“If you want confusion and heartache, ask vague questions. If you want uncommon clarity and results, ask uncommonly clear questions.” ~ Tim Ferriss
You’ll always feel like you don’t have enough information to answer it – because you don’t. Your entire life is way too long a trajectory, and hopefully you want to do A LOT of things. When you ask yourself this question, your brain tends to give you that screen we used to see when the programming ended on tv (that’s right, kids, there was a time when the program would just *stop*).
Or for the younger crowd, it prompts your brain to give you the spinning beachball of death a l’Apple.
“What excites me?” (thanks: Tim Ferriss) Break it down into doable steps. What excites you right now? What excites you to think about doing over the next year? How about five years from now? Don’t try to connect the dots, just imagine, let your brain expand and explore.
“What kind of person do I want to be?” (thanks: Marie Forleo) This gives you more of a moment-by-moment manual for living and de-emphasizes trying to control so much of what’s outside of your circle of influence; namely, the events of the future that all have to play nice with your plans for them to work out. Instead, get an idea of how you would BE in a number of different situations and see which ones seem to bring out/support your Best Self.
“How do I want to feel?” (thanks: Danielle LaPorte) This question is brilliant because it gets to the “why” behind the “what”. If you think you want to be a Yoga Teacher, this allows you to tap into *why* you want that. If you follow that rabbit down the hole you’ll likely find that you end with a feeling. You want to do what you want to do because you WANT. You have desires to fulfill. It’s not selfish; it’s your ‘destiny’ and the source of what drives you. Own your feelings and desires and let them work *with* your head.
“What’s the very next thing I could do to move in the right direction?” (this one’s mine) I’ve often found that a “start anywhere” approach works for me because being stuck is pretty much the worst. Just get started, get moving, and course-correct as you go. I find that sitting down and free-writing at the beginning of my work day is exactly what I need to overcome the inertia of stuckness and get me moving toward my goals. That ALWAYS feels better than procrastinating, avoiding, or panicking.
Almost every time I feel confused, I’m asking questions that aren’t useful. Clarity comes from better questions. And don’t be discouraged if it takes a bit of practice before you know how to answer. Be patient and practice Santosa: Be content to start where you are, as who you are, and do what you’re able right now (thanks: Rolf Gates).
Try these on and let us know in the comments what kinds of insights you get!!
Are you ready to create the change you’ve been craving in your life? Check out Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training.
I’ve had a lot of opportunities with Pranalife Yoga that could’ve satisfied me: globe-trotting retreats, dedicated private clients, bigger and better classes and workshops … But I poured my blood, sweat, and creative energy into Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training. It takes a lot of work to build a credible, successful, quality yoga teacher training program, and you’ve got to really want to do it. Here’s why I really wanted to (and did) do it:
YTT was a pivotal experience in my life. I knew it was going to be massive, but it affected me in more ways than I anticipated.
That style of deep exploration into our physical practices continued through the training into all aspects of our lives. The process was insightful, practical, revealing, sometimes hilarious, and there were so many ah-ha moments. I had to be willing to lean into discomfort, doubt, attachment – I had to have the courage to look directly into who I am. It wasn’t always easy, but it felt safe because Asia’s calm, confident support was there throughout. Thanks to that work, I came out with a deep knowledge of myself, a completely renewed approach to life, to yoga, to how I am with others. I came out transformed.
What makes Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training different? Asia. She’s a strong, fierce, fearless, wise leader who sees people and masterfully connects with their higher selves. Asia knows how to uncover potential in people, even when it’s been denied, overlooked, and/or undervalued.
Through this monumental journey of YTT that Asia leads people through year after year, she embodies freedom, strength and resilience, and gives people the sense that they, too, can step into their truth. She’s a true guide, a strong mentor who challenges others with love and determination to become not just “good enough” but better, stronger, to wade through the bullshit to rediscover and reclaim their power, their right to speak up, stand up and be powerful.
Meet Sarah DePoray:
You can get a lot of the nuts and bolts details about Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) from the website, or use these quick links:
Chinese artist and renegade Ai Weiwei has created something I for one can’t wait to witness:
I’ve been fortunate enough in the randomness of my advantages that I can dedicate time to a practice of contemplation and calm. I can step onto the secure space of my yoga mat, move with relative ease and strength, enjoy the peace of my environment, and rest. Many years ago my father, working in Yemen at the time, would say upon his return to Canada that “we live in Disneyland over here”. Still so true. Ease and freedom and peace are fantasies to much of the world’s people.
When I meet life outside of this Disneyland, I inevitably ask myself, What am I practicing? What does what I do actually do? Well, my yoga practice is a way of me living the kind of life all of us should be able to enjoy. It’s my personal practice of stepping up, moving through, staying focused, and training a state of balance in myself which helps me function well. Humans need to move.
Beyond this personal practice, though, is this other kind of human flow, one that’s forced, violent, destructive, destabilizing, alienating, one that Ai Weiwei has brought into focus. We’re still so incapable of taking care of ourselves and each other. We’re still so driven by aggression and self-protection and fear. We can’t be separate from it because we ARE it, we are all in this bonded human flow. We are all so lost until we can all rest in some degree of safe, free movement – from within our own primitive bodies to the vastness of our cut-up continents, until we can each have a secure space to move with ease and strength, and enjoy the peace of our spaces, until we can all rest.
Are there too many of us? Are we too chemically driven by underdeveloped brains to survive ourselves? Are we incapable of freedom? Do we only know how to learn through suffering? How do we make positive change in the face of such a vast diaspora?
I don’t know.
Can it start on my mat, in my movement practice? Can I feel empathy while focusing on my breath? Or do I want to hide there in my safe space? Do I resent the idea of having to think of others in that hour or so of time I’ve set aside to take care of myself? How can I connect my yoga flow with this human flow without being pulled apart by the riptide?
I start here, with this simple practice:
Sitting, imagining one person in the middle of such destruction across from me, I look them in the eye and say:
May you be at ease in the world (and I consider what that might mean)
May you feel safe and strong (and I consider what that might mean)
May you forgive and be forgiven (and I consider what that might mean)
May you love and be loved (and I consider what that might mean)
It’s toothless, but it’s a start. It changes my mind and heart. It moves me. Unless I take it off the mat, it does exactly nothing for anyone else. How do I take it off the mat … this is my next movement, my next flow …
Is being a yoga instructor a good fit for you? That depends on your answer to this one question:
What do you value?[Post summary: What’s to love/know about being a yoga instructor; a snapshot of the life of an instructor; how you can make money & how much money yoga instructors make; designing the yoga instructor lifestyle]
I can’t tell you what being a yoga instructor would be for you. But as a full-time yoga instructor for over a decade now, I can tell you my experience: I love my abundant independence. I love getting to travel pretty much whenever I want, for as long as I want. I love that I’m constantly learning. I love being able to design and steer my career, the creativity of being an entrepreneur, having two-hour long lunches with friends almost anytime, getting to build new courses, classes, workshops and whatever other creative venture I dream up. I love being a part of a community of teachers who want to be better people, and help others do the same. I love that what I do involves laughter, growth, fitness, stress-relief, and making people healthier and freer.
I couldn’t really care less about having a huge house or $800 shoes (though I have been known to indulge in the occasional killer coat). The Joneses’ Chasers and I don’t have much to talk about at any bizarre cocktail party where we might find ourselves thrown together. I haven’t invested in a lot of the things that tend to require a steep financial commitment and long-term consistency (marriages + mortgages + kids + brick-and-mortal businesses + etc.) so I’m able to stay light and mobile, prepare for the rough times and enjoy the good times as they come.
I also have a high tolerance for taking on the risks of running my own business: not having a paycheque show up every two weeks or a Project Manager to set out what I’m working on now and next. I don’t crave or need a regular routine (though I can design my life to have that if I wanted it) and I work well without a boss to make sure I’m on track (when I need an ass-kicking, I hire it or create something that forces me to deliver). I also have a partner who supports and enjoys the benefits of my choices without needing anything different from me.
What about you?
My description of my life might delight or deter you, and that’s based on what you value. Mine is also only one example of how you can design your lifestyle as a yoga instructor. Whatever your goals, you’ve got to get clear on what you value before choosing this – or any – career because it’s going to be how you spend a lot of your time and make your money. Better to go into it with eyes wide open. So let’s get real.
As a Certified Yoga Instructor, you’ll be paid in (at least) three key ways:
It’s not exactly you rolling up to the curb in your new Ferrari but it ain’t too shabby, and in terms of money earned per time unit ($/hr), you can do pretty well. You can also earn back your teacher training investment within your first year (many of us can’t say the same of our university or college training!). Beyond weekly classes, you can earn income through myriad means like selling products, being an expert in fitness sectors, or creating courses/workshops/retreats/events. If you approach this career as a full-time gig, you can break into six figures. It’s not common, but it’s doable if you’ve got the gusto and discipline.
2. In time. Here’s where this career can really pay off. Time is a non-renewable resource. Being a yoga teacher gives you the ability to control so much more of how you spend the hours of your days. Even if you’re teaching 12 classes a week, you’re likely working less than 30 hours/week total between marketing, admin, prepping, teaching, biz growth and client management. It’s fairly easy to integrate teaching yoga with other part-time work, take time off when you need/want it, and enjoy a leisurely weekly schedule that affords you more hours to spend doing things you enjoy with people you love.
3. In experiences. Getting to enjoy your time and money is the difference between imagining the life you want and actually living it. As a yoga instructor, you may not be making the six figures of Bay Street (though you could), but you also won’t be working their hours or harbouring their stress. YOU determine where you work, and with whom. In my decade+ of teaching, I’ve rarely worked with people I didn’t enjoy knowing – and when I did, I simply ended the contract. I’m in a small market and I’ve thrived; you can, too. Imagine being able to spend your working time with people who inspire you, value you, and give you opportunities to share your gifts. You’ll also have a flexible schedule to write that book, take that trip, hang out with your kids, or hell, just get couch-shaped and watch a boatload of Netflix if you like. It’s up to you – and that’s the point.
Being a yoga instructor is a lifestyle choice that offers you simplicity, time and freedom. If you like the idea of having a lot of flexibility and the ability to control your work schedule, to hustle and chill when you want/need it, to travel/study/get the time you want with people you love, and to turn yoga surfing retreats into your new “conventions”, then you’re gonna love this gig.
You’re also gonna need to be self-driven, be able to handle the ups and downs of solo-/entrepreneurship, and know how to get what you want. With Pranalife Yoga, you have a support structure built in and our community of graduated, certified teachers is second to none; still, that push to get’r done has got to come from you. If the mantra, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me” resonates with you, you’re very likely exactly where you should be right now. Keep reading.
With Pranalife Yoga training in particular, you’re able to design your lifestyle to include creativity, evolution, and independence. You won’t be confined to a static set of postures, or to teaching only one style of yoga in one kind of studio. With Pranalife Yoga training, you’ll get the tools for lifelong growth – on your mat, in your classes, tailored to your style, and supporting your career.
Now that you’ve got an idea what being a yoga instructor looks like, you can decide whether it’s for you (because not everyone wants this kind of life – seems whack, I know, but it’s true). Whether it’s a part-time supplement or a full-time passion fulfillment, Pranalife Yoga will help you turn your vision into reality.
I was recently inspired by a quote from a recent interview with Pavel Tsatsouline of StrongFirst notoriety (a Special Forces trainer known for bringing kettlebell training technique out of the former USSR):
“Use strength, find space, spread the load … and breathe through the tight spot.” ~ Pavel Tsatsouline
Pavel’s techniques are globally known to be powerful ways to progress with attaining physical strength. He goes into some detail about each piece:
Rather than just dropping into a movement, actively move yourself, constantly. If you’re squatting, don’t just drop into the squat but actively lower yourself there. Don’t just slide into the splits, actively press your feet apart. In other (yogic) words, move consciously and deliberately.
Addressing fascia specifically, Pavel uses the metaphor of pulling a post out of the ground. If you just grab hold and pull, you won’t have much luck. But, if you “wiggle” it loose, work it from all angles, ease the grip the ground has on it, it’ll slide right out. In movement, don’t just jam into a joint and push; rather, ease in and out, come at it from different angles, and most importantly, RELAX as much tension from your body as possible.
Make the movement/shape holistic. Don’t just focus on one joint, but explore how you can make the movement happen throughout your body.
Holding your breath tight or restricted will tense your entire body. Be patient, be persistent, be good at practicing.
Taking these principles to the yoga mat, here’s how this might change how you move:
All of yoga is a practice of balancing strength and ease. Strength and ease in balance feels comfortable. Too much strength = pushing/effort, strain, loss of energy. Too much ease = loss of focus, lack of change, resting into (and putting a lot of un-countered force through) your joints. When you’re first learning a yoga posture, use your inhale to focus on strength, your exhale to focus on ease. The more you practice, the easier it becomes to find this balance consistently, with strength and ease infusing every inhale and exhale.
Finding space in a pose can be done in a few ways. I love to teach this principle in terms of imagery: As you practice, imagine the wave of your breath creates a subtle wave throughout your entire body. Feel the expansion and increasing energy of your inhales and the relaxing let-go of your exhales as though this happens through and between every cell. This wave can become quite kinetic, turning your posture into a dynamic movement. In cobra, for example, this could become lifting and lowering through the spine, or emphasizing the front and back ribs expanding and sinking into your body along with your breath.
You can also just start “wiggling” around the joint/s. In Frog Pose (straddle), go between squeezing your knees towards each other and pressing them apart. Rock your pelvis like you’re drawing a line up and down the back wall with your tailbone. Shift your weight forward into your forearms and back into your hips. Dance in, out, around, and through the posture.
Another way to find space is what Pavel touches on in the final point: Breathing through the tight spot. Keep your body fairly still, but get energetically focused. Each inhale, try to expand your entire body – or a specific area you’re looking to loosen. Each exhale, fully relax while still holding the shape.
Spread the load by practicing yoga as though your entire being is doing it. Be fully engaged. This doesn’t mean applying extreme effort until failure. It means be present, extend your attention from one point in the pose (say, your hips in Triangle) to all joints in that pose. Play with shifting your weight over different points (getting more support out of your back foot in Triangle, or using your hand on your shin – and your shin pressing up into your hand – to bear more of the weight that’s taxing your low back/side waist) or changing your pose to take weight differently (bend and straighten your lead knee, reach your arms in different directions).
What I love about this approach is not only that it’s smart, but it’s so PLAYFUL. We’re always taking shapes in yoga. It’s a movement practice. But what we’re really doing is practicing a quality of approach. Not just what are you doing, but HOW are you doing it? Relax, enjoy, breathe, and do the thing like you love it!
Creative mover Diane Bruni recently posted an article called “Tolerating Uncertainty — The Next Medical Revolution?” from the New England Journal of Medicine about the stress and costs of demanding clear-cut knowledge from doctors where learning curves would be more helpful. It suggests that, when helping people, the helper needs to be able to be vulnerable, to not know all the answers, and still hold a safe space for patients.
Medical and fitness worlds have heavily influenced how modern yoga defines itself, especially where yoga has become almost exclusively a physical practice. Yoga teachers have become unlicensed points of reference for people looking to understand “what’s happening” with their bodies, from injuries to stress to how bodies “should” and “shouldn’t” move.
It’s an important step in yoga’s evolution to have teachers who want to learn more about the details of bodies in motion. Teachers of modern physical yoga need a solid understanding of the human body, and to move beyond calcified reverence for Original Teachers whose teachings were based in mystic, intuitive, regimented, unquestioned and often poorly-informed perspectives. That doesn’t mean there isn’t valuable insight in these historical teachings, but they fail us often in our physical practices. Good teachers are acknowledging this and extending their learning beyond Iyengar, the Primary Series for All, or the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. We’re brushing up on anatomy, kinesiology, biomechanics. We’re getting interested in the science as well as the art of yoga.
The challenge I see now, especially as a yoga teacher trainer, is that yogis and yoga teachers are seeking – and trusting – this new knowledge haphazardly. For many, this is part of the delight of the yoga journey: personal exploration, insight, and freedom to discover organically. In one’s personal practice, this can be a healing, joyful process. As teachers, what I often see is a problem between process and delivery. Teachers randomly explore an article here, a video there, a workshop or two, and then present their learning as evidence-based advice to their students. How many times have you been in a yoga class where the teacher offers an instruction or information as fact: “You should” or “It’s wrong to” or “Actually …”
I’ve done it. It was kind of a first step toward translating my learning into my teaching. I was so excited to share new information that was changing my own practice that I didn’t recognize how often I was talking about ‘some stuff I read / tried’ as though it were time-tested, evidence-based truth. I’ve been unlearning that habit, and getting curious about how to “teach” yoga without it.
But then how do we share the new knowledge we’re acquiring? How do we teach others without misrepresenting our expertise (or lack thereof)?
As rebel yoga scholar and think-geek Matthew Remski has pointed out, there is no defined scope of practice in yoga. There is no panel or board, no peer reviews, no central knowledge base, no objective perspective to create a check-and-balance to our exploration with yoga. When it comes to the joy of expanding creativity, personal learning, or just enjoying stretching in a yoga class, that freedom is fabulous. But increasingly, people are coming to yoga on the recommendation of their doctor, and are getting medical-sounding advice from teachers that hasn’t been vetted in any reliable way (and if you think the Yoga Alliance does this, THINK AGAIN). In other words, there are no clear boundaries or guidelines on how to share knowledge. We don’t clearly define what we know/believe and don’t know/believe, and what we do and don’t do as yoga teachers, so we’re always in the “grey-scale space” of uncertainty mentioned in that medical journal article.
So what’s a yoga teacher to do? What happens when teaching the same postures gets old, when people have new questions, when you seem to be evolving out of the practice you love, when the pains emerging from dedication to a practice begin to overgrow the original passion for it? Remski said something in an article in Yoga International recently; I think I can safely extend its application here:
I think you broaden your definition of yoga. Language is like movement. It opens pathways, but soon it loses its shine: It becomes rote, liturgical, staged, performative. The greatest poetry in the world ends up getting rattled off by bored priests paid to be bureaucrats instead of artists. Repetitive movement is the same: What begins as joy becomes bound into ritual and then boiled down into social control. You get a lot of bloody feet in pointe shoes, and busted shoulders from endless sun salutes. All because people think the form is more important than your life.
I think we break free of rote repetition, including the desire to repeat our own new learning to reinforce our own expertise. I think we stop trying to enforce anything. I think we go (back) to uncertainty. We get comfortable with saying, “I don’t know.” We get better at asking questions instead of firing off ill- or uninformed opinions as answers. We stop trying to pretend to be the kind of professional we’re not. If medical doctors with all of their training need to exercise this new muscle, how much more so do we as yoga teachers?
The moment we free ourselves to say, “I don’t know” we release ourselves from requirements that are beyond our skill set. We can re-frame what we learn as story rather than fact: We can, as Remski suggests, change our language. We “broaden our definition of yoga” TOGETHER, through exploration and curiosity.
We can replace truthiness, medicalese, and anxiety about having to have answers with sharing information about our own learning journey: “I’ve started getting curious about this latest research which says …”
We can soften our hard-line perspectives by realizing that experience is not the same as objective fact: “I can’t say what this will be for you. When I went through it, here’s what I found …” or “I have no proof of what god is. Here’s what I believe …”
We can place our learning in context: “It used to be that yoga teachers would say, ‘Soften your glutes’. We’re not sure where that cue came from but we all taught it. Well, now we’re learning from other movement practices that this isn’t a great cue.”
We can embrace the vulnerability of uncertainty: “I didn’t know this until recently, and it’s been a really helpful change in my own practice. Let’s try this new approach and see if it feels better in your body.”
We can re-discover the freedom of questions and suggestions instead of having to be right:
“What movements create your pain?”
“I’m not a medical professional so I’d defer to what they tell you, but I can suggest trying this: Take Pigeon Pose and deep lunging out of your practice for a few weeks and see if your pain goes away.”
“What do YOU think god is?”
When I train yoga teachers, I don’t teach what postures to do; instead, we explore WHAT POSTURES DO. It’s often frustrating for these eager learners at first because they feel like they’ve paid me to give them answers. But I’m not a Buzzfeed teacher, with a refreshed page of the Top 22 Ways to Teach Yoga Better Than Anyone. I’m a guide. I don’t tell them where to go; we walk and I help them avoid pitfalls or cliffs, or getting hopelessly lost while they explore. We review what yoga has been – the postures, the Sutras, the history of teachers and students. We pare their practices down to the bare minimum and I introduce them to experts like back biomechanics pro Dr. Stuart McGill, so these fresh teachers have new and old tools for (re)building their *personal* practices.
And we get really good at asking better questions: Why are you taking this shape? What’s the purpose of this pose? How can you change this posture to be safer, and still get what you wanted from it? What does it mean to “be more free” and how can you find more freedom in each asana? How do you actually balance strength and ease? How do you empower people to move themselves? What does it mean to “open” your hips, and do you actually want to do that?
And there’s a delightful paradox in the outcome: Teachers emerge from this training full of more questions and more CONFIDENCE. They’re relaxed. They enjoy their practices. There’s no pressure to know it all, to measure up to some external standard of How Yoga Is Done and Taught. They’ve developed a comfort in the grey area of not knowing – where they explore, change direction, learn, stay curious, and create safe spaces for others to do the same.
I hope this is the future of yoga.
Want to know more about Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training? GO HERE.
Yoga is amazing to me because it gives people the opportunity to listen to both the body and heart.
Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training scholarships help winners on their journey to becoming yoga teachers. This year two bright lights will be $500 closer to their big dream! Meet one of our 2017 scholarship winners, Siobhan B:
I am overjoyed that I won the Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training scholarship!
About 4 years ago, after I lost someone close to me, I decided that deepening my yoga practice and taking this yoga teacher training course was important for my own self-growth. As a student and mom to a little person, it took 4 years to finally decide that I needed to just make this time for me (take a plunge!), and following my instinct led me to Asia and Pranalife Yoga.
The student-mom life often means some pretty creative budget juggling, so this opportunity truly allows me to follow a personal dream I’ve had for years. I could not be more excited or grateful.
We’re SO pumped to have you be part of the 2017 Pranalife YTT, Siobhan, and look forward to being an integral part of your yoga journey. Congrats!!
Our scholarships are closed for the 2017 year. Sign up for our email and be the first to hear when they open again in 2018:
I want to work towards a new personal goal of becoming a yoga teacher, so that I can help other people in the same way that my yoga teachers have helped me.
Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training scholarships help winners on their journey to becoming yoga teachers. This year two bright lights will be $500 closer to their big dream! Meet one of our 2017 scholarship winners, Caroline Dutka:
I am incredibly thrilled to be completing my yoga teacher training with Pranalife in 2017.
Last year, after much self-reflection and learning to be honest with myself about what I want out of life, I decided to quit a career path that I had been working towards for many years — that of being a professor. It was a challenging year for me, both personally and professionally. Often, the only thing that would brighten my day during this difficult time was yoga.
After just a few months of practicing yoga, I started to fantasize about becoming a yoga teacher. “How wonderful that would be,” I thought. But also, “How impossible that would be for me to attain.”
Slowly, I started to take steps towards clearing the grey out of my life. Embraced by the love of my family, I eventually felt confident enough to explore new career paths that made me feel enriched, even happy.
I began working at Nutrition for Learning — a local non-profit that funds student nutrition programs (snack programs, breakfast clubs) in Waterloo Region; ensuring that no student goes to school hungry. I also started volunteering with the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre and the SHORE Centre (formerly Planned Parenthood K-W), which is a wonderful organization that provides free, non-judgmental information, counselling, and educational services on the subject of sexual health and family planning. I know first-hand how yoga can be a powerful stress reliever and I can only imagine how stressed individuals must be as refugees and as newcomers to Canada, or if they are facing the challenges of pregnancy or termination. As a yoga teacher, I clearly see how yoga could be a core part of how I can help.
I know that Pranalife will help me gain the skills that will make me an excellent teacher. A scholarship for my Pranalife YTT would mean so much to me, as it would allow me to make my first $500 investment towards one day — hopefully in the not so distant future! — opening my own studio that also acts as a safe space and community hub.
We’re SO pumped to have you be part of the 2017 Pranalife YTT, Caroline, and look forward to being an integral part of your yoga journey. Congrats!!
Our scholarships are closed for the 2017 year. Sign up for our email and be the first to hear when they open again in 2018:
Sitting in my inbox recently was this article from DoYouYoga (DYY) on what to look for in a yoga teacher training. The author seems to have a sweet, inspiring story and the piece has some good points. So, great – right?
Except the article did something that drives me (and a lot of other teachers and trainers) crazy: It conflated the marketing site Yoga Alliance with the status of a credentialing body in our industry.
The Yoga Alliance is not a credentialing body in yoga. Let me be clear –
The Yoga Alliance is not a credentialing body.
One more time: The Yoga Alliance is not a credentialing body.
It does not set the standards for yoga teacher training in yoga, though it suggests its own guidelines. It does not guarantee compliance to its suggested guidelines (which it confusingly still wants to call “standards”). Though they create an opportunity to advertise yoga teachers and schools, and do create structure around how people present themselves (this teacher has X hours of training, this training promises to teach the following material, etc.), being “registered” with the Yoga Alliance in no way means the same thing as being, say, a Registered Massage Therapist. Yoga does not have a credentialing board, legal guidelines for training, an agreed-upon scope of practice, or a governing body. So, let’s all say it together again, one more time:
The Yoga Alliance is not a credentialing body.
I’m not saying anything the Yoga Alliance won’t tell you themselves. Hear it from the former Yoga Alliance CEO himself HERE.
The Yoga Alliance (YA) is an American, fee-based marketing business (and a “non-membership public charity” in the form of their voluntary, unregulated registry). People pay yearly fees to advertise themselves and their trainings through the YA website.
Now, the Yoga Alliance has been doing some interesting things lately. I’m very much for having standards in the yoga field. I’m happy to support any progress being made in that arena. The YA has been at least attempting to provide this through their guidelines. As well, I’ve been Yoga Alliance certified for the past few years in part because they’ve finally included a Canadian insurance option, and have offered a few discounts that essentially negate the registration fee for me. I’m cautiously optimistic that what they’re doing may be of some use to professional yoga teachers and schools.
I’ve also recently registered my yoga teacher training with them, as they’ve finally integrated social credentialing as a way to check that what schools say they offer is in fact what they offer (this was not done previously; it was an honour system). I’m offering online teacher training soon and I want to promote it to a larger audience; now that they offer social credentialing, this is a reasonably good way to drive traffic to my online YTT (in much the same way a site like Trip Advisor helps drive traffic to well-rated restaurants or hotels).
I support what the Yoga Alliance stands for. I would love for yoga to be regulated such that trainings had to be certified according to standardized, confirmed requirements in areas of competency in at least anatomy, kinesiology, biomechanics and basic clinical ethics. I would love for there to be a governing body to create and uphold a clear scope of practice for the physical practice of yoga, strong definitions of what we do – and what we don’t do – as yoga instructors with people’s bodies.
I would also love there to also be a union-esque governance in the industry that protects yoga teachers with standards that allowed yoga studios to build business models around enforced expectations for labour costs, rather than take poor risks and bank on paying their teachers shit in order to make up the difference (#notallstudios).
And I can appreciate that all of this is contentious and complicated, and met with stress in the yoga community. It’s a big, hairy issue that deserves more time to talk about than I’ve given here.
But let’s pare back down to yoga teacher trainings and how the Yoga Alliance does NOT set credentialing standards for them.
None of this kind of regulation and credentialing is what the Yoga Alliance actually does.
That’s a great question. Essentially, if a training is registered with the Yoga Alliance, it means it’s told the Yoga Alliance that its training complies with the Alliance’s guidelines for teachers and/or schools. So, for example, in a 200-hour training, a Yoga Alliance registered training has told YA that they’ll spend 25 of those hours as such:
Teaching Methodology: 25 Hours
Topics in this category could include, but are not limited to:
[and I would like to draw attention to this “special requirement”:
*Special Requirement: A maximum of five hours related to the business aspects of teaching yoga may be counted towards the Yoga Alliance Contact Hours requirements for this category.
Good luck surviving in the world of yoga teaching with a MAXIMUM of FIVE HOURS spent talking about the business aspects of teaching yoga. If the training you’re considering is abiding by these guidelines, that’s all you’re getting. I include more time on the biz of yoga in hours designated outside of these categories in my own YTT, as I define on my YA YTT page.]
Being registered with the Yoga Alliance also means that the teacher or school has paid a fee to have a public page within the YA website. As I’m testing this year, this allegedly means the Yoga Alliance is putting me and my training in front of a large, targeted audience.
It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not an arrival. When a yoga teacher is “registered” with the Yoga Alliance, it means they’ve made public what they teach and have paid a fee to have a public profile with the site, in hopes that it generates leads for them.
If you’re looking for this little symbol on a yoga teacher or yoga school’s page:
understand that it means that the school or teacher is really just doing their best to display credibility in a professional space that struggles to clarify what that credibility might be. It may indicate a good training with excellent internal standards – and it may not. It certainly won’t guarantee that those standards are being met in any way.
Because … let’s say it together again (and again):
The Yoga Alliance is not a credentialing body.
I encourage you, if you’re Yoga Alliance anxious, to go to the Yoga Alliance for what it does do; namely, it gives your face/school some visibility through their website, and may send some clients your way. You may also get a few discounts on yoga clothes or insurance, and you can sign up for some of their webinars or peruse through their teaching resource videos. There’s some cool stuff in there.
But don’t look to the Yoga Alliance for credentials. That’s not what it does.
J Brown, as usual, has some fascinating things to say on this subject, should you wish to explore it further:
The incendiary initial rant: Yoga Alliance Approved My Ass – J Brown
The follow-up, when we all felt like Giving Yoga Alliance a Chance – J Brown
And the wonderfully straight-forward summary of why that follow-up hasn’t worked for him: What Now Yoga Alliance? – J Brown
For the record, Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training is an ESDC Certified Institution in Canada, meaning it’s federally recognized by our government as a professionalizing institution with standards that can be checked by a governing body. It’s not a perfect solution either, but we’ve taken steps to become an accredited school that provides skills in the profession in which you’re signing up to be trained, as defined by federal standards. It also means we can issue T2202A tuition tax receipts for our training.