On Teaching Yoga and the Importance of Direct Experience /// Practice as Preparation

YBU1247

Picking up on yesterday’s post and some of the comments regarding teaching yoga and its qualifications, I thought I’d speak a little more on “practice as preparation,” and whether or not having “practiced yoga” for some amount of time actually prepares a person to teach.

Yesterday, I referred to a minimum of five to seven years of dedicated daily (give or take) practice as a bar against which a person’s readiness to consider teaching might be held. Of course, as one commenter pointed out, this number can be read as arbitrary. And, it is. However, after taking a closer look, I find those pesky prime numbers to be a good enough point of reference, not for people to judge teachers, but for practitioners to investigate if they find themselves on the fast-track to teacher stardom.

Seven years “in the shit” will teach you a thing or two. Waking up early literally thousands of times, meeting some mangled version of your self born of the day and night before; gaining an increasing sensitivity to one’s own prana, heart rate, digestion, articulated range of motion, and emotional state; taking stock of how well the body cordoned off toxins throughout the night by evaluating the morning’s phlegm; visually (hopefully) assessing the quality of the first pooh of the day; directly experiencing the softening of fascia and the general lubrication of the body’s various systems and having an experience of “energy moving” because of this change in physiology…. This level of practice is no joke, and its relevance to experience will not be lost on anyone who’s participated in its, at times, annoying impositions.

And yet, will even this prepare a person for a life conveying the teachings to other people who may have never experienced the same things? Not necessarily, but, it will provide a person with an incredible reservoir of direct experience to pull from unmatched by book-learning and talk, both of which are good, if you like reading and talking about what you’ve read.

The rest of your qualifications will most likely come from a genuine sense of humility bestowed upon you by life’s cosmic jokes, heart breaks, and respected failures. It’ll take on an even more surreal quality if these “character builders” bumped up against your daily practice. Nothing says a softened heart like practicing (or not practicing) the day your best friend dies, or on the morning you realize your relationship is no longer what it used to be. This sort of merging of the social with the personal, the practice with the world, is the swill teachers swim in.

As for the act of teaching itself, I am reminded of a quote from Paulo Freire‘s lesser known tome of awesomeness, Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage, where he states,

“[T]o teach is not to transfer knowledge but to create the possibilities for the production or construction of knowledge…. [T]he person in charge of education is being formed or re-formed as he/she teaches, and the person being taught forms him/herself in this process.”

From my perspective, this “rule” would seem to apply to all student-teacher relationships whether they be based on Guru-disciple, instructor-practitioner, or skill-share models. But, holy shit, that’s a HUGE topic and better left for another post. [ed. noted]

In the meantime, consider this: No matter the training, the mornings put in, nor the encouragement of your teacher. The value of your teaching, or to use Freire’s words, your “creating of possibilities,” will be based on the ripples it creates in the immediate or the thank-God-someone-came-up-with-it “Butterfly Effected yoniverse” Ultimately, if your students are worth a damn, they’ll let you know in their enthusiasm and dedication. And, if they forget to show up, are too lazy, or just don’t give a care about what you have to impart, God will send you an email.

Or, you can just brand yourself, and wear a tighter skirt.

Teacher

59 comments

  1. Anna

    So true! One thing I realized at TT was that I’ll need at least 5-10 years of continuous practice before I am ready for teaching.

  2. Yoga_Dude

    I teach shot put and discus, two very technical throwing events, at a camp every summer. We continually tell the high schoolers that, “You aren’t good enough to be frustrated.” Which elicits the response, “what does it take to get better?” To which we always respond, “let’s discuss it after you’ve put in 10,000 throws.”

    Some get it, most don’t.

    • You throw discus? That’s boss as hellz.

      • Yoga_Dude

        Actually I throw Scottish Highland Games implements ( sections of trees aka the caber, stones, 28# and 56# weights and a sheaf of hay once in a while – I hate the sheaf toss). I learned the discus and shot later in life….

        • The P

          Do you wear a kilt when you throw your implements about? *Swoon*..

        • Yoga_Dude, are you serious? That’s awesome. I’ve never even heard of a “sheaf” of hay. I’ve known to load a bale or two, but never a sheaf. Well done, good sir.

        • Yoga_Dude

          A sheaf typically weighs between #16 and #22, you pick it up with a pitchfork and toss it over a standard. After each round like in pole vaulting or the high jump, you raise the standard until one person makes it.

          And yes, @ The P, it is proper attire to be kilted when competing. However, I have never competed “regimental” – the would a) itch and b) generate a lot of pointing and laughing.

    • Yoga_Dude

      This also begets the Farmer Ted syndrome. Remember from Sixteen Candles, Farmer Ted described himself as the “King of the Dipshits”. At camp, we try to enlighten the students that being the best opera singer in Des Moines, IA or the best shot putter in Eastern Kentucky doesn’t qualify you for too much of anything other than being a Farmer Ted. 10,000 throws…..10,000 throws.

  3. gross

    agreed on many levels, although you have to start somewhere. i do think BKS Iyengar was teaching in his teen years. everyone no matter what their field has to start out somewhere and suck for awhile, no matter how much practice they put. think new surgeon, now shrink, new bartender, new chef…. once you get out there you suck compared to the 30-40 year veterans. then you cut your teeth and become good or you fade.

    • Absolutely! Which takes us back to “finding your voice.” There’s always a bit of fake it til you make it.

    • Linda-Sama

      “i do think BKS Iyengar was teaching in his teen years.”

      but think who his teacher was. and in that time, the teacher told you to teach when he thought you were ready to teach. Iyengar did not do a 200 hr. teacher training and then go out there and say “wow, I can’t wait to adjust people!”

      • gross

        that b/c in india they don’t have hang-ups about time frames and crap. also, im sure krishnamacharya started teaching at some point. just b/c one story is one person’s doesn’t mean that we now must have have the same story to be useful. BKS’s little tiny granddaughter is teaching in Pune and giving discourse and lectures. very YOUNG girls are giving philosophical discourses on bhakti in Varsana. how old was Mozart when he first began composing? whatev. i don’t think that just because you are a beginner you are faking it. you are just doing what you can. and later you can do and say more with more depth and more skill. “finding your voice” is something that applies to EACH AND EVERY PERSON… this is not just being some yoga teacher endeavor. fall people shift and dance through rites of passage, figuring out who they wanna be when they grow up (until they die), etc. western hang-ups. BKS never did a teacher training. he was just a student and started teaching as part of his growth. in the west there are very few situations i am aware of where students can just hang out and live with their teacher, become incorporated into their teacher’s family, teach under the request of their teacher AS PART OF THEIR continued learning.
        i saw a 8yr old boy doing the puja duties at the amazing radha raman temple in Vrindavan. is he qualified based on some lame western standard? is he faking it? he is just doing what his dad told him and doing his duties. it was his first week at the temple doing this service and he looked nervous up there taking donations, passing out garlands and flowers, etc… but he wasn’t faking it. he was doing what he knew. and with time it will be a different feeling, mood, sensitivity, connection, whatever. the indian people weren’t all down there judging the crap out of him and saying he is not qualified. only us westerners do that shit. of course there is a huge difference between a new teacher and an experienced teacher. but both have a place and a 200hr experience is just a focused time where people go deeper into the teachings in a focused atmosphere. why do you need to cut it and call it shit? of course anyone coming out and making insane claims that they are awesome straight out of a 200hr are total idiots. but then again, anyone who thinks b/c they have been practicing for many years and therefore awesome is also a total idiot.
        boom chakka lakka

      • Tom

        Are we holding up BKS Iyengar as a role model for being a great teacher? I’m not so sure based on some of the stuff I’ve read about his teaching methods over the years. I’d say that because he’s a great yogi, he can’t help but be a good yoga teacher but I could probably learn more from somebody who was a good yogi and a great yoga teacher …

  4. Linda-Sama

    “One thing I realized at TT was that I’ll need at least 5-10 years of continuous practice before I am ready for teaching.”

    and about 10 years of teaching experience before one is ready to teach…. 😉

    • Garuda

      After 10 years of teaching asana, I have determined that for me the most receptive students are the ones that I encounter in restorative practice. I have stepped back from instruction ala carte. Too many gymnasts turned ‘yogi’ (lower case) insisting that one armed handstands and legs behind the head are the answer to life’s persistent questions.”… I dont have any answers my friends. Just this pile of old questions that memory has left me here. In the field of opportunity, its plowing time again”~ Neil Young

      • Linda-Sama

        my most receptive students — and the ones who have been with me since Day 1 of my teaching — are people needing healing either physically or emotionally. not the ones looking for handstand or for me to kick their ass in a class. the women at the domestic violence shelter — no props, no lululemons, no chakra jewelry — are as serious of students of yoga as one would find in any big name, rock star studio. and IMO, more so.

        • gross

          so someone had some bit of faith in you at your beginnings. that is great. if you think the ones looking for a handstand don’t need healing physically or emotionally then i would say you just don’t know those students at all. EVERYONE is suffering, including you and me… and if we weren’t, we would be able to see that even a chakra jewel or lululemon pants is not a sign of perfection in mind and heart or a signal that no healing is needed or wanted. why can’t a handstand be healing? why can’t achieving something you didn’t think you could be healing? whatever. this site is funny, but so full of hang-ups. and i agree w/ most of them, its just getting old to keep complaining about how unqualified everyone is. even though i agree that people making huge claims should be kept in check.

        • amphibi1yogini

          @gross, you wrote:

          “why can’t achieving something you didn’t think you could be healing?”

          At the base, physical level, IF you are injured with chronic pain and mild loss of range of motion, sometimes there IS that acupressure-like effect. Caution: Sometimes. Causing temporary pain to an (as yet) uninjured area can reset your nerve circuits so that the pain in the chronic area abates, if temporarily …

          But psychologically you open a can of worms! Peer pressure/teacher pressure and possible humiliation (of course, in many ways based on a person’s childhood or some past actual trauma) experienced in a live class environment has psychological spillover costs … which can get complicated.

        • gross

          wow, walking down the street can cause humiliation. asking a person on a date can lead to rejection. better stay inside.

        • gross

          i also doubt that in linda-sama’s class she is going to subject her students to humiliation. i got the feeling she was ripping on the students. the students looking for a handstand. that is what i am referring to. her judgement of a particular type of student and a glorifying of another based on lot in life, age, body, and their clothing or jewelry. also, are you saying that teachers who include handstand practice in their classes are just humiliating their students? get into a yoga studio before you start thinking you know everything that is happening out there. from your posts it seems you prefer pilates? unless i’ve got you confused.

        • amphibi1yogini

          No, I was the one ambushed into holding a full headstand several years before (I’m still not) being ready for it a few years ago. And it didn’t happen just at the horrible studio that–suck it to THEM – they can’t stomach primarily home practioners!!– If you think I prefer pilates–I prefer pilates to a great extent because, besides strengthening this 58 year old, formerly grossly obese person’s core… the chances of such an ambush happening again in a live pilates class by a teacher with only 7 years of instruction behind their belt(s) is nil …

          I was irrational enough to take the challenge posited to me by the master teacher at the first studio, who had been disgusted by my lack of core strength and in his facial plasticity did not fail to show it, constantly scowling …

      • gross

        garuda. i agree w/ having students in a room who take your class and then just do non-stop inversions and then flip over their feet one at a time in and out of up-dog… and cannot take a single instruction and seem to be chomping on the bit to hurry into the next shape and insist on doing every single most advanced variation known and unknown for every pose you are teaching. a teacher w/ their chops will stop that student in their tracks with authority and with skill. its the job of the teacher to teach what they believe and the students who are attracted to that will come. the students that want to just jump around non-stop will go to kula and talk non-stop during the class since that is the example the owners of the studio set. so if you want to teach restorative, then you will attract students who like restorative. if you want to teach regular asana class, you can teach how you want and not be pressured into some other kind of atmosphere by your students. sometimes there is an opportunity to teach so deeply and assuredly that a student who might otherwise been mis-understanding the yoga practice be only about getting legs behind the head will suddenly realize there might be something more.

    • gross

      something definitely shifted for me after 10 years of teaching. thank god people let me teach as a “fake” until i got to that point to surpass it.

      • @gross, well, good for YOU. If it weren’t for that first yoga studio with the “fake” or “semi-fake” young, hungry teachers (I say “weren’t” and not “hadn’t” because–as I understand it–consumer pressures caused their style to be straight-jacketed only temporarily, and they are now back to their old tricks), my home practice would not be at the intensity it is today. Still soft enough for this woman, but made for serious cross-training to the studio. [Without my being sore for 36 hours after an isolated live studio class. At my age.]

        Every experience–great or rotten–contributes to any individual’s serious interpretation of this art.

        • gross

          good for YOU that you are SO awesome that you have a home practice. that definitely makes you amazing! you are a cerebra-home practitioner. again, more i am better and you are less than. getting old.

        • gross

          you do realize i was sarcastic. but anyway, you seem to have had a horrible experience. i wonder how the teachers’ classes you took and loathed fared?

        • amphibi1yogini

          You know, your comment could alienate yoga people far more talented in this art than I … like some ashtanga practitioners …
          I am not awesome — just formerly debt-ridden and long-term unemployed and I’m not pretending to be some hipster/yuppie/trustafarian with taking a single live class more than I want …

        • gross

          i am sorry you just sound so angry at the world. why can’t you just like your pilates and other people can just like their yoga however they like it (at home, at a studio, in the park) and other people can just like their cross-fit, etc. you’d rather just talk about a few experiences as if they are the only ones existing. i am not concerned with alienating anyone. i don’t even know which comment you are referring to? why do you need to have the worst story to be valid? the angry teacher scowling at you? you just decided this teacher thought you were not core strength enough. maybe you are wrong. think what you want, but you spew some serious self-righteousness that is unattractive. i would personally never “make” anyone feel humiliated for having a weak core and i would also not try to pump someone up who had a strong core. finding a practice that suits you is awesome, but then shredding everyone and everything else that makes you feel “less than” or uncomfortable is just not really the goal of yoga anyway. so let’s keep practicing until we don’t care what others are doing. at some point you just have to stop living in the few bad experiences and be in the good ones.

        • I was referring to the feeling of “self-righteousness” or “too much pride” that you impute to me because I write about my home practice … there are many reasons to have a home practice to supplement and/or supplant a yoga studio’s offerings … sometimes the REAL reason is not so apparent …

          The practice was not about weak vs. strong core, exactly – much too classically-based and rococo for that… this practice actually attracted ages 3 to nearly 93 … a lot of this practice was about open hips … now, THOSE people got pumped up all the time by this teacher and other instructors …

  5. amphibi1yogini

    I’d been introduced to yin yoga at age 16–many decades ago. When Esalen had been first experimenting with the genre.

    So, I agree, as I’ve stated before on this blogsite.

    I am, of course, so biased.

    By “a la carte”, do you mean private sessions focusing on asana builds (or occasional pranayama)?

    Been there, never could afford that … it had been a very temporary experiment.

    • Garuda

      By alacarte I mean to say letting the ‘varsity’ students have a say in the curriculum, then watch as the students below that level of asana-complishment sit idle and get frustrated that the Dig-Me crowd gets the happy meal while they wait. Its not worth my efforts to enlighten their egos

    • Who would neg this comment??!? Has anybody ever purchased anything they really could not (face-value here) afford?

      For whatever reason? Rational or not.

      What makes a yoga private session by a senior teacher so sacrosanct?

      Just proves my theory about yoga studios … this negging …

  6. Babs, you would throw in a still from Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” video!
    I’d love to see you do a post on the sexual politics and power differentials of the yoga studio…especially between teachers and students 😉

    • A. Obviously I threw up a still from “Hot for Teacher,” because a. that song is dope as hellz awesome, and b. see a.

      B. I don’t think I’m the one to write that article. My views on sexual relations/politics often put more responsibility on the adults engaged, than I think many lib-leaning yoga peeps would like. My take, “Have sex. Don’t be an idiot or jerk about it.”

  7. amphibi1yogini

    ‘the sexual politics and power differentials of the yoga studio…especially between teachers and students ;-)’
    Yeah, me too—I’D read … especially if you don’t cover old ground like Friend or Kausthub …

  8. What I find to be truly distressing is that some of the most truly experienced yoga teachers in the U.S. find themselves “experienced” right out of a student base (and therefore a living wage), as the yoga boom has produced so many competitors offering classes that simply cater to whatever the market wants – which almost by definition is not going to be serious, challenging practice, as until you’ve experienced it, how could you even know what it is?

    See the comments in this post on IAYB that discuss this issue – well worth reading: http://www.itsallyogababy.com/further-thoughts-on-depression-yoga-and-capitalism/

    • charlottebellyoga

      This is so, so true. I commented on this on the link you’ve listed above. It’s very, very disheartening for those of us who have dedicated decades to practice.

  9. charlottebellyoga

    Thanks so much for this post. I agree that five to seven years might be a good starting point, but I also agree that this is completely arbitrary. Most people don’t access the level of sensitivity and mindfulness you describe early on. We start being aware at far grosser levels and hone in gradually as the years pass.

    More important to me—and you touched on this—is the humbling that goes along with living in the world. My “dark night,” a year of living in the abyss and facing a lot of hard truths about my life, and climbing my way out, made me a far more compassionate teacher (and person) than those thousands of trips to the mat in the 11 years that preceded it.

    I’m not suggesting everyone should have to go through such a difficult time in order to be a teacher. That happened to be my path, and I was fortunate to have a mentor/teacher who knew me very, very well, and who knew just how to help me navigate that time. But one of the issues that continues to make me cringe in 21st-century Western yoga culture is the incredible arrogance, an arrogance I clearly remember demonstrating in the years that preceded my dark night. It is very hard to perceive what your students are telling you—verbally and nonverbally—when you are blinded by your own ego preferences. What I’d like to see as an element of teacher training is something far more substantial than the cursory nod that’s now given to self-reflection in most trainings.

    • amphibi1yogini

      These yoga teachers would have to go through teacher training wearing a “fat suit”, a “traumatized suit”, a “humiliated suit”, an “abused suit”, an “estranged-from-my-family suit”, a “non-athletic” suit, etc., etc. … and it wouldn’t be for the next TV news show, for the after-school special or for a movie production … it would be for actual real-life teaching … and multiple “suits” would have to be juggled for every class … and no TV star degree of remuneration … some tall order that is! Could not be accomplished by even the most empathetic of teachers, not in 2,000 hours, not in 10, 000 hours of training …

    • Yoga Whelp

      CONFUCIUS SAY: Dumb Westerner, don’t quit your day job! Whoever said you were entitled to make a full-time living teaching yoga? A life coach? The parasites at JAMA JAMA HEY? Or maybe was it Divine Revelation?

      No sympathy here I thought Roxanne’s poor-mouthing online was truly embarrassing, but this is the yoga blogosphere. And to top it off, Carol Horton directs us there – to listen to Roxanne extol Carol Horton. This is entirely predictable.

      So many of you have been extolling the virtues of the yoga world, completely uncritically when it comes to teacher training, from the beginning, largely because your friends that own yoga studios couldn’t stay open without the exorbitant fees they charge for YTT.

      So, listen, if we now have thousands of narcissistic young bimbos running around yoga studios, this is the “sisterhoood” you asked for, and cheered on. So please do own it.

      Those of us who have called for regulation of teachers and teacher training FOR YEARS have been shouted down by the likes of you. “Misogynist”! “Anti-Yoga”! Just so you don’t actually have to look at the diseased culture you cooked up like a Witch’s Brew.

      “SPIRITUAL MATERIALISM IS SATANISM.” Rinpoche wasn’t kidding. Trying to have it both ways with commercial greed doesn’t derail the train to Hell. It just adds ribbons and bows. And thongs.

      I had some yoga teachers in the 1990s. All of them women. Somewhere around 2003, they fled for their spiritual lives.

      • amphibi1yogini

        Didn’t they mostly teach from the same thinly-disguised Sivananda playbook?
        What WAS there then?

        I remember being actually ordered to be in child’s pose a lot …

        No Planet Lulu.

        • Yoga Whelp

          At the end of the 1990s, I had INCREDIBLE teachers. My first and favorite was Sita, a rotund 62 year old German woman who had “studied” yoga since she was 9. Go figure. She walked around town in sandals and a smock like Michael Carradine did in Kung Fu. I think she ate grasshoppers. And she taught at the YMCA Her entire class was organized around perfecting a shoulder stand. One inversion. She would get 25 newbies and then made it really hard so that only 5 showed up for the second session. Those were the disciples. They paid her the same, very little, regardless. She had the least looking yoga body of anyone I have seen – and also the most flexible. Despite her girth, she flexed her body like a gumby.

          I believe a number of today’s yoga teachers were pot smoking wastrels and cutters back then? Getting injured in extreme sports and washing out of their dance and ballet institutes. Nice to know that much of “modern” yoga is actually a disguised dumping ground and finishing school?

      • Like attracts like. These teachers will teach other young people who are recovering from being party animals or high school/varsity athletes – yet they claim that their “yoga” is for “everyone”. Three parts greed and one part self-servingness … except a few who actually are at least a little spiritually-driven and go in for the kirtans, the chanting and some of the internal martial arts and meditation …. ironically enough, though, my experience led me to the Jekyll and Hyde of having the finishing school student and spiritual seeker/teacher all-in-one. What a bargain!

        • I’m serious. I love those kirtans. And chanting on the chakras.
          I sometimes even have gotten a contact high (if there is an equivalent thing in a yoga type workshop) from asana practitioners when I’d later joined them for the kirtan part of the workshop [I’d insisted on getting a prorated fee; though of course, they’d slightly given me the short end of the stick–“autonomy” when it comes to my asana practice, is PRICELESS, however (and I’d been in debt to Mastercard at the time). I would not join in on a so-called “All-Levels” class because I’d had – at that time – a semi-serviceable home practice/prehabilitative session, which has gotten better for me since then–many thanks to myyogaonline for the copious reference material–and those dance lessons]

  10. Garuda

    By alacarte I mean to say letting the ‘varsity’ students have a say in the curriculum, then watch as the students below that level of asana-complishment sit idle and get frustrated that the Dig-Me crowd gets the happy meal while they wait. Its not worth my efforts to enlighten their egos

  11. amphibi1yogini

    You either teach an accessible-to-all-levels power flow or a hatha style where child’s pose is encouraged and NOBODY is called-out… What kind of “style” is this that you teach that panders to college atheletes? Something fast-paced with a lot of wild things and handstands that only a Meghan Currie or a Briohny Smyth could do?

    Now ask my why I have not been to any live yoga class in well over a year …

    • Garuda

      As I said, I have stepped back. The reason is that the college athletes go to management, complain ,and of course management feels a need to respond to those complaints. The quiet, receptive students get overshadowed by the Foghorn Leghorn Yoginis. When the colleg girls start popping off about how great a yoga teacher THEY would be, all I say is “Go Ahead, train and execute”.
      Earlier in life,I was a competitive level triathlete for 10 years . Poser professionals were enveloped in there image rather than their training and it showed up on race day. It always does.

  12. Thaddeus

    So many things to agree/disagree with…I’m with ya’ll that seven years seems like a good point in time to consider the prospect of teaching. This correlates nicely with the idea that you are a beginner for the first seven years of practice to begin with.

    However, given the proliferation of teachers who have been teaching for 10-20 years, I am forced to believe that the yoga boom was actually well under way in the early nineties. Needless to say, I’m suspicious of many’s claims regarding their duration of practice. I think Babs’ point of “serious daily dedicated practice” finds interpretation through the lens of ego all too often. I know it’s hard to believe that some yogis may pad their practice resume, but there I said it.

    In the end, all of this discussion about teaching and voice comes down to two points for me. First, teaching boils down to passing along what you know, what you’ve been taught and what you’ve realized. In this vein, I could be someone’s teacher if I can only adequately instruct sun salutations and then I send my nephew onto receive further more qualified instruction from someone else. Not all (our) teachers need to be able to transmit the entire corpus of yogic learning to be good teachers. In fact, many would be better if they actually took the time to learn from someone and then pass along that information. But this line of thought is probably left for a more complete unraveling of teaching and learning in general.

    Finally, all of this seems to boil down that “yoga teacher” is all too often just another identity designation that aspiring yogis attach to themselves in their never-ending quest to unpack the self. Nothing like throwing an extra 40-50 pounds on your back as you are trying to (en)lighten up, huh?

    • Thaddeus, I like this idea of teach what you know. And, were this a longer piece, that would be a significant part of it. Everyone has something to offer another, and not everyone has to offer the same thing. You teach me bhajans. I teach you how to ride a donkey. Life is a skill-share if we let it be.

      As for sending students on their way, I’m a big fan of this, and find that to be almost totally absent in yoga “commodify yr students” culture. Early on I was hipped to a story (legend? myth?) of Chogyam Trungpa who would redirect students of his to Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. And vice versa. I’ve found so much power and pleasure in recommending would-be students or clients or whatever to check out someone else. People will respect you for it, because it’s a respectable thing to do.

      • amphibi1yogini

        “As for sending students on their way, I’m a big fan of this, and find that to be almost totally absent in yoga “commodify yr students” culture. Early on I was hipped to a story (legend? myth?) of Chogyam Trungpa who would redirect students of his to Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. And vice versa. I’ve found so much power and pleasure in recommending would-be students or clients or whatever to check out someone else. ”

        or someTHING else … could even be a Wii Fit or your own sequence written down or a decent podcast …
        [although I a am a late-adopter of higher tech than a CD player for something like this…]

    • Garuda

      I once sat in a room with 15 other yoga teachers as the studio owner was setting up the schedule for the coming year. The studio owner proclaimed that “If I wanted the students to have the best possible yoga instruction, I would have to teach every single class”
      The room chortled at this but quickly silenced the laughter about his pretense when they realized that he was serious. I laughed and got up to leave at that point. Its really funny that the power brokers are given the benefit of the doubt in the Yoga world and presumed more knowledgeable simply because they hold some purse strings.
      Just like the real world, the yoga world is rife with Snake oil peddlers and blanket salesmen who tell the students that their blanket coupled with this special snake oil is the solution to the ‘problem’. If you staff your studio with an Ayurveda charlatan, you double the chances of success. Southern California is a prime location for Fakirs of this sort. Remember John Friend and the promise of “The Center”?
      Inundate the community with propaganda, threaten any surrounding competition, then unleash the beast.
      IMO JFExposed exposed far more than some woman’s labia and a few salacious details about his private and public affairs. It exposed the underlying power game that money provides for, Yoga-Inc or otherwise.

      • amphibi1yogini

        It’s great that the anti commercialized yoga backlash reached its watershed moment with Friend. That is my trickle-UP theory for the day … as in, the truth trickled UP from those who could not afford commercialized yoga (or much of it) in the first place …

  13. wondering

    maybe t.t. could mention Krishna and his flute.

  14. Emily

    Am in agreement with this Babs, for sure. Still a new teacher (2 years and counting), but I make the point of telling my students that and I do give them my teachers names & numbers if I don’t think I can help them. Have been practicing for 9 years, through some pretty rough times, but there is still so so much to learn. Isn’t there always?

    Current regulatory system is flawed, but it is better than nothing. Also, don’t think putting in an arbitrary 5-7 yr rule would work (I know you weren’t suggesting that, I’m just musing about it). I think one of the problems is that there is a little yoga snobbery at work sometimes in these arguments about lack of experience/qualifications. Yep, there are some bad teachers out there, and yep this is often due to their lack of experience. However – who’s to say that someone who studied & practiced intensively for two years hasn’t learnt an awful lot about themselves and yoga? How can we judge this? It’s all well and good to sit back and think that once you hit a decade of teaching you are way more enlightened (said in sarcastic tone) than the others, and too cool for yoga school.

    Bit of a rambled comment but you’re right, and this is a tough subject to unpack.

  15. Garuda

    After two years of asana I had a series of K openings that really upset my being. My teacher was ill equipped to guide me through this but his teacher sent me on to D Mittra who helped to ground the energy and the Siddhis. The biggest gift he gave me was to reassure me that there is no teacher for this except the Self. And that I was not alone. Though it sounds like a gift, it is not a thing I would wish on any of my students who like their life the way it is. Now, after 10 years of teaching, it seems like it is time to hang it up all together. Kind of like the dream state of being “Yoga Teacher” has come and gone and I can just go back to being Garuda.

    • Yoga Whelp

      The journey of yoga is toward a state of rendering yoga completely unnecessary. It’s a journey of planned obsolescence. Just as asanas were originally conceived as a tool for preparing the body to meditate at great length, all of yoga is to there to prepare you to leave everything, including yoga, behind. We don’t attach to detach — and we don’t detach to attach. We let go completely, and become radically empty and self-accepting, but we use yoga until we reach the point of total renunciation. Usually much later in life….

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