What is yoga? Stretching…exercise…stress management…a spiritual path…a way to reach enlightenment? Maybe it’s all of the above.
Clearly, the way we practice yoga here in the West is different than the way it was intended to be practiced. Taking a practice with its history and traditions and squeezing it into our Western lifestyle is challenging, and interesting. It has been a passion of mine for over 20 years, to figure out how to blend these rich teachings from India with western science and offer something that honors both.
It is my driving force to create and provide programs that respect yoga from its origins, and that also offer it in a way that speaks to, and safely serves modern/western yogis.
As yoga has gained popularity in the West, overpriced yoga studios and exercise-based yoga classes have blown up. The massive growth has resulted in a Wild Wild West environment where anyone can open a yoga studio, and any studio can offer a yoga teacher training program as a way to boost revenues. Along the way, the Yoga Alliance was formed to create standards within the industry and to weed out those who not offering safe and effective yoga teacher training programs.
Almost all other professions require a certification in order to practice, so it makes perfect sense to me that we should adhere to standards in yoga? It helps to maintain the integrity of the practice and is one step closer to keeping our students safe, and our teachers knowledgeable. I wholeheartedly support, and am registered with Yoga Alliance. Here is why…
To become an RYS (registered yoga school), a program needs to have a set number of hours on each of these subjects.
- Techniques, Training and Practice
This portion of the course is the physical asana practice. Students are taught proper alignment of the postures along with the Sanskrit name for each yoga asana. With breath being the most important element of yoga, there is almost always a dedicated pranayama class.
- Yoga Teaching Methodology
An RYS needs to include some guidance on how to create sequences and structure yoga classes. While each RYT can develop their own teaching style, certain teaching skills and techniques are expected to be covered in a credentialing program. Some trainings may have a certain focus, such as kids yoga or yoga therapy.
- Anatomy & Physiology
Understanding how the body moves is important in assisting students with achieving the correct alignment in the yoga postures. Becoming a certified yoga instructor should mean that you know enough to teach yoga without putting anybody in a potentially harmful posture.
- Yoga Philosophy/Ethics/Lifestyle
This is a broad category and can include topics such as pranayama meditation, ayurvedic health, raw foods, and philosophy. It is where students are meant to study the Eight Limbs of Yoga, which includes far more than just the poses and postures that we see in western yoga classes. Students will often be required to read ancient text important to yoga history, such as the Yoga Sutras, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and the Bhagavad Gita.
A certain number of hours in each course is dedicated for students to teach their own classes. These contact hours allow students to teach yoga and gain experience before actually gaining their yoga certification. It is where they can try on their own teaching style, practice cuing their students into different yoga postures, and guiding pranayama meditation.
Since 2014, with over 600 graduates, Yoga Assets has been a Registered Yoga School, with standards that actually, greatly exceed Yoga Alliance standards. We offer 40 hours of anatomy and alignment (20 hours more than the requirement), and have always required our trainers to be 500 Hour RYT’s. We strongly recommend that our graduates register with Yoga Alliance. Honestly, I can’t imagine why a yoga teacher with integrity would resist adhering to standards, and subjecting themselves to continuing education requirements. Don’t you want to know that your yoga teacher has the knowledge, experience and integrity to lead your yoga practice in a thoughtful, intelligent and safe way?