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Hatha Yoga Teachers Training Certification

What Is Essential for Teaching Hatha Yoga?

by Marianne Woods Cirone, M.S., R.Y.T., Certified Yoga Teacher

When I first became interested in teaching yoga, I rushed out to get teacher's training. I had been practicing yoga for many years, and felt that in order to go to the next level, I would have to begin teaching yoga. I started taking classes at the Himalayan Institute, which was then running teacher's training in the Chicago area, not too far from where I lived. I was receiving some really good instruction and meeting some fascinating people. However, after I had finished many of the courses, the Himalayan Institute changed its policy to require two weeks of training in Pennsylvania in addition to the other course work. At that time, I had too many obligations at home (the foremost being my two young children) to be able to leave in good conscience for that length of time, so I discontinued my studies.

Meanwhile, I began teaching, and was enjoying successful teaching experiences in many different settings. Every once in a while I would rethink obtaining certification, and at some point, the Himalayan Institute changed its policy to require several weekend training sessions in the Chicago area instead of the two weeks in Honesdale. At this point I questioned whether I should make the effort to obtain the certification because I was teaching several yoga classes and actually had to turn down other offers to teach. The demand for yoga teachers, certified or not, seemed to be on the rise, and so I held off on the certification decision.

However, in the back of my mind, I kept thinking about becoming certified, and kept hearing wonderful things about the program at the Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago. While I had enjoyed the program at the Himalayan Institute, when I heard about the home study program which featured a twelve month self study program and several three to four day retreats in Woodstock, (a suburb of Chicago) I decided to take the plunge. I loved the idea of studying at my own pace, having tapes to review as much as I needed and being able to go on the retreats. The personalized nature of the program appealed to me, and I realized that I wanted to obtain the certification for my own satisfaction more than to get more teaching jobs. I wanted as much knowledge about yoga as I could get, and also wanted to have the official stamp of approval.

At the time I am writing this, I have been in the for nine months and really enjoy it. Nonetheless, there are pro's and con's of taking a home study course, the main challenge being that you have to have the discipline to keep up with the coursework when no one is breathing down your neck. If you are considering whether or not you should go for teacher's certification, here are some areas that you may want to consider. 1. Camraderie - One of the best aspects of a teacher's training program is the camraderie that develops of the extended period of time. Although the students in my program have only been together for one long weekend so far, everyone really connected. Many of the students and teachers are developing relationships that I would predict will last a lifetime.

2. Filling in the Gaps - Anyone who has been practicing and teaching yoga probably has a pretty good general idea about yoga and its philosophy. However, a cohesive and structured program really gives the big picture as well as filling in the details. I have learned so many things that I feel my ability to teach is improving. There are certain concepts that I have really been able to focus upon by having the books and tapes available to me for use at any time, to review and re-review as I learn more and am able to put more pieces together.

3. Being Taught to Teach - There is nothing that can match the effects of being taught by a yoga teacher who not only is an expert in the material being offered, but who has the expertise to teach the teacher how to best express the concepts to his or her own students. Learning yoga and learning to teach yoga are definitely two distinct areas, and there is nothing like having an expert to bounce all your own and your students' questions off of. Being taught to teach the material will give you extra confidence and will truly help you hone your teaching skills.

4. Structure and Your Personal Practice - The structure of a certification course, particularly one such as the Temple of Kriya Yoga's Home Study course that lasts over a year, gives you a lot of time to develop and improve your own yoga practice and behavioral and thought patterns. This course suggests performing your own practice from 30-45 minutes minimum every day. I had been practicing a lot of years, but never with that kind of consistency, and I believe it has helped to bring about various positive changes in my life, aside from the practice itself.

5. Other Considerations: Price and Time - Two obvious considerations when undertaking a teacher's training program are the price or cost of the training and the time it will take from your other commitments to do the course work and attend the retreats. I found it surprising that I was much more discipled as a college and graduate student to do my homework than I am today, and there always seem to be so many other things to do. However, in one year's time, whether you undertake the program or not, a year will pass, and will probably seem busy to you whether or not you do the certification program. I am plugging away little by little, and the course instructors have assured us that we can take a couple extra months time if needed.

Second, the costs associated with a teacher's certification program are not inconsiderable. Many people who I have talked to have expressed concern about the price, especially if they are trying to transition from a full-time (other than yoga) job into teaching yoga full- or part-time. Some possibilities include approach the program about financial arrangements or taking out a loan (possibly a home equity loan for those who own homes). Interest rates are at their lowest in many years, so take advantage. Remember, the cost of your training may be tax-deductible as well, so check with your accountant.

The amount of the money the programs cost (plus travel expenses in most cases) is less daunting if you consider it as an investment in your future. Depending on your age, you may be amortizing the investment over twenty, thirty, forty or even fifty years or more of teaching. To paraphrase a quote, "old yoga teachers never retire, they just keep teaching away." Becky Love, an active teacher in the Chicago area is eighty-five years old! And look at all the swamis and gurus that have been known to teach until they were nearly 100 years of age.. Teaching yoga will keep you young and the extra confidence that you acquire by going through the teacher's certification program will more than pay for itself in a well-deserved increase in salary.

To read more about teacher's training, please click on the article Hatha Yoga Teacher's Training: From Sweden to South America - Fulfilling Our Dreams about the wonderful camraderie which developed during the first retreat of my training program in Januaryy, 2002. After only a long weekend, we were surprised not only at home much we learned, but how close the group of students became despite the vastly differing backgrounds within the group. (A version of this article entitled, "Deepening the Groins, Fulfilling Dreams" was published in the March/April 2002 issue of YogaChicago.)

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