yoga teacherBy Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Is there a need for certification and standardization of Yoga teachers? How can you make the nine main Indian forms of Yoga, and their sub-styles, conform to a measured standard? Who should control and regulate Yoga?

Certifications, and attempts to standardize Yoga, are in their infancy. Yoga has existed quite well without bureaucracy for thousands of years. Certification is a new concept, but has gradually grown as classes became more public.

Instead of teaching small groups in a basement, Yoga teachers have seen their class sizes expand into large public areas. With this newfound popularity came a twist. The board of directors, and the owners of large public areas, often request certification as proof of proficiency; and sometimes, they require instructors to be insured.

This is understandable because the owners or managers of a building do not want to incur legal damages for negligence. To deflect the wrath of liability lawsuits, certification has sprung up in every art, trade, and industry.

If you were about to hire a landscaper, you would likely feel relieved to see the words: “Certified, Licensed, Bonded, Insured, and Experienced,” on his or her marketing materials. Most people will not hire local teens to cut their lawns in fear of a potential lawsuit.

With that said, you can see the need for certification in a society with no shortage of personal injury lawsuits. For Yoga teachers, this is especially difficult to comprehend because many of them are “natural born givers.” Yet, it also leads into the need for general standards, which are naturally resisted.

In classes where physical movement, breathing, and posture, is part of the curriculum, the Yoga instructor should have good working knowledge of anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, preparation of postures, and contraindications.

Therefore, Hatha, Ashtanga, Kundalini, and their sub-styles, should have a strong anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology component embedded within the structure of their Yoga teacher training programs. There should also be guidelines for working with students, who have pre-existing injuries.

For example: Should you take new students who are late for class? Do you know their health profile? What if the student is pregnant, has high blood pressure, or is recovering from a motorcycle accident? Sorry to say, Yoga teachers would be wise to lock the doors on students who are late.

Who would the legal system “point its finger” at, if a student is injured because he or she skipped the warm-up? These issues should be brought up during the Yoga certification process.

Who should control and regulate Yoga? There is no single body or organization, which can control all of the diversified styles within Yoga. Self-regulation has been the answer for thousands of years and will continue to be the answer into the future.

© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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