Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Wild West of Yoga

This morning I had a phone conference with the standards department at Yoga Alliance. Here is what I and the woman I was speaking to agreed on "it's become the Wild West" in the yoga world. The fact that someone is a yoga teacher does not make someone humble or honest.
I myself have had huge amounts of intellectual property stolen because I was naive. I was brought up in a yoga culture so different than the one I live in today. Twenty five years ago you had your practice which you learned either from a book, a VHS, or a teacher. Likely a combination of all three. There were no credentialing agencies. Most people went to India or had to go out to either coast to train with Master teachers and then come back and shared their knowledge.

*Pictured with one of my best friends and lead teacher in my school Stacey Faught 500 RYT, 200 E.R.Y.T, & my teachers: Elana Johnson E.R.Y.T. 500, R.C.Y.T., R.P.Y.T. & Robin Johnson E.R.Y.T. 500, R.C.Y.T., R.P.Y.T.

In the yoga school I own we accept people for various reasons, a man who has practiced meditation for 10 years but only asana for 1 because mediation is a very important part (limb) of yoga. A woman who has been practicing for one year after neck surgery and is passionately wanting to share the gift she gained from yoga with others. The man who has practiced for twenty years and even teaches some but now wants to be registered with Yoga Alliance. A woman who works for a college that is training people to use yoga in the public schools.

Who do we not take? Anyone who we believe has work to do before they are ready, we have a long discussion on the phone before anyone is accepted. They must have a general overall desire to help others & show a true willingness to grow and learn. If they believe this is like going to beauty school for a technical education then we send them to a teacher for a year and ask them to call us back. This happens in 50% of the calls we receive.

For me opening the school was what I call a "God Thing". Literally I felt called to teach teachers after I had practiced for seventeen years and had been a teacher for eight. I'd learned quite a bit and I felt that I was blessed in my ability to make hard things seem easy. *I should say the more I learn the more I realize I have miles and miles to go.
Now you have a few people (I say a few because I believe 95% have the best intentions) going into teacher training to become "Rock Stars" and it's causing a big problem. Many yoga teachers lead their business based from their hearts, they truly believe that if they follow the yamas and the niyamas that all will be okay and good prevails, as one of my teachers, Elana taught me "good equals good". Today in my talks with the woman at YA (I don't think it appropriate to mention her name without permission) she told me of countless stories of experienced teachers who have been taken advantage of and had believed in the good of the yoga community only to be used for their knowledge and experience. Unfortunately sometimes good equals being taken advantage of when you don't know you need an intellectual property agreement. Hopefully these painful lessons some of us are learning the hard way will positively make a change for others in the future.

For me the fact that this has happened allows me, after much reflection, to make a stand for what is right, to stand up and ask for accountability by Yoga Alliance to make sure those who teach others are qualified and have not just the proper credentials but proper experience. They are in the process of reviewing all standards for credentialing, due to many people coming right out of school with little to no experience and opening schools, to make sure that in the future they can identify who are the more qualified teachers. Social credentialing will do some of this with a rating system put into place by the students who graduate from their programs.
In summary, "things change", a capitalistic society breeds not only competition but also allows for greed, however it also allows for the best to shine through given time. For me I will continue to focus on how we can serve our students and always become better ourselves, continuing our studies and sharing in the spirit of love what our teachers so humbly taught us.

The Yamas include:
Ahimsa ~ Nonviolence
Satya ~ Truthfulness
Asteya ~ Nonstealing
Brahmacharya ~ Nonexcess
Aparigraha ~ Nonpossessiveness
And the Niyamas include:
Saucha ~ Purity
Santosha ~ Contentment
Tapas ~ Self-discipline
Svadhyaya ~ Self-study
Ishvara Pranidhana ~ Surrender

Courtney Butler
E.R.Y.T. 500, R.C.Y.T., R.P.Y.T.
Owner Balance Yoga and Wellness Studio and School
Co-owner of Balance Barre