Additional 2020 Thoughts: Janet and I have deepened this conversation even more as we have been forced to put some of our program on-line during this time of unexpected crisis. We struggled, a lot, with how and what to offer in an on-line format and how best to do this with integrity. We’ve found a method that will work for us and that we feel good about. We’re happy to still be under the 40 hours that you are allowed under normal circumstances to offer on-line and be within Yoga Alliance guidelines. Even though Yoga Alliance has offered ‘grace’ to Yoga Schools during this period to put more than 40 hours on line, we know that would not be in line with our True North.
Sometimes, we get into deep discussions as to why Trillium Ayurveda & Yoga with a Bit of Bliss teaches the trainings the way we do. They are long term trainings. Our 200 hour is a year long program and our 300 hour takes a minimum of a year and a half to complete. The classes are intimate with a maximum of twelve people in our classes.
We start by supporting the creation (or deepening) of a personal practice. A personal practice and dedication to consistent practice informs the kind of teacher you will become. We want our students to be studying from books and through lectures and discussions to land a solid foundation in the yogic principles and background.
We want our teachers to be taking classes. Taking classes teaches a teacher how to teach and hones teaching over time. We want our teachers to begin to learn to see and hear so that they really understand their students. Teaching (in all its forms) is an honor and a responsibility. We wanted to create a program that sets our teachers up to be the best teachers possible.
We want our students to continue to learn. Continuing education, whether reading, taking trainings or weekend classes, or simply consistently practicing with other teachers and building a personal practice is key to a successful teacher.
I was caught up in a conversation recently about on-line programs. A friend had posted that she was considering following the trend and creating more on-line programs for her students (this was an herbalist, not a yoga teacher). She asked for feedback of what people thought about on-line programs. She was hearing that it’s the way to go, but she was still hesitant.
I’ve talked to people taking on-line yoga classes. This might be perfect to continue your education or hone a specific skill, but to take an on-line initial yoga training is, well, impossible to do with integrity. Yoga Alliance has set the standard at a minimum of 200 hours to be an effective beginning yoga teacher. 160 of these hours must be in the presence of a teacher and most of those hours in the presence of the lead teacher.
The debate went up on this person’s post. On-line massage trainings…ummm, what? On-line yoga trainings…umm, no. We even discussed the disadvantages of short term trainings (like the two week long trainings in exotic places for yoga). I still haven’t quite figured out the math to reach 160 hours and still enjoy the exotic place. I’ve heard horror stories about new teachers coming home from these trainings so much a mess that they are unable to integrate the experience to become effective teachers (I’m sure they aren’t all like this, but I don’t want to shy away from stories I’ve been told).
I asked this friend: what kind of teachers do you want to send out into the world? Teach to meet that. Just because you can do it on-line and people ask you to teach a certain way doesn’t mean that aligns with how you want to teach and what kind of teachers you want to cultivate. That ended the conversation and my friend said: I love that. From now on, that will be my True North when I think about my trainings.
Janet and I talk about our training a lot. We hone our core values, our “True North”…a lot. Yoga, to us, is a life long journey and this is just the beginning. For us, we would feel like we were doing a disservice if we taught in a short time span or on-line. We want our students to immerse themselves in the studies and then take the practice home and build a personal practice that will sustain them for the long term. It can take a long time to build a perfect personal practice.
Our program is small and intimate to create deep sustainable connections to other teachers. We offer an annual tea for teachers and future teachers to gather and connect and learn together. We offer an annual retreat day to immerse oneself in the beauty of yoga.
Yes, there are lots of options out there. You can get almost anything on-line. You can even skirt the registered or even certified rules and just begin to teach. But is that the teacher you want to be? Yoga is a lifelong journey…perhaps it should take a lot of time, effort, and investment to become the best you can be. What is your True North for the kind of teacher you want to be?
As for us, we are also still learning as well. We know there’s always more to learn and experience and practice. We reinvest in our education for ourselves and for our students. Currently, Janet is working on a double 500 hour certification. The first in Meditation and the second in Ayurveda & Yoga. Charlotte is working toward her 1000 Yoga Teacher Training, including Mindful Outdoor Leadership. Apparently, Jnana Yoga is big part of our practice. And we teach…a lot.
2020 addition: Ironically, this year, we are also investing in and learning how to effectively teach…on-line.
Yes, life is full, but we want to offer the best trainings and the best school. We practice and continually asses our True North in our personal practice, our teachings, and our trainings. This year has challenged us even more to look at our True North. We may have made some adjustments we wouldn’t have done if circumstances were different, but we’re still content that we are aligned with our True North.
Our programs are still scheduled to begin with 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training this September (Yoga & Ayurveda: Living the Wisdom) and 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training (certification for new teachers) beginning in January 2021.