Yoga nowadays has become a fad. Being a resident of Rishikesh and yoga teacher for 18 years, I know that a lot of aspirants visit this city to enroll in Yoga Teacher Training courses. Often I get a very valid and basic question from aspirants; “which one is the right yoga teacher training course to attend?” For someone who has started learning yoga recently, this is a very valid and important query. Because teaching during an initial period of learning leaves a very strong and deep impression in practitioners’ psyche. So here I will shed light on some of those ingredients which make a yoga teacher’s training course very fulfilling, stimulating and exploring.

Yoga Teacher Training rooted in Tradition

One should look for a center which offers yoga teachings based on traditional wisdom and philosophies. As a teacher as well as a practitioner of yoga I believe that initial driving force in the practitioner helps a lot in shaping his/her quest for yoga. I have been trained throughout my professional career in a very traditional teaching environment of yoga. The approach of teaching was very integrative and holistic with a lot of focus on mindful practices and their effects on mind-body complex. Traditional and holistic approaches in teaching help one not only to learn but explore deep inside as well. Mindfulness or awareness in practice is one of the underlying currents on traditional and traditional yoga teachings.
Always remember yoga teaching is not just about learning a set of techniques; it’s also about self-exploration as a practitioner and student of yoga.

Get the concept of ‘Yoga’ right

Exploring the course contents of  yoga teacher’s training program, one should see whether the school is presenting the holistic understanding of yogic philosophies or not. Currently practicing yoga is reduced to merely performing postures and stretches in class. In fact, yoga is a generic term which stands for Union, Connection or harmony. Literally, it means ‘Union’. In traditional sense Yoga also stands for a path, a methodology or a system to actualize one’s spiritual self.  To have a broad and deeper understanding it is important to understand the major branches of yoga in the light of their philosophical roots. For example, techniques of meditation emphasizing on developing meditative awareness in one’s day-to-day life have roots in Raja Yoga. The metaphysical background of Raja Yoga is Samkhya Philosophy which is one of the oldest existing philosophies in India. One can never fully understand the concepts of Raja Yoga until Samkhya metaphysics is understood or taught well in the class. Similarly, Hatha yoga loosely termed as physical yoga, on the other hand uses the body as an instrument to expand and liberate the mind. Philosophy of Tantras is the metaphysical background of Hatha Yoga. People, who see Hatha yoga merely as a system of physical discipline, should know this is one of those philosophies in India which established a direct link between Body, Mind, and Energies. And secondly, the founding principles of Tantras upon which Hatha Yoga tradition is based, is purely monistic, which sees a direct relationship and interconnectedness in all the different fabrics of creation.

Classes igniting Self reflecting analysis or Swadhyaya

Teaching in an ideal yoga class is incisive, stimulating and self-transforming. Any contents taught in the class can enhance or deepen self-awareness or self-reflection only when it is relevant. If teaching cannot help one to relate with one’s own life experiences and circumstances then it loses its purpose and relevance. An ideal class creates an environment which helps aspirants to connect with one’s experiences through insightful teachings and philosophy. A good yoga teacher will always motivate and guide you to develop self-reflecting awareness not just inside the class but also in the day to day life situations. A detached self-reflecting awareness brings poise, balance, and clarity in adverse situations in life. Through the yogic practices whether it is a technique or philosophical discussion, a yoga class should create a facilitating environment to develop an ability of immersive and mindful self-analysis in students. The entire purpose of yogic teaching is to help an individual to evolve at physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels.

Teaching correct methodology

A lot of practitioners get attracted to nice advanced and ego boosting posters of yoga poses of teachers and yoga teacher’s training centers. Sometimes these can be deceptive. What an aspirant should check if yoga teacher training center dedicates a fair amount of time in teaching the correct methodology of class teaching. This includes –

  • In-depth understanding of body anatomy and physiology in light of yoga practices
  • Ideal class presentation
  • Deepening understanding to respect the body
  • Helping to understand the vulnerability of an individual or a specific group
  • How to use the words, expressions, voice modulations, demonstrations, various props, visual or audio aides
  • Teaching ethics, use of hands of body adjustments, respecting personal space of practitioners
  • Teaching adjustments (not necessarily physical) for specific individuals and groups
  • Ways to teach meditations and philosophical principles in most relevant ways

Paying individual attention to aspirants/students to nurture or groom them to become a complete teacher and many more…

In-House experienced team of teachers

Last and not least, to accomplish all the above areas of teaching a center needs a team of highly experienced and dedicated teachers. Teachers having experience of working with diverse groups or organizations can give you teachings based on their own personal experiences. A lot of schools in Rishikesh hire rookie teachers, who have secured their certification of 200 hours yoga teacher training program. As result teachings in these centers are very superficial and bookish. So next time when you look for a yoga teacher training course make sure to do a proper investigation and then chose a center to avoid any disappointments.

Author : Yogi Sushant, Yoga Philosophy, Meditation
Yoga has always been a part of Sushant’s family. He has a profound understanding of both practical and theoretical aspects of the yogic traditions and is a very spontaneous and skillful teacher of Hatha yoga, meditation, and relaxation. Know More about Yogi Sushant

About author
Sushant Pandey

Sushant is Meditation & Philosophy Teacher and Academic Director at Rishikesh Yogis. Sushant carries long years of experience teaching practical as well as philosophical aspects of Kundalini yoga, Kriya yoga, Hatha Yoga and Tantra philosophy.