By Rodney Yee, May, 2016
Colleen and I both look back at the first teacher trainings that we took (she at Jivamukti and myself at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco), and remember that we each went in wanting to learn more about yoga with no intentions to teach. A common trajectory of yoga learning in this country goes from taking public classes or doing video programs, to attending yoga retreats, and then right into a 200-hour teacher training program. Often the teacher training is the spark that ignites a genuine home practice or a launching pad for taking more classes per week. This is a fine evolution of a yogi, but it doesn’t really qualify one to hang up a shingle and start a teaching career. Two hundred hours in any subject is a drop in the bucket – an introduction, a pillar to a foundation.
The long time yogis in this country are recognizing this and are setting up continued education and looking toward creating more stringent certification processes. We all love teacher training programs and love how practitioners get turned on and set on fire. We love when students begin to see the rich history and the infinite body of knowledge and the unlimited realms of exploration that are possible in this beautiful art of yoga. The only difficulty is when the 200-hour teacher training is seen as a completion or a sign of mastery.
So then, what is being taught in these 200 hours and what is possible in such a curriculum? A good introduction and some essential foundational aspects can be covered. Some essential questions that can last a lifetime can be served up. But let us not demean a 2500-year old art form that includes some of the most brilliant human thought and experimentation by thinking you can become a yoga teacher after 200 hours. Instead come and have your mind blown open, your heart cranked wide, and your liver cleansed, and get introduced to your new life as a curious and beautiful sentient being.