Why (Almost) Everything you Learned in Teacher Training is Wrong

First, nothing I’m going to write here is going to put even the slightest damper on the booming teacher training business.  Not enough people read my drivel nor follow my advice to cause any mass exodus of wanna-be teachers – so there.

Except I’m not completely sure all these wanna-be’s wanna be teachers.  Sometimes students just don’t know any other vehicle to further their study beyond practice.  That’s really too bad.  I hope this changes.  I hope more studios offer opportunities for students to deepen their understanding outside the classroom – and certainly I know many are.

Still, I’m going to go batshit crazy if I don’t correct just a few of these 200 misconceptions.  I’ve narrowed them down to my top ten (no easy task) yet reserve the right to at any time, amend and/or add to this list as I feel bothered (and I often am).

Here you go:

1.  You are not certified.  Whether you have 200-hours or 500-hours or 3 billion hours, you’re not certified – at least, not by any governing agency here in the states.  Yoga Alliance allows you to register with them once you’ve completed a program that meets their criterion – but they do not call it a certification.  Sorry.  You really should take that off your bio.

NOTE:  There are certified teachers in Ashtanga – though not many – and Iyengar teachers, but I’m not clear on how to link to them.  Please leave a comment if you do!

2.  200 hours is just the tip of the iceberg.  It’s about the same as graduating high school.  Which is fabulous and I certainly hope my son does – but please, no one lists their high school in their resume, do they?  Gawd, I hope not.

3.  Nothing replaces experience.  In other words, practice.  If you lose your practice because you’re in teacher training – then lose the teacher training.  Oh yea, that goes for time too.  Nothing replaces time, either.

4.  You cannot teach what you have not learned and I mean, really learned.  I’ve gotten in social media trouble before for saying this but I don’t care because it’s true.  Sure you can TRY and convince yourself that you’re qualified and able, but like I said above, nothing can replace the experience you don’t have.  (NOTE:  you will be an especially gifted teacher of what you have struggled with and over come.  That’s a fact.  So don’t give up learning and trying – THIS is the BEST training ground and you don’t have to pay a penny for it. #truth)

5.  Those supposed rules of alignment are not real rules.  In the Mysore room, it is so much easier sometimes to teach brand new students than those  faux-certified teachers.  A new student’s understanding of alignment changes as their body changes.  As teachers, we always keep them guessing.  One day, we offer them a state of the posture and later on in time, change our cue.  Rather than be frustrated, most Mysore students come to accept their teachers are either psychotic or there is no such thing as universal, correct alignment.  Among the ones that “certified” teachers seem to cling onto include:  chaturanga (90 degree angle?), upward dog (don’t drop your head back?) and trikonasana (stacked hips, anyone?).

6.  There is a difference between style of yoga and a lineage.  A style of yoga is just that – it’s the manner in which someone, usually more contemporary, has interpreted the tradition.  A lineage has a history and predecessors who have passed down the tradition.  Ashtanga, Iyengar and Sivananda are great examples of lineages.  Just knowing the postures of primary series does not make you a student of Ashtanga nor equipped to teach it.

7.  The name of your program doesn’t matter – the name of your teacher does.  I get an email a week asking if I offer teacher training (I don’t) and my advice for finding a program.  My answer is always the same:  find a teacher and learn from a teacher.  Be a student first and never give up being a student.

8.  You will not get rich OR famous as a full time yoga teacher.  You actually might not even make enough to pay your rent or put food on the table.  And the more dedicated you are, the less you will earn and the less glamorous it will be.  The most amazing teachers I know are tired and have made enormous sacrifices in their personal lives to pursue a life calling.  They are not on magazine covers and rarely teach to masses.  I’m not an amazing teacher. I like to eat too much.

9.   Advanced yoga has nothing to do with postures – and the only people who care about your fancy tricks are other “certified” teachers like you.  I’m guilty at times, I know.  But lately I can’t open up my FB or IG without seeing bodies contorted into absurd shapes, each trying to out-wow the other.  99 of those images are so grossly out of integrity anyway, it’s embarrassing.  Besides, your fleeting likes on FB and IG do not translate into students and certainly won’t do you any good when you’ve blown out your shoulder or back.  Enough already.

10.  You don’t know enough.  And if you think you do, you REALLY don’t know enough.  I don’t care what script you’ve been given, it’s a script.  I don’t care if you can “rock the assists to a massive crowd” (yes, someone once wrote this to me in an application).  And I certainly don’t give a rat’s ass about your handstand or hollow back or whatever the eff you are doing these days.

And really that’s the worst thing about these teacher trainings is that there is an implication that you are ready to teach at the end.  And that, my friend is just plain ol’ wrong.

Because, there IS no end.

That’s why I have a teacher.  That’s why I continue to practice.  That’s why I study.  Because I don’t know enough and I’m not sure I ever really will.

Did your program ever tell you THAT?

my most popular IG post is not a handstand or a backbend - it's a fundamental posture.  And it's really freaking hard.

my most popular IG post is not a handstand or a backbend – it’s a fundamental posture. And it’s really freaking hard.