Yoga Teacher Training – What to look for depends on

what your intentions are. In the following posts, I will bring up some points to consider as you do your due-diligence of various yoga teacher training offerings locally and in distant-learning.

First and foremost – most important question to ask oneself is, again and again:  What is the intention.  What motivates one to pursue this course of action.  My intentions were clear when I embarked on my journey so I will have to ask what about yours?

As for my own training beyond the 200 hrs. well spent with Sri Teacher Training (locally headed by Jean Mezzei and Brenna Geehan, advanced committed yogis whose lineage traces to Himalayan Institute, publisher of Yoga International), to go deeper meant more investments in opportunity costs and real out of pocket costs.  Was that worth it ? (YES!) Unless you had a very mature practice and many years of that (or have a background such as gymnastics, dance or theater), many who obtain 200 hrs. of training are not well equo[[ed to face room full of students beyond the scripts and blueprints.  So, I was also fortunate to be invited to attend a pilot program, an internship at Nandi studio, a lovely studio, now an affiliate studio of NYC’s Jivamukti yoga school.

Then … I taught for awhile at a community center, then a premier gym, and a local boutique yoga studio, then, took on some privates so that those who were intimidated in group classes can once again regain the confidence to get back to the group classes which I highly recommend – us humans want to be in a “tribe” however transient or long lasting – our lives are more enriched, more connected we are to each other, that is, after we learn to connect with Self.  All these experience basically fueled my passion to learn more.  Stoked, it seemed that desire for further learning sparked each time I led a class or attended a class.  So, I evaluated various offerings near and far and decided to attend an Open House put on by Niroga.  Impressed by the vibe of the place,  I embarked on Yoga Therapy 800 hrs. training at Niroga Institute in Oakland, CA, a non-profit yoga education center.

This is the simplified version of their curriculum I completed  – HERE. 

While there were areas of overlap with the 200 hrs. TT, it’s interesting how a shift in perspective and clearer intentions make all the difference in how a student absorbs the material.

800 hrs. certificate from Niroga and certification with International Association of Yoga Therapists, gave me many things but most importantly the advance training gave me more … confidence.  Yes,  … CONFIDENCE and ability to observe and discern and design a protocol, based on solid updated knowledge (I use the word UPDATED as some classical? yoga is not in line with medical discoveries and advances in science made since) , practical techniques and … practice.  Of course, it’s never enough and that’s the fun of yoga.  So deep and so big, there’s always more to learn – Yoga is COSMIC and as much as it has answers, there are always more questions.  I am in reviewing state (anatomy is fun!) but once the materials are regurgitated and digested, I am sure I will embark on even more learning to connect more dots and find a community of like minded.  Yoga draws beautiful souls.

Please look over the curriculum I linked to get an idea of the expanse of this program.  Honestly, the learning that transpired there was very special – we had recent college grads, grad students, doctors both MDs and PhDs, therapists, former-Broadway actress, LGBT activists, former Ivy league grad Wall Street MBA, yoga studio owners and moms, retirees … I mean, students from all walks of life, each with unique stories, life & work experiences and intentions. Imagine what happens in a yoga classroom when all these people come together under the guidance of BK, Rosalind and Heidi in addition to that months’ visiting faculty.  It was an amazing mind altering and body conscious time of connections – Connections with each other, connections within ourselves, connecting the dots … from inside to outside… connections to the waves of vibrations … the energy, our communal PRANA, the common thread being our love and gratitude for this sacred practice of …yoga.

The faculty was stellar and I really don’t know if there ever will be a training where they can assemble this kind of master faculty members, each an expert in their field.  Here we were able to consider certain niches in the area of yoga education and therapy.  During the 2-3 years I spent there, the Director and Founder, BK Bose, co-wrote and published a book on Dynamic Mindfulness targeting school teachers and students, where he saw the most optimal ways to make a difference in changing the lives of many at the most formative stage in our lives.  In order to focus on this renewed mission, Niroga has taken a break from offering Yoga Therapy training, consequently, 50 or so of us were the last of the 2-year program as Niroga’s mission has shifted.  It’s sad but … schools are founded and their offerings will shift and evolve based on the leadership’s intention and vision.

Hope as we start out this new year of 2019, we set our intentions with clear vision so that our dreams do not remain dreams but become a reality.  We each have the power to realize our dreams if not today, tomorrow:)  May your yoga practice on the mat, serve you off the mat.

Serving Judith H Lasater’s TT as one of her assistants – a great learning experience.

Gratitude for the opportunity to serve in small ways to receive the gift of inspirations she exudes with her thoughtful words and profound presence.

She is witty, sharp and yet soft and always … knowledgeable.

Read her book, “Living Your Yoga”, a little gem found in the ordinary everyday living. An easy read written by a committed and dedicated yoga teacher much respected.

Pelvic Floor workshop in Berkeley with Leslie Howard – personally I think this is a topic to take up for women, as there’s so much need.  Kegal exercise is not enough …Walked away thinking … for the goddesses, how about “core” and … add on the “floor” !? Yes, it’s “Core & Floor” 🙂 I just thought it up – can we coin this as a title for a workshop?  The floor is the “container” of our vessel, the body with all the internal organs served up.

At Niroga …another inspiring master teacher, Saraswathi Devi.

Trained in India, she’s that powerful and graceful yogini who has been teaching for over 40 years – she has that incredible VOICE fit to be an opera singer.  Nothing but respect for this karma yogini, helping so many bound in various limitations to break free of physical shackles to regain freedom and ease  – she’s truly the light lit in the shadows and darkness of some in despair – she is a personification of what hope and strength looks like..

My Triangle after Judith’s adjustments … sand bag works:)

Yoga in Tokyo … learning that a class need not be “intense” to be of great value in vastly lifting one’s mood, energy level and promoting overall health. Strengthening some muscles by methodically (vs. mindlessly) weaving in small challenges progressively to achieve the … state of bliss:)

Guess what?

“Neuroscience Reveals 50-Year Olds Can Have the Brains of 25-Year Old If They Do This 1 Thing”

Want to be forever young?

Reads the enticing heading to this Inc. magazine article … so read up.  For a yogi, no news but glad that it’s in such mainstream media.

This ONE thing !  What is this ONE thing?

It’s

That ultimate intention purpose and goal of yoga … as we peel the layers of our Koshas to uncover that light that joy that state of Ananda:)

Natural Stair Master to climb up ?

When you can’t get away to the wilderness and nature – then – check out your local yoga studio instead.

When you know nothing about the studio, many of us may seek out Yelp reviews .  Have to say while helpful to locate the place, beware of Yelp reviews.  And I say this as I know someone who used to work there.

Some things to note – Check the left column side – that is, know who the reviewer is, her/his profile and really wonder what made this reviewer review the place – then remember the human nature – usually if a consumer is satisfied or content, there’s no rush to mention this on Yelp.  Know that statistically good reviews are harder to come by than bad reviews.  No one rushes home or to app to write a good review but they do to write a negative one – it’s that human nature thing.  If all is well, one is not as motivated, taking all for granted  – but if something is not, we do like to complain or bring it up.  Some Yelp reviewers tend to want to review only when they have something negative to say – and this is most especially the case when you check the number of reviews this reviewers have posted in the past – anything fewer than 10 is questionable in terms of objectivity  – then check the number of friends and what they have reviewed in the past  – then wonder about what motivates the reviewer to review.  For public service?  To get attention ? Is the reviewer angry or disappointed in some way?  Is the reviewer unbiased and have no conflicts of interest – or are they friends and family?  Read between the lines.

So, then, comes the credibility and qualifications of the reviewer to consider.  How qualified is the reviewer?  Imagine, BKS Iyengar or Patbi Jois getting reviewed by Yelp – I mean really – even Masters may not get all 5 stars … when it comes to teachers, how fair is it ?  Is there any knowledge of the lineage, body of knowledge that a teacher may be holding back until he/she feels is the appropriate time.  If it’s a restaurant – what gives this reviewer an authority in restaurant service; the menu, etc.; if it’s a fitness place, then ?  There are some good articles written on this subject – such as when trying to decipher these reviews, perhaps disregard the 5 stars and 1-2 stars, read up on the middle ratings to get a clearer picture.   So … the point is, Yelp is only helpful if you know how to read the reviews:

You have to try and experience the place yourself, without the preconceived prejudices.  Be Open to Discovery.  In that sense, be that Yogi – the free spirited, open minded, flexible soul with a core strength, fully grounded yet floating with ideas.  Let go of the critical busy busy mind and judgments and focus more on yourself and the experience.  You can feel the vibe – the energy when you tune in.  In this day and age when you can google just about anything and while not everything on the internet is true, you can educate yourself a little about the practice and if you want to go further, ask the teacher. Unless it’s a workshop, the teacher is just teaching these regular weekly classes where all kinds of people pops in – so it’s a challenge to build on to make it progressive – like a course so you can make requests.

I have been plenty disappointed when I relied on Yelp review.  Today, I may find some of them to be entertaining but best referral is still word of mouth and your own direct experience especially given that we are each unique and different from each other in our likes and what we are looking for.  I am not writing this because I received any negative rating; rather, I felt very sympathetic about those business owners who try so hard but have to be so reactive to these outside inputs.  They have to perhaps heed some of the inputs but … it’s not a true demographic survey and analysis based decisions. It’s just reactive and defensive.  It is good of course to listen to the voices of your clients but your long term loyal clients will stick with you if you keep doing what you believe in.  If we are confident that we truly have the training, experience, and that passion for what we believe in and practice, then, it’s undeniable – because you are so authentic.

In the end, that’s all you can be – that is, Being true to yourself and shine with confidence.  Don’t be fearful of how others will perceive you, judge you, grade you, rate you.  Basically, you have to live from the heart and feel the love for what you are doing  so that it’s obvious that what you believe in and invested a whole lot of time is allowing you to shine. Your light will light up others 🙂 You are not defined by others but you are the only one who can define and express yourself as long as you remember that it’s ultimately not about you – it’s about those you are serving – it’s about bringing yoga to lives of others who may not have been as lucky to devote so much time in training and learning all about it.  It’s to be shared –  Blessings to all – with gratitude,

Namaste:)