Members talk: What to tell a student who asks about becoming a yoga teacher

It is August 2007, in Austria, and I am on a Prior Learning Accreditation course, hoping to be accredited by TKV Desikachar so I can become a teacher trainer within this tradition. The question I pull out of the hat: What would you say to a student who wants to become a Yoga teacher? I reflect.

One needs to be passionate and knowledgeable. Passionate to have enough enthusiasm for all the ups and downs that teaching involves. Knowledgeable to be able to ‘teach what you know, not as it applies to you but as it applies to the student’ (attributed to Professor Krishnamacharya).

In order to do this, there must also be a willingness to learn, to remain a ‘student’. And for this, it is wise to have one’s own personal teacher, mentor or guide – someone who is further along on their own personal journey.

And then, it is important to know that teaching Yoga is very different than doing one’s own personal practice. So, we need to learn the art of teaching. Personally, I learned this a very hard way. 

I had spent two months in India, studying at the feet of a great Yoga teacher. When I returned to the UK, I thought ‘Now I am going to teach Yoga’. My first Yoga class – two slightly overweight young women turned up. And, as I had been doing that summer, I suggested that they start with a handstand (against the wall). Well, they never returned! 

It was at that moment that I began to look for a training course – knowledge of āsana alone was not enough. That is when I ‘came home’ to this tradition, with its wealth of knowledge on the diversity of tools available and started to learn about their appropriate application. 

It is a journey with no end.

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