  2. v123alon says:

    Rebecca, you make some good points, and it is true that commercialization ruins most things. However, many people (myself included) took teacher training in order to develop their own practices without any intention to teach. Also, although I could practice on my own, I enjoy having a teacher lead me. (And in the training's research process discovered Michaelle Edwards' YogAlign which totally changed everything I thought about yoga.)

  3. Eranu says:

    Hear Hear!

  4. Charlotte says:

    I agree with what you most of what you have written. What I want are instructors that are truly knowledgeable. That know the proper form and breathing techniques. I want to go to their classes. I love to be in a group with others that enjoy the same thing. I wanted to go to training just to learn the techniques for myself…no intention of ever teaching. Is it a lot of money…yes. But it's worth it for me to grow, and take it to my bedroom.

  5. yogibattle says:

    I find it a bit sad that people have to enroll in a teacher training program just to "learn" how to do Yoga independently. What that heck are your teachers "teaching?" How to make a playlist?

  6. Swarandeep Kaur says:

    It is incumbent upon the soul of the student to find the TEACHER. A true teacher transmits the dharma and we in turn become a link in the Golden Chain.

  7. carol says:

    right on- in fact, I don't even call myself a "teacher" or our times together "class"- I am a guide or suggestor only, allowing others to follow their own intuition in our time together.

  8. Inthegazeoftheother says:

    I agree yoga teachers are great models and creators whose jobs are ultimately to instruct and inspire students to practice on their own. In the end, the drive, motivation, discipline, self-respect and love comes from the practitioner to do what is right for his or her body and mind.
    And while that is the history of my practice–a great teacher that I left after a year or so taught me well enough to keep my desire spinning onward–I do attend classes or watch videos every so often to keep learning and spot check my practice for bad habits and laziness.

  9. Slowly, oh so slowly we are awakening from our slumber. Kudos to the author of this article. Another set of eyes beginning to see how just how incredibly far off course Yoga has gotten in the West. Where to begin: Let's start with a history lesson. For thousands of years the most transformative aspect of Yoga was a heart to heart relationship between a student and a teacher who was also a student of a teacher who was also a student. Long before there were fixed form styles of Yoga, there were these rivers of wisdom, called lineages. You were only as a good of a teacher as you were a student. And all practitioners, teachers and students, based their teachings and practice on Yoga's foundation text, Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. From this profound text, a based on the dualistic philosophy of Samkhya. As the Sutras offed a relationship with a higher power as an option, it was relevant to Hindus and Athiests alike. When the Sutras were studied with a Yoga teacher who had studied the Sutras with a teacher, Yoga's many secrets to the nature of the mind, reality, consciousness, the causes of suffering and some short and long term solutions were presented. Applying what was suggested in the Sutras to each student's individual needs, goals, strengths and weaknesses (which the teacher knew because of their long term, heart to heart relationship) the teacher would prescribe an empowering, healing, transformative personal practice, which, over time, enabled the student to tap into their OWN confidence, wisdom, joy, vitality and compassion enough to improve all their relationships (TKV Desikachar says the true test of whether your Yoga is working is that your relationships get better.) The teachings were aimed at the mind, (there's only three sutras on Asana, as nobody in the history of the world has ever stretched their way to a richer more meaningful, more relational life. Seriously, if that were possible, then why aren't all the dancers and gymnasts the happiest people on earth. All adult Asana was breath centered and taught one on one. Because they were only teenagers at the time, T. Krishnamacharya taught BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois form focused asana in group classes. Seems teenage boy yoga has really caught on in the West. Oh well, I could go on (and probably will), but let's just keep re-recreating this ancient healing art in our own image and see what happens. Namaste, bitches.

  10. Marta says:

    I am not sure I agree with the general tone of the article. While it is true that there are many teachers, surely in oversupply in London and other cities (which is something one could say for most other jobs), there are many talented and genuine new teachers out there. Many have qualified through rigorous training. In fact, several have undergone several trainings with different senior teachers and schools around the world to be exposed to a variety of traditions and become better students as well as teachers. These schools have given their students the tools of the trade. What schools cannot give you is experience. Like in any other job, one has to start somewhere at the beginning and experience is gained through working. Undoubtedly people will make some mistakes but with strength and perseverance things improve, including teaching and technique. Teachers want to teach because they are passionate about sharing their messages and knowledge, and genuinely want to help people develop a practice. I would like to think that this is true for the majority of people. But in order to get there, one has to promote him/herself. As in any other job there is no way in, up or sideways if people don’t know who you are and what you do. In a competitive society as the one we live in, even yoga cannot escape the laws of market economics. People need to satisfy the basic income / outcome operation in order not only to make a life out of yoga, but also a living. This isn’t the new teacher’s fault, or the studio owner’s fault, who needs to sell merchandise in order to increase their taking and stay afloat.
    I also disagree about the statement that a community cannot be found in studios or festivals. There are people who have become good friends through yoga and have created a good sadhaka, webs of support whether at home or in festival. It is a beautiful way to share yoga with the world outside there, and at the same time spreading positive messages. Yoga is union, and this union is found not only in oneself with but also by bringing yourself out to others. Learning is eternal. Teaching is much more than getting someone from A to B.
    That some people are there for the money… some, yes, probably. But this doesn’t negate the good spirit of the majority, the need for people to gather, the need for new teachers to have a voice.
    So all in all, I have found this article written in a very un-yogi spirit. Perhaps less vitriol is needed in society, and let people follow their chosen profession with open arms.

  11. ozomgirl says:

    Thank you for so eloquently posting your feelings, I am in complete agreement, and have been so dis- heartened by the "yoga Machine" out there. Scary stuff, especially the 21- 90 day teacher trainings that are meant to mostly sustain the overhead of overpriced "boutique" style studios, rather then quality teachings in the origins and essence of the yoga traditions. My college and I have created a "counter" 220 hr YTT ( NOT AND RYT) in an effort to return to the roots of the bhakti yoga tradition. Affordable!!10 month trainings that include many paths and styles of yoga, bhakti practice, seva
    ( service ) and humility in honor of these ancient teachings. Agreed, lets get back to WHY we are here, SERVICE above all!! Namaste

  12. Raquel says:

    Thank you, Marta, for this side of the coin and for how thoughtfully and beautifully your response is written. Those of us with studios that have dedicated our lives to yoga, do our very best to keep the doors open so that people can practice in community, as well as on their own. I sell t-shirts and yoga pants so that our commUNITY has a place to thrive; so that those of us with a common purpose can raise the vibration together. And, as a single woman, I can live my practice sustainably. Showing up and focusing our "heart-dristi" on the higher good, THAT is some serious yoga. For me, that means teaching from the heart, paying our studio rent and supporting the teachers who work and live in our community. There is so much goodness and consciousness coming out of teachers trainings, THANK GOD more people are drawn to deepening, evolving, exploring and holding space for others. More inclusive yoga is what we need and it definitely isn't for me do define who is and isn't "really" doing yoga. LOVE and Blessings. <3

  13. Julie says:

    You've made many great points! I agree with one of the commenters above–it's sad that students feel like they have to go through teacher training in order to deepen their practice. They're obviously not receiving enough in group yoga classes. If we're going to call ourselves yoga teachers, it's our duty to teach yoga–not just fitness–and make sure that our students have access to the spiritual potential of yoga.

  14. YogaMitch says:

    You want to know the state of yoga in North America? Just ask how many students practice at home.
    When the teacher asked that question in a room full yogis ( there was probably 65 students) I was the only one that raised my hand. I was so surprised. Why are they at class if they are not practicing at home? Teachers talk about the journey in yoga but apparently nobody follows it. So you are right Rebecca, student have to leave the class. Practice at home and detached themselves from the teacher and stop seeing a yoga class as if going to the gym. It also time for teachers to tell the student to practice at home. After 7 years of dedicated practice, not once I heard a teacher tell their students to practice at home. For me the home practice is the journey. I still enjoy a room full of yogis and a good teacher but practicing in the stillness of your home is bliss. This is where mind body and spirit deepens. It's time for students to put that in practice.

  15. Maru says:

    Not everybody who graduates from a teacher trying is teaching material.
    TT are a sad, sad trend that have nothing to do with the immense beauty that yoga is.

  16. E frank says:


  17. Julie says:

    Amen!!! My favorite are the teachers I have seen sharing this article who are leading teacher trainings with less than 10 years of teaching themselves. Some without their 500 hour certification. The world is fine to include more teachers, but teachers that have a good education from a quality program. If my class inspires one student to go a little deeper, closer to their True Self, I would argue that my tuition was well worth the money.

Leave a Reply