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Enough has been said about the global farming industry of yoga teacher trainings.
Over the past years, yoga has become an industry where studios have proliferated and yoga teacher trainings have turned into a money-maker and a sign of prestige for some establishments, while for other smaller ventures, it became the most substantial source of income to pay the rent for a business model that is doomed to fail.
And all of this was before the war, and before COVID-19.
I took my teacher training in 2004.
I researched a few places in the back of a magazine that I found in Whole Foods.
I checked out each studio until I finally walked into the one where someone had smiled at me and treated me with kindness.
I borrowed some money, and the rest is history.
My teacher training was standard. But even a standard yoga teacher training that opens its doors to the world of yoga is something special.
In about 10 years, I put under my belt close to 15,000 classes.
I taught like a beast in New York City.
I learned this yoga thing, over and over and over.
I learned all kinds of meditation and every single style of yoga on the table.
And yet, I felt shy to lead a yoga teacher training.
I didn’t want to lead a yoga training because I already sensed, back then, a disconnection between the meaning of yoga and the standardized process of simply cloning yoga teachers based on someone else’s unique views of yoga.
The obvious transactional aspect of it had turned me off.
Come. Sign up. Spend time with Gem and The Holograms and change your life.
Learn a little bit about the business of yoga, and the name of bones that you don’t even care about.
Know a tiny bit about the story of yoga and you are ready to go out and write your own sacred yoga gospel.
I always felt isolated as a yoga teacher because I didn’t subscribe to any school of yoga. I am more of a self-taught yoga teacher than a disciple of any kind of lineage.
I was able to become a successful yoga teacher by making conscious decisions about the person I wanted to grow up to become, and not based on what my guru had told me or the latest trend in town.
In my book, I have never seen yoga as work, but as a way to learn more about myself and make the world a better place.
These days, even more than ever, I follow my own rules.
My yoga trainings are designed for a wide range of audiences and students. I am not the teacher you would go to to simply learn postures and cool trick posts for your Instagram page.
In fact, part of the faculty in my yoga teacher program includes a licensed mental health counselor, because we cannot teach without an understanding of one of the major challenges we are facing in our times: mental health—both as students and teachers.
We also have a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and an infectious disease doctor, because we can no longer afford to look the other way. Covid is real, yoga and public health are related, and the new emerging yoga teachers have to understand this important connection.
We have a physical therapist who can, from their own research and experience, testify about the great injuries students develop as a result of practicing yoga the wrong way.
We have also welcomed teachers from different countries, different parts of the world, different ethnicities, different sexual orientations, because we cannot expect the world to be black or white. Things are fluid, including genders and identities.
In my teacher training, we teach our participants how to finish the program and give back to their community in so many different ways, including how to teach in homeless shelters, prisons, schools, and hospitals.
We understand that our students do not just wish to become yoga teachers but also caregivers who need more skills and resources to share with their loved ones.
There is a different way to present yoga for those who are ready to put their hearts into it.
There is a different way to look at yoga teacher trainings.
Capitalism in yoga might be real. But so is the love of those teachers who sincerely want to share this practice with the world.
*Learn more about my upcoming 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training: The Yoga Teacher of the Future through the Warrior Flow School.