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 initial period of learning leaves a very strong and deep impressions 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 mindfulness of practices and their effects on mind-body complex. Traditional and holistic approach in teaching helps one not only to learn but explore deep inside as well. Mindfulness or awareness in practice is one of the underlying current on traditional and tradition yoga teaching.
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.
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. Even the most physically orientated system of Hatha Yoga has very little emphasis on postures. To have a broad and deeper understanding it is important to understand the major branches of yoga in 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 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 relationships and interconnectedness in all the different fabrics of creation.
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.
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 and self-defeating. What an aspirant should check if yoga teacher training center dedicates fair amount of time in teaching correct methodology of class teaching. This includes –
Paying individual attention on aspirants/students to nurture or groom them to become a complete teacher and many more…
Last and not the 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 teaching in these centers is 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 skilful teacher of Hatha yoga, meditation and relaxation. Know More about Yogi Sushant