Yoga Certification (continued)


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Those guidelines, which were supposed to elevated the standing of those who followed them, were for the most part arbitrary. They were not based upon any sound suggestion of just what it takes to be well schooled in the science of yoga.

In fact, the absurdly low requirements to be a registered yoga teacher in most places today has really done more damage than good to the image of yoga worldwide. It has given the overwhelming impression that yoga is not very deep at all – that it is merely another field of study that primarily revolves around physical exercises and techniques, and requires little more than a few hundred hours to gain competency in.

The results certainly reflect this oversight. Now we see tens of thousands of yoga teachers who know very little about yoga spreading their ideas about it to millions more yoga enthusiasts around the globe, every day.

Drop into any bookstore and you’ll see the most apparent extreme of this unfortunate state that yoga finds itself in now. Shelves are literally overflowing with books on yoga, making it perhaps one of the most saturated of any genre of writing today. Certainly there are a few thoughtful books about yoga on the market, but not many.

“The absurdly low requirements to be a registered yoga teacher in most places today has done more damage than good to the image of yoga worldwide.”

The vast majority of modern yoga books, in my opinion, had no good reason at all to be written. Rarely have I come across any volume that serves to improve the public’s understanding of yoga. Most, in fact, achieve just the opposite, putting yoga into a piteously superficial light.

I continue to be amazed at how willing so many aspiring yoga authors are to publically display their limited knowledge and experience, and how many publishers are more than happy to indulge them.

For the rare one who has a profound understanding of yoga, the immense amount of time and effort that it takes to be adequately educated in it is undeniable. They know that one cannot hope to scratch through even the surface of yoga in the few short months of training that the average yoga teacher receives today. Learning yoga is no small matter. It is a major pursuit that demands great sacrifices, uncommon dedication, and extremely hard work, along with years of study and practice.

Given the accepted standards for assigning credibility in yoga today, however, what is the incentive for the aspiring yoga teacher to make such efforts? On the surface it seems like there really aren’t many. One who goes to such heroic lengths in the search for genuine understanding likely won’t get much credit for it in the “real world” – a place that cannot seem to see past paper certificates and official documents.

In fact, when businesses are faced with the choice between hiring a yoga teacher who is registered with the regional yoga association and has only the requisite couple hundred hours of training, or hiring someone who has dedicated their self to years of disciplined study and practice of yoga, the one with the certification will almost certainly be given a higher value.

Given the modern fixation upon academic standing, it should be no surprise then that the authority of those who typically land yoga book publishing contracts, speak at yoga conferences, or consult as yoga experts, lies more upon their credentials in other fields than it does with their experience and understanding of yoga. A doctor with a little knowledge of yoga, for instance, is often seen as a more credible authority on yoga than a yogi with a little knowledge of medicine is.

This notion that yogic wisdom alone has insignificant merit and somehow requires additional support from one’s standing in other fields like science or medicine, to a true knower of yoga, is quite debasing and couldn’t be farther from true. Sadly, we are living in a time when this type of “illusion of credibility” is often more important than actual authority itself. For the yogi who is concerned with reality, with “being,” rather than “seeming,” this simply will not due.

The irony in this current state of yogic affairs – and there is a lot of it – is that the one who has dedicated him/herself to the genuine exploration of yoga is probably the one who is regarded with the most doubt. In a rather blind pursuit of yoga credibility, it seems, we have forgotten about actually learning much about yoga…

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