Monday, February 26, 2007

Yoga Teacher Training: Am I Too Old to Become a Yoga Teacher?

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

All too frequently, I am asked by middle-aged or senior students, who aspire to become a Yoga teacher, “When is the best time to become a Yoga teacher?” Has the window of time passed for this opportunity, and is a younger Yoga instructor better suited to teach Yoga to the public?

Some of these veteran Yoga students have decades of experience, but feel intimidated by the “young hard bodies.” This is a deep subject, so let’s take a closer look at what holds some of us back from becoming a Yoga teacher.

The following three ideas are worth mentioning at this point:

1. Is Hatha Yoga strictly a physical practice?

2. If Hatha Yoga were an exercise class, the value of a “coach” is worthy of note.

3. There are so many Yoga students over 40 years of age, who desire a knowledgeable, mature, and careful Yoga teacher.

Is Hatha Yoga strictly a physical practice? No - Hatha Yoga covers mental, spiritual, and emotional aspects, as well as the physical aspects of life. The public has been duped by pretzel asanas (postures) on the covers of magazines.

If you never studied Yoga, you might not know better, but I am surprised when a student, with ten or more years of practice, still sees asana as the “Holy Grail” of Hatha Yoga. Asana is very valuable, but does not govern Hatha Yoga.

Pranayama (cultivation of life force through breath) is the ruler of body, mind, spirit, and emotions. Pranayama keeps you healthy in all aspects of existence, and Pranayama governs many asana techniques. If you cannot breathe correctly, asana performance can be very frustrating - when folding, balancing, or twisting. Pranayama makes mudra (gestures), and bandha (locks), purification of the nadis (energy channels), and meditation, much more powerful.

However, Pranayama is not the only aspect of Hatha Yoga. It is just one of the many aspects mentioned within the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Maharishi Patanjali mentions eight limbs within the Yoga Sutras. Asana is just one of the eight limbs of Yoga, but asana can be seen, and can be performed, to impress the public.

Would the public be impressed by Samadhi (the settled mind)? You already know the answer – The general public is impressed by the superficial aspects of Yoga, but Yoga is much more than one aspect.

If Hatha Yoga were simply an exercise class, the value of a “coach” is still worthy of note. The definition of a "teacher" in most languages is, "One who has been there before."

When you can teach a Yoga student how to perform an asana technique correctly, but you cannot perform the same asana perfectly, that is a part of being a teacher. The fact is - you understand the mechanics as good as anyone.

© Copyright – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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