The Saturation of Yoga Teacher Training In the West

I have been approached by many students lately asking, "When are you going to offer a teacher training?"

I then sigh...and say,  "That's a really good question. What I have to offer may help you in your life immensely, but may not be what mainstream yoga teachers trainees are looking for."

In the current economy, I wonder how many new yoga teachers we need? How many new teachers can the economy support? Is it even responsible to train MORE "teachers"? What about being a student? Can you "make" a teacher just by giving them a certificate? What kind of teacher are we talking about? 

Yoga isn't sweating in Sanskrit, this is ridiculously reductionist and insulting to an ancient and ongoing way of life, but then so many teacher trainees wouldn't necessarily know that because they are being taught that it is indeed just that- for the most part.

I have been watching a culture that supports fast food yogi's; "Yoga" teachers are being spit out out like fast food burgers in only 200 hours ( if that) and voila, you are a teacher? REALLY???? 

I have seen yoga studios franchising more and more over the last 10 years and putting other smaller yoga studios out of business just like CVS and McDonalds. We live in the 'One stop for all your "yoga" needs' culture now. AND like all corporations, there is little consideration about what franchising will do to the community at large; sure it's great for the owners and for the few teachers they employ (but not really...because they are ALL grossly under paid)

I always thought that there was and is a BIG difference between teaching, which is to 'pass on knowledge,' and parroting something that is just information. Knowledge and information are not the same and yet I think somewhere along the line we have forgotten this. Perhaps this is simply one effect of the 'information " age. We have so much at our finger tips in an instant-so why not become a teacher in an instant too?

When I was with my guru, I was given the sadhana (practices) that were aimed at shifting my limited perspective of "who" I thought I was. These practices were shared through a lineage of teachers over a very long period of time. The teachings were lived, embodied and unpacked. These teachings and insights were hard won through a lifetime of steeping in, practicing, contemplating and opening to darshan,
 ( INsight or to BEHOLD the truth of something). Not as an idea per se, not as something that "sounded good and was agreed upon," but from years of questioning, testing, and digging deeply.

I was taught to meditate daily using many techniques and awakeneded mantras, I read and contemplated scriptures, participated in Satsangs (shared company of those seeking truth (sat) understanding, and knowledge about teachings, and the world.) I practiced Seva ( selfless service) and Dakshina, (offering gifts and financial support), and Chanting -(the singing of sacred texts and names of the Divine.) ALL of this has been my practice, and my LIFE for the last 20 years. I continue to study with my teachers who have been doing these practices for 40 years and are still practicing and contemplating. 

For me, yoga is a way of life, a process of living fully in an ever- expanding awareness of the world, mind and heart.

Please don't get me wrong; I am not demonizing the physical practice of western asana. I enjoy that as well.

When I started to study the physical practice of western asana, despite the very controversial "end of the empire" under which I did 15 years of intense training, I wasn't granted a certifiicate for 3-4 years. In the study of the physical practice, besides thousands of practical hours with teachers, I practiced and contemplated 3 hours a day 5 days a week for almost 10 years. MOST of those hours were ALONE.  

 It takes a lot of time, commitment, practice, self- inquiry, contemplation, and deep inner work before one could ever hope to lead others to do the same. 

In order to pass on knowledge doesn’t that presuppose you HAVE knowledge to pass on?

I am happy to offer teachings that I have integrated in my life over the last 20 years, so many of these teachings are not about "how to do a handstand in the middle of the room"- although I can do that as well.  I want to support students in the process of self inquiry- that is what I have been given by my teachers. The tools to contemplate, question, think and look under the surface of things. As far as I know you can't get "certified" in Self -Knowledge.

I fear that in our "just add water" and"just click here" for 'guaranteed enlightenment' culture, we have little motivation or reason to inquire anyway. My hope is that sooner or later perhaps the honeymoon period of instant gratification will be over and the real work will begin.

 I realize that what I am offering is just one perspective, and I am not claiming to know any more than I do; which is little compared to my teachers who have spent a lifetime (40+ years cultivating their knowledge.) On some levels writing this out is to help myself get more clarity and if it helps anyone else, than wonderful and if it really gets your goat - that's good too. Busting out of our comfort zone is always a great practice and then contemplating why it is that we feel so unnerved. 

I support almost anything that WAKES US UP from the state of mind the great rock band, Pink Floyd, sang about in 1979"I have become comfortably numb." 

Scott MarmorsteinComment