The World Does Not Need More Yoga Teachers…

The first thing I read this morning was an article written by, Waylon Lewis (my “boss” and founder of elephant journal), The Yoga Industry is not Yoga. A timely read after the decision I executed on Monday.

I couldn’t agree more with his sentiment:

“Sorry, what’s that I said? I meant yoga industry.

‘Cause this isn’t the yoga community. This is the yoga industry. An industry more worked up about paying for playlists than remembering the point of yoga: meditation. An industry that is all about money, and sex, and fame.

Which reminds me of every other industry.

But the yoga community? It’s fine. You won’t find it at the festivals, easily. It’s there. But you will find it, easily, in a mother’s bedroom, in the morning, where she practices her home yoga routine so that her body and mind open and relax enough to help her through a challenging day.” ~Waylon Lewis

The yoga I’ve been taught, and the yoga I teach is no frills. It’s functional. It’s prescriptive. It’s realistic. It is a means to an end and a beginning.

I don’t have an Instagram account. I don’t go to festivals. I don’t have a huge following. I don’t sell anything in my studio because buying is a distraction — it pulls us outside of ourselves when the whole point of yoga is to go in, as far in as we can. My job is to teach yoga, not run a boutique, or studio for that matter.

Beginning August 1st, I will no longer host public classes in my space, other than my own, so that I can do my job, fully.

For a long time, I tried to create a teacher training program, but I never had the motivation or ambition to see it through. Actually, it wasn’t about the lack of ambition. I didn’t want to see it through because in my heart, I know it isn’t my job to make more teachers.

My job is to make more practitioners. 

I’m going back to my roots, to my original mission and dream — to create a private learning center where I can teach people how to be their own teachers, so they don’t need me anymore. My job is to equip them with the tools they need, in order to (as Waylon described) practice in their bedrooms, or on a business trip, or wherever and whenever they want to, without my guidance because I’ve taught them well enough to be their own guide.

I remember hearing someone say, “I know I’ve done my job when my students stop coming to my classes — it means I’ve taught them well.” 

Being a yoga teacher is similar to being a healthcare practitioner — My mission is to find the origination of my clients’ (patients’) problems, and help my clients heal themselves, so I can send them on their way, out in the world with the ability to maintain their health, on their own.

The world does not need more yoga teachers. The world needs more yoga practitioners.

Many teachers are so enraptured by the fame, following and fortune, they’ve forgotten to teach. They’ve forgotten the point — to teach their students how and why to practice yoga, assisting them in creating a safe, functional practice to fit their needs, which they can take home and into the future.

Yoga studios are popping up like Starbucks, and so are their teacher trainings– Churning out new teachers in thirty to sixty days (this is material for another article, another time) unequipped and unqualified to offer their students the education they need to begin a self – prescriptive practice.

This is a call to the teachers who are qualified: It’s time to do the work. Let’s make more practitioners.

The more practitioners there are, who have been taught safe, effective, aligned, prescriptive posturing, the healthier our communities will be — mentally, physically and emotionally. Not only will the wellbeing of our citizens increase, so will the welfare of our workforce and economy– less sick leave, more productivity; more productivity, more money; more money, more programming; more programming, more resources for education; more education, more awareness; more awareness, less suffering; less suffering, more peace; more peace, more freedom.

How do we get there?

This way: “In a mother’s bedroom, in the morning, where she practices her home yoga routine so that her body and mind open and relax enough to help her through a challenging day,” all because she had a teacher who taught her how to be her own teacher, so she could do her yoga, in order to do her job well, and help make the world a better place. ~Rebecca

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12 thoughts on “The World Does Not Need More Yoga Teachers…

  1. I found your piece to be creative and inspiring and full of truth. I love yoga and meditation and Pine reason why it’s time to just be enlightened in solace, in peace.
    Thank you for the beautiful bouquet of knowledge and further support of such a beautiful…meaningful mindfulness.
    And hope and light Nicole

  2. Love the sentiment about getting back to the roots – which is union – in all its myriad forms. However, just want to add to the discussion:

    1) Your mission to find the pain, provide the salve and send people on their way is the same technique used in marketing, which is kind of brilliant of you btw.

    2) Love your idea for a private education center – I truly believe each person can have their unique dream and take its place in the puzzle. Wouldn’t it be cool if more people did that?

    3) Yoga teachers are yoga practitioners. Just saying’

    With love, Ellen

  3. Your words hit so many levels of sentiment for me. I took a huge step back from teaching in the last year…initially not by choice, but it seems to fit now and eventually I will go back to it, but not in the mindset it was before. Congratulations on your decision to see a truth that is lacking in many cookie cutter programs. If yoga is trying to teach us balance, the patience to work in our practice, how come there are programs that make this journey as quick as possible?

    • Thank you for writing to me, Jennifer. Keep in touch and let me know how your experience with teaching is this next time around. <3 ~Rebecca

  4. My initial yoga teacher training was an 18 month program. It provided time to absorb information and apply it to daily practice. During this 18 months, we assisted and observed senior teachers for 8 week periods and were expected to practice 2 – 3 times a week at the studio. Finding our own voice to convey our knowledge, was a continual conversation within our training.
    Upon completion, I deeply appreciated how much I learned and it became obvious of how much I was yet to know and humility showed itself to be a beautiful teacher.
    I approach my teaching as moving from ‘Flow to Slow’. Slow it down and turn inward with each breath and each movement in and out of a pose and the place we settle. I use creative visualization to assist physical movement in the quest to find space for meditation. A class might consist of breath meditation, 6 asana and Savasana. Our journey is inward as we explore how breath transforms ‘feeling’ within movement and stillness, always drawing upon alignment to achieve a means to a deeper place. Micro subtleties become exponential growth.
    On top of it all, ensuring students practice within their personal zone by understanding as a teacher, their physical (emotional/spiritual) limitations. So few studios set out to ask students if they have previous injuries or such. Yoga is a unique journey. I translate my personal journey and together we explore another yoga experience as student and teacher, as teacher and student.
    To come full circle, I’m not sure if I could know what end is up if I immersed myself in a 1 month intensive program and said, ‘Yoga world, here I am’. I know this is a life long path of learning

  5. About 5 years ago I let someone talk me into trying Yoga. I figured I’d try a class at the Y (low cost) give it a few weeks then I could tell the person who had recommended it to me, that it wasn’t for me. That was five years ago, I had to take a break for about a year, due to an injury and long hospital stay, but I got right back to it a couple of months go and went from not being able to touch my feet (never mind the floor!) to being able to get back down to my knuckles (from a standing position), I’m still a ways away from palms flat to the flor that I had before, but I’m getting there! I have had 18 operations (since 1982) on a fused ankle, which has caused so much curvature in my spine that I have to wear a 1″ lift, as well as surgery on a rotator cuff, two bad Knees and bad Carpal Tunnel in both wrists, but the Yoga has let me do more than I had ever thought possible just 5 years ago. Since I have limit d mobility, I have made up my own routines (I do periodically take classes to get new ideas), and it has made a huge difference in not just my mobility but also my pain. I have found that by using an exercise mat instead of a Yoga mat it gives my knees and wrists the extra padding they need to avoid pain. I recommend everyone try it at least once no matter how limited you may think you are!

    • Dear Cathy, Thank you for the inspiration. This is a testament to the power of determination and courage. <3

  6. Thanks Rachel, I just stumbled upon your blog. Reading your article rekindled the passion I feel when I think of providing young teenage girls with the tools and techniques to get through rough times, just like I wish I had and now do. Cheers for an awesome article that made me ‘re-member’ 😀

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