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]

Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training with Asia Nelson

My Life as a Yoga Instructor

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.

Your Life as a Yoga Instructor

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:

  1. In money. Presuming that you follow a more traditional career initially, expect within your first few years to make about $25-60/class x however many classes you teach, and assume you’l take 2-6 weeks off/year (most yogis do). So,
  • If you teach 8 classes/week at $25/class, you’ll make ~ $10,000/year (and work ~ 10-15 hours/week).
  • If you teach 12 classes/week at $60/class, you’ll make ~ $34,500/year (and work ~ 15-25 hours/week).
  • If you add corporate/private clients at $80-$160/class, you’ll make ~ $50,000/year (and work ~ 25-35 hours/week)

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.

 

Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training with Asia Nelson

Me in Ronda, Spain when I moved there in 2008 for the winter.

 

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.

Ready to apply

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:

Use Strength

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.

Find Space

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.

Spread the Load

Make the movement/shape holistic. Don’t just focus on one joint, but explore how you can make the movement happen throughout your body.

Breathe Through the Tight Spot

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:

Pavel’s Approach, on the Yoga Mat

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!

Pranalife Yoga Asia Nelson Teacher Training yoga classes workshops Waterloo Kitchener Cambridge Guelph Toronto

 


Sarah de Poray – Pranalife Yoga Certified Instructor, 2016

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.

Initially, we dialed our physical practices way back in order to drill deep into the details of how and why we’re moving the way we move. Asia was the first person ever to identify that I had been compensating for two muscular weaknesses, which led to investigating, researching, rehabilitating, strengthening and ultimately gaining a deeper confidence in my body. Thanks to that initial work, I’m a far stronger and more capable mover than I could’ve been without that time and focus, and I likely avoided physical injuries/issues as a result.

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, frustration, confusion, doubt, guilt, attachment, aversion – 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.

Yogis in the Dark

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.

Shining the Light on Yoga

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.

Standing in the Gap of Uncertainty

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?

More Questions than Answers, Please

Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training with Asia Nelson in Waterloo Kitchener Toronto

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?”

The Next Generation of Uncertain, Confident Teachers

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.

Exploring New Passions and Paths: Siobhan B

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:


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!!


Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training: Live it, give it.

Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training with Asia Nelson go here

 

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:



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Changing Paths, Changing Lives: Caroline Dutka

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:


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!!


Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training: Live it, give it.

Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training with Asia Nelson go here

 

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:



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or, the ongoing debacle of what the Yoga Alliance ISN’T

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.

What *is* the Yoga Alliance, then?

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 forI 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.

What does being Yoga Alliance Registered mean, then?

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:

  • Communication skills such as group dynamics, time management, and the establishment of priorities and boundaries
  • How to address the specific needs of individuals and special populations, to the degree possible in a group setting
  • Principles of demonstration, observation, assisting and correcting
  • Teaching styles
  • Qualities of a teacher
  • The student learning process
  • Business aspects of teaching yoga* (including marketing and legal)

[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.

So, to summarize …

If you’re looking for this little symbol on a yoga teacher or yoga school’s page:

Yoga Alliance Registered School 200 hours

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.

Learn more about Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training HERE.

It’s one of the ways we’ve grown accustomed to interacting, particularly in online spaces: A casual conversation or a post about some interesting tidbit degrades (rather quickly) into aggressive accusations, misunderstandings, agitation, personal attacks, and a generally shitty feeling about the whole encounter. After a decade of social media staining every facet of our (modernized and technologically privileged) lives, we’ve likely all gotten sucked into the mire at some point. Some suffer it more, and more intensely than others – and the overall effect is that we’re left feeling less safe, less happy, less respected … we’re left with a lot LESS.

There aren’t good signs that this situation is improving anytime soon. Political poles repel people into their corners, gender/race/economic/social/religious topics are like dry grass just *waiting* for the hot fire of one incendiary comment to be made or misunderstood. Hell, even in the yoga “community” space, allegedly full of free and loving folk, there are oft-devolving threads dripping with a vitriol that seems downright unnecessary. We’re really not good at being gentle with each other.

It all makes me feel sad … and old. I find myself responding with sentences that start with, “In my day …” Which of course isn’t true. Bullying is actually the oldest human profession, shrouded in some vacuous subconscious mess of craving for parental approval/discipline, a drastically misguided striving for alleged “alpha” status, or perhaps just the basic primal urge to distance ourselves from the weak in the pack by acting like aggressors to signal relative strength. Or none of that, who the fuck knows. What’s clear is that humans have an embarrassingly short fuse when it comes to anger, insecurity, and aggression.

So what’s a yogi to do?

Well, I have no real idea. I haven’t found anyone who does. There are likely better ways of being a good person, but is there an actual “yogic protocol” for how to handle all of this suffering? NOPE. There’s so little consensus on what yoga even is, never mind how to subscribe to it as a system by which to live, I say good luck to anyone who tries to do so in any formal way.

So … what’s a yogi to do?

Here’s what I think (since this is my space to share my thoughts; you’re free to have your own thoughts that you can express in your own space, of course): Anything can be used as a tool to support our greater intention(s). Whether or not what I’m doing is considered (by whom?) to be the “right” (by what standards?) “yogic” approach (what’s that?), is it actually helping me be the person I want to be in the world? I’m tired of trying to do battle in the world of titles and constructed categories intended to calcify organic adaptation. As well, people have used the titles of “yoga” and “yogic” to hurt as well as help, so there’s no magic in the water, y’all. In that vein, I think “what’s a yogi to do?” is the wrong question. Here’s a better one:

What do YOU/I WANT to do?

Behind this question is, I think, an even more piercing and insightful one, from the world’s Jann-Arden-of-life-guides, Danielle LaPorte: How do you/I want to FEEL?

Roll with me for a bit here. I recently became unintentionally embroiled in one of these innocuous-turned-unnecessarily-aggressive online comment thread blatherings. You know the ones: It starts with a posting about some thing, then is followed by people spouting opinions, unearthing a feast of conflict, and then promptly devouring it with fierce rigour. I got caught in the gravity of the comment event horizon and was half a dozen retorts in before I pulled myself back from the adrenaline rush and race for the last word. Two egos duking it out, looking for that conciliatory moment that never NEVER comes, punching the commentary shit out of each other until indeterminate defeat declares the winner to be … exactly no one.

I don’t know what that guy was feeling, but I know I had to consciously detach. I was hurt because the attack was (seemingly purposely?) done in a public thread meant to shame me in front of my peers and elevate (?) this person to a status of “greater know-it-all”. I was confused because the accusations seemed unfounded. I was angry. I wanted vengeance. I wanted to put this guy in his place. I wanted …

WHAT THE ACTUAL F. How did I go from being someone who adores being professionally passionate about freedom from suffering to some yogi Gollum in under a dozen back-and-forths here? My sense of calm and balance was shot, my energy was zapped, and I was feeling deflated. I was failing at being who I wanted to be. Big time.

I went to bed. And I woke up with a jolt at 3:30am. My mind was still chewing that bone, adrenaline still leaking into my body. I felt agitated. I felt like I’d missed an opportunity to be gentle, and had been self-protective instead.

So, I got up and had a glass of water, did a few stretches, and settled back into bed with a different approach: metta.

I laid in bed and sent this dude good vibes. And I felt better.

Who do you/I want to BE?

I don’t know if I’m being a good or bad “yogi”. I don’t even know anymore if I’m allowed to be a yogi, based on everything from where I was (and wasn’t) born, whether my position on forward folding in the mornings (I don’t do it, I don’t teach it) makes me worthy of basic respect from other yogis, right through to my stance (or lack thereof) on Hindu nationalism. I do, however, know what I wanted to do, feel, and be in this situation. Rather than angry, vicious, and vindictive, I wanted to be strong, gentle, and compassionate. I wanted to stop myself from feeling violence towards someone I didn’t know who seemed to mean me harm for no good reason. I wanted to stop feeling unsafe, at the mercy of his actions in an online space where I spend time. I wanted to be the change I was seeking from that encounter.

I set aside as secondary the semantics about labeling, definitions, ownership of titles, critiques, and abstract positions. I just repositioned myself as a person who could be gentle with another person.

What did I lose? Well, the anxiety, tension, and maybe that argument in his eyes. Who gives a righteous F.

What did I gain? Honestly, what I wanted to gain was my own sense of happiness and connection again. It’s tough to be gentle these days. It’s tough to generate a sense of optimism. It’s tough to stay centred amidst the storms of criticism and biting sarcasm, actual horrifying violence and aggression. But that’s who I want to be: gentle, optimistic, and unshakeable. This may be a strange statement from a person who calls herself a yoga teacher and yoga teacher trainer, but I don’t care that much about the title of “yogi”. I see yoga as another (rather excellent) set of tools to support our intentions. It’s my intention to be strong, free, gentle, bold, useful, successful … which all really boils down to how I want to FEEL. Every situation can be a tool to feel more free, or to fuel our suffering. I’m not really trying to be a “good yogi”; I’m doing my best to feel more free, to make gentler choices.

Set yourself 10 minutes to be undisturbed. Be comfortable. Turn your attention to your breath without needing to change it in any way; simply watch it flow in and out of you.

Imagine you are sitting across from yourself. Take a moment to look into your own eyes. When you’re ready, say to yourself:

May you be at ease in the world.

May you feel safe and strong.

May you forgive, and be forgiven.

May you love, and be loved.

Rest in that moment. In a few breaths, imagine now that someone you love deeply has sat down across from you, where you yourself just sat. Gaze into her/his eyes and make a connection. When you’re ready, say to this person:

May you be at ease in the world.

May you feel safe and strong.

May you forgive, and be forgiven.

May you love, and be loved.

Enjoy the feeling. In a few breaths more, imagine that someone who casually crosses your path (a teacher, a barista, the cashier at your local grocery) has sat down across from you. Make eye contact and settle into that space. When you’re ready, say to this person:

May you be at ease in the world.

May you feel safe and strong.

May you forgive, and be forgiven.

May you love, and be loved.

Allow the image of that person to leave, and take a few breaths to feel centred again. Now, bring to mind someone who is difficult to love. You don’t have to go for the jugular here; just someone with whom you struggle. Feel as though that person has taken a seat across from you. Look them in the eye. Allow feelings to come and go while you stay rooted in the movement of your breath and the safety of your own space. When you’re ready, say to this person:

May you be at ease in the world.

May you feel safe and strong.

May you forgive, and be forgiven.

May you love, and be loved.

Sit with the thoughts and feelings that come and go for as long as you need. Then, let that person go and return to the movement of your breath. Feel yourself safe, and perhaps repeat the metta practice for yourself again.

Gently inhale, exhale.

Metta meditation with Pranalife Yoga May you be at ease in the world/ may you feel safe and strong; may you forgive and be forgiven; may you love and be loved.

I took a spontaneous trip to Antigua, Guatemala last week and it was this kind of beautiful:

It started with a cool opportunity: My former biz coach Rebecca Tracey and I were chatting when she mentioned that she and a few other women entrepreneurs were getting a villa in Antigua and there was room for one more and did I want to go. Hells yes I want to go. So, I chatted with my partner about the idea (who was, of course, pumped for me to have a cool adventure), got my classes covered, found a cheap flight, packed two bags and then re-packed down to one reasonably-sized bag, and off I went.

It was a working vacation for everyone, spent in cafes with Guatemalan dark roast, brainstorming with smart women making their dream life a real thing, eating the BEST guacamole, and wrapping in the evenings with wine and “la bomba” – the super-hot hot tub in our courtyard – listening to the volcano rumble and swapping our Rogue One personal stories. Lots of laughs and learning and new friendships forged.

There was one key thing I observed during this trip:

The main difference between people who are living their dream and people who aren’t is what each wakes up expecting. Every morning, we all got up and expected that we’d create the life we’d imagined for ourselves, and that it would work. And we did, and it did. That doesn’t mean we weren’t working through challenges, but we were also working to get where we wanted to be.

In yoga we call this kind of practice “vinyasa krama”: Not simply moving, but taking certain steps in a certain way, towards a certain goal. Moving with intention.

Over the years I’ve learned to trust that kind of intention-driven movement. It’s what’s made my life as kickass as it is. It takes vision, trust in one’s self, and the simple (not always easy) commitment to keep moving in the right direction. It works better if it’s responsive rather than rigid: I haven’t always known what my next move would be, and the flow of life is rarely linear, so I’ve learned to stay focused on where I want to end up and to just keep lining up my toes with the end goal.

“To climb a mountain (or a volcano if you’re in Guatemala), aim your feet in it’s direction, and keep putting one foot in front of the other until you arrive.”

Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training with Advanced Instructor Asia Nelson, workshop Diane Bruni Kitchener | Waterloo | Toronto

This past weekend was the (G)rad Party for the 2016 Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) crew and it was a night – a year, really – of celebration and gratitude for the experience of a lifetime. Every year, this training produces great yoga teachers and changes people’s lives, and it’s inspiring as F for me to watch people show up at different stages to seize the opportunities this course creates.

This accomplishment requires the same kind of focus that was evident with my Antigua crew: people committing to the lives they want to create, and then actually creating it.

Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training generates success because we do two key things:

  • We study the best skills to succeed as yoga teachers. It’s a good gig; this course makes people great at it.
  • We create a safe space and constant opportunities for people to make the changes they want in their lives.

My approach with this training is rooted in yoga’s philosophy of “Namaste”. Namaste is how you say “hello” or “goodbye” in India, but its origins come from a belief that we are all free, strong, capable beings at our core. When we greet someone with “namaste” we’re saying, “My strong, free self sees your strong, free self.” In this training, I see people as already free, strong, and capable, and my job is to greet them with a space and opportunities to practice living as such.

In other words, I wake up each day expecting that the people in my training will succeed at creating what they’re envisioning, and then we get on doing it. In the process, we develop what BKS Iyengar called a “deep-seated trust in oneself.” That, to me, is true yoga.

About Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training

If you’ve been wanting to explore this kind of growth and change, check out Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training (YTT).

Lots of people take this training for personal interest. Come to strengthen your yoga practice and study the art of living with more freedom. Give yourself a new way to approach your life.

LEARN MORE ABOUT 2017 PRANALIFE YOGA TEACHER TRAINING

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“I will never forget YTT. It has contributed to massive changes in my life.
You bridged this gap between my regular life to something beyond that.”

~ Kimmi Luu, Pranalife YTT 2010

“Is this real life?! Biggest thank you to Asia … you have pushed me to break free of countless boundaries.
Thank you for being a bad ass yogi.”

~ Sarah Kraatz, Pranalife YTT 2015

“More and more every day I am grateful for the amazing teacher training you provided me.
Completely changed the way I view so much in my life.”

~ Aaron Friesen, Pranalife YTT 2013

SEE WHAT MORE OF OUR YOGA TEACHER TRAINING GRADS HAVE TO SAY