yoga trainingBy Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

How much of the spiritual aspect of Yogic practice should be incorporated into Yoga teacher training?  Swami Vishnu Devananda, founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers, believed that spiritual and physical aspects were the two most important, in relation to Hatha Yoga.

Yet, most Hatha Yoga certification courses offer only a small “taste” of the Vedas, Upanishads, or Yoga Sutras. In a 200-hour Yoga instructor training course, “The Hatha Yoga Pradipika,” by Swami Svatmarama, (which was written in the 15th century), might be skimmed over or not mentioned at all.

Since its beginning, approximately 5,000 years ago, Yogic methodology has been attached to Hinduism. (Hinduism is the one of the oldest of today’s major religions.) The many styles were created with emphasis for mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health.  Today, Yogic methodology has many more branches, and many of the branches of Hatha, outside India, are no longer attached to Hinduism, but the spiritual aspect of Yogic philosophy is still readily apparent. Most serious practitioners are spiritually aware, in favor of social justice, and are spiritually healthy, as a result of their own practice.

Philosophy or Spirituality

Even though, Yogic philosophy does not conflict with any religion; moral codes similar to yama and niyama exist within most religions of the past and present. When moral codes are similar to other philosophies and religions, they do not conflict with any of them.  Spiritual awareness is developed through a variety of avenues, but even an atheist would become more spiritual, if he or she practiced regularly. Samadhi – the eighth limb of Ashtanga is absorption with the “Supreme Being,” God, Universal energy, or the Supreme entity.

If everyone in the world practiced Yoga and meditation, we would have a much better chance at mutual tolerance of each other and world peace. It is futile to try to force others to live or worship by a narrow view of what we consider to be right. Yoga does not endorse violence, and teaches us to accept what we cannot change.

Therefore, spiritual health is enhanced with a universal moral code and faith in a higher power. There is no need for any of us to have a conflict, when we are just trying to raise children, earn a living, and worship or not.  The hardest task any of us have in life is to make friends with a perceived enemy, yet most religions tells us to forgive our enemies.  Look into the scriptures of your own religion and you will see.  Now that humankind has the power to destroy itself, it is very important for us to open a rational dialog with those who we perceive to be our enemies. We may just find out that we have more in common than we ever thought possible.


While the spiritual aspect of Yogic methodology seems to be an inherent part of the practice, many fitness Yoga certification courses are strictly concerned with the mind and body.  With so many styles to choose from, anyone who decides to become a Yoga teacher has the final choice.


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