If you got this far on the site you are probable already sold on yoga.  Maybe you want to take that next quantum step in your practice, maybe even teach, and finally do a YTT.  As you consider your options I’ll share two reasons to do a yoga teacher training.

Reason #1: Find and Live Your Dharma.
Living a dharmic life is a far greater measurement of one’s success at yoga than how long one can hold warrior III.  The word dharma means ‘greater law or order’, it is what gives a particular thing its unique qualities. The dharma of a pumpkin seed is to become a pumpkin, and the dharma of a swallow is to build nests from mud and migrate thousands of miles each year without getting lost.

Because of our capacity for higher reasoning and reflection, human dharma is more dynamic and complicated. Every thought, word, and action can express one’s highest dharma, or not.

women in a yoga training do a twisting posture

Every thought, word, and action can express one’s highest dharma.

Overstimulation, harboring resentment, fantasizing or neglecting one’s responsibilities undermine the ability to live in alignment with higher dharmic virtues.

Yoga helps us to discover and live into our unique dharma.  Yoga allows us to get still and quiet enough to hear the voice of our conscience and make peace with shortcomings. Following the path of dharma gradually leads one down the path of greater fulfillment and meaningful contribution – something everyone wants at their core.

Reason #2: Learn to Teach.  At some point yoga becomes a lifestyle.  It shapes how you eat, who you hang out with, how you think and even how you breath.  Teaching can be a natural extension of your values and your personal relationship to yoga.  It feels good to live congruently.

I consider it to be a blessing for both you and the students.

Many people are searching for some way out of their current working life and feel the need to make a greater contribution. Yoga could potentially be that outlet.  I suggest easing your way into the transition to becoming a full time yoga teacher.  What ever path you choose, there are at least two reasons to do a yoga teacher training.

Here we are. Just days away from a new year, and edging a little deeper into this fledgling decade. As a new year’s blessing yoga practice, I invite us to pause for a moment of self reflection.

Even as the tide of turmoil from this past year still swirls around, I invite us to pause, gaze over our shoulders, and let loose a satisfying and well deserved exhalation.

For a moment, allow yourself to step out of the momentum of the past and deeper into the inherent grace of the present.  Take a few more breaths into this New Year’s blessing yoga practice. Go inside, acknowledge our most recent passage, bless it for all that it was, and welcome the year to come.

Wishing you Peace,
Derik

The words we use and the associations attached to those words tell unique stories. How we use words and language communicates a particular relatedness and brings forth certain possibilities; ranging from confusion to revelation. The language of yoga teachers creates a unique reality.

Encoded within a language is a unique history, set of values and cosmology. For indigenous tribes of the North West their names for a particular plant indicates: what it looks like, the season it grows in, where it is typically found, if it is edible or not, and possible medicinal properties.  The name may also carry mythological significance, which unpacks yet more layers of significance.

Conversely, the name of the plant “Scotch Broom” doesn’t tell you as much.  Maybe it came from Scotland? Though I do see how it could be used as a broom.

As students of yoga, we can be thoughtful about the words we speak and the effect they have; even more so when using the language of yoga teachers.  This can be a little daunting for newer instructors.

This is certainly understandable and very common. In the beginning, teacher training students struggle to translate their own thoughts and words into a corresponding response in someone else’s body.  They may know what they mean but it does not always register for the one who hears them.  

Clear communication is the difference between
saying the “right words” and being heard and understood.

With time the aspiring student learns to use the language of yoga teachers more effectively.  They learn to communicate not only the basic instructions about how to get into and out of a posture but they learn to do so with grace and poise.

They come to read the expression on people’s faces with greater clarity, observe bodily posture, and interpret subtle cues in how students breathe.  All of which inform their spoken instructions 

Ultimately, the job of a yoga teacher is to invoke an experience inside of the student.  They can guide them to recognize deeper parts of themselves not only through the techniques but also through the thoughtful use of language.  The words we speak awaken a particular reality.

 


What is the number one responsibility of a yoga teacher?

Is it being able to do handstands? To do wheel pose? Large classes? The answer is surprisingly simple. The number one responsibility for yoga teachers, is to teach yoga. This may seem overly simplistic, but in my view, it is as paramount as it is obvious.

People come to yoga for a variety of reasons. Some come to fix their back, others want peace of mind. Still others come for greater flexibility. Any of these sound familiar? I have certainly taught classes that address these needs.

In the scope of what is possible through yoga practice, these accomplishments (as wondrous as they may be) are relatively minor. Skilled yoga teachers teach you much more than triangle pose, they will help you to understand yourself – the shadows and the gold – with great clarity. They instruct you on how to minimize suffering and skillfully work with adversity. They teach you to generate energy and to use it wisely.

They teach you to generate energy and use it wisely.

Said differently, yoga teaches you to be integrated; such that your thoughts, speech and actions are congenial. It imparts the desire and means by which you can live your purpose in a manner that is beneficial to yourself and others – to live with greater joy and far less fear. The number one responsibility of a yoga teacher is to teach you yoga. They can assist you to the degree to which they recognize yoga in themselves.

Like raindrops that send intersecting ripples out across the surface of a once placid mountain lake, yoga reveals the interconnectedness of all aspects of life. Yoga is reflected in how we sleep, speak, play, our desires and of course in formal practice.

Yoga shows us how seemingly individual components are part of a greater whole. Gradually students see the lattice of circumstances and life-responsibility they inherited from their past thoughts, words, and actions. And more importantly, how to chart a new destiny.

This may sound lofty, however it starts with something very simple – self awareness. The postures, done with proper attention, generate a degree of self awareness. As you consciously breath and mindfully move you become more self-realized. A skilled yoga teacher offers additional methods to expand self-understanding and actualization. That is their primary job.

woman in dog pose in a yoga studio

 

“Why is peace unprioritized?”

I shared this question with my current teacher training students over the weekend.  They looked equally appreciative and puzzled.

You would think that the desire to live in harmony would be greater than the urge for affliction.  Yet somehow that does not appear to be the case.

Like many noble pursuits, peace can easily be dismissed as fanciful, a hangover from the counterculture movement, or even a sign of weakness. Peace is not in keeping with the status quo, a tide of stimulation usurp its place.

“Why is that?”

Years ago, when I first met Baba Hari Dass, someone asked him “how to develop personal discipline?”

His response:

“Climbing is hard, slipping is easy.” 

 

The words still ring true decades later and epitomize why peace is not the priority. It takes deliberate effort to develop positive qualities and the temptation to deviate can be strong.

The impulse to be impatient or disregard the needs of the whole may come more habitually and with greater urgency.  It takes far more energy and thoughtful consideration to create a building than it does to destroy it.

In short, cultivating peace requires dedicated self-reflection and effort – to swim against the current shortcomings and climb towards a noble pursuit. And it can be often far more convenient to choose otherwise.

Behold. Another season has come to pass and we now edge into the fall season.

Recently, I’ve been pondering how limitless the Universe truly is; from the quiet life of a small grain of sand to the unspeakable jewel box of stars that shine so freely far off in the heavens. And how water remains so youthful even after millions of years of existence. And how baby turtles brave their way into the sea.

I’ll never meet many of those stars, know the ageless secrets of water, or know the life and death struggle of sea turtles; and yet they are accounted for within the great field of intelligence that unites us all.

Earthly societal woes, fire & health crises can appear with such dire-urgency. Sometimes, if only for a moment, I respectfully recognize them as moments in the colossal history of time, space, name & form.

As humans and as yogis, we’re anointed with the seemingly impossible task of navigating both heaven & earth; loss & gain; suffering & compassion; and the yearnings of the individual with the timeless source of life. The only way out is through.

May we skillfully traverse the hard truths before us and recognize the presence of peace that lies within and beyond it all.