General Teacher Training Program Questions
- What kind of yoga (style, tradition, type, school, etc.) do you prepare us to teach?
We offer our students a well-rounded and diverse perspective on yoga so that they can make intelligent and informed choices for themselves. Our students come to us from a variety of asana practices and traditions, and we supplement their existing knowledge with philosophy, anatomy, teaching methodology, and deeper perspectives on th practice. Like the parable of the blind men and the elephant, we feel that each person's perspective has value, but is most valuable when taken in light of all of the other angles. As such, we encourage students to learn skills to carry them forward in their teaching careers in whatever direction they choose. Our students are able to recognize variations in asana practice based on yoga tradition,
and will be able to better understand the experiences of a wide range
of student populations and modify appropriately. In fact, students may choose to ultimately practice styles in complete opposition to each other, but will do so as a result of informed reasoning and a competent choice. We believe in empowering students to make deep, scholarly yoga study a lifelong journey.
People perceive the same object differently, as each person's perception follows a separate path from another's./ But the object is not dependent on either of those perceptions; if it were, what would happen to it when nobody was looking? (Yoga Sutras, translated by Chip Hartranft 4.15-16)
- What makes this program different from other 200 hour programs available?
Most currently available 200 hour teacher training programs follow a 20th century model of training for only one type, style, or tradition of Modern Postural Yoga. Students are taught according to one style or tradition and expected to perform to the standards set by the school's lineage, often without any information contextualizing why the lineage has made the choices it has. In fact, some programs have no idea how their own lineage differs from others! This can sometimes lead instructors to believe students are doing a pose "incorrectly," potentially alienating students who are trying out a new yoga style, rather than allowing instructors to understand the variations in traditions and explain to students WHY they may choose between one set up and another.
Because these programs are deeply tied to the traditions of the last century in Modern Postural Yoga, they are slower to respond to the major shifts that have been happening in the industry over the last decade, including increased calls for state regulation, legal liability, changes in employment status and taxation, merging of 20th century traditions and styles into new Hatha practices, introduction of serious scientific research, particularly in the fields of medicine, neuroscience, and behavioral health, emerging schism between yoga as fitness and yoga as complementary and alternative medicine.
In addition, while strong in yoga, these programs may not teach the art of teaching itself. Frequently the E-RYTs involved in designing the program do not have professional education experience or a background in teaching techniques or methodologies, and teach using whatever methods they learned from their own yoga instructor training or personal secondary education experience. While some techniques are effective for teaching a physical practice in a fitness environment, applying these same techniques toward teaching complex and frequently abstract concepts including Eastern Philosophy, Social History, Anatomy and Physiology, and Business, often proves less effective.
Newer 200 hour programs are trying to improve upon the traditional "One True Yoga" lineage model by drawing upon influences of multiple styles. These programs are often heavily asana based, teaching the physical practice of the top few most currently popular lineages and then discussing some of the philosophical differences. While these programs often include tips on how to recognize the difference between an Iyengar-influenced downward facing dog versus an Ashtanga-influenced one (hint: distance between feet and hands), they may not provide explanations or contexts for why there are differences and why a student may choose one over another. They may even ignore the existence of equally lengthy and legitimate practices. We believe successful yoga students and teachers should have the skills and fundamental knowledge to make well-informed judgments about their continually evolving practice as both student and teacher. We encourage students to follow their own lines of inquiry rather than merely parroting scripted cues they've never critically evaluated. Many yoga instructors can specify the angle of your feet
in Tadasana or exercise caution in sequencing a closed hip pose like Warrior 1 with an open hipped Warrior 2. We want our instructors to be able to explain WHY we do these things, and understand when "one size fits all" prescriptions like these may not be appropriate in a given circumstance.
This course's unique design combines strong values in educational principles and critical analysis founded on research and experience gained via Adri Frick's unique professional skill set, combining yoga, teaching, and comparative studies.
- What do you mean by “Modern Postural Yoga”?
- The word “yoga” can have many different meanings depending on how it is used. In the US, we generally think of the physical practice of postures when we use the word, but yoga can have deeply spiritual or intellectual meanings that have nothing to do with poses as well. While some teachers will make claims that yoga is unchanged from its roots thousands of years ago, recent yoga scholarship, particularly in the West, has shown a significant shift from largely internal, meditative, passive practices to the active, fitness class we think of as yoga today. The current trend in academic yoga scholarship tends to characterize this current shift in yoga practice as “Modern Postural Yoga” so as to make it distinct from earlier interpretations of the word. We follow this convention in our
- What does Upama mean?
Upama can mean comparison, but it is also used specifically in reference to a simile. In medieval grammar and literary texts, a simile is formed by setting a subject of comparison, or upameya in Sanskrit, beside an object, or upamana. The observer is able to identify similarities and differences and is able to gain greater knowledge and perspective through the observation.
It is this principle that is the foundation of our program. Over
thousands of years many different views on yoga emerged, particularly as
yoga began to be exposed to Western influences in the 19th century. It
is easy to get lost in the diverse and complicated world of Modern
Postural Yoga as it is currently practiced in the US. Over the course of
the program we will continually compare and contrast these practices
and examine their respective contexts so that each student may better
understand their own practice in relation to Yoga as a greater whole.
- How do you expect to teach so much in such a limited time?
- Students are expected to complete homework on their own time, including reading, journaling assignments, and supplemental online materials and discussion boards. Reading assignments will be clearly marked as to the nature of reading required-- skim for familiarity, close and critical examination, or personal reflection. Journaling will be informal, but informative and used to scaffold and create logical connections for new knowledge. Online class supplemental resources will include encyclopedia entries, online news articles, group discussions, YouTube example videos, lecture outlines and slideshows, pictures, diagrams, lists, flashcards, mp3s, recommended text books, and software programs to engage learners on multiple levels. In class time will use hands-on learning and group project work,
as well as traditional lecture and discussion groups. By using tested and scientifically supported teaching techniques, we are able to assist students to make cognitive connections more easily so that they are more able to comprehend abstract ideas and retain terminology and concepts from memory. Students will also be taught tips and tricks for learning vocabulary and terminology more easily.
- Will there be exams and grading?
- Students will be given clear learning objectives and will be assessed on the basis of those learning objectives, but "traditional" grading standards of A, B, C, etc. will not be used. While occasionally a traditional looking quiz may "pop" up, students who have test anxiety, are not comfortable in a formal educational environment, or have had harmful school experiences in the past should not be concerned! Assessments are generally qualitative, informal, and designed to enable students to perform their future teaching duties with confidence and competence, not to penalize or harm-- we value the yogic principle of ahimsa, nonharming toward self and others in word, thought, and deed. Students will be given ample opportunities to determine whatever gaps in
knowledge may come up and will be given opportunities to make up whatever areas they find need extra attention. In addition, much of the program is dedicated to the art of teaching a variety of student types, and students who have struggled academically in the past may gain confidence by developing valuable skills for more effective learning and teaching throughout the program.
- What do I do if I just don't "get it"?
- In addition to regular class hours, students are encouraged to join our online class area, email each other, form study groups, and get involved in our studio community so that they are learning in a variety of ways. Within our regular class hours we will use a variety of methods to express more complicated ideas, in effect teaching both to multiple types of learning styles as well as teaching by repetition. Students will be able to engage in group work, hands-on learning, creative projects, discussion groups, and self-directed research projects and journaling. Students are also strongly encouraged to interact with their lead instructor and other studio instructors whenever they have concerns or begin to feel overwhelmed. We will also provide office hours and tutoring times in addition
to class hours to help with advising and tutoring where required. Students are also required to receive ample time in practicing, observing, and assisting/apprenticing outside of class time.
- Your program sounds like a lot of work. Do you offer an easier Teacher Training so I can just get my certificate and start teaching?
- While we don't often take ourselves too seriously, we do take the fields of both yoga and education seriously. We are not comfortable with some of the "yoga degree mills" that are available and do not want Upama Yoga to be associated with that kind of reputation. Our students are educated to the standards set by what we feel is needed and required to instruct yoga knowledgeably, safely, and effectively. We founded this program due to the many, many programs available for people who just want a light overview and an easy A, without as much of the philosophy, science, and culture that support the "fitness class" aspects of yoga. If our program looks too rigorous to suit your present educational requirements, we are happy to help you find a program that may better fit your needs.
It is more important to us that students and programs fit well together and result in happy outcomes than that we "get business."
- What, specifically, are you going to teach?
- Please look over our module selections for details on topics and student expectations. (See below for more information on our course catalog. Currently our full student catalog is available upon request but currently under review and subject to change.) Please note that the program includes the ability for a student to somewhat customize his or her experience through a personal project and electives. Students may choose from several specialty areas including prenatal, kids, and restorative yoga. Although these short introductions will not prepare someone to immediately and expertly teach these special populations, it will provide instructors with some ideas of what to do if a student from one of these populations comes to a regular class. Students who gain a deeper
interest in these topics may return for future workshops and trainings.
- Why are there so many classes?
- Our program includes extra hours over the Yoga Alliance requirements, including electives in teaching to specialized populations. While students are strongly encouraged to take these classes for their own personal growth as professional instructors, if students have met the minimum requirements for the Yoga Alliance 200 hour certificate, they may choose to skip them. If students have already missed class hours, however, they may have to attend these classes to make those hours up.
- Do you offer any special courses for gentle yoga (including yoga for seniors and chair yoga) or for plus-sized yoga?
- Program director and lead instructor Adri Frick has practiced yoga as a size 6 and a size 22, and spent over a year recovering from injury to both knees. As such, we do not consider these "specialty yoga classes" but rather "yoga." Pose modifications, sequencing concerns, class management and sensitivity for a variety of common injuries, age-related conditions, and body types are addressed regularly and frequently as a part of our day-to-day program.
Industry Regulations and Accreditation
- What does it mean to be Yoga Alliance registered as a teacher?
- In most of the United States, the yoga industry is self-regulated rather than being governed by different state licensing requirements. The most universal, but by no means the only, standards and accreditation body in the United States is the Yoga Alliance. Many people in the yoga community feel the YA could be more effective and teacher training programs could be more rigorous, and some feel like registration is merely hype. Some yoga teacher certification programs don't follow any standards at all, merely "certifying" an instructor after completing an online course and multiple choice test. Some trainings follow the 200 hour specification but don't actually believe in YA registration.
We understand the criticisms and industry concerns about the Yoga Alliance, but still believe that YA registration is important. Due to recent shifts in public perception about the risks and benefits of yoga in the last two years, Upama Yoga feels that while imperfect, Yoga Alliance Standards are the most prevalent in the industry and students should have the opportunity to make decisions about registration for themselves. We have received ample support from the Yoga Alliance in structuring our program, despite the recent upheaval and drastic changes in organizational structure Yoga Alliance has undergone trying to correct historical problems and respond to criticism. We agree with some of the critiques of today's training programs, but instead of throwing Yoga Alliance standards out, we
choose instead to address the concerns and exceed their standards. As is the case with many yoga studios, we are choosing to work within the organization to improve credentialing standards and structure, rather than ignore the currently emerging regulatory and legal issues that have made a standards body necessary.
- Is your school a Yoga Alliance Registered School?
- Yes. Our program was approved by Yoga Alliance in July of 2013.
- What is the yoga job market like?
- While yoga instruction is the 4th fastest growing field in the country according to US News & World Report, the San Francisco Bay Area (where we are located) is one of the most competitive and demographically complicated regions in the yoga industry. This is why having a diverse and thorough education is so important: it allows you to stand out from the rest of the crowd. We believe in preparing our students for the diversity of both the internal experience of yoga and the external experience of becoming a professional yoga instructor.
- What if I have something come up and I have to miss a day or more of class?
- It is counter-intuitive to design a program about wellness and self-care and then penalize students for being ill or having prior commitments. For these reasons we have built in extra contact hours for this program in case a need arises. If you have to miss a limited amount of class time, you will be able to make up this time with electives and makeup work in order to remain in good standing with the program. Please review our scheduling page and contact us with specific scheduling questions.
- What if I am attending the program and for reasons beyond my control, I have to drop out of the program?
- If for some reason you have to drop out of the program, you may return to the program and continue within one year of your original enrollment date, at the school's discretion. (If tuition has increased since initial course, student will be responsible for any additional tuition over the amount originally paid. For repeated classes, classes must be retaken within one year of original program. Classes taken after one year may be subject to review and approval by program director due to potential changes in course material. Re-entry students must discuss program requirements with program director before returning to classes.) People who have paid tuition by individual module are not eligible for refunds once the module has begun. We allow full and partial refunds for students who have paid
tuition in full only up to certain dates, which will vary based on the length of your program.
- What is your refund policy?
- Students enrolled in individual modules may drop out for a full refund (less any non-refundable deposits) prior to the start of the program. If a student drops out of a module in progress, their payment is non-refundable. Students who have paid tuition for the complete program are eligible for a full refund until the beginning of Module 2.
- What if I feel I have already met one of the requirements and would like to skip that class?
- We strongly encourage students to attend "refresher" classes in this circumstance because prior exposure may not effectively prepare the student to continue in our program. For instance, a health care professional may be familiar with anatomy and physiology, but may not be familiar with them in a yoga context. However, because we believe in the importance of student-driven education, we are happy to review course challenges prospective students may bring to "test out" of a requirement. Because our program has more contact hours than are required by the Yoga Alliance, you are still eligible to receive a 200 hour certificate.
- What if I have a grievance about the program?
- If you have an issue with the program, you may e-mail us at email@example.com. We will review the issue and may take up to 30 days to provide a resolution. We will do our best to resolve all disputes in a professional and understanding manner.
- What if I have a special circumstance you haven't addressed here?
- You know what a yoga practitioners best skill is? Being flexible! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your particular concerns and we'll help you figure out how to make our program work for you.
Professional Development & Advanced Studies "What Ifs"...
- If I do not complete the 200 hour program can I use these hours toward professional continuing education?
- Some organizations will accept these classes as contact hours, but we are not currently accredited with any standards body for these classes to be taken individually. Students are encouraged to check standards requirements as set by the organization in question. If students believe our classes will meet a requirement they have, we are happy to assist with paperwork as needed. If a student needs a module for continuing education and believes a class would easily meet accreditation requirements of a given standards body, they are invited to contact us and request that we file for accreditation of our program.
- What if I'm not sure I want to teach-- Can I just sign up for one module and see how it goes? Do I have to start with Module One or can I join in at any time?
- Students are welcome to explore the program at their own pace and may sign up for one module at a time. Please note that each module will require prerequisite experience and understanding from prior modules. As such we encourage students to take class modules in consecutive order unless the student can show that they have sufficient prior exposure to subject matter that they are able to keep up with the material. Examples of prospective students who are likely to successfully petition for late entry include:
- prior RYT graduates who may be interested in taking courses to brush up their skill sets
- health professionals who have met anatomy and physiology requirements but are looking to learn more about physical practice or yoga generally
- teachers curious about applying yoga teaching in their current occupation
- advanced studies students who have ample asana experience but would like to learn more about yoga philosophy
- advanced studies students who want to learn more about advanced pose work and sequencing