I’ve gotten my fair share of emails and messages from both my own students and practitioners who don’t study with me asking for advice regarding training to be a teacher. I used to dread getting them, writing back with my honest feedback and feeling the slight awkwardness that ultimately I did not give a satisfactory answer. No, I don’t know so and so doing so and so TTC in fill-in-the-blank-idyllic-location. And, yes, I do think that if one wants to teach the traditional method of ashtanga yoga, that one should go to Mysore and study from the source.
Over the years, I have also had to reconcile my own unsettled feelings. I too, like many new teachers, took a TTC way before I was ready to teach. I’m glad I did it because it put me in the field of a great teacher and a great group of practitioners, which helped me get on track to developing a self-practice. Later, I assisted at another TTC for few years, which I don’t regret because it helped finance my early trips to Mysore and I also learned a lot from them. I have also been through my vigilantly–ironically so–anti teacher training phase citing my teacher’s ire for the commodification of yoga teaching. But I’ve also wondered, though, if it is enough to simply practice before your teacher, the way we qualify for the blessing to teach in Mysore.
Nowadays, I think there is a time and place for everything. And there are just so many roads leading towards yoga that it’s simply easier to celebrate them rather than being overly critical–emphasis on the “overly” because it is also ok to be critical. But, honestly, since I feel less dis-ease about it, I get approached a lot less on the topic and when I do I generally don’t feel bothered.
I am all for repopulating the planet with yoga teachers, however, I question the western mindset that often lead many down this path initially (myself, included). When we advance in our yoga practice, we look to the next level, and the next level for some appears to be teaching. And thus, we look for ways to become a teacher–and now there is a whole industry catering to this one desire.
What if we were simply more focused on being better students? What if we committed time, energy and attention to the daily study of yoga? What if we dove into it without expectation or desire for gain–which is kind of one of the defining factors of yoga in the first place? What if we trusted the teaching enough to lead us? Could we simply love the work without any end goal or certificate of completion? The study of yoga is endless. That’s what makes learning it so juicy, the nectar of the teaching just keeps on flowing. So long as you surrender to being a student! And, believe me, studying yoga will lead you somewhere and if you are meant to teach, if that is truly your karma, it will catch up with you.
Yoga In-Depth is my attempt to answer these questions. When I look back at the various yoga learning experiences that have enriched my life, whether it was working at a TTC or assisting in a mysore program or studying with my teacher in India, mentorship was present through all of these experiences and was a key to my yoga studies. I believe in this way of learning. I am so excited to start this new phase for our program. And it’s a real honor to go in this journey with a group of really dedicated practitioners.
If you are a dedicated ashtanga student with an established practice who is ready for more, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and they can send you more information on the Yoga In-Depth Mentorship. We also have a ZOOOM Q&A on August 15, 12n. Message Nūn and they’ll send you the Zoom Invite. See you then!