Why even bother with registering? Too many people ask this without knowing.
I know there are conspiracy theorists out there who wonder about yoga teacher registration. You have to admit, there are a lot of organizations that are out to get our money with little or no benefit. And yes, it is right to question why we would do something that seemingly has very little importance. But the bottom line is this. Its how our system works right now. If a better one comes along, then we’ll change.
The criteria for honoring a registration certificate for a teacher is, for the most part, based on an honor code. As yogis, we are supposed to have honor since it is rudimentary to the first two branches of Ashtanga yoga (as in 8-limbs, not as in the Mysore-centered practice of Pattabhi Jois). One of the yamas is Satya, which means truthfulness. To become a RYS (Registered Yoga School), the curriculum and overall mission is to honor core elements in teacher training. There must also be an E-RYT to provide for direction and leadership in the Education process. An E-RYT is someone who has the teaching hours and core training needed to direct the program. There are programs that do not have any adherence to common guidelines and you have to beware of their motivations. They could be pure and wholesome or they could just be out to get your money. And believe me, teacher training isn’t cheap. It can range from $2,500 to $15-20K. First, you want to know that you are being taught what you need to know. Second, you want to know that the piece of paper (your certificate) means something.
Yoga is really special in that it is steeped in a very rich history that dates back 5,000 years. There are ancient texts that provide insights into the intentions and history of the practice. But, in the modern world of Instagram and brightly colored leggings, which is a multi-million dollar industry, much of that history mumbo jumbo is seen as unnecessary baggage. There are even training programs that brag about not including Sanskrit, history, or philosophy of yoga in their curriculum. These are the training programs you have to watch out for. They are out to get your money. They are as shallow as a rootless tree. They want you to see the pretty forest without talking about the roots and what feeds the forest.
Whether you believe in yoga registration with an organization like Yoga Alliance or not, its is smart to play the game. I am fairly amazed at the number of teachers who don’t. When I plug in the name of the town where our studio resides, only 3 teachers from my studio come up. It means that most are not RYT’s. I’m not sure why that is. Is it laziness or just not believing in the system? I’m not sure.
Gaining credentials as an RYT does not begin until the day you register. Even if you’ve already taught yoga for 10 years, that time is not supposed to count toward your hours. Then you log your hours as often as you can to keep the log up to date. This is where Satya (truthfulness) comes into play. When I tabulate my hours, I realize how easy it could be to fudge them a little. Just estimating hours off the top of your head or rounding up for classes could easily happen. Getting your 1,000 hours to get your E-RYT could be easy if you just lied. But that’s not very yogic is it? Only you can see the darkness of your heart.
Once you have hours toward your E-RYT, then you can start giving continuing education credits to other teachers as well as teaching in RYS teacher training programs. But, again, you can’t get your 1,000 hours without first registering. And, it does new yoga teacher trainees no good at all if an E-RYT lies their way into getting their credentials. They will not have the hours of experience and, more importantly, they have a stained character. You want your teacher to talk the talk and walk the walk. The Yamas and Niyamas are needed if you want to fulfill the higher limbs of yoga. And if you’ve never been taught these essential concepts, then it would be hard to call yourself a yoga teacher. Yeah, you can be a body pump or zumba teacher or something else, but it wouldn’t be yoga.
Honor the system. Be truthful with your students. But most importantly, be true to yourself. Satya. Namaste!