As a newly minted 200 hour yoga teacher certified instructor I have taken a lot of time to consider why I felt the need to go through this training. I was guiding my friends already before I went through the certification courses. And let’s be real, a huge reason I went through the certification training was for the certificate. I do find myself wondering if I was a better instructor before all the high faluting yoga speak was dished out at me. Here I am after all the courses, wondering why I would want to say Uttanasana rather than Forward Fold. What the hell? Yes, I know the word. It makes me sound exclusionary.
There is a lot of uppity vocabulary in yoga. Yoga shouldn’t be about learning a new language, and a kind of dead language at that, should it? I understand the opinion that the words themselves are beautiful. The words alone can take one to a sacred space. I recognize that. But I wonder that it takes a particular kind of class, an intense request for knowledge or an openness to be sacred during yoga to accept this new language enough the learn it. For most, for most of the classes I have been guiding, teaching this language isn’t where my students are. Still, I incorporate it. And maybe my students feel more like they are doing Yoga for it (capital Y). I incorporate this Sanskrit vocabulary because it is expected, not because it is common knowledge. Expected, as in, that’s the way it’s always been. I’m not sure I buy into that idea.
Before I took my training I was laughing with my friends. We were cutting up about how our faces can scrunch up, even during mountain pose. We were speaking to each other about how long we keep our arms up for Warrior pose. It was an interactive class. Now I am leading the group, and I remind my friends to smile, to relax their shoulders, and there is very little interaction until I hear someone sigh and we are done.
I am more aware, since getting my certificate, of when I am not “doing it right’. Those first classes after training I was unable to breathe right. I was inhaling to speak and exhaling to provide example…not at all following the inhale and exhale of the asana. I could only tell others when to inhale and when to exhale. But for myself, I wasn’t breathing with the group. It just felt wrong. Today I see I wasn’t wrong, I was just learning to teach. I didn’t know that giving a class is not at all like doing my own personal practice. Before my training, class was my personal practice with other people.
The people who came to my class before I was certified, and still do, have injuries and health issues. Another huge reason to becoming certified was to be sure I wasn’t injuring anyone. Nowhere in my training did we discuss arthritis, or old knee surgeries, or knees specifically even. We did not discuss how to assist with folks that have had hip surgery. Sciatica, ACL tears, dislocated collar bones, ankle injuries, none of these were addressed. I did not get out of my training that side of things that I wanted to know. These are the people that are coming to my class. No, I am not a physical therapist. But this is what yoga is becoming. And it is becoming just that with the blessing of the medical industry.
Am I teaching ancient knowledge toward a sacred end, or a physical knowledge toward a healthy body only? This was not discussed in my teacher training. I am having to find where that line is for myself. Both options, and I am sure there are more than just those two, are way more serious than where my mindset was prior to certification. Life has been fun. Yoga has been fun. Now that I am certified can we all just get back to the fun and continue to breathe?