As an Ashtanga Yoga teacher the question of Teacher Training comes up quite often from students. Whose course can I recommended, can I suggest a teacher etc ? Most students are earnest in their wanting to become an Ashtanga teacher whilst some just see it as another string to add to their teaching C.V. bow.
Teaching Ashtanga Yoga becomes a natural extension of being a student, and that transition can only come about once you have fully committed yourself to the practice for a number of years – the idiom of ‘practicing what you preach’ has never been more pertinent.
I first went to Mysore in January 2000 – the last year of the ‘Old Shala’. It was such an incredible experience for me to be immersed in the home and source of Ashtanga being taught by the Guru. It was only when I arrived back in Manchester after this inaugural visit that the question of becoming a teacher cropped up. All my friends and family wanted to be my first students . I had no real idea what I needed to do to become an Ashtanga teacher or if there were any qualifications that I needed. I did some research and found out that the only way to become a KPJAYI authorised teacher was to keep going back to Mysore until Guruji thought you were ready and gave you his blessing. I was also told by a Mysore approved teacher that Guruji didn’t mind his non-approved students starting to teach the basics of Ashtanga e.g. some sun salutations breath drishti etc. So I booked my next Mysore trip and started to teach basic Ashtanga – all good.Of course this was nearly 17 years ago way before any of the current crop of Ashtanga Teacher Training programmes became available.
So fast forward to present day where it seems there is a new Teacher Training programme cropping up every day in every part of the world. Who is to know which ones are worthy and which aren’t – there is lots of noise recently in yoga circles about trying to have some ‘regulation’ in the UK with regards to teacher training – but that just begs the question ‘Who regulates the regulators?’ I do think it’s a case of ‘you can fool some of the people all of the time , and all of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time’ in a way that if your training isn’t very good then there’s a very good chance people won’t go back and also in this modern day society where information is at everybody’s fingertips if your programme isn’t up to scratch than your attendees are more than likely to spread the word on Social Media and you’ll get found out pretty pronto.
The word from KPJAYI in Mysore which is the ( and only) governing body of Ashtanga Yoga is that one can only receive official teacher status from them – and so all other Ashtanga Teacher Training Programmes outside of Mysore are therefore illegal (ok maybe illegal is a little strong but you get my drift). In Mysore at the KPJAYI the ancient Vedic practice of Parampara (the succession of knowledge from guru to student) is very much alive and they want to keep it that way. And I must admit personally I like it. Does this mean that I think that all of the teachers who are offering Ashtanga Yoga programmes outside of Mysore are doing something bad – no not at all. I think things like this need to be decided by the individual – if you want to become an Ashtanga Yoga teacher do as much research as you possibly can – ask questions on Social Media – ask other teachers what they think , ask other students who have attended both Mysore and non-Mysore teacher training programmes. And then importantly dude – take the responsibility to make a decision yourself.
The 200 hour fully accredited Yoga Manchester Teacher Training programme that we set up this year is NOT an Ashtanga Yoga training. It does involve asana of course and yes some of these postures will be part of the Ashtanga sequences. The course will feature modules in Philosophy with the fabulous Daniel Simpson, Anatomy with the just as fabulous Dr.Christoph Seiland alongside modules in Meditation , Pranayama and Business & Marketing skills- in a word it’s going to be fabulous – I promise . Our faculty hosts some of the best teachers in the UK and Europe at will be hosted at one of the top yoga studios in Greater Manchester. We have got the Training accredited with the amazing and super credible (and transparent) Independent Yoga Network. We did our research and we found these guys to be real deal. In the words of John Lennon ‘I hope some day you will join us’ !
Matt Ryan is an Mysore authorised level 2 Ashtanga Yoga teacher.