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No, I Don’t Want To Be A Yoga Teacher


I have worried about posting this article because I don’t want readers or my yoga community to think that I am against teacher training programs, because I’m not.

I just wish there was more available for those of us who want to expand our practice and knowledge with programs on par with teacher trainings, that aren’t you know, teacher trainings.

See, a while back, I registered for a  one-day yoga intensive program at another studio and among the standard-issue registration questions were three designed to gauge my interest in becoming a certified yoga instructor. Immediately, I thought, “Still with the teacher training? Come on now! Aren’t we all trained already? Can’t we come up with something new?”

It would seem that the yoga industry is out of ideas when it comes to developing new revenue streams. I’m sure that in the beginning, offering teacher training programs was a great way to increase profit margin in an increasingly commodified market. But now, in true western yogi fashion, the industry is way overdoing it.

It is no longer a secret that the yoga business model is not exactly rock solid and achieving and maintaining profitability in an extremely saturated industry without losing your mind is nearly impossible. And, this model of discounted sessions and packages to get people in the door only to have to upsell them to teacher training programs is not really sustainable; not to mention what it is doing to the experience of yoga.

In 2014, nearly 15,000 new teachers registered with YogaAlliance, a yoga industry association and the largest yoga teacher registry. Some industry sources believe that just as many yogis completed teacher training but didn’t register to teach.

I choose to assume that the 15,000 who completed a training course but didn’t end up teaching are like me–yoga nerds with non-yoga day jobs just looking for a way to expand their knowledge of yoga and strengthen a practice that may be getting stale. Those people already know that yoga as a business is brutal and requires the right “personality” to attract and maintain a steady stream of clients. They recognize that a great yoga instructor is extremely rare and that the magical combination of spiritualist, nutritionist, therapist, educator, personal trainer and entrepreuneur can’t be mass produced.

So now what? The yoga industry is so deep into this teacher training model that they can’t seem to see past it. Mostly because conducting certified teacher trainings on top of their regular daily yoga business is so labor intensive there isn’t time to formulate and promote anything new to replace the teacher training revenue.

How about this? Let’s modify the teacher training programs into a yoga intensive program instead? You know, give us all the yoga and none of the “you too can be a teacher” priming?

There are plenty of yoga retreats doing that now already and some of the more prominent yoga methodology founders offer them through their affiliate studios (you have to wade through the teacher training programs to find them though). Yoga Journal has a whole host of events and conferences along these lines.

I would much rather go on a retreat led by my personal instructor (I’m looking at you, Three Dog Yoga) than attend an intensive led by a teacher I don’t know, which is risky. And I’d happily pay the $2,000-$5,000 I would otherwise have to pay for a teacher training to take my practice to the next level without hearing about teacher training.

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