Certification Programs

lotusAfter class last night, one of my students asked about teacher certification.  The first thing to realize is that there is no single Yoga authority that certifies teaching programs nor instructors.  Some might claim that Yoga Alliance is the central authority on such certifications but that simply is not the case, Yoga Alliance is simply the largest such organization.  I have read comments from a number of long time teachers that they will never certify with Yoga Alliance or any other similar made up organization.  These teachers have the blessing of their own teachers and since that’s the way teachers have been certified for centuries, there is no reason to change the system.  I would agree if Yoga were still a relatively local teaching and our society could continue to support the more traditional method of teacher training.  Yoga has spread beyond the ability for only a very few yogi to pass on their knowledge to the next generation of teachers and meet the needs of the masses wanting to practice Yoga.  Without some level of oversight to prove one’s ability to teach Yoga will continue to evolve into just another aerobics class.

Is Yoga Alliance the solution to the problem?  I think it can be but I also think that it is not the only solution.  One thing I do not agree with, however, is the current climate in Albany, New York.  The last thing that Yoga instructors need is over zealous bureaucrats setting arbitrary standards on who may and who may not provide teacher training.  Of course, the great irony is that New York State Education Department is using Yoga Alliance’s list of registered school to generate their cease and desist letters; the irony being, of course, that schools registered with Yoga Alliance do so to prove that they are maintaining a high standard of training.

There are a number of different Yoga teacher courses; so, how do you know which one is right for you?  First, what style do you practice and is that the style you want to teach?  If it is the style you wish to teach, talk to your teacher and ask for suggestions.  What if you want to teach classic Yoga but all the teachers—including your own—are Bikram instructors and you really don’t want to be a Bikram instructor?  Start searching the Internet and Yoga sites, ask questions about teacher training on Yoga related forums.  It was this approach that actually led me to the Amrit Institute.

Here are three different programs—along with my thoughts on each—to help get your search started:

Amrit Yoga Institute:  Offers 200 (Level I) and 500 (Level II) hour training.  Each training course consists of two 10 day sessions—part one in the spring and part two in the fall—and the programs are both Yoga Alliance registered.  After completing both courses, one can continue to study in conjunction with the International Vedic Hindu University and earn a master’s degree as a Yoga teacher.  Cost is around $3,000 for each training course and then $1925 for tuition and fees at the university.

It’s Yoga in Provo, Utah.  Offers a 200 hour, Yoga Alliance registered course for $2,250.  The course is 4 weeks straight from 1 to 5 PM.  The advantages* over the Amrit Institute is that it’s local, for Utah county residents that is, and it’s less expensive.  Disadvantages* being that they offer on a 200 hour course and making a four week commitment can be difficult if you are already working.

Aura Yoga Teacher Training:  Offers multiple teacher courses, all of which are home study (correspondence) courses.  The Level I and Level II courses only cost $997 when purchased together.  Advantages* are obvious, low cost and no need to block out a large amount of time to attend a training course.  Disadvantages* are that the course is not Yoga Alliance certified and there is no face to face time with the instructor.

Which course is right for you?  I really couldn’t tell you, put some leg work into it and investigate any training program before you buy into it.  There are two main reasons why I am sold on the Amrit Institute.  From a certification point of view, I have found no other program which has the potential to lead to a master’s degree from an accredited university.  The main reason, however, is that the Amrit Institute teaches Yoga the way I already practice and teach.  I have long had a very specific idea of what Yoga is and should be and how to teach that in both a private setting and in a public setting such as when one works for the local city.  The Amrit Yoga Method mirrors exactly what I have believed about Yoga and so training there was a natural decision.

*Please note that I am not making any comments on the merits of any of the programs listed above due to the simple fact that I’ve yet to attend any of them.  I am merely making observations on the practical advantages and disadvantages based upon my own circumstances.