Education and Training: How is it Yoga?

What assumptions are standard setting and certification organizations making about current 'Yoga Teacher Training' provision arrangements?

  • How to identify Yoga Teacher Training?
  • What is Yoga Teacher Training meant to look or feel like?
  • How to evaluate the quality of Yoga Teacher Training?

Both the training providers and learners must rely on their own judgements about identifying and then agreeing on the scope of the training, including:

  • course content
  • procedure for transfer of skills
  • rules to be adhered to

David Gordon White in Yoga in Practice (reviewed here) suggests there are four principle meanings which have persisted through time and across traditions for some two thousand years:-

  1. Yoga as an analysis of perception and cognition
  2. Yoga as the raising and expansion of consciousness
  3. Yoga as a path to omniscience
  4. Yoga as a technique for …the attainment of supernatural accomplishments

But trying to re-model these meanings into modern ideas of training provision to fit the contemporary institutions of education is hard.

The usual distinctions made for the purposes of occupational and socioeconomic ranking between providers of high-prestige subject-matter based education like universities and other skills-based programmes delivered by private vocational training providers are somewhat trivial distinctions because the biggest demand is not for 'lessons' but for suitable opportunities to aquire knowledge that might simply be straightforward physical exercise, but more sophisticated techniques aiming to improve overall bodily health outcomes through meditation techniques enumerated in ancient, Indic literature is what sets yoga apart from say, aerobics.

Professionalization is generally believed to be a good thing, but it also brings with it new baggage for practitioners having to demonstrate how their particular practice, system, method or theory is educative according to market-led ideas of competence.

Aspiring educators are keen to demonstrate their particular course of education is relevant to modern standards in sports and recreation education, but they routinely abandon the most obvious need for their practice to stay relevant to yoga.

This tendency is often made explicit through the whitewashing of references to yoga in Indic literature, making the standards and allied credentials for tutoring less and less relevant with each redaction, and more and more bureaucratic, confusing learners as to the established provenance and true character of the practice.