A student recently asked for my philosophy on teaching yoga.
As background I've been teaching yoga since 1994, training teachers since 2005, and taught yoga philosophy at the college level. Overall I've guided yoga experiences in a variety of formats for well over 100,000 people. My core understanding has been seasoned, slow cooked and developing for a while. Here it is in a condensed form:
1. Yoga is for everyone. The path is natural and instinctive. The only requirement to starting a practice is that you are sincerely interested.
2. There is no one right way to approach yoga. We're all unique. An attitude of wonder is best suited for discovering what the right approach is for each person. Trust rather than fear is at the heart of curriculum.
3. Simply stated - the Classical Yoga of Pantanjali based on Samkhya Philosophy defines yoga as the awakening of consciousness. Period. Your posture is measured by how well it promotes consciousness rather than how far you can physically stretch. All exercises are evaluated this way. The ancient texts are elegant and sophisticated in articulating this consciousness inquiry in depth.
4. Yoga as a method is in essence about humility and respect for self and others. These are the measures of decent human beings. And also happen to be required skills of informed practitioners especially developed in anyone interested in guiding others.
5. It may surprise some but yoga is a science - one of the oldest in fact on record to examine the notions of cause and effect. Review scholarly research as a way to evaluate what you do in your own practice because 'the unexamined practice is not worth practicing.' The scientific study of yoga is quintessentially yogic as it counters the ignorance found in the odd fuzzy nonsense.
6. A good student approaches their yoga practice in a way that is honest and appropriate to themselves. And rather than focusing on imposing their own agenda a good teacher is skillful in promoting and getting out of the way of the students own organic experience. This is the mark of the best and most effective teachers.
7. Yoga is an artistic expression. A good yoga teacher is one who understands the science involved but also has the courage to discover and welcome the creative force in such a way that meaningful experience can be born. This is something that can be felt by students. And it distinguishes the great teachers that we all gravitate towards.
8. Yoga is a life long inquiry. A good yoga teacher training certificate prepares one to teach. A great Yoga Teacher Training curriculum prepares one to learn for the rest of their life.