By Tracey Dease, RYT-200
I remember when I first entertained the idea of taking a 300-hour teacher training course, years ago, I mentioned it to one of my clients. His response was less than positive. “Why?” he asked. “What purpose will it serve?” He pointed out that I already had a good job at a prestigious resort with a good following. Would more training really make enough of a difference to justify the expense and time commitment? I admit, at that time in my life, I didn’t have a good answer for him. More importantly, I didn’t have a good answer for myself.
Today, I’ve been teaching yoga as a full-time occupation for 10 years. In that time, you know the best lesson I’ve learned? I know enough now to know that I don’t know nearly as much as I could. I recognize that I’m a good teacher, but realize that I could be a better teacher. I know that I have a strong practice, but accept that I could have a stronger practice, one with more ease. Most importantly, I know that the best teachers are the best students.
If my former client asked me, today, the purpose that advanced training serves, I’d tell him to pull up a chair. With the popularity of yoga at an all-time high, a quick and easy answer is this: validation. As consumers, we believe in numbers; a higher number equals better quality. Therefore, I believe if a perspective student sees one instructor at RYT200 and someone else at RYT500, most won’t even ask about trainings or qualifications. They’ll simply assume the RYT500 is better qualified.
In addition, I want to undertake and complete an advanced training program because I am, first and foremost, a student of yoga. I learned early on, during a 200-hour teacher training program, that price should not be the defining factor in choosing a program. Too many yoga studios have discovered that training programs can generate a lot of income. Rather than focusing on quality of teaching, they focus on quantity of students, and it shows in the teachers they graduate.
Because of that, it’s important to know where your teacher came from. Find out how long he or she has taught, whom he or she has studied with in the past, and with whom he or she continues to study. If I’m choosing an advanced study course, it’s important to me that my teacher is also a dedicated student.
I hold myself to a high level of standards, and I expect my students to hold me accountable for the high level of standards I have set in my classroom. The fundamentals of yoga don’t change, but I know through my practice and my teaching experience, the way I present those fundamentals does change. I’ve learned that the longer I practice, the more I ask why. I feel that it’s my innate curiosity and commitment to quality teaching, above all else, that has led me seek out an advanced yoga studies course.
If you’re considering furthering your yoga studies (and if you’re reading this, I assume you are), ask yourself this question: Do you feel that the quality of yoga teaching today is as high as it should be?
If the answer to that question is no, I invite you to join me in furthering your own studies, so that together we can help change the instant gratification mindset, and offer the yoga community solid, authentic, inspired and well-balanced yoga teachings. That’s what we all deserve.