Story of being a yoga teacher
- Why I became a Yoga teacher? I had just completed by graduation and was hesitant and largely ill-informed of getting into a “ IT job “, which seems to have convinced a large part of my generation, included myself that a career in Computer coding / Call centre for large Western and emerging Indian Corporations as being the best thing that has happened to us since British Raj’s recruitment drives for Sepoys and Clerks.
Even as I was confused and was seriously contemplating on what my lifetime career would be I had a short stint as a naive yet passionate entrepreneur. Meanwhile I had heard of a Ashram offering a structured degrees in Yoga and instantly felt that this is it. This coupled with an urge to run away from constant judgement and competitiveness of the Corporate jobs, took me to Bihar school of Yoga, Munger for a 2 year Masters program in Applied yogic sciences.
Upon completion, I had garnered the courage and clarity of mind to return to the same battle field which I had fled only recently, all thanks to Yoga training I had at the ashram / university. Realising what Yoga had done to me and how this could be beneficial to many others I decided to teach yoga full time……and I have never looked back.
Yoga teaching is a mainstream profession: Today Yoga is a popular fitness and health choice in most places across the world. Yoga, as a organised group practice, has been around for at-least 50 years now and has grow to be widely accepted in Health clubs, schools, hospitals and therapy / rehab centres.
With huge demands and severe shortage of quality yoga teachers ( some estimates put it at – shortage of about 300,000 yoga teachers in India in 2017) this profession is rocking, in every sense. Many, youngsters middle aged and retired alike, are switching jobs to be yoga teacher, full time, part time and every thing in-between.
With all this growth and competition comes the need for yoga teachers to be thorough professionals. Many organisations and individuals have taken the mandate to educate and certify Yoga teachers while some some see a quick buck to be made. Government and non governmental bodies are being setup to standardise and regulate Yoga teacher’s education.
The AYUSH Ministry, Government of India’s Scheme for Voluntary Certification of Yoga Professionals (http://yogacertification.qci.org.in) is one such big Initiative in the recent times. There are many non-governmental and not-for-profit organisations who have a similar mission, Yoga alliance, USA is one such movement.
How to pursue this dream ?: If you are looking at becoming a Yoga teacher you mostly likely have 2 choices 1. Sign up for one of the many one month Yoga Certification courses offered at beautiful locations across the world, some as short as 2 weeks, and then you are ready to teach Yoga. It’s that simple. Currently there are no Professional Licenses that yoga teachers have to acquire to teach Yoga and this is a common practice across the globe and in Yoga’s birth place, India.
2. Find a true Yogi (the toughest part of all), and then practice and study under his / her watchful eyes for long enough to become stable in your experience and knowledge of Yoga (called Gurukula system). This may take many years, anywhere between 3-5 years, of disciplined practice and persistence. Once the right knowledge has been established, pick up skills to teach yoga (at this point, these skills comes naturally and teaching flows spontaneously ).
I strongly recommend the 2nd approach which is indeed how many generations of yogis of this land have learned yoga all along it’s history. Have no doubts that finding such a person and place is a touch task, consider yourself lucky if you find one. In the modern context its not a bad idea to settle for a good marriage of the above two – a 2 to 4 months course with a reasonably competent, honest Yoga teacher.
Guide to picking your Yoga teacher training course / Mentor
- The school should have a long lineage (5 generations at-least) yet adapts well to the modern day need. Avoid schools that only teach “Modern postural Yoga” .
- The course faculty should have had at-least 10 years of Yoga Practice and at-least 5 years of teaching regular Yoga classes before starting a Teacher training School.
- In most cases, the school being accredited by a State / National body ( like the Ayush Ministry, Govt of India ) adds to the credibility of the school.
- Post course support – without this you are simply left with a piece of paper at the end of the course and no guidance during your early days of teaching.
Life of being a Yoga Teacher: Most urban yoga teachers make a decent earning that can sustain their life. As a yoga teacher you will have to juggle teaching, getting the word out, retaining students, personal health, travel and personal growth to be a successful teacher.
You will have to be very disciplined with your lifestyle and food habits to make sure you walk into every session with abundant energy and high motivation, supporting each of your student’s needs. If you put your heart to being a Yoga teacher, the professional respect and work satisfaction is one of the best you could ask for in your work life.
A sure way to becoming a great Yoga teacher is by being an eternal Yoga student. Accumulating yoga certificates or posting contorted yoga postures on Social media will not get you any where.
The parting mantra for a satisfying teaching career in Yoga is
- To religiously follow your sadhana & the advices of your Teacher / Mentor,
- Look at every teaching session as an opportunity to learn and
- Perform your role as a responsibility in imparting genuine knowledge to eligible seekers.
Final words: being a Yoga teacher is an exciting career but by no means easy. Take this up if you personally have benefited immensely from Yoga practice and are super excited about sharing this with others in need. Yoga teaching is by no means just a life supporting job but is a life affirming journey.
Wishing all you future yoga teachers the very best 🙂
Blogi – Pradeep Sattwamaya
Principle teacher, Yogasattwa, Mysore