by Elissa Jordan
Revised 2021 by editor Veronica King
I’ve had the same conversation a countless number of times since I started training to be a yoga teacher – a conversation about continuity in access to a skilled senior teacher.
Traditionally yoga was taught over many years from a guru to a student. This student would often live in their guru’s home and what was given to them for a practice was never once questioned.
Times have changed and in this busy world people don’t have the luxury of devoting years of their lives to living with a singular teacher who can guide and encourage their learning. So we grab it where and when we can.
What happens more commonly today is that a student will be taught through a combination of online classes, books, studio classes with various instructors and eventually a certified training programme.
In some instances this training can be condensed down into a one-month intensive. And for some, that’s it. Others will continue to seek out opportunities to train and further their knowledge. But it’s an expensive undertaking. And it can be piecemeal trainings with different teachers, different styles.
Likewise, I took part in a training that ran over four consecutive weekends. Between training sessions I was busy with working and teaching, leaving very little time to absorb what was happening. When the training finished I was a bit unsure as to the point of it all.
A month later, once I had thoroughly digested the materials, I was stuck with a whole lot of questions and no-one to take them to.
From talking with other teachers, this is not the exception.
The challenge with books and online classes are that they’re all forms of one-way communication. There’s no dialogue. A teacher who doesn’t have time to answer, or a training where there isn’t time to formulate a question, is much the same. One-way.
So what can be done?
- Find a teacher that you respect and value. Take private lessons with them. Take trainings with them. Talk to them about observing and assisting their classes.
- Create a support group of your peers. And by peers I mean other yoga teachers and advanced students. Meet up, talk about what it is to practice and teach. Be honest about those things that are puzzling you. We all want to know it all, but unfortunately most of us don’t.
- When you’ve taken a whirl-wind training, often the instructor will give you their contact details. ‘Get in touch if you have any questions.’ Most people don’t take them up on it. But why not? You’ve paid them good money and if something they’ve told you is unclear or is bringing up doubts, get in touch with them.
- Or get in touch with others who took the same training and ask them what they think.
I think you get the idea. Don’t be shy about your questions or concerns. Heck, you can even post a comment on a yoga blog and get a dialogue happening that way. A yoga blog like this one even.
When you’re choosing a workshop, enquire as to the level of support you’ll be given afterwards when it’s all started to gel.
Some trainings are set up so they happen every four months or so, with one level building on the last. The chance to ponder the information and ask questions is built into the structure of the training.
Becoming a yoga teacher is not an inexpensive undertaking. I’m not going to suggest trainings should be cheaper as this simply devalues the experience and expertise of the individual leading the training. However, I would suggest that before you shell out the cash, why not find out exactly what you can expect in return.
– – –
Check out the Yoga Lunchbox 2022 teacher training guide to see the different format and approaches available here for your yoga teaching journey.