Posted by: Yoga in Borve | January 15, 2017

Questions to ask your yoga teacher and yourself

There has been controversy rumbling in the world of UK yoga teachers for some time now, over the varied standards of teacher training qualifications. Without going into all the details, it basically centres on whether we should have a set of national standards/minimum qualification levels for yoga teachers, or not. I’m a member of two long-standing and reputable organisations, Yoga Scotland (I did a year’s Foundation Course then a 2 year, 500 hour teacher training course with YS) and the British Wheel of Yoga (I did my additional ‘Yoga for Pregnancy’ qualification last year through BWY). Yoga Scotland is against the proposed system of national standards, while the British Wheel is leading the move to develop and implement national standards. And there are many other organisations involved. I think this is a debate worth having – there are many important issues to discuss – and I understand why feelings are running high, but I’m saddened by the tone and content of some of the contributions I’ve seen on both sides of the debate. It’s probably a bit idealistic of me, but I’d like to think long-term yoga practitioners could discuss strongly felt opinions without making hostile comments or personal attacks!

If you want to know more about the issues, click here for a good post by Alyson Tyler, which contains links to further contributions from different sides of the debate.

Personally, I don’t think the proposed system of NOS (National Occupational Standards) is going to fix the perceived problems. And I don’t think the general-yoga-class-going-public has much interest in or knowledge of varying standards. Certainly, I did yoga with many different teachers for decades, and although I noticed some were better than others, it never really occurred to me they might have very varied levels of experience or training, until I started training myself. And since I started teaching yoga, I can’t think of a single occasion when anyone has asked me what my qualifications and experience are – though they sometimes ask ‘what sort of yoga do you do?’

Actually, if you are choosing a yoga class or going to a new one, it IS worth knowing a bit more about what you’re walking into.  I’m writing this post because the most useful thing I’ve seen so far in the controversy is a list of five questions to ask your yoga teacher and five questions to ask yourself, published this month in the Yoga Scotland magazine. I wish I’d had this list when I was starting out as a yoga beginner a quarter of a century ago! In these internet days, at least you can find out more about prospective classes and teachers via Google. Many yoga teachers are very open about their experience and qualifications on their website (as I am, here and here). However, if you can’t find information on a teacher’s website – or  they don’t seem to have any website at all – that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t good. I know several excellent yoga teachers who are not keen on or knowledgeable about the internet and social media!

Whether you can find the information online or ask them in person, these ‘5 questions’ are a great guideline to help you ensure your yoga classes are enjoyable, beneficial and safe.  Anyone who comes regularly to the classes I teach knows that, for various reasons, I encourage people to try different teachers and different yoga styles/traditions. These questions should help you do just that and make it a positive experience. Enjoy your yoga!



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