I'm surrounded by Eggheads. Professional Eggheads. Of my immediate relatives, there are seven Ph.Ds, five Masters' degrees, four university positions, at least one emeritus professorship, as well as publications, honors, titles, chairmanships, etc etc. This is a crowd that takes its education seriously. You can see why I get hung up on qualifications and trainings. I tear up during "Pomp and Circumstance."
With all the talk about "authentic" yoga, and asana teachers as fitness instructors and who should be teaching, and who is making a mockery of the whole discipline, I wonder, "What makes you think you can teach?" It's sounds like I'm being cheeky and rhetorical, but, honestly, I want to know.
If one has a solid, standard training--say six months to a year--meeting over weekends and learning all the asana, how to sequence them, modifications, a discussion of philosophy and history, maybe learning a bit of pranayama, student teaching--what is s/he really qualified to teach? To me, it seems, like s/he is ready to lead students through a safe, carefully-considered Hatha Yoga class. But, what about beyond that?
Yoga Alliance requires 20 (30 hr.s total) contact hours of instruction in yoga philosophy, yoga lifestyle and ethics for the 200 hr. R.Y.T. designation. The program is heavily weighted to asana, altho the techniques, training, and practice section (100 hrs.) includes kriya, mantras and meditation, evenly weighted between technique and teacher training. So how much time does that really leave for the spritual elements of yoga? And I'm not saying that this is a bad mix, but just that it's not a lot of time left for non-asana.
I suppose there is self-study to familiarize yourself with the texts most traditions refer to, but does that do anything beyod expand your own awareness? Does close-reading really prepare you to deal with your students' issues? Does reading the Bible make you a minister? Does investigating the Freudian canon make you qualified to psychoanalyze?
I think it's great to provide students with a context for their asana practice; to show them that Hatha is just one part of a much larger system. But this is as far as I go, because I just don't feel like I am qualified go beyond a simplified definition and explantion of the yamas and niyama or the other seven limbs. Do you?
I really want to know...how do other trainings prepare a teacher to go beyond asana? How much time did you spend on the spiritual aspects of yoga in your preparation to be a teacher? Are we really teaching it or giving lip-service to the rest of the discipline so that we're not "just" fitness instructors?
I've been thinking about this a lot and this is why I ask. What do you think: are we really qualified to teach this stuff or should it be left to the counselors, ministers, monks, and therapists?