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May all find the teacher within to guide oneself towards unconditional love and peace

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Yoga teachers and teaching yoga?

"Who can teach yoga?"

"Anybody, who knows what is yoga, who is peaceful and compassionate, who knows about impermanence and selflessness, who knows what is the cause of suffering and how to be free from suffering. It's not necessarily someone who has been practicing yoga for a long time, who is strong and flexible to do many of the yoga asana poses, or who had attended 'yoga teachers training course', and obtained or possessed 'internationally recognized' yoga teacher certifications."

"But, isn't that all yoga teachers must have recognized yoga teachers certification to be allowed to teach yoga legally?"

"Do you think someone who is free from ignorance and suffering, who is peaceful and compassionate, has to attend some 'yoga teachers training courses' to be trained to be a 'yoga teacher', to be authorized by some 'authorities' and obtains 'internationally recognized certifications' sanctioned and approved by some 'yoga associations', and be allied to some 'yoga alliances', in order to radiate peace and be compassionate, to share the knowledge of yoga and guiding other beings to be free from ignorance and suffering? Is a person not allowed to be kind to other beings because this person hasn't attended 'kindness training' and doesn't have a recognized 'certification of kindness' sanctioned by a 'kindness association or kindness alliance'?"

"I will not learn yoga from someone who hasn't been through professional yoga teachers training, who doesn't have 'internationally recognized yoga teachers certification'. 'Yoga teachers' who don't have a recognized certification are not allowed to teach yoga classes in many countries. Yoga centres in many countries only employ 'internationally certified' yoga teachers."

"Isn't that true... It's your freedom of thinking and freedom of choice then."

Whether people are well-educated and highly intelligent, or not, many would think that those who teach yoga must go through some forms of professional yoga teachers training to be qualified and certified as 'yoga teachers' before they are allowed to teach yoga, and they also think that only those who have been practicing yoga for quite a long time, who are physically strong and flexible to execute many of the yoga asana poses 'beautifully', or who have the 'qualifications of a yoga teacher', are qualified to attend yoga teachers training courses and be certified as 'yoga teachers' to conduct 'yoga classes' to teach yoga to other people.

These are the worldly ideas and values derived from conditioned thinking and belief under the influence of ignorance.

There are many 'internationally certified and affiliated' yoga teachers or instructors conduct many different types of 'yoga classes' everywhere in the world. Most of them teach yoga (asana) classes with different brand names according to the modules, styles and techniques that they learned from one or different types of 'yoga schools'. Some might even invent their own brands, styles, sequences and techniques of 'yoga'. Most of them even trademarked or copyrighted their new invention of 'yoga' that is adopted, modified and transformed from the traditional yoga practice. It's normal that many people are confused and uncleared about the tradition of yoga of its practice and purpose.

"People tell me that I could do all the yoga poses easily and beautifully, that I am strong and flexible, and they say I should become a yoga teacher. Should I?"
"What do I need to do in order to become a yoga teacher?"
"Is there a minimum years of yoga practice in order to become a yoga teacher?"
"How many and which yoga asana poses that I need to be able to perform in order to become a yoga teacher and teach yoga?"
"Do I need an internationally recognized yoga teachers certification to teach yoga in this country?"
"Do these yoga schools and yoga teachers affiliated with internationally recognized yoga association and yoga alliance?"
"Do these yoga courses issue internationally recognized certifications approved and sanctioned by internationally recognized yoga association and yoga alliance?"

In the commercial world of 'education systems', 'qualifications' and 'certifications', a person is obliged to obtain and possess some sorts of qualifications and certifications issued and recognized by 'internationally recognized' yoga association and yoga alliance to work as a 'yoga teacher' or 'yoga instructor' to conduct yoga (asana) classes to be teaching safe and result orientated 'yoga exercise' to other people. No doubt that those who teach yoga exercise fitness classes are better off being conformed and regulated under certain 'rules and regulations' regulated by 'those who know what they are doing', so that they have the basic knowledge to provide safe and effective physical training for other people by teaching varieties of 'yoga (asana) classes' with different brands, styles, techniques and routines, that have been adopted and modified from the traditional yoga asana practice. But, yoga is not about teaching or participating in yoga asana exercise classes. Yoga poses, or asana practice is just one part of the many yoga practice to help to influence the mind, to render the mind calm and quiet for meditation. It's not necessarily that people have to perform yoga asana practice to be practicing yoga, or to be peaceful and compassionate.

If people think teaching yoga to other people is about becoming a certified 'yoga teacher' by attending internationally recognized 'yoga teachers training courses' to attain 'internationally recognized certification' issued and sanctioned by internationally recognized 'yoga association' and 'yoga alliance', or one needs to go through some sorts of professional yoga teachers training to learn how to teach yoga in order to teach yoga, or how many years of yoga practice will qualify someone to be a yoga teacher, or a yoga teacher needs to have certain level of strength and flexibility to perform and demonstrate the yoga asana poses when teaching yoga classes, or teaching yoga is about training the students to push the body beyond its limitations to achieve maximum strength and flexibility, to be able to perform as many yoga asana poses as possible, and to execute the yoga poses in perfect alignment, or a person needs to have recognized certificate(s) to teach yoga, or teaching yoga means teaching different types of yoga asana classes labeled with different levels, brands and styles, then very obviously they don't know what is yoga, and so, how can they teach yoga, even though they possess 'internationally recognized' yoga teachers certifications?

Teaching yoga is not about teaching yoga asana (fitness exercise) classes. It's nothing to do with becoming a 'yoga teacher' by attending yoga teacher training courses to attain internationally recognized certifications or qualifications issued and sanctioned by 'internationally recognized' yoga association and yoga alliance, so that one can teach yoga exercise classes adopted from traditional yoga asana practice. It's dealing with the mind and its modification, the function of the mind, the perception of names and forms (the worldly life existence), the states of the mind, the habits and behavior of the mind, the actions and reactions of the mind, the impurities of the mind, the ignorance and suffering of the mind, and the liberation of the mind.

Yoga practice is about the elimination of ignorance, egoism and impurities, to free the mind from being conditioned by worldly thinking and beliefs, to realize selflessness and unconditional peace beyond all the impermanent qualities of names and forms.

Unconditional peace and compassion is not determined by how good a person can execute the yoga poses, or how long a person has been performing the yoga asana practice, or what type of qualification or certification a person has obtained and possessed from attending yoga classes or courses from yoga schools.

Whether a being is liberated from ignorance and suffering, and is peaceful and compassionate, or not, it has nothing to do with 'yoga associations', 'yoga alliance', 'yoga schools', 'yoga classes', 'yoga courses', 'yoga teachers training', and 'yoga teachers qualifications and certifications'.

There are some qualities which can determine a yoga aspirant - Viveka, Vairagya, Shat-sampat and Mumukshutva. And all these qualities has nothing to do with being in yoga class, attending yoga class, teaching yoga class, being strong and flexible, performing some yoga poses, yoga schools, yoga association, yoga alliance, yoga teachers training courses, and certifications. Yoga practice is about Vichara, to perform self-inquiry to know the truth of names and forms. One can learn and practice yoga anywhere, anytime. One can teach yoga anywhere, anytime. All the names and forms are teaching us yoga, it's not limited to a human being who identifies himself/herself as 'yoga teacher'. Anything and anyone and all our experiences that can teach us about impermanence and selflessness, that allow us to realize compassion and be compassionate, is our yoga teachers. In the end, both the teacher and the student is the mind itself.

The one who is free from ignorance and suffering, who is peaceful, wise and compassionate, doesn't need to attend any 'yoga teachers training courses' to be trained to become a 'yoga teacher' to teach yoga. This being doesn't need to be certified, authorized and approved by 'yoga schools', 'yoga associations', or 'yoga alliance' for being peaceful and compassionate, to radiate peace and compassion, and to guide other suffering beings onto the path of selflessness, attributelessness, namelessness and formlessness, to also realize unconditional peace and compassion. This being doesn't need the title of 'yoga teacher', or naming the act of sharing the knowledge of unconditional peace and compassion as 'teaching yoga'. It's free from egoistic attachments and identifications of 'I want to teach yoga', 'I teach yoga or yoga classes', 'I am a yoga teacher', 'I am an internationally qualified and certified yoga teacher', 'I am qualified and certified to teach yoga', 'I am a good and experienced yoga teacher', or 'I have been practicing and teaching yoga for xx years.'

The realization of 'Selflessness' which leads to unconditional peace and compassion is undetermined by all the worldly impermanent qualities of names and forms. It doesn't belong to a particular being, species, gender, sexual orientation, age, social status, intellect, personality, behavior, impermanent states of the mind, physical appearance, physical condition, limitation and ability, worldly education and knowledge, worldly commercial ideas, thinking and beliefs, worldly achievements and contributions, personal belief, cultural belief, religious belief, spiritual practice, yoga class, yoga school, yoga association, yoga alliance, or how many years of yoga practice.

If people want to think and believe that they will only learn and practice 'yoga' under the guidance of a 'yoga teacher' who possesses and advertises 'internationally recognized' qualifications and certifications, and those who want to teach 'yoga' think that they need to possess 'internationally recognized' qualifications and certifications, and be authorized by 'internationally recognized yoga associations and yoga alliance' to teach 'yoga' to other people, then the 'yoga' that they practice and teach will be what they think what it is. There's nothing wrong with that.

Yoga is not about achieving peace and happiness by having the life or the world to be the way that we like it to be, but, it's realizing the unconditional peace being undetermined by all the impermanent good and bad qualities of names and forms, pleasant and unpleasant or desirable and undesirable experiences.

Whether a person is practicing yoga, or not, it's not determined by being content and happy when everything is the way that we desire it to be, but, it is seen whether the mind is able to be peaceful and compassionate under any challenging, difficult, undesirable and discomfortable conditions and situations, being free from all sorts of impurities, ill-will and ill-thinking when everything is not the way that we like it to be.

Be free.

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My husband and I run ongoing yoga retreats in Langkawi Malaysia. We teach traditional Hatha Yoga - a combination of Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (breathing techniques) and relaxation, that has given benefit to millions of practitioners over thousands of years. Our yoga studio is situated in Langkawi. We also run yoga retreats in Europe and India.

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