By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Recently, a fellow Yoga teacher mentioned a startling concept. She went on to say, “The vast majority of Yoga instructors I meet are not certified.” I was surprised to hear this; but she regularly hires Yoga teachers and reviews their credentials.

For some teachers, the reason is simple: They traditionally trained under the close supervision of their Guru; they were approved, as a result of their competence; they received no diploma at that time; and they began teaching Yoga, well before certification ever became as important, as it is today.

This is the way it was – until the past 20 to 30 years. At this time, the Yoga teacher training relationship, between trainer and intern, may not be based on years of tutelage. Some of the training, in fitness styles, of Hatha Yoga, may be specifically geared toward teaching in health clubs.

These styles might teach 24 postures and two pranayama techniques, or they may teach very specific sequences and one pranayama technique (usually Ujjayi). Meditation, philosophy, the subtle body, mudras, mantras, and all the other facets of Yoga are left to independent research or continuing education.

The casual relationship, between teacher and training center, has also led to expired Yoga teacher diplomas. Many liability insurance companies feel confident in training programs that require continuing education.

Hence, the certifying bodies of Yoga require teachers to renew their diplomas, based upon proof of continuing education. The registering bodies (registrars), of Yoga, have similar policies regarding continuing education for teachers.

If you are insured, have a registration card that is current, and a Yoga teacher diploma that expired, are you safe? Maybe, but liability insurance companies tend to prefer “all their ducks in a row.” Here is one example: If you are insured for theft of your automobile, and have a working anti-theft device, will you be covered for theft if you leave your keys in the car?

The point to understand is: Keeping your certification up to date is of the utmost importance, because it is proof of your track record, in keeping current with your continuing education. Learning more about the wider aspects of Hatha Yoga is a lifelong journey for a teacher.

Beside the fact that we should learn more about Yogic techniques, we should also learn more about safety in the class room, modifications, props, working with special students, anatomy, kinesiology, physiology, and sports medicine. Why should Hatha Yoga teachers be so concerned with safety?

Hatha Yoga is popular to a global audience, because students feel and see the physical results. People tend to be more familiar with their primary physical senses, before noticing improvements, such as: emotional, mental, or spiritual well being.

At the same time, Hatha Yoga teachers should provide a safe environment for all students who attend classes. Some of these students have limited flexibility, ailments, pre-existing injuries, and special needs. Setting Yoga class safety policies, in place, is important to student and teacher alike.

© Copyright 2010 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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