I like to think we’re a friendly bunch, us Ashtangis.
But wait for a recent 200 hour teacher training graduate to say to a seasoned Ashtangi, “Oh, yes, I know Ashtanga yoga. I was just certified.” The claws come out. Mr. Mysore might reply, “Really, now? How many times have you been to Mysore, India? You practice the fourth series?” Obviously we all wouldn’t react this way, but it has happened.
So, what’s the big deal with authorization and certification? Let’s break it down.
Is it important? It is, and it deserves respect. For a teacher to be authorized or certified by Krishna Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute it means that he or she has made the trek to India multiple times for months at a time. It means sacrifice and dedication, leaving your home and being immersed into a foreign culture, having faith in your guru. It means patience and surrendering, years of returning. In this lineage, comprehensive knowledge being passed down directly from teacher to student over many years generally (not always) leads to authorization.
Is it necessary? No. One does not need to receive the blessing from KPJAYI in order to be a learned, qualified teacher. I have met teachers who have practiced for decades under authorized or certified teachers but have never made the pilgrimage themselves. Mysore, India, KPJAYI more specifically, is not the only place to learn Ashtanga yoga. In fact, the purpose of the institute granting the blessing to teach is so that more shalas can be established and students all over the world have the opportunity to learn.
Is it hogwash? Who knows. As more and more people flock to the institute, I am sure their guidelines and requirements for authorization have been adjusted to account for the masses. I have heard of practitioners lying about how many trips they’ve made and receiving authorization due to this false information. I have no way of knowing if this is actually true.
What it comes down to, I suppose, is recognizing the common factor, that we’re all in this together. If someone considers themselves certified because they did a teacher training, chances are they don’t know any better. Additionally, a teacher can lead students successfully down a yogic path without being listed on the KPJAYI website. If we place too many limits on life, it will be just that…limited. Keep an open mind, and practice.
You know the rest…All is coming.
Author: Jenna Meyer
Editor: Travis May
Image: Flickr/Barry Silver